The Best Road Trip To Mexico Itinerary

This post may contain affiliate links. This means that for any qualifying purchase you make through one of my links, I may earn a small commission, at no cost to you. For more information, check out my disclosure.

Mexico is a huge country with lots to see. With so many beautiful cities and charming smaller villages, interesting archeological sites, beautiful beaches, and unique natural sites, coming up with a good Mexico itinerary is easier said than done.

If you don’t know where to start planning, worry not! I have been to Mexico three times (I honestly can’t get enough of it!) and know the country quite well.

So I thought I’d help out and put together an easy Mexico itinerary that will take you to all the best places to visit in the country – the most popular tourist spots as well as some of the lesser-known ones.

This Mexico itinerary is perfect for first-timers. It’s ideal for a road trip to Mexico, in case you want to be a bit more independent and adventurous. But if you have a couple of extra days, you can actually even bus it – indeed, public transportation and long-distance buses in Mexico work quite well.

travel insurance

3 Week Mexico Itinerary – A Quick Overlook

Below is a breakdown of how many nights you will stay in each place per this 3 week Mexico itinerary:

Mexico City – Four Nights

Puebla – Two Nights

Oaxaca – Three Nights

San Cristobal – Two Nights

Palenque – Two Nights

Campeche – One Night

Merida – Three Nights

Valladolid – One Night

Tulum – Three Nights

Mexico itinerary

The Best Mexico Itinerary For A Fantastic Road Trip To Mexico

Mexico City

This Mexico itinerary begins with four nights in Mexico City.

This metropolis is not only the largest city in Mexico but in North America as well. The city is full of culture and has a rich history, as it is also the oldest capital city of the Americas.

There are many things to do in Mexico City, so it’s easy to fill your four-day Mexico City itinerary with adventure, cultural experiences, and other classic experiences.

where to stay in Mexico city

Mexico City museums

Some must-see museums include the Museum of Anthropology, the largest and most visited museum in Mexico, Frida Kahlo Museum, and Museo Diego Rivera, dedicated to the lives and arts of the two painters and both located in Coyoacan, the historic center of Mexico City located on the southern shore of Lake Texcoco. But there are many more.

You may want to consider this guided tour of Coyacan that also goes to Frida Kahlo Museum and Xochimilco. There aren’t many tours in that area, and this is definitely one of the best available.

For more information, read my post, The Best Museums In Mexico City.

Mexico City Itinerary

Historical and cultural sites

Other notable places to visit include historical architectural and cultural sites.

The House of Tiles is an 18th Century Palace covered by blue and white tile from the Puebla state on three sides.

Zocalo is the main square in town, where the Cathedral is located. This, besides having a great religious significance, contains hundreds of years of Mexican architecture and art.

If you want to catch a great cultural event during your time in Mexico City, visit the Palacio de Bellas Artes. This venue hosts events, including dance recitals, operas, and theater productions.

You may want to join this guided walking tour of Mexico City to learn more about the historic buildings and places of significance.

Historians will love the ancient archaeological complex of Teotihuacan, which was once the largest urban center of Mesoamerica.

The best way to enjoy Teotihuacan is on a guided tour. You may want to consider this guided tour of Teotihuacan that includes transportation from Mexico City.

For a day outdoors, visit Bosque de Chapultepec, one of the biggest urban parks in the Western hemisphere. The park also functions as an ecological space in the city. You can spend time by the water at Xochimilco and even take a ride on one of trajineras located in the canals.

where to stay in Mexico City
Photo by Kamira @shutterstock

Where to stay in Mexico City

There is a wide range of lodging available in this massive city.

Presidente InterContinental Mexico City – This is a high-end luxury hotel near the Chapultepec Forest and Park. The hotel is known for its excellent staff and service, but the rooms and lounge areas are also large, spacious, and well-stocked.

Wyndham Garden Mexico Reforma – This is a nice hotel that’s perfect for those seeking luxury at a more affordable price. It’s in the Reforma neighborhood, a safe and quiet spot. And it’s conveniently located near a large shopping plaza and plenty of bars and restaurants.

My post Where To Stay In Mexico City has even more detailed information and hotel recommendations.


Sample Mexico City itinerary

DAY ONE – In the morning, you can join a walking tour of Mexico City to learn about the city’s historical monuments. After that, you can spend the afternoon shopping in the historic center, snacking on delicious street tacos, and exploring more of the area.

