Things To Do in The Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

There are so many things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.  In fact, there are so many fun things to do that you will be spoilt for choice or run out of time and you will have to return for more Mexican vacations.

Mexico is one of our favourite destinations.  We have travelled to so many regions and we still have more Mexican destinations to experience and explore.

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

Fresh ingredients for Mexican Tacos

So, what is it about Mexico?  We enjoy the weather in Mexico, Mexican food, Mayan ruins and other archaeological sites, the people and the Mexican vibe.  We also believe that the Yucatan Peninsula is one of the safest places in Mexico, although saying that everywhere we have travelled to in Mexico we have felt safe. Don’t believe what you read in the media, go see for yourself.

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Other Beautiful Places in Mexico That We Have Enjoyed:

We still have many articles and adventures to share with you. If you ask us what are our favourites in Mexico, that is a tough one, we don’t have favourites we enjoy all the places we have travelled to in Mexico.

Where is the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

The Yucatan Peninsula covers 197,600 square km of South Eastern Mexico.  It is made up of the states of:

  • Campeche
  • Quintana Roo
  • Yucatan

The Yucatan Peninsula is located between the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico with 1100 km of coastline and a breadth of 320 km. We can say that the Yucatan beaches are the best beaches in Mexico.

Yucatan Peninsula Map

Mexican Food in the Yucatan Peninsula

Map of Yucatan Peninsula

 

The 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the Yucatan

Mexico has 34 UNESCO World Heritage sites which include:

  • 27 cultural sites
  • 6 natural sites
  • 1 mixed site on the list

Out of the 34 sites, the Yucatan Peninsula has 5 of them:

  • Sian Ka’an a biosphere reserve in Tulum
  • Chichen Itza – a pre-Hispanic city
  • Uxmal – a pre-Hispanic town
  • Campeche – historic fortified town
  • Campeche – ancient Maya city and protected tropical forests of Calakmul

The Pueblo Magico Towns of Mexico

Things to do in Yucatan Peninsula

Izamal Convent Yucatan Peninsula

There are 111 designated ‘Pueblo Magico’ towns in Mexico and 6 of those are located in the Yucatan Peninsula.  A ‘Pueblo Magico’ town is one designated by the authorities of Mexico that have something special to offer; legends, history, important events, symbolism and a feeling of magic.

The 6 Pueblo Magico Towns are:

  • Izamal – for its 3 cultures pre-Colombian, colonial and modern
  • Valladolid – for its rich culture
  • Palizada in Campeche for its wooded forests
  • Bacalar for its lagoon of 7 colours
  • Isla Mujeres – its dazzling beaches and way of life
  • Tulum – for its Mayan Ruins and beaches

Top Things to do in the State of Quintana Roo

The state of Quintana Roo includes 3 Islands; Cozumel, Holbox and Isla Mujeres. Apart from the towns of Playa del Carmen, Akumal and Bacalar, it houses the large Caribbean resort area of Riviera Maya Mexico with its range of hotels.

There are many Mayan ruins in Quintana Roo such as Chacchoben, Kohunlich, Muyil, Coba and the famous Tulum.

Xel-ha Park

Xel-ha in the Mayan language means “where the water is born”.  It is a natural aquatic theme park where you can snorkel with the fish and wander through jungle paths.

The official website for tickets and more information.

Xcaret Park

An eco-archaeological park where you can:

  • explore along the jungle trails
  • visit Jaguar Island
  • spend time at the Butterfly Pavillion
  • enjoy a snorkelling tour
  • swim with the dolphins
  • swim in underground rivers

The official website of Xcaret for tickets and more information.

Sian Ka’an

Sian Ka’an is a designated World Heritage Site near Tulum. The Biosphere Reserve is home to thousands of species of flora and fauna.

The website of Sian Ka’an for tickets and more information.

Rio Secreto

Rio Secreto is an underground river museum where you can view stalactites and stalagmites.

The official website for more information and tickets.

Coba

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

Coba is a large Mayan ancient ruined city in the state of Quintana Roo.  The Nohuch Mul group of pyramids with Ixmoja standing at 42m is the tallest Mayan pyramid in the Northern Yucatan.  Coba is not as touristy as Chichen Itza or Tulum and you are still able to climb some of the structures.

There are over 50 sacbes (white roads) in Coba which are stone causeways which were used to connect waterways around the site and residents to the pyramids.  You can visit 16 of them.

Entrance fee as of 2017: MXN65 (USD$4.00)

Location: 45 minutes from Tulum

Tulum

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Map of Tulum ruins

Tulum is a very popular tourist attraction and as such our top recommendation is to get there when the gates open at 08.00 am before the hundreds of tourist buses arrive.

We would also recommend bringing water and mosquito repellent. They were the biggest mosquitos we had ever seen and even with 2 layers of repellent they were still biting.  Maybe it was just the season, we visited in June.

