Last Updated on January 3, 2023 by Helen E. White
Best Things to Do in Cancun: Cancun is known mainly for its beaches, although in this destination you will find many other incredible places to visit. For example, among the tourist attractions are the famous Mercado 28, the Coco Bongo club and the Plaza Forum shopping center.
In addition, in the vicinity of Cancun, there are places that will make you enjoy your vacation to the fullest. You will have the opportunity to see from the Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá to the theme and adventure parks of Xcaret. There are also places of interest near Cancun such as Isla Mujeres.
Top 20 Best Things to Do in Cancun
We have gone to Cancun to learn about the attractions that make it one of the main tourist destinations in the Caribbean and the world, and here we describe them with photos included so that you are encouraged to visit them on your trip.
1. Dolphin Beach
When we arrived at Playa Delfines we immediately noticed its white sand and the brilliant turquoise of its waters. This is a public beach to visit in Cancun because it has the distinctive Blue Flag and has free basic services such as bathrooms, showers, and palapas.
There is also parking and a lifeguard station. And if you are going to need umbrellas and lounge chairs, you will find places where they rent them. At Playa Delfines, you can walk or run, and sports such as volleyball, beach soccer and parasailing are also practiced.
At the entrance to the beach is one of the representative places of Cancun: the notice with its name written in large colored letters. There you can take the typical tourist photo but do it early to avoid lines. On the other hand, to eat on the beach there are street vendors offering simple dishes.
Playa Delfines is visited mainly by family groups, although it has strong waves. In addition, it is an area where turtles nest and between August and November, the release of the hatchlings is organized.
If you want to know more, read our article about the best beaches in Cancun, in which we tell you what they are like, where they are, and what you can do with them.
Hours: LD. 24 hours.
Address: You can find Playa Delfines at Kilometer 19 of Boulevard Kukulcán, South Hotel Zone.
2. Chichen Itza
Among the archaeological sites in Cancun, we visit the ancient Mayan city of Chichén Itzá. These ruins were declared Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 1988 and one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World in 2007. They are located 2 hours and a half by car from Cancun.
In Chichén Itzá is the famous pyramid of Kukulcán, which has 365 steps equivalent to the days of the year. In this pyramid, also called the Temple of Kukulcán, an optical effect is produced, visible only on the spring and autumn equinoxes, which suggests the shadow of a snake descending its stairs.
There are several buildings in these Mayan ruins, such as the Plaza de las Mil Columnas, which consists of 200 columns. Likewise, there is the Temple of Venus, with representations of the planet on the walls or The Great Ball Game, a court for an ancient Mayan game. Other important buildings are the Sacred Cenote and the Temple of Los Guerreros.
Also, in this archaeological zone, you will find stalls selling handicrafts and food. In addition, at night they present the show Noches de Kukulcán, which lasts about 25 minutes and consists of light projections on the Temple of Kukulcán.
Hours: Mon. 7:00 am to 2:30 pm Sat. 8:00 am to 1:00 pm
Address: To go by car from Cancún to Chichén Itzá, take Carretera Cancún-Kantunil/ México 180D. The ADO company offers trips from its terminal in Cancun. The other alternative is to hire an excursion that includes round-trip transportation.
3. Mayan Museum
If you are looking for something to visit in Cancun, at the Mayan Museum you will learn about the history and culture of the Mayans. There are more than 350 pieces preserved, some 14 thousand years old. A part of the collection comes from the state of Quintana Roo, it is an object for ritual, domestic and funerary use.
In the museum rooms, body ornaments, war weapons and ceramic pieces are also exhibited, among other objects that come from the states of Tabasco, Campeche and Chiapas. For example, you will be surprised by the remains of the Woman of the Palms which are 10,000 years old and were found in the Yucatan region. So far they are the oldest in Mexico and America.
The museum building was rebuilt and opened in 2012, Close to other interesting places in Cancun. Here we take the opportunity to tell you that visits to this museum and other places have a cost that you must anticipate before traveling.
