- Take a culture and foodie tour of Mexico City
- Hike the Pyramid of the Sun in historic Teotihuacán
- Visit ancient Maya ruins in the Yucatán
- Learn to prepare authentic Mexican food in Tulum
|Day 1||Arrive in Mexico City, Explore||Mexico City|
|Day 2||History & Gastronomy Tour, Visit the Museum of Anthropology||Mexico City|
|Day 3||Day Trip to Teotihuacán & Mexican Dining Experience||Mexico City|
|Day 4||Float the Canals of Xochimilco, Explore Coyoacán||Mexico City|
|Day 5||Transfer to Valladolid, Optional Activities||Valladolid|
|Day 6||Ek' Balam Archaeological Site, Cenote & Village Tour||Valladolid|
|Day 7||Transfer to Mérida, Walking Tour||Mérida|
|Day 8||Walking Tour of Uxmal||Mérida|
|Day 9||Transfer to Tulum, Visit Chichén Itzá & Tour Cobá Ruins||Tulum|
|Day 10||Cooking Class in Tulum||Tulum|
|Day 11||Return to Cancún, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Mexico City, ExploreWelcome to Mexico! This culturally rich and beautiful Latin American nation is full of history, art, music, and some of the most delicious food in the world. Upon arrival at the airport in Mexico City, a driver will transfer you to your hotel. After check-in, you can spend the remainder of the day however you wish. Feel free to head out and explore—just know it's one of the largest cities in the world. This metropolis is home to around 10 million people across 350 colonies (neighborhoods). It's also a high-altitude city (7,349 ft/2,240 m), so you'll want to acclimate before exerting yourself on any long walks.
Day 2: History & Gastronomy Tour, Visit the Museum of Anthropology
In the morning, head out on a guided four-hour tour of the Centro Histórico, an area so historic it's earned UNESCO World Heritage status. You'll visit the Palacio de Bellas Artes (a white-marble concert hall built in 1905), the pedestrian-only Madero Street, and the Plaza de la Constitución, better known as the Zócalo. This massive public square is home to landmark buildings like the Metropolitan Cathedral (built over 250 years beginning in 1573), the 16th-century National Palace, and the ruins of the 14th-century Templo Mayor, once a significant temple of the Aztec Empire.
Throughout the tour, you'll make various stops to sample the local street food. Enjoy traditional favorites like the famous tacos al pastor and quesadillas with melted cheese and huitlacoche, also known as Mexican truffle. If you have room, try a dessert of fresh hot churros dusted with sugar and cinnamon. And that's just the beginning—you'll quickly realize that in this former Aztec capital, there's an incredible variety of delectable tidbits, and a taste of Mexico City's history and culture is in every bite.
After the walking tour, you'll visit the Museum of Anthropology, one of the most important museums in Latin America. It's 23 rooms and outdoor exhibit spaces are home to the world's most extensive collection of ancient Mexican art. There are many pre-Columbian sculptures and ethnographic exhibits about modern-day Indigenous groups. Highlight items include the Aztec Calendar, The Olmec colossal head (a giant stone head carved out of basalt), and the jade Mask of the Zapotec Bat God.
Day 3: Day Trip to Teotihuacán & Mexican Dining Experience
After breakfast, your driver will meet you for an approximately one-hour drive northeast of Mexico City to Teotihuacán, one of the most amazing archaeological sites in the country (which is saying something). Over five hours, you'll explore this ancient city that dates to 400 BCE and covers a sprawling 8 sq miles (20 sq km). Known as the "City of the Gods," during Teotihuacán's heyday (around 500), it was home to about 200,000 people and boasted over 2,000 structures, the ruins of which remain today. And many of the great pyramids here have been restored to near-total glory.
The tour starts with a walk along the Calzada de Los Muertos (Avenue of the Dead), Teotihuacán's main path, which runs 1.2 miles (2 km). Then hike up the 248 steps of the Pyramid of the Sun, the most prominent structure at 215 feet (66 m), before continuing to the Pyramid of the Moon, which towers 140 feet (43 m). Afterward, visit the Temple of Quetzalcoatl (Temple of the Feathered Serpent), which features representations of the feathered serpent deity carved into its sides. The remains of 100 bodies that date to around 200 were discovered under the temple and were possibly sacrificial victims.
