Looking for things to do in Cancun to make your trip worthwhile? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Cancun, Mexico is a popular travel destination especially for a beach vacation, and for good reason. Surrounded by the Caribbean sea, Cancun features some of the most beautiful turquoise blue waters that are a sight to see indeed.
You’d be surprised to learn that there is quite more to Cancun than just the beaches and water. Here, I will go over some of the best things to do in Cancun so you can make the most of your trip and also experience a snippet of what Mexico has to offer.
1. The Hotel Zone
The Hotel Zone or ‘Zona Hotelera’ is the main tourist area in Cancun and most people book their stays here. It’s a 14 mile stretch of sand that is filled with all-inclusive hotels, resorts, villas, and private Airbnbs. The strip also features many restaurants, entertainment, nightlife, and tourist attractions. The Kulkukan Boulevard runs along the whole hotel zone, from where it starts to where it ends and is lined with restaurants and bars.
2. Playa Delfines
Playa Delfines is one of the largest beaches in Cancun and also one of the most popular. It is a public beach located along the south side of the Hotel Zone and it is pretty accessible to get to. The beach has free hut-like umbrellas so it’s a great place to spend a couple of hours enjoying the sun.
The beach also features the popular Cancun sign which is an iconic place where most tourists like to grab a picture. The currents are quite strong at this beach and some rocks are present in the water, so swimming here isn’t ideal.
3. Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres is definitely something worth checking out if you’re looking for things to do in Cancun. The island’s name literally translates to the island of Women, and it’s a small island that’s just a 30-minute ferry ride away from Cancun. Isla Mujeres offers stunning views of its rocky coast, beautiful calm beaches, many water activities, fun shopping, and more.
If you’re looking to escape from busy Cancun, a day trip to Isla Mujeres is highly recommended. Check out Isla Mujeres, Mexico Day Trip Guide for the top things to do on the island.
4. Downtown Cancun
If you want to see where and how the locals of Cancun live then check out Downtown Cancun. You will get to explore the taste of local culture and food. Find some local shops, try street food, visit the parks, and vibe like the locals.
5. Mercado 28
When you’re in Downtown Cancun, stop by Mercado 28. It’s a huge flea market filled with stands selling handmade souvenirs, clothing, knick-knacks, and anything you can imagine. If you’re looking for a place to buy souvenirs from, this would be a good spot as the prices are cheaper than in the hotel zone.
Be prepared to bargain for the price as the prices in Mexico are not really set and you never know when you can snag a good deal.
6. Cancun Underwater Museum
One of the most interesting things to do in Cancun is checking out the Cancun Underwater Museum of Art. If you love snorkeling or scuba diving, you will fall in love. The museum features over 400 man-made sculptures that are placed underwater in various arrangements. They are made from materials that encourage coral reef growth so every new statue will eventually boast a coral reef and some marine life to go with it. Definitely a unique experience you won’t get anywhere else in the world.
7. La Isla Shopping Village
If the local Mexican shops aren’t cutting it for you, La Isla Shopping Village may give you some retail therapy on vacation. It’s a beautifully built, outdoor shopping area filled with all kinds of shops, brands and restaurants. The shopping village features a canal running through it which definitely makes it more unique than a regular mall. It also has a ferris wheel and an interactive aquarium where you can see dolphin shows.
8. Playa Del Carmen
If you’re looking for another day trip from Cancun, consider going to Playa Del Carmen. Located only an hour from Cancun, Playa Del Carmen is a small cute city worth exploring. It features beautiful beaches, markets, shops, and some pretty cool restaurants. Similar to the famous Cancun sign, Playa Del Carmen features a sign of its own, so grab a pic while you’re there.
Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is filled with thousands of cenotes, which are sinkholes formed naturally in limestone caves. Many of these pools are underground and are filled with fish. They’re definitely a sight to see and I would put them on top of the list of things to do in Cancun. Most people visit cenotes for swimming or snorkeling, and you’ll even get to see stalagmites and stalactites which makes for a pretty cool experience if you’ve never seen anything of the like before.
Consider spending a day at Xcaret Park, one of six amusement parks in Cancun and one of the largest in all of Mexico. The giant park holds more than 50 attractions including water activities and sports, live shows, and educational and cultural attractions for all. This Cancun theme park is sure to make your vacation unforgettable.
11. Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza was one of the most important cities in pre-Hispanic America and it’s one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico today. It is a sacred city and Mayan pilgrimage center founded by the Itza in the 5th century AD. It is also one of the 7 wonders of the world and a must-see in my opinion. You can find day tours going to Chichen Itza from Cancun, or rent a car and drive there on your own.
If you’re visiting Cancun, do try to visit the city of Tulum. Located about 2 hours from Cancun, Tulum features beaches, beach clubs, and retreats. The city is also home to the Ruins of Tulum, one of the largest cities built by the Mayans. The ancient city is atop the edge of a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Ocean.
Valladolid, a small city located in the Yucatan Peninsula is authentic Mexico at its best. The city offers history and Mayan culture unlike what you’ll find in touristy areas of Cancun. Explore the colorful streets, swim in the many nearby cenotes and immerse yourself in the culture.
14. Rio Lagartos
Rio Lagartos is a small fishing village located along the north coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s a 3-hour drive from Cancun so you will need to rent a car to get here. The city features an area of mangroves and shallow backwaters which house a wide variety of fish and marine life on which flamingos feed on. Book a tour to view hundreds of flamingos through the mangroves.
15. Try the Street Food
Last but not least on this list of things to do in Cancun is to try the street food. If you think that authentic Mexican food from the restaurants there is good, wait till you try the street food. From spicy, chili mangoes, to street corn to fresh coconut water it’s definitely something you cannot leave Mexico without trying.