The Complete Yucatan Peninsula Travel Guide for 2023

Are you searching for the ultimate Yucatan Peninsula Travel Guide?

As someone who has spent an extensive amount of time traveling throughout the region’s breathtaking landscape, I will tell you everything you need to know to plan an unforgettable, stress-free journey.

The Yucatan Peninsula attracts millions of visitors from around the world annually.

From travelers seeking an all-inclusive vacation to those wanting to reconnect with nature through backpacking, it has something for everyone.

Sparkling cenotes, authentic cuisine, and Mayan archaeological sites will show you there’s more to the Yucatan Peninsula than Spring Break and late nights at the club.

Continue reading below for comprehensive city guides, getaways to ‘Pueblos Magicos’, top-rated tours, and personal recommendations to make the most out of your Mexico vacation.

Punta Cancun aerial view
Punta Cancun

Yucatan Travel Guide: What You Should Know Before You Go

🗸 Currency: Mexican Pesos; 1 USD = 19 MXN (approx)

🗸 Exchanging Money: It’s best to exchange money in your home country prior to arriving. However, if you for some reason can’t do this, avoid exchanging your currency at the airport or in your hotel ATM.

The best place to do it is an official bank or an exchange bureau.

🗸 Language: Yucatec Maya, or “Maya t’aan” is the official language. Spanish is spoken in business dealings, and English is spoken in tourist zones.

🗸 Time Zone: Central Daylight Time

🗸 Airports: There are five international airports in the Yucatan Peninsula. This includes Cancun (CUN), Mérida (MID), Campeche, Chetumal, and Cozumel. Playa del Carmen has a domestic airport.

🗸 Public Transportation: Taxis, Uber, private shuttles, and a modern public bus system are available.

🗸 Sim cards: Mexico’s technology infrastructure isn’t as sophisticated as some other countries. This doesn’t mean it’s unsafe, just more of an inconvenience.

If you plan on traveling to some remote places, buying a local SIM card is highly recommended to guarantee a reliable signal. They vary in price, but shouldn’t be more than $ 10 USD.

🗸 Visa: Most countries allow visitors with a valid passport to stay three to six months on a tourist visa. If you want to stay longer than what the visa allows, you will need to leave and return.

Just be careful with this as they are now more strict with re-entry rules. If you want to live or work in Mexico, or you are visiting from a country on this list, you will need to go through a more extensive process to obtain a visa.

Where is the Yucatan Peninsula located?

The easternmost part of Mexico, it’s geographically 600 miles from New Orleans and 150 miles west of Cuba. The region is split up between territory in southeast Mexico, Guatemala’s Petén Department, and most of Belize.

📍 Yucatan map ( i will add it) 

📍 What is considered the Yucatan Peninsula?

The entirety of the Yucatan Peninsula is 76,300 square miles in size. It includes the Mexican states of Campeche, Quintana Roo, Yucatan, and even parts of Belize and Guatemala.

Its coastline stretches for 700 miles which separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea. The capital of Yucatan is Merida, the capital of Campeche is Campeche, and Chetumal is the capital of Quintana Roo.

Aerial view of Cancun Beach
Cancun Beach

Is Yucatan Safe?

Absolutely. The Yucatan is one of the safest states in all of Mexico. In fact, it was rated among the four states with the lowest crime rates in the country.

One of the main reasons for this is the area’s popularity with tourists. Local and federal governments take extra care to ensure it remains as safe as possible for foreigners so they can have enjoyable vacations.

All this aside, that’s not to say nothing bad ever happens. It’s best to remain vigilant, obey local laws, and not draw unwanted attention to yourself.

Stay in well-lit areas in the Hotel Zone, don’t walk alone at night, and don’t flash large amounts of cash or credit cards around in public.

I put together a very detailed guide on how to stay safe while traveling in Mexico which will offer great guidelines and tips on being smart when you travel here.

The best places to visit in Yucatan Peninsula

1. Cancun

When people think of the Yucatan Peninsula, the first city that comes to mind is usually Cancun. It’s an extremely popular destination among Americans and is growing in popularity with European tourists.

