What to do and see in Mexico in 29, 30 or 31 days
Do you want to visit Mexico in 1 month?
To help you plan your trip, here is my suggestion of the best 29, 30 or 31 day Mexico itinerary from Mexico City to Cancun .
You will therefore start with the great capital of Mexico , before continuing to Oaxaca , where you will discover its artists, its unmissable sites as well as the process of making the famous mezcal.
You will continue towards Chiapas , known for the site of Palenque , but also for its traditions and its incredible natural sites such as the Sumidero Canyon and the Montebello Lagoons .
You will then explore the great Yucatan Peninsula , starting with the great city of Calakmul in the Campeche jungle , then the Bacalar Lagoon , Mérida , Valladolid and the famous Mayan site of Chichen Itzá.
For each stage, you will find my practical advice , my hotel recommendations for all budgets and car and bus journeys .
So what to do and see in Mexico in a month?
Day 1-3: Mexico City
Welcome to Mexico!
The Benito-Juárez International Airport in Mexico City is the most important airport in Latin America and receives many flights from North America and Europe.
It is therefore the ideal starting point for your great one-month road trip in Mexico!
Upon arrival, take possession of your rental car.
After dropping off your luggage at the hotel, set off without delay to discover the great city of Mexico, as there is so much to do and see.
Here are some ideas for visiting Mexico City in 2 or 3 days:
- Visit the National Museum of Anthropology one of the most important museums in the world and the magnificent Castillo de Chapultepec – Buy your tickets with guided tour here!
- Attend the famous show of the Folkloric Ballet of Mexico which presents the typical dances of Mexico – Buy your tickets here!
- The historic center of Mexico City: the cathedral and the templo mayor, the Diego Rivera murals in the Government Palace, the Zocalo, the facade of the Casa de los Azulejos, the Palacio de Bellas-Artes. Plan for half a day.
- Frida Kahlo ‘s house in the neighborhood of Coyoacan and the canals of Xochimilco. You can book the visit here!
- See the mariachi in Plaza Garibaldi at night, tequila in hand – Book your mariachi party here with hotel pick-up
- Stroll through the pretty neighborhoods of La Roma and Condesa with their parks, bars, restaurants, terraces and shops
- Attend a Mexican wrestling match (lucha libre) – Reserve your place for the fight (which includes mask and tequila!)
- Teotihuacan is arguably Mexico City’s biggest must-see! Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is believed to be one of the largest cities in the world. Book your morning guided tour here, to avoid the crowds.
A great way to get an overview of the city when you arrive is to take the tourist bus which takes you to all the major attractions of the city.
I’ve done it several times and always loved the experience! In addition, the ticket is valid all day, on the 4 routes offered, and you can get on and off as many times as you want. 😀
Accommodation in Mexico City
- Hostel Mundo Joven Catedral (historic center): one of the best hostels in Mexico City. Friendly staff, simple but clean dorms and rooms. We fell in love with its roof terrace with bar which offers a great atmosphere in addition to an exceptional view of the cathedral and the Zocalo. From only €14 in a dormitory and €30 in a private room!
- Hotel Villa Condesa (Condesa): if you are looking for a romantic hotel in Mexico City, here is a small oasis of peace in the heart of the La Condesa district. It is an elegant house with small green terraces and tastefully decorated seating areas. The rooms are spacious and modern, the service is particularly attentive and the breakfast is very good. From 150€ per night
- Hotel Casa Goliana (Roma Norte): upscale hotel with the best value for money in its category, located in an early 20th century house, typical of the La Roma district. Roof terrace, comfortable rooms, very attentive staff and good breakfast. From 180 euros per night
- Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City (Juarez): this 5* hotel is one of the best hotels in Mexico City, ideal for a business trip or a romantic getaway. Located on Paseo de la Reforma between Colonia Juarez and Roma Norte. Large indoor garden, gym, swimming pool, spa, restaurant and bar. From 600 euros per night!
Day 4-7: Oaxaca
This trip to Mexico continues to the region of Oaxaca, known for its cultural and gastronomic richness.
Also read: Top 20 things to do in Oaxaca!
Day 1 – You will spend the day on the road, from Mexico City to the city of Oaxaca de Juárez.
This is the very beginning of your tour in Mexico, so I suggest doing the direct trip, but if you prefer to do it in 2 days, you can also plan a stop in Tehuacan (3h30 from Mexico City).
Take a trip to the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Biosphere Reserve, and more specifically to Zapotitlán to discover the Jardín Botánico Helia Bravo Hollis with a guide from the community.
It is then possible to sleep on site, or in the city of Tehuacán.
Getting to Oaxaca from Mexico City:
- By car: 5h45 taking the México – Puebla / México 150D and México 135D highway to Oaxaca de Juárez
- By bus: 6h-7h (day and night) with ADO from terminal del Norte or with AU from terminal TAPO
- By plane: 1h-1h15 with Viva Aerobus, Volaris and Aeromexico
Day 2- Visit Oaxaca de Juarez, the beautiful capital of the state of Oaxaca
You will be able to see:
- The Church and Ex-Convent of Santo Domingo de Guzman where the Museum of Cultures and the Ethnobotanical Garden are located
- The Mercado 20 de noviembre and its grilled meat section called “Pasillo de Humo”, a must for foodies. The Benito Juarez market is also a must see!
- The main square (zocalo) with the cathedral, the Government Palace with magnificent murals
- From the zocalo, walk on Calle Dr. Aurelio Valdivieso which becomes Calle Macedonio with shops, cafes, restaurants
- Oaxaca’s handicraft market where you can find the typical colorful clothes actually made by local artisans (and not just imitations)
- If you are interested in arts and crafts, I also recommend the Textile Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Spend the night in Oaxaca
Day 3- Monte Alban
Only 20 minutes from Oaxaca is Monte Albán.
Declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco, this former Zapotec capital is one of the most important archaeological sites in Mexico!
You can visit the tombs, squares, stelae, the pelota court, the Palace and the Grande Place, in addition to the museum which is very interesting.
After Monte Albán, take the opportunity to explore the surrounding villages.
Go to Cuilapam de Guerrero to see its ex-Dominican convent (16C ).
Discover the workshops of alebrijes – important figures of Mexican folk art – in San Antonio Arrazola or San Martin Tilcajete.
Visit San Bartolo Coyotepec to see the finest examples of “ barro negro ”, black clay pottery.
You can also book the Monte Alban excursion with pick-up from your hotel in Oaxaca, which also includes the route of the villages.
Day 4- Boil the Water
First stop of the day: Santa Maria el Tule where “ El arbol de Tule ” is located , declared Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
It has one of the largest trunks in the world and is said to be one of the oldest trees in the world!
Continue to Teoti lán del Valle, known for the quality of its natural-dyed wool crafts , then visit the archaeological site of Mitla, which was the second most important ceremonial center of the Zapotec civilization.
Not far from Mitla is Hierve el Agua, petrified waterfalls formed thousands of years ago due to the high concentration of minerals in the water.
Here you can see the impressive rock formations, get an incredible view of the surroundings and bathe in the thermal waters.
There is also an irrigation system and terraces built by the Zapotecs 2500 years ago!
Return to Oaxaca to spend the night.
Getting to Hierve el Agua from Oaxaca:
- By car: take Carretera 190 towards Istmo de Tehuantepec, then take the detour to Hierve el Agua via Carretera 179
- By bus: Take a colectivo or bus from here to Mitla (50 min), then another colectivo from Mitla terminal to Hierve el Agua (50 min)
- On an organized excursion: this is the best option so you don’t have to worry about transport because it includes pick-up at your hotel in Oaxaca.
Accommodation in Oaxaca
- Andaina Youth Hostel : here is the best option to sleep cheap in Oaxaca. It’s a small hotel perfectly located a stone’s throw from the zocalo, with a roof terrace, clean rooms and a good atmosphere. From only 13 euros in a dormitory or 21 euros for a room per night!
- Casa Barroco Oaxaca : the hotel is located a stone’s throw from the main square, in a colonial house classified as Historic Heritage with two pretty patios. From just 77 euros per night!
- Casa de Sierra Azul : for more comfort, here is a 19th century house with a lot of charm, with very welcoming, green and carefully decorated common areas. Bicycles available to guests and a good restaurant on site. From just 120 euros per night!
- Quinta Real Oaxaca : this boutique hotel located in a former 16C convent is the ideal place for lovers. It has retained its authentic character while offering modern comfort and a romantic atmosphere. Beautiful gardens, swimming pool, gym, restaurant, mezcal bar and live music on weekends. From 272 euros per night
Day 8-9: Tuxtla Gutiérrez
Day 1- It’s a long day of driving (8h) that awaits you to go from Oaxaca to Chiapas.
Mexico is a very big country and you can’t escape long distances when you want to see the maximum during a one month tour in Mexico!
Make a first stop in Tuxtla Gutiérrez which is the capital of the state of Chiapas.
It’s been a long day and you’ll need to rest once you arrive, but I suggest you take a trip to Parque de la Marimba where people gather to dance (6pm to 8pm) to the sound of the marimba. It’s a nice local vibe!
Spend the night in Tuxtla Gutiérrez.
Getting to Tuxtla Gutiérrez from Oaxaca City:
- By car: 8h for Carretera Oaxaca – Tehuantepec / Tehuantepec – Oaxaca / México 190; La Ventosa – Superhighway Salina Cruz 185D; San Pedro Tapanatepec/Mexico 190 in the direction of Tuxtla Gutierrez and finally Highway 190D just after Tuxtla Gutierrez
- By bus: 10am-10.30am by night bus OCC and ADO, departures 8pm, 9pm, 10.30pm
- By plane: there is no direct flight to Tuxtla Gutierrez from Oaxaca, you have to go through Mexico City, with Volaris or Aeromexico.
Day 2 – Sumidero Canyon
The Sumidero National Park covers more than 20,000 hectares and protects a canyon crossed by the Grijalva River.
It’s a must-see attraction in Chiapas, not to be missed on a month-long trip to Mexico.
You get a magnificent view from above, following the route of the 5 viewpoints, but I recommend also taking the boat tour on the river from the pier in Chiapa de Corzo. It’s a whole different point of view!
After the Sumidero Canyon, take the time to stroll through the small town of Chiapa de Corzo: the main square with “La Pila”, a Mudejar-style fountain, the craft market with its local sweets, the small adjacent streets with colorful murals.
You will probably be back in Tuxtla by mid-afternoon. If you have time, you can see the San Marcos Cathedral, the Marimba Museum, the Regional Museum, the Botanical Garden.
Spend the night in Tuxtla Gutiérrez.
Getting to Sumidero Canyon from Tuxtla:
- By car: 30 min – take Avenida Central to the exit where Plaza Poliforum is. Continue straight, and you will come to the bridge that crosses the Rio Grijalva. Follow the indications to Chiapa de Corzo.
- By public transport : if you travel by bus, I recommend only doing the boat tour and not the watchtowers. Take a van colectivo “Chiapa de Corzo” (35 min, departing from the corner of Av. Central and Calle 12va Oriente Sur) and get off at the central square of Chiapa de Corzo. The pier is 3 blocks away, walking.
- On an organized excursion: this is the option I chose and I loved my experience. This is a small-group tour, with hotel pick-up in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, boat and viewpoints, and a stop in Chiapa de Corzo. To book here.
Accommodation in Tuxtla Gutiérrez
- Hostal Tres Central : it is a welcoming and colorful hostel, a terrace with a hammock that offers a view of the mountains. Dorms and private rooms, clean and with wifi. It is the best value for money in the city in its category. From just 11 euros!
