You are currently viewing Itinerary in Quintana Roo (Mexico): 5 different cities in 10 days

Mexico is a very popular destination, especially the state of Quintana Roo where Cancún is located. I just spent 10 days traveling around that region to visit 5 different cities and all in all, I have to say, I really loved my trip to Quintana Roo.

If you want to take advantage of the many cheap flight deals Flytrippers spots to Cancún from most Canadian cities (often as low as the $200s roundtrip from Toronto and Montréal for example), or if you are interested in Mexico as a destination, here is my experience on my itinerary in Quintana Roo.

Come back next week for Part 2 with the logistics of my trip (flights, transportation, visas, etc.) for all the important general tips you need to know before you visit.

Today I’m sharing the destinations themselves.


My itinerary in Quintana Roo

The Quintana Roo state in Mexico has no shortage of gorgeous destinations for all types of travelers and I’ve been wanting to visit it for a while now. 

I traveled from my home country of Brazil to Mexico in November to meet up with 3 friends and do a girls’ trip to explore Quintana Roo (and get weather that’s a bit less hot, while I know most of you will go to Mexico for less cold).

Quintana Roo itinerary (image credit: Google Maps)


Mexico is a gorgeous country, with great food and, even better, good prices. I spent 10 days there and managed to hit 5 different spots: Cancún, Holbox, Tulum, Bacalar, and Valladolid/Chichén Itzá.


Cancún — Quintana Roo itinerary

Location of Cancun in Quintana Roo (image credit: Google Maps)


Getting there

As I’ll explain in the post about the overall trip logistics this week, my flight landed in Cancún (CUN) at 10 AM, and let me tell you from the get-go the airport was an experience.

Cancún is a pretty popular spot, so expect it to be packed with huge groups of tourists, families, street vendors, and taxi drivers yelling out prices at you.

As is the case with most airports, taxis are often the most expensive option and if you choose it, taxi fares should be negotiated before getting in. 

In Cancún, they usually charge around MX$500 (C$40) and that might be worth it depending on the size of your party. I got there by myself though, so instead of a taxi, I took an ADO bus to Cancun’s central bus terminal.

Honestly, it was a pretty straightforward process and I do strongly recommend it for solo travelers; there was an ADO stand right in front of my exit when I arrived and they accepted credit cards.

(As always, when you’re abroad you should pay with a card on which you’re unlocking a huge welcome bonus or 1 of the 8 Canadian cards with no foreign transaction fees!)

The bus ticket cost me MX$130 (C$10) and I got to the city in about 30 minutes. The bus had air conditioning and even a TV; all in all, it was very comfortable.

ADO bus to Cancún (image credit: Indira R Oliveira)



Since my friends and I would only stay in Cancún for 1 day, we picked a hostel that was very close to the bus station. We stayed at Moloch Hostel & Suites, paying around C$80/night for the 4 of us — C$20 per person. 

It was pretty good, the hostel offered a good complimentary breakfast (including fruits, bread, eggs, and options for beverages) and the room was very comfortable. 

It is probably not the best place to stay if you want to get to know Cancún’s coastal area, but since our priority was the location near the bus station, it served us perfectly and I do recommend it.

And closer to the beach, there are also hostels in Cancun for just C$41 per person too, while hotels can be as affordable as C$100.



Cancún needs no introduction, the city is very well known for its beaches, resorts, and wild nightlife.

From above I could already tell how beautiful the Caribbean sea is.


We stayed right at the city center, so we got a bit of a different scenery, but I was positively surprised. I imagined Cancún to be a lot smaller for whatever reason. 

The city has everything you might need. 

Ride apps like Uber work normally and they even have a huge Walmart where we bought all the provisions we’d need for our trip: general snacks, sunscreen (we got the Hawaiian Tropic reef-safe one!), mosquito repellent (a must), and Mexican SIM cards for our phones.

(Flytrippers’ Canadian co-founders have told me your Canadian roaming plans are quite the scam; do not pay C$15 per day for data when the local SIM card for 30 days with unlimited data cost me just C$15 total!)

Cancún coast (photo credit: Gerson Repreza)


From the city center, you can easily reach the coastal region of Cancún by bus for a really low amount of MX$10 (80¢, in C$), so no need to worry about transportation if you’re on a tight budget.

