1 Week in Yucatan, Mexico: Ultimate 6-7-8 Day Itinerary

What to do and see in Yucatan in 6-7-8 days

Do you want to visit the Yucatan in a week? 

You are in the right place!

Even if it’s a short trip and there is a lot to discover, everything is possible with good organization.

To help you plan your stay, I present to you my suggested one-week Yucatan itinerary that will allow you to see the maximum number of must-see places of interest in the Riviera Maya and the Yucatan.

This 6, 7 or 8 day itinerary from Cancun will take you first to Playa del Carmen where you will have the choice between several activities like underground exploration in Rio Secreto or diving in Cozumel.

Then leave for Tulum to enjoy its beautiful beaches and discover the Sian Ka’an reserve before leaving the coast in the direction of Valladolid to visit the famous Mayan city of Chichen Itza.

The itinerary also takes you to see the city of Ek Balam hidden in the jungle, the pink lakes of Las Coloradas in Rio Lagartos, as well as the most beautiful cenotes nearby.

For the last leg of this Yucatan trip, you will return to Cancun to travel to Isla Contoy, a small paradise island, and Isla Mujeres.

For each stage, I share all my practical advice, my accommodation suggestions for all budgets and the information you need to get around by rental car or public transport.

So,  what to do and see in Yucatan in 1 week? 

Day 1: Playa del Carmen

As the international airport is in Cancun, this will officially be your starting point for this one-week Yucatan itinerary.

Upon your arrival, take possession of your rental car and go directly to Playa del Carmen.

If you prefer to take this trip to Yucatan without a car, you can:

  • Take the ADO bus to Playa del Carmen (1h20), regular departures from Terminals 2, 3 and 4. You can buy your ticket on arrival.
  • Book this air-conditioned shuttle to get you directly to your hotel in Playa del Carmen.

There is a lot to do and see in Playa del Carmen! And since you are short on time, I suggest you choose from the following options:

Option 1 – Relax in Playa del Carmen  (1 day)

Want to take a walk and enjoy the sun? You can:

  • Walk the long Quinta Avenida lined with bars, restaurants and shops
  • Relax on the beaches of Playa del Carmen like playa Mamitas, Playacar or Punta Esmeralda
  • Go to Parque de los Fundadores to take a photo of the Portal Maya statue and the colorful letters of Playa del Carmen, in addition to attending the free shows. There is also a public beach!
  • Dive in a cool water cenote like Cenote Azul. Next door are also the Cenote Jardin del Eden and Cenote Cristalino. 
  • Visit the Frida Kahlo Museum or the 3D Museum of Wonders (especially if you are traveling with children!)  

Tips for your Yucatan itinerary:
For other ideas of activities in Playa del Carmen, you can also consult: Playa del Carmen: Top 30 things to do and see!

Playa del Carmen, Yucatan itinerary
The rocks of cenote azul in Playa del Carmen

Option 2 – Spend the day at Xcaret Park  (1 day)

Xcaret is a large amusement park with ecological, archaeological and cultural themes.

For the 5th consecutive year, it has been recognized as the Best Theme and Water Park in the World!

There are some 50 activities for the whole family, which allow you to enjoy the beach, the jungle, cenotes and underground rivers, but also to discover the Mayan culture.

His Mexico Espectacular show is a must-see, featuring 300 performers on stage who showcase Mexico ‘s history, culture, and folklore . It is grand!

You can get your tickets for Xcaret which includes the México Espectacular show here:

Tips for your Yucatan itinerary:
The best way to enjoy the parks is to stay at Hotel Xcaret ❤️

In addition to meals, you will have full and free access to all the parks! (Xcaret, Xplor, Xplor Fuego, Xenses, Xoximilco, Xel-Ha and Xenote)

The Xcaret park, Yucatan itinerary 1 week
The Xcaret park

Option 3 – Scuba diving in Cozumel (1 day)

Cozumel is one of the largest islands in Mexico.

It is considered one of the best places in the world for diving and snorkeling!

There is a lot to do and see in Cozumel such as Punta SurChankanaab Park, its many beaches, El Cielo, Playa Mia and the Mayan site of San Gervasio.

What I recommend if you only have one day ahead of you is to focus on your best dive spots!

This Cozumel tour with hotel pickup takes you snorkeling at Palancar Reef and El Cielo.

