Best Places To Visit Around CANCUN (MEXICO)
Planning a trip to Cancun and wondering what are the best places to visit around Cancun?
Cancun is a world-famous resort city in Mexico known for its white sand beaches and turquoise blue water. Cancun boasts exclusive shopping centres, beautiful all-inclusive hotels, spas and international restaurants, as well as great nightlife.
It is a fun place to visit, especially if you love partying and meeting new people. There are so many things to do in Cancún, from trying local street food to partying in Mexico’s most famous nightclubs.
Also, there are plenty of things to do around Cancún.
And in this article, we will focus on the best places to visit around Cancun. Read also about the best places to visit in Mexico: 7 best places to visit in MEXICO – TravelFree
Cool Things You Can Do In Cancún
Here is a list of some of the best things to do in Cancún City itself:
- Cancun Underwater Museum of Art (M.U.S.A./Museo Subacuático de Arte) is a unique diving spot available to beginner divers. Located between Cancún and Isla Mujeres, it features a total of 500 sculptures. The museum was created to save the nearby coral reefs.
- Visit Downtown Cancun and get a taste of local life. Explore its art-covered streets, eat at local cafes and enjoy delicious street food.
- Visit Cancun’s best public beaches.
- Shop until you drop at Mercado 28. It is a huge market in downtown Cancun. Here you can find handicrafts, souvenirs and clothes. In Mercado 28, you can also try local food from little street food stalls and eateries.
- Cancún is known for its crazy nightlife. If you love partying, visit the renowned nightclubs of Cancún such as Coco Bongo (Cancun’s most famous night club), Mandala, The City Nightclub, Señor Frog’s, Dady’O, La Vaquita, Congo Bar Cancún, etc.
7 Best Places to visit around Cancun
Stay in Playa del Carmen for a Few Days
Playa del Carmen has some of the best beaches in Yucatán.
Playa del Carmen is known for its “laid-back town” vibe. It is less busy and less Americanised than bustling and tourist-oriented Cancún. It’s a lovely town with plenty of restaurants, cafes, boutiques and bars. There are public beaches in the central part of the town, as well as a couple of much less crowded beaches outside of the centre of Playa del Carmen.
Explore the Ruins of Chichén Itzá
Exploring the Mayan Ruins of Chichén Itzá is one of the best places to visit around Cancun.
Chichen Itza is a world famous Mayan ruins and archaeological site. Built by the Maya people between 750 and 900 AD, Chichén Itzá was one of the largest Maya cities. Now it is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico. Chichén Itzá is a complex of several buildings, with the main one being the Kukulkan Pyramid (or El Castillo).
Chichen Itza is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its Kukulkan Pyramid was classified as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Be warned though — as it is a top tourist destination in all of the Yucatán Peninsula, it gets very crowded.
Chill on Isla Mujeres Beaches
Isla Mujeres is a tiny island about 13 kilometres off the Yucatán Peninsula coast.
It is a renowned vacation destination known for its beautiful beaches. Isla Mujeres has a quieter and more relaxing vibe than Cancún. It’s a small island perfect for relaxation. It’s so small it can be easily explored on foot or on a bike.
Besides the beaches, Isla Mujeres has its own Mayan ruins — the ruins of Ixchel Temple. There’s a little turtle sanctuary (Tortugranja). If you love snorkelling or diving, head to MUSA Underwater Sculpture Park which is one of the largest underwater art attractions in the world.
Dive in Cozumel
Cozumel is a small island and a renowned scuba diving destination.
It is a gateway to one of the best reefs in the Caribbean — Palancar Reef.
Cozumel is larger than Isla Mujeres and is a better snorkelling/diving destination. The reef is divided into several sections based on the type of coral formations and depth. The reef is home to various tropical fish (such as angelfish, parrotfish, triggerfish, ell, etc.), turtles, spotted eagle rays, nurse sharks and whale sharks.
Visit One (or Several) Cenotes of Yucatan
Visiting the cenotes is one of the best things to do around Cancún.
Cenotes are rock sided sinkholes that were formed by the collapse of limestone cave “ceiling” which exposed groundwater. Cenotes were used for water supplies by the ancient Mayans. There are at least 6000 cenotes in Yucatán alone. So, there are plenty of options to choose from!
Swimming in cenotes is refreshing. If you have snorkelling equipment, or if there’s a rental on the spot, you can try snorkelling in the cenote. It’s an amazing experience, to see a cenote from another perspective.
You can dive in some of the cenotes.
Tulum is a town on the Caribbean coastline known for its pristine beaches and Mayan ruins.
It consists of two parts — Downtown Tulum and the beach (“Hotel Zone”). While Downtown Tulum attracts budget travellers and backpackers, Tulum Beach is quite the opposite.
Tulum is often called the “Yoga capital of Mexico” as it offers a number of yoga retreats and cafes serving healthy vegan food.
The town is also known for its ruins. Tulum Ruins are unique and differ from other ruins in Yucatan, as they are located on the coast.
Merida is the capital of the Yucatan state, and the largest city of the Yucatán Peninsula.
This vibrant city has rich Mayan and colonial heritage. In our opinion, Merida is one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico. The city centre is with wonderful historical buildings. The houses are mostly one or two stories, often brightly coloured.
Merida has a number of hotels set in beautiful colonial buildings and feature an inner yard. We would definitely recommend staying in such a building!
If you are visiting Merida, do not miss the UNESCO-listed Uxmal archaeological site. Uxmal was an ancient Maya city, but now it is one of the most important archaeological sites of Mayan culture. Uxmal’s pyramids and buildings are known for their impressive size and style.
Cancún Travel Tips
- You don’t need a visa to travel to Cancún, Mexico. Citizens of the E.U. (and many other countries) may enter Mexico for a maximum stay of 180 days.
- If you are entering Mexico by land, you must obtain a document (“Forma Migratoria Multiple”) to present at checkpoints within Mexico. It also can be obtained online. It costs around 15 EUR.
- The most popular modes of transportation for tourists visiting Cancún are colectivos (public minivans), buses and rental cars.
- Renting a car in Cancún is the best and most flexible way of travel. That way you’ll be able to visit not only the major tourist spots but also smaller, less-known places.
- Colectivos (minibuses) are the cheapest form of transport. Colectivos operate between Cancún, Tulum and Playa del Carmen. You can also use colectivos to get to some of the cenotes and other tourist attractions.
- ADO coach company offers services from Cancún to Merida and Chichen Itza. Buses are clean and very comfortable. ADO buses also operate from Cancún Airport to Cancún City Centre, Tulum and Playa del Carmen. You can buy tickets at ADO bus terminals, or using their mobile app. We would recommend booking ADO bus tickets a couple of days in advance, as they might sell out fast.
- The best time to visit Cancún is during the dry season — between December and April. Shoulder season (May) is also a good time to visit Cancún. Hurricane season lasts from the beginning of June to the end of November.