Cancún travel guide

Cancún Tourism | Cancún Guide

You're Going to Love Cancún

Cancun is one of the premier beach destinations in the world. With 14 miles of pure white sand and a vast choice of hotels and resorts, this Mexican coastal city is heaven for sun-seekers and water sports lovers.

In fact, Cancun was created with the needs of tourists in mind. This means that the island and nearby coastal resorts are packed with resorts. There are family resorts with water parks attached like the All Ritmo, as well as adult-oriented complexes like Le Blanc.

Dine at gourmet restaurants on freshly caught Caribbean seafood. Enjoy a couple of cocktails by the sea at the Blue Gecko, before diving into lively clubs like Coco Bongo to party the night away.

On the other hand, you can always take it easy, letting sunny days pass by lounging on the perfect beaches. Whichever way you choose to spend your vacation, Cancun is a great place to be.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Cancún

1. Beaches

The 14 miles of unspoiled, soft, inviting sands are the main attraction of Cancun. Stay in a hotel on the island and be a few seconds away from the sun loungers and the placid, warm waters of the Caribbean sea.

2. Seafood

Cancun is a great place to dine on fresh seafood. Try the lobster curry at La Habichuela, the shrimp dishes at Calypso’s or the fish tacos at El Fish Fritanga.

3. Water Sports

Cancun is a magnet for jet skiers, wakeboarders, snorkelers, divers, and para-sailing fans. Rent catamarans and cruise the bay, go kayaking around Isla Mujeres, or enlist an expert captain to fish the rich Caribbean waters.

4. Great Resorts

Cancun was developed specifically for tourists. It’s major aim is to provide a luxury service for visitors, which is why there are so many high-end but affordable resorts. There are adult-only options like Le Blanc, family-friendly choices like the Iberostar, and golf-centered resorts like Moon Palace.

5. Nightlife

Between January and May, Cancun is a vibrant nightlife center. In the center of town, don’t miss Las de Guanatos, which blends great Mexican food and live music. On the island Blue Gecko is a relaxed bar where the cocktails are served into the late hours.

What to do in Cancún

1. Playa Tortugas: Beach of Your Dreams

This gorgeous public beach rivals all others in Cancun. It is frequented by locals and tourists alike. Known for its pristine sand and calm waters, this oasis of calm is just down the coast but worlds away from the spring-break-oriented resorts. On Playa Tortugas, you can wile away the day in the sun, splash around in the ocean until your heart's content, rent paddle boards and venture away from shore, or enjoy a tasty meal at one of the many open-air restaurants.

2. El Rey Ruins: Today meets Yesterday

Down the coast from a concentration of resorts in Cancún's famous "Zona Hotelera," Mexico's ancient past reveals itself. El Rey was once an important Mayan site with a whole variety of functions - trade post, royal burial ground, school of astronomy, and more. Immerse yourself in these otherworldly ruins, and after a thrilling walk through the past head over to Playa Delfines to cool off in the ocean or relax in the sun.

3. Isla Mujeres: Tranquility or Adventure?

Thirteen miles off the coast of Cancún, this island which rests in the Caribbean Sea is loaded with fun-filled attractions. Far from the crowds on shore, the peaceful beaches here will capture your attention all day. Meanwhile, those in for a thrill can explore the island further. Visit the pirate ruins of Hacienda Mundaca, scuba dive to an underwater sculpture garden at MUSA, or swim with dolphins at Dolphin Discovery.

4. Acuario Interactivo: Within Reach

One of Cancún's most universally loved attractions is the Interactive Aquarium. Found at the quiet Laguna Nichupté, this wonderland invites visitors to come face-to-face with our diverse underwater world in a unique hands-on environment. Colorful fish tanks and exciting exhibitions are found throughout the building, with touch tanks along the way where you can gently make contact with marine life from starfish to rays.

5. Chichen Itza: Spiritual Archeology

The Riviera Maya is named for the indigenous civilization that once capitalized on its unique landscape, and built their holy cities into its grounds. Chichen Itza is one of the most famous of these, and a day trip will amaze with ancient wonders. El Castillo rises stoically towards the sun, with symmetrical stairs leading to the pyramid's peak. Elaborate carvings reveal clues to the beliefs and practices of the Mayans, and at night, the complex is bathed in a modern light show.

6. Xcaret Park: Land and Sea Adventure

This eco-archaeological park is set directly between the azure waters of the Caribbean and the border of the jungle, offering enthralling activities to get you closer to nature. Snorkeling is a must, and exploring underground rivers in coastal caves is unforgettable. Swimming with the dolphins is something that everyone wants to experience on their trip to Riviera Maya, while back on land Mexican Culture is celebrated through and through - from the restaurants to the parades and performances.