- Hotel Madrid : for a little more comfort, here is a hotel very well located in the center of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, a stone’s throw from the Marimba Garden and the main square. King bed and breakfast included, from only 31 euros per night!
- Marriott Tuxtla Gutierrez Hotel : here is top-of-the-range at a low price with very comfortable beds, very good wifi, gym, beautiful swimming pool, on-site restaurant also open for dinner and a warm welcome. With buffet breakfast, from only 65 euros per night!
Day 10-12: San Cristobal de las Casas
For this new stage of your 1-month stay in Mexico, leave Tuxtla Gutiérrez for San Cristobal de las Casas where you will spend the next few days.
Day 1- Spend the day visiting San Cristobal de las Casas, the charming cultural capital of Chiapas.
There is a lot to see in San Cristobal :
- The Zocalo and the Cathedral
- The Church of Guadalupe perched on a hill
- The Na Bolom Cultural Center dedicated to the Lacandons
- The Mayan World Textiles Center which features 500 magnificent pieces of Mayan textiles
- The Church of Santo Domingo de Guzman, a fine example of Baroque architecture in Chiapas
- Les marchés: Sweets and Handicrafts Market, Santo Domingo Artisan Market and the Old Market
- The pedestrian street of Real de Guadalupe with restaurants, bars, cafes
Spend the night in San Cristobal de las Casas.
Getting to San Cristobal de las Casas from Tuxtla Gutiérrez:
- By car: 1h15 en suivant Tuxtla Gutierrez Highway -San Cristóbal de las Casas/Mexico 190D
- By bus: 1h25, outings (almost) every hour with ADO and OCC
Day 2 – El Chiflon Waterfallsand Montebello Lakes
Early in the morning, take the road towards El Chiflon.
It is a set of 5 turquoise waterfalls that lie between the mountains and the rainforest: El Suspiro, Ala de Angel, Velo de Novia (120m high!), Arcoiris and Quinceañera.
The site has been laid out so that you can admire them by walking along a path of about 1km.
It is therefore impossible to get lost and the walk is very pleasant!
The best time to visit El Chiflon is out of the rainy season, so from November to May. When there is a lot of precipitation the water loses its beautiful turquoise color and turns brown.
You can’t control nature!
Then continue towards another essential part of a trip to Mexico: the Lagunas de Montebello National Park, classified as a Biosphere Reserve by Unesco and a Ramsar site .
Be careful, it is impossible to see everything because it is a huge reserve which contains 59 lakes!
I suggest you take the following route, which is the one I followed: Lake Tzizcao at the border of Guatemala, Lake Pojoj, Cinco Lagos and Lake Montebello.
You will see that Lake Montebello is the perfect place to end the visit with a hot chocolate 😉
Getting to El Chiflon and Montebello from San Cristobal:
- By car: 2 hours to El Chiflon taking the road to Comitan de Dominguez. Then for the Montebello park (1h40) return to Comitan, then take the 190 and the 307. Be careful there are a lot of curves and speed bumps on the road, be careful.
- By public transport: I do not recommend it because you have to take several buses and colectivos. You have to consider the long distances, the waiting time and the possibility of not finding transport on the way back…
- On a day trip : this is the option I chose from San Cristobal because it is the easiest considering that the road is long and a bit complicated.
Spend the night in San Cristobal de las Casas
Day 3 – The villages of Zinacantan and San Juan Chamula
Today I recommend that you discover two Tzotzile Mayan communities located just 30 minutes from San Cristobal de las Casas.
Start at Zinacantan, a small village known for its flower-lined clothing, worn by both men and women.
You can see San Lorenzo Church, learn about the artisanal textile-making process, and taste pox, a Chiapas brandy used for Mayan rituals.
Continue the tour to San Juan Chamula, another Tzotzile community, known for its San Juan Bautista Church which exhibits impressive Catholic and Mayan syncretism.
I prefer not to give too many details, but you will witness surprising rituals.
I insist: be discreet and respectful. Above all , do not take a photo, they are very serious about this!
Spend the night in San Cristobal de las Casas
Getting to San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan from San Cristobal:
- By car : for San Juan Chamula, take the Puerto Caté-San Cristobal highway (23min), and for Zinacantan, deviate at km9 on Calzada Juarez/Zinacantan (24 min).
- By public transport : by bus (15$mxn) after the San Cristobal municipal market
- On a day trip : that’s what I did and I recommend it because the guide was very interesting! This is a small group tour with visit to Zinacantan (textile demonstration and pox tasting) and free visit to San Juan Chamula.
Spend the night in San Cristobal de las Casas.
Accommodation in San Cristobal de las Casas
- The Coffee Bean Hostel : very friendly hostel with nice common areas , restaurant-bar, garden, terrace with hammocks, pool table and several breakfast options. From only 11 euros in a dormitory!
- Parador Margarita : just 3 blocks from the main square and the bus station, it is a small haven of peace with its garden and very comfortable beds. Wifi and breakfast are included. From just 42 euros per night!
- Hotel Diego de Mazariegos : the hotel is located in a superb 18th century casona, which has retained its Mexican colonial style, charming interior patio with a fountain, and classic decoration in warm tones. There are two restaurants and a bar on site. Wifi and breakfast included. From just 67 euros per night!
- Casa Lum Hotel Eco Chic : this is definitely my favorite in San Cristobal de las Casas! It is a small, chic and intimate hotel, between modernity and traditional design. There is a very good restaurant, a terrace with a panoramic view of the city and a garden. A stone’s throw from the central square and all the entertainment, this is the ideal getaway for lovers. From 150 euros per night!
Day 13: Palenque
Leave San Cristobal de las Casas in the direction of Palenque, which was as powerful as the cities of Calakmul and Tikal in Guatemala.