It is one of the most beautiful places in Cozumel, with transparent water that allows you to see a multitude of starfish.  

The day also includes free time at the beach and à la carte lunch.

  • Cozumel is easily accessible from Playa del Carmen. If you go there without an excursion (which includes transport), the ferry takes you there in 30 minutes.
Cozumel, Yucatan itinerary
Heaven, Cozumel

Option 4 – Adventure in Rio Secreto  (1 day)

Rio Secreto is one of the most beautiful adventures to live in the Riviera Maya!

It is a guided route that allows you to explore a river hidden 25m underground, with incredible crystal clear water and walls filled with stalactites and stalagmites.

Visits are made in small groups, only by reservation, which allows you to have a privileged contact with nature.

You can book your ticket for Rio Secreto here, which includes a lunch prepared with local ingredients.

As the visit to Rio Secreto lasts 3h-3h30, you will have time to enjoy the rest of the day. You can:

-Return to Playa del Carmen

-Enjoy the pretty Xpu-Ha beach and the Cenote Azul

Rio Secreto, Yucatan
Rio Secreto

Spend the night in Playa del Carmen.

Accommodation in Playa del Carmen?

  • Che Playa Hostel & Bar Adults Only: ideal hostel for meeting other travelers and partying, roof terrace with bar and small swimming pool, several activities offered. Clean, good wifi and great welcome. From only €9 for the dormitory or €35 for the private room!
  • Hotel Lunata: charming hotel with hacienda-style decoration, which is hidden on Quinta Avenida, very close to the beach. Quiet, with garden, rooms with balcony, very friendly service. From just €66 a night!
  • Porto Playa Condo Beach Club: here is a spacious apartment ideal for a family close to Quinta Avenida with fully equipped kitchen, living room and terrace. On site there is a large swimming pool, gym and restaurant. From €160 per night!
  • The Reef 28- Adults Only: all-inclusive hotel in the center of Playa del Carmen, spacious rooms, superb roof terrace with sea view, swimming pool and jacuzzi. Gym, spa, excellent buffet breakfast. From €225 with all-inclusive formula
  • Hotel Xcaret Mexico All Parks All Fun Inclusive: this is definitely the best hotel in Playa del Carmen! Ideal for couples and families with children because this luxury hotel offers an exceptional formula that includes meals and access to its parks (Xcaret, Xplor, Xplor Fuego, Xenses, Xoximilco, Xel-Ha and Xenote). From €626 per night all inclusive

Day 2-3: Tulum

For this new stage of this one-week Yucatan itinerary, follow the Riviera Maya towards the south to Tulum.

In addition to being Mexico’s bohemian chic destination, there are long white sand beaches renowned across the country and a multitude of Mayan cenotes.

Day 1 – Today, discover the most beautiful attractions of Tulum

Start the day by visiting the archaeological site of Tulum, which sits facing the Caribbean Sea.

Thanks to its strategic position, the ancient city of Tulum (6-15th century) was a major stopover for land and sea trade in the Mayan world.

In 1h30-2h of visit you can, for example, discover the wall and the guard towers, the Castillo which served as a landmark for navigators, the temples of the Frescoes and the Descending God, then go down to the small beach which is on the site.

Then go cool off in one of the nearby cenotes , these famous fresh water wells that were considered sacred by the ancient Mayans.

Tips for your Yucatan itinerary:

Families especially enjoy Zacil-HaGran Cenote, and Cenote Dos Ojos.

If you prefer a less touristy experience, you can go to Nicte-HaTaak Bi-Ha or Cenote Calavera.

There really is something for everyone, so I recommend checking out my list of the most beautiful cenotes in Tulum to take your pick!

At lunchtime, stroll along Tulum’s Beach Strip with cute shops, cafes and restaurants.

As it is a small road that runs along the beaches of Tulum, you will already be close to enjoying Playa Paraiso and Playa Las Palmas.

In the evening, you will easily find a bar with a good atmosphere and for all budgets: Batey Mojito & Guarapo BarCasa JaguarPapaya Playa ProjectGitano, etc.

