The Ultimate Tulum Itinerary: Spending 3, 4 or 5 Days in Tulum

On the hunt for the perfect Tulum Itinerary? No worries—I got you.

Whether you’re planning to stay 3, 4 or 5 days in Tulum, or even more, you’ll find all the best things to do in Tulum, Mexico in this comprehensive guide. Along with my day-to-day itinerary, I’ve also included tips on the best time to visit Tulum, how many days to go for, and where to stay. 

Previously a walled-up Maya city, Tulum is now a bohemian-style Mexican destination located on the Yucatán Peninsula. The town boasts heavenly cenotes with crystal-clear water, stunning lagoons, lush jungles, and a lively nightlife scene.

It’s essential to know that Tulum has two equally fun parts: Playa and Pueblo. Playa is the long sandy strip of Tulum’s beaches and Pueblo is the main Tulum town. This itinerary accommodates these two areas so you can experience the best of both worlds in Tulum.

Here’s everything you need to know for planning a trip to Tulum, Mexico.

How Many Days Should You Stay in Tulum? 

If you ask me, even forever is a short time to stay in Tulum. Deciding on how many days to stay in this jungle-beach town depends on how much of Tulum you want to see and, of course, how big your budget is.

Some come to the town for a day’s trip, but I personally think that one day in Tulum is not enough to explore the many tourist attractions and hidden gems here. 

While a lot can be seen in just a day or even in 36 hours in Tulum, I recommend a minimum of at least three days. These three days should be ideal for experiencing Tulum’s vibrant culture, upscale nightlife, and most of the famous cenotes, ruins, and beaches.

Once here, you’re not going to want to leave – trust me. So, if you can afford to, extend your trip to five days or longer to discover more of the town’s hidden gems and also make time for some one-day trips near Tulum.

Where to Stay In Tulum, Mexico?

Since the town has two parts, you can choose between accommodation on the beach or within the central town.

Water babies looking to wake up to the sight of Tulum’s glistening waters and spend their days soaking up the sun can choose from a variety of beach hotels. These beachside accommodations offer top-notch luxury, comprising all-inclusive resorts and boutique hotels.

If a beach hotel is out of your budget, you can choose from more options in downtown Tulum. These hotels are also closer to all the bars and restaurants that serve authentic Mexican food.

Still feeling confused between staying at the beach or in town? Check out my guide on where to stay in Tulum for more information, along with a list of the best hotels and resorts.

Best Time to Visit Tulum, Mexico?

Anytime’s a good time to visit Tulum, know what I mean? However, the best time to travel to Tulum, Mexico, is between November and December.

Tulum in November and December experiences the least rain with sunny daytime temperatures and cool nights with light breezes. Tourism is also low during November and December.

Peak tourist season is between January and April since these are the winter months with the best weather. If you don’t mind the crowds and high prices, you can visit Tulum during these months.

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly vacation, or wish to avoid the crowds, consider visiting the town between May and September. But brace yourself for the heat, high humidity, and lots of rain.

Try to avoid visiting Tulum, Mexico in October since it’s the peak of the hurricane season. October experiences the most rainfall and, sometimes, a few tropical storms which can last for many days.

3 Days in Tulum, Mexico Itinerary

Within three days, you can explore the best of Tulum’s beaches, cenotes, and archaeological sites, which serve as a window to this town’s fascinating history.

Ready to begin your adventure in Tulum? Here’s my ultimate three-day Tulum travel guide.

Day 1: Relax at the Beach

Beach Tulum

Most flights from the US to Tulum arrive in the afternoon. Chances are you’ll be tired, and with half the day gone, it’s best to spend the rest of it relaxing on the beach.

Make your way to the Tulum Beach Strip, a vibrant street parallel to Tulum Beach. The beach offers a lively scene where you can dine at a luxury restaurant and take envy-worthy pictures to show off on Instagram.

Restaurants on the Beach

The many restaurants in Tulum offer unique interiors with diverse food options, including healthy alternatives. Whether you’re gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan, most of the restaurants on the strip will be able to accommodate your diet preferences.

