Two weeks in Mexico is ideal for discovering the Chiapas and Yucatán regions' natural and archaeological treasures. Your route traverses the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula and finishes in Isla Holbox on the paradisical Caribbean Coast. Along the way, boat through natural wonders like the Sumidero Canyon, a brilliant pink lake in Ría Lagartos Reserve, and unspoiled beaches at Cabo Catoche. You'll also swim in cenotes and tour archaeological sites like Palenque, Uxmal, and Chichén Itzá.


  • Dive into Spanish-colonial history in cities such as Mérida and Campeche
  • Admire three of the Chiapas region's cascading waterfalls
  • Dive into the secret cenotes (swimming holes) of the Yucatán Peninsula
  • Catch fish to make ceviche and kayak in bioluminescent water on Isla Holbox

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Walking Tour San Cristóbal
Day 2 Half-Day Tour of Sumidero Canyon & Chiapa de Corzo, Free Afternoon San Cristóbal
Day 3 Drive to Palenque via the Agua Azul & Misol Ha Waterfalls Palenque
Day 4 Discover the Palenque Archeological Site & Roberto Barrios Waterfalls Palenque
Day 5 Drive to Campeche via Cenote Azul Campeche
Day 6 Cultural Road Trip, Optional Activities in Campeche Campeche
Day 7 Drive to Mérida via the Uxmal Archaeological Site, Chocolate Museum Tour Mérida
Day 8 Mérida Walking Tour, City Exploration Mérida
Day 9 Drive to Valladolid via Chichén Itzá, Cenote Swimming at Yodkzonot Valladolid
Day 10 Boat Ride in the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve Valladolid
Day 11 Visit the Ek' Balam Archaeological Site, Swim at Cenote Xcanche Valladolid
Day 12 Transfer to Isla Holbox, Bioluminescent Kayak Tour  Isla Holbox
Day 13 Speedboat Tour, Snorkeling in Cuevones Isla Holbox
Day 14 Drive to Cancún, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Walking Tour

Step inside San Cristóbal's San Francisco Church, dating back to the 16th century

Welcome to Mexico! After landing in Mexico City, you'll take a quick, 1.5-hour flight to Tuxtla Gutierrez, the capital of the beautiful Chiapas region. Your private driver will pick you up from the airport for the one-hour transfer to your hotel in the charming colonial town of San Cristóbal de las Casas. After dropping your luggage off, join your guide for a 2.5-hour walking tour, where you'll pass colonial houses and visit important historical sites.

Stop into the Los Altos Museum, located in the former convent of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, to learn more about regional history. Then, shop for handicrafts and textiles at the open-air marketplace outside. Stroll its cobbled streets, visit its animated plazas, and admire its old buildings, many of which date from the colonial period. Other landmarks include the Baroque Temple of Santo Domingo and the Church of Guadalupe, a twin-steepled chapel atop a long stairway that overlooks the town below. 

Day 2: Half-Day Tour of Sumidero Canyon & Chiapa de Corzo, Free Afternoon

Check out Sumidero Canyon's vertical cliffs, which rise 3,280 feet (1,000 m)

After breakfast, your driver will pick you up for a half-day trip to Sumidero Canyon and Chiapa de Corzo. Head toward the islet of Cahuare, where you'll board a motorboat to navigate along the imposing canyon, a natural formation that dates back 136 million years. Admire its walls soaring high above the Grijalva River amid thick vegetation. During the journey, you'll see diverse wildlife, flora, and fauna, including bromeliads, pines, river crocodiles, and spider monkeys. Later, continue to charming Chiapa de Corzo for lunch, where you can taste the ancestral Maya beverage pozol con cacao.

Upon your return to San Cristóbal, you'll have the rest of the afternoon to explore this quiet town in the hills, so take your time and enjoy getting lost in its narrow and colorful streets. From the lovely churches to the animated plazas, spend time resting and learning about the regional culture. Consider visiting the Lagrimas de la Selva, an artisan amber workshop, the Jade Museum, which features exhibits recounting the history of this gemstone in Mesoamerica, or the Na-Bolom Museum. Or, enjoy a delicious, aromatic coffee cup in one of the town's many coffee shops.

