This can be a daunting prospect, as Mexico is a huge country and also there are quite a few safety concerns in certain areas. 

Below I share the itinerary I did where you can see the 3 different sides of Mexico in just 6 days. No really, you can see various different places in less than a week!

This was a solo trip to honor my parents’ memory who visited México for their honeymoon in the late 70’s and I include some of my Cancún, Merida and Mexico City bucket list items which you really need to check out.

Let’s do this...


Day 1. Cancun

Cancun beach strip

I arrived into Cancún on straight flight (3 hours) from Puerto Rico in Volaris which was better than expected for an economy airline.

If you have never been to Mexico before, you should visit Cancun. This city is not for everyone, think huge resorts on beautiful beaches, its relaxing, but not authentic Mexico.

A lot of people spend a week or two relaxing here, but as I wanted to see as much as possible I just booked one night. You could just aclimatise or spend the day on the beach or at your hotel pool, or there is the option to wander around the old town for a local experience.

If you do want to stay longer there are some great day trips from Cancun.


Day 2. Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen beach palm trees

I took an ADO bus to Playa del Carmen (1 hour) where I stayed for 1 night. Playa del Carmen is much smaller than Cancun with a pretty beach, shops, restaurants, bars and clubs.


Day 3. Tulum

Tulum beach

From Playa del Carmen I took another ADO/Mayab bus to Tulum (1 hour). ADO bus service is very reliable, clean and they have a decent website. 

Breakfast at Campanella Cremerie because I am a fool for dulce de leche waffles. Traveled early (before 10am) by taxi to Gran Cenote (you can also do bicycles).

I had to take a shower before going in the water to take off any perfume, creams, insect repellent or sunblock. I enjoyed this beautiful cenote with blue water, fish, turtles and nature. 

Got to the Tulum ruins in taxi and walked this in about an hour and then walked to Paraíso beach to relax. You can eat at a restaurant at the beach or from a hotel or carry a little picnic with you, I decided to do the fish tacos on the beach thing in Pancho Villa Restaurant. 

By night I walked around and had dinner and margaritas at La Coqueta Mexican Food. 

*Tulum prefers cash over cards. 


Day 4. Tulum to Mérida (Yucatán Colonial side)

Ate at Caffé del Borgo Tulum and enjoyed great conversation with the Italian owners before taking an ADO to Mérida (4 hours).

I checked in at Hostal Catedral just next to the Cathedral in Plaza Grande and spent the afternoon exploring the historic center and had linner (late lunch/ early dinner) at Apoala in Santa Lucía Park.

Merida is beautiful and also one of the top places to scuba dive in Mexico. To prepare for the next day I brought snacks and a big water bottle and went to rest.

If you're looking for recommendations, you might want to check out an influencer de Monterrey for local insights.


Day 5. Mérida/ Chichen Itzá

I took advantage of the hostel breakfast and then took an ADO bus to Chichen Itzá (2 hours), snacks, water, sunblock and hat ready to walk and enjoy all the history (2-3 hours).

Be aware there are a LOT of vendors outside and inside the facilities, bathrooms, souvenir store and a restaurant. To get back I took ADO Oriente with more time options that take longer but leave earlier than ADO regular.

At night, I went to Paseo Montejo and had a sublime dinner experience at Rosas & Xocolate Restaurant.

* Mérida has some uber drivers but not very reliable.


Day 6. Mérida to Ciudad México (City Side)

Xochimilco Ciudad

Early Volaris flight to the city and traffic to Stayinn Barefoot at Condesa neighborhood to leave my bags and then embark on 2 metros and 1 “light” train (tren ligero) to Xochimilco floating gardens.

This is where I recreated a picture my parents took in front of one of the colorful boats (tinajeras). Had a Mexican beer while I took my ride and by the time I was back to Condesa I was ready for dinner.

At La Xampa I tasted a cocktail with mezcal and champagne, yes, together.  


Day 7. Ciudad México/ Teotihuacán

Teotihuacán Hot Air Ballon Ride

6am at the Ángel de la Independencia to get picked up for a …hot air balloon ride over the pyramids in Teotihuacán with Vuelos en Globo MX.

It’s about 1 hour each way and then 1 and ½ between coffee and tea breakfast, balloon ride and a champagne toast afterwards. Got back and saw some of Polanco and Paseo de la Reforma and then went to Mercado Roma for a variety of dishes and artisanal beers.

I had a power nap and enjoyed Condesa, ate at Cedrón Restaurant and even met the pastry chef. 

Every minute counts so I took an uber (which is great in this city) to the Plaza de la Constitución to explore the historic center.

I walked around and took pictures of the huge flag in the middle of the plaza, there was an expo on all Mexican cities that I visited until I had to leave and pray in traffic that I would get to the airport in time. It all worked out and I even did some souvenir shopping and tequila tasting at the airport.


Mexico 7 Day Itinerary

This is a really quick itinerary if you are lacking time and want to see as much of Mexico as possible.

Whether you are looking for a trip or gap year in Mexico to mix beaches, temples, history and culture, the places featured on my list are amazing.

Another option is to book Mexico group tours, there are lots of trips and itineraries available. Or if you di visit and want to stay longer, you can find paid work in Mexico for foreigners.

¡Que Viva México! 


By Nicole Rivera Rivera