Mexico travel itinary – the ideal travel route for 2-3 weeks in Yucatán
If you are looking for an out of the box travel destination where you can combine, sun, sea, history, nature and where you can do awesome things and make a beautiful road trip. The mexican Yucatán region is the ideal destination to do these things. This region is located in the south of Mexico and is ideal to discover with a rental car. Are you ready for your Yucatán Road trip?
We did a 2-week road trip around Yucatán and climbed historical Maya temples, floated in handmade mangroves, spotted flamingos and crocodiles, wandered through authentic, colonial cities and dived in ancient cenotes. If you are looking for a travel route through Yucatán, this 2 week road trip will help you to see the most beautiful of south Mexico.
Traveling with a rental car in Mexico, Yucatán
During our entire stay we rented a car with the company America Car Rental. We booked this with carflexi prior to our trip. You can choose where you want to pick up your car and what time. For around 35,- euro’s a day we had all the freedom and could stop wherever we want. Traveling with a rental car is a big tip if you are plannnig to visit Yucatán. The traffic is not dangerous and the roads are pleasant to drive on. You don’t need an international drivers license, however a credit card is needed to make the booking and to guarantee as a deposit.
Tip: We downloaded the app maps.me which downloads the complete map when you have internet so you can use the app offline whenever you want.
How many weeks do you need for this route?
The distances between the destinations in Yucatán are luckly not too big and the roads are in good condition. This makes it easy to travel between all the different places to be. For this travel route I recommend a visit of minimun 2 weeks. However, if you want to do things in a slower pace a visit of 3 weeks is the best option.
The travel Route
Cancún- Start of you Yucatán road trip
Cancún will most likely be the starting point of your Yucatán road trip because, flying on Cancún is cheap and simply offers the most flights. It is a huge city with lot’s of tourists, bigs hotels & nightclubs and the prices are relatively high. Therefore, my advise to leave Cancún as quickly as you can and go to all the gorgeous places the peninsula of Yucatán has to offer. However, the best thing to do is to stay 1 night in Cancún to recover from your long trip so you can start your journey well rested.
Isla Holbox is the perfect place to start off your Mexico trip! Life on this beautiful island just goes a bit slower and people come here mainly to relax. The island offers some great beach clubs, wide beaches, never ending sandbanks and dazzling street arts
There are several places around the island where you can spot flamingos and between May and September you can even snorkel with whale sharks!
You can reach this tropical paradise in an hour or two from Cancun.
Cancun to Isla Holbox: First you have to drive from Cancùn to the harbor Chiquilá. It is a 2 hour drive from Cancun to Chiquilá port. There you can park your car safely in a paid parking and thereafter you take the ferry to Isla Holbox. This ferry wil take about 15 minutes. We took the ferry with the company: 9 Hermanos (see picture for the ticket). You can easily buy tickets at the port, as there is only 1 place to buy them.
(Our ferry ticket.)
If you want to visit an old colonial city with a typical Mexican character, Valladolid is the place to be. For me Valladolid was the highlight of this Yucatán road trip because I felt that I got to know the real and traditional Mexico. The local people were so kind and proudly wanted to show us the typical Mexican crafts passed down by the generations.
The colorful city is the third largest city in Yucatán in terms of surface area, but can easily be explored by foot. The center of the city has a central square surrounded with local handcraft shops and delicious restaurants.
The coolest sights of the region are outside the city. You will find hundreds of cenotes here, beautiful Mayan temples and colonial villages. This makes Valladolid the perfect base to explore the area around it.
Rio Lagartos & Las Coloradas
Río Lagartos is a sleepy fishing village on the northern tip of the Yucatán peninsula where not many tourists come. Most visitors come to Rio Lagartos to take a boat trip through the stunning mangrove forests, to spot flamingos, pelicans, crocodiles, spider monkeys and turtles. The UNESCO biosphere reserve is also called Río Lagartos and is Yucatán’s largest wetland area. It is a huge reserve of mangroves, estuaries, salt flats, dunes, swamps, beaches, dry forest and jungle combined with a varied animal kingdom.
When you’ve parked your car in the sleepy city you can easily book a boat tour to visit the reserve with the many sellers in the harbor.
Las Coloradas is also a good reason to visit Río Lagartos. The Las Coloradas area is part of the Río Lagartos biosphere reserve and a 20 min. drive from the Río Lagartos town.
Here you find the pink salty lakes. The lakes have this color because there is a certain algae in the water. Make sure that when you visit this place the sun shines and it is around 12/1 PM, then the water is really pink, even without photoshop.
Cobá is an old Maya complex in the middle of the Mexican Jungle. It is a 48 min. car ride from Valladolid to Cobá. Unlike Chichén Itzá, it is still possible to climb one of the ancient pyramids in Cobá. After a steep climb you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of the jungle. Cobá has several buildings that are quite far apart, luckly you can rent bicycles here. Because I am a typical Dutch person, I love to bicycle so I chose for this option. However, if you are not into biking you can also rent a bicycle taxi that will take you to the most beautiful places in Cobá.
Tulum is a dreamy, laid back beach paradise. There are many cozy bars where you can enjoy some delicious and healthy food or a fresh made smoothie. The atmosphere in Tulum is very relaxed and fortunately not quite as massive as Playa del Carmen or Cancun. In addition, the beaches are fantastic with fine white powder sand and azure blue water, it is just gorgeous! This is definitely a place where you will linger longer than planned! We stayed 4 days in Tulum. The only thing that I missed in Tulum was the authenticity of Mexico. You can notice that lot’s of influencers and travel bloggers visit this place. This doesn’t make it less nice but it is good to keep this in mind.
Sian Ka’ an
Sian Ka’an is a biosphere reserve in Quintana Roo, it is located 1,5 hour south from Tulum . This biosphere reserve is a sublime area of natural beauty. It is home to thousands of spiecies of flora and fauna. It has been a national park since 1986 and world heritage since 1987. The name Sian Ka’an comes from the Maya and means ‘gift from heaven’.
We did the tour ‘ancient Maya route’ , this tour was quite expensive but worth every penny. It is so expensive because Sian Ka’an is one of the most spectacular and ecologically diverse places on earth, locals want to keep it that way and want to avoid mass tourism.
For me this tour was really special. We had to put on lifejackets and just float along with the current in the handmade mangroves. The place is so full of beauty, history and silence which all combines to a very special experience.
Bacalar – End of your Yucatán road trip
Bacalar in Mexico is a hidden paradise that has not yet been discovered by mass tourism (which is good for us!) The water in this gorgeous lake can be compered to Bora Bora and The Maledives because yes, it is that crystal clear.
Because there still isn’t that much tourism there is not to much to do. The main things you can do here are admire the beauty of the lake, relax or go sailing/kayaking. You can spend 1 or 2 full days here!
Bacalar is a 3 hour drive from Tulum and is also the end of your Yucatán road trip!
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