If you plan to go to Riviera Maya, here is a Tulum travel guide with tips on things to do in Tulum. Also, you will find some tips for the best restaurants and bars in Tulum because Tulum is still THE place to be in this part of Mexico!
Tulum was my very first trip to Mexico. I can’t believe I have been to this part of Mexico before going to Mexico City that has been on my bucket list for years but all those dreamy pictures of Tulum that I have seen on Instagram, and my desire to finally go back to the Caribbeans where I was born, got me go there first.
If you plan to go to Tulum here are my recommendations.
Tulum travel guide- How to get to Tulum?
If you book a resort in Tulum, chances are you will be picked up at the airport. If not, you can go by taxi, Tulum is 90minutes away from Cancun and it will cost you around 100dollars.
If you are traveling in a group, it is also best to book your transfert online.
A cheaper option is the bus from Cancun. We took the Ado bus and it costed us around 10dollars. It takes 2 hours and you arrive at the bus terminal in Cancun town. From there you can either walk if your hotel is situated in the town or take a taxi if your hotel is situated in the beach area (around 30 minutes travel time).
Enjoy the beach in Tulum
Because it would be a shame to be in the Caribbean and not enjoy the beach!! If you are not a fan of farniente, you can also book some activities such as kitesurfing or swimming with whale-shark.
The problem of seaweed on the beach in Tulum
Tulum is suffering from lots of seaweeds coming on the beach since years. It is actually a problem in all the Caribbean area. The authorities created barriers to avoid the seaweed to come on the beach but it is not that successful. However, every hotel is making tons of effort to remove the seaweed in front of their hotels. Indeed the seaweed is not very pretty but it is not dangerous so it will not make your holidays less great and you can still enjoy the beautiful beach!
Things to do in Tulum
Don’t miss Casa Magna, the vacation house of Pablo Escobar
While strolling on the beach, I was able to discover an absolutely magnificent house. This is the old house of Pablo Escobar: Casa Malca. The house is now a luxury hotel with amazing artwork. You can therefore sleep or eat there in one of the two restaurants. We tell you more below.
Tulum Ruins tour
The Tulum ruins are the most famous coastal Maya site in Mexico. Perched atop of cliffs over the ocean they are set in a very nice location and therefore are very photogenic and popular among tourist.
You can go there by yourself if you already are in Tulum or you can take a day tour or a half a day tour from Cancun. Best is to go early in the morning when it is not too hot and when there is less people.
Entrance to the Tulum ruins costs 65 pesos per person and 45 pesos extra for your camera.
Tip : take your bathing suit as there is a little beach accessible from the Tulum ruins, where it is possible to swim and refresh from the heat.
Visit Tulum town for a real Mexican atmosphere
While the hotel zone aka where the beach is, it is very touristic and has got a lot of fancy restaurants and bars, the town is very cute and authentic. If you want to experience what real Mexico is, you can’t miss Tulum town. I enjoyed exploring the neighborhood with the many colorful houses and street art.
In Tulum town you will also find cheap and tasty Mexican food. Perfect for a change to the gourmet meals served in the restaurants in the hotel area.
Finally, for all fans of Tequila, don’t miss Tequileria, a shop with a large selection of Tequila!
If you want to experience what real Mexico is, you can’t miss Tulum town.
Swim in one of Tulum’s cenotes
One of the must-do things in Tulum is to dive into a cenote. Cenotes are natural pits that form as a result of the collapse of limestone caves. Filled with rainwater a cenotes / natural swimming pool is created.
Here is a list of the most interesting cenotes:
- Cenote Zacil Ha, looks like an artificial outdoor pool carved into the rock, but the cave system extending at one end relieved the cenote of Zacil Ha to many other cenotes in the region. The place is not very big but all the same very nice with a zip line for thrill seekers.
- Cenote dos Ojos , which means the two eyes are two pools linked by a passage 400 meters long. With its turquoise waters, it is also one of the most photographed places in Tulum.
- Gran Cenote is the most famous cenote in the region and very visited. Book your entry ticket online to be sure you can access it. It’s a beautiful place with stalagmites and stalactites, and you can even swim with little turtles.
- Cenote Calavera , is composed of three pools. It is a little deeper than the other cenotes and is the perfect place to try scuba diving very popular in this part of Mexico. It seems very different from diving in the sea because it is much darker and the passage from one cenote to another can be very narrow!
Shopping in Tulum
Tulum is a little shopping paradise. You can find nice clothing as well as artisanal products in the many air shops. Especially in the hotel area, you will find many designers shops so shopping in Tulum is not cheap but it is for sure a great pleasure for the eyes.