Another fact about the museum is that it has 3 pavilions for exhibitions, with glass walls resistant to hurricanes. In addition, it communicates with the ruins of San Miguelito, a Mayan archaeological zone.
Hours: MD. 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Address: You can visit the Mayan Museum of Cancun at Kilometer 16.5 of Boulevard Kukulcán, Central Hotel Zone. Aquaworld is a 15-minute walk away.
4. Xcaret Park
In Xcaret Park, you will be able to discover some of the main cultural and natural attractions of Mexico. It covers an area equivalent to 40 soccer fields, and due to its beauty, it is one of the most instagrammable destinations in Cancun.
In Xcaret Park you can cross the underground rivers Maya, Azul and Manatí, it is also possible to swim in natural coves or visit the habitat of flamingos and jaguars, among other animals. For the little ones, there is the Children’s World, with hanging bridges, slides and tunnels in the middle of the jungle.
Among the many other attractions in the park are the Aviary and the Butterfly Garden. There is an aquarium with coral reefs and ponds with sea turtles. Likewise, you can visit the greenhouse with orchids and bromeliads. As cultural sites, there are archaeological ruins, a replica of a Mayan town and another of a typical Mexican cemetery. And if you are looking for things to do and you are not afraid of heights, there is the Scenic Tower with its 80 meters high to see the jungle and the Caribbean Sea.
In Xcaret there are shows such as the Pre-Hispanic Dances and Voladores de Papantla. At night, they perform the “México Espectacular” show, considered one of the best attractions of the place, with 300 artists on stage that narrate the history of Mexico.
Hours: LS. 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Address: To get to Xcaret, take the Chetumal Puerto Juárez Highway up to kilometer 282.
5. Isla Mujeres
After traveling to Isla Mujeres, we think it is one of the best places to visit near Cancun. There you will have many things to do like going to Playa Norte, known for having the finest sand on the Quintana Roo beaches. In addition, it is shallow and with calm waters and so transparent that you can see the fish.
In Isla Mujeres, you can also visit Punta Sur, an area with cliffs that has several attractions. There is Garrafón Park, where you can do activities such as scuba diving, diving or kayaking. Likewise, there is the Turtle Farm, which is dedicated to the protection of eggs and helps the growth of green turtles and hawksbill turtles. Another site of interest that can be visited is the remains of the ancient temple of the Mayan goddess Ixchel.
On Hidalgo Avenue, in Isla Mujeres, there are shops, nightclubs and restaurants such as Morgan’s Restaurant & Margarita’s Bar, where they serve dishes based on fish and shellfish. Another activity that you can do from Isla Mujeres is to dive into the Underwater Museum of Art (MUSA), where more than 500 sculptures are exhibited.
Hours: LD. 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Address: To get to Isla Mujeres you take a ferry and there are several options in Cancun. One is the Puerto Juárez ferry, whose journey to the island takes between 30 and 45 minutes. There is also the pier of the Calinda Bridge, where you take a boat that takes 25 minutes to reach the island.
We advise you to keep in mind that, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, transportation restrictions apply to a maximum of 4 people (driver included) on Isla Mujeres and public transportation will be working at 50% capacity until further notice.
6. Puerto Cancun
At the beginning of the Hotel Zone is Puerto Cancun, a complex with luxury residences, a commercial and sports area. In addition to housing, it has the largest marina in the city designed to receive yachts up to 130 feet. There is also an 18-hole golf course designed by British Open champion Tom Weiskopf.
Also, there is the Marina Puerto Cancún Town Center, one of the new places in Cancún to shop. It opened in 2017 and has about 130 with the best commercial premises. There are stores like Lacoste, Prada or H&M, among others.
In this place, there are also places like the first IMAX theater in this area of the country, and restaurants like Cenácolo, with a menu that includes salmon carpaccio and other dishes. Other dining options are a fast food court with a gourmet area.
