This year, my husband Evan and I got to visit Tulum, an absolute paradise tucked away on the Yucatan Peninsula. Beaches so pristine they look photoshopped, ancient Mayan ruins begging to be explored, and cenotes that practically scream, “Jump in, the water’s perfect!”
A lot of our friends and family often ask us how many days you need to fully explore Tulum. Honestly, we feel like you can be here for years and still find something to do! But if you’re crunched on time, we think the minimum is 3 days. To make the most of your trip, we put together a “3 days in Tulum itinerary” for couples – it’s equal parts adventure and chill time, so you can experience the fun without the rush.
Day 1: Ancient Ruins, Beach, and Cenote
Kick off your adventure by exploring Tulum’s famed archaeological sites and pristine beaches, then cool off with a dip in one-of-a-kind cenotes before unwinding at a beachfront hotspot.
Early Morning Breakfast and Tulum Ruins
Start your first day early with a fresh tropical breakfast at one of Tulum’s charming beachfront cafes.
Once you’re all fueled up, make your way to the Tulum Ruins, where you’ll see the remnants of a Mayan port city perched on a cliff. At this historical site, you can get a guided tour to fully soak in the Mayan history while taking in the breathtaking scenery of the Caribbean Sea in the background.
Mid-Morning Relaxing at Tulum Beach and Lunch
Following the ruins, head down the Tulum Beach Strip for some white sands and turquoise waves. You can take a lazy stroll to Playa Paraiso beach. It’s the kind of beach that’ll make you want to take photos, then put the camera away and just be.
Rent some bikes, cruise along the beach, and stop at beach clubs for a cocktail and a taste of local Mexican food. The fresh catch of the day is what vacation tastes like.
Oh, and don’t miss a beachfront yoga class if you happen to catch one happening!
Afternoon Cenote Adventure
After soaking up the sun, make your way to Gran Cenote, which is one of the most popular cenotes in Tulum… for good reasons! Here, you can snorkel or float among the stalactites cave and see the light play off the crystal-clear waters.
Alternatively, head over to Cenote Calavera, a smaller but no less beautiful cenote that offers a more intimate experience with nature. If you love adrenaline, there are lots of opportunities to jump from various heights here.
Evening Relaxation at Papaya Playa Project
To cap off an amazing day, visit Papaya Playa Project in the evening – a fun beach club with great food and drinks.
Unwind with a cocktail in hand and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere at this beach resort. Find yourself a cozy cabana or plush lounge chair and let the evening go by with waves lapping at your feet and a cocktail in hand.
Take as much or as little time as you want, but don’t forget to catch the gorgeous sunset.
Day 2: Day Trip to Chichen Itza
Morning at Chichen Itza
Set an early alarm and beat the tourist wave to Chichen Itza. Walking among these ancient stones as the morning light spills across the temple is downright mystical. Yes, it’s touristy, but it’s also amazing so we recommend it!
Lunch at Valladolid and More Cenotes
On your way back, swing by Valladolid for a quick bite and a wander around this colorful town.
Ready to cool off? Cenote Dos Ojos is calling. Whether you’re up for snorkeling or just floating on your back in the crystal-clear water, it’s a must-do. Since this magical cenote is nestled in the heart of the jungle, you can also explore the jungle trails by bike or on foot.
Afternoon Retail Therapy in Downtown Tulum
As the sun climbs, make your way to Downtown Tulum for an afternoon of retail therapy. Stroll the main streets and explore an eclectic mix of shops and cafes. From bohemian boutiques to artisanal stores, you’ll find everything from handmade jewelry to locally-designed clothing and cool art installations.
Dinner in Tulum
When hunger strikes, follow your nose to the nearest taco stand—because nothing says ‘Tulum’ like biting into a fresh taco with all the fixings. The downtown area buzzes at night, with plenty of spots to grab a drink and chat about the day’s adventures.
Day 3: Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve & Final Stops
Let’s go big on day three with a trip to Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. Explore the reserve with a guide – nature at its finest.
