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In this post, you will find 35 things to do in Cancun, the capital of the Riviera Maya. We could even bet that you won't have time to finish this list in just one trip to the Mexican Caribbean. But it doesn’t matter, there will be always a next time.
Beaches, water activities, city tours, attractions and entertainment of all kind to share with all your family, friends or as a couple. There will be lot of options for you to have the best vacation ever.
An article a 100% focused to answer the question: What are the best things to do in Cancun?
So, let's start.
One of the first things to do in Cancun is to go around the most touristic area of the city: the hotel zone.
This part of the city is where you will find the best beaches in Cancun. the best beaches in Cancun.
The hotel zone has an incredible view of the Caribbean Sea and the Nichupte Lagoon. It is no surprise this is the reason why most hotels have been built here.
Due to its privileged location, in the hotel zone you will be able to do many water activities: jet ski rentals, paddle boarding, parasailing, yatch rentals, boat parties, beaches clubs, snorkeling, among others. There you will also find a wide variety of restaurants, clubs, discos and other party venues.
🌿 Consider an ecotourism alternative to explore the hotel zone: Let yourself be seduced by a bike tour in this area. It is a 16 mile-route covering all the Kukulkan boulevard (Hotel zone’s main avenue). Such tour will allow you to take a better look to all this stunning area in Cancun.
Once you have visited the hotel zone of Cancun, another part of the city that is worth exploring either on foot or by bike is Downtown Cancun.
It is barely 50 years since Cancun was founded. One of the first areas to be developed wast downtown Cancun.
Among the things to see in downtown Cancun are the following:
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Lines R1 - R2 - R15 and R27 allow you to easily go from the hotel zone to downtown Cancun (and vice versa). For all the information about public transportation in Cancun, click here!
Are you looking for a family activity to enjoy Cancun while relaxing on a calm beach? Try visiting Playa Tortugas! A small beach in the hotel zone, very close to downtown. It is very popular within the locals.
In an atmosphere that feels quite Mexican, come and enjoy the fine white sand and calm waters of this amazing beach, ideal for children.
For the more adventurous, a bungee jumping platform can be found just a few feet from the beach main access. For more information about this 👉 Adventure Bay Cancun !!
Address: Hotel Zone - Boulevard Kukulkan - kilometer 6.5 - right in front of Aqua Tours and the Oxxo.
🚏 Bus stop: Playa Tortugas.
You can't visit Cancun without a stopover at Mercado 28 - Mercado de artesanias, , the famous handicraft market where you can find treasures from all over Mexico.
In this market, you will find different aisles and shops where you will learn more about Mexican culture and folklore.
Fabrics, carpentry, basketry, collectibles, arts of different ethnic groups... all the techniques and art of Mexico come together in these brightly colored aisles.
Mercado 28 is also an ideal place to taste the delicious dishes of Mexican food in a relaxed atmosphere.
Address: Xel-ha M - 2 13 - San Miguel de Allende 28-77501 Cancún, Quintana Roo.
Hours: Monday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
How about soaring high above the Caribbean Sea?
On the Scenic Tower you will be able contemplate all the magic of the sea and the Nichupté lagoon, all at once! Undoubtedly, a unique show.
This activity is suitable for all audiences and is one of the most outstanding things to do in the hotel zone of Cancun.
The Scenic Tower is located between Playa Tortuga and Playa Langosta.
Wait until the sunset to visit the Scenic Tower! What could be better than admiring a pastel-colored sky, a turquoise blue sea and the city light slowly illuminating the landscape.
Address: Blvd. Kukulkan km. 4 Zona Hotelera 77500 Cancún, Mexique
Hours: Monday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Adult (age 12 and above) - $410.00 MXN or $20.00 USD.
Children from 5 to 11 years old - $205.00 MXN or $10.00 USD.
Children from 0 to 4 years - free admission.
Playa Gaviota Azul also called Playa Forum is the liveliest beach in Cancun. Usually, it is a beach where you will find mostly young people.
This beach is very close to the Forum By the Sea mall, so it is perfct for those who want to do some shopping after enjoying the sea.
Playa Gaviota Azul has all the facilities and entertainment alternatives that any tourist beach must have. You will find activities such as jet skiing and parasailing.
