If we only had 2 weeks: Mexico itinerary (Yucatán Peninsula)
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Mexico is probably a lot bigger and more diverse than many people realise, and there is un montón more to it than the beach parties of Cancún (though those do sound pretty unforgettable). Now, with 2 weeks in Mexico you’re unfortunately not going to get to every great town and coastline that’s on offer, but you can certainly have a good crack at the versatility of the Yucatán Peninsula. So that’s where this 2 week Mexico itinerary is going to take you!
I’ll also run you through the best time to go to Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, and what to do in you have a little longer than 2 weeks in the area.
After reading this 2 week Mexico itinerary, you may also want to have a skim of:
The Yucatán Peninsula is a cape to the east of the country, which spans the states of Yucatán, Campeche and Quintana Roo. The land juts out to separate the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea. And that means… you’ll have 2 weeks in Mexico’s most tropical climate where you can folly in insanely blue water lined by clean, white sands!
Some areas of the Yucatán Peninsula can get very touristy, but it also has corners that are completely rustic with not much going on, so the destinations I’m suggesting as part of this 2 week Mexico itinerary are a balance of being popular with tourists without being completely over-run by tourism.
This tourism is good for one thing, though, the tourism infrastructure in Mexico’s most Easterly cape is pretty hot. If you don’t fancy using the local ADO public bus service (which is very high quality, by the way), there are always tourist shuttles and private transfers to be had. Car hire in Mexico is also pretty reasonable, and although the roads aren’t always perfectly tarmac-ed, it’s an easy bit of the country to drive in.
Most flights coming into this part of the world fly into Cancún, so that’s where my 2 week Mexico itinerary is going to start and finish at. I’d recommend booking a taxi or shuttle ahead of time to get from Cancún to Chiquilá even though it will be a little dearer. That’s because although there are many transportation offers from the airport, wait times for shuttles and buses can be long with no information, and we’ve heard of people falling for tourist traps as they’re coming through Arrivals.
Don’t buy tours at the airport, either, for some of them the ticket you actually buy is for a presentation about the tourist attraction you thought you were going to, then you have to buy the actual ticket after the show. Naughty, naughty.
What’s the best time to go to Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula?
There are a few things you’ll want to plan your 2 weeks in Mexico around. Firstly, USA school holidays bring in hordes of tourists from the States, so things get a lot busier around Christmas, Spring Break (March/April) and Summer.
Secondly, over the past few years the shores of the Riviera Maya (Cancún, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, etc.) have been affected by seasonal Sargassum, which is when overwhelming amounts of smelly seaweed wash up on shore and kill a fair chunk of the water’s ecosystem. This happens roughly between April and August, and is definitely not the best time to go to Mexico.
Thirdly, this part of Mexico is in the tropics, and there’s no beautifully-warm gain without pain, which in this case means hurricanes. Hurricane season for the Caribbean is at its peak in September to October.
With all this in mind, lots of people believe that the best time to go to Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula is in the November shoulder season.
2 week Mexico itinerary for the Yucatán Peninsula
Here’s a quick run-down of my suggested 2 week Mexico itinerary with recommended places to stay; below I’ll tell you more about what to do in each of these destinations.
Why not kick off your 2 weeks in Mexico with a little splash of paradise? Isla Holbox is just a little off the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. It’s famed for its stunning beaches with hammocks hanging in the shallows, and the whale sharks that inhabit the waters around it from June to September (the island gets a lot busier then!). Rent a bicycle and take it round the island before experiencing the incredible bioluminescent plankton after dark.
To get to Isla Holbox from Cancún, you need to get the 2-2.5 hour bus (or a private transfer) to Chiquilá, from which you can catch a ferry to the island up until 8:30pm. If you arrive in Cancún in the afternoon/evening, you may have to stay a night in the city before heading to Isla Holbox in the morning. You have enough time there, either way.
Days 5-6: Valladolid
Colour, charm, cenotes; Valladolid has it all. This is a small city 2 hours inland from Chiquilá by bus. It’s well worth a couple of days soaking up the history and diving into the cool blue waters of its cenotes. While you’re here, it’s a great chance to also visit the ancient ruins of Chichén Itzá and Cobá to see the wonders that are Mayan pyramids. In the evening, watch the lightshow at the old convent, and then head to the plaza for a typical Mexican dinner.
Days 7-10: Tulum
It’s time in your 2 weeks in Mexico to visit the Bali of Latin America! Tulum gets this reputation due to its boutique hotels, gorgeous beach clubs and stretches of white sand backed by jungly lushness. It’s the place to be in Mexico! There are more ruins here, too. Tulum Ruins have a bit of an edge as they sit right on the beach. You can lie on the beach during certain hours when the tide is out.
Days 11-14: Lake Bacalar
I’m going to finish your 2 week Mexico itinerary with a place to chill to the max before heading home via Cancún. Lake Bacalar is known as the lake of seven colours, and is an amazing place to explore on a stand-up paddleboard, a kayak or a boat. Don’t miss a stay – or at least a visit – to one of the eco-hotels with jetties on the lake’s edge.
Want to visit Mexico’s other regions?
Of course, there are plenty more places that you can look to spend your 2 weeks in Mexico. Ciudad de México/Mexico City is an up-and-coming hotspot amongst backpackers for its culture, food and bars. It’s a fantastic alternative city to fly into if Cancún isn’t really your vibe, and as the capital it’s obviously a gateway to the rest of the country.
To make the most of your 2 weeks in Mexico, one of travellers’ favourite small group tour companies, Intrepid, runs a jam-packed 2 weeks Mexico itinerary that takes you all the way from Mexico City through the highlands and over to the Yucatán Peninsula in just 15 days, with incredible stops like Oaxaca and Agua Azul waterfall on the way. The advantage of going with a small group tour is that their efficiency and private transport means that you can fit more into your time here.
Got more than 2 weeks in Mexico?
If you have an extra one or two weeks for your Mexico itinerary, there are a few more places you could add to your trip. Check out Mérida for its gorgeous colonial mansions, and if you feel like having a party, there really is no better place than Cancún.
If you’re not yet sold on a 2 weeks in Mexico, and want to hone in on where in Latin America to spend your 14 days of holiday, you might also want to check some of my other itineraries out before booking those flights!