Day 1: Cancun / Playa del Carmen
Upon arrival at Cancun Airport you'll pick up your rental car so you can travel peacefully to your hotel. Prior to this, you'll be sent a detailed itinerary and any additional information you may need for your trip. The rest of the day can be spent exploring. Overnight in Playa del Carmen.
Breathtaking Tulum © Shutterstock
Day 2: Tulum and Mayan Jungle
Take a trip to incredibly impressive Tulum. Set on a cliff providing stunning views of the Caribbean Sea, Tulum's beach has been declared one of the best in the world. Within the Walled City, you will visit the Great Palace, the Castle, the Temple of the Frescos and the Temple of the Descendent God, among other structures.
Discover Jungla Maya Native Park and the entrance to the amazing Sac-Actun System, the world’s longest underground river. Snorkel surrounded by awesome stalactites and stalagmites and ride through the jungle on the all-terrain vehicles. You'll also get to rappel down into a cenote (sinkhole) and swim in a unique natural pool. Enjoy nature flying over the jungle on exciting zip-lines and participate in a traditional Maya ceremony of blessings.
Cenote Sac Actún, Mexico © Nido Huebl / Shutterstock
Day 3: Coba / Coba Archaeological Site
Self-drive to Coba and you visit the highest pyramid of the Yucatan peninsula with 120 steps. Coba was founded in pre-Columbian times and is surrounded by five lakes and immersed in the abundant vegetation of the jungle where we will discover its historical and natural wealth.
Day 4: Chichen Itza and Ek Balam Archaeological Site
Begin your day with a self-drive to one of the oldest cities of the peninsula, and currently one of the two Magic Towns in Yucatan. Valladolid is located right between the two most important cities in the Yucatan Peninsula, Merida and Cancun, both about 99 miles away. Located nearby are the main archaeological marvels of the area: Chichen Itza, as well as the great Tulum, Ek Balam and Coba.
Ek Balam means "Bright Star Jaguar" and is an ancient Mayan city that had its glory before Chichen Itza. One of the most impressive ceremonial centres in the Yucatan peninsula, pay attention to the detail of the incredible decoration on the temples and plazas. Sculptures support the recently restored jaguar mouth in the front of the main temple, making it even more impressive in recent times. Imagine the rituals that took place in the ball game (Pok Ta Pok) and take a photo at the false arch, one of the architectural icons of the Mayan culture.
Ek Balam © Shutterstock
Day 5: Rio Lagartos and Las Coloradas (optional self-drive)
Rio Lagartos (also called the Ría Lagartos Reserve Natural Park) offers some of the best tourist experiences you can have and is known especially for being the habitat of a beautiful wild creature: the pink flamingo.
Las Coloradas is located on the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula and has a town of approximately 1,000 inhabitants. In addition to feeling at home due to its small size and warm atmosphere, you'll be able to observe the majority of the population that is dedicated to the salt industry and fishing.
Salt pink lagoon in Las Coloradas © Shutterstock
Day 6: Merida Colonial City / Uxmal Archaeological site (optional)
Merida, the vibrant capital of the Mexican state of Yucatan, treasures a rich colonial and Mayan heritage. The central core of the city is the Plaza de la Independencia, surrounded by the fortified Mérida cathedral and the limestone church of the Third Order (both from the colonial era and built with vestiges of ancient Mayan temples).
Then on to the Government Palace, where the murals of Fernando Pacheco explain the history of the region, inhabited by the Mayas when the Spaniards arrived. Continue on to Paseo Montejo, an avenue where Spanish-French residences were constructed in the 1900s, at the end of which is the monument to the Flag.
Uxmal is a spectacular example of classic Mayan architecture. Here the Mayans expressed their beliefs through their temple designs. The Temple of the Diviner, which according to legend was built by a Dwarf King, is the most striking construction, as is the Nun's quadrangle which illustrates the splendour of the Puuc style with its flat walls and decorated friezes. The Governor’s Palace features over 20,000 stones and is one of the best examples of classic Mayan building.
At night there is a light and sound show, multimedia program set in the buildings, with the history and the cosmovision of the Mayan civilization.
Day 7: Chichen Itza Archaeological site and cenote
It is one of the new seven wonders of the world. This place is known as the City of the Water Sorcerers, the imposing site of Chichen Itza was the most important city in Yucatan’s northern lowlands, enjoying dominion over the surrounding areas and controlling the commerce of salt and other products. Buildings such as El Castillo are a testimony to its past splendour. The Castillo is considered the masterpiece of Mayan architecture, due to its mathematic, astronomical and religious significance. The Ball Court of Chichen Itza is the biggest in the pre-Hispanic world. The observatory and the Temple of the Warriors make this archaeological site unique among all other Mayan sites.
Continue to Cenote.
Chichen Itza © Shutterstock
Day 8: Cozumel
For your eighth day you'll start by departing Playa del Carmen to catch the ferry to Cozumel. On arrival, a private transfer will meet you at the dock to escort you to your hotel.
Day 9 and 10: Cozumel Island / Chen Rio Beach
Isla Cozumel is still Mexico's Caribbean jewel, perched just a few miles off the coast of the Quintana Roo mainland, and there’s so much more to this island than day-trippers can explore. The scuba diving here is stunning with beautiful coral reefs all along the western coast of the island which teem with a variety of marine species, from loggerhead turtles and seahorses to eagle rays and barracuda.
Turtle with Angelfish, Cozumel © J. S. Lamy / Shutterstock
Day 11: Return to Playa Del Carmen
On the morning of day 11 you will have a shared transfer from your hotel to the docks and ferry back to Playa Del Carmen. On your last night why not take in the local nightlife, which has a hip edge, or a number of places to gorge on seriously good Mexican cuisine, all while taking stock of your incredible Mexican adventure.
Day 12: Return home
You will be picked up by private transfer to Cancun Airport.
Prices start from $3455 per person for two travellers sharing a double room. This includes 3-star hotels in Athens, Feneos, Olympia, Galaxidi, Thermopylae and Naxos. Rental car for all days, in-country transportation, entrance fees to all of the sites and activities, and English-speaking guides. Flights, travel insurance, personal expenses, and any local taxes are not covered.
This bespoke travel itinerary was curated in partnership with Xbox One X and is part of Visit Xbox 2019. Put your self in the game and visit some of the incredible destinations that inspired the open world to Shadow of Tomb Raider. For more information on Xbox One X click here
Top image: Chichen Itza © Shutterstock