Over 13 days, you'll visit some of Mexico's most naturally beautiful and culturally rich areas. Experience the food, culture, and history of Mexico City, hike the pyramids of Teotihuacán, then immerse yourself in indigenous culture on the Yucatán Peninsula. You'll also go off the tourist trail in Baja, California, with a boat tour of Isla Espíritu Santo, hikes through desert mountains, and snorkeling at Cabo Pulmo.


  • Enjoy a culture and foodie tour of Mexico City
  • See the pyramids of Teotihuacán on a bicycle
  • Visit the beaches and nature reserves of La Paz
  • Tour the Maya archeolgocal site Chichén Itzá

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Mexico City, Optional Activities Mexico City
Day 2 History, Culture & Gastronomy Tour, Coffee in Coyoacán Mexico City
Day 3 National Museum of Anthropology, Visit Chapultepec Park Mexico City
Day 4 Bike Tour of Teotihuacán Mexico City
Day 5 Mexico City to La Paz La Paz
Day 6 Day Trip to Espíritu Santo Island La Paz
Day 7 La Paz to Cabo Pulmo, Snorkeling Tour La Paz
Day 8 Hike the El Camarón Trail La Paz
Day 9 La Paz to Cancún, Transfer to Puerto Morelos, Optional Activities   Puerto Morelos
Day 10 Puerto Morelos to Valladolid, Tour Chichén Itzá Valladolid
Day 11 Culture & Nature in Yalcobá Valladolid
Day 12 Valladolid to Playa del Carmen, Tour the Cobá Ruins Playa del Carmen
Day 13 Playa del Carmen Optional Activities, Transfer to Cancún, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Mexico City, Optional Activities

Mexico City's Metropolitan Cathedral overlooks the Zócalo
Mexico City's Metropolitan Cathedral overlooks the Zócalo
Welcome 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 "DF" (Distrito Federal), as the locals call Mexico City, a driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel. After checking in, you can spend the remainder of the day however you wish. Just know that this is a high-altitude city (7,349 feet/2,240 m), so you'll want to acclimate before exerting yourself on any long walks.
Once you're comfortable, head out and explore. Famous landmarks include the Angel of Independence, a towering victory column on a roundabout in the center of the Paseo de la Reforma thoroughfare. There are also museums and art galleries in the trendy neighborhoods of Roma and San Miguel Chapultepec. Perhaps stop at DF's many markets selling fresh produce and other goods. The biggest is Central de Abasto, which contains 2,000 businesses across 810 acres. Then maybe relax at a café in the bohemian enclave of La Condesa and admire the art nouveau architecture.

Day 2: History, Culture & Gastronomy Tour, Coffee in Coyoacán

Spend some time in colorful Coyoacán

In the morning, head out on a half-day walking 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 Zócalo. This massive public square is home to historic 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 sample street-food favorites like tacos al pastor and quesadillas with melted cheese and huitlacoche, also known as Mexican truffle. If you have room, enjoy a dessert of fresh hot churros dusted with sugar and cinnamon. Afterward, you'll head to the historic neighborhood of Coyoacán. This 16th-century enclave has retained much of its colonial charm. Once here, you'll visit a small coffee bar to taste an eclectic selection of coffees and learn about the origin and cultivation of the beans. Local chefs will prepare gourmet creations inspired by cuisines from around the world.

Day 3: National Museum of Anthropology, Visit Chapultepec Park

Visit Chapultepec Castle
After breakfast, you'll take a 2.5-hour guided tour of the National Museum of Anthropology, one of the most important museums in Latin America. Its 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. Highlights 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.
Then you'll head into Mexico City's great outdoors for a three-hour tour of Chapultepec Park. At 1,695 acres, this is one of the largest urban green spaces in the world. It's also one of the oldest, as back in 1428, it was a summer retreat for Aztec rulers. Besides lakes and gardens, the park contains nine museums, a zoo, and an amusement park. One landmark you'll visit is Chapultepec Castle, which dates to 1785 and is located atop the park's hill. Once the residence of the Viceroy of New Spain, today it's the National Museum of History, home to a magnificent collection of historical artifacts and murals.
Plan your trip to Mexico
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 4: Bike Tour of Teotihuacán

