12 Best things to do in Tulum

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Tulum is one of those places in Yucatan that you have to visit. It is located along the coast, where you can find the best beaches in Mexico. Tulum is perfect for any type of traveler to visit. Whether you would like to do nothing and relax on the beach or if you like to be active by doing different things in and around Tulum, it is all possible!

Want to know more about: things to do in Tulum? Then you are on the right page, in this article we share the 12 best things to do in Tulum, where to stay, nice places to eat, and many more Tulum tips.

Tulum beach

Things to do in Tulum?

Tulum can be experienced in many different ways, you can make it as crazy as you want. Because there are so many fun things to do, it is not the typical beach destination where you only lie on the beach and do nothing else. Read our 12 recommended activities below. You can make it as active as you want by doing one or more activities.

Tip: Use the map below to see where Tulum’s best things are located. Click on the top right corner to enlarge the map. If you click on the star symbol next to the title, you can save this map to your Google Maps account. You can show or hide different categories on the map. You can use this map to navigate when you are in Tulum.

#1 Discover the cenotes at Tulum

Visiting the cenotes in Mexico is one of the best things to do in Tulum. A Cenote is a cave or pool of clear water that was sacred to the Maya, as it was believed to be the opening to the underworld. Many ceremonies were performed here in the past. There are over 1 trillion cenotes, of all different sizes and shapes. Given the amount, it is difficult to choose which one to visit. We have visited the cenotes below and recommend them.

Grand Cenote

The most popular cenote in the Tulum area to visit is Grand Cenote. The cenote is beautiful both above and underwater. The best thing is to go snorkeling to see life underwater. If you are lucky you can see turtles. Because this cenote is so beautiful, the disadvantage is that many travelers visit this place, so it can be very busy.

It is therefore recommended to visit this cenote at 08:00 am. This is when the doors open and so you avoid large groups. This makes the experience so much better!

The entrance fee is 180 pesos ($8.80) price person. You can rent snorkels for 80 pesos ($3.90) and put your stuff in a locker for 30 pesos ($1.50).

The Grand Cenote is located +/- 4.5 km from Tulum, the best way to get here is by taxi (100 pesos / $4.90) or by bicycle.

Choo-ha

Choo-ha cenote is one of the most beautiful cenotes you can visit in Yucatan because the clear blue water, the nice temperature of the water, and the intimacy of the cave are very amazing to discover. Another advantage is that this cenote is not much visited by other travelers which makes the experience even better.

If you are going to visit cenotes, first visit Grand Cenote and then Choo-ha. Take your time to discover Choo-ha, the best thing is to relax in the cave. Be careful not to fall at the entrance because it is very narrow and steep.

The entrance is 100 pesos ($4.90) price per person. You can reach Choo-ha by shuttle bus from Tulum to Cobá. From Cobá you can use a taxi to get to cenote Choo-Ha. Next to Choo-ha is another cenote called Tankach Ha which is also nice to visit as it is even quieter than Choo-Ha.

Near Tulum is a jungle where four cenotes are located. At these cenotes, you can swim, kayak, zip lines, and do jungle trekking.

During a tour you combine all these elements, you start the tour with a jungle hike to Naval cenote, here you can jump into the water with a zip-line. At Pirañas Cenote you will have time to swim and enjoy this beautiful cenote surrounded by the jungle. At Cenote Tankah you will have two long zip lines before arriving at the point to start the kayak trip to Cenote Azul. Cenote Azul is a great place to admire fish, turtles, and other animals underwater because of the clear water.

All these activities can only be done using a tour. Check for availability and pricing here.

Tulum cenote
cenote Tulum

#2 Tulum Maya Ruins

Tulum’s must-see sight is the Archaeological Zone. This activity is unique because you see different historical buildings.

We liked this activity, only we spoke to many travelers during our trip who didn’t like this activity at all, this is because you have to take/know the right preparation so that it does not become a setback.

The Maya complex is amazing to discover because it is so close to the beach. We got a real Pirates of the Caribbean feeling. You can choose to follow a tour to get background information, but we advise not to follow a tour but explore it yourself. You can easily read the information on the signs. If you want to swim in the small bay at the bottom of the temples, you have to visit it during the morning.

One of the most important Tulum tips we can give is that you should visit the Mayan ruins at the end of the day instead of in the morning. In the morning most people visit the complex making it very busy at the moment. At the end of the day, the advantage is that it is not crowded at all. We were lucky that there was hardly anyone there. Make sure to be at the entrance at 04:00 PM.

