The Ultimate 10 Day Yucatan Road Trip Itinerary

For several years, Mexico has consistently ranked among our favorite countries in the world to explore–and after our most recent return visit to take a Yucatan road trip, we are more confident than ever that it will never be unseated. 

Between the overwhelming number of interesting sights, absolutely sublime food, and incredibly welcoming culture, we can never get enough of Mexico.

With this 10 day Yucatan itinerary, we hope we can help you fall in love with it too!

Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is one of those just-right destinations that is easy enough to travel in that newer travelers will feel comfortable exploring, and fascinating enough that veteran travelers will never be bored.

Between the Mayan cities and mystical cenotes, the colorful towns and delicious food, the lagoon of Bacalar and the stunning beaches the region is known for, a Yucatan road trip truly has something for everyone.

Jeremy Storm climbing a pyramid at the Becan Ruins in Mexico, wearing a black t shirt and pulling on a rope for support
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How We Structured This Yucatan Road Trip Itinerary

We structured this Yucatan road trip itinerary to center around some of our favorite things to do in the Yucatan: explore Mayan ruins, swim in cenotes, and enjoy beautiful beaches.

We are covering the Yucatan peninsula here, not just the state of Yucatan, and much of this Yucatan travel itinerary does take place in Quintana Roo.

Cenote X'canche as seen from the interior of the small cave. Also known as the ek balam cenote. A waterfall is in the left side of the photo and the water is turquoise

It’s a fairly fast-paced itinerary in the sense that it packs a lot in and involves climbing many pyramids, but to drive this route straight through without traffic would actually only take around 12 hours.

You’ll drive a bit more than that, counting day trips and such, but the bottom line is that it’s a very doable distance in 10 days!

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We’ve included some of Mexico’s biggest tourist highlights here, including Chichen Itza, while also throwing in up-and-coming spots like Bacalar, and organized them in a loop beginning and ending in Cancun (aka, the biggest airport hub in the region by far).

This guide to spending 10 days in the Yucatan is quite long, so feel free to use the table of contents above this section to navigate to the most important parts for you if you wish!

Kate Storm in a red dress standing on Playa Norte in Isla Mujeres. The remains of a dock are to her left.

Why Choose the Yucatan for a Mexico Road Trip

When looking for the perfect road trip in Mexico or even all of Latin America, the Yucatan peninsula immediately shoots up to the top of the list.

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The peninsula is known as one of the safest regions for tourists in all of Mexico (and for the record, we have always felt incredibly safe not only there but everywhere we’ve been in Mexico), the driving is very lowkey, and the sights, from the ruins of Mayan cities to beaches to colorful towns to the peninsula’s world-famous cenotes, are sublime.

With a flawless combination of safety, ease of travel, and unforgettable sights, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect Mexico road trip than one through the Yucatan.

jeremy storm swimming in cancun mexico

Getting Around During Your Road Trip in the Yucatan

The best company to rent a car for your road trip in Mexico from will likely vary dramatically depending on exactly when you’re traveling.

Sometimes large international carriers offer the best prices, sometimes local outfits. Sometimes one company has an excellent base price, but terrible rental requirements.

The best way to find your rental car is to search through Discover Cars, which will sift through dozens of companies to find the best combination of low prices and reasonable rental terms for your Yucatan road trip.

Check prices and shop rental cars for your Yucatan road trip today!

Jeremy Storm standing in front of a red car parked in front of a church as part of a road trip Yucatan itinerary

Will This 10 Day Yucatan Itinerary Work Without a Car?

Parts of it, yes, but it would be more of a hassle to reach some spots.

Mexico’s ADO bus network is impressive, incredibly comfortable (some of the most comfortable buses we’ve ridden on anywhere, quite frankly), and can easily get you around the peninsula, including all the way down to Bacalar.

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For smaller day trips like visiting Ek Balam and the cenotes around Valladolid, though, you’d need to either negotiate a taxi (not terribly difficult, but a hassle, especially if you’re not comfortable negotiating in Spanish), jump in a collectivo, or book a tour.

There’s no doubt that driving will make this particular 10 day Yucatan itinerary much easier and more flexible, but if you can’t or would prefer not to drive, you can still have an incredibly rewarding trip to the peninsula using this Yucatan travel guide.

Dock at Bacalar Lagoon leading into the water, as seen on a road trip Yucatan travel itinerary

The Ultimate 10 Day Yucatan Road Trip Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cancun and head to Valladolid.