View of the Pyramid of the Sun and the Avenue of the Dead
Pyramid of the Sun and the Avenue of the Dead, at Teotihuacán
In the morning, you'll hop in a tour van for the 1-hour drive outside the city to one of Mexico's most impressive archaeological sites: Teotihuacán. Known as the "City of the Gods," this 8-sq-mile (20-sq-km) site was founded as early as 400 BCE, meaning it long pre-dates the Aztecs. During its heyday (around 500 CE) it was home to some 200,000 people and over 2,000 buildings, making it the largest city in the western hemisphere at the time. Rather than taking a walking tour of its wide pathways, you'll experience Teotihuacán a bit differently—on a bicycle. 
Upon arrival, you'll hop on a bike and cycle around the archaeological site, first passing the many murals that decorate the structures and depict cultural and religious motifs and natural landscapes. Then travel down the Avenue of the Dead, Teotihuacán's main path that runs for a mile (2 km). You'll also visit the Pyramid of the Sun, the largest structure at 215 feet (66 m), and the Pyramid of the Moon, which towers 140 feet (43 m). Then stop at the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, which has bas-reliefs of the feathered serpent deity carved into its sides.

Day 5: Mexico City to La Paz, Optional Activities

The beaches near La Paz

In the morning, a driver will transfer you to the airport in Mexico City, where you'll catch a 2.5-hour flight to La Paz. Located at the southern end of Mexico's Baja California region, this port city is one of the true coastal gems of the country. All around are protected wildlife areas and long beaches fronting the most crystalline waters in Mexico. The area is also a migratory route for whale sharks, and swimming with them is a popular activity during the season from October to May. Upon arrival, a driver will transfer you to your hotel.

After settling in, take a stroll down the Malecón La Paz, the city's waterfront promenade. It runs 3 miles (5 km) along the clear oceanfront waters and is lined with a wide array of restaurants, bars, ice cream parlors, and boutiques. Spaced every few meters along this boardwalk are towering sculptures that have become icons of the city (there's even one of Jacques Cousteau). Also, this is the best place to come for a prime view of La Paz's famous cotton-candy sunsets—probably the most beautiful in all of Mexico.

Day 6: Day Trip to Espíritu Santo Island

Spot dolphins and other animals at Isla Espíritu Santo

After breakfast, you'll embark on a full-day boat tour to Isla Espíritu Santo. This island, located about an hour off the coast of La Paz, is one of the hallmark protected areas in the entire country. It's the 12th largest island in Mexico, known for its unspoiled beaches, turquoise waters, and abundant marine and avian wildlife. For these reasons, Espíritu Santo has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This excursion is packed full of adventure. Not only will you get to stop at beaches and go snorkeling at offshore coral reefs, but you'll also visit secluded islets and do a lot of wildlife spotting. One highlight is a visit to a sea lion colony; at another, you'll observe the endemic birds of the area like gray herons and frigates. After the tour, you'll return to your hotel in La Paz. As you head back on the boat, keep an eye out for dolphins.

Day 7: La Paz to Cabo Pulmo, Snorkeling Tour

Cabo Pulmo National Park
In the morning, your driver will pick you up for the three-hour ride south to Cabo Pulmo National Park. This unspoiled section of coast is just an hour away from Los Cabos, the tourism epicenter of Baja California—but you'd never know it. Few tourists visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site and marine park, which covers 27 sq miles (71 sq km). Today you'll snorkel around its pristine reef system and see many of the over 800 species of marine life that call this area home. These include various tropical fish, sea turtles, rays, dolphins—even whales and hammerhead sharks. Afterward, you'll return to La Paz.

Day 8: Hike the El Camarón Trail

Head into the mountains of Baja California
The Baja region of Mexico is primarily arid desert dotted with mountain ranges, one of which you'll visit today on a guided half-day hike. The trail you'll be following is called El Camarón, which runs through the Sierra de la Giganta Mountains, north of La Paz. It's a scenic trail through majestic hills sculpted over the millennia by wind and water erosion. Along the way, you'll stop at palm-filled oases and lookout points offering sweeping views out to Isla Espíritu Santo. And throughout this six-mile (10-km) hike, which includes breakfast and lunch, your guide will point out noteworthy landmarks and interesting sights. 