Day 3: Drive to Palenque via the Agua Azul & Misol Ha Waterfalls

Stop by the Agua Azul waterfalls on today's driving route

Get ready for a full day of scenic driving. Your private driver will ensure you stop to experience the most beautiful natural landscapes as you head northeast to the city of Palenque. Kickstart your day with breakfast at a roadside café before encountering your route's first natural wonder: the Agua Azul waterfalls. Admire the indigo color of the water, the bright green of the vegetation, the breeze in the air, and the calming sound of the cascades, which all contribute to making this a place that truly showcases the magnificence of Mexico's natural wonders.

Your next visit is to the Misol-Ha waterfall, which cascades from 115 ft (35 m). Enjoy a refreshing dip in the water as you soak up this area's serenity and capture the moment in your photos. Continue to reach Palenque by sunset. As one of Mexico's most renowned archaeological sites, sunset is the ideal time to visit—you'll avoid the crowds, and the sunset provides a spectacular backdrop to learn about the area's history. Afterward, your driver will take you to your accommodation in Palenque. 

Day 4: Discover the Palenque Archaeological Site & Roberto Barrios Waterfalls

Learn how Palenque played a key role in the Maya civilization

Explore the lesser-known archaeological wonders of Palenque today, where you can see how quickly nature can reclaim an entire city. Once a thriving hub of civilization until the seventh century, the city lay hidden beneath the forest until rediscovery and excavation efforts. This UNESCO-designated site now stands as a testament to its historical significance, both regionally and nationally. Archaeologists have determined that Palenque influenced other settlements of the Usumacinta Basin. On a two-hour tour of Palenque's ruins, you'll glimpse into Maya life, with artifacts revealing their myths, rituals, and beliefs.

Afterward, venture an hour outside Palenque to admire the serene Roberto Barrios waterfalls. These falls are renowned for their crystal turquoise waters, enveloping the surroundings in a refreshing mist. Keep an eye out for fish in clear waters, monkeys in the trees, and colorful birds like toucans, parrots, or motmots (clock birds) in the tree canopy above you. Spend time unwinding by the falls, taking a dip, and basking in the tranquil setting before returning to town.

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Day 5: Drive to Campeche via Cenote Azul

Stop at various cenotes in the Yucatán for refreshing swims

Your driver will pick you up this morning for a transfer northwest of Palenque to the walled city of Campeche. Along the way, you'll experience a full day of exploring some of the most famous natural attractions of the Yucatán Peninsula—cenotes. Baptized by the Maya as dz'onot or "water caverns," cenotes are formed by the erosion of the region's limestone, creating countless swimming holes and sinkholes that dot the landscape.

You'll have plenty of free time to enjoy these natural wonders, swimming in the turquoise waters of Cenote Azul or walking a trail that leads to two other scenic cenotes surrounded by beautiful flora and fauna. If you're feeling adventurous, you can try your hand at kayaking or admiring the view from a zipline located 278 feet (85 m) above. At the end of your visit, your driver will continue to the coastal city of Campeche, where you'll spend the night.

Day 6: Cultural Road Trip, Optional Activities in Campeche

Watch locals make jipijapa (straw hats) in the town of Becal

Rise and shine as you set out along the Artisan Royal Road. While not an official road, the route allows travelers to experience the region's Maya culture through different villages in the Campeche region and can be traced to the Spaniards joining the cities of Campeche and Mérida. On this five-hour excursion, you'll begin with a breakfast of a local dish like huevos motuleños (fried eggs on tortillas) in Hecelchakan. Then, witness the artistry of jipijapa (straw hats) in Bécal, admire delicate embroidery in Dzidbalche, and pay your respects at Pomuch Cemetery. Be sure to sample the artisan bread.

The rest of the afternoon is yours to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Campeche at your leisure. Try a local dish to experience Campeche's culinary heritage, influenced by European, Caribbean, and Maya traditions. Stroll through its charming streets, visit Pirate's Alley, and marvel at well-preserved forts built to fend off pirates. Discover the Baroque colonial buildings and enjoy the lively main square, El Zocalo, all best explored on foot. Campeche is a coastal port, so consider a scenic walk along ancient walls and catching a tranquil beach sunset before settling in for the night. 

