32 days in Mexico, Central America & South America Itinerary

32 days in Mexico, Central America & South America Itinerary

Created using Inspirock trip itinerary maker

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Fly
1
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
— 3 nights
Fly
2
San Pedro, Belize
— 4 nights
Fly
3
San Ignacio, Belize
— 2 nights
Bus to Belize City, Fly to Roatan
4
Roatan, Honduras
— 4 nights
Fly
5
San Salvador, El Salvador
— 2 nights
Drive
6
Antigua, Guatemala
— 2 nights
Fly
7
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
— 3 nights
Drive
8
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
— 4 nights
Drive
9
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
— 1 night
Fly
10
Panama City, Panama
— 3 nights
Fly
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Cartagena, Colombia
— 3 nights
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Playa del Carmen, Mexico

— 3 nights
The tourist hub of the popular Mayan Riviera, upscale Playa del Carmen remains the jewel of Mexico's Caribbean coastline.
Escape the urban bustle at Off-Road Tours and Scuba & Snorkeling. Step off the beaten path and head to Climbing Tours and Skydiving. Change things up with these side-trips from Playa del Carmen: Tulum (Mayan Beach, Tulum Archaeological Site, &more).

For reviews, more things to do, where to stay, and other tourist information, you can read our Playa del Carmen trip tool.

Washington DC, USA to Playa del Carmen is an approximately 8-hour flight. You can also drive; or take a bus. Prepare for much warmer weather when traveling from Washington DC in January: high temperatures in Playa del Carmen hover around 78°F and lows are around 66°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 17th (Mon) to allow enough time to travel to San Pedro.

Things to do in Playa del Carmen

Outdoors · Tours · Adventure · Parks

Side Trips

San Pedro, Belize

— 4 nights
San Pedro evolved from small fishing village and now represents one of the most visited locations in Belize.
Step off the beaten path and head to Shark Ray Alley and Spas. Get in touch with nature at Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve. And it doesn't end there: let the river carry you with Tuff E Nuff Tours, tour the pleasant surroundings at Mexico Rocks, take an unforgettable tour with C & S Golf Cart Rental, and cross one thing off your bucket list with a skydiving experience.

To see other places to visit, reviews, more things to do, and tourist information, read our San Pedro tour itinerary maker.

You can fly from Playa del Carmen to San Pedro in 7.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and ferry. The time zone difference moving from Eastern Standard Time (EST) to Central Standard Time (CST) is minus 1 hour. Expect a daytime high around 81°F in January, and nighttime lows around 69°F. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 21st (Fri) so you can travel to San Ignacio.

Things to do in San Pedro

Parks · Wildlife · Nature · Tours

Side Trip

San Ignacio, Belize

— 2 nights

Cayo Town

The cultural hub of the district, San Ignacio neatly blends tourism and tradition, expats and indigenous peoples into a convincingly authentic, but modern and welcoming inland town.
On the 22nd (Sat), contemplate the long history of Xunantunich Mayan Ruins and then take a peaceful walk through Rio Bravo Forest Reserve. On your second day here, tour the pleasant surroundings at Green Iguana Conservation Project and then delve into the distant past at Cahal Pech.

To see maps, where to stay, other places to visit, and other tourist information, go to the San Ignacio trip itinerary builder.

You can fly from San Pedro to San Ignacio in 5 hours. Another option is to do a combination of ferry and bus. On the 23rd (Sun), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can travel to Roatan.

Things to do in San Ignacio

Historic Sites · Parks · Nature · Wildlife

Side Trip

Roatan, Honduras

— 4 nights
The largest of the Bay Islands, Roatan is the most developed and the most popular among its neighbors.
Eschew the tourist crowds and head to Little French Key and West Bay Beach. Get in touch with nature at Tabyana Beach and Bodden Tours. The adventure continues: kick back and relax at Mayan Day Passes, take advantage of the amenities at Grand Roatan Beach Club, stroll through Mayan Eden, and indulge in some personalized pampering at Fisioterapista-Massagista Roatan.

For traveler tips, more things to do, reviews, and more tourist information, use the Roatan trip itinerary maker tool.

Traveling by combination of bus and flight from San Ignacio to Roatan takes 7.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus, car, and ferry; or do a combination of bus, ferry, and car. In January in Roatan, expect temperatures between 82°F during the day and 69°F at night. Cap off your sightseeing on the 27th (Thu) early enough to travel to San Salvador.

