LivingTravelTulum city guide

Tulum city guide

Tulum is a quiet but beautiful coastal city on the Mexican Yucatan peninsula, located about 80 miles south of Cancun. It marks the southernmost boundary of the region known as the Riviera Maya (the area south of here is known as the Costa Maya). While Tulum is prized for its beautiful beaches and upscale hippie vibe, the city is probably most famous for its impressive Mayan archaeological site, dramatically perched on a cliff overlooking a stunning stretch of turquoise ocean.

Tulum areas:

Tulum is divided into two distinct areas: the lively, albeit scruffy, main town center sits right off the highway, while the hotel zone, or “Zona Hotelera,” sits in a more isolated stretch of jungle and in front of the beach that leads towards the Sian Ka’an Biosphere. While many travelers don’t stay in Tulum after visiting the ruins, they are missing out – it’s worth spending a few days to enjoy the laid-back, eco-friendly vibe, incredibly wild beaches, and great dining, drinking, and spa options. .

What to do in Tulum:

  • Explore the ruins of Tulum (open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily), a group of Postclassic Mayan structures whose relatively modest design is more than offset by their unforgettable ocean-view setting. Be sure to take a refreshing dip in the sea after exploring the site. There are steps leading down to the beach. Bring a towel!
  • Take a day trip to Sian Ka’an, the spectacular UNESCO Biosphere Nature Reserve, to spot wildlife, birdwatch and swim in the clearest waters you have ever experienced.
  • Watch sea turtles laying their eggs on the beaches: Several hotels, like La Nueva Vida de Ramiro, operate volunteer programs to protect the turtles and their eggs.
  • Swim, snorkel, or even cave diving in cenotes, the underground river system found beneath the Yucatan Peninsula. Visit the Gran Cenote, on the way to the Cobá ruins, where you can dive into the caverns, or for a more memorable day, organize a tour with a local team like AllTourNative, who can organize great guided tours of little-visited places.
  • Transport yourself to a temacal, the ancient Mayan sweat ritual that is becoming an increasingly popular pursuit among travelers. The spa at Cabanas Copal offers an affordable version in the jungle.
  • Rent a bike and explore the entire stretch of the beach.

Where to eat and drink in Tulum:

  • Don Cafeto – Great sandwiches, coffee, and people-watching on the street. Avenida Tulum 64, Lot 12. Telephone: +52 984 871 2207
  • La Nave: excellent wood-fired pizzas and European wines. Avenida Tulum 570. Telephone: +52 984 871 2592

In the hotel zone:

  • Ana and José , there is a romantic ocean view restaurant at this popular hotel. Tulum-Bocapaila Highway, Km 7, Hotel Zone. Phone +52 998 880 6022
  • Casa Banana has a beautiful atmosphere and delicious Argentine-Mexican fusion cuisine. Tulum-Boca Paila Highway Km 8.5, Hotel Zone. Telephone +52 984 877 8512
  • La Zebra , Carretera Tulum a Boca Paila Km 8.2, Hotel Zone. +52 984 115 4728
  • Zahra , Carretera Tulum-Ruinas Km 5, Hotel Zone. Phone +52 984 115 4728

Where to stay in Tulum:

  • Ana and Jose. Telephone +52 998 880 56 29 or visit the website
  • Copal cabins. Telephone +1 866 471-3472 or visit the website
  • Azulik. Phone: US / Canada toll free +1 866 471-3472 or visit website
  • Dreams Tulum. All inclusive luxury. Telephone +52 984 871 3333 or visit the website
  • Ramiro’s New Life. Telephone +52 984 877 8512 or visit the website
  • The zebra. Phone + 1-303-578-1301 or visit website
  • Read more about romantic resorts in Tulum

How to get there and move:

Cancun International Airport (airport code CUN) is the main entry point to the Riviera Maya. Tulum is an hour and a half drive south of the airport.

There are several transportation options from the airport:

  • Take an ADO / Mayab bus to Playa del Carmen, then transfer to the Tulum bus or colectivo.
  • Take an ADO bus to the Cancun city bus terminal, then a bus to Tulum.
  • Rent a taxi or rental car from the airport directly to your hotel in Tulum. (While this can be expensive due to the distance, ask near the taxi counter as often commuters can join and hire a jeepney and split the fare.)
  • Rent a car to explore the area independently. Unlike other areas of Mexico, the roads in the Riviera Maya are in good condition and well signposted.

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