Mexico is a huge country that hosts a multitude of awesome archaeological, cultural, and natural sites.
To help you organize your trip, here is the best 14 days itinerary in Mexico to see the must places of interest of the Yucatan Peninsula and Chiapas.
This trip begins with the Yucatan Peninsula in Cancun, and then brings you inland to Ek Balam, the famous Chichen Itza, Merida and Campeche.
For the second part of the trip, you will arrive in Chiapas to discover Palenque, Bonampak and Yaxchilan. Then, let’s go to San Cristóbal de las Casas, Balamku and the site of Calakmul lost in the jungle.
You will finally return to the Mayan Riviera to enjoy the famous beaches of Tulum before leaving from Cancun.
For each stage, you will also find some practical advice.
So, what to see and do in Mexico in 2 weeks?
1ST STAGE: CANCUN (1 day)
Many international flights arrive directly in Cancun.
A tourist city with a pleasant climate and beautiful beaches, it is the perfect starting point for this 2-week trip to Mexico.
For your 2-week road trip to Mexico, we strongly recommend that you rent a car : this way you can travel as you want and discover all the secrets Mexico hides.
This is the best way to make the most of your stay.
And if you prefer to take public transports, you will need to organize your travel between the different stages, otherwise, you’ll miss some places.
So, go to your hotel to drop off your luggage and enjoy Cancun because you are leaving the next morning!
Here are the best activities in Cancun:
- Enjoy the beaches of Cancun like Tortugas, Los Delfines, Playa Langosta, Playa Linda, Playa Caracol, and Playa Marlin.
- For cultural visits, we recommend the Mayan Museum and the archaeological site El Rey.
- Snorkel or dive at the MUSA (Cancun Underwater Museum).
Cancun is also considered the best party spot in Mexico. Here are some :
- Xoximilco Cancún is the perfect place to discover the Mexican party culture, with dance, music, typical food and drinks.
- Coco Bongo Club is a mythical place with a 4 hour show with DJ and open bar. You can buy the ticket by clicking here. Better take the gold ticket for VIP access, seating, table service and top of the line alcohol.
- City Nightclub is the largest nightclub in the country, and it is always packed!
- Alternatively, simply go to the Cancun Party Zone on Kukulcan Boulevard to make your choice.
Spend the night in Cancun .
2ND STAGE: EK BALAM AND CHICHÉN ITZÀ (1-2 days)
After enjoying the warm Caribbean water, we suggest you visit the impressive Mayan cities of Ek Balam and Chichen Itza.
In the morning
Ek Balam was an important administrative centre and a true cultural capital during the Mayan Empire.
There are 40 structures between temples and palaces, but its most massive building is the Acropolis : this beautiful building is the largest pyramid in northern Yucatan.
If you are able, climb to the top of the pyramid because the view of the other buildings and the surrounding jungle is superb!
If you are traveling by car, we advise you to make a refreshing stop at Dzitnup Cenotes (Xkeken and Samula) or X-Canché before driving from Ek Balam to Chichen Itza.
In the afternoon
Direction Chichen Itza which was the main religious center of Yucatan in the 10th century.
Classified as an UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, it is a must on a two-week trip to Mexico.
Here are some activities in Chichen Itza :
- The Kukulcan Temple or “El Castillo”, the main building of Chichen Itza and one of the most important pyramids in the Mayan world.
- The astronomical observatory or “El Caracol” from where the Maya studied the stars.
- The Mayan pelota game, an important ritual game that ended in sacrifice, which is the largest field found in Mesoamerica.
- Noches de Kukulcan which is an impressive sound and light show at night (7pm or 8pm depending on the season).
If you go by yourself, it is better to end the day in Merida and spend the night there .
If you take a tour from Cancun, the excursion will take you back to your hotel in Cancun.
The next day you can take an ADO bus from Cancun to Merida.
If you don’t have a car, an option would be to visit Ek Balam and Chichen Itza via a guided tour.
3RD STAGE: MERIDA, UXMAL AND KABAH (1 day)
In the morning
Start the day with a visit to the pretty colonial city of Merida, capital of the state of Yucatan.
Visit the Plaza Grande and its free historical buildings such as the Macay Museum, the Cathedral and the House of Montejo.
Then head to Calle 64, the best place to admire its colorful houses!
You can also take a trip to the local market to discover the best of traditional Yucatan cuisine.
This trip to Mexico is also an opportunity for you to discover the local cuisine. If you are already familiar with the specialties, you will be surprised at the taste of avocado there, especially if you are used to European avocados.
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In the afternoon
Go to Uxmal, one of the largest cities on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Nowadays, this city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This Puuc-style Mayan city stands out for the richness of the details of its structures! Some superb pictures have to be taken right there!
The site is dominated by the Pyramid of the Soothsayer, built in honour of the rain god “Chaac”, but there are several other attractions to see such as the Governor’s Palace, the Quadrilateral of Nuns and the Great Pyramid.
