Magical Yucatan Road Trip: Your 10-Day Itinerary for 2022

Embarking on a Yucatan road trip is a highlight of any trip to Mexico. In fact, for many people, seeing the sunbleached Mayan ruins and the quaint traditional villages nestled in the heart of the Yucatan is the entire reason that they decide to visit Mexico in the first place. 

This guide showcases a 10-day Yucatan road trip itinerary. It has been written by someone who actually lives in the Yucatan (me) and who has traveled to corners of the state that most people have never even heard of! 

10-14 days is a perfect amount of time for an initial trip to the Yucatan. However, if your schedule allows it, you could easily spend several months here, using the cultural capital of Merida as a base. After spending weeks in the region, you are still constantly discovering new places. 

Your 10-Day Yucatan Road Trip Itinerary 

Yucatan itinerary

This 10-day Yucatan road trip itinerary starts in the state’s cultural capital Merida. You can catch a direct international flight to Merida from several cities in the United States and Latin America.

Alternatively, you can transfer within Mexico via either Mexico City airport or Guadalajara. Merida Airport (MID) is conveniently located in the heart of the city center, making it easy to get from here to your hotel on arrival. If it is easier for you to fly into Cancun, you can also do this itinerary in reverse, using Cancun as your starting point. 

Yucatan Itinerary Days 1-2:
Merida & Surroundings 

Merida is a great starting point for your Yucatan road trip
Merida is a great starting point for your Yucatan road trip

Start your Yucatan road trip itinerary by exploring the region’s cultural capital Merida. For the time being, Merida still remains relatively off the main tourist trail of Mexico.

Its historic center is arguably the most beautiful colonial settlement in Mexico. It is characterized by quaint, colorful houses that have been painted virtually every color of the rainbow, narrow cobbled streets that open out into grand piazzas, and old colonial mansions.

There are plenty of things to do in Merida to keep you occupied for weeks. The city, known locally as ¨the white city¨ was founded by Montejo y León in 1542.

Many of the old houses, haciendas and former mansions in the historic center have been converted into fine-dining restaurants, boutique stores showcasing the works of independent designers, and eclectic coffee shops. The likes of Travel and Leisure and Conde Nast have recognized Merida as one of the best cities in the world in 2022! Visit now before the hordes arrive.

Visit the ruins of Dzibilchaltun 

The ancient Mayan city of Dzibilchaltun sits in the northern part of Merida. It is easily accessible via bus or by Uber/Didi cab.

The ruins are overlooked from most Yucatan itineraries, yet they are some of the most rewarding in the region. The name Dzibilchaltun means “writing on the flat stones” in Ancient Mayan.

This is thought to point to the inscribed tablets that were found scattered around the site. The city dates back to around 200AD and at one point, was home to more than 25,000 people.

There are several interesting pyramids and shrines scattered around the complex. Unlike the ruins at Chichen Itza, it is possible to climb and explore all of the structures at Dzibilchaltun.

The most fascinating structure is the Temple of the Seven Dolls, believed to be dedicated to Yum Kax, the Mayan God of corn. The temple takes its name from seven crudely made clay dolls that were found inside. 

Admission to Dzibilchaltun is 282 pesos ($14) per person. You should also visit the on-site museum which provides more information and context. 

Explore the historic center of Merida 

Part of the fun of visiting Merida is simply found in taking the time to get lost in the various city streets and districts. Start by walking the Paseo Montejo – the main promenade that runs all the way from the center of town to the periferico in the north.

In particular, you should look out for the giant Monument de la Patria. This towering monument depicting an indigenous Mayan man was created by Colombian sculptor Rómulo Rozo in 1956.

At its rear, are 300 intricately carved smaller sculptures that depict historical events in Mexico through the centuries. On Sunday mornings, the Paseo Montejo is closed off to traffic so that pedestrians can walk or cycle along its length.

This is a pleasant thing to do if your trip falls on a weekend. From the Paseo Montejo, continue onwards to the old squares of Merida.