Cap the day by returning to Mexico City, where you'll sit down for dinner at a famous restaurant specializing in traditional and Indigenous cuisine. Be sure to try the delicious Oaxacan mole.
Day 4: Float the Canals of Xochimilco, Explore Coyoacán
Today you're in for a double-header of history and culture as you visit two of Mexico City's most colorful neighborhoods. First, travel to the far south of the city for a two-hour tour of Xochimilco. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has been settled since pre-colonial times and is known for its tranquil canals—remnants of the rivers that once crossed the valley floor of Mexico and were used by the Aztecs for transport.
The visit includes riding down these canals on a trajinera (a brightly painted, gondola-like boat). As you float down these half-natural, half-artificial waterways, you'll nibble on antojitos (Mexican snacks) while boats filled with mariachis float past and serenade you. You'll also learn about the area's ancient history, such as the Aztecs' ingenious techniques for growing food on the fertile riverbeds. One such technique is the chinampa, a type of floating garden that's still in use today. Even the name Xochimilco is an Aztec word that translates to "Place of Flowers."
After Xochimilco, you'll head north to the historic (and colorful) neighborhood of Coyoacán. You'll visit its most famous landmarks on a two-hour guided tour of this bohemian enclave with its leafy plazas and brightly painted homes. Walk along the Callejón del Aguacate, a narrow street lined with colonial houses famous for their myths and legends. You'll also stop at old churches built in the viceregal era on orders by Hernán Cortés himself. And no trip here is complete without visiting the main square and Centennial Garden, where you can take a break and enjoy traditional desserts like churros and ice cream.
Day 5: Transfer to Valladolid, Optional Activities
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
In the morning, you'll catch a flight to Cancún, located in Mexico's stunning Yucatán region. The Caribbean surrounds this southern peninsula and is famous for its white-sand beaches, ancient Maya ruins, Indigenous culture, and otherworldly cenotes (limestone sinkholes). Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will meet you for the two-hour ride inland to Valladolid, one of Mexico's celebrated Pueblos Mágicos (Magical Towns). This is a special designation the country has bestowed on some 132 places that have demonstrated historical importance, rich culture, great symbolism, and exceptional beauty.
Upon arrival, you'll check in to your hotel and have the rest of the day free to explore Valladolid. You should visit the San Servacio Church, which dates to 1545 and overlooks the Parque Francisco Canton. The town's main plaza is filled with leafy trees, fountains, and street vendors operating wooden push carts. If the mood strikes, ride in a horse-drawn carriage or hop in a car for the short drive to Cenote Zaci lagoon. Another highlight is the Regional Museum, which charts the area's history from pre-colonial times through the founding of Valladolid and beyond.
And for a traditional culinary experience favored by the locals, head to the plaza to enjoy typical Yucatecan dishes (many of which originated in Valladolid). Try the lomitos (pork loin in tomato sauce), longaniza de Valladolid (smoked pork sausage with achiote), or the escabeche oriental (a stew made with chicken marinated in a variety of spices and cooked in orange juice, fried, then served with chiles). For dessert, grab a churro from a street vendor or the more typical marquesita, a type of rolled crepe filled with cheese, chocolate, fruit, or other goodies and grilled until crisp.
Day 6: Ek' Balam Archaeological Site, Cenote & Village Tour
Today you'll tour the archaeological site of Ek' Balam, which means "black jaguar" in ancient Mayan. The name refers to the Maya king who constructed this city, and during its heyday, it was the capital of the entire political region. Highlight ruins include temples, a ball court, and an acropolis. Afterward, you'll ride a bicycle (or take a bike taxi) along an ancient, 1.5-mile-long stone path called a sacbé ("white road"). This causeway leads to Cenote X'Canché, a limestone sinkhole fed by the largest underground aquifer in the world. After a traditional Yucatecan lunch, you'll dive into X'Canché for a swim.
