Tulum is a town of two halves. The downtown and beach sections are a couple of miles apart and offer completely different experiences – and price points.
Both are super popular and there are plenty of reasons to stay in each, so read on to decide whether Tulum beach or downtown – also known as Tulum Pueblo – will be a better option for your vacation.
Is Tulum Pueblo or Tulum beach cheaper?
This is a simple one – downtown Tulum is by far the cheaper of the two parts of Tulum.
A beachfront vacation will cost a premium, as pretty much all the hotels are vastly more expensive than in Tulum Pueblo. Understandably so – who wouldn’t want to wake up to views over one of Mexico’s finest beaches every morning?
Downtown Tulum can also be expensive – if you want it to be. But it gives you more options, offering hostels and low-cost restaurants, as well as more upmarket establishments. Downtown is the only part of Tulum you should consider for a (somewhat) budget vacation.
The main thing when deciding between the two is to weigh up your budget and the priorities of your vacation.
Where is there more to do – Tulum beach or downtown?
A big part of the Tulum beach scene is relaxation. Chilling on the gorgeous beach, watching the world go by. Taking a dip in the ocean. Sampling some of the outstanding beachfront restaurants and bars. If this isn’t enough to keep you occupied, the beach does have a major attraction in its Mayan ruins – now reopened after an extended closure during the pandemic – which directly overlook the ocean. And, if you want to expend some energy, you can also hire bikes and cycle the rustic roadway behind Tulum’s beach.
Downtown Tulum also has plenty to do. It’s where you’ll find the majority of stores, as well as a huge number of restaurants, bars, and nightlife.
Does Tulum beach or downtown have the best restaurants and bars?
This is a tough one, as Tulum Pueblo and Tulum Beach each have plenty of noteworthy restaurants. What you’ll probably notice if you visit both is that downtown has more authentic Mexican eateries, serving up some fantastic eats at affordable prices. Tulum Beach’s dining options tend more towards international flavors, served up at a much higher price point. Tulum beach provides a pretty unbeatable view to enjoy alongside your meal, whereas the view of the highway from some downtown restaurants is less appealing.
Tulum beach’s nightlife is varied, with some casual beach bars offering a chill vibe that’s ideal for a couple of evening beers. The central beach section is much more lively, with frequent beach parties and festivals. Everyone, from serious hedonists to low-key night owls, will find something to suit their nightlife needs in downtown Tulum.
Is downtown Tulum or Tulum beach easier to travel to?
Tulum Pueblo is generally the easiest place to get to when you’re traveling on intercity transport. Most ADO buses going north or south will stop at Tulum Pueblo, but only some routes include the Mayan ruins by the beach. If you’re going to be using the ADO bus system to visit places outside of Tulum, it will be easier if you’re staying downtown.
If you want to travel between downtown and the beach, you can take the low-cost bike rental option and use pedal power to travel the 3 or so miles. Or you can take a cab, although be aware this is expensive compared to other parts of Mexico, with a one-way trip costing around $40 USD.
The new Tulum airport and Maya Train – both opening in 2023 – will be great additions for tourists, making transport to all areas of Tulum quicker and easier.
In summary, whether Tulum beach or Tulum Pueblo is the best vacation spot is not an easy question to answer. Each destination is great in its own right, so the most important factors when deciding are your preferences and, of course, your budget.
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