Today it is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a must on a 1-month itinerary in Mexico.
Leave early in the morning towards Palenque because it takes 5h30 by road from San Cristobal de las Casas.
You can go straight there or make these interesting stops along the way:
- Toniná : an archaeological site with little tourism, whose main pyramid dates from around 1700 years and is one of the highest in Mesoamerica (75m)!
- Agua Azul Waterfalls : Turquoise waterfalls fed by the Yax-Ha River, where one can bathe
- Misol-Ha : a 35m waterfall in the jungle. You can swim in its pool and even pass behind the fall!
Arriving in the town of Palenque, take a break to eat, then begin the visit to the archaeological site.
Among the main structures of Palenque, you will be able to see:
- The Palenque Museum, one of the most important museums dedicated to Mayan archeology
- The Palace which is the largest complex in Palenque, with an observation tower
- The Temple of Inscriptions where the tomb of the ruler K’inich Janaab’ Pakal 1st (7th ) was found with several objects including a jade mask.
- The Group of the Cross with Temple of the Cross, the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Leafy Cross, organized around a square
Getting to Palenque from San Cristobal de las Casas
- By car : 5h-5h30 by Carretera 199 via Ocosingo. Misol-Ha and Agua Azul are on the 199. For Tonina you have to take the deviation on the Carretera 218 in Ocosingo.
- By public transport: 9am by direct bus to Palenque (departures at 5am and 8am). To go to Misol-Ha and Agua Azul, you will have to take a colectivo to Ocosingo, then another in the direction of Palenque.
- Day trip: Considering the long drive, the easiest option if you don’t have a car is to take a day trip from San Cristobal de las Casas. It includes hotel pickup and breakfast, with visits to Agua Azul, Misol-Ha, and Palenque.
Accommodation in Palenque
The best is to spend the night in the city of Palenque to hit the road the next day. It is important not to drive at night.
- Mitico El Castillo : an atypical hotel that looks like a film set, with its castle that houses a bedroom, dormitory, swimming pool and kitchen. This is the best cheap hotel in Palenque, from only 13€ dormitory or 27€ the room!
- Cabañas Kin Balam Palenque : another budget hotel in Palenque that has the advantage of being in the jungle, with fruit trees and the sounds of exotic animals and within walking distance of the ruins. With swimming pool and restaurant, from only 22€ dormitory or 40€ the room!
- Chan Kah Resort Village :ideal hotel to relax during a family trip to Palenque which offers excellent value for money. Bungalows that can accommodate 2 to 4 people, 2 large natural swimming pools, bar, restaurant and spa. From only €75 per room!
- Villas Adriana : an ideal oasis of peace for couples, with rooms and villas in the jungle, swimming pool, hammocks, large gardens, roof terrace. Delicious breakfast included, from 80€ per night!
Day 14: Calakmul
Leave early in the morning because it’s a busy day ahead of you, with a 5h30 drive and then a visit to the great city of Calakmul which will require all your energy!
A Biosphere Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site, this great Mayan city hidden in the jungle is a must-see during a 30-day trip to Mexico.
Once there, you can choose from 3 routes: short (2h), medium (3h) and long (4-5h) which are well indicated so as not to get lost.
What to see in Calakmul:
- The Chan Chi’ich residential area
- The Chii’k Naab complex with several structures, plazas, etc.
- The Great Acropolis which was a residential area, with administrative, political, social and ceremonial functions
- La Grande Place which is the central square of Calakmul
- Structure II, the largest pyramid at Calakmul and one of the most important pyramids in the Mayan world
- Structure I which is the 2nd most important pyramid in Calakmul and offers incredible views from its top
- The Little Acropolis and Structure III which was the palace of one of the oldest lineages of the city
Prepare your knees because here you can climb the pyramids and explore the site quite freely, so enjoy!
After visiting Calakmul, take the road to Xpujil where you will spend the night.
If you have time, there are several interesting Mayan sites to do in the Calakmul and Xpujil area such as Becan, Chicanna, Balamku and Hormiguero.
They are quite small, but not very touristy and not expensive!
Getting to Calakmul from Palenque
- By car : 5h30, follow Villahermosa – Chetumal 186 towards Campeche. In Conhuas, turn right onto Calakmul Zona Arqueológica. If you have arrived at Chicanná, you have passed the entrance.
- By bus: first you have to go to Xpujil and there is only one bus a day from Central de Autobuses ADO de Palenque (departure 6pm, arrival 11.35pm). You will then have to spend the night in Xpujil, then take the shuttle to Calakmul at 7 a.m. (your ticket includes the return to Xpujil around 3 p.m.)
Accommodation in Xpujil
- Coa de Collar : a good budget option in Xpujil with simple, but clean rooms in a good location, close to restaurants and supermarkets. Miguel the owner is a tourist guide, it’s convenient! From 37 euros per night
- Ecohabitat : a small house surrounded by vegetation, comfortable, very clean, with a very warm welcome. In the morning, they bring you breakfast on the veranda, or if you prefer, they prepare it to take away. From 64 euros per night
- Casa Kaan : comfortable cabins with air conditioning, terrace and kitchen, located in the heart of nature. It is an ecological accommodation that runs on solar energy, is home to several fruit trees and the residues are used as compost for the vegetable garden. From 90 euro
Day 15-17: Bacalar (2-3 days)
This trip to Mexico continues to Bacalar, known for its large 7 Color Lagoon.
Here, there is no beach, but you can enjoy the ” balnearios ” which give access to the water and are located all along the lagoon.
Things to do and see in Bacalar:
- The Canal des Pirates where pirates and corsairs clashed – Book the catamaran excursion now!
- The 4 cenotes of Bacalar : cenote azul, cenote cocalitos, cenote negro and cenote Esmeralda
- Take a boat tour on the lagoon at sunset with beer and music – Book the excursion here!