Things to do in Roatan

Outdoors · Parks · Beaches · Wildlife

San Salvador, El Salvador

— 2 nights
The country's capital, San Salvador sits in a scenic position surrounded by impressive volcanoes.
Start off your visit on the 28th (Fri): take in the architecture and atmosphere at Iglesia El Rosario, examine the collection at Monseñor Romero Center, then identify plant and animal life at Wildlife Areas, and finally examine the collection at Museo Nacional de Antropología Dr. David J. Guzman. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 29th (Sat): explore the ancient world of Joya de Ceren Archaeological Park, stroll the grounds of Cementerio de Los Ilustres, then identify plant and animal life at Cinquera Rain Forest Park, and finally take in the spiritual surroundings of Basilica de la Ceiba de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe.

For reviews, maps, more things to do, and more tourist information, read our San Salvador driving holiday app.

Getting from Roatan to San Salvador by flight takes about 5 hours. Other options: do a combination of ferry, bus, and taxi; or do a combination of ferry and bus. Expect a bit warmer weather when traveling from Roatan in January: highs in San Salvador hover around 88°F, while lows dip to 64°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 29th (Sat) so you can drive to Antigua.

Things to do in San Salvador

Historic Sites · Wildlife · Museums · Parks

Antigua, Guatemala

— 2 nights
The former capital of Guatemala and a World Heritage Site, Antigua retains its colonial charm and remains one of the most visited destinations in the country.
Kick off your visit on the 30th (Sun): contemplate the geological forces at Volcan de Agua, then make a trip to Cerro de la Cruz, then see the interesting displays at ChocoMuseo, and finally explore the ancient world of Arco de Santa Catalina. On the 31st (Mon), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: don't miss a visit to The Plaza Central Park, then delve into the distant past at Convento de las Capuchinas, and then pause for some serene contemplation at Iglesia de La Merced.

To see ratings, where to stay, and tourist information, read Antigua trip builder.

Traveling by car from San Salvador to Antigua takes 4 hours. Alternatively, you can fly; or do a combination of bus and taxi. In January, Antigua is slightly colder than San Salvador - with highs of 74°F and lows of 53°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 31st (Mon) early enough to travel to Manuel Antonio.

Things to do in Antigua

Historic Sites · Nature · Parks · Museums

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

— 3 nights
The rainforest meets the sea at Manuel Antonio National Park, a small but scenic natural preserve on the west coast of Costa Rica.
Your itinerary includes some good beach time at Playa Manuel Antonio and Playa Biesanz. Get in touch with nature at Fishing Charters & Tours and Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary. It doesn't end there: surround yourself with nature on a nature and wildlife tour and stroll around Manuel Antonio National Park.

For more things to do, photos, where to stay, and other tourist information, use the Manuel Antonio trip planning site.

Traveling by flight from Antigua to Manuel Antonio takes 8.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or do a combination of taxi and bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 3rd (Thu) to allow enough time to drive to La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Outdoors · Wildlife · Tours · Parks

Side Trips

La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica

— 4 nights
Set against the backdrop of the imposing Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna de San Carlos offers visitors a chance to explore diverse natural landscapes and sample some delicious local produce.
Take a break from the city and head to Tabacon Hot Springs and Butterfly Conservatory. Step off the beaten path and head to River Rafting & Tubing and Horseback Riding Tours. There's still lots to do: take a memorable tour with Tours, witness a stunning natural landmark at Ecotermales Fortuna, get impressive views of Arenal Volcano, and hike along Senderos Los Tucanes.

For ratings, photos, traveler tips, and tourist information, you can read our La Fortuna de San Carlos trip planner.

You can drive from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna de San Carlos in 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 7th (Mon) to allow enough time to drive to San Juan del Sur.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Parks · Nature · Outdoors · Tours

Side Trips

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

— 1 night
Set in a crescent-shaped bay, San Juan del Sur has become known as a popular surfing spot and coastal holiday destination for Nicaraguan families and international visitors alike.
Kick off your visit on the 8th (Tue): soothe aching muscles at some of the top local wellness centers and then kick back and relax at La Flor Beach Natural Reserve.

To find photos, traveler tips, maps, and more tourist information, go to the San Juan del Sur trip planner.

