Do you want to know what to see in Yucatan? We went there, and we can guarantee that it is an amazing region. If you like history and nature, you should absolutely pay it a visit. There are so many things to see that you won't get bored for several weeks. Amazing white sandy beaches, thousands kilometers of green jungle and astonishing Maya ruins. The life in Yucatan goes slow, so take your time and don't rush if you want to enjoy it.
The best way to discover the jewels of the regions is by renting a car: you will be able to move around without limitations and to discover some non-touristic spots. Check our useful tips if you want to rent a car.
When to go
Months between February and June are the best ones. You will find less tourists, dry season and hot weather, however you can expect some occasional showers and colder days in February. From July to September the weather is at the hottest point, with some showers but it’s still "summer". December and January are the high season, with higher prices and plenty of tourists.
Not sure how to plan the trip? read our travel planning page!
The prices are, generally speaking, quite low. If you can be satisfied with simple but beautiful accommodation, you will pay 15-25 USD for a double room.
Eat local! Be careful about the hygienic conditions of the markets and local places, avoid buffets that could be dangerous and choose fresh food instead. We ate in the market for less than 1USD per person, we had dinners for 3 USD as well as lunches in restaurants for 15 USD: it's up to you.
The entrance fees to the archaeological sites could be a bit expensive sometimes (Chichen Itza 12USD), to the main cenotes between 7 and 10 USD.
What to see in Yucatan
Depending on the duration of your travel, here is our list of places you should not miss. You will probably arrive at Cancun airport. In case you need a transfer from the airport, check this link: You can find different prices and options.
Endless beaches, dramatic ruins on a cliff, cheap fresh fish and seafood, a calm atmosphere.
Situated on 12-meter-tall cliffs on the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, Tulum was one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Maya. Its golden age was between the 13th and 15th centuries and it managed to resist for about 70 years after the Spanish occupation of Mexico began.
Go to see the ruins at the opening hours, otherwise you'll be surrounded by huge crowds. At the entrance after the parking lot they will try to sell you a ticket for the "train" that will bring you to the ruins: don't waste your money, it's just a 10-minute walk
You can also rent a bicycle and go to the beach, enjoying the panoramic route, and come back for a couple of frozen cervezas in the streets of the pueblo. The atmosphere in the town is really enjoyable!
A less touristic spot in the south of the peninsula. This is the "lake of the seven colors": the legend says that some days you can see seven different colors in the water of the lagoon. Honestly, we saw "just" five of them, but the emotions raised from that view were more than seven! It's simply amazing.
If you like to relax, you must go to Bacalar. Rent a kayak and explore the lagoon, you will not regret it.
Then, take an evening walk in the pueblo. There are often musical events taking place in the little square, and one little special restaurant, called "Orizaba". Our What to see in Yucatan post is full of food advices!
There is no menu, but the waitress is there to help you. The food is delicious: simple, tasty and really homemade and cheap. and when we say cheap, we mean c-h-e-a-p: a dinner of four dishes and drinks for 4 USD. That's the local place you are looking for!
The capital of the culture is a little big chaotic city worth a visit for the beauty of its colonial buildings. The cathedral is also nice, but the main square is our favorite place. However, we ran away from the “chaos” of this city after only one day. Before you leave, try the "sopa de lima", a refreshing and brilliant lime soup.
You will find this little gem 40 minutes away from Merida. It's called "the yellow city", since every building there is yellow. It's enchanting, and it has a nice monastery dedicated to S. Antonio from Padova. Take your time and walk around, trying to find the best angle for your photos!
In Izamal you will also find our favorite restaurant in the whole Yucatan, "Kinich". Read our reviews below, in the section Travel Hysteria's choices.
It's a small fishing village in the north of Yucatan, where the life goes so slow that it's impossible not to get relaxed immediately.
When people ask us: What to see in Yucatan?, we would send them in this town. A perfect place to observe pink flamingos: Rio Lagartos is the home for more than 10.000 flamingos. You can rent a boat and go admire them. No need to book anything in advance, just go to the little port and the guides will find you. Alternatively, ask your hotel and they will help you.
At the sunset, go to the port where the fishermen clean and sell fresh fish and admire the sunset, surrounded by cormorants striving for a piece of fish!
We have decided to list here all the best Maya ruins of the region. What to see in Yucatan if not the Maya ruins?
If you go to Chichen Itza, the most famous site, be sure to be there at the opening time. There will be fewer vendors inside (yes, Chichen Itza is a big open air souvenirs market...) and not too many people. Anyway, this site is amazing. You will immediately understand why is protected by UNESCO and why is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.
We liked Uxmal, less crowded and huge with a lot of iguanas: the ruins are well preserved and the view from the Palacio del Gobernador is amazing.
In Coba you can rent a bicycle and explore the ruins with it: the temples are in the middle of the jungle, and the Nohoch Mul is really stunning. It is the highest temple of the region - 42 meters - and you can, you should climb it! It's really exciting to climb more than 1000 years of history. It's easy to go up, but you must be careful on the way down.
Dzibanchè is in the deep south, far from the touristic routes, but full of charm and magic. With ancient trees growing from the stones, Dzibanchè is well preserved and really suggestive. The last piece of the road to go there is not so great...well, there are more stones and holes then the road itself. So be careful if you are going there by car!
Cenotes of Yucatan are famous in the whole world, and the reasons are simple:
- crystal clear fresh water;
- brilliant colors with hundreds shapes of blue and green;
- ancient tree roots pending from the cellar;
- underwater stalagmites and caves;
- snorkeling with fish and turtles.
Is this enough for you?
Do not miss Grand Cenote, Cenote Dos Ojos, and Cenote Dzitnup. It's hard to say which is the best one, since each of them is different and amazing. But if we had to choose we would say Grand Cenote.
Before entering the water, you’ll have to take a shower in order to clean yourself from sunscreen, perfume and so on, since the environment is fragile and we must protect it. We suggest you to buy snorkeling gear at the beginning of your travel, instead of renting it every time. You'll save money and time!
Travel Hysteria's choices
Restaurant Kinich in Izamal. This classy but cheap restaurant has a beautiful, exotic and fresh garden in which you can try Yucatecan specialties. Try the "Papadzules Kinich" (stuffed tortillas with sausage and egg and pumpkin seed sauce) or "Cochinita Pibil” (mayan recipe, it’s slow roasted pork meat, marinated with orange and lime juices and spices). You will be embarrassed by the pure goodness of the dishes.
Pickled Onion B&B in Santa Elena:
This little gem in the jungle close to Santa Elena, it's just the best accommodation you can find in Yucatan. Owned by Valerie, a lovely Canadian lady, it is made of 8 independent Maya-style palapas, in a stunning tropical garden.
There is a swimming pool, a bar and an astonishing restaurant. Valerie is a "information mine": talk with her and you will see how much she is passionate about her job and Yucatan.
The prices are a bit higher for the standard of the region, about 50 USD per night for a palapa for 2 people, but this place worth them till the last cent. Last but not least, the village of Santa Elena is really nice and this hotel employ just people from there, giving them a great chance to made their life without being obliged to go to Cancun to find a work.
Casita Carolina in Laguna Bacalar:
If we had to choose one word for this place, we would use “peacefully”. Casita Carolina is an enchanting, simple but full of charm location. Room are nicely furnished with traditional colors, located in 5 semi-independent houses. Each of them has the view on the enchanting Laguna. The only thing that separates you from the water is a 50 meters garden. Do you want an advice: wake up early and enjoy the beautiful sunrise.
Have you ever been in Yucatan? Do you think we should include some other places in this post? Let us know in the comment section and share it on your social!