This off-the-beaten-track adventure kicks off in Mexico City where you'll learn the area's pre-Colombian history and visit mysterious temples built by the Aztecs and Mayans. From here, fly to the Riviera Maya to ramble in the colonial streets of Valladolid, dine on fresh cuisine, and chill out on the Caribbean Sea. Expect private guides and transportation throughout (except for your free day in Tulum).

Highlights

  • Let a private guide show you Mexico City's best sites in the historic center
  • Explore the most impressive Mayan archeological sites in two Mexican states
  • Ride bikes and take dips in Riviera Maya's hidden cenotes (sinkholes)
  • Learn to make tortillas by hand 
  • Spend two nights in coastal Tulum known for beaches, kite surfing, and yoga

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Mexico City - Walking Tour Mexico City
Day 2 Teotihuacan Archaeological Site & Basilica of Guadalupe Mexico City
Day 3 Canals of Xochimilco in a Wooden Trajinera Mexico City
Day 4 Fly to CancĂșn - Transfer to Valladolid Valladolid
Day 5 Chichén Itzå & Yokdzonot Cenote Valladolid
Day 6 Ek Balam Archaeological Site, Xcanche Cenote & Village Tour Valladolid
Day 7 Guided Visit to CobĂĄ & Nuevo Durango, Transfer to Tulum Tulum
Day 8 Free Day in Tulum Tulum
Day 9 Float in the Muyil Sian KaÂŽan Biosphere Reserve Tulum
Day 10 Return to CancĂșn - Depart Mexico  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Mexico City - Walking Tour

Check out the colorful streets of Mexico City's historic district

Welcome to Mexico City! Upon arrival, you will be picked up at the airport and transferred to your hotel in the city center. You will then meet your private guide for a city tour where you'll visit the historic center including the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Museum of the Great Temple, and Zócalo—the main square in central Mexico City—among other sites of interest. Since some places close at 5 pm, the order in which you see them depends on your arrival time.  

Following the tour, you'll have a free evening to rest and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of Mexico's capital.

Day 2: Teotihuacan Archaeological Site & Basilica of Guadalupe

Start the day at the Teotihuacan Archaeological Site

This morning, after breakfast at your hotel, your guide will pick you up for a visit to the amazing archaeological site of Teotihuacan—the largest and most revered city in the history of the New World. The site flourished in Mesoamerica's Golden Age, and you'll have some time to explore the grounds and ask questions. 

Following a stop for lunch near the site, you'll head north of the city to visit the famous Basilica of Our Lady Guadalupe, a Roman Catholic Church and national shrine of Mexico, which houses the cloak containing the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

In the evening you can take advantage of some free time for dinner, perhaps at one of Mexico City's best traditional restaurants (ask your guide for recommendations).

Day 3: Canals of Xochimilco in a Wooden Trajinera

Wooden boats on the canal
Wooden boats on the canal

Today you will visit one of the most iconic areas of Mexico City: the canals of Xochimilco, whose name means the ‘Place of the Flowers’ in Náhuatl. These canals are the last reminder of the rivers that once crossed the valley floor of Tenochtitlan (now modern-day Mexico City).

Explore the canals on a colorful boat called a trajinera (a wooden boat painted in colorful colors, each with a traditional Mexican name to honor a family member of the owner). You'll spend your time learning about the Aztec’s ingenious techniques for growing food on the fertile riverbeds of the pre-Hispanic waterways — many of which (including the chinampas, or floating gardens) are still in use today. 

 Day 4: Fly to CancĂșn - Transfer to Valladolid

Check out the restaurant and food scene in Valladolid
Check out the restaurant and food scene in Valladolid

This morning, depending on the time of your flight, you will be picked up and transferred to the airport for your flight to CancĂșn. From here, your local transfer will be waiting to take you to the colonial town of Valladolid—a two-hour drive from the airport. You will then check into your hotel and can spend the rest of the day exploring the town.

Valladolid has a number of charming Spanish colonial buildings to see, including the 16th-century Convent of San Bernardino of Siena, with an ornate wooden altarpiece, as well as the baroque-style San Gervasio Cathedral.

In addition, Valladolid is a place full of colors, crafts, and flavorful local cuisine. In fact, a long list of typical Yucatecan dishes originated from here, such as los lomitos, la longaniza de Valladolid, and el escabeche oriental. Join the locals in the plaza next to the Parque Francisco Canton to gather and eat a range of these simple dishes that are muy ricos (very delicious)! For something more sophisticated, there are several good restaurants in the city center city—just ask your local specialist for suggestions.

Day 5: Chichén Itzå & Yokdzonot Cenote

The Kukulkan Pyramid at Chichen Itza

After an early but delicious breakfast at your hotel, you'll be picked up by your local guide who will take you to the archaeological site of Chichén Itzå (a 1.5-hour drive). This Pre-Hispanic city was the most outstanding capital of the Mayan area at the end of the Classic Period and during the beginning of the Post-Classic Period. After the arrival of the Spaniards, it was the most venerated center of worship and pilgrimage in the Yucatån Peninsula.