Assuming you arrive in Cancun early enough in the day to reach Valladolid before sunset, we highly recommend grabbing your rental car at the airport and then immediately hitting the road!

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If your flight arrives in the late afternoon or evening, though, you’ll want to spend your first night in Cancun itself and then get an early start by driving to Valladolid the next morning.

Valladolid is a little under 2 hours from Cancun by car.

Valladolid Cathedral with a motorbike passing by in front of it. Valladolid is an excellent base during this first part of this Mexico road trip itinerary

Day 2: Explore Valladolid and check out nearby cenotes.

The colorful, small city of Valladolid is a laid-back and delightful place to explor.

The Zocalo, cathedral, and the Convent of San Bernardino de Siena are all worth a look, as are the many delicious restaurants and the colorful street of Calzada de los Frailes.

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The main reason that Valladolid is a favorite for people exploring the Yucatan, though, is not for the charming city that is itself one of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos (Magic Towns), but for what lies outside of it.

Valladolid is located at the perfect epicenter of many of the area’s best day trips, including several cenotes and Mayan ruins.

Colorful street in Valladolid Mexico as seen on a Yucatan road trip

For the first several days of this Mexico road trip, we recommend basing yourselves here–the next few days of this Yucatan itinerary are designed as day trips from Valladolid.

For today, start your stay in Valladolid by exploring the town and potentially by checking out a few of the nearby cenotes.

Instagram-famous Cenote Suytun is less than 15 minutes from town by car, as is the complex housing both Cenote Samula and Cenote Xkeken.

Too tired to drive anymore but still want to check out a cenote today?

No worries–Cenote Zaci is certainly not the most impressive of these cenotes, but it does win points for being right in the center of town!

Kate Storm standing in the center of Cenote Suytun near Valladolid, an amazing addition to a 10 day Yucatan itinerary

Where to Stay in Valladolid

Valladolid has a fantastic selection of places to stay, ranging from budget hostels to beautiful boutique hotels. 

Here are some of the best, including the hotel we adored on our most recent visit!


Hostel Candelaria — Featuring a perfect location in the center of Valladolid, colorful decor, hundreds of near-perfect reviews and plenty of dorm and private room lodging options, Hostel Candelaria is a go-to choice for budget travelers to Valladolid.

Check rates & book your stay at Hostel Candelaria!

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Casa Aluxes Hotel — We absolutely adored our stay at this boutique hotel. The breakfast is fantastic, the service perfect, the inner courtyard and pools beautiful, and their location excellent. When we return to Valladolid yet again, we’ll definitely consider staying again.

Check rates & book your stay at Casa Aluxes Hotel!

Interior courtyard of Casa Aluxes Hotel in Valladolid Mexico


Le Muuch Hotel — This luxury hotel in Valladolid offers spacious family rooms, excellent service, and a fantastic breakfast, all housed in a convenient location within walking distance of Valladolid’s major sights.

The grounds include two beautiful pools, and the hotel’s hundreds of excellent reviews make it a sure bet when visiting Valladolid.

Check rates & book your stay at Le Muuch Hotel!

colorful flags on iglesia de san servacio, one of the most fun things to do in valladolid mexico

Day 3: Visit Chichen Itza and Cenote Ik Kil.

For your first day trip from Valladolid, head to none other than Mexico’s most famous Mayan ruin and one of the 7 New Wonders of the World: Chichen Itza.

We highly recommend showing up very, very early, and entering the park as soon as it opens at 8:00 AM if you want to avoid the worst of the crowds.

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Most of the big tour buses bringing visitors in by the hundreds from Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen won’t show up until an hour or two after that, giving you a bit of time to explore the ruins in relative peace.

After you finish up at Chichen Itza itself, be sure to take a dip in nearby Cenote Ik Kil!

Photo of the main pyramid of Chichen Itza on Mexico Yucatan Peninsula

Day 4: Visit Ek Balam and Cenote X’canche.

I’ll be honest: I intentionally scheduled Chichen Itza as the first Mayan city on this Yucatan itinerary, not only because I know just about everyone wants to visit, but because the other Mayan cities you will visit after it–in my biased opinion–blow it out of the water.

Ek Balam is located about half an hour from Valladolid, and in contrast with bustling Chichen Itza the previous day, will likely feel downright deserted.

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With far fewer crowds and plenty of structures that you can climb, visiting Ek Balam is an absolute delight and one of our personal favorite stops on this Yucatan road trip.

