Essential information for Tulum
- Indirect Virgin Atlantic flights are still available from London Heathrow.
Do I need a visa?
No, UK passport holders don't need a visa for Mexico. You'll just need to complete a tourist card on your flight to Cancun.
However, if you are travelling via the USA, then you will need to apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) no less than 72 hours prior to travelling.
Take time to explore the shops, bars and and restaurants of Tulum Pueblo, a growing village approximately 2 km from the archaeological ruins.
Holidays in Tulum, Mexico: Relaxation on the Riviera Maya
White sands, ancient ruins and a friendly local atmosphere make Tulum the golden spot of the Riviera Maya. Less party-town than Cancun and quieter than Playa del Carmen (but still just a short journey away), it’s a haven on the Caribbean coast. Go from relaxing on the hot sands to adrenaline-fuelled water sporting; Our resorts in Tulum are as varied as you choose to make them. Located at the southern tip of the Riviera, the community has long been known as a 'hippie' resort thanks to its eco-tourism, vegan restaurants and animal sanctuaries. Explore at your own pace; it’s easy enough to get around on foot or by bike.
Steeped in history, the Yucatán peninsula is home to some of the most famous ruins in the world, with ancient Mayan cities, palaces and temples.
- The Ruinas Mayas de Tulum are the location of a pre-Colombian Mayan walled settlement. Towering 29ft above the beach, they include the remains of a grand palace and temple. It’s a 2km trek to the archaeological spot from the main gates, so taking a bicycle taxi is recommended. Bring a parasol or go when the sun is low as there’s no shade once you’re on site. Tour buses usually stop by at 10am, so getting in before then is a good choice.
- Chichen Itza was one of the largest Mayan cities and, today, its ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage site. The great stepped pyramid of El Castillo is emblematic of Mexico's ancient past, and is famous for the 'snake shadows' that appear on its steps during the spring and autumn equinoxes. Taking a tour is recommended to learn the most about the ruins' place in the Mayan calendar – many trips combine a guided tour with a visit to a cenote and nearby ‘Sultaness of the East’, Valladolid. You can also rent a car and drive or take the ADO (Mexico’s intercity bus system) direct from the centre of Tulum.
No holiday to Tulum, Mexico is complete without a trip to a cenote. These dramatic natural swimming holes can be found all over the country and are renowned for their beauty. If you’re not a strong swimmer, hire a life jacket from the ticket office and have a relaxing float. Your Virgin Holidays Concierge can book excursions or park tickets for you.
- Cenote Yokdzonot is located just far enough off the beaten track to miss the tourist crowds. It’s the perfect spot to go for a secluded swim with the fishes.
- A more popular cenote is Cenote Dos Ojos. This is two pools of water — reflected in the name ‘two eyes’ — one clear blue and one black and seemingly bottomless. Rent a flashlight at the ticket office to make the most of the black one.
- Cenote Azul is open air, so it’s the ideal alternative to the beach. Remember to bring your pesos as entrance is cash-only.
Tulum's dramatic coastline may be home to ancient Mayan cities and vast swathes of jungle, but even that's not all there is to it. If you're looking for something a bit more active, the warm waters are for a spot of diving and boat tripping.
- Local dive centre offers scuba diving lessons for groups and individuals. Book in a session and see if you can spot some marine wildlife.
- If you do (somehow) need a break from the beach, Xel-Há is a natural water park that offers snorkelling and other water sports. Your ticket also includes food and drink so it’s worth turning into a full-day trip.
- You can only kayak on the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve with a day tour but it’s well worth it to see the calm lagoons, twisting mangrove canals and brightly coloured tropical birds. It’s about half an hour from Tulum and many tours include authentic homemade Mexican food.
Whether you’re staying in one of Tulum’s resorts or making your own way along the coast, there’s plenty of coastline to discover. The long stretches of white sand and calming warm blue shores set Tulum apart from its more touristy counterparts.
- Ziggy Beach is a private beach restaurant where you can treat yourself to tequila shrimp tacos while enjoying the sunset.
- The main beach in Tulum is Mayan Beach; the ideal time to visit is late afternoon once the sun has dropped. There’s no natural shade or umbrellas on offer, so bring a parasol and sun cream.
Tulum resorts are less built-up than their counterparts along the Yucatan, meaning that the area's stunning natural surroundings have been well preserved and are easily accessible for a day trip.
- See spider monkeys at Punta Laguna Natura Reserve – get there after 11am for the best chance to spot them. This locally run reserve is a little out the way but well worth it to get a glimpse of the local wildlife and the surrounding environment.
- At Akumal Monkey Sanctuary you can get up close and personal with the monkeys. It’s worth noting that you can’t take photos while interacting with the animals – all belongings have to be left securely outside the enclosure (safe from monkeys’ mischievous fingers) – but you can pay for photos from staff.
Add another dimension to your holiday by seeing how to whip up some typical local dishes, or indulge yourself with a relaxing yoga lesson to take full advantage of your tranquil surroundings.
- Learn to cook authentic pre-Hispanic Mexican food at Rivera’s Kitchen Tulum. Here you’ll be taught the basics of traditional local cooking (for the brave, this could even include salsa de chapulines – made with chilli and crickets).
- With its hippie sentimentalities, Tulum has no shortage of yoga and Pilates studios. Yoga Dicha offers lessons for all abilities. Dreams Tulum Resort and Spa also offers yoga classes.
- Take in some local arts and crafts at Plastic Flamingo – a craft and gift shop in a quirky tin caravan. Frida Kahlo fans can find some real treasures inspired by the artist here.
Tulum's the perfect choice to experience authentic Mexico from some of its most iconic ancient ruins to delicious local cuisine and breathtaking landscapes. To experience it for yourself, browse our Tulum holidays and book in at one of our hotels today.