In addition, in front of the Marina stands the tower of the Renaissance Cancún Resort & Marina, of the Marriott chain.
Address: Puerto Cancun is at the beginning of the North Hotel Zone, at Kilometer 1.5 of Boulevard Kukulcán. Downtown Cancun is a 5-minute drive away.
7. Turtle Beach
Playa Tortugas is one of the most visited places in Cancun and we couldn’t miss it. This public spa is located in the Hotel Zone. It has crystal clear and shallow waters, golden sand and, above all, gentle waves, which is why we found it ideal for a family trip with small children.
This is one of the beaches that combines good services and fun. The atmosphere is very cheerful, there you can dance to the rhythm of the music that is always playing in the surrounding venues. You will also find places that rent lounge chairs and umbrellas, and various options for lunch facing the sea. For example, there is the Playa Tortugas restaurant, where they serve a combined cocktail of shrimp, fish and octopus.
On this beach, you will have several things to do and you can practice volleyball, diving and snorkeling. And if you are daring, you will have the opportunity to do activities such as bungee jumping from a 25-meter-high tower. Also, if you are going to travel to Isla Mujeres, a ferry leaves from the beach pier that will take you 30 minutes.
Hours: LD. 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Address: To get to this beach you must go to Kilometer 6.5 in the North Hotel Zone. The ScubaCaribe Water Sports Club is a 4-minute drive away and an 11-minute walk from the beach.
8. Xel-Ha Park
On our tour, we could not miss Xel-Há, a water park of the Xcaret Group, located an hour and 30 minutes from Cancun by car. One of the attractions of the site is the Faro Mirador with 40 meters high and 4 slides with different speeds that will take you to fall into a pool.
In the park, you will also find several of the many natural attractions of Cancun, such as the Xel-Há River, which you can cross walking, swim or hang from ropes, among other means. You can even venture to the Stone of Valor, a 5-meter-high cliff that will challenge your courage as you throw yourself from its top into the river.
Also, here you can fly on a liana into the Ixchel Crack to fall into a cenote. If you go on a trip with your young children, you have to take them to the Children’s World, where there is a wading pool, slides and climbing ropes. It is also worth visiting the melipona bee hatchery which does not have a sting and the Xel-Há Pink Snail Sanctuary.
On the other hand, during the visit to this site, you will see the ruins of a Mayan wall that surrounded the old port of Xel-Há. To enjoy all these attractions there are different routes with fun activities. In addition, you will have restaurant service, bathrooms and lockers, among others.
Hours: LS. 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Address: Xel-Há Park is located at Kilometer 240 of the Chetumal-Puerto Juárez Highway.
9. Market 28
In Mercado 28 it is worth shopping because it is the ideal place if you want to give a gift or take a little piece of Mexico with you. It is a typical Mexican market located in the center of Cancun. It is very colorful and has shops that offer all kinds of products, from shoes to food.
If you are looking for the best traditional souvenirs, you will be surprised by the wide variety of objects that you can find there. There are wrestling masks and handicrafts such as the well-known skulls and other figures used to celebrate the traditional Day of the Dead. There are also sales of typical Mexican clothing such as Mayan shirts and huipiles.
At Mercado 28 you will spend the day browsing shops and getting to know the local culture.
There are yerbateros and drinks stalls typical of Mexico. It is also one of the best places to eat in Cancun and has a space with local seafood, hamburgers and other types of fast food. Among the many things to do in this place, you should go to El Cejas restaurant, which serves dishes such as grilled octopus or ceviche.
Hours: LD. 11:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Address: Mercado 28 is located on Avenida Xel-Há, in the heart of Cancun, next to the Plaza Bonita shopping center.
10. Xavage Park
We add a bit of adrenaline to our tour when we visit the Xavage Adventure Park, where some of the best attractions in Cancun are located. It has the only artificially constructed rapid rivers in Quintana Roo, and you can cross them by participating in air, land, and water activities.