DAY TWO – Get up early and visit the archeological complex of Teotihuacan, just outside of Mexico City. This is a busy full-day activity, as there’s so much to see, do, and learn about in Teotihuacan.

DAY THREE – Jump on a tour to visit the beautiful canals of Xochimilco in Mexico City, the Frida Kahlo Museum, and other important points of interest. This full-day tour takes you to Xochimilco and Frida Kahlo’s house, as well as Coyoacan and UNAM Central Library.

DAY FOUR – Spend a day fitting in other places that may catch your attention. Some other excellent places to explore are the National Museum of Anthropology in Polanco, the Templo Mayor Museum near the city center, and the artisan market in the southwest corner of the historic center.

For more ideas on places to visit in Mexico City, head over to my post How To Spend 3 Days In Mexico City.

You should also read my post on the best day trips from Mexico City.



The next stop on this three-week Mexico itinerary is Puebla, only a short drive from Mexico City.

This municipality was founded in 1531 and has the richest Catholic diocese. The city is famous for its Talavera pottery, a tin-glazed earthenware that originated in Talavera de la Reina, Spain.

Try the delicious cuisine

Puebla is known for its delicious local cuisine. Some famous Puebla cuisine foods are cemitas, chiles en nogada, tacos arabes, and chalupas.

But the most well-known dish from Puebla is mole poblano, which is actually considered Mexico’s national dish.

This dish contains a sauce made of sugar and cocoa, which is combined with chili peppers and usually served on top of turkey or chicken.

To discover how mole poblano is made, you may want to join this excellent cooking class. It’s a five-hour culinary tour that shows you all the secrets to Puebla’s excellent cuisine.

For more culinary tips, you should read my post What To Eat In Mexico.


The historic center

There’s a lot to do in the historic center of Puebla. One of the most notable sites is the Puebla Cathedral, a stunning 16th-century cathedral in the heart of the city. Right across from the cathedral, you’ll find Biblioteca Palafoxiana, the first public library in the Americas.

There are also tons of cute coffee shops with a view of the cathedral, shops, and plenty of street food.


How to Get to Puebla

Unless you have a car, one of the best options to get to Puebla from Mexico City is via bus. The journey journey takes about two hours, and the buses in Mexico are reasonably priced. The ride is also surprisingly comfortable.

The best place to catch the bus to Puebla is the TAPO terminal. Buses on this route run all day and depart every 15 or 30 minutes.

My post How To Get From Mexico City To Puebla gives more detailed information on how to make the trip between the two cities.


Where to Stay in Puebla

There are plenty of good accommodation options in Puebla.

Azul Talavera Hotel – This is a high-end luxury hotel located in the center of Puebla. It’s in the perfect location for all your exploring, and you’ll be able to return to your clean and spacious room. It has a fitness center, outdoor swimming pool, and a large garden,

Hotel Diana – This hotel offers all the best services at a reasonable price. Hotel Diana has very modern and cozy decor, making guests feel comfortable and classy all at the same time. You can enjoy a few drinks at the hotel bar or sit on the terrace and enjoy the view.


Sample Puebla City itinerary

DAY ONE – In the morning or early afternoon, visit the central church and main square in downtown Puebla, walk along the shopping street, sample some local street food, and visit the first-ever public library downtown. In the later afternoon, you can visit one of the parks and get a chiles en nogoda for dinner.

DAY TWO – Visit the volcanos and national parks just outside of Puebla. This full-day tour departs Puebla early in the morning and takes you to Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl. The hike is rather challenging but very worth it.

DAY THREE – Spend the morning around Cholula. Climb up the church and pyramid on the hill and explore the small, magic town (pueblo magico) of Cholula. You could also switch this day to “DAY ONE”, depending on which you’d like more time for.

You should also read my post The Best Things To Do In Puebla for more ideas on things to do in Puebla during your trip.

road trip to Mexico


Oaxaca, where you will spend three nights, is located in southwestern Mexico. This is one of the 32 states in the Federal Entities of Mexico, divided into 570 different municipalities and home to many indigenous people in its population, including the Zapotecs and Mixtecs. The capital city is Oaxaca de Juarez.

There are many things to do in Oaxaca. The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption and the Church of Santo Domingo are certainly important landmarks. The Zocalo is the main square where you can unwind in the sun and enjoy a coffee.

