37 days in Mexico & Central America Itinerary

Make it your trip
Fly
1
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
— 5 nights
Fly
2
San Pedro, Belize
— 4 nights
Fly
3
Roatan, Honduras
— 5 nights
Fly
4
San Salvador, El Salvador
— 4 nights
Fly
5
Antigua, Guatemala
— 3 nights
Fly
6
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
— 2 nights
Drive
7
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
— 5 nights
Drive
8
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
— 3 nights
+2
Shuttle to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Drive to Changuinola, Fly to Panama City
9
Panama City, Panama
— 5 nights
Fly

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Playa del Carmen, Mexico — 5 nights

The tourist hub of the popular Mayan Riviera, upscale Playa del Carmen remains the jewel of Mexico's Caribbean coastline.
Explore the numerous day-trip ideas around Playa del Carmen: Zona Arqueologica de Coba (in Coba) and Tulum (Amore Latino Tulum, Balam Art On Feathers, &more). Spend the 31st (Sun) among aquatic life with a scuba or snorkeling tour. And it doesn't end there: find something for the whole family at Xcaret, push the limits with an extreme tour, and head outdoors with Outdoor Activities.

To find maps, traveler tips, where to stay, and other tourist information, read our Playa del Carmen road trip website.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Playa del Carmen is an approximately 14-hour flight. The time zone changes from Brasilia Standard Time (BRT) to Eastern Standard Time (EST), which is usually a -2 hour difference. Plan for slightly colder temperatures traveling from Rio de Janeiro in December, with highs in Playa del Carmen at 31°C and lows at 23°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 31st (Sun) to allow time to fly to San Pedro.
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Side Trips
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San Pedro, Belize — 4 nights

San Pedro evolved from small fishing village and now represents one of the most visited locations in Belize.
Spend the 2nd (Tue) exploring nature at Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve. There's much more to do: identify plant and animal life at Belize Diving Services, see the vivid underwater world at Shark Ray Alley, let your taste buds guide you at a local gastronomic tour, and browse the exhibits of Belizean Arts.

To find photos, more things to do, where to stay, and more tourist information, read our San Pedro trip itinerary tool.

You can fly from Playa del Carmen to San Pedro in 7 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and ferry. Traveling from Playa del Carmen to San Pedro, you'll gain 1 hour due to the time zone difference. In December, daytime highs in San Pedro are 33°C, while nighttime lows are 26°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 4th (Thu) early enough to catch the flight to Roatan.
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Parks · Tours · Wildlife · Nature
Side Trip
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Roatan, Honduras — 5 nights

The largest of the Bay Islands, Roatan is the most developed and the most popular among its neighbors.
Roatan is known for wildlife, beaches, and adventure. Your trip includes some of its best attractions: get outside with Mayan Divers, walk around Gumbalimba Park, tour the pleasant surroundings at Blue Harbor Tropical Arboretum, and gain insight at Steel Pan Alley.

To find other places to visit, where to stay, traveler tips, and other tourist information, read Roatan attractions planning app.

You can fly from San Pedro to Roatan in 6 hours. Other options are to do a combination of ferry, car, and bus; or do a combination of ferry and bus. In January in Roatan, expect temperatures between 32°C during the day and 24°C at night. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 9th (Tue) to allow time to fly to San Salvador.
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Parks · Outdoors · Wildlife · Tours
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San Salvador, El Salvador — 4 nights

The country's capital, San Salvador sits in a scenic position surrounded by impressive volcanoes.
San Salvador is known for historic sites, sightseeing, and nature. Your trip includes some of its best attractions: pause for some serene contemplation at Iglesia El Rosario, relax and rejuvenate at SPA InterContinental San Salvador, look for all kinds of wild species at Cinquera Rain Forest Park, and get engrossed in the history at Museo del Ferrocarril y Parque Tematico.

For more things to do, where to stay, ratings, and more tourist information, use the San Salvador driving holiday planning app.