Among the attractions are kayaking, rafting through rapid rivers, or tours with a monster truck. They also propose a ropes course with 4 difficulty levels, driving a water jet or flying horizontally on zip lines. For children from 5 to 11 years old, there is an area with a wading pool, a slingshot and slides.
Also, at night Xavage gives way to Xoximilco, which is another of the Xcaret parks. There they organize tours in trajineras or gondolas along the river with dinner of typical Mexican food accompanied by tequila and beer. There is live music from mariachis and norteño groups with danceable rhythms.
Hours: LD. 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Xavage), LS. 7:15 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. (Xoximilco)
Address: Xavage is located at Kilometer 383 of the Chetumal-Puerto Juárez Highway.
11. The cenotes
Visiting Cancun means knowing its cenotes. For this reason, we suggest you include the Ruta de los Cenotes in your travel itinerary, a 35-kilometer tourist corridor that includes approximately 8 cenotes of different sizes and depths.
Among the cenotes that you can visit at the destination are Siete Bocas, Las Mojarras and Boca del Puma. The Cenote Mojarras is one of the largest in the destination, with 64 meters in diameter and 14 meters deep. For its part, the Cenote Siete Bocas is one of the most visited tourist places in Cancun for having 7 entrances, some of which communicate with each other through caverns.
If you like sports, you will be interested to know that diving, rappelling and zip-lining are practiced in all the cenotes. In addition, you can do more relaxed activities such as horseback riding or bird watching.
As another tour alternative, the Xcaret Group organizes the Xenotes tour, which is the only one that allows you to visit 4 types of cenotes, including the cavern type and the old one. The tour proposes intense adventures such as rappelling and zip lining, or attractions such as kayaking or hiking.
Hours: (According to weather and availability)
Address: If you leave Cancun by car, you should take the Chetumal-Cancun Federal Highway 307. After Puerto Morelos, you will find the exit to Leona Vicario, which is known as the Ruta de Los Cenotes and where the tour begins.
12. Underwater Museum of Art (MUSA)
The Underwater Museum of Art seemed to us one of the most incredible places to visit in Cancun. It is known as MUSA and is submerged in the sea, between the coasts of Cancun and Isla Mujeres. It was founded in 2009 with sculptures made of marine concrete.
MUSA has 3 galleries that are located at different depths: Punta Sam Gallery (3.5 meters), Punta Nizuc Gallery (4 meters) and Manchones Gallery (8 meters). You can go snorkeling, diving or on a boat trip with a transparent bottom.
The sculptures represent human figures, animals and abstract forms. They were made by 4 Mexican artists, a Cuban and the British Jason de Caires Taylor, who is a co-founder of this site.
One of Jason de Caires’ works is entitled “Inertia”, and represents a man watching television in his living room. In this, as in all submerged sculptures, corals have formed and there are many varieties of fish around.
Hours: LD. (Hours vary according to weather and time of year).
Address: The offices of the Underwater Museum of Art are in the North Hotel Zone, Cerrada Las Golondrinas, Avenida V. Bonfil, Lot 24. There are many hotels nearby, such as the 3-star Tulipanes, 4 minutes away from Avenida Bonfil.
13. Nichupte Lagoon
After visiting the Nichupté Lagoon we discover why they consider it one of the main tourist attractions in Cancun. It is really 7 interconnected lagoons, where the freshwater from the mangroves and the salt water from the Caribbean Sea that enters through the Sigfrido and Nichupté channels mix. In these lagoons, there are plenty of things to do such as kayaking, fishing or diving, among other sports.
The attraction of the lagoon is the mangroves that serve as a habitat for species of birds and animals such as turtles, crocodiles and iguanas. Among the best things to do is visit to Laguna del Amor, named in this way because of its heart shape. It is the most visited by couples and one of the most romantic places in Cancun.
