Cancún travel guide

An essential guide to make your Cancún experience unforgettable

One look at Cancún's mesmerizing aquamarine coast and verdant jungles, and it becomes immediately clear why it's been crowned as Mexico's top tourist destination. Sure, the swanky all-inclusives, pulsating nightlife, and tantalizing culinary scene all have something to do with it, but ultimately it's the Yucatán Peninsula's stunning natural wonders that keep people coming back.

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Table of contents

Must-see in Cancún

The lowdown on Cancún's can't-miss experiences


Museo Maya de Cancún

Get cultured at this world-class museum that showcases one of Mexico's most important collections of ancient Maya artifacts.


San Miguelito

San Miguelito is the perfect complement to the adjoining Museo Maya as it allows visitors to appreciate archaeological finds and ruins side by side.


Underwater Museum of Art

Plunge into a fascinating underwater world of life-size sculptures at one-of-a-kind galleries off the Cancún and Isla Mujeres coasts.


Hotel Zone Beaches

Tourists flock to Cancún first and foremost to relax on its postcard-pretty beaches and they're definitely not wrong.


Isla Contoy

Even if you're not the outdoorsy type, this Cancún island getaway should not be missed.



Cancun's outlying areas are graced with hundreds of sublime cenotes, and limestone sinkholes where you can go swimming, snorkeling, and in some cases, diving.


Parque de las Palapas

Soak up some culture at downtown's most happening park, which doubles as an ideal gathering spot before hitting the neighborhood bars and restaurants.


Isla Blanca

Could this be the Mexican Caribbean's final frontier? Get to this remote beach before the next big development wave hits.


Lucha Libre

Cheer on Mexico's masked heroes as they battle the bad guys in Cancún's wildly entertaining wrestling arenas.


Whale Shark Tour

A swim alongside the largest fish on the planet is about as epic as it gets.


Cavern and Wreck Dives

Discover captivating underwater scenery in Cenotes and the deep blue Caribbean.



Glide across scenic canals on a nighttime gondola ride with copious amounts of food, drink, and live music.


Laguna Nichupté

Paddle a kayak along this lagoon's mangrove-fringed canals for some truly wonderful wildlife-watching opportunities.


El Rey Archaeological Site

These Maya ruins in the heart of the hotel zone are what's left of one of Cancún's most important coastal settlements.


Cirque du Soleil Joyà

An entertaining night out at the circus and especially appealing when traveling with children.



An amusement park and archaeological site with a variety of cultural events, including a vibrant Day of the Dead fest.


El Meco

Explore Puerto Juárez's seldom-visited Maya ruins where it's often just you and the iguanas.


Temazcal Ceremony

Purify your body, mind, and soul while partaking in an ancient Maya ritual imparted by a spiritual healer.


Yamil Lu'um

The Scorpion Temple has seen better days but it's still standing, even after centuries of getting pummeled by powerful hurricanes.


Scenic Tower

Tourist trap? Okay, but the bird's-eye view from the Scenic Tower is pretty darn sweet.

Seasonal events in Cancún

Put your party hat on for Cancún's biggest fiestas of the year


Carnaval (February)

Usually held in February ahead of Ash Wednesday, Carnaval is a vibrant celebration colored with spirited music and dancing.


Spring Break (late March and early April)

Spring brings balmy weather and college students let it all hang out in Cancún's emblematic party zone.


Cinco de Mayo (May 5)

For some reason, this Mexican holiday has always been a cause for celebration in US bars, and Cancún's drinking establishments have followed suit.


LGBTQ+ Pride Day (mid-June)

Grab the rainbow flag out and join in on the fun as locals parade through downtown's streets.


Baseball (July and August)

Even non-baseball fans find it rewarding to get a taste of local flavor at the ballpark.


Isla Mujeres Fiestas de Fundación (August)

Catch the ferry to Isla Mujeres and stick around for the island's amusing summer shindig.


Independence Day Festivities (September 15 and 16)

One of Mexico's biggest and brightest parties of the year in remembrance of Mexico's independence from Spain.


Fall Equinox (around September 22)

Head to Chichén Itzá for a very special event in honor of Kukulcán, the ancient Mayan plumed serpent god.


Day of the Dead (November 1 and 2)

Brilliant altars color the city as Cancunenses pay their respects to deceased friends and family members.

Once you're in Cancún

Getting around Cancún

Navigating between downtown Cancún and the hotel zone is as easy as Sunday morning. Once you've taken a few bus or taxi rides up and down Avenida Kukulcán, the tourist center's main strip, you'll pretty much have the hotel zone figured out. Ditto for the mainland: simply make Avenida Tulum your main point of reference and you'll be walking around like a local in no time.

Exquisite Regional Cuisine, Super Fresh Seafood, One Sweet Foodie Destination

Cancún spoils visitors with a seemingly endless feast of delectable Yucatecan dishes, sophisticated gourmet fare, and addictive tacos. Seafood, of course, is king and it's a thing of beauty when grilled to perfection over a wood-burning stove.

Renting a car and driving in Cancún

Even if you rent a car for just a few days it's a real game-changer as day trips are such an integral part of the Cancún experience. A set of wheels essentially makes hard-to-reach places more accessible: crowd-free ruins, remote beaches, and seldom-visited sinkholes suddenly look very doable.

Things to do

Channel Your Inner Child in Family-Friendly Cancún

With all the entertaining aquatic activities, water-themed amusement parks and swimmable beaches, it's no wonder why Cancún has made such a big splash with vacationing families.

Where to Party Hearty in Cancún


Coco Bongo

Nightclubs come and go in this town but this spring breakers’ stomping ground remains a Cancún institution.


H Roof

Get your groove on with a touch of class at this upscale disco and cocktail bar on the waterfront.


Plaza de Toros

For local flavor, hang at the atmospheric bars in this popular downtown venue.


Mumma Rooftop

Soak up the downtown view while mingling with other travelers in this airy rooftop bar.


The City Cancún

Size apparently matters at The City, which claims bragging rights as the largest nightclub in Latin America.


Zama Beach Club

Sip drinks on what many consider one of the most beautiful beaches in the Mexican Caribbean.


Route 666 Bikers Bar

This is as close as you'll get in Cancún to a headbangers ball.


Hunter Bar

An unassuming downtown cantina where the beers are cheap and the good times are plentiful.

Cancún: The Ultimate Destination for Shopaholics

Cancún's shopping scene is an interesting mishmash of traditional Mexican crafts markets, souvenir stores and uber-chic malls with high-end boutiques. So yeah, when all's said and done, you're probably going home with something.

If You Like Day-Tripping, You've Come to the Right Place

Blessed with mysterious ancient ruins, laid-back island getaways and world-class diving destinations, it could easily take a month to experience all of Cancún's top day trip adventures, and that's probably an understatement.

What to pack for Cancún

So you've purchased a plane ticket, booked a room and all that remains is the packing. Easy, right? Perhaps, but there's always that lingering, uneasy feeling that you might be forgetting something. Hopefully, some of these Cancún-specific tips will help put your mind at rest.