Admire the San Ildefonso Merida cathedral, one of the oldest cathedrals in the Americas. The Iglesia de Santa Lucia is a magnificent church that dates back to 1620 and sits beside the central park of the same name

Meanwhile, the Iglesia de la Tercera Orden is a baroque-style church with indigenous influences that is quite unlike anything you will find elsewhere. When night falls, head to the bustling Parque Aleman in the northeastern part of the city center to hang out with locals and indulge in street food eats such as elotes, marquesitas, and esquites. 

Enjoy a beach day at Progreso or Yucalpeten  

The little beach town of Progreso is situated 30km away from Merida and is easily accessible via bus or Uber. It borders the aquamarine waters of the Gulf of Mexico and boasts soft, powdery white sand that extends as far as the eye can see.

Progreso may not exude the same desert island paradise feel that the beaches of the Mexican Caribbean do. But it provides some great respite from the heat and humidity of the Yucatan if you are looking for a day by the sea.

Lay your towel down on the sand, or rent a sunbed and an umbrella from one of the local beach bars for a couple of pesos. Here, vendors walk up and down the beach selling fresh coconut and chicharron.

There are plenty of restaurants, bars, and stores for when you start to get hungry. El Cordobes (C. 80 38, Centro, 97320 Progreso) is a great place to stop for a traditional Mexican breakfast. Meanwhile, Crabster Progreso (C. 19 148a, Boulevard Turístico Malecón) serves fresh seafood prepared with only the latest catches. 

Progreso can get very crowded on Sundays when everyone is off work. Visit during the week for a quieter experience.

Alternatively, you can head to Pig beach in Yucalpeten. The beach takes its name from 7 adorable little Vietnamese rescue pigs that live here. 

Think of it as being the Mexican version of Exuma in the Bahamas! Since being rescued, the pigs are now cared for by Progreso Ecological Patrol. They have adapted to their surroundings and love to swim in the warm waters of the Mexican Gulf. 

Sample traditional Yucatecan food   

Regional cuisine varies significantly from one part of Mexico to another. Yucatecan food is particularly unique and is likely very different from anything you have eaten before. 

The fascinating thing about this cuisine is how old it is. Many recipes are pre-Colombian and were invented by the Ancient Maya!

Today, many of them are created using the same traditional methods that the Ancient Maya used all those centuries ago. You will not have to look far to find Yucatecan food in the Yucatan.

However, several Merida restaurants stand out above the rest. For homely Yucatecan dishes in a restaurant predominantly frequented by locals, head to Habaneros (Calle 20-A Num 302 X 5b Y 5c, Xcumpich). For traditional food served in a gorgeous 16th-century hacienda, head to Hacienda Teya (Merida – Peto, Hacienda, 97370 Teya). 

Visit the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya de Mérida

The Gran Museo del Mundo Maya de Mérida is without hesitation the best museum in Merida. Visiting the museum helps to give context to the various Mayan ruins that you will see around the Yucatan, and to gain a better understanding of the Mayan civilization.

Over 1160 cultural objects are on display here. They range from textiles and traditional Mexican clothing to art pieces and artifacts recovered from ancient cities. 

The museum is not quite on the same scale as the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City, but it is equally as worthy of your time. Admission is 150 pesos ($7.50) for foreign tourists, with concessions available for Mexicans and Yucatecans. 

Where to stay in Merida 

If you are only going to be in Merida for a couple of days, it is better to choose a central location when deciding where to stay in Merida. The Zocalo,  the Parque de Santa Lucia, and the Parque de Santa Ana all place you right in the heart of the action.

From here, you have a plethora of shopping, dining, and nightlife choices right on your doorstep. If you prefer to be in a more rural setting, there are several Yucatan haciendas near Merida that offer the ultimate luxury stay.

However, keep in mind that they are a little further out of the center. Hacienda Santa Cruz and Hacienda San Jose are arguably the two best choices less than 30 minutes away from the historic center. 

Best Hotels in Merida 

Merida offers a plethora of accommodation options for every taste, travel style, and budget. A selection of the best hotels in the city is shortlisted below for your consideration. 

  • Casa Del Balam – Gorgeous boutique hotel inside a renovated art deco mansion. Double rooms from just $45 USD per night.