Raw Love is one of the best places on the strip. Order a delicious vegan bowl at this organic cafe, and then enjoy a siesta on one of their hammocks. Or, for cheap tacos and cocktails, head to Taqueria La Eufemia.

In the evening, grab a drink from Coco Tulum and take in the sunset from one of their porch swings that face the Caribbean Sea. Or catch the sunset from one of the rooftop nests at Kin Toh.

Visiting Tulum’s Beach Clubs

When the night rolls in, pick one of the famous beach clubs that give you access to the “private” beaches in front of the hotels. Some of the best beach clubs in Tulum include:

But don’t stay out too late. You want to get to bed early so you can be up and awake for the next day’s activities.

Day 2: Visit Tulum Ruins & Cenotes

Tulum Cenotes

Day two is when the real fun begins. Adventure enthusiasts and history buffs will especially love the activities planned out for their second day in Tulum. 

These include exploring the historic Mayan archaeological sites in Tulum and swimming in the turquoise waters of four different magical cenotes (natural flooded limestone sinkholes).

Visiting Tulum Ruins

The Tulum Ruins is a stunning archaeological site perched on a seaside cliff. These ruins were once a Maya walled city where approximately 1,600 regular people lived, slept, and ate. It’s also the only Maya archaeological site to be built on the coast. 

The castle is a spectacular feat, standing 25-feet high and towering over the rest of the site and coastline below. Right in front of it is the Temple of the Frescoes, one of the most significant buildings of the site, but now closed off to the public.

With this private guided tour, it takes about half a day to explore the entire site. The tour begins early in the morning to save you from the midday heat but wear sunscreen and bring a hat to be safe.

Visiting Tulum’s Cenotes

Time to splash in Tulum’s magical cenotes. The cenotes of Tulum were used as a freshwater source and as a place of sacred rituals by the ancient Maya people. 

With more than 6,000 cenotes on the Yucatán Peninsula, it’s difficult to choose which ones to go to during your short stay in Tulum. This tour takes you through four of the best cenotes in Tulum that offer exciting adventure and crystal clear freshwater.

Your first stop is Naval Cenote, where you can ride a zip line and jump off into the cenote’s refreshing water below. Next is the Pirañas Cenote for more swimming in the cenote’s pure water. 

The fun isn’t over yet. After Pirañas Cenote, your next stop is Large Cenote Naval which boasts two thrilling long zip lines. The second line takes you down to a platform where you can board a canoe to reach your final cenote destination – Cenote Azul. 

Cenote Azul is a famous cenote where you can snorkel and marvel at the underwater scenery. It takes a short stroll through the jungle after you hop off your boat to get to this magical cenote, and the view is definitely worth it.

Day 3: Muyil Ruins, Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve & Tulum Town

Sian Kaan

Day three in Tulum includes a fun and exciting activity that’s not too far away, so you can spend the second half of your day in Tulum Town. The first half includes the Muyil Ruins, another archaeological site situated about 15-20 minutes away from the south of Tulum.

It’s best to arrive at the Muyil Ruins around 8:00-9:00 so you can skip the crowds and get done early, in time for lunch in Tulum Pueblo.

Muyil Ruins and Sian Ka’an Lagoon Float

What sets the Muyil Ruins apart from the Tulum Ruins is that they are under a forest canopy. This canopy is a part of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, which has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You can drive to the Muyil Ruins yourself, but I suggest booking this half-day tour so you don’t get lost in the Sian Ka’an jungle. The tour also offers plenty of information on the site’s history and the plants and animals that have made this jungle their home.

Start by wandering through the ruins of Muyil and discover the incredible history of the Maya civilization. Muyil was one of the earliest and longest-inhabited Maya sites of the Yucatán Peninsula. Artifacts dating all the way back to 350 BCE have been found here.

Once you’re done wandering through the Muyil Ruins, you can follow a path to the lagoon, where you can take a boat ride through the mangroves. The boat ride takes you to the Maya temple of Xlapak, where you can marvel at the well-preserved ruins featuring detailed facades and sacred figures like the Rain God.

