You are currently viewing Road trip through Yucatán in Mexico: Our itinerary for 3 weeks

Road trip through Yucatán in Mexico: Our itinerary for 3 weeks

  • Post author:
  • Post category:Mexico

Mysterious Mayan ruins. Paradisiacal Caribbean beaches. Turquoise Cenotes. No question: the Mexican peninsula Yucatán knows how to inspire. We made the Yucatán unsafe for three weeks with our rental car.

Which stops are worthwhile? Which travel destinations can you leave out on the round trip? Where can I find the right insider tips? What is the ideal route? And: Is it dangerous to travel through the Yucatán in Mexico with a rental car? What should I put attention on? We have packed all our tips into this blog article so that you can perfectly prepare the itinerary for your road trip through Yucatán.

1. Our Yucatán Itinerary: All Stops and Info First a short note for better understanding: “Yucatán” refers to both the state of Yucatán and the entire peninsula (“Yucatán Peninsula “), which actually consists of the three states of Yucatán, Quintana Roo and Campeche exists (as can also be seen on the map above). Our itinerary goes through all three states.

Arrival and departure airport: Cancún Cancún Airport is the largest airport on the Yucatán Peninsula. Most international flights land and take off here. We didn’t see anything from Cancún itself, with the exception of the airport. Too many bad reviews about Cancún’s bunker-strewn beach made us want to move on.

Tulum From Cancún Airport we drove with our rental car directly to the Arriving to Tulum. Tulum is one of the most popular beach resorts along the Riviera Maya. We deliberately decided to go to a more touristy place as the first stop to plan on our road trip. The reason: We wanted to give ourselves time to get used to the country in a place with the best possible infrastructure. In Tulum, for example, we got our SIM card for Mexico.

It wasn’t love at first sight between us and Tulum, but over time we warmed to the place. The beaches and the Mayan Ruins on the cliffs got us very excited, but all in all we found the direction in which tourism in Tulum is developing, a bit strange. In Tulum, the word “Instagram hotspot” takes on a whole new meaning. The fact that Tulum is so popular is also reflected in the price level. Tulum was the most expensive stop on our round trip.

Getting to Tulum from Cancún: The route runs along consistently well-developed roads. Don’t worry if your flight doesn’t arrive until the afternoon: we drove in the dark ourselves and didn’t reach Tulum until around 20 Watch. That wasn’t a problem at all on this track. The driving time
is almost 2 hours.

Our accommodation: Biwa Tulum

Detailed blog article:
Tulum Travel Guide
Recommended stay: 3-5 nights (we stayed 4 nights ourselves)

Bacalar We continued south to the small, cozy town of Bacalar, which is located on the turquoise blue lake of the same name is located. The mesmerizing shades of blue and turquoise have earned the lake the nickname “Lagoon of Seven Colors” given.

The bad news: There is not much to experience here. The good news: This is not even necessary, because it clearly says swimming in focus in the sparkling blue shimmering water. If you want to relax for a few days, you are in good hands in Bacalar.

Getting to Bacalar from Tulum: From Tulum you can reach Bacalar in about 2.5 hours driving time by car. Our tip: It is best to fill up in Tulum. There is a place with a gas station along the way, but you don’t want to have to rely on that.

Our hotel tip: Hotel Aires Bacalar

Detailed blog article:
Bacalar Travel Tips
Recommended stay:
2 nights (unfortunately we only stayed 1 night)

Xpujil (Calakmul & Becán) From Bacalar we went inland to the tiny town of Xpujil. Xpujil is the ideal base for exploring the fascinating Mayan ruins of Becán and Calakmul. Both ruins are still comparatively untouched by mass tourism.

While Becán is easily accessible (almost right next to the main road), the mysterious Calakmul is located in the deepest Jungle far away from any civilization. Both ruins are among the most impressive we saw on our road trip through Yucatán.

Getting there from Bacalar to Xpujil: Xpujil can be reached from Bacalar in just under 2 hours drive. Some of the roads along this route are in less good condition. Be prepared for some potholes. By the way, you only pass a few places because the region is very sparsely populated. Attention: There is a one hour time difference between the two states of Quintana Roo and Campeche. So you “gain” an hour on the way to Bacalar.