Drive from La Fortuna de San Carlos to San Juan del Sur in 4 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and car; or take a bus. In February, daytime highs in San Juan del Sur are 87°F, while nighttime lows are 75°F. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 8th (Tue) so you can travel to Panama City.

Things to do in San Juan del Sur

Wildlife · Parks · Beaches · Outdoors

Panama City, Panama

— 3 nights

Dubai of Latin America

Arguably the most modern of Central American cities, Panama City boasts a shimmering skyline of glass skyscrapers.
Discover out-of-the-way places like Cinta Costera and Museo del Canal Interoceanico de Panama. Take a break from the city and head to Soberania National Park and Metropolitan National Park. Next up on the itinerary: get to know the fascinating history of Casco Viejo and don't miss a visit to Panama Canal.

For reviews, traveler tips, other places to visit, and other tourist information, read our Panama City holiday planning tool.

Fly from San Juan del Sur to Panama City in 6.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or do a combination of car and bus. Traveling from San Juan del Sur to Panama City, you'll lose 1 hour due to the time zone difference. In February, daytime highs in Panama City are 89°F, while nighttime lows are 76°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 11th (Fri) so you can travel to Cartagena.

Things to do in Panama City

Nature · Parks · Neighborhoods · Historic Sites

Cartagena, Colombia

— 3 nights

City of Heroes

The site of the continent's first Spanish colony, Cartagena retains much of its colonial flavor thanks to a World Heritage-listed old town, encircled by old walls and protected by imposing fortresses.
On the 12th (Sat), contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Convent of Santa Cruz de la Popa, don't miss a visit to Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, then make a trip to Torre del Reloj, then steep yourself in history at Sanctuary of Saint Peter Claver, and finally see the interesting displays at Choco Museo. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 13th (Sun): contemplate the long history of Walled City of Cartagena, don't miss a visit to Plaza Santo Domingo, and then take in the spiritual surroundings of Ermita Nuestra Senora De La Candelaria.

For where to stay, maps, ratings, and more tourist information, read our Cartagena trip itinerary builder.

Traveling by flight from Panama City to Cartagena takes 5.5 hours. Expect a daytime high around 88°F in February, and nighttime lows around 75°F. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 14th (Mon) to allow time for travel back home.

Things to do in Cartagena

Historic Sites · Museums

Mexico travel guide

4.5
Ruins · Beaches · Landmarks
Tailor-made for anyone seeking that traditional sun-and-sand experience, Mexico vacations allow visitors to explore nearly 10,000 km (6,200 mi) of picturesque coastlines. Idyllic beaches and favorable year-round weather aside, this diverse country with a rich pre-Colombian history allows tourists a chance to discover a fascinating cuisine, numerous archaeological sites, state-of-the-art museums, colonial-era haciendas, and outstanding examples of 21st-century architecture. Most visitors get to know the country by its cities, but if you want a well-rounded Mexico tour, spend some time exploring its jungles, cloud forests, Caribbean reefs, snowcapped volcanoes, vast deserts, and tranquil lagoons. Life is lived outdoors in Mexico, so wherever you go, don't forget to dine alfresco and stroll the country's colonial streets.

Belize travel guide

4.5
Scuba & Snorkeling · River Rafting & Tubing · Reefs
Belize boasts a long coastline along the Caribbean Sea and serves as one of the world's top destinations for snorkeling and scuba diving. In a country providing a home for many different ethnic communities, a holiday in Belize ensures visitors experience a blend of cultures sharing a small land endowed with grand natural beauty. As you tour Belize, you'll see dense broadleaf forests sheltering a staggering variety of birds, ancient Maya ruins providing a palpable history lesson, and tiny coastal villages making up in hospitality what they lack in tourist infrastructure. Still relatively unexplored by foreigners, the country offers travelers a chance to experience pristine scenery free of big crowds and pushy souvenir vendors.

Honduras travel guide

4.5
Scuba & Snorkeling · Beaches · Zipline
A vacation in Honduras can be an affordable and exciting addition to your Central American itinerary. Often undeservedly overlooked because of the high crime rate in a few of its cities, the country boasts pristine natural wonders, a rich history, and a vibrant atmosphere. From the vivacious Afro-Caribbean culture of the north shore, to the vast mountains and cloud forests of its national parks, Honduras has a lot to offer to the adventurous tourist. Visiting the ancient Mayan ruins of Copan, diving on Bay Islands, and admiring the colonial architecture in the capital remain just some of the things to do in Honduras.