It’s become a go-to spot for top beaches, clubbing and nightlife, golfing, and all-inclusive resorts.

However, even with the rise in tourism, Cancún remains one of the most affordable vacation destinations in the Western Hemisphere.

So why is it so popular, you ask? First of all, Cancún’s beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world. They are prime spots for snorkeling, parasailing, jet skiing, diving, or simply relaxing.

Cancun is also a centrally located city offering many opportunities for day trips to places like Isla Mujeres, Chichen Itza, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and Isla Contoy.

If it’s culture and nightlife you’re looking for, Cancun’s got that too! Visit the Mayan Museum, catch a Cirque du Soleil show, or dance the night away at a nearby club.

Aerial view of Cancun
Cancun, Mexico

2. Isla Holbox

This sliver of land just north of the Yucatan Peninsula is what separates the region from the Caribbean Sea. It’s part of the Yum Balam Nature Reserve and the Yalahau Lagoon.

The car-free island is brimming with marine life including sea turtles and whale sharks during certain months of the year.

The waters off the coast of the island offer amazing visibility which makes conditions for viewing whale sharks ideal.

Isla Holbox is also known to be more affordable than its nearby counterparts.

Food, drinks, and accommodation are all reasonably priced which is perfect for those on a budget. For must-do activities, spend a day at Punta Coco Beach, take a half-day taco tour, or visit the Refugio Holbox Animal Sanctuary.

3. Merida

For travelers looking for a break from the beach, Merida is the place to go. It’s within driving distance of a number of popular sites including Chichén Itzá (75 miles), and the Pyramid of the Magician at Uxmal (52 miles).

The food scene is also a huge draw for many visitors. The Mercado Lucas De Galvéz and Mercado Santiago are great places to shop for spices, exotic fruits, veggies, and fresh juice.

You can choose to wander them alone or with a local guide to taste test native cuisine and fresh produce.

Merida also is a great base for day trips to the region’s UNESCO sites, nature reserves, and other nearby towns including Valladolid and Izamal.

San Antonio Mulix Merida cenotes
San Antonio Mulix, Merida cenotes

4. Valladolid

One of the most underrated towns in the Yucatan is easily Valladolid. To many, Valladolid is the real Mexico. Not that other cities and towns aren’t “real,” but they can certainly seem more touristy.

Valladolid is not only close to Chichen Itza, but it’s also home to its very own Mayan ruins known as Ek Balam. Just north of town, Ek Balam is just as beautiful as Chichen Itza but with a fraction of the crowds.

You can also find incredible cenotes nearby including the Insta-famous underground Cenote Suytun, and a larger cenote – Cenote Zaci – which is located right in the middle of town.

5. Tulum

Tulum is one of the most popular towns to visit during a trip to the Yucatan. Not only is it surrounded by lush tropical forests, but it is home to a well-preserved coastal Maya site. Today, it’s a mecca for travel-loving millennials, celebrities, and spiritual beings in search of healing and insight.

It’s the ultimate destination for travelers looking for a true back-to-nature adventure. Everything from the hotels to the restaurants is more rustic, small-scale, and laid back than in Playa del Carmen or Cancun. There are a number of tour companies that offer half-day or full-day excursions, but there are a few activities you absolutely must do.

First, spend a day at the Tulum Archeological site and enjoy the Mayan Beach. If you want more of a true snorkeling experience, head to Akumal Beach to swim with the sea turtles. Finally, spend a day or two exploring a couple of the nearby cenotes. Some of the more popular cenotes include Gran Cenote, Cenote Cristal, and Cenote Calavera.

6. Bacalar Lagoon

Imagine hanging in a hammock in an overwater bungalow and looking out over crystal clear, spearmint blue water. This is the type of experience you could have at the Bacalar Lagoon.

Just a two-hour drive from Tulum, Bacalar Lagoon is a welcome break from the tourist crowds boasting laid-back vibes and a sleepy beach town. This Pueblo Mágico is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and unconventional spots in the Yucatan Peninsula.