After finishing the visit to Uxmal, we propose you to go to Kabah, another Puuc style Mayan site, smaller, much less touristy but still awesome and beautiful!
We recommend you a visit to Kabah to those who make this 2 week itinerary in Mexico by car or organized tour as there is no public transportation between Uxmal and Kabah.
There is one exception : on Sundays, a bus leaves Merida at 8:00 am and travels through the 5 sites of the Puuc Road (Labna, Xlapak, Sayil, Kabah and Uxmal). Each stop lasts about 30 minutes, except Uxmal 2 hours. The bus returns to Merida at 4pm.
At the end of the afternoon, let’s go to Campeche to spend the night there.
4TH STAGE: CAMPECHE AND EDZNA (1 day)
In the morning
Discover the small, colourful historic centre of the city of Campeche, capital of the state of Campeche.
Start with the Baluarte San Francisco to walk along the city walls, watch the city from above and take great pictures!
Go on to the Baluarte San Carlos to visit the city museum, or go directly to the Mayan Architecture Museum, which contains some magnificent treasures!
Walk around the main plaza where you will find the cathedral, El Palacio cultural center and Casa No. 6.
The path continues to Edzna, one of the most important Mayan sites in Yucatan.
A city of great political, economic and religious power, it was one of the most developed pre-Columbian cities in Mexico!
You will discover among others the Great Acropolis with the Palace of Cinco Pisos, the Small Acropolis, the Temple of the Masks and the Palace.
In addition to being in a good condition and well conserved, Edzca has relatively few tourists and that could be interesting if you are not comfortable with crowded places.
5TH STAGE: THE RUINS OF PALENQUE (1 day)
Today, leave the Yucatan Peninsula to arrive in the state of Chiapas.
Strategically located between the mountains and the coast, Palenque was an important trading place, which allowed it to establish strategic relationships with other large cities such as Tikal in Guatemala.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, today it is one of the most important destinations in Mexico.
The city is hidden in the jungle and offers a unique setting with the cries of monkeys in the background.
It is estimated that only 10% of the site would be clean, yet there is already a lot to see in Palenque:
- The museum of Palenque, which is very complete and allows you to understand the importance of the site and the local culture.
- The Palace, which is the largest complex in the city with houses, patios, etc..
- The Temple of Inscriptions and its pyramid that housed the burial chamber of Governor K’inich Janaab’ Pakal I, whose impressive reproduction is in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.
- The Group of the Cross, which includes the Temple of the Cross, the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Leafy Cross.
Spend the night in Palenque .
6TH STAGE: BONAMPAK AND YAXCHILAN (1 day)
In the surroundings of Palenque, there are also the sites of Bonampak and Yaxchilán.
Bonampak, “painted walls” in Mayan, has beautiful murals from the 8th century.
Its Temple of Paintings contains three rooms that describe the life of the time (priests & nobles, war & prisoners, human sacrifices, dancers, customs, etc.).
These murals have an inestimable value as they are the most complete works of a pre-Hispanic civilization discovered today!
Yaxchilan, located on the banks of the Usumacinta River, was an important city that dominated the region. It is known for its sculptures considered to be masterpieces of Mayan art.
The site features palaces and temples around the main square with a terrace overlooking the river.
7th stage: San Cristóbal de las Casas (2 days)
In the morning
Let’s go to San Cristobal de las Casas.
In order not to go too fast, we suggest you devote the whole day to the journey.
Along the way, you will find several Chiapas must-see places of interest, such as:
- Misol Ha : It’s a beautiful warm waterfall where you can swim in. You can even go behind the waterfall to explore the cellar!
- Agua Azul Waterfalls : located in a biosphere reserve, these small waterfalls with opaque blue water offer a magnificent spectacle and a perfect place to take pictures.
- Toniná : a Mayan city whose 75 m high pyramid is higher than the pyramid of the sun in Teotihuacan. The view from the top is magnificent!
Visit San Cristobal de las Casas and its surroundings.
Colourful colonial city, it’s a must step on a 2-week stay in Mexico!
Start the day by visiting two traditional Tzotzil villages:
Zinacantan is known for the beauty of its colorful and flowery handicrafts. You will be able to discover the traditional manufacturing techniques. Also, don’t miss the San Lorenzo church in its main square.
San Juan Chamula is known for its mystical church. Once inside, you will see an impressive religious syncretism (Catholic and Mayan). It is very important to be respectful and not to take a picture, it is very badly seen!
Come back to San Cristobal de las Casas.
For lunch, you will find on the pedestrian street Real de Guadalupe the best restaurants, many of them with terraces.
After lunch, walk up to the Church of Guadalupe and then head to the Mayan World Textiles Centre. It houses a collection of 500 magnificent pieces of Mayan textiles, mostly from Chiapas and Guatemala.
You can also take advantage of this opportunity to stroll through the handicraft market, which is held right next to the entrance.