Day 9: La Paz to Cancún, Transfer to Puerto Morelos, Optional Activities  

Visit sleepy Puerto Morelos on the Caribbean coast
In the morning, transfer to the airport for your flight to Cancún. Upon arrival, you'll meet your guide and pick up your rental car. This kicks off a four-day self-driving tour of Mexico's stunning Yucatán Peninsula. Once in the car, you'll make the roughly 30-minute drive south along the Caribbean coast to Puerto Morelos. This is the very definition of a sleepy Mexican fishing village, but there are many attractions here. The most famous is National Reef Park. This marine reserve protects a nearby section of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the largest reef in the world after Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
After checking into your hotel, you can spend the remainder of the day however you like. Maybe head out on a two-hour snorkeling tour of the 150-acre marine park to see exotic fish and turtles. There are also hiking options in the jungle outside of town and nearby cenotes you can visit. Cenotes are limestone sinkholes found throughout the Yucatán region and are fed by the world's largest underground aquifer. One of the most popular in the area is Cenote Sol y Luna. Its emerald lagoon is great for swimming, plus there are diving platforms and even a zip-line.

Day 10: Puerto Morelos to Valladolid, Tour Chichén Itzá

Chichen Itza's towering pyramid of Kukulcan
Chichen Itza's towering pyramid of Kukulcan
After breakfast, you'll hop in the car for the 2-hour drive west to the interior of the Yucatán and the colonial town of Valladolid, which has earned a Pueblos Mágicos (Magical Towns) distinction due to its historical importance and rich culture. It's also the central hub for excursions to Chichén Itzá, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and the most popular ancient Maya archeological site on the Yucatán (it draws around two million visitors per year). Upon arrival, you'll check into your hotel.
After settling in, you'll head out for a guided tour of Chichén Itzá. This UNESCO World Heritage Site covers four sq miles (10 sq km) and was first settled in the 5th century. It then enjoyed an impressive 1,000-year run as one of the great cities in the ancient Maya kingdom before declining around 1440. Highlight ruins you'll see include the iconic El Castillo (a majestic pyramid that rises 79 feet/24 m), the Jaguar Temple, the House of Eagles (a ceremonial platform), and El Caracol (a circular observatory), plus the largest ball court in Mesoamerica.

Day 11: Culture & Nature in Yalcobá

Take a dip in cave cenotes
Today you'll head out on a full-day cultural immersion to the Maya community of Yalcobá, located just outside Valladolid. This eight-hour experience is full of adventure, beginning with a guided hike through Maya forest and a tour of the milpa fields—an ancient agriculture system that intercrops corn, beans, and squash. After exploring cave cenotes, you'll return to town and visit a handicrafts workshop to see how locals produce artisanal jewelry and weaved hammocks. Then participate in a gastronomic workshop to learn about traditional Maya cuisine.

Day 12: Valladolid to Playa del Carmen, Tour the Cobá Ruins

Hike up Nohoch Mul, in Coba
In the morning, you'll make the two-hour drive from Valladolid to Playa del Carmen. This resort town is one of the stars of Mexico's famous Riviera Maya, a section of coast that stretches 100 miles (160 km) along the Caribbean. On the way, stop in the town of Cobá for a guided 3-mile (5-km) bike tour of its Maya archeological site. You'll get to cycle along ancient white pathways lined with the ruins of this former metropolis whose heyday was between 600-900. The real highlight is hiking up the 120 stone steps of Nohoch Mul, which, at 137 feet (41 m), is the tallest pyramid in the Yucatán. 

Day 13: Playa del Carmen Optional Activities, Transfer to Cancún, Depart

Goodbye, Mexico

Enjoy one last morning in Playa del Carmen before saying goodbye to Mexico. One optional activity is to head just south of town to the white-sand beach at Xpu-Ha. In town, there are many beach clubs where you can pull up a lounge chair and while away the hours with a tropical drink... or three. You can also visit one of the many cenotes in the area, like Cenote Cristalino, Jardín Del Eden, and Cenote Azul. Another option is to go wildlife spotting in the 185-acre Nativa Natural Park.

You'll get back in the rental car at the appropriate time and drive an hour north to the airport in Cancún, where you'll catch your flight home. ¡Buen viaje!

More Great Mexico Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Mexico? Check out these other Mexico itineraries, explore different ways to spend 13 days in Mexico, or discover how many days to spend in Mexico.


Map of Mexico City, Baja & the Yucatán - 13 Days
Map of Mexico City, Baja & the Yucatán - 13 Days