Aside from the beaches, I also recommend you take some time to visit the Museo Maya de Cancún y Zona Arqueológica de San Miguelito. Mayan culture is obviously very much alive in this region, so it was fun to learn about it before some of the destinations ahead.

But of course, the lively touristy atmosphere being its biggest appeal, it was also why we quickly decided to not stay long in Cancún 😂

So, the next day we were off to the next destination.


Holbox — Quintana Roo itinerary

Location of Holbox in Quintana Roo (image credit: Google Maps)


Getting there

In the morning, we took a bus from Cancún to Chiquilá, where we took the ferry to the island of Holbox.

The prices were as follows:

Keep it in mind though, for the bus, we bought our tickets at the station 15 minutes before the trip. If you buy it in advance through their website the price can be as low as MX$160, saving you half the price!

The price for the ferry is fixed though, you’ll buy your ticket once you get to Chiquilá. There are ferries leaving every half hour and your ticket will work for any of them so don’t worry about missing it.

Ferry to Holbox (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


In Holbox, we took a taxi to our hotel — since cars are not allowed on the island, their taxis are ATVs  — for MX$150 (C$11).



Our hotel was the Choby’s House Holbox

Choby’s House Holbox (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


The hotel cost us C$145 per night for a room of 4, so about C$35/each; and even though I had no problem with the room, considering the price, I don’t strongly recommend Choby’s.

It’s located right at the beach, but not at the best part of the beach, and a 15-minute walk from the island center where the stores and restaurants are located. 

So, for a logistic reason only, out of all the places we stayed on this trip, this is the only one I wouldn’t stay at again. Still, the room was pretty nice and the staff was always very kind, the location is really what wasn’t ideal.



Holbox was easily my 2nd favorite destination of the trip (we’ll get to #1 soon). What a gorgeous place to wake up to!

View from my hotel room (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


We only had a full day there so we enjoyed the central beach, which has a perfect combination of clear waters with a perfect temperature (also, never too deep!).

Also, the village center is very pretty — and when it comes to footwear, bring your best pair of flip-flops, as all roads on the island are sand.

Holbox main road (photo credit: The Free Birds)


We ate at a local restaurant some 5 minutes away from the main street, called Big Fish Holbox, which specializes in seafood. 

Big fish (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


I’m not the biggest fan of seafood but even so, I have to say the dish was really good! 

Also, Mexico has this spectacular culture of adding sparkling water to juices — that’s actually what “mineral” water means there. So be careful if it’s not your thing, it can be a bit counterintuitive. If you want normal water or juice, ask for “natural” water.

So, I had some fish with mineral lemonade for MX$330 (C$20) and it was delicious!

Meal (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


Also, most restaurants will serve you totopos (tortilla chips) with sauces that range from not spicy at all to very spicy, the waiter will let you know which is which. 

It’s an appetizer and they won’t charge for it.

Totopos with sauces (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


If you’re planning to stay longer in Holbox though, Punta Mosquito Beach is strongly recommended for its fantastic scenery.

Punta Mosquito Beach (photo credit: Luca Dimola)


You can also catch a kayak tour to see the bioluminescence or — if in season — see the whale sharks.


Tulum — Quintana Roo itinerary

Location of Tulum in Quintana Roo (image credit: Google Maps)


Getting there

From Holbox to Tulum, it was a similar process to the one I mentioned before:

By the way, Tulum’s long-awaited brand-new airport (TQO) will be opening very soon. So landing there directly will become another option as a starting point for a Quintana Roo itinerary, to complement Cancún. 

Air Canada just announced new routes there from Toronto (YYZ) and Montréal (YUL), as have 5 different U.S. airlines (with their flights starting sooner).



We stayed at Casa Almendro, which has a genuinely good price considering it’s a pretty comfortable hostel and well located near the city center. 

We paid around C$100/night for the 4 of us — C$25 per person.



Again, we only had a day in Tulum, and we mostly used it as a pit stop to not travel 6 hours straight to get to Bacalar.

So, we knew we wouldn’t have much time and decided to hire a taxi to take us to some of the most popular destinations.

We paid MX$1000 (C$80) to have the driver for the whole day — about C$20 per person. 

