10 essential things to do in Cancun

things to do in Cancun

This list of the best things to do in Cancun will help you prepare for your trip to one of the world’s most popular sun and sand vacation destinations.

Bathed by the transparent and turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, this city is the gateway to the paradisiacal Riviera Maya and the one with the most hotel infrastructure in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Having direct flights from most major cities in the world, many travel agencies offer all-inclusive vacation packages in Cancun at a very competitive price.
Based on our experience, we believe that a good option is to take advantage of these offers to stay in a good hotel/resort in the great hotel zone and complete your trip with day trips through the Yucatan Peninsula, taking into account that although Cancun is considered one of the most A destinations for sun and sand, it is located near the most important sites of the ancient Mayan civilization such as Chitzén Itzá, Tulum and Cobá.
In addition to the possibility of making these more cultural visits, you also have numerous leisure activities such as bathing in one of the fantastic cenotes, snorkeling or diving through its magnificent coral reef, shopping, or enjoying delicious Mexican food.

Based on the experience of the time we spent in the Riviera Maya during our trip to Mexico, we have made this list of the 10 essential places to visit in Cancun. Let’s start!

1. Relax on the beaches of Cancun

Relaxing on a sun lounger and taking a bath in one of the best white sand beaches and crystal clear waters is one of the best things to do in Cancun.
This city has more than 20 kilometers of public beaches of all kinds: tourist, local, with calm waters or with waves, with water activities, which will allow you to choose according to your preferences.
Among the most recommended is Playa Delfines, where the large letters of CANCUN are found and which offers spectacular views of the sea, although the strong waves make it more recommendable for surfing than for bathing.
Another of the most famous and popular is Playa Tortugas where you can practice all kinds of water sports and enjoy the parties that are usually held there.
If you prefer tranquility you can go to Playa Langosta or Playa Caracol with a more familiar atmosphere and calm waters, ideal for snorkeling or swimming.
Other recommended beaches are Playa Linda, Playa Ballenas, Playa Las Perlas, or Playa Chac Mool.
To get to some beaches and points of interest in Cancun, we recommend you book the tourist bus that stops at all these points.

2. Visit Chitzen Itza

Chitzén Itzá, the most important Mayan site in Mexico and one of the seven wonders of the world, is another place to visit in Cancun.
In this ancient city of the Mayan civilization, important structures such as the Temple of the Jaguar, the Ball Court, and above all, the famous Kukulkan Pyramid are still preserved in good condition.
To visit Chichén Itzá it is recommended to arrive early, it opens at 8 in the morning, to avoid finding many tourists and invest a minimum of 3 hours to visit all its most interesting points.
When leaving the enclosure you can complete the visit by going to the spectacular Il Kil cenote, where you can take a relaxing bath inside a wonder of nature.

To get to Chichén Itzá you can rent a car or take a bus at the ADO station in Cancun, located on Calle Pino Lote 1 and 2, which takes just over 3 hours.

3. Get to know Cancun city

If you’re staying at an all-inclusive hotel and you’re tired of lying in a hammock by the pool or beach with a cocktail in hand, it can be a good distraction to take a bus to visit the city of Cancun.
In areas like the Parque de las Palapas, you can get to know the authentic essence of the city and try local Mexican food in some of the best restaurants to eat in Cancun such as Taqueria Coapeñitos and Lonchería El Pocito.
Another of the best things to do in the city of Cancún is to look for a souvenir in one of the Mercado 28 craft stalls, located next to Plaza Bonita, which recreates a colorful Mexican town.
If you have more time and haven’t had the opportunity to see any Mayan ruins, we advise you to go to the El Meco or San Miguelito archaeological site.
To finish the route through the city of Cancun, you can enter the Tequila Museum, to learn the entire process of making this Mexican alcoholic drink and take a souvenir bottle with you.
A more comfortable option to visit all these points of the city and learn about its history is to book this guided tour in Spanish that includes pick-up at the hotel.
To get to this city we recommend you read this post on how to get to Cancun from the airport.

4. Arrive by boat to Isla Mujeres and Isla Contoy

Islas Mujeres and Isla Contoy, surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and located a few kilometers from the hotel zone, are the two most essential islands to see in Cancun.
On these two islands, you will enjoy white sand beaches, intense turquoise green waters, shallow seabeds full of coral and tropical fish, and delicious gastronomy in which the conch ceviche surprises.
In Islas Mujeres, it is recommended to rent a bike or a golf cart to find the quietest and most beautiful beaches such as Playa Norte, and snorkel in the El Garrafón marine park.
While in Isla Contoy you can also practice snorkeling or diving as it has one of the most incredible coral reefs in the world and approach the Isla Contoy National Park with a great diversity of fauna and paradisiacal beaches. For more information, you can read this list of things to do in Islas Mujeres.
From the hotel zone ferries leave every half hour that will leave you in Islas Mujeres in 20 minutes. You can reserve them in advance from this page. For more information, you can consult this post on how to get to Isla Mujeres from Cancun.

To get to Isla Contoy, you can only do it by hiring an organized excursion as it is a protected natural space.

5. Tour the Hotel Zone

The Hotel Zone is part of Cancun where most of the large hotels, international restaurants, nightclubs, parks, shopping centers, and endless entertainment venues are concentrated.
This area, located near the beach and crossed by the great Boulevard Kukulkan Avenue, has interesting points such as the El Rey archaeological site and the beautiful Nichupté Lagoon.
If you want to have the best perspective of this entire part of the city, we recommend you climb the 110-meter-high Scenic Tower, one of the best things to do in Cancun and from which you can see Isla Mujeres.
Once these visits are complete, you can go shopping at the Plaza Forum by The Sea shopping center or the La Isla Shopping Village, which has a huge Ferris wheel with fantastic views.
Finally, you can have fun at the famous Coco Bongo nightclub which offers live music and various shows.