0 In Central America/ North America

2.5 Weeks in Mexico, Belize and Guatemala

Welcome to my new Itineraries series! I’m starting with a day-by-day 2.5 week itinerary for Mexico, Belize and Guatemala.

Antigua Guatemala

I’ve heard from many people that planning is what puts them off of traveling. Choosing a region, deciding on destinations, finding flight routes that work – it’s a lot. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin, let alone how to bring all of the elements together.

But here’s the thing – sometimes I feel like I have just as much fun planning a trip as I do going on it. Alright, I guess that’s a slight exaggeration. But the logistics that go into creating a trip are like a puzzle, and I love figuring out ways to make them all come together.

Show me a collection of must-sees that you can’t figure out how to fit into one trip, and I’ll show you my ideal Saturday night.

And that’s why I’m starting this new Itineraries series! I’ll share the exact day-by-day schedule of a trip I’ve recently taken, including how I got from place to place, what the flights looked like, what I’d do differently in the future, and more.

Keep reading for the first edition: A 2.5 week itinerary for Mexico, Belize and Guatemala.

Areas Visited

Mexico: Tulum

Tulum Mexico
Tulum

Belize: Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker
Caye Caulker

Guatemala: Flores, Tikal, Antigua, Lake Atitlàn

Lake Atitlan
Lake Atitlàn

Flight Details

Since I knew we’d be covering a lot of ground, we looked for one-way flights. This isn’t always budget-friendly, but it happened to work really well for this trip.

A side note on flying from a small airport: At one hour’s drive, Syracuse is the closest “major” airport to where I live in Hamilton. This means we often have to get pretty creative with flights in order to find good deals. While this can be tricky, it’s not a total dealbreaker; you might just need to do a little extra searching. This itinerary is a good example of that: we found a one-way outgoing flight to get us to our starting point and then combined two separate one-way flights to come home, and each journey only involved one stopover. (The dream!) Don’t be afraid to try a few different combinations and routes while searching to see what works best.

Flores Guatemala

Getting There:

Syracuse (SYR) — Chicago (ORD) — Cancun (CUN) on United

Getting Back:

Flight 1: Guatemala City (GUA) — Fort Lauderdale (FLL) on Spirit Air

Flight 2: Fort Lauderdale (FLL) — Syracuse (SYR) on JetBlue

Mexico, Belize and Guatemala Itinerary

Day 1: Land in Cancun and transfer to Tulum

Tulum Mexico
Artwork by Emma Rubens

Transportation:

After landing, we headed to the ADO Bus desk to buy tickets to Tulum. We were issued two separate tickets – one from Cancun to Playa del Carmen and one from Playa del Carmen to Tulum. The journey took a little longer than the expected ~2 hours due to a delay in our second bus, but was overall simple and inexpensive (less than $10 USD each).

Tulum Mexico
Worth the trip!

Day 2: Tulum

Click here for my full guide to Tulum.

Day 3: Tulum

Playa Paraíso

Day 4: Tulum to Caye Caulker

Transportation:

Click here for a step-by-step guide on getting from Tulum to Caye Caulker.

Caye Caulker

Day 5: Caye Caulker

Click here for my guide to Caye Caulker.

Caye Caulker

Day 6: Caye Caulker to Flores (a popular base for visitors to Tikal)

Transportation:

We took a ferry through Belize Water Taxi from Caye Caulker to Belize City (~45 minutes). We then headed to the Fuente del Norte bus terminal, conveniently located right by the water taxi terminal, to catch a bus to Flores (~4.5 hours). We purchased the bus tickets from a storefront while on Caye Caulker.

Day 7: Visit Tikal

Tikal
Tikal

Day 8: Fly Flores to Antigua

Transportation:

We originally booked a one-way 7:37 am flight from Flores to Guatemala City on Avianca. Before our trip, we were notified that we’d been automatically moved to a 9 pm flight instead. Luckily, Avianca agreed to refund us and we booked an 8 am trip on TAG Air.

Antigua Guatemala
Colorful Antigua

To get from Guatemala City to Antigua, we paid about $10 USD to take a shared shuttle van. We didn’t book in advance, but we did a little searching online to get an idea of what we should expect to pay.

Day 9: Antigua

Click here for a first timer’s guide to Antigua.

Antigua Guatemala

Day 10: Antigua

Day 11: Antigua to Lake Atitlàn

Lake Atitlan Guatemala
Views of Lake Atitlàn from Panajachel

Transportation:

Antigua is full of small agencies that provide shuttle van service to Lake Atitlàn. We reserved two tickets in person, paying $10-12 USD for the ~2.5 hour journey. The shuttle will drop you off near the docks in Panajachel, the main jump-off point for the other villages on the lake. If you’re not staying right in Panajachel, you’ll take a lancha, or speed boat, the rest of the way. Brace yourself for a bumpy ride and hang on to your luggage! At this point in the trip, we were relieved we packed light.

Day 12: Lake Atitlàn

Read more about our Lake Atitlàn experience here.

Day 13: Lake Atitlàn

Lake Atitlan Guatemala

Day 14: Lake Atitlàn

Day 15: Lake Atitlàn

Day 16: Lake Atitlàn to Antigua

Transportation:

We used the same method to get back to Antigua as we did to leave, but in reverse: a lancha ride from our base in San Pedro La Laguna to Panajachel, followed by a shared shuttle van ride back to Antigua. We booked the shuttle van tickets at a storefront in San Pedro during our stay.

Click here for a guide to Antigua’s cafe scene.

Antigua Guatemala

Day 17: Antigua to Guatemala City and fly home

Transportation:

Instead of taking a shared shuttle van back to the airport in Guatemala City, we reserved an Uber. The cost estimate for both options was similar, so we treated ourselves. In the end our Uber cost $24 USD, or just about $4 USD more than two shuttle bus tickets would have been.

Learnings

Mexico

I loved our time in Tulum and could have happily stayed a few extra days there, or potentially added a second destination within Mexico. That said, two full days gave us enough time to at least enjoy an intro to the area. If you’re short on time, you can still cover a lot of ground.

Tulum Mexico

Other nearby options: Bacalar, Playa del Carmen, Isla Mujeres 

Belize

Caye Caulker was great and I think having one full day there was perfect for us. While stunning, the island is very tiny. We had plenty of time to see most of it even while spending a lot of the day on a snorkeling tour.

Our day of travel to get from Tulum to Caye Caulker was definitely a long and tiring one, but it felt totally worth it after arriving on the island. If you’re on a short trip, I might try to avoid dedicating a day to the journey. If you’re on a longer backpacking trip, I’d definitely go for it.

Caye Caulker

Another nearby option: Ambergris Caye

Guatemala

Flores and Tikal

This will likely be an unpopular opinion, but I didn’t love Tikal! There’s no doubt that the site itself is impressive, but unfortunately our guided experience was just not great. If that hadn’t been an issue, I may have enjoyed the day much more. (That said, we met some really cool people in Belize who we bumped into in Guatemala and visited Tikal with. We later spent time with them on Lake Atitlàn as well!)

Considering its remote location, I wouldn’t recommend making the trek to Tikal unless it’s a destination you feel really passionate about seeing.

Have you visited Tikal? If so, let me know your thoughts in the Comments section!

Antigua
Antigua Guatemala

I loved our time in Antigua. The ~3.5 days we had was a perfect amount of time for leisurely exploring. If you have less time than that, you’ll still be able to see a good amount of this walkable, colorful city. If you’d like to go on one of the popular volcano day or overnight trips that leave from Antigua, be sure to budget a little extra time.

Lake Atitlàn
Lake Atitlan Guatemala

I go into a lot of detail on Lake Atitlàn in my post here. Due to unfairly high expectations on my part, some aspects of this leg of the trip were challenging for me. In hindsight I would have stayed in a quieter area than San Pedro La Laguna. That said, there were high points as well, and there’s no doubt that the volcano-ringed lake is stunning.

Lake Atitlan Guatemala

Are you planning a trip to this corner of the world? Do you have feedback from your own adventures that you’d like to share? If you have any thoughts or questions, drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you!

Pin it for later

I’m sharing this post to one of my favorite blog link-ups: the Faraway Files, with Fifi + HopHilary StyleOregon Girl Around the World, and Suitcases and Sandcastles. Follow the links to check out their sites!

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.