Following the visit, you can head to the lovely cenote (sinkhole) of Yokdzonot, which is rather unknown and, therefore, not as crowded as other cenotes in the Yucatan. Cenotes are magical, enigmatic and unique in the world, and were once the only source of fresh water in the local jungle. They were sacred to the Mayas for that reason, but also because they represented the entrance to the underworld. (The YucatĂĄn Peninsula is a porous limestone shelf with no visible rivers, meaning all the freshwater rivers are underground.) You will have lunch and enjoy a leisurely swim in the area.

In the afternoon, it's time to head back to Valladolid with free time to enjoy the evening in town as you please.

Day 5: Ek Balam Archaeological Site, Xcanche Cenote & Village Tour

Xcanche cenote

After breakfast, get ready for a fun day of sightseeing starting with a visit to the archeological site of Ek Balam, or black jaguar, which refers to the Mayan king who constructed it. This site reached its peak during the Late Classic Period (600-900 AD); when the Mayas abandoned it, the area became surrounded by the dense low-lying jungle typical of the YucatĂĄn Peninsula. The pyramids were later discovered when archaeologists and adventurers saw a group of hills with trees and brush growing out of them. Digging around the mounds, they uncovered treasures of buildings and artifacts, which had been hidden for hundreds of years.

After this interesting visit, you will take your own bike (or a bike taxi; whichever you choose) for a 1.5-mile tour of Sacbé (White Road in Mayan) to get to the Xcanché cenote. You'll also get to choose between various lunch options for some tasty regional food. Once in the cenote, there will be time to relax and take a refreshing swim. 

Next, you will head to the nearby village for a walking community tour, in which you will visit three homes to see the daily life of Mayan families. Learn how to make tortillas by hand, see how hammocks are knitted, and join an embroidery workshop before returning to Valladolid for the evening.

Day 7: Guided visit of CobĂĄ and Nuevo Durango, Transfer to Tulum

Tourists climb the Nohoch Mul pyramid
Tourists climb the Nohoch Mul pyramid

Today, you'll enjoy a guided visit to the archaeological site of Coba. Start with a guided bike or bicycle taxi tour through the sacbĂ© (a paved, raised road built by the Maya). These roads connect each settlement to the main pyramid, Nohoch Mul — the Yucatan Peninsula's largest pyramid. If you decide to climb the stairs to the top, your efforts will be rewarded by an extraordinary view of the beautiful jungle that surrounds this impressive site.

Continue your day with a transfer to Nuevo Durango, located approximately 30 minutes away. It's a small ecotourism and organic food production community whose people have managed to maintain their cultural identity in both language and customs. Here you will enjoy a traditional meal and meet Don Manuel and his family. Don is a member of the community that operates an Environmental Management Unit (EMU), a project for the conservation of animals in the region that are in danger of extinction. As you learn about Don's work, you'll be able to see and meet some of the endemic species of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Say goodbye to Manuel and his family and continue to Chichen Itza. En route, stop at the Punta Laguna Natural Reserve, where you will be able to board a boat to take a ride in search of the spider monkeys that have made this place their home.

Day 8: Free Day in Tulum

Head to one of Tulum's beaches for some sun and sea

Enjoy a free day in Tulum! There are plenty of open-air yoga studios and beaches to explore (and beach clubs offering chairs, umbrellas, and cabanas), as well as watersports like snorkeling, scuba diving, and kite surfing available.

You'll likely want to simply relax on the sand today but if you're anxious to see more of the area, your local specialist can offer suggestions or arrange a guided tour. 

Day 9: Float in the Muyil Sian KaÂŽan Biosphere Reserve

Floating in Sian Ka'an Reserve
Floating in Sian Ka'an Reserve

Today you will visit the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, which in Mayan means "a place where the sky is born". When you arrive at the Muyil Community Center, enjoy a light snack and join a group of travelers to start the tour. This community-based ecotourism cooperative focuses on the conservation and preservation of ecosystems by promoting unique experiences with a commitment to responsible tourism.

Your first stop will be the little-known and mysterious archaeological site of Muyil, which you will reach at the end of an interpretive trail surrounded by the thick jungle. Walk until you reach the edge of the turquoise Chunyaxche Lagoon, where you will take a small boat through a channel surrounded by mangroves to arrive at a small dock. Once there enjoy a serene dip in the water. It is a moment of reconnection with mother earth, as you float slowly through the channels you will feel the peace of your surroundings and take in the soft sounds of the local birds and other animals.

Once you are done enjoying the water, return to the community center on a short walk. You will be welcomed back with a traditional meal to complete the excursion.

Day 10: Transfer to CancĂșn - Depart Mexico

Sunset in Tulum

It's time to say goodbye to Mexico! At the designated time, you will be transferred to the airport in Cancun for your departure home. Have a safe flight home and come back soon! Hasta luego!

Map

Map of Mexico City & Riviera Maya - 10 Days
Map of Mexico City & Riviera Maya - 10 Days