You are planning to visit the Yucatan peninsula but would like to avoid the touristic and crowded places ? Welcome ! This guide is an alternative and non-touristy itinerary in the Yucatan peninsula. This area has so much more to offer than Cancun, and other similar places denatured by mass tourism. Still in this non-touristy itinerary in the Yucatan Peninsula, you will find Cenotes, archeological sites and Caribbean Sea. All the trip is doable by bus.
When I am traveling, I tend to focus on less-known and underrated places. Nevertheless, there are some places I couldn’t miss due to their historical and cultural importance, as the archeological site of Chichen-Itza. This is why I chose to mention it in this itinerary (little disclaimer).
1. Merida, first step of the itinerary in Yucatan
Merida is the capital of the Yucatan and a beautiful colonial and colorful city. Merida reminded us of Querétaro with its colonial architecture. We spent two days there, and I have to admit that I have a mixed-feeling about Merida. The city center is lovely and the streets are colorful. It was a great place to photograph. Nevertheless, I didn’t expect so much tourists. This is too bad, because I think the city is losing its authenticity, and I had the feeling that everything was thought for tourists. You don’t see locals actually living in the center.
On the other hands, the location is convenient because from Merida you can easily visit archeological sites, cenotes and some other good spots on the coast. Indeed you are only one hour from the famous vestige of Chichen Itza, and from the site of Uxmal. There are also many Cenotes around (more info below). We also advised me to go to Rio Lagartos (2 hours and a half from Merida) but I didn’t had the time.
2. The 3 Cenotes of Cuzama, a unique experience of the itinerary
On day 3, I visited the Cenotes of Cuzama. This is probably one of the most stunning things I’ve seen during this trip to the Yucatan Peninsula. The Cenotes are water caves that have been created when a meteorite (the one that contributed to the disappearance of the dinosaurs) hit Mexico a looooong time ago.. And this is why you can find plenty of Cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula.
Moreover, I had a great time and unique experience due to the specificity of the location. It used to be an hacienda, so the old rails that were used to transport the henequen are now use to transport visitors on carts drawn by horses. It is the only way to visit the site. So no car or motorcycle is allowed, which helps to preserve the place. The visit takes around 2 hours and a half, and you get to visit 3 cenotes. You have around 30 minutes to enjoy each of them. It was not crowded at all as the most famous cenotes. We even had the opportunity to enjoy two of them completely alone.
To get there : This is located about an hour from Merida. We took a colectivo to get there (a bus line between Merida and Cuzama). The timeline is approximative, you leave when the colectivo is full. Once arrived at Cuzama, you will easily find motorcycle taxi to take you to the entrance of the site.
3. Chichen-Itza, the unmissable stop of the itinerary in Yucatan
On day 4, we left Merida to visit the archeological site of Chichen-Itza. To get there, we traveled by bus with the ADO company. The vestige of Chichen-Itza is the inevitable stop of any itinerary in the Yucatan Peninsula. This is the most famous and most touristic archeological site of the region. So you can expect to be surrounded by a lot of people of course.
I chose to add it on the blog because it was part of my itinerary and I still advise to visit it because this is the kind of monuments you can’t miss. Chichen-Itza is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and also one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
To discover more archeological sites in Mexico, click here.
TIPS: I advise to visit it as early as possible to avoid the crowd.
4. Valladolid, an authentic town to visit during your trip to the Yucatan Peninsula
After visiting Chichen-Itza, we headed to the town of Valladolid, still by bus. Valladolid is one of the Pueblos Magicos. There are 121 pueblos Magicos in Mexico, “magical” towns, that are acknowledged as such because of their natural beauty, cultural wealth, traditions, folklore and historical relevance. In my opinion, Valladolid is similar to Merida, with colorful streets, a colonial architecture, only it is smaller and is more charming. Moreover, the town is central which means you can easily join different places from there.
I visited another Pueblo Magico in the state of Mexico, which is called Valle de Bravo, click here to know more about it.
5. Cobà, a non-touristy place to stay for a night
On day 5, I visited Cobà. We went there in order to visit its archeological site. We also decided to book a night there to avoid the crowd of Tulum.
It was a lovely surprise and a great experience as the place is really calm and peaceful (also way wheaper than in Tulum). We booked a very nice hotel next to the lake. That was super relaxing and we could enjoy its pool. It was also really well located to access on foot the archeological site.
6. The archaeological site of Cobà
@marionrockstheworldThe following day, we visited the archeological site. The difference with the other vestiges as Chichen-Itza (5th century) or Teotihuacan, is that the ruins have not been so well preserved, mainly due to the weather condition. Indeed, the vestiges are in the middle of the jungle, so the atmosphere is really different. When we visited it, there was not so much tourists. I still advise you to visit it early in the morning, because some tours are organized from Cancun or Tulum.
7. Puerto Morelos, the Caribbean Sea without the mass tourism
On the same day, we left Cobà and travel to Puerto Morelos. We stayed there until the end of our stay to enjoy the beach and the caribbean sea. Puerto Morelos is a little town between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, accessible by bus, but it’s much less known, and mainly mexican people are going there for their holidays. So you won’t meet so much international people.
There are many activities to do, like snorkeling and diving for instance. It is a relaxing place with vacation vibes. We stayed in the town, which is about 3km from the beach. It’s less touristic and you get to meet locals. There is a colectivo between the city center and the beach but you can also bike there easily.
This was my one-week non-touristy itinerary in the Yucatan Peninsula (and doable by bus). Would you have other underrated places in mind ? Feel free to share it with me ! You can also follow more of my adventure on my Instagram.
Discover another travel guide in Mexico : Itinerary for one week trip around Mexico City