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Downtown Tulum is the center of the action and a perfect place to stay if you want to save money on accommodations, try street food, and practice your Spanish skills. If you are planning a trip to Tulum, and want to learn more about this part of town, you’ve come to the right place.
Also known as Tulum Centro (or Tulum Pueblo), this part of Tulum is popular with budget travelers and backpackers who want to save money, but even if you have a bigger budget, you should still check out this area, as it has something for everyone.
In this guide to Tulum, I will tell you everything about the pros and cons of staying in the area, where to eat, and where to stay so you can enjoy your vacation in one of the most popular destinations in Mexico without breaking your budget.
What is Tulum downtown?
Downtown begins at the intersection of Avenida Coba and Highway 307 and runs toward the end of town. The area is located along the main drag where you can find stores, restaurants, and cafes as well as residential areas to the north, where most locals tend to live.
✅ Learn how to rent an ATV in Tulum
Best things to do in Tulum
1. Grab some cool souvenirs
Tulum Centro is the best place to grab some colorful souvenirs from local artisan vendors. As anywhere else in Mexico, always carry cash, as credit cards are not always accepted.
✅ Read: Best pizza in Tulum
2. Learn Mayan culture
If you love culture and history, learning the Mayan culture is one of the best things you can do in Tulum, and a perfect way to support local indigenous communities.
But how do you do that?
You can visit Mayan ruins in the area or take a Mayan language class where you can learn fascinating facts about the Maya culture.
✅ Read: Is Tulum worth visiting?
Best tours of Tulum ruins
3. Enjoy nightlife
Tulum Pueblo is the go-to place for the best nightlife in Tulum. It has many bars, clubs and restaurants where you can enjoy nice music and great ambiance.
➡️ Read: Can I pay with US dollars in Mexico?
4. Learn how to cook Mexican dishes
Many people travel to Mexico because of the delicious Mexican cuisine like tacos, burritos, and enchiladas, among other things. But what if you could learn some of these cooking secrets from local masters?
Take a Mexican cooking class while in Tulum to learn the authentic recipes and cooking secrets.
Best cooking classes in Tulum
5. Book a tour
Best cenote tours from Tulum
6. Grab a bite
Downtown is home to some of the best restaurants in Tulum where you can find everything from tacos to various interactional cuisines like Italian, Middle Eastern, and Asian. As someone who visited Tulum many times, I can tell you that its selection of food doesn’t disappoint!
7. Practice your Spanish
Downtown is a perfect place to practice your Spanish, as you will find more locals here than in any other part of Tulum.
8. Take a day trip from Tulum
All you need to do is book your tickets via the ADO app or catch a Colectivo, a small shared van. There are many cool day trips from Tulum like Coba ruins, Chichen Itza, and Playa Del Carmen that you can access by a quick bike ride.
Best restaurants in Tulum
1. Antojitos La Chiapaneca
Antojitos La Chiapaneca offers traditional Mexican food with regional options. The restaurant also serves typical Yucatan dishes like salbutes and deep-fried panuchos, which can be made vegan or vegetarian 🌱 upon request.
Address: Calle Acuario Norte, 77760 Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico
One of the best new restaurants in Tulum, Tomizen is a Japanese restaurant where you can try sushi rolls, ramen noodles, and other staples from Japanese cuisine.
Address: C. Luna Sur 5, Tulum Centro, 77780 Tulum, Q.R.
A popular breakfast spot in Tulum, Rossina is always busy. This cute breakfast/brunch cafe has many delicious options like toast, chilaquiles, smoothie bowls, and freshly baked pastries that are perfect to start your day.
Address: Region 14 Mza 12 Local 1 Lote 91, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
4. Burrito Amor
The best place in Tulum to grab a burrito, this restaurant is always busy around lunch and dinner. They have clearly marked vegan and vegetarian options and plenty of healthy drinks.
Address: Av. Tulum Mz 05-Lote 03, Tulum Centro, Centro, 77760 Tulum, Q.R.
5. Pizza Papi
Pizza Papi has some of the best pizza and pasta in Tulum, as well as salads. The nearby Matcha Mama is one of the best spots for smoothies and smoothie bowls.
