Spending Three Days in Tulum, Mexico

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Other than a wild weekend in Cancun, I hadn’t experienced too much of the Riviera Maya, so when planning my recent trip to the area, I was eager to see as much as possible. After spending time in Playa del Carmen, I headed to Tulum in a colectivo ( public van ).

I had loooong been hearing travelers and bloggers rave about the town’s bohemian beauty. And it turns out they were right – Tulum is an absolutely magical town that I will return to again and again.

If you are able to spend four or five days here, I say do it. That’s the most ideal. But if you’re not, no worries! It is possible to pack everything in in three days.

Here’s how:


9 AM: Eat breakfast at Raw Love

I loooove a good raw vegan meal and Raw Love is the best of the best. It’s located on the main beach road and, in typical Tulum fashion, in the jungle and under a palapa roof.

If you need more motivation, check out the menu. Super-coco smoothie made with coconut water & meat, spirulina and dates? Pair that with some coconut yogurt with fresh berries, and you’ve got yourself a killer first breakfast in Tulum.

Raw Love - 3 Days in Tulum

11 AM: Explore cenotes with Adventure Tour Center

Kick off your time in Tulum by experiencing the region’s most beautiful natural phenomena.

Cenotes are crystal clear pools of turquoise water formed when a cave collapses in on itself. People come from alllll over the world to snorkel and scuba dive in the Riviera Maya’s cenotes, so they are a must-do while you’re here. There are hundreds of cenotes in the area, but the most popular are Ik KilGran Cenote and Dos Ojos.

To read more about the tour I went on with Adventure Tour Center, go here. I highly, highly recommend this family-owned company.

Cenotes - 3 Days in Tulum Cenotes - 3 Days in Tulum Cenotes - 3 Days in Tulum

6 PM: Eat dinner at Gitano

There are a myriad of fantastic restaurants in Tulum, but Gitano ( gypsy ) was hands down my favorite dining experience.

It is the epitome of Tulum – laid-back and bohemian, yet chic beyond belief. It’s nestled in the jungle and filled with distressed wood tables & handmade dishes. A florescent pink sign marks its entrance and a huge, sparkling disco ball hangs from the trees inside. Creative, digital nomad types sip mezcal cocktails while swaying in long maxi dresses.

Walking into Gitano, you realize suddenly that you are entering an incredibly magical place.

Gitano - 3 Days in Tulum

Go beyond a simple margarita and order a craft mezcal cocktail from Gitano’s expansive list. I recommend the Gypsy Disco ( mezcal, rum, basil grenadine ). If you’re not a mezcal person, opt for a bottle of wine.

Order the hummus ( it is the best I have ever had ) and at least two of the specialty tacos. The suckling pig tacos are to die for.

Gitano - 3 Days in Tulum
Gitano -3 Days in Tulum

9 PM: Grab drinks at a local hangout

I happened upon Mateo’s completely randomly. My friend and I were coming back from dinner, passed by it, looked at each other and said “I could drink.” We walked up to the bar, ordered two Sols and were immediately enveloped in conversation by the others at the bar. Two hours later, we made great friends with some locals, a few travelers like us and a couple of expats. We also ended up with two free t-shirts from the owner!

This bar is certainly not part of the glamorous Tulum, but I always love meeting locals and making authentic connections when traveling and this seems like it is the best bar in the area to do so.

( If you go, ask for the owner and tell him Christina & Britni say hi!! )

Bar - 3 Days in Tulum


7 AM: Eat a fruit popsicle for breakfast

Head to La Flor de Michoacan for Tulum’s best paletas de fruta ( fruit popsicles ). There’s a wide range of flavors and they’re made entirely of fresh fruit, so there’s no reason to feel even the slightest bit guilty.

Paletas - 3 Days in TulumPaletas - 3 Days in Tulum

8 AM: Explore the Mayan ruins

You have to fit the ruins into one of your three days in Tulum. If you’re a big history buff, you’ll love exploring the ruins for hours on end. And if you kiiiind of couldn’t care less ( like me! ), you can squeeze everything in 45 minutes.

Travel tip: Go to the ruins obscenely early if you want photos without hundreds of people in them! In fact, this applies for any popular site. Go when nobody else wants to go 🙂

Ruins - 3 Days in Tulum

1 PM: Relax on the beach

Even though you’re only here for three days, you need to dedicate a couple of hours to this because the beaches in Tulum are notoriously beautiful. White sand, turquoise water that is three distinct shades of turquoise and a perfectly warm sun … This is the recipe for heaven, trust me.

Beach - 3 Days in Tulum

6 PM: Eat dinner at Posada Margherita

Although I came here for breakfast and did enjoy my meal, I have heard incredible things about Posada Margherita’s wonderful Italian dinner fare. Head here around 6 pm to first explore Posada’s small boutique filled with beautiful jewelry and trinkets. Then settle in at a table on the beach and enjoy Tulum’s best Italian food.

For my full review of Posada Margherita and for more dreamy photos like the below, go here.