- Getting to Fort San Felipe by bike
- Discover the Uchben Kah ecotourism park
- Stand Up Paddleboarding at Sunrise – Book the Paddleboard Tour with Snorkeling!
- Descend the Bacalar Rapids, located between Bacalar Lagoon and Xul-Ha Lagoon
Getting to Bacalar from Xpujil
- By car: 1h40 Calakmul / Villahermosa – Chetumal / Mexico 186 puis Chetumal-Cancun / Mexico 307
- By bus: 2h40 for the direct Xpujil-Bacalar bus (less frequent) or take the Xpujil-Chetumal bus (1h45) then a bus or colectivo for Bacalar (40 min).
Accommodation in Bacalar
- The Yak Lake House – Adults Only : the best hostel in Bacalar facing the lagoon. Festive atmosphere, very clean, several activities offered, bar with good cocktails. From only €12 in a dormitory!
- Agam Hotel : hotel well located near the lagoon and which offers very good value for money. Spacious and well-equipped rooms, beautiful swimming pool with bar, garden with hammocks. From just €55 a night!
- Royal Palm Bacalar Cabañas & Lagoon Club : For more comfort, here is a nice hotel in Bacalar with a private dock just a few minutes’ walk away. On site, self-service kayaks and stand-up paddleboards to explore the lagoon! Swimming pool, spacious rooms with air conditioning, balcony and hammocks. From 138€ per night!
- Villa Marilu B&B : if you have more budget, I recommend this ideal villa for a romantic stay, with the best value for money in Bacalar! It’s a very quiet hotel, with free kayaks and an on-site bar with great cocktails. Very good breakfast included, room with king size bed and lake view, from 160 € per night!
- Casa Bakal : for a luxury stay in Bacalar, here is a small charming hotel with a large private area facing the lagoon, with swimming pool, a good restaurant, pontoon and sun loungers, free kayak and paddle, yoga classes in the morning and massage services. Breakfast on the terrace facing the lake included, from € 190 per night!
Day 18-20: Merida
Day 1- Discover Mérida, the pretty capital of the Yucatan State!
Stroll through the Plaza Grande with the Casa de Montejo, the Cathedral, the Macay Museum and its interior garden.
Not far away is Calle 64, the best place to admire the typical colorful facades of the city!
You can take the Paseo Montejo to the Palacio Canton which houses the Yucatan Regional Anthropology Museum.
In the evening, do not miss the atmosphere of the Parque Santa Lucia lined with restaurants with its terrace and musicians.
For foodies, I really recommend this Mérida gastronomic experience with market visit and Yucatan cooking class:
Getting to Mérida from Bacalar
- By car: 4h10 on the México 293 highway to Chunhuhub, turn left onto Felipe Carrillo Puerto and stay on México 184 to Mérida
- By bus : 5h, several departures per day with ADO from Calle 19 Libramiento
- By plane : the closest airport to Bacalar is that of Chetumal, 30 minutes away. There is no direct Chetumal-Mérida flight (stopover via Mexico City).
Day 2 – The Mayan site of Uxmal
Continue your stay in Mexico towards Uxmal, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered the most representative site of the Puuc architectural style (elongated buildings and richly decorated walls).
What to see in Uxmal:
- The Pyramid of the Diviner which is one of the most important Mayan structures, along with Chichen Itza and Tikal in Guatemala
- The Great Pyramid with the Templo de las Guacamayas on its top
- The Palace of the Governors which offers a very beautiful view of the site
- The Mayan Ball Court
- Other structures such as the Quadrangle of the Birds, the Quadrangle of the Nuns, the House of Turtles
Opposite Uxmal is the Choco-Story chocolate museum. It is in an old hacienda, with a large tropical garden set up to showcase the cocoa process.
Admission also includes a ceremony in honor of the god Chaac, and a tasting of traditional Mayan chocolate.
Every time I go, I stock up on chocolate palettes in the shop. 😛
Getting to Uxmal from Mérida :
- By car : 1h15 by Carretera 261 towards Santa Elena to Uxmal. Kabah is on the same road, 20min from Uxmal.
- By bus: 2 hours from TAME terminal. 1 departure per day at 9:05 a.m., 1 return at 3 p.m.
Without a car, the easiest is really to take a day trip from Mérida in air-conditioned transport:
- Uxmal and the Choco-Story chocolate museum, ideal for families, with tasting and Mayan ceremony
- Uxmal and Kabah, the two must-sees of Puuc architecture. Book the excursion here!
Day 3 – Célestun
Continue your stay in Mexico to the Célestun Biosphere Reserve, known as the best place in Mexico to observe flamingos!
You will first have to go to the village of Célestun, to take a boat (1h30-2h15) which will take you to the reserve.
There are two starting points: west of the bridge, just before arriving at Célestun or directly on the beach.
The boat will take you to Tambor (birds), Dzinitun mangroves (crocodiles, monkeys, etc.) through an impressive 800m long mangrove tunnel, and Ojo de Agua Baldiosera where you can swim.
After the visit, you can walk in the village of Célestun, enjoy its quiet beach and even go to the Jaltun Ecotourism Park ( hiking, kayaking, botanical garden)
Getting to Celestun from Mérida :
- By car: 1h30 by car via highway 181
- By bus: 2h30 with ADO from Terminal Noreste
- By day trip : with pick-up from your hotel in Mérida, boat trip to see the flamingos, swimming, visit to the mangroves and lunch on the beach. To book here.
Accommodation in Merida
- Nomadas : it is the largest hostel in Mérida, but above all the one with the friendliest atmosphere in the city. There is a swimming pool surrounded by hammocks and plants, courses (yoga, cooking, etc.) and all well located, in the center of Mérida. Bed in dormitory, from only 16 euros per night!