You can fly from Roatan to San Salvador in 5 hours. Alternatively, you can 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 36°C, while lows dip to 20°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 13th (Sat) early enough to fly to Antigua.
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Museums · Historic Sites · Parks · Spas
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Antigua, Guatemala — 3 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.
Venture out of the city with trips to Guatemala City (La Aurora Zoo, Palacio Nacional, &more). There's much more to do: contemplate the geological forces at Volcán Pacaya, stop by Jades Imperio Maya, pause for some serene contemplation at Iglesia de La Merced, and delve into the distant past at Arco de Santa Catalina.

To find photos, other places to visit, and more tourist information, refer to the Antigua sightseeing planning site.

Traveling by flight from San Salvador to Antigua takes 3 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or do a combination of bus and taxi. Traveling from San Salvador in January, expect Antigua to be a bit cooler, temps between 27°C and 13°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 16th (Tue) to allow time to fly to San Juan del Sur.
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Historic Sites · Parks · Museums · Nature
Side Trip
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San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua — 2 nights

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 17th (Wed): kick back and relax at La Flor Beach Natural Reserve. Keep things going the next day: make a trip to Mirador del Cristo de la Misericordia, relax and rejuvenate at Pranamaya Yoga & Thai Massage Studio Playa Maderas, and then take a tour by water with Boat Tours & Water Sports.

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

You can fly from Antigua to San Juan del Sur in 4.5 hours. Other options are to drive; or do a combination of taxi and bus. When traveling from Antigua in January, plan for somewhat warmer days and much hotter nights in San Juan del Sur: temperatures range from 35°C by day to 28°C at night. Cap off your sightseeing on the 18th (Thu) early enough to go by car to La Fortuna de San Carlos.
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Outdoors · Tours · Parks · Beaches
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La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica — 5 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.
La Fortuna de San Carlos is known for nature, adventure, and parks. Your trip includes some of its best attractions: witness a stunning natural landmark at Tabacon Hot Springs, let your taste buds guide you at a local gastronomic tour, scramble along the landscape with a canyoning and rapelling tour, and get outside with Outdoor Activities.

To see more things to do, where to stay, and tourist information, go to the La Fortuna de San Carlos trip itinerary maker tool.

Traveling by car from San Juan del Sur to La Fortuna de San Carlos takes 4 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of car and bus; or take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 23rd (Tue) to allow time to drive to Manuel Antonio.
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Parks · Nature · Tours · Wildlife
Side Trip
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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.
Change things up with these side-trips from Manuel Antonio: Jaco (Aurora Yoga & Canyoning & Rappelling Tours). There's still lots to do: enjoy the sand and surf at Playa Manuel Antonio, get a dose of the wild on a nature and wildlife tour, glide peacefully along the water with some of the best stand-up paddleboarding in the area, and see Off-Road Tours.

For reviews, ratings, traveler tips, and more tourist information, read our Manuel Antonio trip itinerary builder site.

Drive from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Manuel Antonio in 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 26th (Fri) so you can travel to Panama City.
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Outdoors · Tours · Parks · Beaches
Side Trip
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Panama City, Panama — 5 nights

Dubai of Latin America

Arguably the most modern of Central American cities, Panama City boasts a shimmering skyline of glass skyscrapers.
Spend the 28th (Sun) exploring nature at Soberania National Park. Next up on the itinerary: appreciate the extensive heritage of Casco Viejo, make a trip to Amador Causeway (Calzada de Amador), get engrossed in the history at Museo del Canal Interoceanico de Panama, and hunt for treasures at Mercado de Mariscos.

To see more things to do, traveler tips, reviews, and tourist information, you can read our Panama City trip itinerary planning website.

You can do a combination of shuttle, car, and flight from Manuel Antonio to Panama City in 6 hours. Other options are to drive; or do a combination of shuttle and bus. Due to the time zone difference, you'll lose 1 hour traveling from Manuel Antonio to Panama City. In January in Panama City, expect temperatures between 36°C during the day and 28°C at night. On the 31st (Wed), you'll travel back home.
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Parks · Nature · Neighborhoods · Historic Sites
Find places to stay Jan 26 — 31:
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Mexico travel guide

4.5
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.
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Belize travel guide

4.5
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.
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Honduras travel guide

4.6
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Costa Rica travel guide

4.5
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.
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Panama travel guide

4.2
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.
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