Located in the same complex of sorts–you won’t need to move your car again–is Cenote X’canche, which is arguably our favorite cenote that we’ve seen on the peninsula as well!

Featuring brilliantly beautiful water, a slightly wild feel, and a waterfall, Cenote X’canche is one of those places where it is easy to understand why the Mayan religion purports that cenotes are the entrances to the underworld.

Kate Storm standing on top of the el torre pyramid in ek balam with jungle visible behind her

Day 5: Make your way to Tulum.

On day 5 of your Mexico road trip, it’s time to say goodbye to Valladolid and head for the beach!

Tulum is about an hour and a half away from Valladolid, giving you plenty of time to make your way back to the coast and then visit the famous Tulum ruins and beach.

While the ruins are certainly more crowded than Ek Balam from yesterday, their setting just cannot be beat–the views of the Mayan city overlooking the phenomenal beach are just magnificent.

Tulum ruins overlooking a bright beach, as seen as part of a 10 day Yucatan itinerary

Be sure to bring your swimsuit along: your ticket to visit the Tulum ruins also includes access to the beach, and you’ll definitely want to spend a few hours there!

When it comes time to find somewhere to stay for the night, you absolutely can stay in Tulum itself, but be prepared for some serious sticker shock: Tulum is not only expensive as compared to other cities in Mexico, it’s just expensive, period.

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If you’d like to save a little cash, consider staying outside of Tulum instead–there are plenty of options, from luxury accommodation to hostels to boutique hotels, a 20-30 minute drive down the road.

One of the major benefits of being on a Yucatan road trip rather than a traditional itinerary is that you can take advantage of flexibility like that!

kate storm walking toward tulum mexico ruins

Optional Yucatan Road Trip Stop: Coba.

Still dreaming of more Mayan ruins?

With three archaeological sites in three days included on this Yucatan itinerary, you quite possibly will not, but it’s worth pointing out that as you drive from Valladolid to Tulum, you’ll pass right by the Coba ruins, which also make for a delightful place to explore.

Less popular (read: crowded) than Chichen Itza, but more crowded than Ek Balam, Coba boasts some stunning structures in a forested setting, and you can climb the main pyramid for beautiful views over the jungle.

Jeremy Storm standing in front of a structure at the Coba ruins as seen on a backpacking Yucatan road trip

Day 6: Road trip Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to Bacalar.

On day 6, it’s time to head to the most up-and-coming destination on this 10 day Yucatan itinerary, a place we’ve heard described as “what Tulum was 30 years ago”: Bacalar.

The drive from Tulum to Bacalar takes less than 3 hours, so depending on time you could spend the morning in Tulum before heading down, or stop at Sian Ka’an Biosphere to see another magnificent part of the Yucatan peninsula.

Alternatively, you could wake up early and head right to Bacalar to maximize your time at this otherworldly lagoon–more on it below.

Overwater deck overlooking Bacalar lagoon, one of the best places to visit Yucatan road trip

Day 7: Enjoy Mexico’s Lagoon of Seven Colors.

Look out over the beauty of the Bacalar Lagoon, and you may just be convinced that you’ve been transported to the Maldives or to an obscure Pacific atoll.

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You’ll almost certainly have a hard time comprehending that the brilliant blue you see doesn’t come from a sea or ocean of any kind, but from a freshwater lagoon.

Bacalar, both the town and the lagoon it is named after, is a sleepy, beautiful place where it’s easy to kick back, relax, and enjoy some truly unique nature.

view of cocolitos bacalar yucatan travel mexico

While you’re there, consider taking a boat tour to discover the best swimming spots and viewpoints on the lagoon, checking out the rapids (basically a natural lazy river), and hopping down to one of the beach clubs for a swim and some food served up with incredible views.

Back in town, be sure to visit Fort San Felipe, which was built by the Spanish in the 18th century to defend against the real-life pirates of the Caribbean that attacked the town.

For dinner, we can heartily recommend La Playita–one of the best-known spots in town with one of the best restaurant views imaginable–and also La Pina, which isn’t located right on the lake but has an impressive garden atmosphere all the same.

Kate Storm sitting on a swing in the water in Bacalar Mexico wearing a pink bikini--plenty of bathing suits definitely belong on your beach vacation packing list

Where to Stay in Bacalar

We recommend spending two nights visiting Bacalar as part of this Yucatan road trip–here are some great options for where to stay.

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Blue Hotel — With comfortable rooms, affordable prices, and excellent service, Blue Hotel is a fantastic choice for travelers visiting Bacalar on a budget.