You can easily buy skip-the-line ticket here. This allows you to enter directly Tulum Archaeological Zone.

Tulum Mayan ruins

Where to stay in Tulum

Option 1 the village: affordable and everything close by
Casa Almendro
is a hotel that is centrally located, making it perfect to walk everything. The hotel is wonderfully quiet as it is three blocks from the main street. You can sit on the roof terrace and if you want to cook something, this is possible in the kitchen. The rooms are very neat and the beds are comfortable. Check prices and availability for Casa Almendro here.

If Casa Almendro is fully booked, you can stay at Casa Abanico Tulum. This is a hotel where you can relax, the rooms are big and you can use the bicycles for free. Check prices and availability for Casa Abanico here.

Option 2 the beach, location, special experience!
Do you want to wake up on the beach and walk straight into the sea? Villa Pescadores Tulum is highly recommended, as it is not set up as a large resort. It is very quietly located so you can enjoy a wonderful vacation. The rooms have a veranda and a private garden on the beach with a hammock. This is the best place to stay in Tulum looking at value for money. Check prices and availability for Villa Pescadores Tulum here.

If you are looking for something cheaper on the beach, Playa Esperanza Hotel Tulum is an option, you walk over the beach to your cottages. The cottages are cool and the location is great. Check prices and availability for Playa Esperanza Hotel Tulum here.

#3 Discover the best beaches in Tulum

The great thing about Tulum’s beaches is that they are still laid-back and there are hardly any large hotels. Fortunately, there are still plenty of places to find that is quiet! When you go to the beach you have the choice to go to public or private beaches. We recommend visiting the beaches below:

  • Playa Paraiso: the best (public) beach is Playa Paraiso. This beach has been voted the best beach in Mexico by TripAdvisor’s travel awards. This beach has a beautiful white sand beach and blue water. You expect a lot of people here but this is not the case at all. There is enough space to find an intimate place. Bring your towel, some snacks and drinks so you can enjoy the time;
  • Playa Ruinas: at the bottom of Tulum Archeological Zone you find a beach that is great to visit because of the environment. You need to be early to swim at this because because it is not crowded yet. Also later in the day you are no longer allowed to swim here. Try to be here at 08:00 am;
  • Playa Akumal: This beach is a 30-minute drive from Tulum and is perfect for families with children. This beach has many facilities for children, turtles are often spotted in this area making it a nice place for snorkeling. For travelers without children, Playa Paraiso is more than fine;
  • Playa Las Palmas: this is also a public beach, the great advantage of this beach is that it is one of the most secluded beaches in Tulum. Because of this, you don’t see many other people here, so it’s a good place to go!

You can easily reach all beaches by taxi from the Tulum center. Costs are between 60-90 pesos ($2.90-$4.40) depending on the distance. To Playa Akumal it costs between 200-250 pesos ($9.77-$12.22).

Tulum beach view

#4 Chichén Itzá and more

From Tulum, you can visit one of Mexico’s most iconic sights: Chichén Itzá. Chichén Itzá is one of the seven wonders of the world and you don’t want to miss it. Chichén Itzá is a huge complex where you can find several temples.

We visited Chichén Itzá through a tour which is the best way because of the guide. The guide makes a visit to Chichén Itzá a lot better because they can give a lot of information. This also allows you to better understand what you see.

During the tour, you will also visit Hubiku cenote and Valladolid. Hubiku cenote is world-famous because of the shape of the cenote. At the bottom of this cenote, you can walk and see how impressive nature can be. Valladolid is a colonial city where you can visit a historic center.

We did this tour and recommend it. Look here for current prices and availability.

Chichen Itza

#5 Complete Mayan Day

If one of the reasons for you to travel to Mexico is to discover the remains of the Mayan culture, then following a complete Mayan day trip is highly recommended. On this day trip, you will visit some of the most iconic Mayan ruins in Yucatán.

The difference between activity #4 is that you also visit the archaeological site of Cobá. You do not visit the cenotes during a Mayan day. You will also visit Valladolid and Chichén Itzá.

Cobá is a complex that is built in 100-300 BC. The reason Cobá is so popular is that you can walk up to the Nohoch Mul temple, you a rise above the tree line from where you have a magnificent view over the jungle.

Besides Cobá, your visit to Valladolid and Chichén Itzá. If you would like to see a lot of the Maya, it is recommended to do this activity. However, if you prefer a varied day program, activity #4 is recommended. Check for current prices and availability here.