There are also some wonderful day trips just outside of Oaxaca. The town of Tule, not too far from downtown Oaxaca, has a tree that is about 1500 years old and is known to be one of the largest in the world.

Additionally, Hierve el Agua is a fascinating petrified waterfall with great views of the city. This is a great day trip, and many tours around Oaxaca include it in the Mexico itinerary.

Monte Alban

Historical and cultural sites near Oaxaca

There are two main cultural sites within reach of Oaxaca City, Monte Alban and Mitla.

Monte Alban was once a major Zapotec metropolis and is now one of the most important archaeological sites in Mesoamerica. The site includes many impressive archeological structures, including pyramids, terraces, and canals.

Mitla is the most important archeological site of the Zapotec culture. It’s generally believed that Mitla was established as an ancient Zapotec burial site, and you can explore these remains today.

This Monte Alban and the Art of Oaxaca tour visits Monte Alban, San Antonio Arrazola, and Cuilapam de Guerrero.

This Natural and Cultural Highlights Day Tour is a guided tour that goes to the ancient Tule tree, the Mitla archeological site, and Hierve el Agua.

Photo by Crystal Egan @shutterstock

Shop around the artisan markets

Between Monte Alban, Mitla, Hierve el Agua, Tule town, and the beautiful churches around the city, you’ll be plenty busy. However, if you have the time, make sure to explore some of the local artisan and food markets.

Mercado 20 de Noviembre is one of the largest markets in Oaxaca. It’s a traditional “everything” market, which means you’ll find clothes, fresh foods, prepared food, fruits and vegetables, and souvenirs throughout the multi-block stretch.

Mercado Benito Juarez is another great place to grab lunch or browse for souvenirs to bring home. This one’s a little more touristy but still a wonderful place to explore.

Monte Alban

How to Get to Oaxaca

To get from Puebla to Oaxaca by bus will cost you around 35 USD. The trip takes about six hours from Puebla, and buses depart hourly from Puebla CAPU station.

If you would prefer to drive, it certainly is the fastest way, but the combination of the rental car and gas cost makes it a bit more expensive overall. This drive should take just over four hours, and it’s very scenic: you will be going through valleys scattered with beautiful cacti.

Make sure to also read my post How To Get From Mexico City To Oaxaca.

best places to stay in Oaxaca
Photo by SL-Photography @shutterstock

Where to Stay in Oaxaca

There are plenty of good places to stay in Oaxaca.

Hotel Escondido – This is an exclusive and luxurious adults-only experience. It’s a classy hotel with great decor, comfortable rooms, and an unbeatable location near downtown.

One Oaxaca Centro – This is a more modest hotel, perfect for budget-conscious travelers who are looking for a comfortable and clean place to stay. It’s about a 10-minute walk from the Zocalo and in a safe and quiet neighborhood.

I have written a more in-depth guide on The Best Places To Stay In Oaxaca, highlighting the best areas and the best hotels in the city.

day trips from Oaxaca

Sample Oaxaca City itinerary

DAY ONE – I strongly recommend spending your first day in Oaxaca exploring the city itself. Go on a long walk to all the main areas, stroll through the local markets, grab a hot coffee and sit in the center square, and just soak in the rich culture and delicious food.

DAY TWO – Once you’re familiar with the downtown area, you’re ready to get out and explore. I’d recommend looking into full-day tours for one or two of your days in Oaxaca because this is the best way to make the most of your time. This Oaxaca: Monte Alban and the Art of Oaxaca is the perfect tour that visits Monte Alban, San Antonio Arrazola, Cuilapam de Guerrero, and San Bartolo Coyotepec.

DAY THREE – Join another guided tour to visit Hierve del Agua, Mitla, and the Tree of Tule. I recommend the From Oaxaca: Natural and Cultural Highlights Guided Tour.

DAY FOUR – Get up early and prepare for your departure to San Cristobal. If you find you have the time, I recommend walking up to the Auditorio Guelaguetza, which overlooks Oaxaca for some last-minute city views.

San Cristobal de las Casas

San Cristobal de las Casas

San Cristobal de las Casas, the fourth stop on this Mexico itinerary, is considered the cultural capital of Chiapas.

The city was designated as a national historic monument in 1974. San Cristobal sits in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains. The town center’s architecture is Spanish Colonial, so you’ll spot many buildings with red tile roofs and cobblestone streets.