This beach is also the one that sets the tone for the party in Cancun. There you will find bars and beach clubs to start partying early in the morning.
Remember! Mandala Beach Club is the most famous place in Playa Gaviota Azul.
Address: Boulevard Kukulkan, kilometer 9.5, behind Plaza Forum By the Sea.
🚏 Bus stop: Playa Gaviota Azul.
Coco Bongo is no longer just a place, it is a legend! A must for tourists who want to witness an amazing musical show and enjoy the best party atmosphere in Cancun.
The iconic Coco Bongo, the oldest entertainment venue in Cancun, offers a unique show, a homage to the icons of pop culture. Let yourself be carried away by its electric atmosphere while you listen to the best music.
For your information: In addition to the one located in Cancun, there is another branch of this club in Playa del Carmen.
For groups from 10 to 12 people you can reserve a table! 👉 VIP tables.
Address: Blvd. Kukulcan Km 9.5 # 30, Plaza Forum By The Sea, Hotel Zone; 77500 QR
Hours: Every day from 19 to 23 hours (Until further notice due to COVID restrictions).
Prices: From $66 USD.
Among the things to do in Cancun, it is impossible not to mention the water activities.
To take a closer look to the beauty of the Caribbean Sea, what better than a catamaran trip?
This activity is ideal to share a good time with family or friends while you sail on the calm waters of this amazing sea. In addition, catamaran tours can also include meal service and open bar.
Cancun is not only a beach and party destination, you can also visit many Mayan archaeological sites.
The Archaeological Museum of Cancun has a rich collection of Mayan items from sites in the State of Quintana Roo and from the main Mayan cities in Yucatan (Chichén Itzá) and Chiapas (Palenque).
This museum is definitely one of the things to do in Cancun, if you are interested in learning more about the Mayan civilization.
A visit to this site will be an excellent introduction to the Mayan culture before visiting archaeological sites such as Chichen Itza, Coba or Tulum.
In the Archaeological Museum of Cancun, you will also find the ruins of San Miguelito.
For more information, click here 👉 Nuevo Museo Maya de Cancún.
Address: Blvd. Kukulcan km 16.5, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancun, Q.R.
Hours: Open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. at 6 p.m. Last admission 5.30pm.
Admission: $4 USDs
To diversify your experiences in Cancun, how about a visit to one of the most famous shopping malls in the Mexican Caribbean?
More than just a shopping mall, La Isla is a true entertainment venue in the hotel zone of Cancun. It is an open and pleasant building where you can walk peacefully.
After enjoying a shopping spree that would make “Pretty Woman” turn green with envy, you can take a look at all the other areas of La Isla shopping mall: there is an aquarium, a Ferris wheel, a cinema, etc. In addition, you will find a wide variety of restaurants and bars.
heck the weekly program of La Isla! Every week there are different shows to entertain the visitors of this modern shopping mall.
For more information: Events - La Isla Cancun.
Address: Boulevard Kukulcán km. 12.5, Zona Hotelera, 77500, Cancun, Q.R., Mexico
Hours: Open every day from 11 a.m. at 10 p.m.
If traditional Mexican cuisine has been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage, it is not by accident!
With its unique flavors and an ancestral history, Mexico has a true culinary wealth that materializes in the eyes of the world in a traditional and delicious treat: the taco.
Among the things to do in Cancun, you can go on a gastronomic tour featured by the taco. On this tour you will be able to jump from “taqueria” (Taco restaurant) to “taqueria” and learn everything you want about Tacos: its styles, its origins, its ingredients, etc.
A very attractive activity for food lovers.
What if winning the jackpot was one of the things to do in Cancun on your next vacation?
In downtown Cancun or in the hotel zone, the casinos will welcome you with different entertainment alternatives: slot machines, game tables, sports bets, etc.
In an elegant and cozy atmosphere, you can have fun in each of the 4 casinos in Cancun.
Located in downtown Cancun, Parque de las palapas (Palapas Park) is a lovely place to spend a few hours away from the constant hustle and bustle of the hotel zone.
Parque de las palapas is a good option for people visiting Cancun on a family vacation.
