2 Weeks in Mexico Itinerary for Yucatan Peninsula

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The Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico is so much more than just Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen. If you look at the map of Yucatan, you can easily spend a few months in the area and still not explore everything.  If you have just 2 weeks in Mexico, like most visitors, you need to think about your Mexico itinerary carefully.

You can swim in cenotes, scuba dive with whale sharks, enjoy the white sand beaches, visit the ancient Mayan ruins, visit colonial towns and still have time to taste the nightlife.

2 weeks in Mexico Itinerary (updated for 2017)

The best and the most convenient way to explore the area is renting a car. A car will give you freedom to explore more and beat the crowds. You will appreciate having the ability to go places a bit off the beaten path and possibly save money over using taxis and shuttles.

You can pick up a car right after you land in Cancun and begin your adventure by driving directly to Playa del Carmen. If you’re not up for a solo adventure for whatever reason, check out some group tours with G Adventures.Mexico itinerary: 2 Weeks


Day 2: Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is much more than just a tourist spot with great nightlife. Even after a few months living here I still keep finding those hidden gems in and around town. Playa del Carmen is a great place to eat delicious Mexican food, shop till you drop and relax on the beach. However, there are plenty of activities like jet-skiing, paragliding, snorkeling and much more if you’re looking for some adventures without leaving town.Pueblito Escondido

You can base yourself in Playa for at least a few days while doing day trips. Since Playa is still quite touristy you can get more local experience by staying at a vacation rental  rather than staying at the hotel. A rental in Playa del Carmen by BRIC Rentals will provide all the amenities you would have at home and the freedom to explore, all for about the same price as a hotel.

They have been around for more than 10 years and have a large selection of condos, villas and apartments to choose from, so make sure to check them out! Their properties are luxurious, close to the beach and pretty affordable if you’re coming to Mexico with your family or a group of friends.

Here are some other options for hotels though:

Best Hostels in Playa del Carmen

Hostal MX   –  Check Prices On: Hotels Combined | Booking.comAgoda

Best Apartments in Playa del Carmen

Croc Condos   –   Check Prices On: AirBnB

Sabbia   –   Check Prices On: Booking.comAgoda

Best Mid-Range Hotels in Playa del Carmen

Reina Roja   –   Check Prices On: Hotels Combined | Booking.comAgoda

Acanto Boutique  –  Check Prices On: Hotels Combined | Booking.comAgoda

Best Luxury Hotels in Playa del Carmen

The Royal   –   Check Prices On: Hotels Combined | Booking.comAgoda

Grand Hyatt   –   Check Prices On: Hotels Combined | Booking.comAgoda

Elements


Day 3: Explore cenotes

Cenotes are a must-do in the Yucatan. What exactly are cenotes? There are cave formations and sinkholes, either open-air or completely underground. Use your own car or take a collectivo from Playa del Carmen and visit as many cenotes you can.
Trust me, there are many cenotes to choose from!

Each cenote is different: some have great diving, others are full of fish and great cliffs to jump from and sometimes you can even find a zipline or a swing!cenote zaci


Day 4: Day trip to Cozumel

Catch the early morning ferry to the island of Cozumel. As the island is quite big, you should consider renting a car, buggy or scooter. You can snorkel on a gorgeous reef near The Money Bar.

Then continue onto the Punta Sur reserve to enjoy the beach, play with some pygmy raccoons and maybe spotting a crocodile! Cozumel is also a great spot for diving, so make sure you save some time for this purpose.DSC02596


Day 5: Visit Akumal beach

Akumal is a small village on the way to Tulum. Do yourself a favor and stop at Akumal where you can swim with sea turtles for free. It’s one of the best things to do in the area! From Akumal you can continue directly to Tulum and spend the night there.

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Day 6: Visit Tulum ruins & Sian Ka’an Reserve

While there are many impressive Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula, Tulum’s beachfront location, perched on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea, is hard to beat. Aim to arrive as early (or late) as possible to beat the crowds as the site gets pack around 10 am.Yucatan peninsula

In the afternoon you can visit the Sian Ka’an Reserve where you can kayak among mangroves and spot some cute manatees.Sian Ka'an


Day 7: Climb the pyramid of Coba + Swim in more cenotes

The ruins of Coba might not be as know as Chichen Itza, but the site is less touristy and you can still climb the main pyramid called Ixmoja. There are 120 stone steps up to the top, but it’s well worth the climb.