- El Gran Hotel : perfectly located in the center of Mérida, right next to the cathedral, this is a hotel with a certain charm, where time seems to have stood still with its colonial look and its pretty woodwork. There is a restaurant on site, the rooms are spacious and the wifi works well. Good value for money at only 54 euros a night!
- Hotel Hacienda Merida VIP : this small luxury hotel is the ideal place to spend a romantic stay in Mérida. Located in the heart of the historic center, it is an address that looks like a chic hacienda, illuminated by candlelight when night falls. Here you will find a nice swimming pool, very comfortable rooms, as well as an on-site restaurant and bar. From 150 euros per night
- Hotel Boutique Mérida Santiago : This is a small, cozy hotel with a colorful hacienda look, both modern and with a traditional Mexican touch. Swimming pool with deckchairs and parasols, a very good homemade breakfast, spacious rooms, this is the ideal hotel if you are looking for good comfort without falling into luxury. From 180 euros per night
Day 21-23: Valladolid
Day 1 – Chichen Itza and Izamal
In the morning, leave Mérida to go to the famous site of Chichen Itza, which was the most powerful city in the entire Yucatan Peninsula!
It is today the most famous Mayan site in the world, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-see in a Mexico itinerary.
Chichen Itzá is one of the most tourist sites in Mexico.
To avoid the long queues, go early in the morning and above all, book your skip-the-line tickets to Chichen Itzá here.
Plan between 2 and 3 hours of visit, during which you will be able to see
- El Castillo : the main pyramid dedicated to the god Kukulcan, which was elected among the new 7 wonders of the world
- El Caracol : the observatory which would have made it possible to study 29 astronomical events (equinoxes, eclipses, etc.)
- The Mayan pelota court : the largest and best preserved discovered to date. In all, there are 8 different terrains at Chichen Itza!
- The Tzompantli : an altar where the heads of enemy warriors were impaled to sacrifice them to the gods
- And more!
To know all the buildings to see (temples, squares, etc.) and practical information , here is my article: All about Chichen Itza!
In the afternoon, go visit Izamal, nicknamed ” the yellow city ” because of the pretty characteristic color of its facades.
Stroll through the streets of Izamal discovering the Itzamna Park, the 5 de Mayo Park, the picturesque neighborhoods of San Ildefonso, Los Remedios and El Gallito and the Convent of Saint Anthony of Padua, which is the symbol of the city.
Izamal also contains several free access pyramids like Kinich Kakmó (34m) and Iztamatul (22m) which offer a beautiful view of the surroundings!
Return to Valladolid to spend the night there.
Getting to Chichen Itza from Merida:
- By car: 1h30 per Carretera Costera del Golfo E/Merida – Valladolid/Mexico 180 E and Kantunil-Cancun/Mexico 180D
- By bus: departure by ADO bus at 7:15 a.m. and arrival at 9 a.m., it leaves you right in front of the entrance
- As an organized excursion: it includes pick-up at your hotel in Mérida, the guided visit of Chichen Itzá with free time on site, swimming in a cenote, breakfast and lunch, as well as a stop in Izamal and Valladolid. Book here.
Getting to Valladolid from Chichen Itza:
- By car: 40 min south Carretera Costera del Golfo/Mexico 180 E
- By bus: there is a teen bus at 4:30 p.m. for a 5 p.m. arrival, but as it is quite late, I recommend taking a taxi (4 min) or a colectivo to Piste instead. From Piste take the Oriente bus (47 min) to Valladolid
Day 2 – Cenotes and Valladolid
Start the day with one or more cenotes around Valladolid. Arriving early is the best way to enjoy it!
The choice is endless:
- The Xkeken and Samula cenotes
- The cenote Oxman to enjoy the passage of the Hacienda San Lorenzo with swimming pool and restaurant
- The Popcorn and Freshwater cenotes
- Cenote Suytun – probably the most photogenic cenote!
Then return to Valladolid which is one of the prettiest colonial cities in Mexico.
You will be able to see:
- The main square with the Francisco Canton park, the San Servacio church and the murals of the Municipal Palace.
- The San Roque History Museum (free)
- The Ethnic Clothing Museum, dedicated to the traditional clothing of Mexico
- La Casa de los Venados, an incredible private museum dedicated to Mexican folk art
- Choco-Story, an interactive cocoa museum with a shop filled with good chocolates!
- La Calzada de los Frailes with its pretty colorful facades, restaurants, shops, cafes
- The San Bernardino Convent and its projection show at 9 p.m.
- The traditional neighborhoods of La Candelaria, Santa Ana, San Juan and Sisal
- The Xkopek park dedicated to the conservation of bees, including the melipona which was sacred to the Mayans
Day 3 – Ek Balam and Las Coloradas
Today, start with a visit to Ek Balam, a must-see site in Mexico.
It is a magnificent Mayan city not very touristy, which nevertheless contains the Acropolis, one of the most important constructions of Mesoamerica.
You will be able to see the Mayan ball court, the Mayan arch, the oval palace, the platform of the stelae, the twin pyramids. And don’t forget to climb the Acropolis because the view is magnificent!
Then take the road again to the Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve.
You can visit the famous pink lakes of Las Coloradas, one of the most photogenic places in Mexico, and take a boat trip in the reserve to see the large colonies of pink flamingos (from January to September).
You should know that the color of Las Coloradas changes depending on the time and the day.
To have a better chance of seeing a beautiful pink color, it is better to go between March and September, around noon time when there is a lot of sun.
Return to Valladolid to spend the night there.
- Getting to Ek Balam from Valladolid : 30 min by car via highway 295 then the Carretera Ek Balam. Colectivos depart from Calle 44 and 37, 70 pesos
- Getting to Rio Lagartos from Ek Balam : 1h20 by car via highway 295. By public transport, you must first take a taxi to Tizimin, then a colectivo or a Noreste bus to Rio Lagartos (note the last return bus 5:30 p.m.).