To make your way back, you can book another boat ride, or for an adventurous journey, float your way down through the canals. Spend an hour or two cooling off in the turquoise waters, and then gather your stuff to head back to your hotel. Don’t stress because the day hasn’t ended yet.

Tulum Town and Its Street Art

Once you’ve freshened up, you can leave your hotel to head to Tulum Pueblo for lunch. Choose from the many options in town, like the La Hoja Verde, a fabulous outdoor vegetarian/vegan restaurant.

After lunch, explore downtown Tulum on foot or by bike, which you can rent from one of the many rentals like Ola Bike Tulum or iBike Tulum. Biking is a faster and cooler way to explore the town – hop on and off to check out the quaint cafes and shops or take a spectacular street art tour.

Once the night hits, you can indulge in Tulum’s famous street food at the town’s night market or have dinner at one of the touristy streets hosting gastropubs and mezcal bars. Although, I recommend hitting the local taco spots in Tulum Center to experience the great Mexican cuisine.

When it comes to tacos in Tulum, the options are endless. El Asadero serves mouthwatering tacos and quesadillas, while Burrito Amor is also a good taco option, but they’re famous for their burritos.

4 Days in Tulum 

If you planned to only stay three days in Tulum, then your trip ends here. Your flight will most likely be on the fourth day, so if it’s in the afternoon or evening, you can spend some more time at the beach or the Hotel Zone.

But, if you planned to stay more than three days, or extended your trip because you couldn’t get enough of this jungle-beach town, then keep reading this travel guide for more information.

Day 4: Coba Mayan Ruins, Underground Cenotes & Azulik Uh May

Coba Mayan Ruins

The fourth day is ideal for a day trip to Coba, located about 40-45 minutes away from Tulum. Start your day early so you can get to the ruins before the sun gets too hot and the site becomes crowded. Near the ruins are beautiful underground cenotes, and there’s also an art museum on your way back to town where you can make a stop at.

Ancient Coba Ruins

Coba is an ancient Maya city now an archaeological site where visitors can explore the ruins and climb a pyramid. 

Yes, you read that right, climb a pyramid

Standing 137 feet high, the Nohoch Mul Pyramid at Coba is the tallest Maya pyramid on the Yucatán Peninsula and the second tallest Maya pyramid in the world. Unleash your inner Lara Croft to climb the 120 steps and catch breathtaking views of the surrounding jungle from the top.

Climbing a pyramid isn’t for the weak and will surely have your stomach grumbling for a good meal. Famished climbers can make their way for an early lunch at the Nicte Ha restaurant located on-site (in the car park).

Explore the rest of the ancient site on foot, or you can also rent a bike or hire a chauffeured tricycle pedicab. 

Underground Cenotes

Once you’ve had your fill of the Coba Ruins, you can make your way to the underground cave cenotes named Multum-Ha, Choo-Ha, and Tankach-Ha. All three of these cenotes are located within ten minutes of Coba and offer pristine turquoise waters for you to relax in.

Cenote Choo-Ha is perhaps the best of the three cenotes with a more off-beat path. To get to the cenote, you descend a long flight of stairs, and then you can spend an hour or two swimming in its cool water.

If you’re a foodie keen to experience the authentic Maya culture, this full-day tour may pique your interest. It takes you to the Coba Ruins, where you can climb the pyramid and explore the archaeological site with a bilingual guide who’ll tell you all the ancient secrets and fun facts.

The tour is unique in that it also includes a Yucatecan gastronomic experience, along with cacao, honey, and Maya chewing gum experience. End off with a visit to one of the nearby cenotes to cool off.

Azulik Uh May

If you still have some time left for the day, then make a stop at Azulik Uh May on your way back to town. Azulik Uh May is an impressive art exhibit located in the jungle, approximately 30 minutes from the town’s center. The exhibit boasts unique contemporary art pieces and interiors.