We would nominate  Tulum as the most stunning of all of the locations of the Mayan Ruins, situated on the cliffs overlooking the Caribbean Sea. You can take your swimmers with you, if the beach is accessible you will be able to swim.  It was high tide when we visited which made it difficult for swimming.

Entrance Fee as of 2017: MXN70 (USD4.50)

Cancun Underwater Museum or MUSA

Located in the waters around Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc is an underwater museum with over 500 life-sized monuments 8m deep in the ocean.  You can visit by either a glass-bottom boat, scuba dive or snorkel from a boat tour.

The official website for more information.

Visit Isla Mujeres, Cozumel and Holbox

Isla Mujeres

How to get to Isla Mujeres

You can catch the Gran Puerto Cancun (Ultramar) ferry from Puerto Juarez downtown Cancun.  The crossing takes about 15 minutes and the boats leave every 30 minutes from 05.00 to 21.00.  Cost is MXN80 (USD$4.50) each way.

Top sights:

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Isla Mujeres

There are many sights to see in and around Isla Mujeres or you can just chill on the beach, snorkel or swim.

  • visit the Town Square
  • go for a walk along the West and East Malecon
  • visit the Sea Wall murals
  • visit the 3 Lighthouses
  • visit the grave of Mundaca, a famous pirate,  at the local cemetery
  • enjoy finding all the local statues scattered around the island
  • visit Punta Sur at the south of the island
  • take photos from the outside path of the unique Shell House – but don’t ask to go in and visit
  • visit Floating Bottle Island where the base is made from over 100,000 plastic bottles
  • snorkel Garrafon Reef Park
  • visit the turtle farm known as La Tortuga Granja
  • hire a golf cart and drive around the island, beware of the speed bumps though
  • attend a yoga session in the morning or in the evening
  • swim with dolphins at the Dolphin Discovery
  • swim with the whale sharks – there are many tour operators to choose from
  • go deep sea fishing

Where to stay in Isla Mujeres:

We have found some great accommodation choices for you, click the link below to find out the latest.

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Where to Eat in Isla Mujeres

Tripadvisor has a wealth of information on restaurants in Isla Mujeres with the latest reviews.

Cozumel

How to get to Cozumel

There are 3 ferry companies that travel from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel.  Prices range from MXN69 (USD$3.80) to MXN160 (USD$8.80) depending on the company and the timing, the journey should take 45 minutes depending on the type of craft and the weather.

Top Sights:

Cozumel is a top cruise port off the coast near Playa del Carmen.  It is also famous for being one of the best diving sites in the world.

  • Visit Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park for snorkelling, dolphin tours, zip lining, tequila factory or just relax on the beach
  • San Gervasio – Mayan ruins founded in 300 AD.  Entrance fee MXN82 (USD$4.50) and a tour by a local guide MXN91 (USD$5)
  • Palancar Beach – great for sailing, kayaking, diving and snorkelling
  • Punta Sur Eco Beach Park – 2,500 acres of an ecological park which contains hundreds of exotic birds, crocodiles and sea turtles.  You can also visit El Caracol the Mayan Ruins, swim in the Laguna Colombia or visit the Celerain Lighthouse.  The park is open between 9.00 am and 4.00 pm and costs MXN255 (USD$14) to enter.

Where to stay in Cozumel

Looking for some great accommodation in Cozumel?  We have found some great accommodation, find out more by clicking our favourite hotel booking site.

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Where to eat in Cozumel

Check out Tripadvisor for the top restaurants in Cozumel to suit your budget as well as reviews from other travellers.

Things to do in Holbox

Holbox is a small island to the North of Quintana Roo.  There are no cars on the island only golf carts. We hear that the sunsets are amazing.

How to get to Holbox:

The Holbox Catamaran Ferry takes 45 minutes from Chiquila and costs MXN80 (USD$4.50).

Top Sights:

  • Swim with the whale sharks
  • Visit Yum Balam Eco Reserve and its 60,000 acres of natural rainforest which is home to 5 of the wild cat species such as jaguar, jungle cat, ocelot, puma and a small ocelot known as margay
  • Kayak through the mangroves
  • See the flamingos at Isla Passion, a small island that is located between the mainland and Holbox

Where to stay on Holbox:

We have chosen some great accommodation choices for you.

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Where to eat on Holbox

Tripadvisor is a resource for recommendations on restaurants in Holbox that suits all budgets and tastes.

Things to do in the Mayan Riviera

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

Also known as the Mexican Riviera, the Mayan Riviera stretches for 75 miles from 10 miles south of Cancun at Puerto Morelos and finishes at the town of Carrillo Puerto.  The towns of Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, Tulum and Akumal are scattered along the Caribbean coast.  It is one of the best places to visit in Mexico. There are many Mayan Riviera resorts to choose from.

There are many tour operators providing Riviera Maya Excursions in and around the area.