Finally, don’t miss the Zocalo, the city’s central and lively plaza.
Spend the night in San Cristobal de las Casas .
8TH STAGE: BALAMKU AND CALAKMUL (2 days)
For the rest of this 14 or 15 day tour in Mexico, you will have to go back to Cancun again.
Go to the archaeological site of Balamku.
It is surrounded by a dense jungle, which contains several structures including the House of the Four Kings.
But its main attraction is its Frieze of the Universe, a 16m long piece that represents the universe and its balance with jaguars, snakes and a lizard.
Balamku is located 9 hours drive from San Cristobal. If you leave early in the morning, you will be able to make the visit the same day because the site is rather small and it will be fast.
However, if it gets late, go directly to Xpujil.
The next day, you can combine the visit of Ek Balam with Calakmul, if you wish.
Overnight in Xpujil or Chicanna .
Visit Calakmul, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site
Calakmul was one of the most powerful cities in the Mayan world and at its peak counted more than 50,000 inhabitants on a territory of 20 km².
It is an incredible site to explore because there are very few tourists and it is allowed to climb to the top of the pyramids. What a great way to feel like a real adventurer!
Among all the attractions of Calakmul, you should not miss Structure II, a 50m pyramid, which is one of the most important in the Mayan world. Structure I, a 40m pyramid, also offers a breathtaking view!
After the visit, departure to Tulum to spend the night .
We recommend arriving in Calakmul towards the opening at 8am because the sounds of the jungle are impressive and you don’t get eaten by mosquitoes yet.
The visit should last between 3 and 4 hours, so if you arrive early, you can easily get to Tulum before nightfall.
If you have time, it is also possible to visit 3 Mayan sites along the way: Becan, Xpujil and Chicanna.
9TH STAGE: TULUM (2 days)
Drastic change of scenery for this great big step of your trip to Mexico in 13 or 14 days since we return to the Mayan Riviera.
Tulum makes you dream with its long white sand beaches, its famous Mayan ruins facing the Caribbean Sea and its bohemian chic atmosphere.
Start with a visit to the archaeological site of Tulum.
For lunch, let’s go to the Tulum Beach Strip, where there are many restaurants and pretty shops.
It’s time to enjoy the beach! Between fine sand and transparent water, Tulum’s beaches are worthy of a postcard.
I recommend Playa Paraiso or Xpu-Ha, or less touristy, Xcacel located in a nature reserve.
In the evening, Tulum is the perfect place to party and have a drink.
Spend the night in Tulum .
Explore the Sian Ka’an reserve in the Tulum region.
Both a Biosphere Reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is an immense paradise of biodiversity covering more than 5000km².
The two main access points are Muyil and Punta Allen which offer two very different experiences.
Punta Allen is ideal for enjoying the beach, salt water lakes, snorkeling in the coral reefs and even seeing dolphins.
The best way to visit Punta Allen from Tulum is to take a day trip. I recommend this tour which includes round trip transfer from the hotel, boat tour (3h) to watch dolphins and turtles, swimming and lunch.
Muyil is much closer to Tulum and the tour is easily done in half a day. By public transport, take an ADO bus to Chunyaxché and get off at Muyil (20min).
You can also take an organized excursion from Tulum. I recommend this tour which includes the transfer from the hotel, lunch, the ruins of Muyil and the boat tour in the freshwater lagoons.
Another option for your 2nd day in Tulum is to visit Coba, a Mayan city as important as Chichen Itza.
It is easy to reach from Tulum (45 min by car, 1 hour by ADO bus) and bikes can be rented on the spot!
10TH STAGE: CANCUN (1 day) – Back to starting point!
To complete your two-week itinerary in Mexico, you will need to return to Cancun, as it is the only international airport in the region.
If you have time, you can take the opportunity to visit the beaches of Cancun, the archaeological site El Meco, the Mayan Museum or Avenida Kukulkan.
Here are the latest tips to make the most of it:
- It’s an easily adaptable itinerary, so for a 2 weeks tour in Mexico, you just have to remove some of the stages (like Bonampak, San Cristobal or Calakmul).
- Before setting out on the road, make sure you download the GPS maps as there is not always a network signal.
- As a general rule, it is strongly recommended to avoid driving at night. This is even more valid in Chiapas, especially on the 199 (between Palenque and San Cristobal de las Casas) and the 307 (between Palenque and Bonampak, Yaxchilan).
- If you are travelling by ADO bus, it is better to buy the tickets in advance on the website as they are cheaper than on site.
- Bring cash as many sites do not accept cards and ATMs are not always easy to find.
When to go to Mexico
It all depends on your itinerary as Mexico is huge and very diverse.
In general, it is not recommended to travel during the rainy and hurricane season, which is between July and October.
This will also allow you to avoid heavy tourist traffic.
If you are following this 2-week itinerary in Mexico, it is best to leave between November and April, as this is also the dry season.
This way, you know everything about this Mexican itinerary! Have a great stay!