In addition, on the shores of Laguna Nichupte, there is a wide range of restaurants. One option is Captain’s Cove, where they serve typical Mexican dishes and enjoy beautiful sunsets. There is also the Thai Lounge, with a menu of Thai food and tables in a palapa over the water.
Address: Laguna Nichupté is 10 minutes from downtown Cancun, in the North Hotel Zone.
14. Kabah Park
Among the natural attractions in Cancun, we visit Kabah Park, which is considered a vegetal lung of the city. It has a circuit for walking or running, which also extends for 1,800 meters.
In this green area that we suggest you visit on your trip, there are local animal species, such as coatis, iguanas, and badgers, among others. It also has an area called Aguada, where there are turtles that were donated for their preservation as they are endangered species.
This place also highlights the history and culture of the Quintana Roo region. For example, there is a Chiclero Camp built around chicozapote trees, a species from which the Mayans extracted the sap to form chewable gum. You will even be able to appreciate the replica of a Mayan Solar, which is a typical house with its garden.
Also, on this site is the Casa Maya Museum which preserves old photographs of Cancun, its first inhabitants and how the urban and tourist development of the city began in the 70s. Admission to Kabah is free.
Hours: LD. 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Address: Kabah Park is located in downtown Cancun, on Avenida Nichupte. A reference is the Hotel Boutique Kabah which is in front, of Avenida Rodrigo Gómez that crosses with Avenida Nichupté.
15. The Outlet Squares
In Las Plazas Outlet there are 50 commercial stores that, unlike other shopping centers in Cancun, offer sales throughout the year, hence its name. We find famous international brands such as Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss and Guess. You will also see Mexican firms such as Vicky Form and Class.
In addition to shops, in this square, we saw a great variety of fast food places, restaurants with a typical Mexican menu, and franchises such as Las Quekas and ToKs. There are also places like Starbucks or La Michoacana, with their ice creams that have become famous for their freshness and intense flavors.
This square also has entertainment centers such as a Cinemex movie theater, the Planet Bowl bowling alley or the Caliente Casino. Similarly, for children, there is an electric train that runs through the establishment.
The Las Plazas Outlets building has a modern design with outdoor areas, which places it among the open places in Cancun where you will enjoy the tropical climate while shopping.
Hours: Mon. 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. SD. 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Address: Las Plazas Outlet is located on Avenida Andrés Quintana Roo, in the heart of Cancun. A reference is the Casino Codere, located a 4-minute walk away on the same avenue.
16. Coconut Bongo
Club Coco Bongo will be your first choice when you want to visit the party spots in Cancun. In addition, to live music, in this nightclub, you can enjoy the best acrobatics and circus shows all night long. In this place, there is a dance floor with video projections of concerts by artists such as Michael Jackson or Freddie Mercury.
You will also have the opportunity to see a variety of shows such as impersonations of famous international artists, including Michael Jackson, ABBA and Lady Gaga. They also make representations of well-known American films, such as Chicago, La Máscara and Vaseline.
Additionally, you will listen to the music of renowned artists such as Madonna, Jennifer López and Cristina Aguilera. For rock fans, there are imitators of bands like Kiss.
If you want to visit several clubs in one night on your trip, they offer the Bongo Tour, which consists of a 6-hour tour of the entertainment venues in Cancun. Since Coco Bongo is among the most demanded activities to do in Cancun, we recommend you buy tickets online, so you won’t queue and get discounts.
Hours: 8:00 pm to 3:00 am
Address: This club that you can visit in Cancun is in the Plaza Forum shopping center, specifically at Kilometer 9.5 of the Hotel Zone, Punta Cancun.
17. Playa del Carmen
On our tour, we could not miss Playa del Carmen, which is one of the places you must visit near Cancun for its natural and cultural attractions. In addition to the fact that it is a destination visited by tourists on their way through Cancun.
In Playa del Carmen you must do activities such as strolling along Fifth Avenue, a busy street with restaurants, nightclubs, and shops of all kinds. Other nearby attractions are the ecological adventure parks Xplor and Xcaret. You can also visit the House Museum of the late Mexican artist Frida Khalo and the Museum of Wonders, with illusions and interactive images.