Accommodation in Valladolid
- Hostal Candelaria : the best cheap option in Valladolid. Colorful hostel very well located in the center, with garden, access to kitchen, bike rental. Good breakfast included, from 13 euros for a bed in a dorm or 30 euros for a private room!
- Real Haciendas : small, charming and very quiet hotel with swimming pool, clean rooms with comfortable king size bed, very warm welcome. From €57 per night
- IMIX Hotel : typical colonial house in the center of Valladolid on the pretty Calzada de los Frailes, very nice decoration and spacious rooms. Breakfast included, from 117 euros per night
- The Muuch Hotel Boutique : an intimate hotel 5 minutes from the main park Francisco Cantón Rosado. Excellent service, indoor pool and outdoor pool with hammock, garden view room, air conditioning, bar and restaurant. A la carte breakfast included, from €180 per night
- Hotel Zentik Project : this is the best hotel in Valladolid and one of my favorites in Mexico! Beautiful Mayan-style cabanas, murals by local and international artists, restaurant and bar, outdoor pool with hammocks and saltwater pool in an underground cave! Very good breakfast included, from 346€ per night
Day 24-27: Tulum
For this new leg of the 30-day Mexico itinerary, I suggest you spend a few days in the Tulum region, the country’s boho-chic destination.
Day 1 – Coba and Tulum
In the morning, leave Valladolid towards Tulum.
Halfway there is Coba, which was an important Mayan city and a great rival of Chichen Itzá.
Its various structures are scattered throughout the jungle and I recommend renting a bike to get around more easily.
You will be able to see Nohoch Mul (42m) which is the 2nd tallest pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula.
After visiting Coba, reach Tulum, in the Riviera Maya.
You can walk on the Beach Strip with many restaurants, bars, shops and then enjoy the beaches like Playa Paraiso and Playa Las Palmas.
Getting to Coba from Valladolid:
- 47 min – via Cancun/México 180, Chemax – Coba
Getting to Tulum from Coba:
- 45 min following QROO 109
Day 2 – Tulum
Start by visiting the ruins of Tulum facing the Caribbean Sea and don’t forget to go down to the beach of the ruins!
Then go cool off in a Mayan cenote.
There are a lot of cenotes in the Tulum area and all of them are very different.
For example, you can go to the Gran Cenote, Zacil Ha or Dos Ojos. For a wilder experience there are also the Crystal or Escondido cenotes.
You can also take an excursion that includes pick-up from your hotel, a guided tour of the ruins with free time, and a visit to a cenote.
Spend the night in Tulum
Day 3 – Akumal
Akumal is the best destination to swim with turtles in Mexico because it is near the 2nd largest reef in the world, and sea turtles are protected!
Access is limited and it is mandatory to do the activity with a guide, in a small group, so as not to stress them.
You can book turtle diving here, with hotel pick-up, cenote and cave visit.
In addition to swimming with turtles, you can experience Half Moon Bay (Bahia de Media Luna), Akumal Bay, and Laguna Yal-Ku.
If you like adventure, I recommend the Aktun Chen natural park whose guided route is part of the TOP 10 of the best underground walks in the world by National Geographic!
Return to Tulum to spend the night there.
Getting to Akumal from Tulum :
- By car : 20 min, take the 307 towards Cancun
- By bus : 25 min, take a colectivo on the main street towards Playa del Carmen and tell the driver that you are getting off at Akumal (35 pesos)
Day 4– Sian Ka’an
The Sian Ka’an nature reserve is a must-include in a 1-month Mexico itinerary!
It has obtained the dual status of UNESCO biosphere reserve and world heritage thanks to its unique ecosystem and its 23 archaeological sites.
It is a large reserve of more than 500,000 hectares between coral reefs, beaches, mangroves, jungle and lagoons where 300 species of birds, 1000 species of plants and 100 species of animals live.
But even if a small part is accessible to the public, it is impossible to see everything. You have to choose between two accesses:
- Punta Allen (more complete) to enjoy the beach, take a boat trip and see the dolphins, snorkel in the coral reef – Book the day trip now!
- Muyil to discover the interior of the reserve with marshes, lagoons and the ruins of Muyil – Book the half-day excursion now!
Spend the night in Tulum.
Accommodation in Tulum
- Mayan Monkey Tulum : this hostel offers excellent value for money! Beautiful modern decoration and good atmosphere, swimming pool, bar, garden, fast wifi, access to the kitchen, yoga classes, coworking, bike and motorbike rental. Dormitories and private rooms, from only 22€ per night!
- Casa Almendro : for a little more comfort, here is a small budget hotel in the center of Tulum. It’s a green oasis with a nice big roof terrace with chairs and hammocks. Perfectly located, close to shops, restaurants, the ADO bus station. King bed and breakfast included, from just €45 a night!
- Diamante K : it offers top-of-the-range comfort at a very reasonable price, which is exceptional in Tulum. Especially for a hotel with direct access to the beach in the hotel zone! Bohemian chic atmosphere, restaurant, hammocks and beds on the private beach, massage service. Bungalow from 190 € per night!
- Habitas Tulum : this small ecological hotel with a chic design is ideal for a romantic stay in Tulum. It is a true haven of peace hidden between the palm trees, with a magnificent swimming pool and a private beach. With the added bonus of several on-site activities, such as yoga classes on the terrace facing the sunset. From 340€ per night!
- Kanan Tulum – Adults Only : here is finally the best choice for a luxury stay in Tulum. This is an adults-only eco-friendly hotel located on a beautiful private beach with hammocks and beds. Beautiful roof terrace with a bar, a very good restaurant on site, spacious rooms and a very friendly welcome. From €520 per night!
Day 28-30: Holbox
This 1 month circuit in Mexico continues to another paradise of white sand: the island of Holbox.
