Tailor-Made Holiday

Mexico - Highlights of the Yucatan Peninsula

13 days

from £5,695pp (excluding flights)

This is a great holiday for the first time visitor to Mexico who would like to experience in two weeks, colonial cities, wildlife reserves, ancient Mayan ruins and wonderful beaches, and much more in between. No internal flights are required, just a direct flight from London and for the next two weeks explore the beautiful Yucatan Peninsula with your own private car and guide.

  • Discover the flamingos at the Celestun Biosphere Reserve
  • Stay in five star properties and historic haciendas
  • Explore remote archaeological sites by bicycle
  • Visit colonial cities
  • Receive VIP access
  • Swim in a cenote
  • Relax on the white beaches of the Mexico’s Riviera Maya

Refresh from your flight at the luxurious Nizuc Resort and Spa for a night, before beginning your road journey across the Yucatan Peninsula. Forget visiting Chichen Itza with all the crowds, but enter at sunrise with our special permits and explore the impressive ruins before the doors are opened to the public. As the coaches arrive, head off for the wonderful fortified town of Campeche on the Gulf of Mexico.  Discover this colonial city and the smaller archaeological sites in the area.

Your journey continues north along the Gulf of Mexico from Campeche to the Celestun Biosphere Reserve.  Visit local towns on route, famous for their crafts and sample a local lunch.  Hotel Xixim is located on three miles of private white sand beach and provides a wonderful wildlife retreat to unwind.  From here there are a number of excursions available, the most notable is the pink flamingo colony reached by boat.

Continue south to Merida, an historic city in the centre of the Yucatan. Explore its colonial architecture, churches and monuments before settling for a couple of days at the delightful Hacienda San Jose less than an hour away.   Magical walkways of graceful flower arches take you to this beautiful and historical hacienda. Laze the morning away by the pool amongst the tropical greenery or swing in a locally weaved hammock with a book or be pampered in the spa.  When evening descends the hacienda is lit by candlelight inviting guests for a superb supper accompanied by world-class wines.

Moving on towards the Caribbean coast, stop at the wonderfully empty site of Coba. Located amongst the trees, this is a smaller, shady site that can be visited by tricycle or bicycle.  Much is still unexcavated but what you can see is extremely well preserved in a beautiful setting.  Cool off in a nearby Cenote before concluding your holiday on the delightful beaches of the Riviera Maya at the fantastic Hotel Esencia. 

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Price Excluding Flights £Flight cost from 
£ 5695 £ 800

Itinerary at a glance

Collapse all
Day 1

Day at leisure in Cancun

Cancun is located in the Southeast of Mexcio on the Yucatan Peninsula. Its extensive white sand beaches lapped by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea has afforded Cancun its world renowned reputation as a bustling beach resort. Today with international connections the resort has become a party town and luxury hotels rub shoulders along the length of the waterfront strip.

You will be staying at Nizuc Resort & Spa, bed and breakfast

Day 2

Cancun to Chichen via Ek Balam and Valladolid

Depart this morning for the archaeological site of Ek Balam, approximately 2 hours from Cancun. Ek Balam, meaning Black Jaguar, was at the height of its importance during the late classic period. With your guide, explore this delightful site and its wonderfully preserved temples and structures.

Continue to the city of Valladolid for lunch. Valladolid was the first capital city of the Yucatan, and today it is a charming bustling Mayan city with colonial flair. Later, your guide will drop you at Hacienda Chichen for the evening.

The most famous and well preserved of all the Yucatan's Mayan sites, Chichen Itza comes highly recommended to all visitors. The Maya people built Chichen Itza in the classic period only for it to be abandoned shortly afterwards. It is believed the Toltecs re-established the area at a later date adding their own particular architectural style and introducing their blood-thirsty beliefs in human sacrifice.

Dominating the vast site is the outstanding pyramid structure of El Castillo, built during the height of the Toltec occupation, and which can still be climbed for far-reaching views across the flat Yucatan plains.

There is also a well-preserved ball court, a substantial natural sinkhole (cenote) of sacred importance to The Maya and a large observatory indicating the great significance the Maya attached to astronomy.

You will be staying at Hacienda Chichen, bed and breakfast

Day 3

Out of Hours Privately Guided tour of Chichen Itza
As one of the most famous Mexican Maya sites and now one of the 'New Seven Wonders of the World' Chichen Itza has become one of the most visited archaeological sites in the world, receiving thousands of visitors each day. To visit Chichen Itza before it opens to the public, is one of the most magical experiences.

With our special permits (subject to availability) you will be collected from your hotel at 6am and enter Chichen Itza at sunrise for an unforgettable tour of this very special site. In its time Chichen Itza was one of the largest cities with the most diverse population in the Maya world. Your guide will introduce you to the daily lives of the Mayans and the history and diversity of these pyramids, some over 1500 years old.

Chichen Itza to Uxmal

Journey from Chichen Itza to Uxmal archaeological site, approximately 1 hour.

Explore the city of Uxmal, located in the Puuc region of the Yucatan Peninsula. These temples were beautifully constructed by the Maya people and became some of the most influential and important urban centres of the time, where wealth, culture, science and religion converged and were highly praised by their societies.