While the hotel is located a bit further from the center of town than most, in Bacalar, that’s not a problem when you’re on a Yucatan road trip–you’ll probably drive to most attractions anyway.

Check rates & book your stay at Blue Hotel!

Bacalar Lagoon visible through the leaves of a tree growing on the shore of the lake


Hotel Tuparenda — We loved this boutique hotel in Bacalar–so much, in fact, that when we doubled back to Bacalar on our Mexico road trip, we returned for a second stay here!

The location is excellent (a short walk from La Playita), rooms comfortable, and service wonderful.

The rooftop, where the included breakfast is served and there is a small pool, has a lovely view of the lagoon in the distance!

Check rates & book your stay at Hotel Tuparenda!

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Maya Bacalar Boutique Hotel — Want to stay directly on the lake, with a restaurant and spa located on-site and no reason to leave?

If so, check yourself in for relaxation and pampering at the popular and well-reviewed Maya Bacalar Boutique Hotel for a taste of luxury… at far more affordable prices than a similar accommodation would go for in Tulum or Playa del Carmen.

Check rates & book your stay at Maya Bacalar Boutique Hotel!

Dock in Bacalar Mexico as seen leading back to La Playita restaurant on a road trip Yucatan itinerary

Day 8: Head to Playa del Carmen, stopping at Akumal on the way.

At this point during your Yucatan road trip itinerary, things become a bit choose-your-own-adventure by virtue of the fact that there is so much to do between Bacalar and your eventual destination of Cancun, where you’ll say goodbye to Mexico in a couple of days.

Our suggestion is to head to Playa del Carmen (we loved our time at Isabella Boutique Hotel if you’re looking for an adorable but not insanely expensive place to stay), which is about a 3.5-hour drive from Bacalar and will put you both much closer to Cancun and in the heart of plenty of things to do in the Yucatan.

Along the way, consider stopping off at Akumal to cross a major highlight off of your Yucatan bucket list: swimming with sea turtles.

Playa del Carmen colorful sign with palm trees visible in the background

Day 9: Cross one more thing off your Mexico bucket list. 

With one more day of your Yucatan road trip left and an excellent central base in or near Playa del Carmen, the Riviera Maya is your oyster.

Here are a few of our suggestions for what to do on the last day of your road trip in the Yucatan…

Go for a swim in a cenote (or two).

Playa del Carmen is surrounded by absolutely stunning cenotes, including Cristalino, Jardin del Eden, and Cenote Azul.

Jeremy Storm jumping into Cenote Azul Playa del Carmen

Have a beach day at Xpu-Ha.

While the beaches in Playa del Carmen proper are not among the best on the Riviera Maya, Xpu-Ha, which is located just a short drive outside of town, is absolutely amazing and a fantastic place to kick back and relax.

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Go snorkeling or scuba diving.

The stunning island of Cozumel is located very close to Playa del Carmen, and is especially well-known for its incredible scuba diving and snorkeling!

Whether you book a day trip from Playa del Carmen or hop one of the many ferries over to Cozumel yourself, you’ll be able to find excellent snorkeling opportunities.

Prefer to go underground?

Snorkeling in an enclosed cenote is an unforgettable experience.

Kate Storm and Jeremy Storm in an enclosed cenote in Riveria Maya Mexico, wearing orange life jackets
Flashback to our very first trip to Mexico in 2014: we had so much fun on this snorkeling tour!

Day 10: Return to Cancun and say goodbye (for now) to Mexico.

As your Yucatan road trip comes to a close, it’s time to return to Cancun.

Before saying goodbye to Yucatan travel, though, consider hitting the beach one last time if you have time before heading to the airport!

Cancun has some of the best beaches in Mexico, and some are absolutely free to visit, including the positively magnificent Playa Delfines.

Jeremy Storm on Playa Delfines in Cancun on a sunny day during a road trip Yucatan

Other Destinations to Add to Your Yucatan Road Trip Itinerary

A mere 10 days in the Yucatan could never hope to cover all the incredible peninsula has to offer.

If you have a longer Yucatan itinerary to work with, here are a few other places to consider adding onto your Yucatan road trip!

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I specifically didn’t include popular Isla Mujeres or Isla Holbox in this Yucatan travel blog post, as they’re decidedly not road trip destinations, but we adore them both and they’re definitely worth considering adding to your itinerary for the Yucatan as well!

In fact, we started our most recent trip to the Yucatan peninsula with a few days on Isla Mujeres before picking up our rental car, and couldn’t recommend the experience more.