  • Hotel Embajadores – Comfortable budget hotel in the city center with a pool and traditional Yucatecan restaurant. Double rooms from $30 a night.

  • Diez Diez Collection – Luxury hotel without the luxury price tag.  Stylish contemporary property with plush modern furnishings, unique artwork pieces, and a rooftop pool. Double rooms from $138 a night.

  • Rosas Y Xocolat – Exquisite French mansion converted into grand, palatial-style hotel rooms fit for royalty. Rooms with private terraces from $300 a night.

  • Hotel Boutique Casa Flor de Mayo – Eccentric, colorful, independently-owned property with just 8 rooms set inside an old colonial house. Rooms from $60 a night. 

Yucatan Itinerary Day 3:
Uxmal Ruins 

The Ancient city of Uxmal is widely regarded as being one of the most important Mayan settlements. Its importance is on par with Chichen Itza, Edzna, and the city of Mayapan. 

The city dates back to 700 AD and is said to have been founded by Hun Uitzil Chac Tutul Xiu. However, much of the construction that you see today was built when Uxmal was the Mayan capital between 850-925 AD.

It was one of the most important political and administrative hubs and at the height of the Mayan civilization, more than 25,000 people called the city home. Today, the ruins are home to some of the best-preserved Terminal Classic structures in Latin America.

Upon entering the site, you are greeted with The Pyramid of the Magician, the most iconic image of the Uxmal ruins. As you continue through, you pass by the equally impressive Governor’s Palace and the Nunnery.

Look out for the Pok-a-Tok ballcourt. This ancient Mesoamerican game was played using a hard rubber ball that players had to whack through a stone hoop mounted high on the walls using their hips. 

How to get to Uxmal

Yucatan road trip
Yucatan road trip itinerary

Buses from Merida to Uxmal run infrequently from Merida´s ADO central bus station. They depart at 06.00 am, 09.00 am, 12.00 pm, and 15,30 pm respectively.

To allow yourself plenty of time, it is best to take the 09.00 am bus. The return journey from Uxmal to Merida departs at 14.30 pm.

You only really need 3-4 hours to explore the ruins. However, you could pass the time by treating yourself to some regional food and Mexican drinks at one of the luxury hotel restaurants nearby. Alternatively, you can learn about the history of Mexican chocolate at the Choco-Story museum that sits directly across the road from Uxmal. 

Uxmal Tours

If you have a car, that obviously makes things a lot easier than having to wait around for the bus. You may also want to consider organizing an excursion with a local tour company to take some of the stress out of getting from A to B.

A selection of reputable Uxmal tours is detailed below for your consideration. Book your spot online in advance to avoid disappointment!

Yucatan Itinerary Day 4:
Santa Elena, Kabah, and Labna Ruins 

The archeological site of Kabah
The archeological site of Kabah

The Ruta Puuc (Puuc route) is an off-the-beaten-path part of the southwestern Yucatan that is home to several impressive Mayan sites. From Uxmal, you can drive onwards to the ancient cities of Kabah, Sayil, Xlapak, Labná, and the Loltún caves. 

Santa Elena

Santa Elena is a cute, quintessentially Yucatecan village that marks the halfway point between Uxmal and Kabah. It boasts a couple of accommodation choices for those wanting to explore the Ruta Puuc but it is far from touristic.

There is little to see here, but there is just something charming about the town. Stop by for a cafe de olla in the town square, snap some photos of the quirky sculptures of Mexican singers and dancers, or grab homemade strawberries and cream ice cream at the colorful local Michoacana ice cream store. 

Kabah and Labná

The archeological site of Kabah
The archeological site of Kabah

A far cry from the crowded atmosphere of Chichen Itza, you may find that you have the entirety of these lesser-known ruins to yourself! Start with the city of Kabah, an ancient Mayan city that prospered at the same time as Uxmal.

The city sees very few visitors which is a shame as it is one of the most impressive ruins in the Yucatan. Upon entering the complex, you are greeted with the grand-tiered building of ¨The Palace¨.

However, perhaps most impressive of all is ¨The Temple of the Masks¨ on your right-hand side. A brief ascent up the centuries-old stone steps brings you to this phenomenal temple, dedicated to the Mayan rain god Chaac.