If you have an interest in exploring another country, Bacalar Lagoon is a 3-hour drive to Belize City, and a short flight or boat ride to Caye Caulker and Caye Ambergris!

aerial view of Xulha lagoon
Xulha Bacalar Lagoon

7. Playa del Carmen

Comparable to Cancun, many say Playa del Carmen has a more laid-back, less commercialized vibe.

This small beach town is popular among travelers looking to ditch the rental car for a more walkable experience. In “Playa” as the locals call it, it’s easy to access restaurants, beaches, and nightlife.

This former fisherman’s village began more than 110 years ago.

However, it’s still home to plenty of white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and off-the-beaten-path adventures.

An additional bonus is that Playa del Carmen is also more affordable than Cancun when it comes to hotels and resorts.

8. Isla Mujeres

Eight miles off the coast of Cancun in the middle of the Caribbean, you will find the former fishing village of Isla Mujeres (Island of Women).

In recent decades, it’s risen in popularity among tourists for its stunning beaches, relaxing atmosphere, and slow island pace.

On a tiny piece of land five miles long and a third of a mile wide, you will find natural parks, Mayan ruins, white sandy beaches, and plenty of shops and restaurants.

You can cruise along the coast in an upscale catamaran, or take to the roads on a golf cart rental to take in the sights.

Be sure to visit Punta Sur on the southern tip to view the temple dedicated to the Mayan goddess of health and fertility, Ixchel.

Aerial view of isla Mujeres Carribean coast
Isla Mujeres

9. Izamal

Looking for the most Instagrammable town in all of Mexico?

You’ll want to make sure a stop in Izamal is included in your Yucatan Peninsula travel guide.

In fact, it’s the most insanely photogenic and walkable historic town in the heart of Yucatan State, so much so that its nickname is the “Yellow City.”

This Pueblo Magico is quaint and charming and is bursting with historic colonial buildings, ancient ruins, and friendly locals.

Definitely spend a full day here, if not a couple of days exploring the town and nearby attractions.

Don’t pass up a visit to the Convento San Antonio de Padua or the Kinich Kak Moo, which is the highest Mayan pyramid in town.

Things to do in Yucatan

🏆 Best Yucatan beaches

✔️ Playa Norte 

On a small island off the coast of Cancun, you can find the stunning strip of rock and sand known as Isla Mujeres (Island of Women).

Once considered a sacred site devoted to a Maya goddess, today, Isla Mujeres is a Mecca for shopping, wildlife viewing, and relaxation.

The most famous beach on this island is Playa Norte, one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico.

It offers clear, shallow waters, and access to a nearby coral reef. It’s the perfect laid-back alternative to bustling Cancun and can be visited year-round.

aerial view of Playa Norte
Playa Norte

✔️ Mayan Beach 

One of the most popular beaches in Tulum is Mayan Beach — and not just for its beauty but its location.

With the Tulum Archaeological ruins towering above, stairs lead down to clear blue waters and white sands.

Once on the beach, you can look up to find yourself surrounded by towering palm trees and rocky cliffs for an incredible backdrop.

Spending a few hours here is a great way to cool off after exploring the ruins under the scorching Yucatan sun.

Keep in mind that there are no chairs or umbrellas at this beach, which may not be ideal if you have small children.

However, you can walk down the shore where many boutique hotels allow the public to use their beach equipment for free or for a small fee.

✔️ Playa Delfines 

Cancun’s largest free public beach is a real treat. From dazzling waters, thatched huts, and phenomenal ocean views, it’s a must-see when visiting the Yucatan Peninsula.

Not only does it offer gentle waves and clean waters, but it’s also the only beach in the Hotel Zone with free parking and a few towering resorts.

Be sure to get a photo with the block-lettered Cancun sign, and keep your eye out for playful dolphins, especially during the morning hours.

View towards the ocean with plants in front
Playa Delfines, Cancun

🏆 Best Yucatan cenotes

✔️ Gran Cenote 

Just three miles from downtown Tulum, Gran Cenote is one of the most well-known sinkholes in Mexico.

The open-air cenote is home to caves, a grotto, and limestone caverns full of wildlife such as bats, turtles, and fish.

The turquoise water is ideal for snorkeling and cave diving, and you can reach different depths of water via a wooden deck.