Day 7: Drive to Mérida via the Uxmal Archaeological Site, Chocolate Museum Tour

Uxmal is known for its Puuc-style architecture and complex layout

This morning, your driver will pick you up and drive you west to Mérida, the capital of Yucatán. The route is about 2.5 hours long, with some exciting stops along the way. Located in the low hills of Yucatán's Puuc region, Uxmal's early structures here date to the sixth century CE, and the city was a major seat of power until its influence waned in the 10th century. Embedded in its ruins are ornate friezes, sculptures, and carvings that archaeologists regard as some of the finest architectural sculptures in the ancient Maya world. You'll see all this and more on a 1.5-hour guided tour.

Afterward, you'll visit nearby Choco-Story, a cacao (cocoa) museum. This is a fundamental ingredient in Mexican cuisine dating back to the days of the ancient Indigenous peoples. Here, you'll learn the history of the cacao crop, taste a traditional spiced chocolate drink, and stroll through the cacao trees at the on-site botanic gardens. After this two-hour excursion, you'll continue to your accommodation in Mérida. Upon arrival, check into your hotel and get your bearings for tomorrow's city exploration. For dinner, sample local delicacies and discover the nightlife scene.

Day 8: Mérida Walking Tour, City Exploration

Walk along the avenue of Paseo de Montejo with museums, restaurants, and monuments

Today, on a guided walking tour, you'll discover Mérida's cultural treasures and the white and pastel colonial-era architecture that designated it as "The White City." 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.

The cathedral is located in Mérida's historic center, overlooking the Plaza Grande (main square), where you'll learn about the city's Spanish-colonial history and Indigenous roots. Other highlights include the 16th-century Municipal Palace, the old Spanish city gates, and Paseo Montejo, the city's wide main avenue, lined with colonial mansions. After the tour, continue your exploration by checking out local markets, the charming Santa Lucía neighborhood, Parque de Santa Lucía, and the Church of Santa Lucía. You can then explore Merida's lively nightlife.

Day 9: Drive to Valladolid via Chichén Itzá, Cenote Swimming at Yodkzonot

Visit the Temple of the Warriors, with impressive columns depicting warriors, jaguars, and other figures

Your day begins with your driver taking you two hours east of Mérida to discover one of the New Seven Wonders of the World: Chichén Itzá. Here, you'll meet an expert guide who will reveal the history and mythology of the ancient Maya world as you take a two-hour tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. From around 600-900 CE, this pre-Columbian Maya city was the most revered religious center and pilgrimage site in the Yucatán Peninsula. Its most iconic attraction is the pyramid of Kukulkán (El Castillo), built in honor of the feathered serpent god, an important deity to the Maya.

From Chichén Itzá, it's a short drive to the rural community of Yokdzonot. In 2005, a group of women residents transformed the cenote in their village into an eco-tourism site, resulting in a beautiful lagoon. The best part is this one is off the tourist trail, meaning you'll avoid crowds. Try to feel the spirituality as you swim; after all, these cenotes were very sacred to the Maya. They were not only primary water sources but also symbols of life, death, rebirth, and fertility. Afterward, head to your accommodation in the Spanish-colonial city of Valladolid.

Day 10: Boat Ride in the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve

The reserve's mangroves, salt flats, lagoons, and estuaries create an ideal environment for birds 

After breakfast, your driver will pick you up to spend some time in nature. Two hours north of Valladolid is Río Lagartos—a town located within the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve—one of the main American flamingo nesting areas in the Yucatán Peninsula. Here you'll meet your guide, who will take you on a boat ride through this natural reserve to discover the mangrove's incredible biodiversity, home to endemic birds like the yellow-lored parrot or the red-vented woodpecker. Along the boat ride, you'll also see Las Coloradas, known as the Pink Lake, which gets its rosy color from the salt concentration.

As part of this tour, you'll also have the chance to indulge in an exfoliating Maya bath in the white clay mounds, which offers numerous benefits to your skin from the sulfur, minerals, salts, and seaweed. Finally, wrap up the day with some free time at one of the many beaches in the area, like Playa Cancunito or Playa Pública. Afterward, you'll return to Valladolid for a typical Yucatecan dinner. Try the lomitos, the longaniza de Valladolid, or the escabeche oriental—simple but delicious dishes that the locals eat regularly.