El Salvador travel guide

4.3
National Parks · Churches · Ruins
El Salvador, the smallest country in Central America, has plenty of historical and natural attractions to explore on a rich and varied itinerary. The coastal beaches attract surfers and sunbathers, while the main towns showcase colonial and indigenous cultures in their traditions, architecture, cuisine, and historical sites. Tourism in El Salvador has been stuttering for decades, first because of the Salvadoran Civil War, and now because of gang-related activities and a high crime rate. The vast majority of the country, however, remains unspoiled by the narrative that dominates international headlines. Travelers looking for an off-the-beaten-track destination, with natural and manmade highlights uncluttered by tourists and overdevelopment, find such a place in El Salvador.

Guatemala travel guide

4.5
Landmarks · Volcanos · Ruins
Land of Eternal Spring
Offering a chance to discover a rich history, remarkable landscapes, and a vibrant culture, a holiday in Guatemala remains a great choice for a wide range of travelers. The heart of the Maya civilization, Guatemala boasts stunning ancient ruins and traditional villages that blend with the Spanish heritage of the colonial-era and its stately cathedrals and town halls. While the cities boast splendid architecture and cultural heritage, they make up a small percentage of the mountainous Guatemalan landscape. Adventurous travelers and nature lovers will have plenty of things to do in Guatemala, from boating on the rushing rivers and scenic lakes, to exploring caves, picturesque beaches, and lush national parks.

Costa Rica travel guide

4.4
Beaches · Nature & Parks · Zipline
Tiny in terms of land area, Costa Rica is astoundingly diverse when it comes to culture and natural attractions. In a country called "Rich Coast", it's no surprise most Costa Rica vacations dedicate at least a few days to picturesque Pacific and Caribbean beaches, ideal for water sports and relaxation. Few small countries offer such a range of landscapes, allowing tourists to observe towering volcanoes while soaking away their worries in a hot spring, or hike into dense rainforests in the morning and surf at a modern resort in the afternoon. A trip to Costa Rica also lets you discover pristine national parks, ensuring plenty of chances to view wildlife from the comfort of eco-friendly lodges packed with amenities even ardent nature lovers secretly desire.

Nicaragua travel guide

4.3
Churches · Volcanos · Specialty Museums
Still emerging as a major tourist destination, Nicaragua, the largest country in Central America, entices travelers with its rich history and remarkable natural beauty just waiting to be discovered. A holiday in Nicaragua allows you to explore a vibrant culture, scenic beaches, and plenty of spots off the beaten path. Majestic volcanoes, lakes, and forests offer numerous chances for exploration and exciting adventures, while major cities boast splendid colonial architecture. With access to coastlines on both the Pacific and the Caribbean, a vacation in Nicaragua appeals to those looking for thrilling surfing experiences, dramatic views, or a chance to spread out on a deserted tropical beach.

Panama travel guide

4.1
Landmarks · Historic Walking Areas · Shopping Malls
With a lively banking sector and a booming tourism industry, Panama remains one of the most powerful nations in the Americas, though it's also one of the smallest by land area. The country boasts coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, so it's not surprising most Panama holidays include some form of seaside entertainment. With outstanding beaches all over the country, it's easy to find an ideal spot to swim, snorkel, dive, fish, sail, or simply kick back on the sand with a few cold drinks. The country's best-known landmark and one of the world's most significant shipping routes, Panama Canal tops most tourist itineraries--many choose to see this engineering wonder by traveling the length of it by train.

Colombia travel guide

4
Historic Sites · Landmarks · Specialty Museums
Diverse in terms of landscapes, climates, and cultures, Colombia remains one of South America's least explored tourist destinations, overshadowed by its more popular southern neighbors. Combining the best of what the continent has to offer, a vacation in Colombia allows you to blend outdoor adventures with tours of picture-perfect cobblestoned towns dating back to the colonial era. Tourists on a Colombia holiday can easily hop from sun-kissed coastal spots to the hilly coffee-growing region, where thriving plantations quickly give way to a landscape of snow-covered volcanic peaks and the paramo--alpine ecosystems sheltering some of the rarest plants growing above the continuous forest line.