Coba

#6 Discover the local cuisine

In addition to all the Tulum sights, it is also fun to discover the local cuisine. Burritos are widely eaten in the Yucatan province, and this is where you can find the best places in the world to enjoy them. Burrito Amor is such a place.

Burrito Amor is located in the south of Tulum on the main beach. When you arrive you immediately notice that the terrace outside is great to sit on. We ordered the burritos chaya, vegetarian and vegan and they are delicious. Chaya is a spinach burrito. The vegetarian burrito comes with grilled peppers, onions, and black beans with avocado. With the vegan variant, the best variants of the chaya and vegetarian burrito are combined in a burrito. The most popular burrito is the rib eye burrito, great for people who love to eat meat.

The burritos cost between 50 pesos and 100 pesos. If you order a fresh juice and a smoothie this will cost you +/- 40 pesos. In total, you can eat here for +/- 120 pesos ($5.90).

We have eaten many burritos but the best burritos we ever had was at Burrito Amor. You’ll find this restaurant south of Tulum’s main street. Reservation is not necessary.

Looking for an itinerary through Yucatan? Read more.

#7 Enjoy your time at a beach club

What could be more fun than relaxing on the beach with a cocktail and great music in the background. You can do this at one of the beach clubs in Tulum. There are a couple of beach clubs that appeal to different types of travelers. We have visited the beach clubs below and this is our experience:

  • La Eufemia: a nice place where they play great live music. Here you can find a real laid-back vibe where you can enjoy the excellent tacos. There is also enough space so that you are not too close to each other;
  • Paraiso Beach: at the best public beach in Tulum you will find Paraiso Beach, this is a nice place because on the terrace you have a great have a view of the surroundings. We spent an afternoon on the terrace and enjoyed it. The beds on the beach the most comfortable beds we have ever seen, we did not lie on them ourselves because we did this a bit further on the beach. However, if you are looking for a nice place to lie down, this is the place to visit;
  • Ahau Tulum: we wanted to visit the most luxurious beach club in Tulum, this is Ahau Tulum. An awesome place to see. The nice thing about this place is that they have incorporated a lot of art into the complex, especially the entrance is beautiful to see. Keep in mind that you have to spend at least $20 for a bed, this is expensive but worth it to experience some luxury. If you like yoga or meditation you can take classes here, ask at the reception for more information.
Tulum Beach Club
Tulum Beach Club at night

#8 Go on safari with Sian Ka’an

Sian Ka’an is a biosphere reserve, which means that this nature reserve is protected. Sian Ka’an is about a 30-minute drive from Tulum and can only be visited under the supervision of a guide. This water park can only visit by boat. The boat trip lasts 3 hours and you can also compare it to a sea safari.

During the sea safari, you have the chance to come into contact with special animals, such as wild dolphins, sea turtles, manatees, crocodiles, and many different types of birds. A unique experience that is highly recommended if you love nature. This tour can be done by anyone, as it requires no physical effort.

You must reserve on time for this tour, due to its popularity and the fact that the park does not allow too many people in one day. Check here for current availability.

Sian Ka'an

#9 Discover the best island of Mexico

In our opinion, the best island to visit in Mexico is Isla Holbox. First of all, we recommend staying on the island for a couple of days instead of visiting as a day trip. In our article about Isla Holbox, you can read more information.

But if you are not able to stay for several days in Isla Holbox, it is still highly recommended to visit this beautiful island. Isla Holbox is known for the stretches of beaches where you hardly see any other people. From Tulum, it is possible to book an Isla Holbox tour. You will have plenty of time to see the biggest highlight of Isla Holbox. Walk on the beach, relax at special locations, and discover places around the island.

Read more information about the Isla Holbox tour here.

Isla Holbox viewpoint

#10 Rent a bike Tulum

Renting a bike in Tulum is a great way to explore places nearby. The big advantage is that you get to the destination a lot faster, you have all the freedom because you don’t have to use a taxi and it also saves you money.

It is a nice drive along the beach and be surprised by what you encounter. We also did this and liked it because you come across several beaches where there are almost no people. We drove from Tulum to Puente de Boca Paila, this is about 25 km cycling which takes about 75 minutes. You must take enough water with you. You pass plenty of restaurants where you can eat something.

If you love riding a bike and would like to take on a physical challenge and see a lot of the surroundings, you can cycle the same part only to Zamach or Faro de Punta Allen.