Our accommodation recommendation: Casa Ka´an
Detailed blog article: Calakmul & Becán

Recommended stay:
1 night (enough to visit both Ruins)

The cozy colonial town
Campeche has us from excited from the first moment. You won’t find any particularly impressive sights here, but the attitude towards life in the city is simply great. There is no sign of mass tourism here: Campeche has retained a very authentic character.

By the way, the pastel-colored, beautifully renovated house facades are a popular photo motif. In some streets, Campeche looks like a Mexican picture book town.

Getting there from Xpujil to Campeche: This Section of the route is one of the longest of the trip. In total you are about 4 hours
on the road. There are only a few larger towns along the route. You often feel like you are driving through no man’s land. In some places, the condition of the roads is rather bad – so be careful of potholes. You cover the last part of the way on the motorway (toll fee: 72 pesos).

Our accommodation: Casa Mazejuwi
Detailed blog article:
Campeche tips
Recommended stay: 2-3 nights (We stayed 2 and found it perfect)

Mérida Mérida is di e capital of the state of Yucatán. So it’s not surprising that the center is very vibrant and lively
. . Mérida is probably the most visited colonial city
on the Yucatán Peninsula. In other words: Mérida is more touristy than we expected. Nevertheless, we liked it very much: the many colorful streets and the colonial flair are just too beautiful.

You can get great from Mérida Excursions: There are, for example, the Mayan ruins of Uxmal, the flamingo colonies in Celestún or Izamal – the “yellow city”.

Coming from Campeche to Mérida: The direct route from Campeche to Mérida is a good 2 hours traveling by car. However, we have decided to expand the Mayan Ruins of Uxmal to to visit on the way to Merida. The ruins are not on the direct route to Mérida, but we were happy to take the detour.

Our accommodation: Viva Merida
Detailed blog article: Mérida Sights & Tips

Recommended stay:
3 nights (as long we stayed too)

Chichen Itza A Yucatán trip without the Wound of the World To have seen Chichén Itzá is practically unimaginable. The ruin site is a visitor magnet
unparalleled, hence a visit not an option for us during the day. Instead, we explored Chichén Itzá at sunrise – an experience that we can highly recommend.

Travel from Mérida to Chichén Itzá:
Chichén Itzá is approximately 1.5 from Mérida Driving hours accessible by car. We ourselves have a small detour (+30 minutes) after Izamal taken. The so-called “yellow city” is well worth seeing.

Our accommodation: Mayaland Hotel & Bungalows
Detailed blog article: Sunrise at Chichén Itzá

Recommended stay:
1 night (enough to visit the Ruins and Cenote Ik Kil)

Valladolid Valladolid comes to the idea of ​​a typical mexican small town pretty close. We felt at home here straight away. In our opinion, Valladolid combines the cosiness of Campeche and the liveliness of Mérida. Here, too, there are pretty streets with pastel-colored colonial houses
and cobblestones.

From Valladolid you can also visit some excursions head for, including the Mayan ruins of Ek Balam, the pink salt lakes of Las Coloradas and several cenotes, some of which are very impressive.

Getting from Chichén Itzá to Valladolid: The shortest part of the journey – by car it is just 45 minutes to Valladolid.

Our accommodation: La Flor Casa Boutique

Detailed blog article:
Valladolid Tips
Recommended stay: 2-3 nights (depending on how many excursions you want to do – with us it was 3 nights)

Isla Holbox Before the journey home We really wanted to spend a few relaxing days
on a Mexican island . Our choice fell on the much-vaunted Isla Holbox in the north of the Yucatán. Holbox and we didn’t have the best start, because due to a bad weather front, the supposed paradise was gray in grey.

In the end, however, we warmed to Holbox. We can highly recommend the island if you want to switch off for a few days. Don’t expect a pristine island paradise though – the island’s capital is quite touristy.

Getting to Isla Holbox from Valladolid: First by car to Chiquilá (about 2 hours). In Chiquilá you have to park your car (100 Pesos per 12 Hours). You then take the ferry to Holbox. The boats always leave Chiquilá on the hour and on the half hour. The journey takes just 15 minutes and costs 200 Pesos (one way). Here you cross another time zone – this time in the other direction. Coming from Valladolid you “lose” an hour.