Walk around the city center

Your time spent in San Cristobal would not be complete without a visit to the market and the main church.

The cathedral is just north of the main square and is the focal point of the town, and the façade was completed in 1721. The open-air market adjacent to the church has many handmade crafts for sale.

San Juan Chamula

Explore nearby towns

Day trips from San Cristobal to consider taking are Zinacantan and San Juan Chamula. Zinacantan translates to the ‘land of bats’ and is rich in Mayan history. San Juan Chamula is located just six miles outside of San Cristobal, and its notable sites include the Church of San Juan and the local culture of the indigenous Tzotzil Maya people.

You may want to consider this guided day trip, which departs daily from San Cristobal de las Casas to San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan.

For more ideas on things to do and places to visit, check out my post, The Best Guide To San Cristobal De Las Casas.

Cerro Guadalupe

How to Get to San Cristobal

When we first visited, my sister and I opted to fly to Tuxtla Gutierrez and, from there, drive to San Cristobal. There are many reasonably priced flights from Oaxaca to Tuxtla Gutierrez, and this would involve a layover in Mexico City.

From there you can rent a car and drive on to San Cristobal. The driving time between these two points is just over an hour. Be sure to catch an early morning flight and stop en route and spend some time at Canyon de Sumidero.

If you’re up for a long ride, you can also take a bus from Oaxaca to San Cristobal. The bus takes about 12 hours and costs around 60 USD. I’d recommend taking a night bus, so you can, hopefully, sleep through the ride.

Canyol del Sumidero

Where to Stay in San Cristobal

If you are looking for a good place to stay in San Cristobal, you will have ample choice.

Hotel Bo – This hotel is luxurious and convenient, all in one little package. The hotel is only a five-minute walk from San Cristobal Church and Central Park. The rooms are decked out with Egyptian cotton sheets and other high-end products, and the interior and exterior are very elegant.

Hotel Grand Maria – This hotel comes at a more affordable price, with a similar level of class and elegance. The grounds are beautiful, with tons of plants and wildlife. The rooms are a little more basic but very comfortable.

El Chiflon

Sample San Cristobal itinerary

DAY ONE – Stop at Sumidero Canyon on your way to San Cristobal and explore the incredible canyon and nature in this region. If you want to head to San Cristobal first, you can join a tour from town to Sumidero Canyon. In the late afternoon, explore the town of San Cristobal.

DAY TWO – Get out of town for a few hours and visit some nearby villages. I recommend this tour to San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan.

DAY THREE – If you can fit it into your itinerary, spend a day exploring some of the nearby waterfalls. I recommend this excellent day trip from San Cristobal to Chiflon Waterfalls and Montebello.



Palenque, the fifth stop on this Mexico itinerary, is a Mayan state that began approximately 226 BC.

It was an area that flourished in the seventh century. After the decline of the state, it was overcome by an overgrowth of vegetation. It has since been restored and has become another great historical site.

Palenque Archeological Site

A highlight of the two nights in Palenque will be a visit to the Palenque Archeological site. Although smaller than other archeological sites, like Chichen Itza, Palenque is renowned for some of the best ancient Mayan sculptures, carvings, and architecture.

It is estimated that only a small portion of Palenque has been uncovered, and a large area of the site is still buried under jungle vegetation.

Make sure you also read my post, The Best Guide To Palenque Ruins.

Agua Azul

Swim in the beautiful waterfalls

There is a lot of jungle and rainforest surrounding Palenque, and some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Mexico are also there.

Agua Azul is on the route to San Cristobal and consists of layered waterfalls up a hillside. If you go during the right time, the water is crystal clear, refreshing, and full of life. It’s a stunning piece of nature.

Misol-Ha is another waterfall that’s worth a visit and is even closer to Palenque. The cascade here consists of one large waterfall, falling a distance of 35 meters (115 ft) into a small circular pit. If you want to cool off, it’s a great place for a refreshing swim.

This Agua Azul and Misol-Ha tour covers transportation from Palenque to the two beautiful waterfalls. Note that this tour is primarily your transportation and does not include a guided tour.

My post, A Complete Guide To Agua Azul Waterfalls, gives more details about this unique attraction.

