Things to do in Cancun

Pyramid of Kukulkan in the ancient Mexican city of Chichen Itza
© Bucha Natallia / Shutterstock

Cancun is one of the most popular Mexican resorts, favored by North American and European tourists. It can hardly be called a family vacation destination, as the emphasis here is on a busy nightlife and all kinds of entertainment. The resort has everything you need for an ideal vacation on the Caribbean coast — clean beaches with azure water, delicious Mexican food, numerous hotels, clubs, and amusement parks. You can mix it all up with a visit to archaeological sites. In this article, we will review 16 must-see attractions in Cancun.

Downtown Cancun

Downtown Cancun (Ciudad Cancun) is the dynamic heart of the city. This historic place is a must-see in Cancun to get a sense of the Mexican flavor. Here you will find the central park Palapas (Parque de las Palapas). The main square has a stage where various events are held, and there are numerous stalls with delicious street food nearby. You should also check out the stalls in Downtown Cancun selling fresh fruit, vegetables, and handicrafts.

Colorful figurines of scarecrows in front of a showcase
Downtown Cancun © Ingus Kruklitis / Shutterstock
Cancun's premier nightclub, Coco Bongo
Downtown Cancun © Chad Zuber / Shutterstock
Aquarium in the largest shopping center La Isla
Interactive Cancun Interactive Cancun Aquarium © eskystudio / Shutterstock

Cancun Scenic Tower

The Cancun observation tower (Torre Escenica) is located on Kukulkan Boulevard. This tourist landmark is both an attraction and an observation platform. Visitors take an unforgettable 10-minute journey up and back down while enjoying spectacular views of the city and the Caribbean Sea. As the ride goes on, the cabin rotates on its axis, and the height at its peak reaches 80 meters. The audio guide gives brief historical, statistical, and geographical information about Cancun in the background.

Address: Blvd. Kukulcan Km. 4.5, Kukulcan Boulevard, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico

Observation tourist tower
Cancun Scenic Tower ©

Kukulcan Boulevard

Avenida Kukulkan is the city's main artery, passing through the resort area of the Hotel Zone (Zona Hoteliera) and the best place to explore Cancun. It got its unusual name after the feathered serpent of the ancient Mayan legends. The main tourist spots along this street are the popular all-inclusive hotels, restaurants with different price policies, luxury stores, archaeological sites, amusement parks, etc.

Cancun sunset on Kukulkan Boulevard
Kukulcan Boulevard © lunamarina / Shutterstock
Dassan Golden Palace on Kukulkan Boulevard
Kukulcan Boulevard © Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock

Market 28

Market 28 (Mercado 28) is the most popular marketplace in Cancun and one of the unique places to visit in the city. It is a unique place for handmade souvenirs, traditional clothes, accessories, and, of course, a vivid experience. Travelers must bargain when purchasing any goods. Otherwise, the amount spent will be several times greater than its real value. You can also find interesting excursions at bargain prices at Market 28. However, before making a deal, it is worth ensuring that the seller is reliable.

Address: Xel-ha Mz 13, 28, 77509 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico

Market stall
Market 28 ©
Trading rows
Market 28 ©

Señor Frog’s Restaurant

Señor Frog's is one of the most popular restaurants on Kukulсan Boulevard. It's a win-win choice to experience Mexican cuisine during the day and participate in a buzzing party after sundown. The menu features traditional dishes like guacamole, salsa, quesadillas, nachos, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and fajitas. Beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, and mahi-mahi fish are used as protein bases here. Vegetarians will appreciate the vegetable dishes, and children will love the special menu (without spicy components) and delicious desserts.

Address: Blvd. Kukulcan km. 9.5, Punta Cancun, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico

Senor Frog's Restaurant & Bar at Zona Hotelera
Señor Frog’s Restaurant © photopixel / Shutterstock

El Rey Archaeological Zone

The El Rey Archaeological Zone is located in the Hotel Zone and is the largest Mayan ruins found in Cancun. If you have a question about what to do in Cancun, you must visit this place. There are 47 structures and their remains and fragments of frescoes and drawings. It got its name from a sculpture discovered called the king (El Rey), which can be seen in the Mayan Museum. In the XIII century, it was one of the centers of maritime trade. The only inhabitants that can be seen in this area are large iguanas, who are happy to pose for the camera.