Likewise, at the beginning of Fifth Avenue, you will find Parque Los Fundadores, an old meeting place that is currently a place to celebrate cultural events and present shows.
Direction: To travel from Cancun to Playa del Carmen it will take you about an hour on the Tulum-Mexico highway. You can take a bus from the ADO company at its terminal on Calle Pino, in downtown Cancun.
18. Plaza Forum by The Sea
Forum by the Sea is another of the shopping malls that we met, as it is among the places you must visit in Cancun to buy and do various activities. It has stores like Sunglasses Island, specializing in lenses, or Zíngara, with exclusive swimsuits.
Likewise, in Plaza Forum we find shops such as Cancún Souvenirs and the Tobacco department store. There is also a Harley Davidson among the clothing stores. Likewise, there are establishments such as the Fish Spa, the Gran Tenochtitlán gift shop and Plaza la Fiesta with items for the home and decoration.
In addition to shops, in Plaza Forum there are places like Sr. Frogs, with Mexican specialties, or Chili’s Grill & Bar. You will also find the famous Hard Rock Café, with its well-known guitar.
An important fact is that from Plaza Forum there is direct access to one of the beaches in Cancun: Playa Gaviota Azul, also known as Playa Forum due to its proximity to the shopping center. In addition, in the nearby streets, you will find some of the busiest nightclubs in the Hotel Zone, such as The City or La Vaquita.
Hours: LD. 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.
Address: Plaza Forum is located in Punta Cancun, specifically at Kilometer 9.5 of the Hotel Zone in front of Playa Gaviota Azul (Forum Beach).
19. Captain Hook
We found Captain Hook to be an option among Cancun night spots for a fun family adventure. It is a night cruise along the beaches of Cancun, aboard replicas of the 18th-century galleons called Galeón I, La Perla Negra and Bucanero II.
On board, you will be part of a pirate fight for control of the ship, represented in a show with acrobatics, music and fireworks. The cruise staff are dressed as pirates and will accompany you throughout the tour telling you their stories and adventures. In fact, Jack Sparrow himself will walk around the galleon to meet you and tell you about his crazy experiences in the seas.
The tourist cruise is suitable for the whole family since during the tour everyone will participate in games and contests. Also, part of the best things is that children will be able to paint their faces as if they were pirates.
The price of the cruise includes a dinner whose menu offers, among other dishes, New York steak or lobster tail accompanied by various sides. You will also have access to the open bar with national drinks.
Hours: LS. Starting at 7:00 p.m.
Address: The cruise departs from the Capitán Hook Maritime Terminal, located at Kilometer 5 of Boulevard Kukulcán, in the North Hotel Zone. A reference is that it is in front of Playa Linda and a 3-minute walk from the Occidental Costa Cancun Hotel.
The Cancun bike path or bike path stretches for almost 2.6 kilometers with certain interrupted steps. We covered a good distance on foot breathing the fresh air, and we also recommend it for bike rides. It begins at Boulevard Kukulcán and allows you to enjoy views of the best beaches in the Hotel Zone and the Nichupte Lagoon, which is one of the places to visit in Cancun.
You can start the walk at Kilometer 0 between Bonampak Avenue and Kukulcán Boulevard. There you will find sports facilities where you can stretch and warm up before starting your tour around the area. The itinerary will take you through the Hotel Zone and you will pass in front of Playa Las Perlas or Playa Tortugas.
The bike path was built in 1974 to promote mobility with alternative means of transport, as well as being a place to exercise. If you are preparing your trip and want to know more about this tourist destination, check out our mega travel guide to Cancun here.
Address: The bike path starts at the beginning of the North Hotel Zone. The first part runs along Kukulkan Boulevard towards Sayil Avenue. While the second stretch goes from Avenida Nichupté to Boulevard Luis Donaldo Colosio.