Tulum, Mexico has become a hot spot for travelers over the past few years and, after my third visit (and counting!), I can honestly say it is truly magical! I fall even more in love with this enchanting coastal city after every trip and I already can’t wait to go back.
I’m going to share my Tulum recommendations, travel tips, and must-go-to hot spots here in this blog (and if you prefer audio to reading, here is a Tulum travel recommendation video for you!). Be sure to tag me at @littlemixico if you use any of these recs. I would love to see which places are your favorites too!
Alright, here we go!
Things to Consider When Traveling to Tulum
The number one thing to consider when traveling to Tulum is that besides your flight expense, you will also have to pay for ground transportation from the Cancun airport to Tulum (which is about an hour and a half away). The most convenient way to get around (especially if you are renting an Airbnb) is, of course, by car. There are no Ubers or Lyfts in Tulum, so take note of that and prepare for transportation before you go! I rented a car on each of my trips to Tulum, and each time, it cost about $135 for a whole week (and if you’re splitting with other people, it’s super affordable!). I recommend using Europcar because they have the cheapest rates in the area and they make the process so fast and easy – you’ll be in, out, and on your way in no time! If you are staying on the hotel strip in Tulum, renting a car is not necessary. You can pay for a shuttle to and from the airport (about $75-125 each way) and then ride a bike or rent a taxi to get where you need to go in the city.
Tulum stores, restaurants, and hotels will accept American cash or pesos (and most will accept credit or debit cards). Plan to bring at least $100-200 dollars (in pesos or cash) for parking, shopping, tipping, etc. Some places will only take cash (like Hartwood) and you’ll want to be prepared for other places in town that may not take cards. However, I strongly suggest using your card whenever you can because you will receive the best exchange rate this way. There are not very many ATMs in the Tulum area, so be sure to exchange your cash for pesos before leaving the U.S. (You can always call your bank for more information on exchange rates and card usage before your trip!)
If you are like me and like to do fun things, stay in cool areas, and eat fancy dinners on the beach, then be prepared to spend a few hundred dollars when you go out. However, Tulum has tons of affordable options for restaurants, sight-seeing, Airbnbs, and hotels – so anyone can go and enjoy Tulum on any budget!
Where to Stay (Best Airbnbs in Tulum!)
Now, where do you want to stay? If you are going to Tulum with a large group, I highly recommend getting an Airbnb because it will be much more affordable than paying for multiple hotel rooms (and they are just more fun!). The hotel zone is going to be about $400+ a night but you can also find some boutique hotels in town that start as low as $50 a night. (Each time I’ve gone to Tulum with big groups, so I love getting Airbnbs so we can all be together!)
Here is a list of the top Tulum Airbnbs (according to me!) I’ve spent hours looking for the best ones in the area to make traveling easier for you. There are cheaper options available on the Airbnb site, but these are the prettiest ones I’ve found in the best locations!
*Things to consider when choosing a place to stay: The La Veleta area is closer to downtown Tulum while the Aldea Zama area is closer to the beach hotel zone (and my favorite place to stay). I recommend staying a few days near La Veleta first (so you can explore the city and shopping centers) and then switching to an Airbnb or hotel in Aldea Zama (so you can spend some time closer to the beach).
Things You Must Do In Tulum
Tulum is known for its historical Mayan ruins, snorkeling, beautiful cenotes, and jungle tours. The food is incredible (I’ve listed my favorite breakfast, lunch, and dinner recs below!) and it’s a perfect place to spend your days tanning on the beach or shopping in the city square. But here is a list of my favorite activities and must-do’s when visiting Tulum!
*Note: Be sure to bring mosquito repellent/bug spray with you everywhere you go because they will eat you alive otherwise!
Oko Spa-Massage – If you are looking for a place to get a massage in Tulum there are MANY places to choose from. But the Oko Spa is my favorite because they specialize in all sorts of massages and they have Temazcal (a low heat sweat lodge) for anyone looking for that experience too! To get there easily, go to Alma Hotel (the Oko Spa is next to it on the beach strip).
When you see the famous, “Follow that dream” sign, you’ll know you’re close! I got a deep tissue massage (super relaxing) and at the end, they gave me some delicious tea and oranges to relax. 100% recommend.
Yoga at Orchid House – Tulum is a great place to do yoga and we found a great class at the Orchid House in Aldea Zama. The instructor, Sofia, also teaches yoga at Casa Malca (and several other spots in Tulum) but the Aldea Zama location is secluded and also offers private yoga sessions if you prefer a little more privacy.
The class was super relaxing and I loved that there were not tons of people around.