Its facade is decorated with more than 250 intricately carved stone masks of the big-nosed God. A small inscribed altar in front of the temple building lies in ruin. As of yet, nobody has managed to decipher what the message carved into the stone means.

Exiting the archeological site at Kabah and crossing the road brings you to an old Sacbe road that the Mayans would use to walk from Kabah to Uxmal. Here, in the middle of nowhere and not marked on any map, you will find a grand old ceremonial arch.

It is believed that many more ruins remain hidden in the depths of the jungle here, but they have not yet been excavated. From here, continue onwards to the ruins of Labná. 

Labná is best known for its ornate archway that once served as the entrance to two grand courtyards. You will have likely seen this photographed in various Yucatan-related travel literature. Equally interesting are El Mirador, the structure of a pyramid topped with a temple, and El Palacio, another ruin decorated with Chaac masks.

Yucatan Itinerary Day 5:
Homun Cenotes

One thing that the Yucatan region of Mexico is best known for is its cenotes. These are freshwater sinkholes that were created when the Chicxulub meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs crashed into the earth some 66 million years ago.

You don’t have to venture too far to find Yucatan cenotes. It is estimated that there are more than 7,000 of them throughout this peninsula!

The word cenote is of Mayan descent. It comes from the word word “Dz’onot” meaning “cavern with water”.

The Ancient Mayans used the cenotes for both practical and religious purposes. Some were used to make offerings to the gods, some were used for human sacrifices, and some were simply used as water sources.

Visiting the Cenotes at Homun 

Homun

There are several cenotes throughout the Yucatan state that have become famous through social media. Unfortunately, these are crowded, and chaotic, and do not offer a relaxing experience.

For the best cenotes in the region, head to the little town of Homun. This area is actually a anillo de los cenotes (ring of cenotes). You will find more than 20 cenotes here!

It is easier to drive to Homun but you can also take a bus here from Merida. Once you arrive, you can hire a local guide and a motorbike taxi for around 200 pesos for the day (circa $10 USD).

Tell the guide what kind of cenotes you are looking for (i.e. cenotes with platforms that are suitable for non-swimmers, cave cenotes, cenotes without tourists, etc). They will then form an itinerary and take you to 4-5 different spots. Alternatively, just instruct them to take you to their favorite places.

Cenote Cholul is usually quite quiet and consists of two different pools. Look out for the Ancient Mayan handprints on your lefthand side after entering!

Meanwhile, Cenote Hool Kosom is one of the more photogenic cenotes. It is set inside a cave and boasts a white limestone roof with a small circular opening where the sunlight can pour in.

After a day of cenote-hopping, enjoy lunch in Homun. The little town is charming.

In particular, look out for the Parroquia San Buenaventura convent in the central square. This is a gorgeous Franciscan convent that dates back to the 16th century. 

If you enjoy driving, you can also venture onwards to some other little Yucatan villages and towns nearby. For instance, Cuzamá town offers lots of great grill house restaurants, while Hocaba also has a very charming church (Iglesia Principal San Francisco de Asis). 

Yucatan Road Trip Day 6:
Motul and Izamal

Yucatan road trip itinerary

Day 6 of this Yucatan road trip itinerary brings more off-the-beaten-path treasures as well as cultural highlights. Start by heading to the city of Motul, made famous by the invention of a popular local egg dish known as ¨huevos motulenos¨.

Motul isn’t a pretty town by any stretch of the imagination. However, if you seek out Mexican culture and gastronomy, it is one of the best cities in the Yucatan. 

Breakfast in Motul 

Huevos motulenos is a Yucatecan breakfast dish that you will find all over the Yucatan peninsula. It consists of tortillas topped with frijoles (black beans), fried eggs, ham peas, a tomato-based sauce, and plantains.

Even though the dish is widely available, as far as Yucatecans are concerned, there is only one place to be eating it: in Motul. For the best of the best, head to Doña Evelia Huevos Motuleños restaurant in the Mercado Municipal 20 de Noviembre in Motul.