The best place to rent a bike is at Ola Bike Tulum. To rent a bike costs 150 pesos per day ($7.30). You can reserve a bicycle via the site.

If you would like to follow a bike tour, this is also possible in Tulum, read more information about a bike tour here.

#11 Visit Cobá

If you travel to Valladolid and from there visit Chichén Itzá and you still want to visit Cobá, it is also possible to follow a tour that only visits Cobá.

Cobá is a complex that is built in 100-300 BC. The reason Cobá is so popular is that you can walk up to the Nohoch Mul temple, you rise above the tree line from where you have a magnificent view over the jungle.

The advantage of a tour that goes only to Cobá is that you also visit the cenotes nearby such as Mariposa and Chen-Ha. Check availability for the tour here.

#12 Visit the best zipline course in Mexico

Would you like to do something that excites you? Visiting Selvatica jungle zip line park is recommended in this case. You have 10 zip lines at this park. At the end of the trail is the aqua zip, where you can end up in the water. This is optional.

This is a fun Tulum activity that you can do in the morning. Check actual prices here.

How many days should I stay in Tulum?

Tulum is one of the best destinations in Yucatan. As you have read there are a lot of things to do in Tulum. We recommend staying in Tulum for 5 days (4 nights).

In 5 days you have plenty of time to do the best activities in Tulum and you also have time to enjoy the beaches. For travelers who love to stay at the beach and want enough time to relax, it is recommended to stay 6 nights in Tulum.

Where to stay in Tulum?

What is the best area to stay in Tulum, that is the first thing you need to determine. You can choose to stay in the village or on the beach. Each option has its advantages. Staying in the village is cheaper and you are close to all restaurants. The advantage of staying at the beach is that this is unique, you look from your bed right into the sea, which is incredible. The hotels on the beach also have a private beach area, so you don’t necessarily have to visit another beach.

Below you can read two accommodations per area that we recommend because of an excellent price-quality ratio. Please note: accommodations in Tulum are quickly fully booked, so book as fast as possible to ensure a place to stay.

tulum v13

Casa Almendro is a hotel that is centrally located, making it perfect to walk everything. The hotel is wonderfully quiet as it is three blocks from the main street. You can sit on the roof terrace and if you want to cook something, this is possible in the kitchen. The rooms are very neat and the beds are comfortable. Check prices and availability for Casa Almendro here.

If Casa Almendro is fully booked, you can stay at Casa Abanico Tulum. This is a hotel where you can relax, the rooms are big and you can use the bicycles for free. Check prices and availability for Casa Abanico here.

tulum v14

Do you want to wake up on the beach and walk straight into the sea? Villa Pescadores Tulum is highly recommended, as it is not set up as a large resort. It is very quietly located so you can enjoy a wonderful vacation. The rooms have a veranda and a private garden on the beach with a hammock. This is the best place to stay in Tulum looking at value for money. Check prices and availability for Villa Pescadores Tulum here.

If you are looking for something cheaper on the beach, Playa Esperanza Hotel Tulum is an option, you walk over the beach to your cottages. The cottages are cool and the location is great. Check prices and availability for Playa Esperanza Hotel Tulum here.

Where to eat in Tulum?

As mentioned in activity #6, our favorite place to eat is Burrito Amor. When you arrive you immediately notice that the terrace outside is great to sit on. We ordered the burritos chaya, vegetarian and vegan and they are delicious. Chaya is a spinach burrito. The vegetarian burrito comes with grilled peppers, onions, and black beans with avocado. With the vegan variant, the best variants of the chaya and vegetarian burrito are combined in a burrito. The most popular burrito is the rib eye burrito, great for people who love to eat meat.

If you are looking for a good place to have lunch that is also very healthy, Raw Love (beach) is the place to go. They serve delicious superfood bowls. The green curry bowl is also a must to try during the afternoon. Raw love has two locations in Tulum, one is located in the center of Tulum and the other on the beach.

In the evening it is nice to have a drink at Batey. This is located on the beach where you can enjoy the environment in a laid-back way with nice music in the background. If you like mojitos this is the place for you because they are very good here!

If you are looking for a place where you can have a good breakfast, Paquino Tulum is recommended. Here you can order a bowl of yogurt with fruit and granola with a freshly squeezed juice for 185 pesos ($9).

How to get to Tulum?

Tulum is centrally located in Yucatan making it easy to travel to. Good to know is that it is not possible to fly to Tulum. Tulum can only be reached by car, shuttle bus, or normal bus.