Address: Calle Andromeda L6 Entre calles Orion y Centauro, 77760 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
6. Pasha Tulum
If you want something different after eating Mexican food in Tulum, stop in Pasha, a Middle Eastern restaurant located right along the main road in Tulum.
Why stay in downtown
Although Tulum is not the cheapest place to visit in Mexico, you can cut down your cost by staying in downtown. This part of town has plenty of inexpensive hotels, great selection of restaurants and you can walk to most places.
- Less expensive accommodations – hotels in this part of Tulum tend to be on the budget side. It also has a good variety of hostels and AirBnb’s, if you are looking for value.
- Great street food – If you want to try some of the best street food in Mexico, head to Tulum Centro! That’s where you can find many street vendors selling everything from cheap tacos to burritos and other Mexican staples.
- More authentic vibe – Downtown is where you can practice your Spanish, mingle with locals, and get some cool souvenirs.
- Good nightlife – Tulum Centro many bars and restaurants where you can have a fun night out.
- Proximity to a bus station – You will be within walking distance from ADO Tulum, from where you can take buses to Playa Del Carmen, Bacalar, Cancun, and other destinations.
- You are far from the beach – You will be a few kilometers away from the beach, which means you will need to rent a scooter or bike.
- Lots of noise – Although downtown is the most happening part of Tulum, it can also be loud, as there’s traffic and noise almost all the time. If you are looking for a more quiet space, stay in Aldea Zama, a new residential area of Tulum, which is right near downtown.
- You need to be more careful – Downtown is a perfect place to save money, but it’s also where most people and traffic are, so you need to always keep a close eye on your belongings and pay attention to your surroundings.
- It can be empty during the low season – If you are visiting Tulum during the low season, the downtown area looks almost empty.
- It can get hot – Unlike the Tulum beach zone, the downtown area doesn’t have a lot of shade or greenery, and it can get pretty hot here during the day.
Best hotels in Tulum Centro
- Luxury: Bardo and Una Vida – these two sister properties are some of the most beautiful hotels just outside of downtown Tulum that feel like a slice of paradise surrounded by the jungle and located away from all the noise. Free parking and airport shuttle upon request.
- Mid-budget: Maka Boutique Hotel – One of the best boutique hotels in Tulum, Maka has a restaurant, outdoor swimming pool, and a rooftop bar. It’s located right in the heart of town and boasts quick access to cenotes and restaurants.
- Budget: Kaab Tulum – A popular budget hotel in Tulum Pueblo, Kaab has a restaurant, free private parking, a bar, and a garden. It has a pool family rooms and a nice spacious terrace.
- Hostel: Botanica – One of the best hostels in Tulum with private and shared rooms, a common kitchen, and bathrooms. This property is in the middle of downtown, close to restaurants, and stores, and within a quick bike ride to Gran Cenote and Cenote Calavera.
Where I stayed in downtown Tulum:
I stayed in several hotels in Tulum during my visits, but my favorite one was Holistika. By far one of the most beautiful hotels outside of downtown, Holistika is a gorgeous hotel with a combination of private and shared dorm rooms in the middle of the jungle.
Holistika has a yoga center, a stunning garden with art sculptures and murals, and a beautiful pool. You can enjoy healthy vegan and vegetarian options from the on-site restaurant and participate in daily events at Holistika.
How to get around downtown Tulum
You can get around the area on foot or by renting a bike or scooter. Bike rentals in downtown are cheaper than in Tulum Hotel Zone, and you can expect to pay around 150-170 Pesos per day to rent a bike in Tulum.
Scooter is the most popular option for getting around Tulum, and you can rent scooters in many shops in the area. It’s best to rent a scooter if you have previous experience, as you will need to drive on Tulum roads with all the traffic and be able to navigate the town.
Renting a bicycle is a perfect option if you are spending your vacation in Tulum Pueblo. You can find many bike shops in Tulum and rent a bike for a specific period of time.
GOOD TO KNOW: Cenote Cristal is one of the most beautiful cenotes in Tulum that’s only 10 minutes from Tulum Centro.
Many hotels in Tulum offer free bike or bike rentals, but you can also rent a bike from one of the local shops.
Expect to pay between $10-15 USD per day for bike rentals in Tulum. This price can fluctuate depending on the timing of your trip, with the high season in Tulum (December through March) having the highest prices.