Cenotes Casa las Tortugas – Tulum is famous for its many cenotes and you can’t go wrong with any of them. The Cenotes Casa las Tortugas was my favorite from my first trip to Tulum. It has many different cenotes all in one place, and they are all stunningly beautiful. You can spend all day exploring the caves by hiking or snorkeling. I recommend getting there early in the morning before it gets too packed and don’t forget to bring your swimming suit and snorkeling gear! (I have always wanted to do this so it was kinda a surreal experience for me!)
Selva Maya – I visited the Selva Maya the second time I went to Tulum. We ended up doing a ton of things that day including snorkeling in a beautiful, secluded lake! This is a great place to try zip-lining or ride ATVs through the mud. It will obviously get messy, but we had a blast doing it! You also can get lunch here after you’re done with your activities. We did that and it held us over long enough to get back to town, shower, and go out for dinner! They personalize tours for you, which is great!
Tulum Jungle Gym – This is a MUST experience in Tulum. I love working out on vacation because it makes me feel so good and that’s why I loved coming to this crazy jungle gym at the beach! The Tulum Jungle Gym is built more for weight training and they don’t have wifi or phone service, so come prepared with a workout plan in mind. It is $25 dollars per person for a one-time visit (which is normal for daily gym charges).
Sunrise at Posada Margherita – I wanted to find a great place to watch the sunrise in Tulum and I saw something on TikTok that said this was the perfect place to go. It was! The Posada Margarita is an adorable boutique hotel on the ocean with plenty of seating and a great view. (It is free but you will have to pay for parking in front if you have a car.)
As far as nightlife goes (as of 2/16/2021), everything closes at 12am – so it’s wise to go out early so you can really take advantage of the incredible restaurants, bars, and beach clubs Tulum has to offer. We would go out around 6pm, so by 12pm, we were back in bed, knocked out!
IT Tulum – Apparently this is the new spot! It is located near Casa Banana, so just ask around when you get close because it is a super secluded location. I didn’t get to go myself, but my brother said it was a blast and I’ll definitely be going next time!
Papaya Playa Club – If you’re into nightlife, this is the place to be on a Saturday night. Our friends booked a table and we got there around 10:30 p.m. They made us go through a whole ordeal to get in, from putting on bracelets to checking-in and making us leave our phones at the door for the whole night. They are open until 2am and have very chill vibes. If you reserve your own table you can be in a secluded section, if that’s what you prefer.
Gitano– Friday Nights this is the place to be. We didnt stay very long because it was very packed but everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves at the bar that has a huge dance floor to dance the night away with friends.
The Best Tulum Beach Clubs
La Zebra – The La Zebra is probably my favorite beach club in Tulum because it’s so chill and they also have a great Happy Hour with amazing cocktails!
During the day it will be pretty chill, so I wouldn’t expect to party here. It is more of a “tanning day” kind of club.
Panamera – La Panamera is located farther down the beach strip – but, we stumbled upon this spot and fell in love. The vibes were so chill – they had a DJ, but it was more authentic Tulum-style music than a party spot. The food looked amazing and the drinks were very affordable (and were a good size too!). I would definitely come back to hang out here again.
Taboo – This is the beach club you would want to turn up at. It is most packed on Saturday during the day, so make sure to reserve a table if you want to come on the weekend. This is one of those places you will spend a pretty penny on – but it is totally worth it for the party scene.
Casa Malca – I’ve heard Casa Malca also has great aesthetics but that it is $160 minimum per person to hang out at the beach club. It does look super pretty and I am sure they have days when they do day parties. Let me know if you visit and what you think!
Covid-19 Testing in Tulum
There are many places in Tulum to get Covid testing, and it is necessary because you won’t be able to board your flight back to the U.S. without a negative test! Many hotels and resorts will offer Covid testing for their guests but if you choose to stay in an Airbnb, there are options for you as well. CostaMed offers Covid testing (come early and be prepared to stand in line!) with results in 6 hours for $50 USD. There are also Covid-19 Testing Vans located in various areas of Tulum for about $25 USD. (However, I would not recommend using a van in the hotel zone because they will likely upcharge.)
Now, if you are very cautious about Covid, I would recommend not traveling to Tulum at this time. Though masks are worn in grocery stores and restaurants, the city-wide precautions are not strictly enforced (i.e. very few people will be wearing masks on the beach or outdoors). Just something to keep in mind as you plan!
Now, onto my restaurant recs!
Breakfast in Tulum
Tierra– Holistika Hotel
We loved this restaurant. It had the cutest vibes plus amazing vegan-friendly food and such a welcoming environment. It’s also a great coworking space with farmhouse tables so everyone can eat and interact easily. Loved the chilaquiles con mole, veggie pita sandwich, and avocado toast! Also, everything there can be vegan! I had amazing chicharoNOT quesadillas (which is their take on a chicharron quesadilla, made with peas). It is a little hard to find, so make sure you are not following Google maps and ask ahead of time what it’s nearby. There is a sign on the main road that will take you directly to it.