Our accommodation recommendation: El Corazón Boutique Hotel
Detailed blog article: Isla Holbox review

Recommended stay:
3-5 nights (we stayed 3 nights )

Playa del Carmen For us personally, it was too “tricky” to travel directly from Holbox to Cancún Airport in one day (although it is absolutely possible in principle is). So we stayed in Playa del Carmen for two nights so that we could at least be on the mainland on the day of departure.

In addition, to be honest, we were kind of curious about Playa del Carmen really fulfilled the negative clichés of overcrowded hotel bunker beaches. Our conclusion: Playa del Carmen is definitely not our favorite place
on the Yucatán and in our opinion dispensable.
We are glad the beach was named Xpu-Há
– luckily we were there another wonderful last day at the beach in Mexico.

Our accommodation recommendation: Hotel Morgana
Detailed blog article:
Playa del Carmen
Recommended stay: if at all, then a maximum of 2 nights

2. Driving through the Yucatán: Travel Tips & Interesting Facts Security & Crime: Is it safe to rent a car through the Yucatán? If If you research the crime
in Mexico on the Internet, you want to prefer to cancel the flight immediately. This is due to the Mexican drug war, which has given the country an absurdly high murder rate. However: Tourists are involved in the very rarest of cases. And: The Yucatán Peninsula is one of those regions in Mexico that is considered fairly safe.

We can only speak from our personal experiences. In the three weeks in which we traveled back and forth through the Yucatán Peninsula with the rental car, we had no negative experience. Not a single. Not even remotely. On the contrary: the locals were always very hospitable and helpful.

But we don’t want to downplay anything either. Because of course there are (very isolated) cases of robbery. We therefore recommend that you only drive during the day if possible and rides in the dark to avoid. We haven’t always managed to do this ourselves either – so don’t panic if you drive by car in the evening.

The danger of Car burglaries in parking lots should be kept in mind, although you have to be unlucky that something like this happens to you. Of course, valuables should never be left in the car.

Military checkpoints & police controls What you have to get used to are the numerous military controls along the streets. It’s pretty scary: men in uniform (usually with machine guns) control passing cars. We were not stopped once. The primary purpose of the military is to detect and stop drug and goods smuggling.

If you are stopped anyway, it’s worth having Google Translate handy if you don’t speak Spanish .

We have some horror stories about the corrupt police before our trip had read. Luckily we were completely spared. Whenever we met police officers, they were always very friendly and helpful. Nevertheless, we recommend that you do not keep all your money in your wallet when traveling cross-country. We did that too. The reason: If you are stopped by corrupt police officers and asked to pay, you won’t lose all your money right away.

Traffic on the roads & road conditions
Good news: In Mexico Right-hand traffic. So you don’t have to get used to it. Outside of the cities, Mexico’s roads have relatively little to very little traffic. Expect lots of single lane roads (with oncoming traffic).

The speed limits are always well written. On country roads they are usually between 80 and maximum 80 km/h, on motorways at 107 km/h – but never above that .

Beware of potholes! There are a lot of them on the streets of the Yucatán. Some of them are very small, but others are frighteningly large. We therefore recommend that you drive during the day if possible. At night you just see dangerous potholes too late.

Special case on Yucatán’s streets: Topes Typical for Mexico is the multitude of speed bumps, the so-called “topes”. They make driving pleasure a bumpy affair. You will find topes especially before and after localities. According to locals, topes are something like the sleeping police officers on Mexico’s streets.

Once you’ve run over a tope at high speed, you won’t do it again so quickly. Topes are often (but not always!) posted in good time. So drive carefully and reduce your speed significantly when entering a town.

Our (self-tested) tip if you overlook a tope and drive towards it at full speed: You should release the brakes just before the tope, ie not over the tope with the brake pressed rush. This protects the shock absorbers.

Toll Roads
Most of the roads in the Yucatán Peninsula are toll free. They are often in worse condition than toll roads (“cuota”). Toll roads are marked with the letter “D”. There are on the Yucatán Peninsula, however, not too many – the best known is that from Cancún or Playa del Carmen to Mérida.

