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A Travel Guide for the Yucatán Peninsula

Find out where to stay and what to eat in this gorgeous part of Mexico

August 5, 2022

Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula is the setting for tropical beaches, Mayan ruins, mysterious cenotes, and incredible cuisine. Dividing the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, the region covers the state of Yucatán as well as Campeche and Quintana Roo.

You may choose to stay in one place during your trip or spend a couple of nights in different locations. Here’s what to expect when you visit the Yucatán Peninsula.

Best towns in the Yucatán Peninsula

The Yucatán Peninsula contains seaside resorts and inland cities. Wherever you choose to stay, rest assured that you can visit the ruins of the pre-Columbian city of Chichén Itza as a day trip. You can also look forward to planning a fusion of cultural, outdoor, and culinary activities.


Cancún is the location of the predominant airport in the Yucatán Peninsula and is a popular base for a Mexican vacation. The Hotel Zone (Zona Hotelera) is lined with luxury hotels and all-inclusive resorts convenient for the city’s best beaches, restaurants, and amenities. While staying in Cancún you can take a day trip to Isla Mujeres and visit smaller Yucatán towns.

Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is a popular alternative to Cancún. It’s smaller but equally well-equipped with resorts and boutique accommodation. Tourist attractions include jungle adventure parks, swimmable cenotes, and snorkeling/scuba diving excursions.


Situated a 2-hour drive south of Cancún, postcard-pretty Tulum is one of the most attractive places to stay or visit in the Yucatán Peninsula. The town contains the Tulum Archaeological Zone where you can see what remains of the original Mayan coastal city. Tulum Beach is teeming with luxurious resorts and unique accommodations with the quieter neighborhoods sitting the further south you go.


There’s more to the Yucatán Peninsula than its stunning beaches, as the state capital sets out to prove. Mérida is an inland city near the west coast with a vibrant zocolo brimming with plazas, museums, churches, and cafes. Many of the activities are free and you can spend hours exploring the white and pastel-hued buildings of this pretty spot.


Valladolid is another small city with a peaceful vibe and beautiful historic architecture including the 16th-century Convent of San Bernardino of Siena. Brush up on your knowledge at one of the museums in town – these are devoted to tequila, chocolate, and the cenotes. Valladolid is the closest city to Chichén Itza and is ideal for an early start.

What to eat in the Yucatán Peninsula

Cuisine in the Yucatán Peninsula is representative of Mexican food. However, this region has its distinct approach to cooking and there are certain dishes you should pay special attention to.

  • Sopa de lima is a spicy soup dish that blends chicken, pork, or beef with green chilli, lime, tortilla chips, and fresh herbs. It’s often served with avocado.
  • Huevos Motuleño is a typical Yucatán breakfast dish consisting of eggs, tortillas, black beans, and cheese dressed in a delicious tomato-based sauce.
  • Papadzules are the Yucatán Peninsula’s reimagining of enchiladas. Corn tortillas are prepared with a coating of pumpkin-seed sauce and topped with hard-boiled eggs.
  • Cochinita pibil is a traditional dish consisting of orange-marinated pork cooked with spices and served in banana leaves.

The best time to visit the Yucatán Peninsula is between December and April. Contact me when you are ready to book your winter sun getaway.

Ready to embark on your own journey to the extraordinary?