La troupe, Hoki Poki Kana, Mr Blackbird and Mixik are some of the best shops! But there is many to discover. Just take the main road and walk along to discover them all.
Also for more affordable shopping, Tulum town is a great place as well especially for souvenirs shops!
The best bars and restaurants in Tulum!
There is a great going out culture in Tulum so you will find both in Tulum town and Tulum playa, lots of bars serving great cocktails. For the food, it is more expensive than in town and more gourmet than authentic Mexican food but at least you will have many healthy and local food.
Best restaurants in Tulum
My favorite bars in town is Encanto and Batey. Perfect for a drink under the week. Indeed parties starts in the hotel area on Thursdays!
In the hotel zone you will want to try :
- La Suerte del Coyote – more of a restaurant than a bar with a laidback atmosphere candlelight. So romantic! They serves mezcals from Mexico only!
- Gitano they serve great Mezcal cocktails and they also do salsa nights on some evenings! For tequila lovers, you will want to check out Ziggy’s.
- Casa Jaguar – The menu offers a delicious mix of Mexican, local food and healthy ceviche dishes.
- Nomad for great Tacos
- Cetli, one of the most popular restaurants in Tulum, its specialty and moles and very good margarita with ingredients like hibiscus or tamarind.
- Posada Margherita, for the sea view. Perfect during the sunset. It is also the most popular Italian restaurant in Tulum. It’s perfect if you have had enough of Mexican dishes;)
Going out in Tulum
My favorite bars in town are Encanto and Batey. Perfect for having a drink on Sunday or Monday. Otherwise, from Wednesday, here are the evenings:
- Papaya Playa Project: famous for its full moon parties this place is a legend in Tulum. these silks take place on the Saturday evening before the full moon. You will meet models, artists, trendy tourists and even children dancing to the sound of the world’s most famous DJs.
- On Wednesday, start your week of fiesta at Nomade . The atmosphere is chill out and perfect to get in the mood for what will follow for the rest of the week.
- Thursday at Gitano to dance salsa! They also serve very good cocktails with Mezcal.
- on Fridays at Casa Jaguar to eat tacos and dance on the beach to electronic sounds.
Beach bars in Tulum
Don’t miss the beach bar Coco Tulum with it’s swing chairs. It is best to go at sunset!!
Papaya Playa Project is an institution and was inspired by one of Berlin’s most famous club the bar 25. Who says Berlin says wild party so this is what will awaits you at the Papaya Playa Project in Tulum. Great dancing in the weekend and good drinks all day long 🙂
Mezzanine, where you will sit as the name says in a mezzanine with views over the ocean!
Tip : check out every place’s agenda as some bars have only parties on certain days 🙂
Day trip to Chichen Itza from Tulum and Il Kil Cenote
One of the seven world wonder is only 2 hours away from Tulum so take a tour or the bus (cheap and very easy option) to go to Chichen Itza. If you choose to take the bus, take the VIP ticket to enter Chichen Itza to avoid the queues.
If you go to Chichen Itza you can go to Il Kil Cenote at the same time. I had so much fun there!
Tip : Don’t make the same mistake I did. Ask your taxi driver to wait for you as there is no taxi waiting outside the Cenote otherwise you will desperately wait for a taxi to pass by. I waited almost one hour 😀
You can also go on a half a day organized tour if you want to avoid any stress.
Where to stay in Tulum?
Hotels in Tulum
Tulum has some very nice hotels. Prices can vary from a hundred euros per night to several hundred euros per night.
We stayed in two hotels that I can recommend: Hotel Rosa del Viento and Hotel Luv Tulum. These two hotels are very quiet and located on the beach. I prefer them to hotels which are much more lively at night and where it is almost impossible to sleep. After that, a lot of people go to Tulum to party so that’s part of the game too.
Among the most famous hotels in Tulum there is Azulik, an eco-friendly luxury hotel which offers eco-friendly villas in nature or Papaya Playa which is part of a design hotel and which is known for its great evenings with international DJs!
Villas in Tulum
For those who prefer to rent a villa with friends, there are also some great villas to rent in Tulum. Here is a small selection found on Airbnb.
Fazit, holidays in Tulum
I hope you enjoyed my Tulum travel guide.As you can see there are many things to do in Tulum and you won’t be bored any second. If you have the time to move around, check out Isla Holbox which seems to be amazing. Also the city of Campeche and it’s surrounding beaches look amazing.