Del Cielo- In town
A super healthy spot that has a super-Instagrammable, yet yummy breakfast. Their juices were so good and I definitely recommend coming here if you are closer to town.
Burrito Amor– In town
I love this place before heading out to Cenotes. It’s fast and has really yummy breakfast burritos!
Italdo– La Veleta
If you stay near La Veleta, Italdo is a fast little bakery to stop by and get things to-go, located right next to the Gypsea Market. The coffee here is amazing and they have great breakfast options –– breakfast sandwiches, omelets, yummy pastries, and a variety of croissants that are absolutely delicious! (My fav was the one stuffed with Jamón Serrano!)
Taqueria Honorio– In Town
If you want some Mexican food after a hangover (or just because you want to experience the best tortillas you’ll ever have in your life) then this place is it. They slow roast their pork overnight in a brick oven and take it to the restaurant every morning to start serving a 6am. You can also find a Yucatan favorite here called Cochinita Pibil Tacos. But what I love about this place is that they use a process called Nixtamalization to prepare their tortillas. (Nixtamalization is a process where they take the maize, or corn, and soak and cook it in an Alkaline Solution before it is washed and hulled. This process removes 97-100% of aflatoxins and mycotoxin-contaminated corn, which is bad for gut health!) Taqueria Honorio is seriously a must-eat and chef-worthy spot. Keep in mind, this is in town and local so no need to dress up. If you go on the weekend, it gets packed quickly, so make sure you’re there early or there will be a line.
My talented friend Alex has been working on this concept for awhile now and it makes me super happy to see him finally open up this pizza spot. I have seen him put his heart and soul into it, so definitely check it out if you are in Tulum. I wasn’t able to try his pizza since it just opened up recently, but this wood fired naturally leavened pizza shop is a must.
Dinner in Tulum
Meze – Medittereanen Food
Meze is my top rec in Tulum. First, because Alex (same guy from Checkpoint) is amazing and his love for his food is inspiring, and second, the vibes are simply immaculate. Alexandros Gkoutski is passionate about the ingredients he uses and he truly cares about the way each dish is prepared. (Listening to him talk about food and his restaurant was like watching an episode on Chef’s Table on Netflix.) He truly loves cooking from his heart and you can tell when you taste his food. The first thing I order is The Trio as a starter with pita bread. The octopus, chicken, potatoes, and Greek salad are delicious as a main course. You will want to save room for dessert and end your meal with cheesecake and a platter of his famous ice creams. I already loved his place but I have a greater appreciation for his food even more now after talking with him about how he keeps Greek classics alive by only adding a small twist that makes it better without changing the original recipes.
Funky Geisha– Asian Fusion
I recommend this place on Thursday evenings. We had so much fun eating the delicious Asian fusion food, having drinks, smoking hookah, and vibing all night long. They had a DJ when we were there and the place was very lowkey with a fun atmosphere that made you want to dance. (They also brought me a cake with sparklers on it, so obviously I love them.)
Bak By Harrys Steakhouse
We came here after Funky Geisha on a Thursday night and it was LIT. They had hip-hop music playing and we could tell it was fun even from the outside. So, we decided to go in just to grab a drink and some truffle fries to end the night. (So glad we did!) If you are trying to turn up (or just want some truffle fries), then this is the spot!
Casa Banana– Argentinian Food
We ended up coming here because it was recommended to us. I actually really enjoyed it if you want to switch it up with some delicious and authentic Argentinian food!
We didn’t actually eat here, but they do have a 7-course meal that you can order at The Nest for $100 dollars each. That is the only way you can reserve The Nest and I recommend doing this instead of Azulik if you are on a budget and don’t want to be swarmed with people. It was super secluded and perfect for a more private dinner.
I haven’t actually been here, but it was ALWAYS packed and apparently has the best food. I would def recommend making a reservation days in advance to eat here. (Let me know what you think!)
This is a staple in Tulum and I am sure it gets very wild at night on the weekend. It does have great food, I’m just not sure that the price is 100% worth it. But, if you’re balling and don’t care about the cost, then def go. It’s an experience and they have amazing cocktails (and the ceviche trio is GREAT).
I love Tulum and these are some of my favorite recommendations. I hope you guys enjoy them! I seriously strive to look for the best spots and only recommend the places that I truly love and would go back to!
Remember to tag me (@littlemixico) and I’ll see you in Tulum!