Day 11: Visit the Ek' Balam Archaeological Site, Swim at Cenote Xcanche

The White House of Reading at Ek' Balam was a place of learning and ceremonial significance

Ready to play archaeologist for the day? Today's itinerary starts with a 30-minute drive from Valladolid to the incredible archaeological site of Ek' Balam, which in Mayan means "Black Jaguar." The site was hidden for centuries by the Yucatán jungle until it was ultimately rediscovered in the 1800s. Spend the morning exploring the fascinating ruins yourself, and even climb up 95 feet (29 m) to the highest point, where you'll be rewarded for your efforts with incredible views of the surrounding jungle. Bonus, Ek' Balam tends to be less crowded than other ancient sites on the peninsula, so you can take your time.

After the visit, take a break for lunch. When you're feeling reenergized, take a 30-minute walk or drive less than 10 minutes to get to the beautiful Cenote Xcanche, one of the many cenotes in the area. Here, you can swim in the cool but refreshing turquoise waters. When you're ready, head back to your hotel in Valladolid for the evening. 

Day 12: Transfer to Isla Holbox, Bioluminescent Kayak Tour

Explore Isla Holbox, which is part of a protected biosphere reserve

A private driver will pick you up at your hotel in Valladolid to take you two hours east to Chiquilá in the state of Quintana Roo. This is where you'll take the 30-minute ferry across a lagoon to Isla Holbox, a car-free island located between the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. As part of the Yum Balam Biosphere Reserve, Holbox and its surrounding waters are home to flamingoes, pelicans, and whale sharks. Your driver will be waiting for you to take you to your accommodation, where you can prepare for the highlight of the day: an evening kayak excursion to observe nature's beauty in action.

Tonight, admire the grandness of the sea and sky on a two-hour kayak trip into the ocean off the island's shores. The journey is short and easy enough for any level of experience. As the trip begins, look to the sky to spot constellations, planets, and galaxies. If you're lucky, you might glimpse a shooting star. As you continue through the water, you may notice light coming off the water itself—this shine is caused by bioluminescent phytoplankton, which glows when it is disturbed. Afterward, return to your accommodation in Isla Holbox for a good night's rest and to prepare for an exciting day on the water.

Day 13: Speedboat Tour, Snorkeling in Cuevones

Unwind on one of Holbox's unspoiled beaches

Embark on an exciting half-day expedition to Cabo Catoche, the northernmost tip of the Yucatán Peninsula, with today's six-hour speedboat tour. Meet your local English-speaking guide and sail to this pristine area where the Caribbean Sea meets the Gulf of Mexico. Here, you'll encounter unspoiled beaches and remarkable marine life. During this adventure, you can fish with the captain and your guides, who will offer traditional fishing techniques to catch the perfect fish.

Afterward, head to Cuevones, an area ideal for swimming and snorkeling among colorful fish and coral formations. Keep your eyes peeled for marine creatures like cat sharks, hawksbill turtles, octopuses, and lobsters hidden beneath the rocks. Lastly, unwind on a secluded beach, savoring the day's catch transformed into a delectable ceviche. If the tide is favorable, your return journey will take you through the mangroves to the other side of Isla Holbox. Return to your accommodation happily exhausted from your adventures on the water, and soak up the last rays of sun on the penultimate day of your trip. 

Day 14: Drive to Cancún, Depart

Say hasta luego (see you later) to Mexico today 
It's time to say goodbye to Mexico! On your final day, a driver will take you to the Port of Holbox, where you'll ferry back to Chiquilá. From there, a driver will take you three hours southwest to the airport in Cancún, passing through Yucatecan villages and nature with views of the Caribbean Sea along the way. Depending on your departure time, you may have time to enjoy a final beach stroll or sea swim before you hop on your flight home. Adios!

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Map of Mexico's Natural & Archaeological Wonders: Chiapas to the Yucatán - 14 Days
Map of Mexico's Natural & Archaeological Wonders: Chiapas to the Yucatán - 14 Days