Posada Margherita - 3 Days in Tulum Posada Margherita - 3 Days in Tulum Posada Margherita - 3 Days in Tulum

10 PM: Party at Papaya Playa Project

Papaya Playa Project is not only one of Tulum’s best hotels ( this is why ). It’s also the perfect place to head to on a Friday or Saturday night. The hotel attracts a young crowd that is more than eager to spend a night at the beach club, sipping on strong drinks from the multiple bars and dancing to music spun by local DJs.

I was fortunate enough to be staying at the Project during their Full Moon Party and had maaaaaybe too much fun!


8AM: Do morning yoga on the beach

Sweat off that hangover! Tulum is well-known for its yoga scene, so there is no shortage of options here. If you’re staying at Papaya Playa Project ( which you should be ), there’s free beach yoga every morning at 8 am. You can also head to Maya Tulum and pay $15 to drop in for a class.

12 PM: Eat lunch in Tulum town

Ok, important tip: You cannot go to Tulum and only eat at the restaurants in Tulum Beach. As wonderful as those restaurants are ( and they are wonderful ), they are geared toward visitors and are expensive AF compared to pretty much anywhere else in the area.

You need to head to Tulum Town to eat truly authentic Mexican food. Wander down the main road ( Chetemal – Cancun ), find Antojitos El Chiapaneca or El Tacoqueto and enjoy enchiladas & two Sol beers for 166 MXN ( $8 ). It’s likely to be some of the best Mexican food you’ve had and you’ll enjoy it while listening to live mariachi music.

2 PM: Go shopping in downtown Tulum

Meander up and down Tulum Beach’s main road for countless shopping opportunities. I can’t even name one specific shop that you should hunt out because every store in Tulum is a dreamland. You’ll end up with beautiful pieces of clothing and unique jewelry & trinkets. RIP all of your money.

Shopping - 3 Days in Tulum Shopping - 3 Days in Tulum

4 PM: Eat dinner at Hartwood

End your trip in Tulum with a meal at the best restaurant in town ( The New York Times, Lucky Peach ). All meals at Hartwood are cooked sans electricity and are made using only the freshest, locally sourced ingredients.

Hartwood - 3 Days in Tulum

[ source: The New York Times ]

I was devastated to learn after booking my October trip that Hartwood was closed from the month of October to November for renovations. I didn’t get a chance to go, but that only means I have to go back, right?? ( Tag me in & send me your photos if you go!! )
Hartwood - 3 Days in Tulum

[ source: Handsome Citizens ]

10 PM onward for the rest of your life:

Talk about how incredible your trip to magical Tulum was.

Shop my Tulum favorites:

Have you visited Tulum yet? Tell me below!


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  1. Sandra says:

    I haven’t been, but your article and photos make me want to go. Love the photos, very pretty.

  2. Katie says:

    I was planning to go to Cancun next year but I may have to change my plans! This looks gorgeous.

    • Christina says:

      You need to – Tulum is amazing!! Feel free to reach out to me if you need more destination advice 🙂


        Any advice on where to stay? My girlfriend and I are planning a trip.

        • Christina says:

          Thanks for reading, Margaret! Search “papaya playa project” in the search bar for a post on the hotel. I stayed there with my best girl friend and LOVED it. I also recommend looking at Ahau or Azulik.

  3. Lena Elzayn says:

    From the snorkeling to the food- this all looks awesome! We were thinking of planning a trip to Tulum for the holidays. If we do end up going, your post is going to be so helpful!

  4. Liz says:

    What a dream it looks soooo amazing. Adding it to my list!

  5. Ameeta says:

    You have put together a lovely list. I was particularly looking for restaurant recommendations because everything seems so good that narrowing it down is a bit difficult 🙂 I am off to Mexico in a few months and really looking forward to it!

    Ameeta xx

    • Christina says:

      The restaurants in Tulum are incredible! I definitely recommend checking out the ones I’ve listed in this post. I hope you have an amazing time in Mexico 🙂 xo


    Where do you stay?

  7. Leia Lockheart says:

    My gf and I are in the midst of booking our hotel. Papaya Playa Project is in the running. Is it “the best hotel in Tulum” because of the Friday/Saturday night bar scene? Do only millennials attend or are there people in there 30’s-40’s? I am not a millennial.

    • Christina says:

      It’s the best hotel in Tulum because of the accommodations, great food and beach area. But their Friday and Saturday night beach club scene definitely don’t hurt the rating! When I was there, I encountered people of all ages 🙂 Enjoy!

  8. Emma Brown says:

    I learned about the lovely place Gitano from your article. So I wanted to thank you for that recommendation. My hubby and I absolutely loved it there and even tried some of the other places you mentioned here. But for diving we decided to go with Koox because they were recommended by a close friend. They were truly professionals and made me feel very safe during the whole experience.

    • Christina says:

      How incredible is Gitano?? One of my favorite restaurants in the world! Delicious food, unique atmosphere… Could go back again and again! xx

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