Arrive when it opens at 8 am to avoid crowds and bring your own snorkel gear to avoid surcharges. The entrance fee is $25 USD per person.

✔️ Yaxbacaltun Cenote 

This semi-open cenote is a hidden gem that can be found down a dirt path, away from the more touristy parts of the Yucatan.

For just $10MXN ($0.53USD), you can access the grounds of the cenote which include a rest area, bathrooms, showers, and space for parking.

You’ll descend one of two long flights of metal stairs to a concrete platform. Before jumping in, know that this cenote is deep so you may want to use a life jacket.

For extra safety, there is also a rope from one end of the cenote to the other, which leads to an overhang. Few tours bring people to this cenote, so it’s best to visit it in your town time.

✔️ Sac Actun Cenote

Brimming with crystal clear water and limestone stalactites, the Cenotes Sac Actunis the world’s largest known underwater cave system.

It can be found just off Highway 307, about 14 miles north of Tulum. It’s a great place to snorkel, cave dive, and view wildlife such as turtles and fish.

🏆 Best Yucatan ruins

✔️ Chichén Itzá

One of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza is perhaps one of the world’s most recognizable landmarks.

Millions of visitors flock to visit the grounds of the ruins every year.

The best way to get to it is to fly into Merida or Cancun and rent a car to explore on your own time.

You can also book a private guided tour to learn more about the site’s rich Mayan history, specifically the Temple of Kukulcán, which is the center of the archaeological site.

El Castillo Chichén Itzá
El Castillo Chichén Itzá

✔️ Tulum 

The Mayan city of Tulum is just 81 miles south of Cancun but feels like a world away.

The town itself was built late in the thirteenth century and is home to some of the most well-preserved ruins in the world.

The Tulum Archaeological site boasts its own inviting beach, a 2,572-foot-long limestone wall, and plenty of wildlife. You can visit on your own, or book a guided half-day or full-day tour to explore.

✔️ Cobá 

The Coba Ruins may not be the most famous ruins in the Yucatan, but they are no less amazing! The site is home to a lush jungle and the Nohoch Mul, known as the great pyramid.

You can even visit a nearby cenote, or watch spider and howler monkeys at the  Punta Laguna preserve. Note that climbing the ruins is not allowed as of 2020.

🏆 Best Yucatan wildlife encounters

🐋 Swimming with whale sharks

Whale shark season in Cancun typically falls between May and April with the peak season taking place between July and August.

The best places to spot them are off the waters of Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Cozumel, Tulum, Akumal, Holbox Island, or Isla Mujeres.

You will have to book a guided tour to swim with these majestic animals, so be sure to book your tour early.

Three people swimming with a whale hark
Swim with whale sharks – Photo from Canva

🐢 Swimming with turtles

Akumal is one of the best public beaches to swim in with sea turtles.

You can visit this beach on your own, or book an eco-conscious tour with a professional guide that includes stops at other destinations.

Once you arrive, head straight for the beach and ignore the racketeers attempting to sell ‘turtle tours’.

If you visit on your own, know that you don’t need to pay to access the beach.

Just be mindful of the turtles, and their nests (if any), and be sure to give them plenty of distance when swimming.

🦩 Flamingos and crocodiles in Rio Lagartos

A place exists where you can see flamingos, crocodiles, and a pink lake all in one! Where do you ask? At Lake Coloradas in the town of Rio Lagartos.

To get there, you can book a boat excursion from most major towns and cities throughout Yucatan (Cancun, Merida, Valladolid, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, etc).

In addition to the flamingos and crocodiles, you’ll also spot species of fish, turtles, and birds.

Keep in mind that while you can see the flamingos year-round, the best months to spot them are from March to June.

Yucatan Pueblos Mágicos

✔️ Valladolid

This historic colonial city boasts colorful buildings like the 16th-century Convent of San Bernardino of Siena and the baroque-style San Gervasio Cathedral.

Explore the lush jungle outside of the town in search of beautiful freshwater cenotes.

Take a refreshing swim in the sinkholes of Cenote Zací, Samulá, and X’Kekén.