Renting a car in Tulum is an excellent option if you want to take day trips without relying on guided tours in Tulum. Although you don’t need a car to get around the town, having a vehicle will give you more freedom to see the area.
Where to rent a car in Tulum?
I always use DiscoverCars for booking cars in Mexico, and you can browse available car rentals in Tulum through this platform. Unlike other car rental websites, DiscoverCars have no hidden fees or surcharges, so you pay what you see online.
To rent a car in Tulum, you will need your driver’s license and ID. Some shops also ask for a deposit, so make sure to have cash on you, as anywhere else in Mexico.
If you need to get around quickly and don’t have any other options, you can catch a taxi. If you are staying in one of the hotels in Tulum Centro, you can ask to call Uber for you, but you can also fetch a taxi if you see it on the street.
Taxi is the most expensive way to get around Tulum, and you will need at least basic Spanish skills to be able to negotiate a price with your tax driver.
✅ Learn about how to visit Gran Cenote by taxi
As of 2023, there’s still no Uber in Tulum, so taxis remain the only viable option, if you need to get from place to place quickly, and don’t have other means of transportation.
Can you walk around Tulum downtown?
Yes, you can walk around downtown. The area is walkable and getting around on foot is a great way to get some exercise and save money on a bike rental, especially if you are traveling on a budget.
You can also rent a bike or scooter from your hotel or from one of the bike shops in Tulum like Ola Bike, Aldea Zama Bike Rentals, and iBike Tulum.
Is it better to stay on the beach or downtown in Tulum?
Tulum Pueblo has affordable accommodations and plenty of cheap street food, while Tulum beach zone is known for its exclusivity, some of the most beautiful hotels in Mexico Caribbean, and upscale restaurants like Hardwood and Arca.
Is it better to stay in Aldea Zama or downtown Tulum?
Aldea Zama is a new residential area of Tulum that’s popular with ex-pats and long-term travelers. Aldea Zama has a more quiet atmosphere than downtown Tulum and a good international crowd, but it also lacks authenticity, if you are looking for more Mexican flair. Downtown, on the other hand, is louder and cheaper to stay than Aldea Zama and has more locals than tourists.
Is it better to stay in La Veleta or downtown?
La Veleta is a new neighborhood of Tulum just to the east of downtown. It’s generally quieter than Tulum Centro and has more options if you are looking for a luxury stay as you can find plenty of Airbnb and villas here.
Is downtown Tulum safe?
Central part of Tulum is safe, but you should also follow basic safety precautions. Avoid empty streets, especially when it’s dark, and don’t show off any valuables in public. Dress in simple, plain clothes that don’t attract any attention, and keep an eye on your belongings when you go to public places.
Is downtown Tulum worth visiting?
Yes, downtown is worth visiting. It’s the heart of the town where you can find the best restaurants, plenty of accommodations, and proximity to cenotes where you can refresh on a hot sunny day.
Can you walk to the beach from downtown Tulum?
While you can walk to the beach from Tulum Centro, it’s going to take a long time. If you need to get around Tulum quickly, consider renting a bicycle or scooter, as it will save you a lot of time that you could spend enjoying everything that Tulum has to offer.
Can you walk around Tulum at night?
Yes, you can walk around Tulum at night, but you should always be aware of your surroundings. Not all parts of Tulum are safe during the dark time,
Is there a main strip in Tulum?
The main strip in Tulum runs through Tulum Centro where you can find many stores, restaurants, and other businesses.
Are there Ubers in Tulum?
As of 2023, there’s no Uber in Tulum, but if you need to get around quickly, you can always take one of the taxis in Tulum. Rent a car with DiscoverCars, where you can find many inexpensive vehicles at affordable rates.
Can I get around Tulum without a car?
To get around Tulum you can rent a scooter, a fast and relatively inexpensive way of transportation. If you plan to stay in downtown, you don’t need a car, as you can walk to most places.
Is it easy to get around Tulum without a car?
You don’t need a car to get around Tulum, but renting a car is a good idea if you want to visit cenotes, Mayan ruins, and other places in the area without taking public transportation or buying guided tours.
Downtown is the most popular part of town where you can enjoy delicious food, watch street performers and shop for some cool souvenirs. If you are looking to connect with locals, learn some Spanish, and get outside the tourist bubble, downtown is an excellent place to stay.