Spend the night in Tulum

Getting to Tulum from Playa del Carmen:

  • By car: 55 min by Carretera 307 which runs along the Riviera Maya
  • By public transport: by ADO bus several departures per day (40-90 pesos), by van colectivo from the intersection of Calle 2 and Avenida 20 near Quinta Avenida.
Playa Paraíso in Tulum, Yucatan itinerary 1 week
Playa Paraíso in Tulum

Day 2 – The Sian Ka’an Reserve

Declared a Biosphere Reserve, UNESCO World Heritage Site and Ramsar Site, the Sian Ka’an Reserve is a must-see during a week-long stay in Yucatan!

It covers an immense territory, between the jungle and the beach, which is partially accessible to the public, but it is impossible to see everything in one day. 

You will need to choose only one of two access points:

  • Punta Allen is a fishing village that allows you to explore the coast of Sian Ka’an, with its magnificent beach, take a boat trip to see dolphins, manatees and other animals.

The path is a bit complicated (you need a 4×4 car ), the visit lasts all day and that’s why I really recommend to book an excursion from Tulum.

  • Muyil allows you to see the forest with its marshes, freshwater lagoons and Mayan ruins. We are not really in full reserve as for Punta Allen, but it is a great experience!

The advantage is its ease of access which allows you to visit in half a day. It is even possible to arrive by taking the ADO bus towards Chunyaxché from Tulum (20 min).

You can also book the excursion to Muyil from Tulum here.

If you have time, after visiting Sian Ka’an, you can land on Boca Paila beach, go to Laguna Kaan Luum or return to Tulum to continue enjoying the beach.  

Spend the night in Tulum

Yucatan itinerary 1 week
The Sian Kaan reserve in the Yucatan

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 TulumThis 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 4-5: Valladolid

Day 1 –  Chichen Itza and Valladolid

In the morning, head to the famous city of Chichen Itza which is absolutely to be included in a 7-day roadtrip in Yucatan!

Listed as Unesco Heritage and considered one of the 7 new wonders of the world, it is a true symbol of Mayan culture and an emblem of Mexico.

Plan 2h30-3h visit to see El Castillo which is the main pyramid of Chichen Itza, the astronomical observatory, the Mayan ball game, the temple of the warriors and much more!

You can buy your skip-the-line ticket to Chichen Itza here.

After the visit, cool off at the pretty cenote Zaci  which is located in the center of Valladolid. 

If it is lunch time, be aware that there is a local cuisine restaurant just at the top of the cenote. If you consume for 100 pesos, the cenote is free!

Spend the afternoon visiting the pretty colonial town of Valladolid, starting with its main square with Francisco Canton Park and San Servacio Church.

You can walk on the Calzada de los Frailes and end at the San Bernardino Convent.

There are also many museums, cafes, restaurants, squares, typical neighborhoods. It is a very pleasant city to walk around!

Spend the night in Valladolid. 

Getting to Valladolid from Tulum:

  • By car:  1h30 taking the Carretera 109 towards Coba, then the 180 to Valladolid
  • By public transport: 1h30 by ADO bus, departures 7:30, 8:57, 10:47
Yucatan itinerary 1 week
The famous site of Chichen Itza in the state of Yucatan

Day 2 – Ek Balam and Rio Lagartos

The one-week Yucatan road trip continues towards Ek Balam “the black jaguar” in Mayan.

It is an impressive Mayan city hidden in the jungle, much less known than Chichen Itza, which is also to be seen in 1 week in Yucatan!

You will be able to climb to the top of the Acropolis, considered one of the most important structures in Mesoamerica in addition to seeing the Mayan arch, the oval palace, the twin pyramids, the platform of the stelae and the Mayan ball court.

After 1h30-2h of visit, take the road back to Rio Lagartos to discover Las Coloradas, the famous pink lakes of Yucatan.

These are actually salt marshes from which 500,000 tons of salt are collected per year!

If you are there between January and September, you can also take a boat trip to the Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve  to observe the large colonies of flamingos.

Tips for your Yucatan itinerary:
There are several cenotes that you can incorporate into your day. For example :

  • Cenote X-Canché which can be reached on foot or by bike from Ek Balam
  • Cenote Kikil managed by the local community
  • Cenotes Agua Dulce and Palomitas (which are next to each other)
  • Cenote Hubik

Spend the night in Valladolid.

  • Getting to Ek Balam from Valladolid : 30 min by car via highway 295 then the Carretera Ek Balam. The colectivos leave from Calle 44.
  • 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.).
Yucatan itinerary 1 week
Las Coloradas in the Ria Lagartos reserve. Photo Esau Alberto Canto Novelo

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 6-7: Cancun

Day 1 – Cancún

This morning, leave Valladolid to return to the Riviera Maya, to Cancun.