If you enjoy shopping, visit the Casa de los Venados for Mexican folk art and furnishings, and spend a morning at the infamous Mayan site of Chichén Itzá which is just 45 minutes away.

✔️ Isla Mujeres

Just eight miles away from Cancun in the Caribbean Sea, Isla Mujeres offers stunning beaches, shops, water activities, and Mayan ruins.

It’s a one-stop shop for both solo travelers and families alike. The only way to reach Isla Mujeres is by boat, so make sure to book ferry tickets or a small group or private catamaran tour.

Don’t pass up spending time on Playa Norte to snorkel, or scuba dive in the surrounding coral reefs.

If you have time, head to the southern tip of Punta Sur to explore a lighthouse, the remains of a Mayan temple, and a sanctuary for sea turtles.

Aerial view of Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres

✔️ Bacalar

If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Cancun, Bacalar is a great choice.

Located about five hours from Cancun near the Mexico-Belize border, Bacalar is a true tropical paradise.

Next to the town is the Lagoon of Seven Colors, nicknamed for its beautifully multi-colored water.

It’s the perfect place to watch stunning sunsets, savor a meal of fresh seafood, or take a refreshing dip in a nearby cenote.

Make sure to visit the Cenote Cocalitos and the Fuerte San Felipe Bacalar historic site.

Bacalar Drone Sac Ha Overview
Bacalar Sac Ha

🏆 Best Yucatan Tours

✔️ Mexican cooking class

Food is a huge part of Mexican culture, and it’s no different in the Yucatan.

There’s no better way to taste the bold flavors of the local cuisine than to take an authentic Mexican cooking class.

One of the most popular cooking class tours is a half-day foodie adventure through Mérida.

With the guidance of a local chef, you’ll gather fresh veggies, fruit, and spices from the vibrant Merida market.

From the market, you’ll head to a professional kitchen setting where you will prepare a traditional three-course meal with an appetizer, main dish, and dessert.

✔️ Las Coloradas pink lake

Did you know that the Yucatan is home to a bright pink lake? If you didn’t know before, you’re welcome. It’s a truly spectacular sight!

You can either drive to it to explore on your own time or book a full-day tour.

The best day tour to pink lake includes a boat ride through the Ría Lagartos nature reserve to view flamingos and crocodiles. You’ll also enjoy complimentary breakfast, lunch, and comfortable transportation.

Las Coloradas pink water
Las Coloradas – Photo from Canva

✔️ Yucatan hidden gems

Even though the Yucatan Peninsula is known for being “touristy”, there are plenty of hidden gems to explore, too. Check out a couple of them below:

The Nichupte Lagoon is no doubt beautiful and a popular Cancun activity for a reason, but have you heard of the Bacalar Lagoon? On this four-hour sightseeing boat tour, you’ll enjoy snorkeling, wildlife viewing, and an open bar with snacks.

Chichen Itzá is one of the new 7 Wonders of the World and a must-see when visiting the Yucatan, but did you know there are plenty of other Mayan ruins to explore?

On this full-day ruins tour, you can see three sites in one day: Chichen Itza, the Tulum Archaeological Site, and Coba.

You’ll learn the cultural importance of each landmark, enjoy lunch, a chauffeur-style transport, and a cenote swim.

Where to stay in Yucatan

🏆 Best haciendas in Yucatan

For the ultimate Yucatan experience, haciendas (plantations) are a unique lodging option.

These sizable estates are an important component of Mexican history and culture.

They were places where work and relaxation became one, and where beautiful plants and crops were grown and harvested.

Some of the oldest and best haciendas in the region can be found in Mérida, just three hours from Cancun.

These include the Hotel Hacienda VIP Merida, Hacienda Chablé Yucatan, and Hacienda Temozón Sur.

Each of these properties has undergone massive renovation and restoration projects, and are popular spots to host weddings, parties, and events.

🏆 Best hotels in the Yucatan

Hotels in the Yucatan are some of the most luxurious and sought-after hotels in the world. In fact, some people travel to the region for the hotel experience alone.

According to, VRBO, and Expedia, some of the most booked hotels in the region are in Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

In Cancun, top hotels include Sandos Cancun, Hard Rock Hotel Cancun, and the Mayan Monkey for those on a budget.