You may have to wait 25-30 minutes to be served but rest assured, it is worth the wait. Wash it all down with a cafe de olla or a Mexican Chiapas coffee.

As you dine, street performers play everything from Mexican banda music to classical Cuban songs. Look around and you will find that there is not another tourist in sight.

Motul is perhaps the Yucatan´s best-kept secret. When you are sufficiently stuffed, the marketplace itself is worth a browse.

Locals will tell you that they are unhappy with the ramshackle way that their Mercado looks due to a lack of funding and renovation from the government. However, the market, with its stalls selling everything from Yucatan honey to fresh Mexican fruits and veggies, possesses an authentic charm that simply isn’t found in more touristic markets. 

Chenche de las Torres

Chenche de las Torres is an unusual residential property that is well worth the quick detour to get to when traveling between Valladolid and Izamal. The hacienda, designed like a medieval European castle, was built during the henequen boom in the 18th century.

Its owners, Don Alvaro Peón de Regil and Doña Joaquina Peón Castellanos, Counts of Miraflores owned several grand properties around the Yucatan. Their coat of arms can still be seen on the side of the house.

Today, Chenche de las Torres is a private residence. It was recently listed for sale for 1.9 million US dollars.

Within the grounds, there is a small chapel that Mexican families often rent for celebrations and events such as Quinceaneras. For 100 pesos (circa $5), you can tour the grounds and gardens of the property. It is a little slice of Europe in the middle of the Yucatan jungle.

Izamal, the Yellow City

The little town of Izamal, known as the Yucatan´s ¨Yellow City¨ is one of four Pueblo Magicos in the Yucatan state. Pueblo Magicos are towns and villages that have been recognized by the Mexican tourism board for their particularly interesting history, culture, or local gastronomy. 

Every building, church, and house in Izamal is painted in the same uniform shade of bright yellow. There are several different theories as to why this might be, with the most likely being that the town was decorated that way in honor of the Mayan Sun God Kinich Ahau.

Spend a few hours exploring Izamal and stop for lunch at restaurant Kinich (Calle 27.299y 28y 30, Centro). Here, you can indulge in exquisite regional fare beneath charming palapa huts.

Nearby, you can climb the Kinich Kakmo pyramid dedicated to Kinich Ahau. Today, it is only one of a handful of pyramids in the Yucatan that survived the Spanish colonization.

When sunset rolls around, head to the Convento de San Antonio de Padua to watch the sun dip behind the clouds. This is one of the oldest convents in all of Latin America and the largest of its kind in North America. 

Construction finished in 1561 and the site is still in operation today. If you walk past the garden at the rear, you may even see nuns sitting outside eating their lunch!

Yucatan Road Trip Day 7:
Valladolid

After a leisurely breakfast in Izamal, set out on the journey to Valladolid. Valladolid, like Izamal, is also a Yucatan Pueblo Magico. 

The city dates back to 1543 and was developed by the descendants of Spanish Conquistadors. It was originally built close to a lagoon but then relocated inland, to its current location on the site of a Maya town. 

This led to several violent clashes and fights between the Spanish and the Maya that would last for centuries. Modern-day Valladolid is sleepy and tranquil – a stark contrast to its violent origins. 

A day is ample time to explore. Start by meandering through the little streets that veer off from the central square (Zocalo) and the Church of San Servacio. Be sure to stop by the colorful Convent San Bernardino too. 

It is one of the oldest convents in the Yucatan. You can opt to spend your day exploring the town and browsing its streets and markets, or you may want to spend a portion of your day swimming in a nearby cenote.

There are a number of cenotes near Valladolid. The famous Cenote Suytan, Hacienda Cenote Oxmán, and Cenote Saamal are all worth considering. 

Yucatan Road Trip Day 8:
Chichen Itza and Ek Balam

Saving the best til (near) last, day 8 of this Yucatan road trip is dedicated to exploring the phenomenal ruins of Chichen Itza, and the nearby site of Ek Balam. Chichen Itza is one of the ¨new¨ seven wonders of the world and needs no introduction.

The ancient city was inscribed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1988. It is believed to have been founded around 400 AD and during its heyday, it was home to more than 35,000 people.