5 Days in Tulum

With an extra day in Tulum, you can explore the off-beaten paths and discover some of the town’s many hidden gems. Laguna de Kaan Luum is one such hidden gem located a 15-20 minute drive away from Tulum.

Day 5: Laguna de Kaan Luum and More Cenotes

Best Cenotes Tulum

On your 5th day in Tulum, make your way to Laguna de Kaan Luum. It’s a massive lagoon surrounding a deep pool (the cenote). Then, visit the nearby cenotes for more splashing around in the water. 

Laguna de Kaan Luum

The lagoon’s water is a light turquoise color that gets deeper as you go further towards the center. The cenote in the middle stands out against the lagoon with its deep cobalt-blue color.

Spend your time swimming in the warm, calm waters of the lagoon but stay away from the deep pool (cenote). Swimming in the deep pool is not allowed because of strong currents. The only method of accessing the deep pool is scuba diving which must be booked in advance.

Cenotes Near Laguna de Kaan Luum

Two cenotes near Laguna de Kaan Luum, named Cenote Cristal and Cenote Escondido, are less famous but still incredibly beautiful. So if you’re looking to get some photos in a cenote without people in the background, pay a visit to one or both of these cenotes.

Both Cenote Cristal and Cenote Escondido are open-air cenotes with a jungle-like vibe. Since they’re less popular, they’re also cheaper to visit.

More Than 5 Days in Tulum Travel Guide

If you’ve successfully managed to extend your stay in Tulum or wisely planned a long trip from the beginning, then here’s a list of more fun and adventurous things to do in and near Tulum. With these extra days, you can fit in more day trips that are a bit further away from Tulum but are still a part of the Yucatán Peninsula. 

More Cenotes

If you extended your trip because you just couldn’t get enough of all the glistening and magical cenotes, then here’s a list of even more cenotes for you to check out:

  1. Gran Cenote: less than 10 minutes out of Tulum town
  2. Cenote Calavera: less than 10 minutes out of Tulum town
  3. Casa Cenote: about 15-20 minutes from Tulum Town
  4. Dos Ojos: approximately 25-30 minutes from Tulum Town
  5. Sac Actun: right by Dos Ojos, so you might as well check this one out too while you’re there.

Adventure enthusiasts can do a Discovery Dive at the Casa Cenote and make friends with some underwater creatures, like crabs, lobsters, and barracudas. Snorkeling and swimming options are also available at the cenote.

Valladolid and Chichen Itza

Valladolid is a charming colonial city located about 1.5 hours away from Tulum. You can make a stop here to explore the town and grab a bite before continuing your trip to Chichen Itza.

If you’re not in a rush to get to Chichen Itza, you can spend a couple of extra hours in Valladolid visiting the Instagram-famous Suytun Cenote. 

Suytun is popular amongst influencers and travel bloggers for posing on the concrete platform in the middle of the water, illuminated by the natural light coming in from a hole in the ceiling. The light, together with the placement of the platform, creates an angelic-like shot. 

Getting to Chichen Itza from Tulum takes approximately 2 hours and is well worth the visit. Listed as one of the seven wonders of the World, this site is one of the biggest and most well-preserved Maya cities to visit in Mexico. 

Because of the long drive and the many activities offered at these two locations, you can make an entire day trip from your visit to Chichen Itza and Valladolid.

Yoga in Tulum

Yoga fanatics keen to try beachfront yoga in Tulum can pick from one of these amazing studios:

  1. Yaan Wellness Energy Healing Spa
  2. Dome at Azulik
  3. The Yoga Studio by Holistika
  4. Nomade
  5. Sanara

Planning a Trip to Tulum

And there you have it folks, the ultimate Tulum itinerary. I hope my day-to-day guide above helps you in planning a trip to Tulum. And hopefully, you found my tips on the best time to go to Tulum and where to stay in this jungle-beach town helpful too.

With an abundance of activities, stunning scenery, fantastic nightlife, and delicious food, Tulum is definitely worth visiting. The lush green jungles, warm sunny weather, and crystal-clear water of the cenotes make Tulum an ideal spot if you’re looking for a fun-filled summer vacation.