This place is mostly visited by locals. So, you will have the opportunity to discover an authentic atmosphere, as well as finding good restaurants where you can taste different Mexican snacks.
Go on Sundays! The Parque de las Palapas becomes a place of entertainment and theatrical performances.
Did you know that... Palapas are a traditional Mexican construction design. It is a typical architecture that shows an ancestral know-how and a cultural heritage. Its roof is made of palm leaves and branches.
Address: Tulipanes LB, 22, Cancún, Q.R.
Hours: Open every day. 24 hours a day
On the shores of Cancun, very close to the airport, Ventura Park awaits you for a family day full of laughter and splashing.
Ventura Park is a good option for those who do not want to travel far away from the hotel zone to visit a theme park (Xcaret), since most of these are located south of Playa del Carmen.
This park is more focused on water games and attractions. There you will find a wide diversit of pools, slides, zip lines and more.
Among the most outstanding attractions is the possibility of swimming with dolphins.
Address: Blvd. Kukulcan Km. 25, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Monday.
Among the things to do in Cancun, outdoor activities rank high.
In company of passionate professional guides, discover the Nichupte Lagoon, the other body of water that borders Cancun (to the west).
Besides, Kayak is an ecologic alternative since it defined as soft mobility and you won’t be disturbing nature at all.
You will have the chance to take a closer look to the flora and fauna in the mangroves. Be sure that there will be birdwatching involved, one of the most popular nature tourism activities in the Mexican Caribbean.
🌿 ALWAYS DISCOVER NATURE WITHOUT DAMAGING IT: Enjoy a full ecotourism adventure that respects nature and the animals that inhabit it.
The Caribbean Sea is not only beautiful, it is also incredibly rich in terms of biodiversity. The Cancun Coral Reef is the second largest barrier reef in the world after the Great Australian Barrier Reef.
Snorkeling is one of the things to do in Cancun that you should definitely put on your list of activities to do on your trip. Thus, you will be able to know the coral reef.
Some parts of this reef (Banderas, Chitales and El Bajito reefs) are located in front of the beach of Punta Cancun.
Ecological remark by Odigoo 🌿: Do not wear sunscreen before going for a swim in the sea, especially if you want to discover marine ecosystems. Sunscreens are one of the main responsibles for the death of corals.
Address: Punta Cancún, central zone of the hotel zone - kilometer 9 of Kukulkan Boulevard.
To get there, you have to go through Caracol beach, which is very close to Chedraui Selecto.
If you want to watch the sea and some of the boats that sail through it, we recommend going for a walk through Puerto Juárez or Puerto Cancún Marina Town Center.
Puerto Juárez is the oldest. Initially it was a fishing village, even before Cancun was founded. There you will also find Playa del Nino, as well as the ferry terminal for Isla Mujeres.
If you want more information about the islands of Cancun, read our article 👉 Islands.
A more modern place is Puerto Marino Town Center. In addition to being one of the newest shopping malls in Cancun, it also has a Marina where you can watch yachts and other vessels that sail through the Caribbean Sea.
Among the things to see in Cancun, why not enjoy a life-size recreation of the Pirates of the Caribbean era?
Here is an activity that can be a great adventure!
Aboard the Jolly Roger, sail in an authentic replica of an 18th century galleon. On this tour of the Mexican Caribbean coast, you will relive the era of piracy while enjoying an exciting dinner-show with actors who dance and perform a play with stunts, sword battles and fireworks. A show for the whole family.
Address: Blvd Kukulkan Km 4.5 Zona Hotelera Embarcadero Playa Linda. Cancún, Q.R.
Hours: One show per day. Duration of the show 3h30. Departure at 6.30 p.m. / Return at 10 p.m.
Looking for a souvenir photo of your visit to Cancun? Go to the famous Cancun Colorful Letters at Playa Delfines!
This photographic shot has become a true ritual for tourists from all over the world and a must-see for Instagrammers who come to Cancun.
From Playa Delfines' viewpoint, enjoy an amazing view where you can take beautiful photographs with the turquoise colors of the Caribbean Sea as the background.
Address: Zona Hotelera - Boulevard Kukulkan - Kilómetro 18 - El Mirador 🚏 Bus stop: Playa Delfines .