Chichen Itza

Arriving early to Chichen Itza is imperative. The site opens its doors at 8 am and you should aim to be there by 7.30 if you want to see the ruins without the crowds.

By 9.30, a ton of tour buses have already started rolling in and the crowds take away from the magic somewhat. If you don’t fancy waking up early to drive or get the bus from Valladolid, you can consider spending the night in one of the hotels near the entrance.

Opting to hire a tour guide can help you gain a more in-depth understanding of the site and the various structures scattered around it. However, information plaques and audio tours are also available if you prefer to explore independently.

The Temple of Kukulkan is the most famous structure and it is the first thing that you see as soon as you enter the complex. Look out for a platform to its left known as a Tzompantli. 

This stone platform, with sculls carved into the stone, is where the Maya would display the severed heads of their enemies to scare off other tribes. Equally impressive is the nearby Temple of the Warriors, the Iglesia, and the Sacred Cenote where men and children would be thrown to their deaths as sacrifices to appease the gods.

The Chichen Itza site is larger than people realize. You should dedicate 3-4 hours to exploring it. 

Recommended Chichen Itza tours

Prefer to explore Chichen Itza with a guide and not have to worry about the logistics of getting there? A selection of reputable Chichen Itza tours has been shortlisted below for your consideration.

Grab lunch in Piste 

If you want to grab some lunch before continuing to Ek Balam, you can stop at a restaurant in nearby Piste. This town is a little touristy, sure, but there is no such thing as bad Yucatecan food. Some of the markets and stores here are great for picking up trinkets and Mexican souvenirs such as ceremonial masks and handicrafts.  

Ek Balam

Ek Balam, meaning ¨Black Jaguar¨ in Mayan is an ancient city that is only just starting to fall on people´s Yucatan travel radars. It makes a nice travel pairing with Chichen Itza, in part because there is only a distance of 67km (1 hour and 10 minutes) between the two sites.

The city thrived between 770 and 840 AD. During this time, it was a major political hub for the region.

Fascinatingly, the ruins were not rediscovered until as recently as the 1980s! After they were abandoned, like many other Mayan cities, they were reclaimed by the jungle.

The most notable sights in Ek Balam today are the incredibly well-preserved stucco tomb of Ukil-Kan-Lek-Tok and El Torre. El Torre is a 95-foot pyramid that you can climb.

From the top, you have unparalleled views over the jungle canopy. On a clear day, you can see all the way out to Chichen Itza and Coba from up here!

Yucatan Itinerary Days 9 & 10:
Kikil and El Cuyo

There is no better way to round off your Yucatan itinerary than with a few days spent relaxing in a tranquil beach town. Stopping at Kikil, start making your way toward the beach town of El Cuyo. 

Kikil and Cenote Kikil

The little village of Kikil is not a tourist destination. There is just something about it.

The center boasts the ruins of an old convent, a tiny colorful church, and a smattering of street food stalls. Peculiarly, there is a local man that stands in the square with a saddled bull and lets people climb on top of it and take photos for a few pesos.

Alarmingly, it’s mostly people with toddlers balancing their kids on the bull and laughing about it. It is an interesting spectacle to watch! 
A lot of the people own ranches and live off the land, so you will find street stalls selling birria (goat stew from Jalisco). This isn’t really common in the Yucatan but it is worth a try.

Although the dish is traditionally prepared with goat, in Kikil, it is prepared with beef. The meat is marinated with a selection of herbs, spices, and chilis. Then, it is served topped with onions and a pinch of lime.

After exploring the village, you may want to stop by the cenote. It is surrounded by lush tropical foliage and is arguably one of the most beautiful ones in the state. You will often find that there is nobody else here, perhaps bar the occasional iguana or motmot in the trees. 

El Cuyo

While tourists flock to the coastal areas of Quintana Roo and elsewhere in Mexico (e.g. Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, and Tulum), those in the know know that El Cuyo is a more peaceful alternative. This little beach town is little more than a stretch of coastline with a small handful of hotels and restaurants around it.