Next, you'll head to a nearby Indigenous village for a walking tour of the community. During your time here, you'll visit three homes to meet local Maya families and experience the routine of daily life. They'll also impart some cultural traditions: learn how to make tortillas by hand, see how hammocks are knitted, and take part in an embroidery workshop. After the tour, you'll return to your hotel in Valladolid.
Day 7: Transfer to Mérida, Walking Tour
After breakfast, you'll meet your driver for the two-hour drive west from Valladolid to Mérida, the capital of Mexico's Yucatán state. Mérida is the economic heart of the Yucatán Peninsula, and it's also a cultural hub and convenient base to explore ancient Maya sites in the region. The city's history runs deep. It was founded in 1542 over the ancient Maya city of T'ho, with the Spanish leveling that city's five pyramids. Then, in 1598, they unsubtly used the pyramid remains to build Mérida's Cathedral. After checking in to your hotel, you'll head out on a guided walking tour.
The Cathedral is located in the heart of Mérida's historic center, overlooking the Plaza Grande (main square). This is where you'll spend the bulk of the tour as you learn about the city's Spanish-colonial history and its Indigenous roots. There's a lot to see, too, because Mérida boasts the second-largest historic center of any place in the country after Mexico City. Other highlights include stops at the 16th-century Municipal Palace, the old Spanish city gates, and Paseo Montejo, the city's wide main avenue, lined with colonial mansions—stately relics from the days of the viceroys.
Day 8: Walking Tour of Uxmal
In the morning, you'll travel an hour south of Mérida to the ruins of Uxmal for a guided walking tour of this impressive archaeological site. Located in the low hills of Yucatán's Puuc region, Uxmal's early structures date to the 6th century. The city was a significant seat of power until its influence waned in the 10th century. Embedded in its pyramids and temples are ornate friezes, sculptures, and carvings that archaeologists regard as some of the finest architectural sculptures in the ancient Maya world.
During its heyday, Uxmal was home to some 25,000 Maya. On tour, you'll see the highlights of the central ruins, which span 150 acres. The most famous structure is the Pyramid of the Magician. Legend has it that a magical dwarf built this structure overnight—although that's a bit impossible since this five-level pyramid is 131-feet (40 m) high. Another highlight is the Governor's Palace, which was likely both a royal residence and administrative center covering almost 13,000 sq feet (1,200 sq m).
Day 9: Transfer to Tulum, Visit Chichén Itzá & Tour Cobá Ruins
After breakfast, your driver will pick you up for the 3.5-hour drive back to the Caribbean coast and the resort town of Tulum. You'll stop and tour some of the most amazing archaeological sites in Yucatán. Up first is Chichén Itzá. This UNESCO World Heritage Site covers 4 sq miles (10 sq km) and was first settled in the fifth century. Highlight ruins include the iconic El Castillo (a majestic pyramid that rises 79 feet/24 m), the Jaguar Temple, the House of Eagles (a ceremonial platform), El Caracol (a circular observatory), plus the largest ball court in Mesoamerica.
Closer to the coast, you'll stop at the small town of Cobá, which is also home to ancient Maya ruins. Once there, you'll embark on a guided 3-mile (5-km) bike tour. It's a fun time as you cycle along ancient white pathways lined with the ruins of a former metropolis whose heyday was between 600-900 CE. The real highlight is hiking up the 120 stone steps of Nohoch Mul, which, at 137 feet (41 m), is the tallest pyramid in Yucatán. Afterward, you'll continue to Tulum, where you'll check in to your hotel.
Day 10: Cooking Class in Tulum
Spend the day discovering the flavors of Mexico in an authentic group cooking class that takes place in the home kitchen of a local chef. The lesson begins with an overview of Mexican culinary history as you learn about different Mesoamerican cultures and the main ingredients found in their pre-Columbian cuisine. You'll also learn how Mexican food has evolved from colonial times through the independence and revolutionary periods and see how this history has influenced the country's traditional dishes.
Then it's time to get to work as you cook an authentic Mexican meal yourself. Many of the dishes you'll learn how to prepare come right from the chef's family recipes. Once the class is dismissed, everyone will sit down and enjoy the fruits of their labor, washing down the delicious meal with a sweet agua fresca de jamaica (hibiscus iced tea), cold beer, and smokey mezcal.