For more off-the-beaten-path hotel properties, try the Hotel Plaza by Kavia in Mérida, Hotel Zentik Project in Valladolid, or the Meliora by Bunik in Playa del Carmen.

Hard Rock Hotel Cancun – Photo © Expedia

🏆 Best Yucatan Resorts

According to leading travel websites, the most popular resort properties in Cancun include the Wyndham Alltra, Moon Palace Cancun, and Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera.

They are each all-inclusive and include luxurious amenities like on-site restaurants, adult-only pools, spas, and bespoke excursions.

Two hours away in Tulum, the Hilton Tulum Riviera Maya is a favorite among tourists.

They claim it’s a great deal due to the property’s beach views, on-property dining, location, and bespoke tour options.

If it’s an adventure park you’re seeking, Hotel Xcaret Arte in Playa del Carmen is the best option.

Its all-inclusive package includes food, beverages, suite lodging, and access to all of Grupo Xcaret’s water parks.

Aerial view of Hilton Tulum Riviera Hotel Maya from the ocean
Hilton Tulum Riviera Maya – Photo © Expedia

How many days do you need in Yucatan?

✔️ 1-week Yucatan itinerary

A week may seem like enough time, but the Yucatan Peninsula is much bigger than people expect.

Driving between the three states can take hours depending on the destination.

If you only have time for seven days of exploration, you may be a bit crunched for time but don’t worry.

You can still fit in plenty of amazing activities and sites (or spend all your time hitting up nearby beaches if that’s more your thing).

To fully maximize your time, the perfect 1-week Yucatan Peninsula travel guide includes one day in Playa del Carmen, two days in Tulum, two days in Valladolid, and two days in Cancun.

While in Tulum, take advantage of the nearby cenotes, and spend a morning hiking the Tulum Mayan ruins.

In Cancun, be sure to take day trips to the islands of Isla Mujeres and Cozumel.

Cozumel aerial front

✔️ 10-day Yucatan itinerary

Ten days are often the sweet spot for many vacationers that come to the Yucatan Peninsula for the first time.

It leaves a bit more time for a flexible schedule and allows you to fit in more sights and activities.

A leisurely 10-day Yucatan Peninsula Travel guide includes two nights in Cancun, two days in Merida, two days in Valladolid, two days in Bacalar, and two nights in Tulum.

While in Cancun, be sure to make a day trip to Isla Mujeres on a luxury catamaran, and spend time on Playa Delfines.

Take a day trip to Chichen Itza while in Valladolid, and bask in the sun at Lake of Seven Colors while in the quaint town of Bacalar.

You can complete this itinerary starting and ending at the Cancun International Airport via a rental car or the public bus system.

Yellow-coloured convent of Saint Padua in Izamal with horse carriages in front
Convent of Saint Padua, Izamal – Photo from Canva

✔️ 2-week Yucatan itinerary

Cancun International Airport has many routes to and from major cities, so it will likely be the most affordable to fly into. From Cancun, take the two-hour ferry to Isla Holbox.

Spend two days here before returning to the mainland towards Valladolid.

Stay two days in Valladolid before continuing on to the magical town of Rio Lagartos. Following Rio Lagartos, drive to Mérida and spend three days there.

Take advantage of the nearby historical sites and activities and take day trips to Uxmal, Izamal, and Chichen Itza.

End your adventure with two days in the seaside town of Bacalar.

Located in southeastern Mexico near the Belize border, it’s home to Lake Bacalar, which is also known as the Lagoon of Seven Colors.

Visit the 18th-century fort of Fuerte de San Felipe, or swim in the waters of Cenote Azul. On your last day, you’ll go back to Cancun International Airport to return your rental car and end your journey.

What is the best time to visit the Yucatan Peninsula?

This wouldn’t be an extensive Yucatan Peninsula travel guide if it didn’t discuss the good and the bad.

Below you will learn about the region’s annual weather patterns including hurricane season, rainfall, and the best months to plan your visit.

☔️ What is the rainy season in the Yucatan?

The rainy season typically begins in June and ends in October.