Honestly, not a bad price considering most tours range from C$50-C$100 per person and never include the entrance fees to the cenotes.

First, we went to Gran Cenote, the most popular cenote in the area. The entrance fee was MX$500 (approximately C$40) per person and honestly, it was a bit of a bust.

Since it’s Tulum’s most popular cenote, it was very full and everything was more expensive than usual. Not to say the place wasn’t beautiful, just not my favorite all things considered.

Gran Cenote (photo credit: Paul Simpson)


Side note on ALL cenotes: you must shower and leave all your belongings in a locker before entering a cenote. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re not using any body lotion or sunscreen, or not carrying a lot, this is mandatory for the large majority of them and they’ll always have lockers available either included in the fee or for a very low price. 

Some of the cenotes will also ask you to wear a life jacket (also included in the entrance fee, but more of a flexible rule).

People wearing life jackets (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


After the Gran Cenote, we headed to Casa Tortuga Cenote

This one is a 4-for-1 kind of deal since you’ll pay a more expensive entrance fee (MX$659, or C$50), but inside you’ll have access to 4 different cenotes (and kayak rides!).

1st cenote in Casa Tortuga Cenote (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


Some of the 4 cenotes you can only access by swimming so if you’re a tad claustrophobic like myself, you can only enjoy the 2 open ones. 

2nd cenote in Casa Tortuga Cenote (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


But if you want the full adventure, then they also offer a guide (already included in the price!) that will have you swimming along the 4 cenotes — 2 of my friends did so and strongly recommend it. 

Honestly, it was worth it even for only the 2 open cenotes and the kayak ride. 

Kayak ride (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


I had a really fun time there and much preferred it to the Gran Cenote.

Finally, after all that, we headed to Playa Paraiso for lunch.

Playa Paraiso (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


And we ended up staying for the gorgeous sunset.

Sunset at Playa Paraiso (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


At night, we had dinner at Burrito Amor, which I strongly recommend for a nice light and healthy meal — it can be a good break from all the tacos and spicy food 😂 

But if you want a more local experience, there are a huge number of taquerias that will sell tacos al pastor and conchinita, the latter a local specialty that will cost you around MX$120 (C$9).

Conchinita (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


Bacalar — Quintana Roo itinerary

Location of Bacalar in Quintana Roo (image credit: Google Maps)


Getting there

After Tulum, we headed to Bacalar, where we spent 3 days.

We again took the ADO bus, which cost us MX$290 (C$22) each, for a 2h44m ride.



In Bacalar, we stayed at Amigos Hotelito, and this was by far my favorite accommodation of the trip.

We paid around C$600 for 3 nights (C$200 per night); that’s about C$50/night each, for a very comfortable place and with really good options for breakfast.

Private deck at Amigos Hotelito (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


They are located right at the gorgeous Laguna de los 7 colores and have a private deck where you can enjoy the clear waters as comfortably as possible. And as a very necessary plus, they also have complimentary kayaks.

Considering the general price of the region, I strongly recommend this one. 



Now, time for my absolute favorite destination on this trip.

Bacalar is such a fantastic (and somehow still off-the-beaten-path) destination that I almost don’t want to recommend it so it remains as it is. 

Honestly, what a hidden paradise.

Bacalar Lagoon from above (photo credit: Dimitris Kiriakakis)


The main attraction of course is the Bacalar Lagoon (Laguna de los 7 colores)

At the lagoon, either by boat ride or even a self-guided kayak ride, you can visit Bird Island (Isla de los Pájaros), 2 different cenotes, and the Pirates Canal.

Inside the Bacalar Lagoon (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


You can also take a kayak out to watch either the sunrise or sunset at the lagoon. Both are gorgeous and very worth it.

Kayak ride at sunset (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


At the edge of the city, for MX$20 (C$1.50) you can also visit the Ecoparque Bacalar, where the longest pier in the city takes you to one of the parts of the lagoon with the clearest water. 

It’s seriously impressive.

Ecoparque Bacalar (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


As for food, the main square has a lot of options, including some of my favorites, Mr Taco and La Trattoria Del ‘46. For a bit more of a fancy meal right at the edge of the lagoon, you can also visit La Payita restaurant.