Coba is way bigger than you might think at first so allow yourself to spend a few hours out there, but don’t worry – you can rent a bike to get around.coba ruins

A trip to Coba wouldn’t be complete without taking a dip in the refreshing cenotes nearby. For a small fee you get to see three amazing underground cenotes, in my opinion the best in the Yucatan. Cenote Choo-Ha is my favorite, but if you’re an adventure seeker try to jump from a 45 feet platform at Tamcach-Ha cenote.cenote choo-ha


Day 8: Go to Chichen Itza & Valladolid

Leave Tulum early in the morning and head to Chichen Itza – one of Mexico’s most visited tourist destinations and UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. There are a lot of astronomical marvels at Chichen Itza, but one of the most exciting is the Descent of the Feathered Serpent on the the main Pyramid of Kukulkan that happens once a year. A shadow play is created where a serpent head statue transforms into a full creature through the shadows of the pyramid’s terraces.chichen itza

Valladolid is a friendly colonial town on the way to Chichen Itza offering stunning architecture, including a 16th century cathedral of San Gervasio. While some tourists still pass through Valladolid the city is often an over-looked destination, while there are plenty of things to do there. Local cenotes such as Cenote Zaci is a great alternative to overcrowded Ik Kil Cenote. It’s a good spot to spend a night in as well.


Day 9: Take a mud bath in a pink lake

Located approximately two hours from Playa del Carmen and even closer from Valladolid, Rio Lagartos is famous for bird watching and the densest concentration of flamingos in Mexico. If you’re heading there from Valladolid it’s just a short drive and you can explore everything before the main tourist buses arrive.

You should also take a dip into a pink lake and cover yourself in mud as it’s a perfect skin treatment and moreover totally free!

You asked if there were any flamingos at the pink lake… Meet Bob the Giant Flamingo! 📷: @djiglobal

A photo posted by Anna ✈ AnnaEverywhere (@anna.everywhere) on


Day 10-12: Relax on Isla Holbox

To get to Holbox take a ferry from Chiquila which leaves every hour. Isla Holbox is all about relaxing and beautiful beaches, but if you’re up for some adventure activities you won’t end up disappointed either. You can go horseback riding on the beach, rent a golf cart (as it’s the only vehicle allowed on the island) and rent a bike.

Snorkeling and diving with whale sharks (from June to September) is also an option, but still the best thing on the island are the hammock located right on the water and delicious lobster pizza.Isla Holbox


Unfortunately, that’s all you can fit in 2 weeks. You can obviously change this itinerary a bit. I suggest checking my Travel & Live in Mexico section to see what else you can do in Mexico!


DON’T FORGET ABOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE

Don’t forget to arrange a health insure before heading to Mexico. The easiest and the most reliable travel insurance is World Nomads Travel Insurance. Get it before your trip to skip unnecessary troubles that might ruin your holidays!


If you still prefer to go with a group, check different tours:


Suggested more extensive guides for Mexico:

Lonely Planet Yucatan Guide
The Rough Guide to Mexico
Mexican Spanish Phrasebook

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17 Comments

  1. May 1, 2016 / 9:15 pm

    Great article.

    We did a one week road trip around the Yucatan last year and one of our favourite spots that you didn’t list was the Ruta Puuc! It’s a bit of a distance to drive but the ruins are amazing and we even had multiple ruins to ourselves! We stayed at The Pickled Onion for a few days which I’d definitely recommend.

    Our favourites that did make it on the list would have to be Akumal (swimming with the sea turtles), Muyil/Sian Ka’an, and Valladolid – we loved that city!

    • May 1, 2016 / 10:31 pm

      I know… but I think if someone has 2 weeks this would be their top itinerary. But Ruta Puc is definitely a great place 🙂

  2. Iris
    Jul 29, 2016 / 10:41 am

    Great article!
    My boyfriend and I are planning to do an itinerary like this and you’re article made us even more enthousiastic!
    Could you give me an estimation about the budget we have to save to do this?

    Thank you so much!