Mayan Riviera Hotels

We have chosen some great accommodation for you on the Mayan Riviera, click our favourite hotel site.

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Where to Eat in the Rivier Maya

Tripadvisor has a list of restaurants to suit all budgets and tastes.

Things to do in Playa del Carmen

Xplor Park

Xplor is a park of many activities from zip lining, underground rafting, amphibious vehicles to hammock splash. You can even experience adventures during the evening.

The official website for tickets and further information.

Cenote Chaak Tun

Your opportunity to swim underground and experience the marvels of the Cenote – a natural sinkhole.

Scuba and Snorkelling

There are various companies offering a variety of scuba and snorkelling experiences. 

Food, Wine and Nightlife

There are food tours and nightlife tours available.  Click here for a full list.

Where to stay in Playa del Carmen

We stayed at the fully inclusive hotel – Reef Coco in Playa del Carmen.  It was located right on the beach and a 5-minute walk into the centre of town. We had a choice of good restaurants and bars to choose from.  The Buffett Breakfast was extensive, more items that you could wish for.

Booking.com has a wide range of hotels to suit all budgets, check out their availability and current prices by clicking on the link.

Where to eat in Playa del Carmen

Tripadvisor has an extensive list of restaurants to suit all budgets.

Things to do in Tulum Mexico

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Stunning Tulum Mayan Ruins cliffside Caribbean Sea

The #1 tourist attraction in Tulum is the 13th century walled Mayan Ruins on the cliffs overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Get their early before the many busloads of tourists.  Apart from the ruins, you will see the natural habitats of the iguanas.  Bring sunscreen, water and mosquito repellent. We would recommend hiring the services of a guide, it is one regret that we had about visiting Tulum, we didn’t hire a guide.

Opening Hours: 08.00 – 17.00 hours

Entrance Fee:  MXN70 (USD$4.00).

Sac Actun

An underground cenote and cave system which is suitable for swimming and snorkelling.

The official website for more information.

Grand Cenote

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

Grand Cenote Tulum

A limestone cenote and cavern suitable for snorkelling and swimming, with the water so clear you may not even need to hire a snorkel.

Open between 10.00 am and 5.00 pm the Grand Cenote is the largest of all cenotes in Quintana Roo.

Entrance fee USD25.00

Tulum Beach

Long white silvery beaches that are semi-private, check first as some belong the Beach Clubs and others to smaller hotels.  For the price of lunch, you can use the facilities of the Beach Clubs i.e. parking and beach chairs.  There are restaurants available as well.

Where to stay in Tulum

We stayed at the Punta Piedra Beach Posada along Tulum Beach with lots of small restaurants outside. It is a small hotel, lovely comfortable rooms and its own private beach. A great place to just chill.

Check out all the available accommodation in Tulum.

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Where to Eat in Tulum

A few years ago when we were staying in Tulum we enjoyed the following 2 restaurants:

Casa Banana at Tulum Boca Paila Km 8.5

Mateo’s Mexican Grill at Tulum Beach Road Paila Km 5.2.  If you get there early you can have a ‘sundowner’ on the top deck whilst watching the sunset. Take mosquito repellent with you.

Tripadvisor has an extensive list of where to eat with reviews in and around Tulum.

What to do in Akumal

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

Swimming with the turtles

Akumal is a small beach resort near Cancun.  The top 2 tourist attractions are:

  • swimming or snorkelling with the sea turtles from Akumal Beach
  • swimming in the Yal Ku lagoon with schools of coloured fish

Where to stay in Akumal

We use Booking.com for all our hotel bookings and now we are a genius booker saving a further 10% on hotel bookings. Find out more.

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Where to eat in Akumal

Tripadvisor has a list of recommended suggestions on where to eat that will suit all budgets.

 What to do in Bacalar

There are 2 top tourist attractions in Bacalar:

  • the 42km long Lake Bacalar which at it’s widest point is 2km wide and fed by underground cenotes and rivers.  It is famous for its bright blue colour.
  • Fuerte de San Felipe – built in 1733 the Fuerte was used as a stronghold for protection against pirates. It is now used as a Museum.

Where to stay in Bacalar

We have chosen some great places for you to stay.

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Things to do in Cancun

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Cancun Beach Resorts

The weather in Cancun is pleasant all year around, no wonder it is one of the best places to go in Mexico.

Cancun is also the largest city in the state of Quintana Roo.  Cancun International Airport is Mexico’s 2nd busiest.  It is a good jumping off point to travel to Havana in Cuba.  It was cheaper to obtain visas at the airport in Cancun for Cuba than in the USA, USD20 compared to over USD100.

Cancun Nightlife

Head to the Zona Hotelera for the best of Cancun Nightlife.

Here are the best places to visit.

