Cycling in México: Why Yucatán is the Perfect Destination

For those who love to travel the world by bike, cycling in México better be on your bucket list! Especially if you prefer to take it slow and easy instead of speeding for miles and miles.

For your next cycling tour, consider the state of Yucatán in eastern México. Culture, history, nature, lots of smiles from locals, and amazing food are some of the highlights that make every bike ride around this region unique. 

Here are the reasons why you should choose Yucatán, the perfect destination for road cycling in México.

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© Rubén Encalada

4 Reasons Why Yucatán is the Best Place For Cycling in México

1. Easy Access!

The state of Yucatán is situated in the northern part of the Yucatán Peninsula in México. Its eastern/southern neighbor is Quintana Roo, where popular tourist spots like Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen are located. This makes it a fabulous location for quick and easy access through the airport in Cancun, but far enough from the buzz and “touristy-ness” of the Riviera Maya.

Yucatán offers a vast range of terrain for cycling. It is mostly flat, with some hills in the southern parts, but nothing too demanding. The coast is flat and faces north towards the Gulf of México. Around this region, the ocean water is emerald green and quite beautiful all year long.

Related Reading:

flat scenic terrain in Yucatan
The “Flamboyan” trees outside of Aké in Yucatán. © Rubén Encalada

For beginner cyclists, flat terrain provides the ability to adjust distances according to appropriate levels of comfort/physical fitness without compromising the trip experience. It provides an opportunity to tackle distances that otherwise might be too much to attempt in a hilly or mountainous area for more skilled riders. 

Cycling through this region of México brings you through quaint Mayan villages, colonial towns, haciendas, and cenotes (see below).

Related: What You Need to Know About Travel Insurance

© Rubén Encalada

2. Come for the Cycling, Stay for the Food

Mérida, Yucatán’s state capital, is one of the prettiest colonial cities in all of México. It’s also a foodie paradise that boasts some of the most famous dishes in the country, like Cochinita Pibil, Salbutes, and Panuchos. Mexicans actually travel to Mérida just for the food!

Mérida is a city that closes its main avenue, Paseo de Montejo, every Sunday for a family event called “La Bicirruta” (the bike route). This is the perfect day to hop on a bike and ride along with hundreds of locals. You’re sure to get a comprehensive city tour on two wheels.

Travel Planning Tip: Order a prepaid SIM card before you travel!

stopping in small towns while cycling in Mexico
© Rubén Encalada

3. Immerse Yourself in Mayan Culture + History

Yucatán is on the northern edge of the Mayan world and features 17 archeological sites open to the public. Some of the most famous ancient cities in all of México are in Yucatán, such as Chichén Itzá, Uxmal, and Ek Balam.

With Tulum and Coba right next door in Quintana Roo, you can create a wonderful itinerary of culture and history through this entire region.

Related: How to Visit Tulum on a Budget

So far, I have visited 15 out of the 17 archeological sites while on cycling tours. My favorite ride is along the Puuc Route. The beauty of this ride is that you can customize its length without compromising the experience. It has 5 archeological sites and 1 incredible cave system called Loltun, which served as a ceremonial ground and refuge for the ancient Mayans.

cycling near Merida
The little village of San Antonio Millet near Mérida. © Rubén Encalada

4. Cycle to Cenotes + Visit Mayan Villages

A cenote is a sinkhole full of fresh, cool water. Visiting and swimming in cenotes is a popular activity for tourists and locals alike. There are around 2,300 recorded cenotes just in the state of Yucatán alone. 

There are some true gems out there, some of which are actually easier to reach by bike than a car. Of those thousands of cenotes, there are about 100 that tourists can visit, so the options are many!

The fun part about visiting cenotes by bike is the cultural experience you gain by passing through all the little Mayan villages along the way. In most of these places, people speak the native Mayan language.

I recommend stopping in these villages to buy water or a popsicle to cool off. Most of the time, locals will approach and start chatting, or if you happen to ride by a school, kids will come out and yell hello and goodbye! 

The villages are generally about 6 miles apart from each other, so if you are doing a 25-mile ride towards a cenote, you could visit 3 authentic Mayan villages on the way while looking forward to a fresh dip in an incredible cenote at the end.

Related: How to Pack for Adventure Travel in Mexico

The Best Beach Routes For Cycling Yucatán

Here are two major stretches of land along the coast that can be explored by bike: 

El Cuyo to San Felipe

This route crosses 40 miles (62 km) of dirt paths and paved roads between the villages of El Cuyo and San Felipe.

On this ride, you will find the famous pink ponds of las Coloradas; several secluded beaches, beautiful boat rides to flamingo grounds in Rio Lagartos.

Dzilam de Bravo to Chuburná

On the route from Dzilam de Bravo to Chuburná, you will ride right along the Gulf of México, visiting traditional fisherman’s villages such as Chabihau, Telchac, and San Crisanto.

While en route, you can take a boat ride through the mangrove forest to a beautiful cenote, rest on a secluded beach covered in palm trees, and explore several miles of sand paths along a stretch of beach houses. 

At a little over 61 miles (about 99 km), one could complete this round trip ride in a day.

cycling by pink ponds in las Coloradas
Arriving at the pink ponds in las Coloradas. © Rubén Encalada

Best Time to Go Cycling in México + Yucatán

The best time to cycle in Yucatán is in the fall and winter in the Northern Hemisphere, from November through March. The weather will be accommodating during this time, with less rain and lower temperatures than spring and summer.

However, keep in mind that it could still be hot and humid. I’ve heard feedback from many travelers who compare the weather in Yucatán to that of Southeast Asia, so pack accordingly!

Buen Viaje! Enjoy your cycle tour, and feel free to share more route ideas in the comments!

Related: A Bike Tour Packing List For Any Weather

By Rubén Encalada

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