To make the most of your day in Cancun, you can:

  • Vous detendre sur les belles plages de Tortugas, Los Delfines, Playa Langosta, Playa Linda, Playa Caracol, Playa Marlin.
  • Visit the Maya Museum or the El Rey archaeological site next to Playa Delfines
  • Kitesurfing in Isla Blanca
  • Snorkeling or diving at MUSA, the largest underwater museum in the world – You can book the diving excursion here!
  • Buy souvenirs at Mercado 28

Tips for your Yucatan itinerary:
To know everything about Cancun, with the best activities and all practical information, don’t miss my Ultimate Guide to Cancun!

In the evening, I recommend Xoximilco Cancun to experience a Mexican fiesta.

It’s a 3-hour ride in a typical colorful boat, with a Mexican meal, open bar (tequila, beer and soft drinks) and mariachis!

Buy your ticket for Xoximilco here.

Otherwise you can also go to the mythical Coco Bongo Club, the City Night Club which is the biggest discotheque in Mexico, or find another address on Avenida Kukulcan.

You can buy your tickets to Coco Bongo here.

Tips for your Yucatan itinerary:
From today, remember to return your rental car.

It will be much more convenient because the next day you will leave for Isla Contoy and Isla Mujeres without the car. In addition, it will be one less worry on the day of departure!

Spend the night in Cancun.

Getting to Cancun from Valladolid:

  • By car: 1h50 by the 180D
  • By public transport: 2h15 by ADO bus, several departures from 7:30 am
Yucatan itinerary 1 week
The hotel zone of Cancun

Day 2 – Isla Contoy and Isla Mujeres

For the last day of this stay in Yucatan, I suggest you discover Isla Mujeres  through Isla Contoy, a paradise island that few people know.

Contoy is a small 9km protected island which is an important animal sanctuary and turtle nesting site .

To get there, it is mandatory to take an organized excursion and I really recommend booking in advance since access is limited to 200 people per day!

This exclusivity makes it unique for travellers, but above all it allows it to be well preserved.

The excursion with pick-up from your Cancun hotel takes you to the port to catch the boat.

After about 10 minutes, we stop for a short snorkeling session in the Ixlache reef with corals, fish and underwater statues.

An hour later, we finally arrive at Isla Contoy.

Upon arriving, you can take a short guided tour (30 min) through the trails or directly enjoy the beach. I loved both, it’s up to you!

At lunchtime, you will be served fish Tikin Xic, the traditional dish of Yucatan, and then you will sail back to Isla Mujeres.

As you will have about 1h15-1h30 of free time before returning to Cancun, I recommend that you go directly to Playa Norte which is considered one of the best beaches in the world!

You can book this excursion to Isla Contoy and Isla Mujeres from Cancun here.
Tips for your Yucatan itinerary:
To learn more about these beautiful islands, you can also consult my Complete Guide to Isla Mujeres!

Yucatan itinerary 1 week
The beach of the island of Contoy

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

Day 8: Depart from Cancun

Today is the end of this Yucatan itinerary.

Since you’ll already be in Cancun and the car will already be returned, you won’t have to worry about much.

But double check your departure terminal!

Have a good trip 😉

Yucatan itinerary 1 week
Cancun seen from the plane

How to get around the Yucatan

For this Yucatan itinerary, you can either rent a car or use public transport.

Rent a car in Yucatan

For your Mexico itinerary, I recommend that you rent a car.

It’s the best way to discover the country!

Public transport in Yucatan

  • Public transport is well developed in Yucatan, with ADO buses and colectivos (vans of 8-10 people)
  • As you only have one week and time is limited, it will be very important to check the schedules in advance on the ADO website. You can also buy tickets online to take advantage of promotions. In my experience, they are usually cheaper than once there!
  • The difference between the colectivo and the bus is that the bus goes (usually) from point A to point B without interruption while the colectivo stops at several places along the way. To see what suits you best according to your destination.

Are you going to Mexico? Read also

All our articles on Mexico are here:  Find all our guides on Mexico!

Camille L.

Passionate about foreign languages, cooking and writing. I wish to share with you the places, the meetings and the gastronomic discoveries which gave relief to my travels.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button