Cancun Hotel Map

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

Tourist Attractions Cancun Downtown:

  • Visit the main park and large plaza for shopping, food and entertainment – Parque Las Palapas
  • Malecon America’s shopping plaza
  • Walk from Nichupte Lagoon along the Malecon Tajamar
  • Shop in a real Mexican marketplace at Market 28

Tourist Attractions Cancun:

There are so many fun things to do in Cancun.

Xoximilco

A modern replica of UNESCO Xochimilco in Mexico City.  5 minutes from Cancun’s International Airport where you can board colourful barges and party through the night as you sail down the canals through the Mayan Jungle.

The official website for tickets and more information.  Tickets are cheaper if you purchase online.

Maya Cancun Museum

The Maya Cancun Museum contains collections of ancient Mayan artefacts and the Mayan site of San Miguelito.

Located Blvd. Kukulcan Km 16.5, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico

Opening Hours: 09.00 to 17.30

Entrance fee: MXN70  (USD$3.90)

The official website for the Maya Cancun Museum for more information.

El Ray Archaeological Site

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

One of the most important Mayan sites along the Cancun strip dating back to 250 AD which includes a pyramid shaped structure as well as 46 other buildings.

Location: Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Quintana Roo

Opening Hours: 08.00 to 17.00

The official website for El Ray Archaeological Site for more information.

El Meco Archaeological Site

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

Ancient Mayan ruins that include a pyramid.  You will also see iguanas in their natural habitat.

Location: Carretera Puerto Juaréz, López Portillo, 77520 Cancún

Opening Hours: 08.00 to 16.30

Entrance Fee: MXN50 (USD$2.75)

The official website for more information.

Isla Contoy

Only 200 visitors daily are allowed on Isla Contoy. There are snorkelling and swimming with the whale shark tours available.

For more information on tours check out Tripadvisor.

Where to stay in Cancun

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

The view from Reception

For a luxury stay in the Zona Hotelera strip of Cancun, we can recommend the Nizuc Resort and Spa. You will have a truly ‘zen experience’.  Our 1-night stay was not long enough to enjoy all of the facilities and the 6 restaurants that Nizuc has to offer.  It is the only hotel on the strip that welcomes the sunrise in the morning and where you can enjoy a cocktail and the sunset in the evening.

Location: Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

Booking.com has the ‘best all inclusive resorts in Cancun’ as well as many other hotel options for you to consider.

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Best Restaurants in Cancun

Tripadvisor has an extensive list of the best restaurants to suit all budgets in Cancun, with the latest reviews from travellers.

The Top 3 Best Value Hotels in the state of Quintana Roo

Banyan Tree Mayakoba – for availability and latest prices

Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa – for availability and latest prices

Grand Residences Riviera – for availability and latest prices

Top Things to do in the Yucatan State

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

The state of Yucatan on the Yucatan Peninsula is home to the important archaeological Mayan Ruins of Chichen Itza and Uxmal.

The state is bordered by Campeche to the South West, Quintana Roo to the East and South East and the Gulf of Mexico to the North and West and covers 39,524 square km. The Capital is Merida.

Things to do in Merida

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

Merida Yucatan Map

Free Walking Tour

A free walking tour of the historical centre of Merida starts at 9.30 am.  The tour is conducted in English and Spanish.

Duration: 1.5 – 2 hours

Meeting Place: Tourism Office on Calle 62 between Calle 61 and 63

Cost: Free but based on tips

Horse and Carriage Ride

Also called a Calesa the rides depart from Calle 61 in front of the Cathedral.   The traffic around the Centro Historico area of Merida is hectic.  It is recommended to time your ride for an evening or a Sunday when it is quieter.

Cost MXN250 (USD$14) and takes around 45 minutes.

Pok Ta Pok

Every Friday night in front of the Cathedral in Merida the ancient Mayan Ballgame Pok Ta Pok is played.

It starts at 8.00pm we would recommend getting there early to get a good seat.  It is free.

Grand Museum of Mayan World

An extensive world-class Mayan Museum with exhibits of ancient Mayan artefacts,  and home to everything Mayan.

Entrance Fee: MXN150 (USD$8.50)

Opening Hours: Wednesday to Monday 08.00 to 17.00

Location: Calle 60 Norte No. 299 E Unidad Revolucion C.P.97110 Merida

The official website of the Grand Museum of the Mayan World for tickets and more information.

Paseo de Montejo

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Canton Palace

Merida’s equivalent of Paris’s Champs Elysees. Paseo de Montejo runs North to South along Calle 47.  It is home to the magnificent mansions of 19th and 20th Century which were built by the Sisal Barons of Merida to replicate the mansions of Europe.  From the Plaza of Merida, Paseo runs 2 blocks east and 7 blocks north and is worth spending a few hours wandering around on your own.  Today the buildings that have been renovated are used by banks and insurance companies, boutique hotels, restaurants and night clubs.