We recommend going for a walk in Punta Nizuc National Park, especially for nature lovers who want to make the most of their stay in Cancun. There you will have a chance to discover another ecosystem in the Mexican Caribbean.
Located south of the hotel zone, Punta Nizuc National Park is a conservation project in the region. There, you will find the mangroves and a wild coast preserved from tourist occupation.
A nesting place for sea turtles, the Punta Nizuc Park is also a privileged space for bird watching and, occasionally, you will find crocodiles too.
An ideal place for hiking and wild nature enthusiasts.
For more information: Punta Nizuc National Park.
Address: Boulevard Kukulkán Km. 20 | Zona Hotelera, Cancún 77500, México
While spending your days at the beach consider that practicing a sport could be a great idea too. So, why not take advantage of your stay in Cancun to improve your swing or take your first golf lesson?
In an idyllic natural landscape between the Nichupte Lagoon and the Caribbean Sea, go and hit the ball at the Pok Ta Pok golf course located right in front of Playa Ancha and Playa Caracol.
Whether you choose the driving range, the 9-hole course, or the 18-hole course, you will be delighted by this breath of fresh air, right in the heart of Cancun's hotel zone.
Address: Blvd. Kukulcán Km 7.5 Zona Hotelera.
Hours: Tuesday closed. Monday, Wednesday to Sunday, from 6.30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cancun Underwater Art Museum, better known as MUSA, is definitely one of the things to see in Cancun. It is a collection of more than 500 sculptures... completely submerged in the sea!
This impressive underwater collection is divided into three exhibition areas around Cancun.
In addition to being an innovative and original art project, MUSA's submerged sculptures are also encouraging coral reproduction and providing a habitat for marine life.
The MUSA can be visited in different ways according to what suits best to you:
For more information on MUSA prices and the different services: 👉 👉: Productos - MUSA
Address: Cerrada Las Golondrinas Lote #24, Zona Hotelera, 77560 Cancún, Q.R.
Hours: Open every day from 9 a.m. at 2 p.m.
Prices: from $ 90 USD.
Adventure and strong emotions enthusiasts will be delighted by this activity. It is also a perfect opportunity to watch the beautiful beaches of Cancun from above the sea.
Parasailing, no matter if it is done alone or in tandem, will give you the wonderful feeling of dominating the waters of the Caribbean as you speed through the air. An experience that used to be reserved just for seagulls and pelicans.
This activity is available on several beaches in Cancun, including Playa Chac Mool.
Address: Playa Chac-Mool Boulevard Kukulkan - kilometer 10 - central zone of the hotel zone. The access is near the Royalton Hotel.
🚏 Bus stops: Blue Line # 60 - Green Line # 57
Prices: $60 USDs for about 30 minutes of flight.
In front of Playa Delfines, there is a small archaeological site (not very popular among tourists): “El Rey”. However, this place, along with San Miguelito, ruins, are the most important Mayan ruins in Cancun. So here we recognized them as one of the things
This archeological site is named after the statue of a Mayan monarch that was found during the excavation of these ruins. This statue is currently in the Mayan Museum of Cancun (activity #9).
Consider visiting this ancient place full of history after a walk on the beach.
Address: km 18 of Boulevard Kukulcán, Hotel Zone.
Hours: Every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last admission 4.30 p.m.)
Price: $3 USDs ($55 MXN).
Tell me what you eat, I'll tell you who you are. This old saying couldn't be truer!
To truly immerse yourself in a foreign culture, there is nothing better than understanding the way it perceives the food and how it has developed its gastronomy.
That is one of the main reasons why in Cancun you will find cooking lessons and workshops. Through them, you will learn more about Mexican cuisine and get familiar to the ingredients that embody Mexican flavors: handmade tortillas, sauce preparation, how to use different chili peppers, etc.
But remember, it’s not only about the food, these lessons are about learning the history of the dishes, how they have evolved through the years and with that learn the Mexican culinary traditions.
Learn to cook Mexican dishes and bring back home a little of this ancestral knowledge. This will keep the flavors and experience of your stay in the Riviera Maya long after you return home. It is a gift that keeps on giving.
After the lessons, a tasting of the products is offered to the cook apprentices.