Address: Hotel Zone, 77500 Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Mayan ruins
El Rey Archaeological Zone © Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock

Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is an island located at the confluence of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, located 13 km from the Yucatan Peninsula. Isla Mujeres means "The Island of Women" in Spanish. In pre-Columbian times, this area was dedicated to the Maya goddess of child-bearing, Ixchel, an image of which is found everywhere. People come here for the activities — beach holidays and diving among the coral reefs in the Garrafon Natural Reef Park. You can also see sea turtles in their natural habitat.

Isla Mujeres sign with whale shark statue
Isla Mujeres © Tricia Daniel / Shutterstock
Statues underwater
Isla Mujeres © Krofoto / Shutterstock

Ventura Amusement Park

Ventura is a family theme park on Kukulcan Boulevard and one of the best places to visit in Cancun. The Wet'n Wild Water Park area features water slides, a wave pool, a playground with fountains, and an artificial river. Fun World provides visitors with a wide variety of rides — roller coasters, merry-go-rounds, and other types. Fans of fast rides should definitely check out the Grand Prix area with its go-kart track. There is a funny laser tag in Underworld. The most extreme attractions are ziplines and suspension bridges in the Aaah!Ventura.

Address: Blvd. Kukulcan Km. 25, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico

Zip lines
Ventura Amusement Park ©

La Isla Cancun Shopping Mall

La Isla Cancun is the most popular and most visited mall in Cancun. It is divided into three zones — Shopping Village, Entertainment Village, and Fashion Harbour Cancun. The first zone contains stores, pharmacies, restaurants of different world cuisines, The Wax Museum, and Interactive Aquarium Cancun, where more than 1500 species of animals live, and many exhibits can be touched. The second contains the Cancun Ferris Wheel, The Tequila Museum, and The Chocolate Factory. The third part of the mall contains designer boutiques (Louis Vuitton, Tiffany, Montblanc, Prada, and others) and haute cuisine restaurants.

Address: 5 Lt 18-10, Blvd. Kukulcan km 12.5, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico

Sunset at La Isla harbor in Cancun
La Isla Cancun Shopping Mall © Erich Sacco / Shutterstock
The largest mall in Cancun, La Isla
La Isla Cancun Shopping Mall © eskystudio / Shutterstock

Coco Bongo Nightclub

Coco Bongo is Cancun's party mecca and an excellent option for a fun time where hundreds of people come every day. It's a venue for colorful shows with professional artists, including tribute performances dedicated to famous musicians and unforgettable parties. You can often see aerial acrobats flying right above the dancefloor. At the climax, colorful confetti rains from the ceiling.

Address: Blvd. Kukulcan 30, Punta Cancun, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico

Popular nightclub in Playa del Carmen
Coco Bongo Nightclub © jejim / Shutterstock
People in the famous Coco Bongo
Coco Bongo Nightclub © Macca Sherifi / Shutterstock

Underwater Museum of Art, MUSA

The Museum of Underwater Sculptures (Museo Subacuático de Arte) is located in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico between Cancun and Isla Mujeres. You can view the numerous exhibits while scuba diving, snorkeling, or booking a clear-bottom boat trip. The available exhibits vary with each type of tour. Tour groups gather in both Cancún and Isla Mujeres to see the place.