Morning at Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
Let’s go big on the morning of day three with a trip to Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a treasure trove of biodiversity. Explore the reserve with a guide – where you can see lots of mangroves, ancient Mayan ruins, and discover hidden lagoons.
If you’re feeling adventurous, a guided tour in Muyil could lead you to float along the reserve’s natural lazy river, where you’ll be surrounded by the sounds of exotic birds and the rustle of the jungle.
Eat Your Way Through Tulum Pueblo
In the heart of Tulum Pueblo, make your way to a cozy eatery. Make sure to try dishes like Cochinita Pibil or fresh ceviche, which are staples of authentic Mexican cuisine.
Dinner at Downtown Tulum and Evening at a Beach Club
End the trip with a downtown Tulum dinner – local flavors and good vibes. We recommend Gitano, a trendy spot with a jungle vibe. They offer a fusion of Mexican and Mediterranean cuisine. Don’t miss their mezcal cocktails and the lively atmosphere! This is a great time to reflect on the last 3 days in Tulum, and savor these last moments.
Tips for Your 3 Days in Tulum Getaway
- Currency: While many places accept USD, you’ll get better rates with pesos. ATMs are available, but it’s best to withdraw cash at the Cancun Airport or in the Tulum downtown area for the best rates.
- Transportation: Renting a bike is a great way to get around Tulum’s hotel zone and downtown area, but for longer trips to attractions like Chichen Itza or Cenote Dos Ojos, consider renting a car or taking a taxi.
- Best Time to Visit: Tulum is beautiful year-round, but the best time to visit Tulum is between April and October, just before or just after the busy season and hurricane season. November can also be a pleasant month with fewer tourists.
- Scuba Diving and Snorkeling: If you’re interested in scuba diving, Tulum is close to some of the best dive sites in the Riviera Maya. Make sure to check out local dive shops for tour options.
- Wildlife: Tulum is known for its sea turtles, which nest on the beaches from May to October. As you’re lounging in paradise, be respectful of any marked nesting sites during your beach days and keep your distance.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the most romantic activities for couples during a short stay in Tulum?
Sunset strolls along Tulum’s white sandy beaches are a highlight for any couple. You might also enjoy a private dinner by the seaside, offering a memorable dining experience with the sound of waves serenading you.
How can couples make the most of a 3-day trip to Tulum?
To fully experience Tulum in 3 days, allocate your time between soaking in the sun at the beach, visiting archeological sites like the Tulum Ruins, and eating lots of vibrant local cuisine at Tulum town.
Which day trips are recommended for couples based out of Tulum?
Consider a day trip to the nearby Coba Ruins where you can explore ancient pyramids, or take a guided tour to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve for an immersion in nature and wildlife.
What are the must-visit spots for couples in Tulum over a long weekend?
Don’t miss out on the famous Tulum Ruins, the enchanting Gran Cenote for swimming and snorkeling, and the laid-back vibes of Tulum beach clubs for relaxation and cocktails by the ocean.
How can couples balance relaxation and adventure in a Tulum itinerary?
Alternate your days between adventure activities such as cenote diving or exploring the jungle, and quieter moments like spa treatments or yoga classes for an ideal balance during your Tulum getaway.
Search for secluded spots like the tranquil Soliman Bay or the lesser-known Cenote Carwash to enjoy moments of solitude and discovery away from the more frequented tourist areas.
Is 3 Days in Tulum Enough?
Absolutely! Three days in Tulum allows you to hit the must-see spots like the Tulum Ruins, cenotes, and the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, with still enough time to chill on the dreamy Tulum beaches.
That being said, while you’ll get a taste of the highlights, there’s still so much to explore. Just prioritize what you’re most excited about. And hey, if you end up falling head over heels for Tulum (which happens a lot), consider coming back for a longer stay.
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Are there any other activities I need to include in this Tulum travel guide? Feel free to leave a comment below of what you recommend in a 3 days in Tulum itinerary!
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