Catamaran full of tour goers offshore near Isla Mujeres Mexico

Pink Lakes

The pink lakes of Las Coloradas, Mexico have become increasingly #instagramfamous in the last few years, and they are still one of the most unique places to visit in the Yucatan!

They are actually private reservoirs belonging to a salt company, not natural lakes at all, but they are incredibly interesting to look at.

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Visiting has become more regimented over the years, and these days you’ll be charged a small fee to enter and be required to keep a guide with you, and you definitely can’t swim in the lakes.

If you’d like to see them for yourself, they’re a doable day trip from Valladolid (a little under 2 hours of easy driving each way).

Pink Lakes of Las Coloradas, Mexico


The colorful, beautiful ex-pat haven of Merida is incredibly popular with visitors planning long stays in the Yucatan, but it’s quite far out of the way for this Yucatan itinerary that focuses more on the southern and central parts of the peninsula.

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If you have longer than 10 days in the Yucatan, though, definitely consider stopping by to explore some of the best things to do in Merida.

It’s a beautiful, colorful city with lots of amazing food to offer, and is also the capital of the state of Yucatan.

main square of merida mexico at sunset, yucatan travel guide


Buried deep in the jungle in the state of Campeche, Calakmul is one of the most difficult Mayan ruins to get to, but it’s also one of the most rewarding.

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Climb atop the pyramids there, and you will see nothing but ruins surrounded by lots and lots of jungle.

If you look closely on a clear day, you may even spot the tip of La Danta, a pyramid in modern-day Guatemala that once stood in the lost city of El Mirador and is–by some measures–the tallest pyramid in the world.

Kate Storm standing on top of one of the Calakmul ruins in Mexico, as seen on a Mexico road trip Yucatan itinerary


The city of Izamal is located vaguely between Valladolid and Merida, and is known primarily for its brilliant color–much of the town is painted bright yellow!

Be sure to check out the Convent of San Antonio of Padua, the beautiful (yellow) architecture downtown, and the markets while there.

street lined with yellow buildings izamal mexico


Our current favorite archaeological site in Mexico is located only an hour and a half north of Bacalar, making it easy to add on to your Mexico road trip!

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Becan is uncrowded, inexpensive, incredibly well-preserved, and a true hidden gem on the Yucatan peninsula. 

If you’re looking for a memorable side trip while traveling the Yucatan, we can’t recommend a visit to Becan enough!

Jeremy Storm standing in front of a large Mayan structure in Becan Mexico, looking away from the camera

Useful Driving Tips for This Mexico Road Trip Itinerary

Plan to drive only during the day.

With lots of speed bumps (more on that below) and very few street lights, the Yucatan peninsula is not an ideal place to drive at night. 

Luckily, this Yucatan road trip itinerary should make it fairly easy to drive during the day only–most days include only a couple of hours of driving.

sailboats near a beach in isla mujeres mexico as seen when visiting yucatan peninsula

Keep an eye on the time (zone).

This itinerary covers destinations in both the state of Quintana Roo and the state of Yucatan.

Despite being right next door to each other and frequently covered on the same trip, these Mexican states are in different time zones!

Quintana Roo uses Eastern Standard Time, and Yucatan uses Central Standard Time.

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Typically, someone will pump your gas for you.

Most frequently, when you pull up to the gas pump in Mexico, someone will pump your gas for you as well as clean your windshield. You’ll want to provide a small tip for the service.

If you don’t see someone servicing the pumps, though, you can also pump your own gas in some places, so keep an eye on what others are doing!

colorful flags on iglesia de san servacio, one of the most fun things to do in valladolid mexico

… but be sure to check the pump to avoid scams.

There’s a known gas station scam in the Yucatan in which you’ll be charged extra because the gas pump isn’t set to $0.00 before the attendant starts pumping your gas.

This has never happened to us, but we’ve heard of fellow travelers experiencing it!

Luckily, the way to avoid it is very simple: if you’re not pumping your own gas, be sure to look at the pump and confirm it’s set to zero before the attendant starts to pump.

Dozens of pineapples stacked along a wall in La Pina Restaurant Bacalar Mexico

Keep an eye out for topes.

Topes (in English, speed bumps) are the major way that speed limits are enforced in the Yucatan peninsula, especially in towns and other population centers.

Go over them too fast, and you’ll throw out the suspension of your rental car–proceed carefully and when in doubt, go slow.

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Don’t leave anything visible in the car when you park.