And of course, in Bacalar, you can try my absolute favorite street food/dessert in Mexico, the marquesitas. 

The ones in Bacalar are even more special since they’re way bigger and cheaper — around MX$50 (C$4). And if you want to try the specialty, go for the Nutella and Cheese one.

Nutella and cheese mMarquesita (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


Valladolid/Chichén Itzá — Quintana Roo itinerary

Location of Bacalar in Quintana Roo (image credit: Google Maps)


Getting there

Finally, we took a 4h30 bus from Bacalar to Valladolid, which cost us about C$23 each.

This is the city that is closest to the world-famous Chichén Itzá. 

Last week, a brand-new very modern train was inaugurated. The Tren Maya allows you to travel between the Cancún airport, Valladolid and Chichén Itzá in a lot more comfort. It will eventually also connect Cancún to Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Bacalar, but that phase should be ready only in March 2024.



In Valladolid, we stayed at Casa Tia Micha, for C$120/night — C$30 per person.

Their location is amazing and complimentary breakfast is even better. 

But even though I really loved this hotel and strongly recommend it, it’s important to say that there are cheaper and still comfortable options available in the city (for example, the Hostal Tunich & Naj & Hotel for just C$14 per night).

We were just very tired ladies that for once prioritized being spoiled a little bit 😂



So, Valladolid (not to be confused with its namesake Valladolid, in Spain) in itself is a very interesting city. 

Its architecture is very particular, dating back to colonial settlements in the 16th century. 

Convent of San Bernardino of Siena (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


If you walk around the city center, you get to see some pretty buildings such as the Convent de San Bernardino de Siena and the baroque-style San Gervasio Cathedral.

San Gervasio Cathedral (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


On our 1st day in Valladolid, we decided to try the poc-chuc, a Mayan meat dish(usually pork, but they’ll have other options), marinated in orange. 

We went to IX CAT IK Mayan Cuisine, which specializes in Mayan food and serves homemade tortillas — I had the chicken poc-chuc for MX$240 (C$18).

Dish at IX CAT IK Mayan Cuisine (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


But the main reason why we decided to visit the city was for its proximity to the Mayan site Chichén Itzá.

The Chichén Itzá is known as one of the 7 new wonders of the world. You might be more familiar with its main building, the pyramid that stands right at the center of the site, called El Castillo. 

Chichén Itzá’s El Castillo (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


But the site used to be a Mayan city and the entire thing is huge. 

And honestly, it’s so fascinating!  

The only thing I could think of to compare would be the ruins of Pompeii, in Italy. 

–> The ruins of a Mayan sports arena (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


The entrance fee costs MX$650 (about C$50) and you can buy it right at the entrance. You can skip the line and buy it online too, but in this case they’ll charge you double the price.

And it’s not necessary, the secret to Chichén Itzá is not buying the ticket early, it’s getting there early (like with many very popular sites around the world).

We arrived at 8:40 AM, right after they opened the gates, and had a lovely experience. The line was short and the sun was not yet unbearable. But by the time we left at 11:40, the place was getting insanely crowded and very hot. 

So, please, get there early, it makes a whole lot of difference.

–> Cenote Sagrado in Chichén Itzá (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


Since we were in a group of 4 we decided to again rent a taxi for the day. It cost us MX$1800 (C$140) and we got to visit Chichén Itzá and 3 cenotes of our choice.

You can also reach Chichén Itzá by ADO bus, which is cheaper, but you only get time options after 10 AM, meaning you’ll arrive at the site at the worst possible time (Chichén Itzá is a 40-minute drive away from Valladolid). So, I don’t recommend it.

The other option would be hiring a local tour or getting a rental car — both good options. But you should buy in advance if thinking of hiring a tour, the best ones tend to sell out fast.

So, after Chichén Itzá, we went to our first cenote, Ik-kil.

–> Cenote Ik-kil (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


Ik-kil is located only a few minutes from Chichén Itzá. It was considered sacred to the Mayans and for that reason used for human sacrifices. It’s about 48 meters deep 😱

The entrance fee costs MX$180 (C$14) and includes life jackets (which are mandatory here!) and lockers.

Honestly, it’s probably the most beautiful cenote we visited on our trip and not the most expensive, so I found it really worth the detour.