Kitesurfing is one of the emblematic sport tourism activities in Cancun. It is also considered as an adventure tourism activity.
Many kitesurfing schools have settled down in Cancun and, in particular, in Isla Blanca. This amazing beach is located an hour drive north of Cancun. This strip of land is totally open to the sea so the winds hit hard on it. This condition is what makes it so perfect for kitesurfing.
If you want to learn more about kitesurfing, our article on adventure tourism water activities should be of use to you.
Even without being a kitesurfing enthusiast, Isla Blanca is a place that is worth the visit. You will be amazed with its landscapes and its spectacular sea. A great discovery for lovers of wild territories.
Plaza Las Americas - Malecon is the biggest shopping mall in Cancun.
This huge American-style shopping mall is located in downtown Cancun along Avenida Tulum, one of the main avenues in the city.
On two floors of galleries, this shopping temple brings together the main brands of clothing, footwear, luxury, sports and more.
Equipped with a food court, several restaurants and a cinema that offers the VIP lounge experience, “Las Americas”, as it commonly known, will fulfill all your expectations for a day of shopping in Cancun.
For people who is having a family vacation in Cancun, they will also find play areas for the little ones in this mall.
Address: Av. Bonampak S.M.06 M.Z.01, C.P.77500
Hours: Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
If you like board sports, then learning the basics of surfing is a great option among the things to do in Cancun.
Regarding surf, Playa Ballenas is one of the best beaches in the region due to its waves and currents.
You will find several surf schools in Cancun, especially near this beach and Playa Gaviota Azul.
The price of a surf lesson changes considerably depending on the number of participants and the learning method.
Also, depending on the school, group lessons can have up to 20 participants. However, there are "semi-private" lessons with smaller groups that do not exceed 10 students.
If you want a private surf lesson in Cancun, you will need around $125 - $150 USDs (2,500 - $ 3,000 MXN).
A lesson has an average duration of 1h30 - 2h.
Address: Boulevard kukulkan - kilometer 14 - just in front of the Marriott Hotel.
Bus stop: 🚏 Playa Ballenas.
Cancun is a dynamic city. Its young and modern character is reflected, among other things, in its urban decoration and its street art.
Get to know the city in a different way by going on a tour in which you can learn more about street art in Cancun. From alleys to avenues, from walls to facades of buildings, go on a journey to find the most inspiring and colorful street art frescoes in Cancun and learn to decode the styles and techniques of this urban art that colors and give life to the cities on the 21st century.
There are tours of about two hours and roughly $25 USDs ($500 MXN) per person. There are also street art tours especially focused on young audiences.
The nightlife in Cancun will always be on the things to do while you are in the Mexican Caribbean. We could say it is even a MUST.
Few can resist the call of the music and lights from the clubs in the hotel zone. There, you will meet people from all over the world who is also looking to have a wild night.
The best DJs from all over the world come to light up the dance floor in the amazing clubs in Cancun.
Night shows at Coco Bongo, themed events in clubs and discos; electronic, tropical, rock music, live concerts... You will inevitably find the place, the party or the event that will keep you dancing until dawn!
To learn more about Cancun nightlife, take a look at this article!
Here's an activity for those who wake up early in the morning, those who will want to make the most of an outdoor activity and witness one of the most beautiful things to see in Cancun: The sunrise!
Cancun is located on the east coast of Mexico, so the place is perfect to watch a magnificent sunrise while visiting the Nichupte Lagoon.
In addition to being an original experience to discover Cancun, paddle boarding at sunrise will also allow you to watch closely the wildlife in the lagoon, the precise moment in which nature awakens and lets itself be fully admired.
This is a 100% ecotourism activity. For more information about ecotourism activities and nature tourism in the Riviera Maya, here is our section about Ecotourism.
Are you not a morning person? This activity is also available for sunsets! The only downside is that it will be a bit more difficult to watch animals.
You can't miss a Lucha Libre show at Arena Cancún!
More than a show, Lucha Libre. is a tradition in Mexico. So, attending such event is a must while in this country.