The original Palacio Canton has been turned into the Museo Regional de Antropologia, covering the Mayan History throughout its time in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 8.00 am to 8.00 pm Sunday 08.00am to 2.00 pm

Entrance Fee: MXN41 (USD$2.30)

A Yucatecan Serenade

Every Thursday evening at Santa Lucia Park on Calle 60 and Calle 55 an open air concert takes place from 9.00 pm.

The Merida Cathedral

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

Merida’s Zocalo and the Cathedral

The oldest Cathedral on the Continent is the Cathedral of Merida which sits opposite the Main Square at Calle 60.  It was constructed between 1561 and 1598 and built over the Mayan city of T’ho.  Most of the stone came from the local Mayan temples in the area.

Around the Plaza you can see:

  • Palacio de Gobierno – built in 1892 and houses the large murals of Yucatecan artists Fernando Castro Pacheco. Opens from Monday to Saturday 08.00am to 8.00 pm and Sunday 09.00 am to 5.00 pm.
  • Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Ateneo de Yucatan (MACAY) – works by contemporary artists.  Free entrance. Open from Wednesday to Monday 10.00 am to 6.00pm but Friday and Saturday nights close at 8.00 pm.
  • Palacio Montejo – built by the famous Montejo family the palace has now been sold to a Mexican Bank.  Unfortunately, due to the ever increasing high taxes of Merida, the family had no alternative but to sell their home.  You can still visit the interior and the courtyard it will give you an idea of how life once was.
  • Ayuntamiento – City Hall.  The building dates back to the mid 19th Century. There are great views from the balcony overlooking the Park.

Merida City Museum

On Calle 65 between Calle 56 is the City Museum housed in the Old Post Office.  The Museum includes maps and pictures of Merida and the Mayan City of T’ho.

Merida’s Zoo

We were driving along Avenida Itzaes and got the shock of our lives when suddenly on our left was a Giraffe!  The Zoo is set in a beautiful park with a small lake.

Park Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 8 am – 5 pm

Entrance: Free

Where to stay in Merida

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

Relax by the pool after a day of sightseeing

During our 4 nights in Merida visiting the major tourist attractions of the Yucatan Peninsula, we stayed at the Wyndham Merida Hotel.  It was well located to visit the top sights.  The swimming pool was welcomed after a long day of sightseeing.

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

Do you want to see the latest specials on accommodation check out our favourite hotel site.

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Where to Eat in Merida

For a local breakfast experience, we can recommend eating at Mercado Santa Ana.  We have written an extensive blog post on Mexican Food in the Yucatan Peninsula, read more here.

Location: Calle 55 Entre 60 y 62 No. 510 Centro.

Opening hours: 05.30am to 13.00

La Chaya Maya is a great choice for a family restaurant serving local Yucatan specialities.

Location: Calle 55 Entre 60 y 62 No. 510 Centro.

Tripadvisor has an extensive range of restaurants to suit all budgets in Merida.

Top Tourist Attractions Outside Merida

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

El Castillo – the most beautiful temple in the Yucatan

Chichen Itza is the Yucatan’s most famous site and the busiest during the high season between November and April.  The ancient Mayan Site was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. Plan to spend at least the morning there.

To Travel Too Tip:

We recommend arriving early as the gates open and hire a local guide to explain all about the Chichen Itza history.

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

See our post on how to visit Chichen Itza during the day and night enjoying the Light and Sound Show.

Opening Hours: Daily: 08.00 to 16.30

Summer:  Light & Sound Show 20.00 to 21.00

Winter:  Light & Sound Show: 1900 to 20.00

Chichen Itza Entrance Fee – Day

As of 2017 day time ticket prices are:

MXN242 (USD$13.50)  (MXN172  for the ticket and MXN70 for tax)

There is a fee for video filming MXN45 (USD$2.50)

Mexican Government Officials control and administrate Chichen Itza archaeological site.

Chichen Itza Map

Night time pathways

For the Light & Sound Show at night there is a limited well lit pathway that you wander around before the 15-minute show commences.

Chichen Itza Night Show Tickets

As of 2017 night time ticket prices are:

MXN453 (USD$25.00)

Tickets are to be purchased prior to the day from the official website.

 Where to Stay at Chichen Itza

Booking.com has recommendations for accommodation close by Chichen Itza.

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Where to eat at Chichen Itza

Tripadvisor has a range of restaurants in the vicinity of Chichen Itza suitable for all budgets and tastes.

Uxmal

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

Uxmal

In 1996 the ancient Mayan site of Uxmal was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s most famous pyramid – the Pyramid of the Magician stands 35m tall and it is very impressive with its round sides. For visitors, it is a quieter Mayan site to visit as the site gets fewer tourists than Chichen Itza.  We would recommend using the services of a local guide.

Uxmal is located 62km south of Merida.