Museum of Underwater Art in Isla Mujeres near Cancun
Museum of Underwater Sculptures © Rob Atherton / Shutterstock

El Meco Archaeological Site

Another archaeological area to the north of the city is El Meco, a must-see in Cancun. It contains the highest Mayan pyramid in the city, El Castillo. There are two well-preserved stone snake heads at its foot, similar to those found in Chichen Itza. The top of the structure offers an excellent view of Isla Mujeres. The numerous trees that provide shade on the hottest of days add to the atmosphere of the place.
Ruins of an ancient Mayan city
El Meco Archaeological Site © Lev Levin / Shutterstock

Xoximilco Theme Park

Xoximilco is a unique theme park located near Cancun International Airport. This is a must on the list of things to do in Cancun. Everyone can experience Mexican traditions, customs, and folklore here — all activities take place in the evening. At the beginning of the tour, visitors get to the carnival, where they can try their hand at traditional games, taste the national dishes and listen to music performed by a mariachi band. After that, a mini-cruise by boat through the scenic landscapes begins, where the tasting of food and hot drinks continues.

Address: Chetumal Km. 282, Juárez, 77580 Puerto Morelos, Q.R., Mexico

Entrance to the huge arch of the Tourist Tram Center in Coyoacan
Xoximilco Theme Park © Fotos593 / Shutterstock

Playa Delfines Beach

Playa Delfines is one of the best beaches in the city and a must-see in Cancun. It has everything you need for a perfect vacation — blue water, pure white sand, and wide open spaces. You can hide from the scorching sun under an umbrella or in the shade of trees. The famous multi-colored sign CANCUN is installed near Playa Delfines. It is a must to take a photo here. There are several surfing schools on the beach, and you can buy food from the vendors who ply the coast endlessly.

Address: Punta Nizuc - Cancún 335, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico

Beautiful beach in Cancun
Playa Delfines Beach © photopixel / Shutterstock
CANCUN sign in front of Playa Delfines beach
Playa Delfines Beach © photopixel / Shutterstock

Iberostar Cancun Golf Club

The Iberostar Cancun Golf Club is located in the heart of the Hotel Zone. It is one of the best activities in Cancun. It is located between the Caribbean Sea and a beautiful lagoon surrounded by mangroves and jungle. The course consists of 18 holes and includes natural water hazards. Players have an unusual view of the ancient Mayan ruins of El Rey from the 16th hole.

Address: Blvd. Kukulcan Km. 17, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico

Golf Club
Iberostar Cancun Golf Club ©
Golf player
Iberostar Cancun Golf Club ©

Chichen Itza

One of the greatest centers of Maya civilization, the city of Chichen Itza, is located in the north of the Yucatan Peninsula. In 2007, it was recognized as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. The main site of this archaeological complex is the Temple of Kukulcan. It is made in the form of a pyramid 24 meters high, consisting of nine steps. There are also two smaller temples, an observatory, stadiums for tlachtli (a ball game reminiscent of soccer and basketball), a monumental colonnade, and a cenote for sacrifices.
Mayan pyramid
Chichen Itza © Mickael Rouze
Columns of a thousand warriors in Chichen Itz
Chichen Itza © Patryk Kosmider / Shutterstock
Tourist walking through ancient Mayan complex
Chichen Itza © Bucha Natallia / Shutterstock

Cenotes of Yucatan

The Yucatan Peninsula, where Cancun is located, is world famous for its cenotes. These are natural wells or small lakes with collapsed limestone vaults in which the underground water flows. Dos Ojos, Cristalino, and Jardin del Eden are all about an hour's drive from Cancun. The first is one of the most popular and largest in Mexico. It stands out for its shallow depth and the possibility of diving into a cave inhabited by bats. Cristalino attracts with its clear water of incredible blue color. Unlike other cenotes, it is completely on the surface. Jardine del Eden is located not far from Cristalino and is a natural pool hidden in the jungle.
Cenote with transparent waters and hanging roots
Cenotes of Yucatan © cge2010 / Shutterstock

Ziplining at Xplor Theme Park

The Xplor theme park is an hour and a half drive from Cancun. It is home to the most visited zipline in the world. It consists of two circuits, each with nine sections. The route goes through the wild jungle and through turbulent rivers, in which you will definitely have to take a dip — no one gets away dry. The peak point of the route is at the height of 45 meters, and the total length of the attraction is 3.8 kilometers.
Zipline through the canyon of the river Tara Montenegro
Ziplining at Xplor Theme Park © Mike_O / Shutterstock