–> Ik-kil cenote from inside (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


We also visited Tsukán, which is a closed cenote, with only a small hole at the “ceiling” where sunlight enters. The entrance fee costs MX$150 (C$11).

–> Tsukán (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


And finally, Yokdzonot cenote, which is an open cenote, but has a more “wild” energy to it. Meaning it seemed to not have been tampered with too much structure-wise. The entrance fee was MX$100 (C$8).

–> Yokdzonot (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


After that, we had a late lunch at El Mesón del Marqués. The restaurant is inside a hotel and is very pretty, its building dates back to the 17th century. The food was great — I did go overboard and ordered 3 different dishes, plus dessert; it all cost me about MX$423 (C$30)!

–> El Mesón del Marqués (photo credit: Indira R Oliveira)


And after all that, we traveled back to Cancún that very night and I flew back to Brazil the next day.


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My itinerary in Quintana Roo allowed me to discover 5 different destinations in my 10 days. These tips and pictures will inspire you to travel to the beautiful country of Mexico, a very accessible place for Canadians.

What would you like to know about the itinerary in Quintana Roo? Tell us in the comments below.


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Featured image: Punta Mosquito Beach (photo credit: Luca Dimola)

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Indira R Oliveira

Indira is a remote administrative coordinator at Flytrippers. She is a Brazilian journalist with a passion for traveling - with a lot of experience especially when it comes to traveling on a really low budget. She's been to 30+ countries and is aiming to expand that list soon!

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Julie

    Looks like a great time! BUT… you missed the best part of Quintana Roo –Cozumel.

  2. Patti

    Wow! Thanks for that very comprehensive review!! It’s excellent!
    I especially liked that you gave the names of the hostels, hotels and restaurants, and that you included local options for getting around (ADO). Just wondering about a couple of things…
    1) Are any of the beaches you visited known for riptides, undertows or strong currents? I’ve always been hesitant to go to Mexico because I’ve heard that is a common problem. ??? 🤷‍♀️
    Are there any areas in Mexico that ARE known for that?
    2) What about diving/dive shops?
    Are any of these places known for good diving & snorkelling? Are there certain areas of Mexico that are more popular for diving? If so, what suggestions would you have?
    3) Safety. We all hear stories coming out of Mexico about drug warfare and violence. How safe would you have felt doing that same itinerary alone?
    Are there any areas you recommend avoiding?
    4) Besides looking on Flytrippers 😁
    do you have any suggestions about where to find these good flight prices you mentioned?
    Do you have any particular agency that you book through online? (I’m in Toronto). Do you know if there are good deals out of Kitchener, Hamilton & London as well?
    Thanks so much for any feedback you can offer!
    I hope to see more of your travel reviews in the future!

    1. Indira R Oliveira

      Hey! Thank you for the comment 🙂

      1) None of the places I went to had any caution signs about riptides, or strong currents. Holbox beaches are very calm and the water is never deep, so no need to worry. I’m sure when it comes to Cancun or Tulum that will strongly depend on which beach you’re visiting, and most importantly, when you visit it. Peak season stretches from December to February, so those are months with calmer waters and less seaweed.

      2) I didn’t do any diving during my trip, but I heard from a lot of the people I met that Cozumel is a great place for snorkeling and diving. But make sure to hire local guides and wear reef-safe products if thinking about getting close to the corals! 🙂

      3) Honestly, I had no idea this region was even considered dangerous (cultural difference maybe haha)
      But I can for sure say I felt very safe the entire time, Quintana Roo is a very touristy region.

      4) Flytrippers definitely is the place to look if you want to find all the deals (from the GTA at least, which includes the 2 Toronto airports and Hamilton — we don’t yet spot deals from Kitchener or London though).

      Otherwise you’d have to look every day on an aggregator like Skyscanner yourself to spot the dates at low prices manually, but we do it for you on our cheap flights page.

      If you have specific dates however, you can compare on Skyscanner then book on the airline’s website directly if the price is similar.

      You can read our guide with 31 tips to save on plane tickets and try the tips one by one and you’re guaranteed to save if you want to save. The guide will be updated with more content very soon too, stay tuned (or sign up for our free newsletter to receive it).

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