The Tolls are reasonable. (Examples: Valladolid to Chiqilá (Holbox) 187 Pesos; Chiqilá (Holbox) to Playa del Carmen 107 Pesos.) You can often avoid the toll roads (with loss of time).

Parking In most places in the Yucatán it is no problem to find a free parking space for your car to find. The sign for parking spaces in the Yucatán is a “E”
(abbreviation of “Estacionamiento”). A crossed out On the other hand, an “E” means that parking is prohibited.

In the cities like Campeche and Mérida: Here you have to pay attention to the colored marking along the sidewalk edge on the ground in the center. If it is marked in yellow, it means no parking. If you park there, you risk having your car towed away. While we had no problem parking on the street in Campeche, in Mérida we were advised to park in a monitored, paid lot for security reasons. Either way is possible.

In Tulum Beach (along Beach Road) it is becoming increasingly difficult to find free parking. We have already dealt with the problem in more detail in our Tulum blog article.

At Mayan ruins there is often free parking. Sometimes, however, a fee is due (e.g. in Uxmal and Coba), but then the parking spaces are monitored for this.

Petrol price & Refuel
The liter of petrol currently costs 15 pesos what about 90 equivalent to cents. The majority of petrol stations are state-owned and are called PEMEX.
Next to them you will find meanwhile also smaller gas station companies. You are usually served at the gas stations . That means you tell the gas station attendant , how much you want to fill up. A little tip: Rarely, but only cash payment is accepted.

Are you required to speak Spanish? Yes. We both hardly speak a word of Spanish. On our trip to Mexico, however, we would have wished for little more than being able to talk to the locals at least at a low level of language. Outside of the big tourist spots like Playa del Carmen and Tulum, little English is spoken on the Yucatán Peninsula.

We recommend that you Keep Google Translate
(or a similar offline translation app on your phone) handy. That helped us a lot in many situations.

Do I need an international driver’s license? No – at least not to pick up the rental car. To be on the safe side, we had an international driving license issued in Austria and had it with us, but nobody asked for it. But we also have to say that we were never stopped by the police.

We would still recommend that you take an international driver’s license with you. It doesn’t cost much to issue it in your home country, so you’re on the safe side in the event of an inspection.

3. Book a rental car in Mexico: Our tips Important things about car insurance in Mexico Very, very important: You need to drive on Mexico’s roads a Mexican insurance.
At first glance, car rental offers appear in Mexico often extremely cheap. With such lock offers, however, the price for the insurance is usually added to you when you pick it up – so you easily pay twice as much.

This happens to you especially when you are looking for rental cars in the USA. There, many rely on insurance via credit card, but this is not accepted in Mexico. In any case, we wouldn’t take the risk, because in the event of an accident, it doesn’t look good.

Tip: Here we have ours Rental car booked For the reasons mentioned, we always (!) rely on a Fully comprehensive insurance with reimbursement of excess. This is the safest option there is. That’s why we’ve been booking our rental cars – including the one for Mexico – with Sunny Cars for years.

Sunny Cars acts as an intermediary, ie you book through Sunny Cars and then pick up your car from one of the local car rental companies (for us it was Europcar). The big advantage: You have all the necessary insurance included and in the event of damage, Sunny Cars will also reimburse you for the deductible.

Because we had read so many horror stories in advance, we met again when we picked up the car inquired about insurance. The very nice employee then confirmed to us that we really have everything covered. Our tip: Nevertheless, make a short video from all sides of the car when you pick it up, where you can see the existing damage.

Here you can search for cheap rental cars: Sunny Cars

Which rental car class should I book? The road conditions are relatively good and you can confidently rent an SUV save up. Nevertheless, we personally almost never book the smallest model, because in the event of an accident we would rather have more than too little crumple zone. You can’t go wrong with lower middle class or middle class

Do I need a GPS? A classic navigation system is by no means worthwhile. Usually these are just expensive and/or outdated (ie not updated). Instead, our tip is: Buy a local SIM card on site and navigate with your smartphone.

In principle, it is also possible to drive without a navigation system at all, provided you have at least a road map. However, we were both very happy that we were able to use the map app of our smartphones
could leave.

Transparency: Affiliate Links This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!

You did already made a road trip through Yucatán in Mexico? If so, what was your itinerary like? We look forward to hearing about your experiences and tips in the comments.