Agua Azul

How to Get to Palenque

The drive from San Cristobal to Palenque is 132 miles (202 km) and should take around six hours. It’s quite scenic, but to be honest, it can be really challenging as the road is very windy. There are also lots of speed bumps and many small villages. The first time I did it, I was with my sister, and we took turns driving.

If you’d like, you can stop and visit the Agua Azul and Misol Ha waterfalls on your way. We did this to break up the journey a bit.

If you take a private bus company like ADO, the driver will likely take the long way around to avoid any roadblocks in Ocosingo. The ride takes about 8 hours and is recommended as a night bus to avoid losing a day to travel.

This guided day trip from San Cristobal may be a good alternative to visiting Palenque and Agua Azul in case you don’t want to drive.

Palenque Ruins

Where to Stay in Palenque

There are plenty of convenient places to stay in Palenque.

Hotel Boutique Quinta Chanabnal – This is the most luxurious boutique hotel in Palenque. The hotel is set back in a tropical garden, making it a very peaceful place to relax after traveling all night or day.

Hotel Chablis Palenque – This is a mid-range option for those looking to save a little on accommodation. And while the price is reasonable, it has a beautiful pool, hot tub, and restaurant onsite. The rooms are also very spacious and comfortable. We stayed there on our first trip and found it to be very good value for money.

Misol Ha

Sample Puebla itinerary

DAY ONE – Depending on what time you get there, you can just spend your first day exploring the busy streets of Palenque. There’s a walking and bicycle path that runs on the side of the highway. Sometimes you can hear families of howler monkeys here. If you’re not going on a full-day tour of the Palenque Ruins and waterfalls, I’d recommend visiting Palenque Ruins on your first day.

DAY TWO – This should be your only full day in Palenque, so you should try to see a little of everything. If you visited Palenque Ruins on Day 1, then you should spend this day visiting Misol-Ha and Agua Azul Waterfalls. This is an excellent tour that brings you to Misol-Ha, Agua Azul, and Palenque Archeological Ruins.

DAY THREE – If you have time in the morning, you should visit the Aluxes Eco Park in Palenque before you head out.



During your one-night stay in Campeche, you can stroll around this city, which was founded in 1540, and along the lovely Malecon. A highlight of this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the Spanish colonial walls, which were constructed to keep pirates out.

You can take a walking tour of Campeche and learn about its history. The buildings and homes here have 18th-century Moorish and Spanish colorful facades. There are many stories behind these structures just waiting to be discovered during your visit!

Malecon Campeche

Walk along the Malecón

A malecón, in Latin America, refers to a boardwalk along the water. The malecón in Campeche is beautiful, offering perfect views of the city from the water. You can easily spend an entire morning or afternoon here people-watching and soaking in the sun.


Visit the archeological sites

There are several lesser-known archeological sites within driving distance of Campeche. This is a really unique experience because they’re often less crowded and very peaceful compared to the big-name Mayan ruins.

Edzna and Calakmul are two ruins that can be easily visited from Campeche. It’s best to visit these with a guide, as you can learn more about the intriguing history behind it all.

This Edzna and Campeche City Tour is the perfect way to explore the ruins and learn more about the history of the city.

This Calakmul Guided Nature and History tour is perfect for those who want an easy and informative trip to Calakmul.

You should also read my post What To See And Do In Campeche for more ideas on things to do and places to visit in the area.

best places to visit in Campeche

How to Get to Campeche

It takes around 5 hours to drive from Palenque to Campeche, along roads 186 and 180D. The drive is pretty fast and easy on well-traveled highways.

You can also take a bus from Palenque to Campeche. ADO has several buses between the two cities every day. The trip usually takes just under 7 hours, and bus tickets cost around 40 USD.

Where to Stay in Campeche

There are plenty of hotels in Campeche. Here are my recommendations:

Hacienda Puerta Campeche – This hotel is perfect for luxury travelers. While it’s a little pricey compared to other Campeche accommodations, the hotel grounds are beautiful, and the rooms are comfortable. The hotel has a large swimming pool and is finely decorated in the traditional colors of the state.

Hotel Francis Drake – This is a mid-range hotel right in the city center. The architecture follows the colonial patterns of nearby buildings, and the interior feels very authentic. The hotel is also very clean and quiet.

Sample Campeche itinerary

DAY ONE – I would try to plan for one full day in Campeche. On the first day, visit one of the archeological zones near Campeche. These are really special because they are much less crowded than others.