You will have to go to the port of Chiquilá, leave the car in the car park, and board the ferry to Holbox.
Discover local life through its small streets dotted with works of street art.
You will easily find access to the beach, ideal for swimming but also for long walks with its shallow and transparent water.
Want to be quiet? Go to the beaches of Punta Mosquito, a protected natural area, or Punta Cocos
I also recommend the boat tour (3h) offered by several agencies in Holbox. It takes you to Isla Pajaros, Ojo de Agua Yalahau where you can swim and Isla de la Pasion.
- For all the things to do in Holbox, here is my My Ultimate Holbox Guide!
Getting to Chiquila from Tulum:
- By car: 2h30 – take QROO 109 then Kantunilkin – Chiquila
- By bus: 3:30 a.m. – only one bus per day with ADO, departure 8:10 a.m. arrival 11:30 a.m.
Accommodation in Holbox
- Kin Camping : the best place to sleep cheap in Holbox! Tents (camping) with double bed, access to the kitchen, hammocks, bar, hot water, good atmosphere, several activities offered. From just 23 euros per night!
Casa Chujuk : Here is a hotel that offers excellent value for money, which is increasingly difficult to find in Holbox. Very clean, bright, comfortable mattress, small swimming pool to cool off, good wifi. From just 65 euros per night
Ensueño Holbox & Beach Club : hotel facing the sea that offers suites and apartments with kitchenette that can accommodate up to 5 people. Roof terrace, two swimming pools, beach club with good food and good music. Breakfast included, from 130 euros per night
Beachfront Hotel La Palapa-Adults Only : beautiful hotel very well located near the center, facing the sea, quiet beach with excellent cocktails at the bar. Spacious rooms and very good service. Excellent breakfast included, from 190 euros per night
- Villas Flamingos : Located on a private beach on the island of Holbox, this 4-star hotel offers comfortable and colorful bungalows with private terrace and hammock. From €352 per night, breakfast included. Highlights: the amazing view of the sea, the relaxing atmosphere, the friendly staff, the delicious food. This is my suggestion for a peaceful stay in Holbox!
Day 31: Cancun
Return to Cancun from where you will catch your return flight.
If you still have time ahead of you, it would be a shame not to enjoy this 30-day road trip in Mexico until the end!
Things to do and see in Cancun:
- The beaches of Cancun include Playa Tortugas, Playa Los Delfines, Playa Langosta, Playa Linda, Playa Caracol, Playa Marlin.
- Diving at MUSA, the largest underwater museum in the world – You can book the excursion here!
- Kitesurfing in Isla Blanca
- Enjoy the panoramic view of Cancun from the Torre Escenica at 110m high
- Visit Mercado 28 with restaurants and souvenirs
- Discover the Maya Museum, the San Miguelito site and the El Rey site
For the best experience of a Mexican fiesta, I recommend Xoximilco Cancun. It’s a 3-hour ride in a colorful boat with a Mexican dinner, open bar (beer and tequila), mariachis and other typical musicians.
The party is open to the whole family, from 5 years old.
Spend the night in Cancun.
Getting to Cancun from Chiquila
- By car : 2 hours via the Kantunilkin – Chiquila / QROO 5 highway then 180D to Cancun
- By bus : 2h40 with ADO, departures at 11:15 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Accommodation in Cancun
- Mayan Monkey Cancun : festive hostel in the hotel zone of Cancun, very close to the beach and bars. Terrace, outdoor swimming pool, bar with happy hour, air conditioning, table tennis, good wifi. Private rooms and dormitories, from just 22 euros!
- Bed and Breakfast Pecari : if you are looking for more comfort, I recommend Pecari without hesitation! This is a beautiful bed and breakfast located on a quiet street close to the city center and the ADO bus station, with a relaxation area by the pool, spacious rooms and a good breakfast. From just 46 euros per night!
- Beachscape Kin Ha Villas & Suites: rooms, suites and villas that can accommodate from 2 to 12 people with direct access to the beach . Outdoor pool, children’s pool, spa, gym, restaurant, beach bar. With breakfast included, from 200 euros
- The Royal Sands Resort & Spa : spacious rooms and suites with sea views, in the heart of Cancun’s hotel zone. Large outdoor swimming pool, gym, spa, good restaurants, sports bar and several activities. With all-inclusive formula, from 443 euros
If you arrive late in Cancun, you can also spend the night near the airport.
My advice for a 1 month stay in Mexico
- Plan snacks and enough water because you will travel a lot there is not always a market.
- Get a Telcel or Movistar SIM card when you arrive (rather at Oxxo which is cheaper than at the airport)
- Always carry cash as many places don’t accept cards (ex: cenotes, archaeological sites, etc.) and there is usually no ATM nearby.
- Don’t forget your glasses, a cap or hat and good sunscreen as the sun can be very strong!
- If you plan to follow this route in Mexico by bus, it is better to buy the ADO bus tickets online. There are often specials and it’s cheaper than at the terminal.
- Do not hesitate to talk to the Mexicans, you will see that they are very welcoming!
- Never drive at night : this is important because this 30 day itinerary in Mexico goes through roads with lots of curves, very little lighting at night, etc. But it’s also important for security reasons, especially in Chiapas.
- Avoid leaving the car in an unattended parking lot at night as much as possible
- Never leave valuables in the car and make sure it is always securely closed.
- GPS generally works well in Mexico, but it’s best to download maps ahead of time as the signal can get lost
- Always use “cuota” toll roads rather than “carreteras libre”. Buy the TAG which is the electronic toll badge, it’s much more practical! – See the points of sale here
- You will inevitably come across police or army checkpoints (or even communities, it can happen!). Always keep calm, and present the requested documents if necessary. These are routine checks.
Map of 1 month in Mexico
If you are planning your one month Mexico itinerary and have any questions, or want to share your experience, please leave me a comment!
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