Uxmal Ruins Entrance Fee:

Adults: MXN218 (USD$12.00per person (2017 prices)

Guide:  MXN800 (USD$44 small group (2017 prices)

Opening Times:

Daily from 08.00 to 17.00

Choco Museum

Outside the gates of the Mayan Ruins of Uxmal is the Choco Museum.  This is not your typical museum, you wander through the grounds where you witness a local Mayan ceremony, as well as visit the animal refuge centre which houses animals that have been mistreated and who can’t return to the wild.

There are 6 exhibition halls presenting the history of chocolate from the Mayans till today.  You can taste traditional hot chocolate and purchase chocolate and other gifts from the Choco Museum shop.

The official website for more information.

Location: Antigua Carretera Campeche Km. 78, Uxmal, Mexico
Entrance Fees:
Adults: MXN120 (USD$6.60)
Opening Hours: 09.00 am – 08.00 pm spring/summer; 09.00 am – 07.00 pm fall/winter

Celestun Biosphere Reserve

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

Thousands of flamingos in Celestun between the months of November and March

The Celestun Biosphere Reserve is located in the northwestern part of the Yucatan Peninsula on 146,000 acres. Celestun is famous for its pink flamingos who flock here during the winter months between November and March for courting.  During the summer months, they head to Rio Largatos for nesting.

When you arrive at Celestun there are launches available to take you on the 2-hour boat ride to see the flamingos feeding as well as a tour through the mangroves.

The cost of the boat tour:

MXN1300 (USD$70) for the two of us (price as of 2017)

Where to stay in Celestun

Booking.com has a range of hotels in and around the Celestun area to suit all budgets.  Click the link below to check the latest prices and availability.

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Where to eat in Celestun

There are at least 13 restaurants around the Celestun Biosphere Reserve to suit all budgets.

 Izamal “The Yellow City”

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Map of Izamal town showing locations of major tourist attractions

Izamal is one of Mexico’s “Pueblo Magico” towns.  It is located 68km from Merida. Izamal is a very photogenic town with most of the buildings painted yellow.  Why are they painted yellow? Find out by reading our blog on Izamal.

Things to do in Yucatan Peninsula

Kinich Kakmo

Things to do in Izamal

  • Climb the Kinich Kakmo pyramid
  • Visit the Izamal Convent – San Antonio de Padua
  • Take a horse drawn carriage ride around the cobblestoned streets of Izamal
  • visit the Museo de Artesanias

Where to stay in Izamal

From the 1st to the 8th December each year a major religious pilgrimage takes place in Izamal.  All bed and breakfast accommodation, as well as hotels and Airbnb properties, (click this link to receive your 1st time $$ off for your very first booking), are booked out well in advance. Some of the pilgrims sleep in the park and in the corridors of the City Hall and the Convent.  If you are planning to visit Izamal ensure that you miss these dates unless your visit is for the pilgrimage.

Booking.com has a range of hotels and bed and breakfasts to suit all budgets.  Click our link below for the latest specials and availability.

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Where to eat in Izamal

Our visit to Izamal included lunch at Restaurant Zamna which we can recommend. Their Sopa de Lima is highly recommended.

Other places to eat according to the reviews on Tripadvisor.

Things to do in Progreso

Progreso is located in the North West of the state of Yucatan in the Gulf of Mexico.

You can wander down the Malecon and shop at the street vendors along the way.  Progreso has become a new Cruise Port for the Yucatan Peninsula, it can be very busy when cruise ships are in port. There are many restaurants overlooking the Malecon.

Where to stay in Progreso

Booking.com has a range of accommodation available in Progreso to suit all budgets. Click the link below to check out the latest specials and availability.

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Where to eat in Progreso

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Local Mexican Cuisine at Crabsters

There are a range of restaurants in Progreso, the popular ones are located on the waterfront.

Our recommendation is the newly opened in early 2017 – Crabsters.

To Travel Too tip – If you are selecting grilled fish off the menu request the smallest possible.  Our fish could have fed 4 of us

Things to do in Valladolid

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

Valladolid is an inland city in the eastern part of Yucatan state. It has been given the honour of a “Pueblo Magico town”.  It is a town known for its colonial churches and architecture.

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

Cathedral

The top tourist attractions of Valladolid are:

  • Cathedral of San Gervasio located in Centro Historico.  It was rebuilt in 1705 using the local stones from Mayan temples.
  • Cenote Zaci – a few blocks from the central park is Cenote Zaci. The entrance fee is MXN30 (USD$1.70) – don’t forget to take your swimmers with you.
  • Convent of San Bernardino of Siena at Calle 50 210B, Sisal, Valladolid. It has been recognised as one of the most beautiful buildings in the Yucatan Peninsula and one that was built over the vault of a cenote.
  • Casa de Los Venados – located in a private home this Museum has the largest collection of Mexican folk art in private hands, over 3,000 pieces. It is open daily at 10.oo am and there are tours available.

Where to stay in Valladolid

Booking.com has a range of accommodation available to suit all budgets.

