While I could probably spend an ridiculous amount of time in Tulum, a 3 day weekend is perfect to rest and recharge while also leaving time to experience everything.
Read on: Full Tulum Travel Guide
Here is the perfect way to spend a three day weekend in Tulum...
Where to stay in Tulum
Before I get into the activities and restaurants you'll need a good home base. Tulum has two major hotel and tourist areas: Downtown and the beach zone. Downtown will generally be cheaper and is is probably better for adventure seekers. The beach zone has hotels that start at moderate prices and climbs all the way to "who the hell can afford that"?? Lucky for you I have recommendations for each...
Start off with breakfast at Burrito Amor. You'll want to make sure you're nice and full because today is full of adventure.
There's nothing like starting your vacation with an adventure. Plus, by the end of the trip - if you're anything like me - all you want to do is lay by the beach and relax. You can adventure on your own, but I definitely suggest just booking an all-inclusive tour. I took an epic tour with Edventure Tours and highly recommend them. They have a ton of different options but I did the Cenote/Turtle swim tour.
The quick version is...
- we rode ATV's
- swam in a cave cenote - with bats (!)
- visited another gorgeous cenote before lunch
- swam with some sea turtles (no big deal)
- snorkeled in a natural aquarium.
All in one day - seriously. The tour was epic, and it really is awesome seeing all the crazy natural beauty in Mexico on your first day. It makes you appreciate the country so much more the rest of your time there. P.S. You can read the full rundown of my tour with Edventure Tours here.
Since lunch was taken care of on the tour you only have to deal with dinner tonight. After a long day you're probably tired, the great thing about Tulum is no matter where you are staying there are so many options for dinner close by. If you're staying downtown eat at La Hoja Verde. If you're on the beach check out Mina for dinner.
You'll want to be up early today to see the Tulum ruins.
You can skip breakfast (not recommended), grab something quick from your hotel, or pack some protein bars from home and munch on while heading to the ruins. By the way, this is actually one of my best 'budget hacks' to help you save money. I never leave without throwing some RX bars (I love the blueberry flavor) in my bag. It makes early mornings super easy.
Anyway, back to getting up early to see the ruins. This strategy helps you beat the insane crowds that gather at the ruins and an early morning means you'll skip the insane mid-day heat that is present in Mexico.
If you’re a big history buff, you’ll be able to explore the ruins for hours at your own pace without getting annoyed at congested walkways. If you don't care too much about history, you'll be happy you got there early for the fantastic backdrop and views without the crowds in your pics.
After the ruins, head out for shopping and beach relaxation.
One of the great things about Tulum Jungle/Beach road is the abundance of restaurants and bars you’ll encounter if you walk along the shoreline. There is a particularly great stretch of shops, restaurants, and bars between Calaluna Hotel and Zamas Hotel. All the stores have a wide selection of gorgeous souvenirs, clothing and unique jewelry. I really wanted to bring home every single dream-catcher. Grab lunch at one of the great spots between stores. I personally loved Mina - both the food and views were fantastic. They also have a beach club next door for a quick transition to relaxation mode.
There is one shop you can't miss - though I will warn you that you can't afford anything in it. Visit the shop in front of the super-high end hotel, Azulik. It's part art installation, part museum, part amazing fashion - and obviously really hard to explain. There's a gong inside (which they let us ring!), stepping stones that go over water, hidden walkways that lead to secret room. Yeah, don't miss it.
Personally, I think the best one to visit is Papaya Playa Project. The grounds are adorable and there are a plethora of day beds on the beach to relax in. I was told the fee was $10 a person, but no one ever charged me.... #goodproblems. I did eat lunch there so, either way, I paid for something. But this is another reason I love Papaya playa, the food is well priced. Other hotels (Amansala for one) you'll find ridiculously good but ridiculously overpriced food. PPP felt like a happy medium of very good food at very good prices.
Read on: Best places to eat in Tulum
If it's a Friday or Saturday night, after dinner head over to Papaya Playa Project for dancing into the night. The hotel turns into a beach club that attracts a young (and gorgeous) crowd. You can sip on strong drinks and dance to music from local DJs. Check to see if you are there during their full moon party. It's suppose to be epic!
Start the morning with beach yoga. Many hotels (especially on the beach) offer yoga in the morning along with your stay. Although I did complain about the food prices, the yoga class I took at Amansala was amazing. It was such the perfect way to start the day and since the class was at 8 AM it wasn't too hot out yet.
If you aren't staying at a hotel that offers Yoga check out Maya Tulum and pay $15 to drop in for a class.
After yoga grab breakfast at Matcha Mama. It's totally instagramable but also home to delicious smoothies.
Afternoon & Evening
Last days are for lots of rest and more food. Chill by the beach and take in your surroundings. Try to take a few moments to really reflect on how lucky you are to be here. Listen to the ocean and feel the sand beneath your toes. You can go back to social media, or your book, or Netflix in a second.
As the day winds down, head to downtown Tulum for last minute souvenirs. You'll find these shops are slightly cheaper than the ones you visited on the beach yesterday. Stick around for dinner and eat at Burrito Amor (if you haven't already).
After dinner, head across the street to Campanella Cremerie for delicious ice cream. I purposely didn't show you this place at the beginning of the trip because it's dangerous how much you'll love it.
Day four and beyond
Tell everyone how awesome Tulum is and start looking for your next flight there.
Final Thoughts on Tulum
One last thing... even though researching ahead of time is great, I definitely recommend bringing a guidebook along with you. Here are some books I recommend...
And of course, if you have any questions DO NOT hesitate to reach out to me via Instagram, Twitter, or just shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).