Privately guided tour of the Maya archaeological site of Uxmal, located in the Puuc region of the Yucatan Peninsula, The temples at Uxmal were beautifully constructed by the Maya people and became one of the most influential and important urban centres of the time, valuing wealth, culture, science and religion.

Uxmal was founded around AD700 and had some 25000 inhabitants at its peak. The layout of the buildings, which date from between AD700 – 1000, reveal an in-depth knowledge of astronomy. The Pyramid of the Soothsayer dominates the ceremonial centre, which is replete with buildings decorated with symbolic motifs and sculptures depicting Chaac, the God of rain.

Four hundred kilometres from Cancún, Uxmal does not see the numbers of the other sites and this is the beauty of the site: that you can move around the complex with the only noise being the industrious tapping of woodpeckers and the scuttling run of iguanas. Climb the Pyramid of the Fire Macaw and gaze out over Uxmal and the surrounding jungle.

Uxmal to Campeche

Travel by road approximately 2 hours to Campeche.

Plagued for 200 years by pirate attacks from the Gulf of Mexico, Campeche became walled in to protect itself from such unwanted attention. Today this pretty colonial fort town is a UNESCO site and hosts ornate churches, baroque architecture, narrow cobblestone streets and a selection of excellent seafood dishes in the many specialist restaurants.

You will be staying at Hacienda Puerta Campeche, bed and breakfast

Day 4

Half Day City Tour of Campeche
Pick up: 09:00 from your hotel Duration: 4-5 hours

This private tour of Campeche takes you from one end of this colourful walled city to the other on a journey through its history of trade and pirate attack. Visiting fortresses, museums and churches as well as wandering the city's quiet streets, learn about the port city of yesteryear and the Campeche of today.

You will be staying at Hacienda Puerta Campeche, bed and breakfast

Day 5

Campeche to Celestun via Becal

Journey to the biosphere reserve of Celestun with a stop at Becal for lunch. Take a tour of the famous town for its traditional hats made of jipi. The statue of the two monumental Panama Hats which sits in the centre of Becal's main plaza, leaves little doubt as to the towns' claim to fame. A further drive of approximately two hours brings you to Celestun.

Decreed a wildlife refuge in 1979 and upgraded to a Special Biosphere Reserve in 1989 because of its importance as the main feeding area for the American flamingo and countless species of waterfowl and shorebirds, the Rio Celestun Biosphere Reserve is a stunning 228 square miles area of marsh, estuarine and mangrove habitats.

Regarded by ornithologists as a true treasure trove, the reserve is inhabited by over 300 species of birds, three of which are found nowhere else in the world, as well as hosting one of the world's largest populations of American flamingos.

Turtle's can also be seen in the area between April and July when they come ashore to nest, and manatees, toucans and crocodiles may sometimes be glimpsed in the quieter backwaters.

Located approximately two hours by car from Merida, Celestun is a fun beach and wildlife daytrip.

You will be staying at Xixim Unique Mayan Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 6

Excursions Available from XiXim
From your bungalow you will have direct access to three miles of white sandy beaches filled with shells and conch. Chill out under the shady resting areas, sunbathe, play volley ball or drift about on the water by kayak.

Should you be able to tear yourself away from this beautiful stretch of the Gulf of Mexico, additional activities available to be booked and paid for locally:

Visit the flamingo colony by boat

Kayak in the Celestun salt flat lagoons (seasonal)

Take a cooking class

Join a moon light safari

Travel through the mangroves

Embark on some bird watching

Go off shore fishing

You will be staying at Xixim Unique Mayan Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 7

Day at leisure

You will be staying at Xixim Unique Mayan Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 8

Celestun to Merida

Journey time of appoximately 1.5 hours.

Merida, the capital of the Yucatan state, is a charming, bustling city. There are many beautiful colonial buildings, interesting museums and airy plazas. The central Zocalo is a continual stage for colourful dancers and loud mariachis. Numerous markets and artisan shops make Merida the ideal place for any holiday shopping, particularly as it is the centre for the region's hammock making industry.

Half Day City Tour
Tour of the historic centre of Merida (three to four hours) including the main plaza (zocalo), markets, Museum of Mayan World, the Cathedral, the Monumento a la Patria (Monument to the Fatherland) and Paseo Montejo, the design of which is based on French boulevards.

Drive from Merida to Tixkokob (Road Journey)

You will be staying at San Jose Cholul Hacienda, bed and breakfast

Day 9

Visit Tixkokob, Ake and Izamal
Full day excursion to visit the surrounding local villages including Tixkokob, the hammock-making capital of the Yucatan. Continue to the little known but nevertheless intriguing Maya site of Ake before going to the colonial town of Izamal and visiting the beautiful monastery constructed on top of a Maya pyramid. The monastery here has the second largest atrium in the world.

You will be staying at San Jose Cholul Hacienda, bed and breakfast

Day 10

Tixkokob to Playa del Carmen via Coba & Cenote Dos Ojos

Depart with your guide for the archeological site of Coba. Much of this site remains unexcvated and is little visited, but the few that make it here will find a fascinating story, with wonderful structures and empty plazas to explore. Continue to a nearby cenote for a refreshing swim before arriving at the Riviera Maya.