The easiest and cheapest way is to use the bus. At almost every destination in Yucatan, you can buy bus tickets. You can buy a bus ticket online or at the station at the bus company ADO. Check actual routes and prices for busses here.

Tip: book your ticket in advance to be sure of a seat.

If you are in surrounding areas such as Playa del Carmen, Merida, Valladolid, and Bacalar you can also check with the accommodation where you are staying if it is possible to buy a ticket for a shuttle bus. The accommodations where we stayed always offered this service.

If you want to fly to Tulum, the easiest way is to fly to Cancun, which is 100 minutes away from Tulum. In Cancun, you can then take a bus to Tulum. In 2 hours you will arrive in Tulum.

If you travel through Mexico by car, you can easily reach Tulum. The roads are well signposted. If you come from Cancun (130 km), Playa del Carmen (65 km), Valladolid (100 km), and Bacalar (215 km) you can drive to Tulum in a few hours. All you have to do is enter Tulum in your navigation and drive.

If you travel to Mexico by plane and you are looking for a car to rent, you can rent it through Rentalcars. We use Rentalcars when we want to travel by car to discover new destinations. They’re easy to use and book with.

Tulum best beach
Tulum at night

What is the best time to visit Tulum?

Traveling to Tulum simply means good weather. You can visit Tulum all year round because the temperatures are nice all year round. Tulum has a dry and rainy season.

The months from December to March are the best time to travel to Tulum, during these months the weather is the most stable.

May is the hottest month, on average it gets a maximum of 32℃ and drops to 22℃ at night. January is the coolest month with an average of up to 29℃ dropping to 18℃.

We were in Tulum in September and the weather was perfect. The advantage is when you travel in Mexico during the summer that the days are the longest. As mentioned, you can visit Tulum all year round because the temperatures are pleasant.

Tip: Keep in mind that during the US and Europe school holidays in July and August, it will be busier than usual, causing prices to rise.

What to do in Tulum FAQ

1. Which is more fun, Tulum vs Playa del Carmen?

When you start orientating yourself to travel to Yucatan, you want to visit a place along the coast. There are a lot of places like Tulum, one of the popular destinations to visit is Playa del Carmen. Many people, therefore, wonder which is more fun, Tulum or Playa del Carmen.

This is completely personal, only the travelers we spoke told us that Playa del Carmen is no longer has a laid-back atmosphere compared to Tulum. Both places are popular, only Playa del Carmen has lost its charm because of the large hotels. So if you like to enjoy a laid-back vibe, Tulum is recommended. If you prefer to stay in luxury hotels, Playa del Carmen is recommended.

It is also important to know that Tulum is better in terms of location, as it is closer to various activities. This makes Tulum more suitable for doing activities. Finally, Tulum is a lot cheaper to stay in on average than Playa del Carmen.

2. Which is more fun, Tulum vs Cancun?

If you want to enjoy a luxury hotel, you have to be in Cancun. Cancun is also suitable in terms of location to discover the north of Yucatan from there. As mentioned, Tulum is a place where you can still find a laid-back atmosphere.

We have traveled to Tulum and Cancun and recommend both places. Because Cancun has the largest airport in Yucatan, you will likely fly from here. This makes Cancun great to stay at the end of your trip.

3. Things to do in Tulum at night?

In Tulum, you can do many different things in the evening. Whether you want to relax at a bar, sit on the beach or enjoy a party. It’s all possible in Tulum.

Our favorite place is Nomade. This beach club is decorated in Moroccan style, which is very beautiful because of the beach. You can sit here comfortably, enjoy a drink and spend your evening listening to the waves of music. A great place to relax and perfect if you are traveling as a couple, very romantic!

Aldea Zama is located in the old part of Tulum, a bar where it is always fun. If you want to party, make sure you are in Tulum on a Saturday night. Here you can attend a full moon party, in Tulum, this is called: Papaya Playa Project.

Want to see more of Mexico?

With this article, we hope to have given you a clear picture of what to do in Tulum, where to stay, and our Tulum tips.

When you have visited Tulum you can discover more places in Mexico. If you follow our Mexico itinerary, your next destination is Bacalar. Discover here: things to do in Bacalar.

If you don’t follow our itinerary through Mexico, the obvious destination to travel to is Valladolid. Valladolid is a place where you can discover authentic Mexico, as it is hardly visited by other travelers.

What do you think of Tulum? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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