DAY TWO – The last morning and afternoon, explore the beautiful town of Campeche. Walk along the Malecon and admire the incredible architecture and historical buildings.



Merida is the largest city and the capital of Yucatan. It has been heavily influenced by Mayan culture, with an estimated 75 percent of the city’s population being of Mayan heritage.

The city is packed with museums, art galleries, shops, and restaurants. While in Merida, you can visit the market, the zocalo, and the cathedral so you can absorb the city’s incredible vibe.

Cenote Dzitnup
My sister enjoying swimming in a cenote

Swim in the cenotes

Cenotes are unique to the Yucatan region. They are essentially freshwater swimming spots, often in the middle of the jungle. A complex cave system connects all the cenotes in the region.

Be sure to take some time and cool off at Cenote Ik Kil and Los Tres Cenotes de Cuzama, which are located nearby.

I recommend this guided tour of Cuzama Cenotes from Merida which takes away any logistic hassle.

If you want to explore more cenotes in the region, check out my guides on The Best Cenotes In Mexico and The Best Cenotes Near Merida.

Great Pyramid Uxmal

Visit the archeological sites

Some people visit Chichen Itza from Merida, but if you’re following my guide, you’ll go to Valladolid next and visit Chichen Itza from there.

But if you haven’t gotten tired of ancient Mayan ruins and want to see more, there are many options.

Uxmal and Kabah are two wonderful archeological sites worth visiting if you have the time and interest. They are significantly less crowded and more peaceful than other well-known sites.

This Uxmal, Chocolate Museum, and Cenote Tour is the perfect way to escape the city and experience more of the natural beauty in the area.

Check out my posts on The Best Things To Do In Merida for more fun ideas.

Uxmal Ruins

How to Get to Merida

Merida is about 2 hours and 15 minutes drive from Campeche. You will have to follow road 180. The drive is considered very safe, so you shouldn’t have any problems.

You can also take a bus from Campeche to Merida, which takes about 3 hours and costs around $25 USD.

Where to Stay in Merida

There are plenty of good hotels in Merida, so you won’t have trouble finding a good place to stay. Here are my recommendations.

Wayam Mundo Imperial – This is the perfect luxury hotel for those who want to be pampered in Merida. This hotel features an outdoor swimming pool, garden, private terrace attached to each room, and all the amenities you may need for a comfortable stay.

Kuka y Naranjo – This is the perfect hotel for those seeking some more affordable luxury accommodation. The interior design is very cute and comfortable, with tons of plants and greenery in each hallway. The rooms are simple but very comfortable.

Uxmal Ruins

Sample Merida itinerary

DAY ONE – I would spend my first day in Merida exploring the bustling city, visiting churches, and trying all the amazing street food. Joining something like this walking food tour is also a great idea on your first day because not only will you try local foods, but you’ll learn your way around the city.

DAY TWO – You should spend another day visiting some off-the-beaten-path ruins around Merida and also some cenotes. This is an excellent full-day tour that includes a visit to a chocolate museum, Uxmal archeological ruins, and some cenotes.

DAY THREE – Spend your last full day exploring more around the city or even the incredible nature. I highly recommend this tour from Merida to Ria Celestun Biosphere Nature Reserve.



Valladolid, our second to last stop in Mexico, is a city rich in Yucatan history. It is considered one of the most important cities in this region, founded at its current location in 1545 and built on top of a Maya town called Zaci.

Although you will spend only one night here, there are many things to do in Valladolid. These include visits to the House of Culture, Handicraft Market, the Cathedral of San Gervasio, and Main Center Park.

For more information, you should also read my posts, The Best Things To Do In Valladolid and The Best Valladolid Cenotes.

Packing list for Mexico

Visit Chichen Itza and other ruins

In my opinion, Valladolid is the perfect place to visit Chichen Itza. It’s the closest town to the ancient ruins, so you can leave earlier and ideally be one of the first to arrive.

As possibly the largest and most well-preserved archeological site in the world, Chichen Itza contains an endless wealth of knowledge. The world here is fascinating. For example, the main pyramid, El Castillo, was built with so much precision a serpent appears across the steps leading up during a solstice.

The scientific genius required to build these pyramids is remarkable. However, the entire known history of the settlers here is fascinating.

If this isn’t enough excitement, you can also visit the lovely “Ciudad amarilla” Izamal and many nearby cenotes.