7. Parque Xplor: Zipping through the Canopies

Mexico is a destination of unbridled pleasure, and Xplor Park manages to mix fun and ecology into a amazing recreation experience. Zip-lining through the forest and rafting lively rivers get your heart thumping as you dig your hands into what nature has to offer. Amphibious vehicles bear you into forest climates you could never reach otherwise, and you won't ever forget how special the Yucatan Peninsula is.

1. Playa Tortugas: Beach of Your Dreams

This gorgeous public beach rivals all others in Cancun. It is frequented by locals and tourists alike. Known for its pristine sand and calm waters, this oasis of calm is just down the coast but worlds away from the spring-break-oriented resorts. On Playa Tortugas, you can wile away the day in the sun, splash around in the ocean until your heart's content, rent paddle boards and venture away from shore, or enjoy a tasty meal at one of the many open-air restaurants.

2. El Rey Ruins: Today meets Yesterday

Down the coast from a concentration of resorts in Cancún's famous "Zona Hotelera," Mexico's ancient past reveals itself. El Rey was once an important Mayan site with a whole variety of functions - trade post, royal burial ground, school of astronomy, and more. Immerse yourself in these otherworldly ruins, and after a thrilling walk through the past head over to Playa Delfines to cool off in the ocean or relax in the sun.

3. Isla Mujeres: Tranquility or Adventure?

Thirteen miles off the coast of Cancún, this island which rests in the Caribbean Sea is loaded with fun-filled attractions. Far from the crowds on shore, the peaceful beaches here will capture your attention all day. Meanwhile, those in for a thrill can explore the island further. Visit the pirate ruins of Hacienda Mundaca, scuba dive to an underwater sculpture garden at MUSA, or swim with dolphins at Dolphin Discovery.

4. Acuario Interactivo: Within Reach

One of Cancún's most universally loved attractions is the Interactive Aquarium. Found at the quiet Laguna Nichupté, this wonderland invites visitors to come face-to-face with our diverse underwater world in a unique hands-on environment. Colorful fish tanks and exciting exhibitions are found throughout the building, with touch tanks along the way where you can gently make contact with marine life from starfish to rays.

5. Chichen Itza: Spiritual Archeology

The Riviera Maya is named for the indigenous civilization that once capitalized on its unique landscape, and built their holy cities into its grounds. Chichen Itza is one of the most famous of these, and a day trip will amaze with ancient wonders. El Castillo rises stoically towards the sun, with symmetrical stairs leading to the pyramid's peak. Elaborate carvings reveal clues to the beliefs and practices of the Mayans, and at night, the complex is bathed in a modern light show.

6. Xcaret Park: Land and Sea Adventure

This eco-archaeological park is set directly between the azure waters of the Caribbean and the border of the jungle, offering enthralling activities to get you closer to nature. Snorkeling is a must, and exploring underground rivers in coastal caves is unforgettable. Swimming with the dolphins is something that everyone wants to experience on their trip to Riviera Maya, while back on land Mexican Culture is celebrated through and through - from the restaurants to the parades and performances.

7. Parque Xplor: Zipping through the Canopies

Mexico is a destination of unbridled pleasure, and Xplor Park manages to mix fun and ecology into a amazing recreation experience. Zip-lining through the forest and rafting lively rivers get your heart thumping as you dig your hands into what nature has to offer. Amphibious vehicles bear you into forest climates you could never reach otherwise, and you won't ever forget how special the Yucatan Peninsula is.

Where to Eat in Cancún

There’s a huge variety of dining options in Cancun, from cheap street food to high-end gourmet eateries. The best restaurant in town is probably La Habichuela. Try the Cocobichuela, a seafood curry served in a coconut shell. Peters Restaurante is a cheaper option in the Downtown area, while Lorenzillo’s on the island is a great place to dine by the sea. The best street food options are definitely the taco stands in Parque las Palapas. Expect to pay around MXN$50-70 for a high-quality meal.

When to visit Cancún

Cancún in January
Estimated hotel price
C$ 120
1 night at 3-star hotel
Cancún in January
Estimated hotel price
C$ 120
1 night at 3-star hotel

Cancun’s peak season is between December and April, when northern visitors are attracted by the tropical sunshine, the rains are very light, and hurricanes hardly ever materialize. January and February offer the best weather, and conditions become ever more humid during April and May. Avoid Cancun in September and October, as this is hurricane season in south-eastern Mexico.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Celcius (°C)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Cancún

Plane

Most tourists arrive at Cancun International Airport, which is just 6 miles away from the white sands. When you’ve passed through baggage reclaim, the cheapest way to reach the seafront is via ADO or Riviera buses, which costs around MXN$40. Taxis are more convenient. You need to purchase tickets from authorised machines next to the taxi rank. The fare should be about MXN$400.

Car

It is possible to drive all the way from the U.S. border to Cancun, though at a distance of 1,400 miles, it’s a long haul. If you do choose to drive, simply follow Mexican highway 180 all the way to Cancun.

