The Ultimate 1-Day Guide to Tulum – What to Do in 24 Hours

You’re looking for a 1-day guide to Tulum because you want to explore and make the most of your time in the Riviera Maya? Well done you!

If you’re new to the region choosing between Playa del Carmen and Tulum can be tough, so why not do both? They are just 40 minutes away from each other, and there are many transport links connecting the two (more on that later).
Here’s the downlow, since living here I would definitely advise that Playa del Carmen was the perfect base for your vacation (especially if you’re traveling with kids).
Why? Because it boasts the perfect blend of civilization, natural beauty, and convenience. However, Tulum is still an untouched slice of paradise, and I’d also encourage travelers to take at least a day out of their schedule to experience this simply stunning underdeveloped town.
It is one of my favorite areas in the Riviera Maya and is extremely popular with younger travelers, and people who prefer a more secluded natural vibe from their vacations.
This 1-Day Guide to Tulum will include:
Food and beverage (best places to eat and drink).
Accommodation, guide, tips, and recommendations.
Experience, tour & activity guide, tips, and recommendations.

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WHY TULUM? Tulum is the epitome of bohemian chic. If you are hoping to revel in nature and experience a more eco-friendly adventure, look no further!
Tulum’s hotel zone that can be navigated up and down the coast, with the main urban center lying a few kilometers inland. It is much less commercialized than Playa del Carmen, boasting more unique restaurants and stores.

The beach here feels and looks a lot more sublime, largely because it’s scarcely populated. It’s not to be missed!
Here’s What the Perfect 1-Day in Tulum Would Look Like: Follow this express itinerary step-by-step to ensure you get the very best out of your 24-hours in Tulum.
At the end of this article, I will leave the full breakdown of the optional tours, places to eat or drink, and shopping attractions that you can choose from at your own free-will.
With my help, you’ll experience the best of Tulum! You’ll be intoxicated by the natural beauty, meet new interesting people, and tantalize your taste buds with delicious new foods.
THE FUN STARTS HERE! Welcome to the Caribbean.
Morning (6 am – 12 pm) 7.00 am – Breakfast at Taqueria El Arbolito (directions) El Arbolito is a little-known gem where you can eat excellent guisados breakfast tacos and drink mugs of cafe de olla (Mexican cinnamon-spiced coffee).
It’s dirt cheap but serves up some of the best tacos in the region. I recommend the tacos filled with stewed chicken in mole, chicken in salsa verde, eggs in salsa roja, or El Arbolito’s most famous: chicharrón prensado (pressed pork) and lomitos (pork tenderloin) in a red sauce made from guajillo chiles.
9.30 – Tulum Mayan Ruins The old city of Tulum (Pre-Columbian Mayan walled city) is nested on 12 meter high cliffs along the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.
The former name of the site is Zama, meaning the City of Dawn, which was given for its location facing the sunrise. Tulum was one of the last cities inhabited and built by Mayan people, serving as a major port for Cobá.
It’s a perfect start to your day. The views are breathtaking, and the beach here is incredible!
Location: It’s very easy to find. Just follow the signs, look for “Zona Arqueologica”. It’s 1 km from Highway 307 on the left-hand side if you are coming from Playa del Carmen/Cancun and 2 km before the intersection of the highway and the Coba/beach road in Tulum.

Entrance fee: 57 pesos
Parking: 70 pesos
Opening hours: From 8 am to 5 pm
Things to bring with you:
Bug Spray
Change of clothes

Afternoon (12 pm – 6 pm) 12.30 pm – Playa Maya What better way to melt into the pace of Tulum than relaxing on one of the towns most beautiful beaches.
This is the same beach they bring you to if you decide to take part in our Tulum, Turtle Explorer Tour. You’ll ride out on one of these small little boats to the reef just a short distance in front, the water is still shallow but here you can observe the marine life and maybe even a turtle or two if you’re very lucky. 🙂 Check out the video below to see what this particular tour entails:

Playa Maya is an iconic beach and the perfect backdrop for some stunning instagram pictures so be sure to take your phone or camera. 2.30 – Lunch at Coco Tulum (directions) Here they serve up gorgeous ceviches, seafood, tacos and more! They also boast a great beverages menu. This place really livens up in the late afternoon/night, CoCo beach is famous for hosting big-name DJs.
Prices are not dirt cheap but the view and location make up for it. Spend your afternoon lazing in the hammocks, beach chairs, or swings.
4.00pm – Stroll the Hotel Zone and do a spot of shopping The hotel zone in Tulum is extremely quaint and still possesses an intoxicating jungle vibe.
The natural decor and structures of the beach clubs, shops, and hotels make it hippies paradise. Here you are guaranteed to find some unique buys and some extremely ‘out there’ cafes. You will see that many people prefer to rent bikes and cycle the length the hotel zone, this might also be a good option for you too :).
However, you might miss some of the more hidden places along the hotel zone so if you do enjoy walking, take a nice stroll who knows what you may find. 😉
Evening (6 pm– 12 am) 7.00 – Dinner and Nightlife at Mezzanine Thai Restaurant & Martini Bar (directions) Once you’ve freshened up at your accommodation time to head out for some delicious food and drink.