    • Jul 29, 2016 / 5:12 pm

      It all depends if you’re staying in hostels, guesthouses or fancy resorts and if you wanan eat in touristy restaurants or more local spots. I’d say min. for 2 people would be around $500 for 2 weeks, but with nicer hotels maybe $1000?

  3. chantal
    Sep 25, 2016 / 1:33 am

    Hi,

    This looks like my ideal trip i plan doing for my birthday in march 2017.
    I was wondering how you managed the car situation.
    Ill be travelling with my boyfriend from the uk, how much roughly did the car cost, hire insurance, parking etc?
    And how did you find parking the car?

    Thanks, Chantal x

    • Sep 25, 2016 / 2:52 pm

      Hi Chantal. Cars here are cheap and easy to rent, but don’t get it at the airport – online you’ll book a car for $1 and then they’ll try to scam you and throw all the extras on it. I recommend Alamo or Hertz in Playa del Carmen – I always rent cars from then. In fact, this week I got a car for $28 per day incl. full insurance + second driver 🙂

      • Nimit
        Oct 10, 2016 / 11:15 am

        Hello! Traveling to Mexico for the first time with my fiancee. In fact, we are going there to scout out wedding venues as we are planning to hold it there 🙂 at Dreams Riviera Cancun. Anyway, in response to this post, I have been on the fence about renting a car or going with private tours for certain activities. I’ve been going back and forth back and forth about it. I love driving and I’m adventurous and a risk taker. I usually rent a car on vacation; rented one during our last trip to Aruba. However, I’ve been scared to rent in Mexico due to fears about corrupt police and other things.

        Which location specifically do you rent from Alamo and Hertz in PDC because I see multiple locations. Thank you!

        • Oct 10, 2016 / 5:46 pm

          Don’t be afraid – Mexico isn’t like Bali or Thailand where police stops you at every corner wanting a bribe. I was stopped a few times, they asked where was I going and that’s it. Especially around here in Riviera Maya it’s very safe. I actually discovered even a better place to rent last week: MEX Rent-A-Car. They share an office with Sixth on the 5th Avenue (between calles 14bis & 16)

  4. Lenka
    Nov 4, 2016 / 8:15 pm

    Hi Anna,

    your article is great and very helpful. I plan trip on The Yucatán Peninsula. Our journey will take 13 days. We want to rent a car. Is possible rent a car in Tulum and return it in Playa del Carmen? We want to also visit some interesting places, where there are not many tourists. Can you advise some place (for example nice small village, cenotes, hacienda, nice small beach…)? I plan to stay on Cozumel 3 days. What do you think, is it too long?

    Thank you very much.

    • Nov 4, 2016 / 9:38 pm

      I think you can have fun on Cozumel in 3 days, but you can also discover the whole island in 2 days for sure. Don’t miss Punta Sur! It all depends on which company do you rent the car from, but normally it’s possible. Have you seen my cenote post? There are plenty of recommendations there 🙂 I’d also suggest heading to Bacalar if you have some time.

      • Lenka
        Nov 6, 2016 / 7:27 pm

        Thank you for your recommendation about Punta Sur. I didn’t know about it. Yes I have seen your cenote post and also article about pink lakes (written by your friend) 🙂 They are perfect. We will visit pink lakes and some cenotes from you list 🙂
        I think we will choose MEX Rent-A-Car for rent a car because you recommendation it in comment and I do not know another. Company is also in Tulum so I think it is good choise.

  5. Dec 17, 2016 / 11:19 pm

    This is so helpful! I’m
    Planning to go there for 4-6 weeks in the summer. ☺

  6. Jan 20, 2017 / 12:21 pm

    Just wanted to say thank you for this guide – we’re only going to be in Mexico for a week, but I suspect we may be back to visit all these places! Last but not least, if you only have time to visit one cenote, which would you recommend most highly? We’re staying in Playacar, and would be up for a taxi/car rental to get off the beaten track if you’ve a favourite that’s hard to get to, but worth the effort!

    • Jan 20, 2017 / 4:42 pm

      I’d say to visit the cenotes near Coba then. You could visit the ruins in the morning and cenotes early afternoon 🙂

  7. Feb 17, 2017 / 4:06 pm

    Great article! This would be a fab two weeks, although after travelling in Central America for four months, I’d urge anyone who has time to spend much longer in Mexico. You just can’t beat it for culture, food, history, people and cost!

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