Thinking of visiting Tulum?
There’s plenty to see and do in Mexico’s latest hotspot, from ancient ruins to coral reefs and incredible restaurants. The hardest part will be narrowing down your itinerary. That’s why I’ve put together this list of the best things to do in Tulum! Keep reading to hear my top picks.
Curious what it’s like living in this tropical paradise? Check out my Tulum Digital Nomad Guide for all the details on the cost of living, restaurants, housing, and more!
10 Best Things to do in Tulum
1. Explore Tulum’s ancient ruins
No trip to Tulum is complete without a visit to the spectacular Mayan ruins. Perched on the edge of the Caribbean sea, this ancient fortress is worth a visit for the photos ops alone!
Back in the 13th and 14th centuries (before the arrival of the Spanish), Tulum was one of the most powerful Mexican city-states. Up to 1,600 inhabitants lived at this site, which mainly served as a religious and ceremonial center for the local population.
2. Swim in a cenote
Nothing says Mexico like visiting a hidden cenote! These gorgeous natural pools are formed when a limestone cave collapses inward and exposes the groundwater water below.
There are dozens of cenotes tucked away in the jungle surrounding Tulum. Check out this guide for a full list!
3. DIY Food Tour
The food alone is reason enough to visit Mexico, and a DIY food tour is one of the best things to do in Tulum. You’ll find no shortage of fantastic restaurants, from streetside stalls to upscale fine dining.
Eat your way through town, stopping at DelCielo for brunch and organic coffee, then fill up on authentic Mexican at Taqueria Honorio. Looking for something plant-based? Head to La Hoja Verde for the vegan tacos in town!
4. Day trip to Playa Del Carmen
Only an hour from Tulum, Playa Del Carmen has a completely different vibe. It’s a larger city, with lots of shops and restaurants, and great nightlife. If you want a night out on the town, this is the place to go!
5. Visit the Muyil Ruins
Another beautiful and historic site, Muyil is home to some of the oldest ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula. Some of the structures here date back to 300-250 BC!
Although smaller than the coastal Tulum ruins, Muyil is much less crowded, and if you visit during off-times you’ll have the whole place to yourself.
6. Swim with turtles in Akumal
Located just 25 minutes from Tulum, Akumal is a hotspot for snorkelers and divers–in no small part due to the sea turtles the town is named for. On the north side of town, you’ll find the crescent-shaped Half Moon Bay, as well as Yal-ku Lagoon, which is home to stingrays, barracudas, and all kinds of colorful fish.
7. Cafe hop
With Tulum’s thriving digital nomad scene, it comes as no surprise the town is full of boho coffee shops. These tropical cafes are an Instagram lover’s dream! Here are a few local favorites: Babel Cafe, Tulum Art Club, and Botanica.
Go for coffee, brunch, or just make a day out of visiting as many colorful cafes as possible!
8. Snorkel or dive the Tulum Reef
Located right off the main beach, Tulum Reef is easily accessible by boat. The reef is part of the Mesoamerican Reef System, the second-largest in the world (after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef).
The reef stretches through Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize. Book a tour in town or at the beach for a chance to explore Tulum’s portion of this incredible ecosystem!
9. Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
One of the largest nature reserves in Mexico and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sian Ka’an is home to over 1.3 million acres of protected land.
A visit here is one of the best things to do in Tulum and a great way to get up close and personal with the local wildlife. The reserve is home to manatees, dolphins, crocodiles, and hundreds of tropical birds.
10. Rent a bike
The main sites in Tulum are split between the beach and town center, which makes it inconvenient to travel on foot. Renting a bike is one of the best things to do in Tulum–not only will you be able to get around faster, but you’ll also be able to explore the area’s incredible trails.
Almost every hotel in Tulum rents bicycles, and most cost only 100 pesos (less than 6 USD) for the day. It’s the perfect way to see Tulum on a budget!
Final thoughts on the best things to do in Tulum
Tulum is a fantastic place to visit. Whether you stay for a week or a year, there’s plenty to keep you busy. For more info on the best time to plan your trip read the full digital nomad guide!
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