You may want to get Chichen Itza tickets in advance.

However, I actually recommend this guided tour of Chichen Itza that departs directly from the site. Chichen Itza is quite big, and very complex, and a guide will help put everything in perspective.

You should also read my post A Complete Guide To Chichen Itza for more information.

Chichen Itza

How to Get to Valladolid

You can take an ADO bus from Merida to Valladolid. The bus takes about two and a half hours and costs around $15 USD.

If you’re driving, you can take the 101-mile route to Valladolid. This is also a great way to make several stops along the way to visit important sites such as Chichen Itza and the lovely Izamal, known as the Yellow City.

Where to Stay in Valladolid

Albeit small, Valladolid has some good accommodation options. Here are my top choices:

Hotel Posada San Juan – This is a gorgeous hotel right near the center of Valladolid. Guests can enjoy a complimentary breakfast, relaxing hammocks, and an outdoor pool. The hotel itself is very nice, clean, and quiet.

Hotel Fundadores – This is the best midrange accommodation in the area. While this hotel is more affordable, it still has a very nice pool and beautiful hotel grounds. The rooms are spacious, clean, and stocked with everything you need.

Sample Valladolid itinerary

DAY ONE – The main reason to come to Valladaolid is to visit nearby Chichen Itza. However, there’s a lot to do here. I’d recommend spending the first day visiting different cenotes and the downtown area.

DAY TWO – On your second day, wake up early and head over to Chichen Itza. This is one of the best Chichen Itza tours from Valladolid.



Tulum is the last stop on this road trip in Mexico itinerary. Tulum is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico. It is one of the last cities built by the Maya and reached its peak from the 13th to 15th centuries.

Visit archeological sites

The city is known for its massive Columbian Mayan wall that is located on the steep sea cliffs.

The wall contains watchtowers meant to protect the city. The city was abandoned after being decimated by mass death and disease brought in by Spanish settlers. Today, it is one of the best-preserved Mayan coastal sites, whose most important structures are the Temple of the Frescoes, the Temple of the Descending God, and El Castillo.

You should also read my post, A Complete Guide To Visiting Tulum Ruins.

Tulum is also close to Coba ruins, another large Mayan civilization that is less frequently visited. But if you have the time and aren’t done with ancient ruins yet, this is worth a tour.

Playa Paraiso

Wind down on the beaches

Tulum is also home to fabulous beaches. The gorgeous beaches in the region include Tulum Beach and Akumal. Akumal is a tourist beach community located near Tulum and is famous for its snorkeling and sightings of green sea turtles.

For more information, you should also read my posts, The Best Things To Do In Tulum and The Best Cenotes Near Tulum.

How to Get to Tulum

It is a 64-mile (102 km) drive to get from Valladolid to Tulum. All you need to do is travel along Valladolid-Cancun Road 180 – it should take you around 90 minutes to get there from Valladolid.

Along the way, you can stop in Coba and take a dip in Cenote Choo-Ha or Cenote Multum Ha.

If you’re traveling by bus, you can take a bus directly from Valladolid to Tulum. The bus takes around 2 hours and costs about $15 USD.

things to do in Tulum

Where to Stay in Tulum

The lodging in Tulum is considerably more expensive than in many other areas in Mexico. Here are some good options.

Jashita Hotel – This is one of the most expensive hotels in Tulum, and it has earned this right with all-out celebrity treatment and world-class service. The hotel boasts three outdoor swimming pools, private beach access, and lavish decor.

Xscape Tulum – This hotel is a great mid-range option for Tulum. It offers luxury with a beautiful outdoor swimming pool and beautiful grounds. Each room also has a seating area and comes fully stocked.

My post, The Best Places To Stay In Tulum, details the best areas to stay in Tulum and some of the best hotels.

Coba Ruins

Sample Tulum itinerary

DAY ONE – If you aren’t too tired of ruins yet, you should visit both Tulum Archeological Ruins and Coba Ruins near Tulum on your first day. This will get them out of the way.

DAY TWO – After a busy few weeks of traveling and moving around, take this day to relax and enjoy the incredible beaches, beach clubs, and beach bars. One full day to relax on the beach will feel incredible at this point

DAY THREE – Motivate one more time to get out and explore the cenotes around Tulum on the last day of your road trip to Mexico. There are literally dozens of cenotes within 20 minutes of Tulum. I personally love the Garden of Eden cenote because it has a jumping platform, great snorkeling, and refreshing water.