You will be staying at Hotel Esencia, bed and breakfast

Day 11

Choice of excursions and activities
The Riviera Maya stretches south from Cancun to Punta Allen and is famed for its white sandy beaches and barrier reef, which is teeming with marine life and offers excellent diving and snorkelling.

Activities along the coast are numerous and include a variety of water sports such as sailing, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkelling and deep-sea fishing. Jungle tours, quad bikes, horse riding and mountain biking are also available.

The Riviera Maya stretches from south of Cancun to Punta Allen, the Caribbean Sea is a turquoise colour and the white sandy beaches are a beautiful place to relax, tan and rejuvenate.

The barrier reef off the coast, which stretches from the north-east tip of the Yucatan all the way down to the border with Belize is teeming with marine life and offers a profusion of excellent diving and snorkelling sites ranked amongst the world's best.

Activities along the coast are numerous and include a variety of water sports, sailing, kayaking, scuba diving, swimming with dolphins and deep-sea fishing. For the adventurous you can go on jungle tours, quad bike, horse ride or mountain bike.

Places to visit in the area include the fascinating ruins of Chichen Itza and Tulum, the islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres or the eco resorts of Xel - Ha and Xcaret with great water sports. Take the opportunity to swim in underground cenotes/caves and observe the interesting wildlife and animals.

You will be staying at Hotel Esencia, bed and breakfast

Day 12

Day at Leisure

You will be staying at Hotel Esencia, bed and breakfast

Day 13

Day at leisure in Riviera Maya


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Hacienda Puerta Campeche

Hacienda Puerta Campeche

Hacienda Puerta Campeche is an artfully restored collection of 17th century historical houses that have been decorated in the traditional colours of Mexico and transformed into 15 very comfortable rooms and suites....

View Accommodation

Hotel Esencia

Hotel Esencia

Hotel Esencia is a luxury resort on the Riviera Maya at Playa Xpu-Ha, a two-mile stretch of secluded white-sandy beach and a favourite of ours....

View Accommodation

San Jose Cholul Hacienda

San Jose Cholul Hacienda

Hacienda San José built in 1888 by Francisco Mejia Jaramillo, great grandfather of the current owners, is one of the most ancient and better preserved houses in the Yucatan Peninsular....

View Accommodation

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Mexico

James Armitage, Travel Expert

"The help and great knowledge James offered really made the holiday special"

"James listened and managed our expectations and therefore made sure we were prepared for all eventualities when going on our holiday to Brazil"

"James was brilliant and all the advice was spot on."

Read More

John Faithfull, Travel Expert

"Personalised service. Seemed to really want to get it right for us. Very impressed when I first called and John spent 40 minutes finding out what we wanted to do and tailoring it for us."

"The expertise that John has really gave us faith in where we were going, the regions, the hotels, the trips. John knew about it all, he described them in detail, and when we asked for different regions he was straight in there with suggestions and ideas. The way the whole trip was planned and presented to us, never any pressure to book or any problem to change plans /ideas."

"John Faithful was wonderfully helpful and conscientious in arranging the itinerary and was always ready to suggest alternatives or rearrange matters without any hesitation; this and his detailed knowledge gave one great confidence."

Read More

Sue Grimwood, Travel Expert

"It was tremendously helpful to be able to speak to someone who had been to Antarctica before - Sue had been on the ship we had booked, so was able to give us some very useful information. We felt that at every stage of the booking process that we were in safe hands. "

""I was uncharacteristically worried about this trip - neurotic some might say - and I was given 110% support and help with everything. I had been disappointed by not being able to get a space on the 2014 trip and so Sue was stuck with me for 2 years - a testament to her patience and professionalism. I was confident in Sue - she knows Antarctica and speaks from experience, that is worth a huge amount. Emails, which I would send were responded to almost immediately.""

Read More

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Enquire about this holiday:
Speak to a Mexico holiday expert:

Tailor-Made Holiday Ideas

Booking a Tailor-made holiday gives you the flexibility to customise your journey, travelling when and where suits you.

Holiday Ideas in Mexico

You are unique, so we believe your holiday should be too.

We listen to what you want and create a personalised itinerary tailored around you.

Your holiday. Your experience. Your way.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Call our Travel Experts on +01285 880 980
Start Your Journey


  • Established for over 25 years creating journeys across 100 destinations worldwide
  • Exclusive access to the best private guides


  • We negotiate the best rates with hotels and expert guides
  • Be protected from fluctuations in exchange rates


  • Each time you travel with us we donate £5 to a local charity in the UK and £10 to an international charity

Fully Protected

  • Your monies are financially protected
  • 24/7 Emergency UK contact whilst abroad

Featured in the Press

Financial Times
The Telegraph
Sunday Times logo

Our Partners

African Parks
Galapagos Conservation Trsut
Restless Development
Save The Rhino
Tusk Trust
World Land Trsut
Gorilla Doctors

© Steppes Travel, 51 Castle St, Cirencester, GL7 1QD, United Kingdom