This is truly good advice for most of the world, but it especially goes here: visible luggage and belongings left in a parked car can attract thieves.

Leave nothing visible.

Parking lot at Coba ruins
Parking lot near the Coba ruins… see th zip line platform in the background?

Check for onsite parking when booking hotels.

It will make your life much simpler if there’s parking onsite at each place you stay in Mexico, and hotels with parking are very easy to find.

We’d consider it a road trip mistake to accidentally show up somewhere without parking!

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Pick up a Mexican SIM card before you get started.

Having cell phone data with you will make your Mexico road trip through the Yucatan far, far simpler, and buying data is incredibly affordable.

To save time and hassle, consider picking up a SIM card for your phone before you even leave the airport.

Kate Storm in a red dress at Cocalitos Bacalar during a road trip Yucatan travel itinerary

FAQ About Taking a Road Trip in the Yucatan Peninsula

Do you need to speak Spanish for this Yucatan road trip?

No, but it will make your trip much, much easier.

While you definitely don’t need to know how to speak Spanish well for this Yucatan itinerary, we recommend learning at least some basic phrases before you go.

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How’s the driving?

Incredibly easy!

Truly, we found driving in the Yucatan to be far, far easier than driving in most places we’ve been in Europe. 

For most of this Yucatan road trip itinerary, you’ll be driving on flat, well-signed, uncongested highways.

After the initial few hours of getting used to driving in Mexico, we found our road trip to be extremely relaxing.

Like in virtually all places around the world, driving is a bit more complex and congested in and around large cities, but not overly difficult for confident drivers.

Kate and Jeremy Storm standing on the edge of a Mayan pyramid in Becan Mexico, facing each other

Is this road trip in Mexico safe?

Safety is a very complicated subject, of course (I discussed a bit more about safety in Mexico here), but generally speaking, yes. 

While cartel violence is certainly a problem in Mexico, it very, very rarely touches tourists and even more rarely touches tourists who avoid going near illegal activities (don’t stumble out of a bar drunk at 3am and try to pick up a prostitute on the way home, basically).

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We have spent months in Mexico, spread across many different states, and have always felt supremely safe–just as safe as we feel in an average town in the USA.

Our fellow American travelers do tend to stick to the Riviera Maya (basically the corridor between Cancun and Tulum), but every place on this Yucatan road trip itinerary has a fairly developed tourism structure, with plenty of hotels, restaurants, and tourism services.

Jeremy Storm on the rocky beach of Isla Mujeres east coast

Very generally speaking, the people traveling this route are made up of a combination of European and Canadian vacationers (including lots of young families!), as well as Mexican tourists exploring their own country and a fair number of long term travelers/people backpacking the Yucatan.

In other words, while these places are a bit off the beaten path for an average US citizen taking a week off of work to head down to Mexico, they’re not remotely intimidating places to travel once you get the hang of the route, and they feel very safe.

Yucatan Road Trip Itinerary Map

Take This Map With You! Click each highlight to pull up the name of the destination. To save this map to “Your Places” on Google Maps, click the star to the right of the title. You’ll then be able to find it under the Maps tab of your Google Maps account! To open the map in a new window, click the button on the top right of the map.

The Best Time to Road Trip the Yucatan Peninsula

The high season for traveling the Yucatan Peninsula runs roughly from mid-December to April, with the biggest crowds (and highest prices) typically found around Christmas, New Yea’s, Spring Break, and Easter.

This is most prominent on the Riviera Maya, though–we’ve traveled the Yucatan peninsula extensively during high season on multiple trips, and have had no issues with crowds or extreme prices outside of Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum.

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Hurricane season runs from June to November, and while the odds are long that your trip would be caught up in a hurricane, you can expect more rain and cloudy weather during your Mexico road trip during those months.

Lower prices and fewer crowds might very well be a solid trade-off, though, depending on your travel style.

Kate Storm in a small pool near Cenote Azul Playa del Carmen

What to Pack for Your Yucatan Road Trip

Travel Insurance — We don’t ever suggest traveling without travel insurance–anything can happen, and a fast-paced Yucatan road trip is definitely better a case of safe than sorry.

We use and recommend Safety Wing for trips to Mexico.

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Cell Phone Holder — This is especially important if you don’t have a reliable co-pilot: the last thing you want to do is be fumbling with the GPS on your phone during your road trip in the Yucatan.

Pack a cell phone holder to attach to the car and you’ll be able to drive much more safely!