This also coincides with the Atlantic Hurricane Season.

September is often the rainiest month of the year, seeing more than 14 total days and 7.26 inches of rainfall.

However, this doesn’t mean it will rain all day every day. More often than not, “rain” simply means a passing shower followed by a period of sunshine.

Lol Ha balneario from a distance connecting with Sac -ha
Balneario Lol Ha, Bacalar

🌞 What is the hottest month in Yucatan?

The hottest month of the year is unsurprisingly August, with maximum daytime temperatures reaching between 90 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Temperatures can also increase before the start of the rainy season beginning in late April and well into May.

During these months, temperatures can reach up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit in the western and southern parts of the region.

🌪️ What is hurricane season in the Yucatan Peninsula?

The Atlantic Hurricane Season officially begins June 1 and ends November 1.

The greatest likelihood of a storm making landfall is between August and October.

However, hurricanes are extremely rare in the Yucatan Peninsula as it’s far enough away from the Caribbean. In fact, the last major hurricane to make landfall was Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

How to get around Yucatan

🚙 Yucatan road trip

Considering a road trip through the Yucatan Peninsula? Good choice!

Driving is one of the best ways to explore Quintana Roo, but it’s not the only way to get around.

Read below to learn everything you need to know about public transportation, driving safety, and how best to get around.

👉 Do you need a car in Yucatan?

You don’t absolutely need a car in order to get around. However, if you want more flexibility without relying on a bus or shuttle, you may prefer to rent a car.

If you aren’t comfortable with driving or renting a car is too expensive, you can ride the public bus system or book a private shuttle.

The long-distance buses — known as camiones — operate in a loop between Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Chetumal, Campeche, and Merida.

The major first-class bus lines include ADO, Omnibuses de México, and Primera Plus.

Crashing waves on beach with palm trees on the left side
Playa Del Carmen – Photo from Canva

👉 Is it safe to drive in the Yucatan Peninsula?

Yes, the Yucatan Peninsula is generally safe to drive in.

If you plan on exploring the more remote parts of the region or want flexibility without relying on public transportation, it’s best to drive.

This might be obvious, but be sure to remain vigilant and obey traffic laws while driving. Don’t speed, don’t drive erratically, and buy travel insurance including auto insurance, or purchase it separately.

🚌 Yucatan by bus

One of the most popular modes of transportation outside of renting a car is taking the bus system.

In fact, buses are the most efficient way to get from point A to point B in the Yucatan Peninsula. The buses are very comfortable, economical, and affordable.

Buying bus tickets is also very simple as most bust stations have personnel on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Tickets cost $100MXN ($5.29USD) from Cancun to Playa del Carmen, and $15MXN ($0.79USD) to go anywhere around the Riviera.

🌊 Yucatan tours

There are dozens of reputable tour companies and private guides throughout the Yucatan Peninsula.

Many of these tour companies are based in Cancun, though you can also find a few in the Riviera Maya, Tulum, Merida, or Playa del Carmen.

From exploring Mayan ruins and swimming in cenotes, to cultural walks and food tours, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Many tours allow you to choose from a morning or afternoon departure and often provide snacks, beverages, and hotel pick up and drop off.

Be sure to read the details of the tour thoroughly as some provide limited amenities outside of providing a tour guide.

View of a church and park in Valladolid from under an archway.
Valladolid – Photo from Canva

Planning a trip to Yucatan

👉🏻 Is the Yucatan Peninsula expensive?

Both yes and no. How expensive your trip is, depends on the type of traveler you are and what kind of vacation you want to have.

It also depends on a few other factors including where you are flying from, what season you’re visiting, where you plan to eat, and lodging.

👉🏻 Do I need a travel adapter for Yucatan?

If you’re arriving from somewhere in North America, keep your universal travel adapters at home!

The standard voltage and frequency used in Mexico’s electrical outlets are the same as what is used in the U.S. and Canada.

If you’re arriving from Europe, Asia, or certain countries in South America, you may need an adaptor. Electrical outlets across these continents vary by country.

👉🏻 Do I need travel insurance for Yucatan? 

From unpredictable weather to physical injuries and illness, having travel insurance is a must.