Acclaimed by crowd of fanss, the luchadores (wrestlers) do not hesitate to perform the riskiest stunts. It is a show for everyone: from families to group of friends of all ages. Everyone has a chance to cheer and support their champions in a very friendly atmosphere. You can even joke with the wrestlers. This show is all about having fun!
Diving is one of the iconic activities in Cancun
The magnificent natural scenery provided by the Caribbean Sea and the proximity to the second largest coral reef in the world make Cancun one of the favorite places for divers worldwide, both amateur and experienced.
If you want to discover this fabulous marine ecosystem, you can consider an introduction to diving as one of the things to do in Cancun.
In Cancun and the nearby towns, you will find many diving schools with professional instructors who will teach you the basics of diving in order to do your first dive (baptism).
For the more experienced divers, there are also advanced training courses and certifications.
Want more information about diving and other adventure tourism activities in the Riviera Maya? Just check this one: Adventure tourism activities in Cancun.
Playa Marlin is a beach in the hotel zone of Cancun. In this beach, it is possible to witness a very special event: the nesting of sea turtles!
This is a unique opportunity to see hundreds of turtles that come every night to this beach in Cancun and lay their eggs. From May to mid-October, you can watch this natual show.
ECO IDEA: Become a volunteer! 💡 : Do you want to help protect the turtles? On nesting season, volunteers take turns every night digging up turtle eggs and taking them to farms until they hatch before releasing them into their natural environment.
From August to October, attend Liberation Day. Newborn turtles are released into the wild on the beaches in Cancun and Isla Mujeres.
IMPORTANT Reminder: Sea turtles are wild animals so it is forbidden to disturb them, much less touch them. Do not interfere with their nesting process, it is a natural process that must be respected and appreciated from afar.
Address: Hotel Zone - kilometer 13-14 - access from Playa las Ballenas.
For those looking for a peaceful atmosphere, strolling through Cancun can be exhausting… unless you go to the southern end of the hotel zone.
At the end of the hotel zone bus routes, just at the Westin Regina bus stop (R1 - Public transportation in Cancun 👈 info here!) you will find beaches that are far less crowded. Punta Nizuc is one of those beaches.
There, you can see the statue of the god Chac-Mool, the Mayan god of rain.
Did you know that... The name of Chac Mool was attributed to a French archaeologist, Auguste Le Plongeon, just when a sculpture of this semi-reclining god was discovered at Chichen Itza in 1875.
Address: Playa Nizuc, km 25 Boulevard Kukulkan.
North of Cancun, in the mainland of Isla Mujeres, you will find “El Meco” Archaeological Site.
If you are interested in the ancient Mayan civilization, the “El Meco” ruins are definitely a must-see in Cancun.
Most likely this site was an important hub on the shipping route for commerce in the Yucatan Peninsula. According to scientific research, El Meco was in contact with the commercial city of Coba located further south and inland, as well as with Tulum.
The Mayan remains at this site include several sets of ruins, including the main building called El Castillo. From its summit, there is a beautiful view of Isla Mujeres.
🌿 The site can be accessed from Cancun by public transportation.
Address: North of Cancún, km 2. Carretera Puerto Juárez, López Portillo, 77520 Cancún, Q.R.
Hours: Every day from 8:00 a.m. at 4:00 p.m.
Prices: $3 USDs ($55 MXN).
For lovers of strong alcoholic beverages, a visit to a “mezcaleria” or a “tequileria” is a must in your discovery of Mexican flavors.
In Cancun, there are guided tours to learn more about mezcal and tequila.
In these tours, guides will teach you the origin of these typical Mexican drinks, made from agave. You will learn the different distillation techniques, as well as to recognize the aging stages of these alcohols (white, “añejo”, crystal).
These tours end with a tasting according to local tradition, with salt, lemon and chili powder!
🌿 Did you know that… There are 200 different types of agaves, but only 12 are used to make the alcohols that are famous world-wide.
With this list of 35 things to do in Cancun, you can't afford to waste time on your next vacation in the Mexican Caribbean. No more pretending that there is nothing to do or that you will repeat what you did on your last vacation, you have a lot to discover in Cancun: right, left, up, down and everywhere!
Only one question remains! Will you have enough time for all these activities?
Do you want more ideas? No problem!
Odigoo has more than one feather on the wing: