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In recent years Tulum has grown from a sleepy beach town into one of the most popular beach destinations in Mexico. Unfortunately, prices have risen in line with popularity, and it’s no longer considered a budget-travel destination and there is not a ton of free things to do in Tulum that can be found without some research.
The good news is there are still some amazing 100% free things to do in Tulum that you can find in this post! Keep reading to find the best Tulum has to offer on the cheap.
Bike Around Town
While renting a bike in town can cost around 100 pesos ($5) per day, a lot of hotels, hostels, and Airbnbs include free bikes with the purchase of a stay!
You probably will need some mode of transportation to see Tulum because the town center is located a 40-minute walk from the beach. While you could rent a car or a scooter, biking is one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to see Tulum so it pays to see if you can score a hotel with a bike included.
Biking around town is easily one of the best free things to do in Tulum!
Climb the Rocks at Tulum Beach
Tulum has a unique landscape of white sand beaches punctuated by rugged cliffs that plunge off into the ocean. A popular activity at Tulum Beach, one of the public beaches in Tulum, is to climb these cliffs! Either just for fun or to get a truly unique photo opportunity.
Take in the Gorgeous Mayan Architecture of Tulum Ruins
Tulum Ruins (unfortunately) isn’t a free attraction; it costs 85 Mexican pesos ($4) per ticket. You can still enjoy the ruins from the public beach 100% free of charge.
You can easily see the gorgeous Mayan Architecture of the Tulum Ruins from “Playa Ruinas.” This is a quick walk down the shore from the largest public beach in Tulum, Playa Paraiso. This is one of the hidden gem free things to do in Tulum.
Fun Facts About Tulum Ruins
- Tulum is one of the last cities inhabited by the Mayan People.
- Tulum wasn’t abandoned until the end of the 16th century.
- The old name of Tulum was “Zama”, which means “The City of Dawn”.
- At its height, the Mayan City of Tulum is estimated to have housed around 1,500 people.
- The Tulum Ruins are estimated to be around 800 years old.
- Today, Tulum Ruins is the 3rd most visited archeological site in Mexico.
Go Window Shopping in the Hotel Zone
Selling mostly bohemian-style clothes and home goods, Tulum is known for its unique stores. Unfortunately, shopping in Tulum is the opposite of free! Outfits easily go over $500 at the iconic little boutiques in the Hotel Zone.
Even though buying will cost you a pretty penny, you can always window shop for free if you’re on a budget as you make your way down the main street in the Hotel Zone. Some of the most iconic “Tulum-Esque” boutiques are Tuluminati and Casita Xamen.
In Tulum Centro, popular shops are Pura Vida Tulum, Kaahal Home Tulum, and La Pulga Boutique.
Go Swimming at Playa Paraiso
Playa Paraiso means “Paradise Beach” in Spanish and it 100% lives up to its name.
Playa Paraiso is the largest public (free!) beach in Tulum. It’s also the easiest to get to from Tulum town center if you don’t have a car or a scooter! It’s one of the best free things to do in Tulum!
All you have to do is go down Avenida Coba and take a left. After 10-15 minutes of walking you will have arrived at one of the nicest beaches in Mexico.
Visit the only FREE Cenote in Tulum
A free cenote? In 2022? Yes! It’s still possible.
Located in the residential region of Tulum called “Aldea Zama“, Aldea Zama cenote is nestled within a seemingly endless condominium complex.
Despite being surrounded by new developments on all sides, Cenote Aldea Zama is still 100% uncommercialized and free to the public.
Featuring crystal clear blue water and even a tiny cliff jump, Cenote Aldea Zama is a local favorite.
Cenote Aldea Zama is very small, and because it’s uncommercialized, it has no set hours. I recommend getting there as early as possible to beat the crowd.
There are no signs for Cenote Aldea Zama but it has a marker on Google Maps you can use to find it.
Take a Photo at the “Follow that Dream” Sign
The “Follow That Dream” sign has become an Instagram spot synonymous with Tulum.
Located in the Hotel Zone next to Hotel Panamera, it’s a quick, free, and easy photo spot to take home a priceless memory that emblemizes Tulum’s free-spirited culture.
Go Swimming at ANY Beach in Tulum!
Earlier in this post, I mentioned some iconic free public beaches in Tulum like Playa Ruinas, Playa Paraiso, and Tulum Beach. While these are all terrific options, the truth is every single beach in Tulum (and all of Mexico) is 100% free and open to the public by law.
While the beaches are 100% public, the hotels are not, and in a lot of places you cannot walk from the street to the beach by cutting through hotel or resort property. So while the law protecting public beach access in Mexico is amazing for the people, it’s not always practical since you need to walk along the coast to access the beach.
There are a lot of beach clubs in Tulum that charge a per diem fee or have a minimum spend, but when you pay to attend a beach club you’re paying to use their facilities like chairs, tables, wifi, etc since the beach itself is always free.
Tour the Shops and Galleries of Local Craftsmen
Tulum has been known as a hub for artists and creatives for a while now, and there are a lot of small shops and galleries that sell artisan goods. If you are searching out free things to do in Tulum, this should definitely make the list!
Three lovely artisan shops in Tulum:
Visit a Food Truck Carnival
Have you ever been to a Smorgasburg? Well, Tulum has its own version of a food truck festival and it is a permanent fixture open every day in the Tulum town center.
Tulum’s food truck mecca is called Palma Central, and it’s home to just about every food truck you can imagine.
All types of food can be found at Palma Central. There’s a coffee truck, smoothie truck, bbq, sushi, vegan food, pizza, etc. There are even some small outdoor boutiques selling clothes and handmade items.
There is tons of outdoor seating and no entrance fee, which makes Palma Central the perfect hangout spot.
Palma Central Address: Av. Kukulkan 6, Palma Central, 77760 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
Hours: 9AM–2PM, 5–11PM, closed Wednesdays.
Sample the Local Flavor at a Tequila Tasting
Tequila is synonymous with Mexico! The famous alcohol is made out of the fermented Agave plant and was first established in the Jalisco region of Mexico.
Today you can buy tequila all over the world, but the best quality can only be found in Mexico. Some tourists pay lots of money to go on tequila tasting tours, but pretty much any shop or stall that sells tequila always offers a free tasting.
They can afford to do this because the bottles of tequila at Tequilerias being sold to tourists are infamously marked up, sometimes 100x the actual retail price. But even though they’re trying to sell you something expensive, there’s no harm in trying before buying for free!
Enjoy the Nightlife in Tulum Centro
While most of the bars and clubs in the Hotel Zone charge a cover for entrance, you can go bar hopping and listen to live music in the Centro region for free! Popular bar in Tulum Centro include Batey Mojito and Guarapo Bar, Caribe Swing, Mistico Shisha Bar, and Pasito Tun Tun.
Take a Free Yoga Class!
Tulum and free don’t usually go in the same sentence, and while yoga is super popular in the area, classes can even run up to $50 per person. Luckily, some hotels and hostels offer free yoga and meditation sessions for their guests.
If you’re staying at the famous Selina hostel chain, they always offer mediation and wellness classes for their guests free of charge. At the Tulum outpost, these include both night and morning yoga classes, with other spiritual experiences like Temazcal and Cacao ceremonies available for an additional fee.
Go for a Walk on the Beach
Sometimes the classics can’t be beaten! Tulum has over 6 miles of uninterrupted beautiful coastline that you can stroll 100% free of charge making it hands down one of the best free things to do in Tulum.
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This post was contributed by Katie from KatieCafTravel.com