Last Updated Sep 7, 2023

Places of interest

With just over 45 years of history, Cancun and Riviera Maya have become a world class tourist corridor. Year after year, the beaches in the north of the State of Quintana Roo are visited by millions of tourists from all over the world.

Although the beaches and the paradisiacal sea that surround them are the main attraction of Cancun and Riviera Maya, there is a wide diversity of places in the area that have been created to satisfy the entertainment needs of tourists. It also should not be overlooked that this region was also the area in which the Mayan civilization flourished several centuries ago. So, in addition to the natural wonders, all the places of fun and entertainment; there are different archaeological sites of great cultural relevance.

It’s clear that traveling to Cancun and Riviera Maya in the Mexican Caribbean can be an unforgettable experience. However, to make the most of the trip, it is important to plan in advance and define which places of interest will be included in your activities while visiting these destinations.

In the following paragraphs we will briefly talk about the places of interest in Cancun and Riviera Maya:

  • Cancun Hotel Zone. This is the area where most of the hotels in Cancun are located. It is a strip of land of approximately 15 miles (24 kilometers) surrounded on one side by the sea and, on the other, by the Nichupté Lagoon. In addition to the presence of more than 80 hotels of various types and categories in this area, you’ll also find restaurants, shopping centers, bars, nightclubs, beach clubs, piers, among other attractions. If your plan is to stay in Cancun in your visit to the Mexican Caribbean, it is very likely that you will end up in this area. However, there are also hotels in other areas of Cancun (Punta Sam to the north, as well as close to downtown).
  • Fifth Avenue. In Playa del Carmen, this is the area with the largest tourist flow. It is a corridor of just over 1.9 miles (three kilometers) where you can find restaurants, boutiques, shops, pharmacies, hotels (mostly boutique style), bars, convenience stores, a ferry dock (to Cozumel), a park, beach clubs and nightclubs. It is an area exclusively for pedestrians, so it is pretty easy and safe to walk from one end to the other.
  • Islands. Cozumel and Isla Mujeres are islands that are located near Cancun and Playa del Carmen, respectively. Given its proximity to these places, it is possible to make a quick visit without having to stay. Each one has its own attractions, although both share water activities as the main things to do. Other islands in the region are Holbox and Isla Contoy. However, both are more focused in ecotourism.
  • Archaeological sites. The Yucatan Peninsula, the place where Cancun and Riviera Maya are located, was the cradle of the Mayan civilization. Many ruins and vestiges of cities and temples of this interesting ancient culture still remain. Most of them are open to visitors. Some of the most popular are Chichen Itzá, Cobá, Ek Balam and Tulum which are visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.
  • Cancun airport. This airport is the second busiest in Mexico, just after the one in Mexico City. Almost all the tourists that visit Cancun and Riviera Maya arrive to this airport. The airport connects directly with Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. The island of Cozumel has its own international airport, but it’s a smaller airport with much less traffic.
  • Ports and piers. Sea transportation is also a dynamic activity in the Mexican Caribbean. Cozumel (island) and Mahahual (a town south to Playa del Carmen) are two of the main cruise ports in the Caribbean. On the other hand, Puerto Juárez in Cancun is home to the ferries that sail from Cancun to Isla Mujeres carrying hundreds of tourists every day.
  • Theme parks. Throughout Riviera Maya, there are different parks. Most of them have taken advantage of the jungle’s exuberant vegetation, the underground rivers (cenotes) and the beautiful beaches of the region to create attractions through adventure activities (such as rafting, zip lines, snorkel, trekking, etc). Mexican culture and folklore also take places in most of them. Some of these parks are Xcaret, Xoximilco, Xplor, El Garrafón, Ventura Park, etc. They are a must for those looking to experience the ecosystem of the region.

These are the main places of interest in Cancun and Riviera Maya. For more details of the activities, the things to see and do in each destination, you can find more information in the main menu posts.