Tulum is a gorgeous Mexican town in Mexico’s stunning Yucatan Peninsula on the east coast of the country, with a very chilled vibe. It’s become a super popular vacation destination over the past few years.
With its seafront Mayan Ruins, beautiful Cenotes and lots of charm, 3 days in Tulum is the perfect Mexican vacation escape. And it’s only about one hour from Playa del Carmen or 1.5 hours from Cancun and the Cancun International Airport.
I was fortunate enough to have spent 3 days in Tulum while travelling throughout Mexico – it has a nice charm and is a refreshing change of pace from Playa del Carmen or Cancun.
Tulum is roughly divided into three different areas – Tulum town, the beach and the ruins. The areas are all fairly spread out. Bicycle is often the preferred means of transport, although taxis are readily available.
Here’s what I got up to during my stay. I hope it inspires you to take that much needed short vacation. Tulum is definitely a great spot to relax and soak up from chilled Mexican vibes.
3 Days in Tulum – the Perfect Tulum Itinerary
Day 1 – Relax & the Beach
The first day in Tulum is a great day to just get adjusted to the holiday town chill vibes and just relax. Tulum is relatively small and it’s easy to get around but it is spread out. Although easy to bike around and your accommodation may include free bikes. If not, it’s easy to hire them in town. Most bicycle rentals are about 100 pesos per day.
I’d definitely recommend grabbing a bike and taking a tour around town to get your bearing and a feel for Tulum.
A great lunch option is Burrito Amor for some local Mexican flavors. They also have lots of Vegan and dairy free options and a great range of juices and smoothies. They’re located on Avenida Tulum.
After lunch cruise down to the beach to check out Tulum’s south beach road boutiques. The beachside town is famous for its hippy chic aesthetic and there are loads of boutiques offering gorgeous pieces.
If you’re feeling like a mid-afternoon snack, then the gelati at Origami is highly recommended. Origami is on the main strip on the southern beach.
There’s plenty of great restaurants and bars on the main strip on the southern beach to choose from after checking out the boutiques and enjoying a dip in the gorgeous turquoise waters.
Day 2 – Visit the Mayan Ruins of Tulum & the Beach
For Day 2, I’d recommend checking out the Tulum Ruins first thing in the morning and then heading to the beach for some drinks, lunch and to cool off in the Caribbean Sea.
There are tonnes of great options for breakfast in Tulum, head out for breakfast and then straight to the Tulum Ruins before the sun gets too hot.
I’d recommend going early in the morning – the weather should be cooler (although still hot so bring sunscreen, hat and water) and it shouldn’t be overly busy. There’s not much shade in the ruins so just be mindful to keep hydrated.
The Tulum Ruins are about 2.4 miles (4 km) from Tulum town. They are an easy taxi ride from any part of the Tulum or it’s super easy to ride a bicycle.
The entrance fee is 65 pesos per person. The Tulum Ruins opening hours 8am to 5pm daily. There’s an official ticket booth at the entrance.
The Mayan ruins in Tulum are picturesque against the backdrop of the Caribbean Sea. Tulum was the only Mayan city built on ocean and with a wall to protect it. It’s perched 12 meters above the Caribbean Sea and it’s just stunning.
Aside from the history of the ruins and the gorgeous seaside location, my favourite part of the Tulum ruins was spotting Iguanas! There are SO many Iguanas everywhere in the Tulum ruins.
Tulum is famous for its exquisite, palm tree lined, white sand beaches. After site-seeing the Tulum Ruins it’s easy to pop over to Playa Paraiso beach. What better way to relax than at the beach!
Playa Paraiso beach is considered the best beach in Tulum and is also one of Tripadvisor’s Top Ten Beaches in Mexico.
El Paraiso Beach Club is a great choice for cocktails and an early dinner. There are lots of umbrellas and sun beds to stretch out and enjoy the sunshine and gorgeous turquoise blue ocean.
El Paraiso Beach Club is open daily from 10am to 6pm.
From take a leisurely walk down to the beach to check out some other great spots for maybe more drinks and dessert to end your day.
Day 3 – Visit the Gran Cenote
Depending on what time you rise, head to Tulum town for brunch before bicycling or catching a taxi to the Gran Cenote. There are loads of brunch options dotted along Avenida Tulum.
The Gran Cenote in Tulum is about 4kms from the downtown Tulum. It’s an easy bike ride or a super easy taxi ride. We hailed a taxi one-way from the main highway.
Cenotes are underground reservoirs of water, there are about 6000 cenotes to visit in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico alone.
The entrance fee was 150 pesos per person. We went about 2pm on a Sunday. It was busy but not too crowded – there was a nice mix of families, tourists and scuba divers.
The freshwater is amazingly clear. It’s cold, but you easily adjust and it’s a nice change from the Mexican heat and humidity.
There are lockers/snorkels/life-jackets for hire at the bottom of the stairs to the Gran Cenote. I can’t vouch for how good the gear for rent is or lockers are as we brought our own snorkeling gear and had a dry bag that also served as a floatation device!
Remember to shower before heading downstairs into the Gran Cenote, there’s an outdoor shower in the middle of the complex – you can’t miss it. There are also change rooms and toilets (banos) – basic but clean.
From here I’d recommend heading back to the beach for a relaxing dinner, drinks and dip in the sea.
Accommodation – Airbnb apartment
We stayed in an apartment that be booked through Airbnb just off Avenida Tulum, the main road in Tulum. The apartment had a kitchen and private bathroom in a really pretty small and secure complex. Apartments are a great choice, especially is you’re doing Tulum on a budget.
I always like to have a kitchen in my accommodation, it doesn’t mean that you need to cook but it’s good to have the option. Especially if you have food allergies or a limited diet. I mostly just like the option to have a coffee first thing in the morning instead of having to hobble out, bleary eyed trying to get a coffee.
Airbnb is a great option to book some really great accommodation at reasonable prices for any budget. There’s certainly plenty of options.
How to get from Cancun to Tulum
It’s super easy to get from Cancun to Tulum. Cancun International Airport is the closest airport to Tulum and there are multiple ways to transfer from Cancun Airport to Tulum. Detailed information about how to transit from Cancun to Tulum is available here.
How to get to Tulum from Playa Del Carmen
Just like getting the Cancun Airport to Tulum, it’s very straightforward to get from Playa del Carmen to Tulum. Detailed information about how to transit from Playa Del Carmen to Tulum is available here.