Isla Mujeres

Finishing your Mexico road trip

When your three-night stay in Tulum has ended, drive on to Cancun via the road connecting Chetumal to Cancun for 73 miles (118 km) to get to Cancun International Airport. Here, you can turn in your rental car and board your flight home after an unforgettable holiday!

If you’ve been hopping around on the bus, you can take an ADO bus from Tulum directly to Cancun International Airport. The ride takes about 2 hours and costs around $30 USD.

Hopefully, this three week Mexico itinerary has been useful and has helped you plan the perfect Mexico vacation, packed full of cultural experiences and unforgettable memories.


Final Consideration For This Mexico Itinerary

When To Visit Mexico

Any season in Mexico has its charm, and you can honestly travel whenever your holiday plans allow. However, for the purpose of this Mexico itinerary, it doesn’t hurt to be aware of a few things:

December to April is peak season in the Yucatan Peninsula, so you’ll have to book your accommodation and even your car in advance. Also, keep in mind that some places will be quite crowded.

Peak season is also the best season to hang out at the beach, just in case you want to extend your holidays.

July and August are among the hottest months in Yucatan.

Fall, in general, is not a good time to visit Chiapas, as it rains a lot, and some areas will be harder to reach and not nearly as charming under the rain – Agua Azul is a great example of a place that is marvelous when the sun is out, and a nightmare when it rains.

If you like the idea of following this itinerary, I recommend visiting between the end of March and the beginning of April to have gorgeous days!

For more details, head over to my post The Best Time To Visit Mexico.

things to do in Mexico

Getting Around Mexico

I drafted this Mexico itinerary thinking you’d like to go on a road trip to Mexico – that’s what I did each time I visited, and I truly enjoyed it.

My post, A Guide To Renting A Car In Mexico, provides lots of details on the technicalities of renting a car in the country. I also wrote a guide on Driving In Mexico which is based on my experience driving in the country.

However, there is no need to keep a car throughout your trip. Indeed, it’s quite easy, comfortable, and convenient to get from Mexico City to Puebla and from Puebla to Oaxaca by bus.

Just as well, the drive from Oaxaca to San Cristobal is too long and – unless you have an extra day to break the journey – you are probably better off flying from Oaxaca to Tuxtla, where you can rent a car for the rest of your Mexico road trip.

ADO is the best bus carrier in Mexico. When it comes to flights, you can count on Volaris and AeroMexico for budget options.

Finally, if you are not comfortable driving but the thought of only using public transportation is a bit daunting, why don’t you simply join a guided tour? There are plenty of excellent tours of Mexico you may want to consider.


Safety In Mexico

I’ve never had an issue during any of my trips around Mexico, but that doesn’t mean that safety is not a concern when visiting Mexico.

While tourists are never a target of cartel violence, you should keep your eyes open for petty crimes such as pickpocketing and scams (sometimes even by police officers who may stop you and threaten a fine unless you pay them a lower amount in cash and on the spot).

In general, keeping a low profile in crowded places is a good idea – don’t flash out your belongings. This doesn’t mean that you can’t carry a camera or that you should avoid talking to locals, who are indeed quite friendly.

Speaking of which! Knowing a bit of Spanish will certainly help you during your road trip to Mexico, though in the biggest tourist destinations, everyone speaks some English, so you should hardly worry. I spoke very little Spanish during my first trip and became fluent by the third visit, and I can tell you that my experience improved with my language skills!

Make sure to get good travel insurance for your trip to Mexico. To get a quote, I recommend checking out Heymondo travel insurance.

Renting a car in Mexico
This Mexico itinerary is perfect for a road trip!

Quick Packing List

Mexico is pretty much a shopping paradise, and all the places mentioned in this Mexico itinerary will offer plenty of opportunities to buy whatever you may need.

With this in mind, I recommend packing light and, in fact, leaving enough room in your suitcase or backpack to carry some souvenirs home with you.

One thing you should invest in before your trip is a water bottle such as this one, or even better, a filter such as this one – tap water in Mexico is not safe to drink otherwise.

Make sure to read my post What To Wear In Mexico for more details on what to pack for your trip.

Further Readings

Make sure to read my other posts about Mexico:

Pin It For Later!
Check out this wonderful Mexico itinerary - via @clautavani

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.