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Where to eat in Valladolid

Tripadvisor has a range of restaurants to be enjoyed in Valladolid to suit all budgets and tastes.

 Mayan Site of Ek Balam

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

25 km north of Valladolid is the ancient Mayan site Ek Balam. El Torre the Tower is one of the largest Mayan structures with a height of 30m, 151m long and 60m wide.

Opening Hours: 08.00 to 17.00

Entrance Fee:  MXN132 (USD$7.50)

Mayan Site of Dzibilchaltun

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

16km North of Merida is Dzibilchaltun – a small ancient Mayan site.  The most famous structure is the Temple of the 7 Dolls.  Archaeologists discovered that inside the temple were 7 small dolls, they are now housed in the Museum on the grounds.  There is also a restaurant on site, a cenote, a church and a gift shop.  You can hire a guide, we highly recommend it.

Opening Hours: 08.00 to 17.00

Museum Opening Hours: 08.00 to 16.00

Entrance Fee: MXN139 (USD$7.65)

Things to do in Rio Lagartos

Rio Lagartos is a small working fishing village within the 150,000-acre reserve.  During the summer months, you can expect to see over 40,000 flamingos who flock here from Celestun for nesting and birthing.  Rio Lagartos is also home to over 395 species of birds.

You can organise tours to visit Rio Lagartos.

Top Things to do in the State of Campeche Mexico

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

The state of Campeche is bordered by the Yucatan to the North, Quintana Roo to the East and Tabasco to the South West.  The Gulf of Mexico lies to the west of the state. To the South and South East, it borders the countries of Guatemala and Belize. It is a state that encompasses rainforests and beaches.

The Capital of Campeche is San Francisco de Campeche – commonly called Campeche.

Campeche has many Mayan ruins such as Calakmul, Uxul and Xicalango.  The name Campeche comes from the ancient Mayan province Kimpech.  The City of Campeche and its ancient colonial centre and fortified walls was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.  In 2002 the Mayan ruins of Calakmul was also designated a UNESCO Site.

Things to do in Campeche city

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Malecon of Campeche

Malecon Campeche

The Malecon stretches for 5km from Justo Sierra to Joaquin Musel Avenue.  There are 3 tracks suitable for bicycles, skateboards and walking or running.  It is a great place to watch the sunset.

Walk the City Walls

The City Walls and Forts were built during the 16th century to protect the city from pirate attacks. There are 7 Baluartes (a stronghold into which people could go for a shelter during a battle) some are free along the 2-mile walk and others have a fee of between MXN10 – MXN50 (USD$0.55 – USD$2.75). It is best to walk the walls either in the morning or late afternoon to escape the heat of the midday sun.

Fort San Jose

Fort San Jose was built to protect Campeche during the 18th century.  The Fort contains a museum of armaments and boats.  Check opening times before you visit.

Fort San Miguel

The Fort of San Miguel is now a Museum and houses pre-Hispanic items.

Campeche Evening Light Show

8.00 pm every evening in the main park in the Centro Historico of Merida is the popular 1 hour Light & Sound Show which depicts historical events, characters and stories.

Cathedral

Located on Calle 10 opposite Centro Park is Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral of Campeche.  The Cathedral was constructed in the baroque and neo-classical style during 1650 – 1760.

Things to do outside the City of Campeche

Edzna Mayan Ruins

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

55km South East of Campeche, you can visit the Mayan Ruins of Edzna.  The most impressive structure is the 40m high, 5 storey pyramid known as the Pyramid of 5 Storeys.  There is also an impressive Mayan Ball Court in the Plaza.

Opening Hours: 08.00 am to 17.00 pm

Entrance Fee: MXN37 (USD$2.00)

Becan Mayan Ruins

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

 

Becan is located 150km north of Tikal National Park in Guatemala.  There is a moat built around the city as a defensive ditch to protect the city between the years AD100 and AD250.  Located in the Central Plaza is the tallest pyramid standing at 30m high.

Opening Hours 08.00 am to 17.00 pm.

Entrance fee: MXN46 (USD$2.50).

Xpuhil Mayan Ruins

Xpuhil is a small Mayan site in the state of Campeche. It is famous for its group of 3 mayan towers that have facades of 70 degrees.  The archaeologists located secret stairways that transported priests to the top of the temples, the Mayan people thought it was magic when they saw the Priests on top of the temples.

Opening Hours: 08.00 am to 17.00 pm

Calakmul Campeche

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

Deep in the jungles of the Peten Basin in a biosphere reserve 35km from the border of Guatemala is the Mayan Ruins of Calakmul.  Calakmul was one of the largest Mayan cities and was the power seat of the Kingdom of the Snake – its emblem. There are over 6,750 structures within the site and the largest is the Pyramid known as Structure 2 which stands at an impressive 45 metres high.  It is believed to have contained 4 tombs inside the structure.