Bus

Group ADO is the main bus company serving Cancun, and their buses stop at Calle Pino. A few other services are also provided by Autocentro. However, visitors from the U.S. will need to take a combination of buses to reach Cancun, resulting in journey times of more than 24 hours.

Airports near Cancún

Airlines serving Cancún

Lufthansa
Good (1,371 reviews)
United Airlines
Good (2,463 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (3,898 reviews)
KLM
Good (291 reviews)
Air France
Good (295 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (1,074 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (2,657 reviews)
British Airways
Good (937 reviews)
SWISS
Excellent (357 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (928 reviews)
Iberia
Good (667 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (640 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (662 reviews)
Austrian Airlines
Good (196 reviews)
TAP AIR PORTUGAL
Good (367 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (201 reviews)
LATAM Airlines
Good (630 reviews)
Spirit Airlines
Good (2,249 reviews)
Air Europa
Good (95 reviews)
Alaska Airlines
Excellent (1,939 reviews)
Show more

Where to stay in Cancún

Cancun being a resort-based city, has a huge array of hotels to choose from. Broadly speaking, visitors can choose between hotels on the island or in the Downtown area on the mainland. On the island, Krystal Grand is an excellent resort hotel with 6 restaurants and a private beach, while Hotel Flamingo is a comfortable high-end option, and the Grande Caribe Resort offers a spa facility on site. In the Downtown area, Hotel del Sol on Playa Blanca has good access to the beach and it’s within walking distance of town, while the Hotel Santa Maria offers affordable suites in the center of the city.

Popular neighbourhoods in Cancún

The Hotel Zone – Also known as the Island, the Hotel Zone is where you’ll find the 14-mile beach and most of Cancun’s resort hotels. It’s the ideal place to relax on the beach or enjoy spa treatments at hotels like Le Blanc. You can rent catamarans from Samba Catamarans, head out fishing, or strap on a scuba tank and explore nearby reefs with Coconut Divers.

Downtown Cancun – Where most of Cancun’s locals call home, central Cancun is a residential and commercial center with excellent transport links to beaches in the north and south. You’ll also find plenty of excellent restaurants like La Habichuela and Du Mexique as well as “mercados” (markets) with open-air stalls.

Punta Nizuc – Located at the south end of the island, Punta Nizuc is totally dedicated to tourism. Here you’ll find Club Med resorts, the Riviera Cancun Golf Resort and, more importantly for families, the popular Wet and Wild Cancun Water Park. It’s also conveniently located for getting to the airport.

Most popular hotel in Cancún by neighborhood

Where to stay in popular areas of Cancún

Most booked hotels in Cancún

Hyatt Ziva Cancun
Excellent (9, Excellent reviews)
C$ 626+
Secrets The Vine Cancun Adults Only
Excellent (8.7, Excellent reviews)
C$ 463+
Privilege Aluxes Isla Mujeres Adults Only
Excellent (8.5, Excellent reviews)
C$ 268+
Moon Palace Cancun
Excellent (8.2, Excellent reviews)
C$ 498+
Courtyard by Marriott Cancun Airport
Excellent (8, Excellent reviews)
C$ 95+
Hotel Nyx Cancun All Inclusive
Poor (0, Poor reviews)
C$ 173+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Cancún

Public Transportation

Buses are a cheap, reliable way to get around Cancun. Be sure to have a stash of pesos to pay the driver, though. Basic fares in the center of town are MXN$10.50. If you need to travel to a resort on the Riviera Maya, you can also catch regular buses operated by Riviera Express, which links Cancun with resorts like Playa del Carmen.

Taxis

There are always plenty of taxis to hail in central areas of Cancun, and the fares are low. In Downtown Cancun, the basic fare is MXN$20, but be sure to negotiate a rough price with your driver before leaving.

Car

Driving is a good way to get around Cancun and the Riviera Maya, but beware of over-zealous police officials. Check with your car rental agency that all of the lights work and everything is in order. Otherwise, you should be fine. Rental agencies at the airport include major firms like Avis and Budget, and rental rates are around MXN$30 per day.

The Cost of Living in Cancún

Shopping Streets

There are some great places to shop for clothes and souvenirs in Cancun. For example, there are the Mercados (check out numbers 23 and 28 in Downtown Cancun). In the Hotel Zone, La Isla Mall is the place to go for major labels like Tommy Hilfiger or Swarovski (and also includes an aquarium with dolphins). Be sure to visit Lapis Jewelry Factory on the island as well. Vivid blue lapis jewelry is a local speciality, and there will always be some beautiful pieces on offer.

Groceries and Other

Living isn’t expensive in Cancun outside of the major hotels and high-end stores. Expect to pay around MXN$28 for 12 eggs and MXN$112 for a good bottle of imported wine. Places to head for basic groceries include street markets and supermarkets like Royal Market, Super Aki, and Superama.

Cheap meal
C$ 6.77
A pair of jeans
C$ 52.42
Single public transport ticket
C$ 0.75
Cappuccino
C$ 2.69
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