Additional Car Insurance — Whether you purchase a policy that covers car rental (only some do, so double-check!), purchase a policy through the rental car company, or something else, be sure you have coverage: it’s worth the peace of mind.

Jeremy Storm climbing Coba ruins pyramind on a road trip Yucatan itinerary

Pacsafe — We can’t recommend our Pacsafe enough: this travel safe is affordable, sturdy, easy to pack, and will help keep your valuables safe in your hotel room (not that you should need to worry much about theft in the Yucatan, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!).

Comfortable Day Bag — We currently use Pacsafe’s sleek anti-theft backpack and love it, but if you don’t want to shell out the cash for this trip, that’s totally understandable.

Just aim for something comfortable to wear, not flashy, and medium-sized–we used a Northface Jester backpack for years and loved it as well.

Jeremy Storm wearing Pacsafe antitheft backpack on Isla Mujeres Mexico when living out of a backpack

Swim Goggles — We love packing our own goggles when traveling to the beach. They’re cheap, small, easy to pack, and make swimming so much more fun!

Sunscreen — Because sunburns are never a good look in vacation photos.

The Ultimate Road Trip Packing List: 50+ Road Trip Essentials You Need

Purell Hand Sanitizer — We carry this everywhere, and never been sorry to have it floating around in our day bag.

SeaBands & Non-Drowsy Dramamine — If you’re prone to motion sickness like me, I strongly recommend adding SeaBands to your Yucatan packing list.

I use them on all boats and the occasional bus, and if things get really bad, take some Non-Drowsy Dramamine as well.

4 photos of yucatan peninsula: cenote x'canche, becan pyramid, bacalar, isla mujeres. black and pink text on a white backgorund reads "the ultimate itinerary yucatan peninsula"
About Kate Storm
Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

28 thoughts on “The Ultimate 10 Day Yucatan Road Trip Itinerary”

  1. This is basically my dream Mexico trip!!! My boyfriend and I had talked about going this year but obviously we’ll see. Either way saving this post for inspiration. We’ll definitely make sure to see that cenote at Ek Balam, wow.

    • Ahh I’m so happy to hear that Jessica! We truly love this part of the world so much, I just want to shout from the rooftops about it. SERIOUSLY hoping your trip can happen this year, for so many reasons.

      • As a fan of this area for over 35 years, enjoyed reading your writings here.
        As far as shouting from the rooftops, I often feel maybe I have done that too much. Holbox and Bacalar are two places I have known for many years and often recommended. But now due to mass development they are both becoming almost unrecognizable to me and that is a sad thing.

  2. Do you think a road trip around the Yucatan would be at all feasible with a 1 year old? I think we’d have to make some modifications but overall do you feel like it would be safe and not an insane amount of driving?

    • Hi Michelle!

      Yes, it’s absolutely doable with modifications (depending on the one-year-old in question, of course). We’ve always seen quite a few families out and about when in the Yucatan. Hotels and restaurants tend to be extremely welcoming to kids.

      If you want to cut quite a bit of driving, you can trim off Bacalar to stay more central. Most of the driving distances in this itinerary are fairly short, coming in at 3 hours or less of driving a day.

  3. I finally booked plane tickets to Mexico thanks to your blog! Thanks for all the inspiration. I’ll be following most of your itinerary!

  4. Hi, thanks so much for your 10 day itinerary post. I’m trying to figure out which of the islands -mujeres or cozumel- to include given ill cut out chichen itza and coba probably, and bacalar as i want to minize driving time. Im travelling with a two year old so ruins may not be the best idea. Would really appreciate your thoughts.

    • Hi Lottos!

      Both islands are beautiful, but Cozumel is better known for diving and Mujeres for its beaches. You guys could have a great time in either, but if I had to choose, I’d say that Mujeres is probably a bit more toddler-friendly.

  5. We (couple with 16 year old son) went to Cancun for the first time in March 2021 and really loved it! Planning a trip back in the spring of ’22. We split our time between Cancun, Isla Mujeres, and Puerto Morelos, including day trips to Coba, Tulum, and Akumal. Just wanted to add an update, though…unfortunately at the time we went there was no climbing at the ruins which had previously allowed it. We heard different reports of whether that was temporary due to COVID-19, or if that was permanent.
    Also, do watch out for gas station scams! (Search it on the internet…) I had read of some before we went and was prepared, but I was still pretty surprised when the very first place we stopped for gas the attendant used one of the scams to try to rip us off! We called him on it and he tried to talk his way out of it at first, but when we insisted on speaking to his boss he changed his tune and gave back the extra money. We totally would have been fooled if we hadn’t read about it first.