Opening Hours 08.00am to 17.00pm

Entrance Fee: There are 4 separate fees:

Community charge MXN28 (USD$1.60)

Vehicle MXN56 (USD$3.10)

Biosphere Reserve MXN54 (USD$3.00)

Archaeological site MXN46 (USD$2.60)

Laguna de Terminos

Mexico’s largest estuary Laguna de Terminos is in the state of Campeche. It is 705,000 protected hectares of flora and fauna.

The mangroves are inhabited by ocelots, racoons, manatees, boa constrictors, turtles, crocodiles and the green iguana.  There is an abundance of fish as well as bottlenose dolphins.

Campeche Mexico Beaches

Even though Campeche is on the coast it is not known for its beaches.

Some recommendations:

  • Playa Bonita at Lerma
  • Seybaplaya – a small fishing village with a rocky beach 20 miles south of Campeche
  • Champoton-a fishing village, south of here are miles of beaches
  • Sabancuy – a lagoon that is suitable for swimming

 

Campeche Mexico Hotels

When we visited Campeche we stayed at the Hotel Maya Ah Kim Pech.  Our room overlooked the swimming pool, with high ceilings and it had a great colonial feel about it.  The location was perfect, 1 block away from the Main Square. It was excellent value for money.

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

Booking.com has a range of hotels to suit all budgets.

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

Where to eat in Campeche

Tripadvisor has an extensive list of recommendations on where to eat in Campeche.

Campeche Travel

Tripadvisor is a good resource for many tours around Campeche.

Mexico Weather

Mexico is such a large country its weather varies from region to region.  The weather in the coastal regions is generally hot but you will need to understand when the rainy season kicks in.  When we visited San Cristobal de Las Casas in Chiapas state we had to wrap up warm, and early mornings in places like San Miguel de Allende and Ajijic as examples can be quite cool.  Mexico City can be chilly at times as well – so it is worthwhile researching weather patterns before you travel and pack accordingly.

The best time to go to Mexico to visit the Yucatan Peninsula is:

Winter is the best time to visit the Yucatan Peninsula between the months of December and April.  This is also high season for tourism and major sites such as Chichen Itza can be very busy.

During summer in July and August, it can be very hot and humid.

The rainy season is between September and November.

The Hurricane Season in the Yucatan Peninsula runs from June 1st to November 30th.

Yucatan Peninsula Facts

Some general information to make the best of your holiday to the Yucatan Mexico.

Getting In

Airports

Cancun International Airport [CUN]

Location: KM22 on the Cancun-Chetumal Highway

Cancun International Airport is located outside the city of Cancun at kilometre 22 of the Cancun-Chetumal highway.

Official airport website for more information: Cancun International Airport

Merida – International Airport [MID]

Location: 13km from the city centre of Merida

Campeche  Airport [CPE]

Location: 6km south-east of Campeche

Campeche airport is located 6 km/4 Miles south-east of the City.

Chetumal Airport [CTM]

Location: 2km from Chetumal

Cozumel Airport [CZM]

Location: 3km north of San Miguel

Booking Air Travel

We use Skyscanner to book all our flights around the world.  Skyscanner is one of our partners.  It is important for us to recommend to our readers a product that we regularly use and one that we feel confident in using.  There are a lot of airline websites out there, Skyscanner is one of the largest with an extensive range of airline fares available on a daily basis.  It is worth signing up for their alerts when planning your Mexico Holidays.

Getting Around

Bus Travel

We have travelled extensively throughout Mexico with most of the journeys with ADO.  ADO covers the Yucatan Peninsula.  Check out their timetables and fares here.

Rental Cars

Rental Cars are available throughout the Yucatan Peninsula from airport and city locations.  Our current partners that we can recommend are Rentalcars.com and AutoEurope.com.  As always when you hire any rental car please always read the small print.  Before you leave the Car Rental station, take photos of any dents or scratches on the car with your mobile phone and log the date and time if not already shown on your photos.  Always check your travel insurance policy to see what your travel policy covers in the way of car rental.

Taxis

This is a comprehensive list of all you need to know about taxi services in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Other General Facts:

Currency:

The Currency of Mexico is the Mexican Peso.

MXN to USD

Electricity:

127v/60hz American Plug type

Water:

It is recommended not to drink the water in any region of Mexico.

Read more:

We have written many articles on Mexico you can read more here.

We hope that you have enjoyed our article on the Yucatan Peninsula.  If you like what you have read please feel free to share it with your family and friends.  If you would like more information or assistance in planning your travel to Mexico please review our travel planning packages available.

Our thanks to Visit Mexico and Yucatan Turismo for assisting us for 4 nights visiting the Yucatan Peninsula.  They provided us with a valuable itinerary, transport and some entrance fees to sites.  We also thank Wyndham Merida hotel for our complimentary accommodation.

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