A great travel insurance company such as SafetyWing is the perfect option to prevent loss of money for canceled travel plans or hospitalization.

They have a number of affordable and comprehensive travel plans for trips of any length.

The site aggregator, Travel Insurance Master, can also help you compare plans to find the perfect one for your trip by analyzing your personal information.

👉🏻 Do they speak English in Yucatan?

Yes, many locals who live and work in the tourist areas of the Yucatan speak a moderate to advanced level of English.

You can expect most employees who work in the hospitality industry to be able to communicate in English. However, outside of the tourist areas, you will likely find fewer people that will speak English.

Old boat on the sand surrounded with palm trees on Isla Holbox
Isla Holbox – Photo from Canva

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Yucatan Peninsula worth visiting?

One hundred percent, yes!

The entire region is full of incredible cuisine, unique wildlife, rich cultural history, Pueblos Magicos (magic towns), and plenty of adventure.

After all, it’s the most visited region in Mexico for a reason.

What is Yucatan Peninsula best known for?

While the Yucatan Peninsula is known for many things, it’s most famous for its stunning coastline and history of ancient Mayan culture.

The region is filled with pristine white sand beaches, lush jungle landscapes, and ancient ruins that often blend together in perfect harmony.

Perhaps the region’s most popular attractions include the Mayan archaeological site of Chichen Itza, and the thousands of freshwater cenotes (sinkholes or sunken limestone caves).

Image of Santa Ana church with yellow front side in Merida
Santa Ana Church, Merida – Photo from Canva

Does Yucatan have nice beaches?

Some of the best beaches in the world can be found in the Yucatan, more specifically in Cancun and Tulum.

A few of the most popular beaches include Akumal Beach in Tulum, and both Playa Delfines and Playa Paraiso in Cancun.

Off the coast, two of the world’s top-rated beaches can be found on Isla Mujeres and Cozumel.

These include Playa Norte in Isla Mujeres and the Punta Sur Ecological Beach Park in Cozumel.

What food is Yucatan known for?

The entire Yucatan Peninsula is a mecca for food lovers.

You can find just about any type of cuisine you want throughout the region.

These include typical Mexican favorites, fresh seafood, Mayan dishes, and even Italian and Asian-inspired food.

Due to its rich Mayan culture and history, the most popular foods are of Mayan descent.

These dishes include Cochinita Pibil, Soap de Lima, and Huevos Motuleños. For dessert, try a marquesita or anything with pitahaya (dragon fruit)!

Bacalar Drone Cenote Esmeralda
Cenote Esmeralda, Bacalar

Is Yucatan too touristy?

This depends on what type of vacation you wish to have.

There’s no doubt that the Yucatan Peninsula is a popular tourist destination.

After all, it is the most sought-after region in all of Mexico! So while it is “touristy” to a certain degree, there are many ways you can enjoy the area authentically if you do your research and make an effort.

Is the Riviera Maya nicer than Cancun?

Just 45 miles away from each other, both destinations are popular with tourists.

However, Cancun appeals to travelers seeking more of a “party scene.”

It’s louder and more commercial, while the Riviera Maya boasts a more quiet and more relaxing atmosphere.

When it comes to cost, Cancun is known to be slightly more affordable than the Riviera Maya.

Beach in Tulum
Tulum – Photo from Canva

Is Chichen Itza worth the trip?

Chichen Itzá is known as one of the most popular attractions in all of Mexico.

It’s a fascinating and crucial piece of Mexico’s history and is one of the most well-preserved archaeological sites in the world.

In fact, it’s home to temples, sacred cenotes, and a Great Ball Court with massive stone rings 20 feet high.

It’s absolutely worth it to visit, but it’s best to explore the grounds during the shoulder season, or first thing in the morning to avoid the biggest crowds.

What language do they speak in the Yucatan?

Due to its rich Mayan culture and history, the most widely spoken language is Yucatec Maya or Maya t’aan.

However, the main language of business is Spanish, which is the official language of Mexico.

With the exception of small villages off the tourist route, many people in the Yucatan Peninsula also speak English. This is mostly due to the region’s international popularity.