There are seldom (if ever) more than a handful of people on the beach here, largely because El Cuyo is so remote and not all that easy to get to. Days in El Cuyo are about lazing on tropical beaches, swimming and snorkeling in translucent waters, and spending your nights drinking pina coladas beneath the starry night sky.

Catching every sunrise and sunset over the Gulf of Mexico is a must. The wind conditions here are perfect for kitesurfing, and there is an ever-expanding community of kitesurfers that call the village home if that is something that you are interested to try your hand at.

Depart from Cancun/Merida

Depending on your schedule, depart from El Cuyo on day 10 or day 11 of your Yucatan road trip. You may choose to catch your onward flight from Cancun International Airport (CUN) or Merida International (MID).

It is a 163km (2.5 hour) drive from El Cuyo to Cancun. Traveling from El Cuyo to Merida takes 3.5 hours (261.7km).

Getting around the Yucatan

The easiest way to get around the Yucatan is to rent a car. Public transport in Mexico leaves a lot to be desired.

Reaching some villages and ruins is near impossible if you do not have access to your own vehicle. Bus schedules here are limited, even to some of the country’s most famous attractions!

If you do not feel confident driving alone and don’t want to rely on buses, you can also consider hiring local drivers or participating in local excursions. However, the price of doing so quickly adds up.

Renting a car in the Yucatan 

Renting a car in the Yucatan is not as daunting as it may sound. Mexico, in general, is a lot safer than people realize, and the Yucatan is one of the safest parts of the country.

You can opt to pick your rental car up from Merida or Cancun, or from the airport in either city. Do keep in mind, however, that one-way rentals are often substantially more expensive than renting a car and returning it to the same place you collected it from.

Many reputable international rental firms operate in the Yucatan, including Avis, Budget, and Europcar. Expect to pay around $30 a day for a car rental, including full-coverage insurance. Discover Cars is a great platform for comparing and contrasting quotes from different rental companies so that you can secure the best deal.

Yucatan Road Trip Itinerary FAQs 

Do you still have any burning questions or concerns about planning a Yucatan road trip itinerary? Hopefully, you will find the answers that you are looking for below! 

How many days do you need in the Yucatan peninsula?

10-14 days is a good amount of time for a first trip to the Yucatan. If you are short on time, you can cram some of the region’s highlights into 7 days. 

Is it safe to road trip in Yucatan?

The Yucatan peninsula is very safe and it is absolutely safe to travel around here independently. This applies even if you are a solo female traveler!

The Yucatan capital of Merida is not only the safest city in all of Mexico, but it is widely regarded as being one of the safest cities in the Americas, period! Leave your reservations at home and forget everything that you have heard about Mexico being a dangerous or lawless place when you come to the Yucatan. 

Is it easy to drive in Yucatan?

It is very easy to drive in the Yucatan peninsula. The roads here are in excellent condition and are well maintained.

Driving in Mexico means driving on the right-hand side of the road, much like in the United States and most of the world. Roads are well signposted so it is easy to get to where you are going. 

As a rule of thumb, it is generally a good idea to avoid driving in the Yucatan at night. This is not because the area is dangerous, but because most roads are not well-lit. So, it makes it harder to see hazards such as stray dogs and wild animals that may wander into the roads. 

How do I plan a trip to the Yucatan?

It is easy to plan a trip to the Yucatan. First, start researching the best places in the Yucatan that interest you the most.

That may be secluded Yucatan beaches, caves, jungle treks, Mayan ruins, or quaint Pueblo Magicos. Then, take a look at a map of the area and start forming a route of how to get from A to B.

Public transport runs between most major cities and tourist attractions, although the schedules are infrequent. Sites such as Bus Bud, Ado, and Rome2Rio are good for checking transport options. 

Final Thoughts

Progreso beach, Yucatan
Progreso beach, Yucatan

What are your thoughts on this Yucatan road trip itinerary? Have you traveled to the Yucatan before? I have been living in Merida for a year now. 

If this is going to be your first trip to Mexico, you may also enjoy reading this post on Mexico travel tips to know before you travel. Have a wonderful time!

Safe travels! Melissa xo


Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer based in Merida, Mexico. She has produced written content for several high-profile publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, the Huffington Post, Rough Guides, and Matador Network.