    • Hi Katie! Thanks so much for the additional information, sounds like you love the area as much as we do. So far I’ve only heard that climbing at Coba is limited due to COVID, but we’ll definitely keep an eye on whether it becomes permanent. Coba is beautiful but if you’re looking for even more ruins next time, Becan, Calakmul, and Ek Balam are all among our favorites.

    • You will be very, very hot! That wouldn’t be a deal-breaker for us, personally, especially since you’ll probably also benefit from a shoulder season dip in prices, but be prepared for soaring temperatures, especially inland.

      The rainy season generally starts in June, so your odds of having sunny weather are solid (especially if you visit toward the beginning of the month), but be prepared to spend lots of time cooling off in the water.

  6. Hello 🙂 thanks for a great post. we are planning the first night in Cancun as we arrive late. the next day we will drive to Valladolid early and have 1 night there. then we will travel to Tulum, and here my boyfriend and I are discussing, whether we should stay in Tulum and take day trips to Bacalar and Akumal or whether we should take overnight stays in Bacalar and playa del Carmen as you recommend. my boyfriend feels stressful changing hotel all the time and driving so much. did you find it stressful? and would you have done something different now if you could? we arrive March 2 and travel home March 11, 2022 – can we snorkel with sea turtles at this time? or is it only possible in the sea turtle season? thanks in advance. Sincerely, Christina

    • It all depends on your tastes, but I’d be more likely to stay somewhere other than Tulum and day trip to it rather than from it! The prices, crowds, and traffic are all much higher in Tulum than in the surrounding areas.

      Basing yourself in fewer places and taking day trips is definitely much easier than changing hotels every night! That being said, driving in the Yucatan is pretty simple once you’re outside the larger cities.

      The sea turtles are in Akumal year-round, you shouldn’t have any problem seeing them in March. 🙂

      Hope you guys have a great trip!

  7. Thank you for the great ideas and suggestions . We are planning on visiting Cancun in April 24, 2022. We are looking for transportation from Cancun Airport to Valladolid. We don’t want to rent a car, any suggestions? Thank you in advance


    • If you don’t want to drive, the easiest way is definitely to take the ADO bus! You’ll need to take one bus from the airport to the downtown terminal or Playa del Carmen, and then catch a bus to Valladolid.

      The ADO buses are very comfortable and popular with travelers (but bring a jacket because they tend to blast the a/c).

      Alternatively, you can hire a taxi or private transfer, but it will be very expensive!

  8. Hi Kate – Thank you for all the great tips! We are trying to figure out how to rent a car after our trip to Isla Mujeres. Essentially we are flying into Cancun, going to Isla Mujeres and then renting a car to drive around the Riviera Maya. We’ll return the car. I tried the car rental place but I can’t figure out how to rent near the Isla Mujeres ferry. Any tips? Thank you!

    • Hi Mary! It’s just a quick cab ride from the ferry to the airport, where you can easily rent a car. Taking a taxi to the rental car agency will likely be the simplest way to get there.

  9. Thanks a mill for this itinerary! We are planning 2-3 weeks for my big milestone birthday so having the different add-ons to extend the trip is so great 🙂

    Just nervous about driving, as we drive on left side here in Ireland but I’m sure I’ll figure it out!

    • You definitely will! We’ve gone the opposite way (spent about a month in total driving in Ireland) and it wasn’t nearly as bad switching between the sides as we feared. 🙂

  10. Hello, thanks for this great post! My husband and I were in this area 20 years ago but a lot has changed! We are considering traveling here with our kids (ages 16 & 12) in late June – early July. They are pretty experienced travelers and have been to different areas in MX a few times before. I’m just worried that the level of heat, rain & mosquitos might make the trip unpleasant. We were in Greece last summer and found that as long as we arranged our day to be in water, AC or driving for the middle part of the day we were fine, but that was dry heat. Any advice? Thanks much!

    • Hi Rebecca,

      With the caveat that I spent my upbringing in very hot and humid climates (Texas, Florida, Oklahoma), I would say that generally speaking, the humidity will probably be more intense than in Greece but the general format of your trip will still be doable.

      The heat will be more of an issue at the inland locations for sure, I’d definitely plan on some slow afternoons at cenotes and/or resting, and try to reach any ruins you visit first thing in the morning.

      There will definitely be weather moments that can be described as unpleasant, but that personally wouldn’t be enough to keep me away from Mexico. 🙂


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