Things to do in Cancun: Attractions and places to visit

Panoramablick über die Hotelzone und den Strand von Cancun (Daniel Lorig)  Copyright 
License Information available under 'Proof of Image Sources'

Cancun, with its white sandy beaches and diverse tourist infrastructure, is one of the hotspots for tourists in Mexico. The city and the Yucatán peninsula are characterized by a unique natural landscape, paradisiacal beaches and countless opportunities to get to know the Mayan culture.

Most hotels are located in the Zona Hotelera, which is separated from the city by a lagoon. On the lively beaches and in cosy bars, visitors will find the perfect mix of relaxation and exciting activities. Water sports enthusiasts get their money’s worth here, as do family holidaymakers who are looking for relaxation.

Below we present the most exciting tours, the most beautiful attractions and the best sights in Cancun. As in Cancun, on the peninsula Yucatán, above all the popular hotel resorts are located, we of course also included the most interesting excursion destinations along the Riviera Maya.

Blick über den Strand von Cancun (Daniel Lorig)  Copyright 
License Information available under 'Proof of Image Sources'
Cancun (16:9clue)  [flickr.com]  CC BY 
License Information available under 'Proof of Image Sources'
Pelicans (oliveirag)  [flickr.com]  CC BY 
License Information available under 'Proof of Image Sources'

1. In the heart of Cancun: The Laguna Nichupté

The Nichupté lagoon is one of the main attractions in Cancun. Situated in the heart of the city, it comprises a lagoon system of three thousand hectares. Dreamy beaches can be found here and a unique jungle landscape can be admired on long walks. Glass bottom boats are popular, with which you can explore the underwater landscape of the swamps on.

Mangroves, countless fish species and occasionally crocodiles or leopards can be observed – an unforgettable experience for children and adults alike. One of the largest coral reefs in the world can be found here and is perfect for diving. In addition to motorboats, many guests travel by kayak in the branched lagoon system with its crystal-clear water.

2. Heavenly view from Torre Escenica

To admire Cancún and its surroundings from above, a trip to the Torre Escenica is worthwhile. In a rotating cabin, visitors drive 80 metres up, where they can enjoy a 360-degree view. From here you can admire the lagoon Nichupté and the beaches of the Zona Hotelera.

The turquoise sea landscape gives a picturesque picture. The view is spectacular both day and night. At night it is the lights of the hotels and the city that create a romantic atmosphere. It is therefore a good idea to buy a cheap combi-ticket for one day and one night trip each.

3. Underwater art in the Museo Subacuátio de Arte

Art can also be admired in the water. Snorkeling or diving, visitors to the Museo Subacuátio de Arte move between life-size figures. The artist Jason de Caires Taylor is responsible for the extensive sculpture park located at Punta Nizuc. The 400 figures are only a few metres below sea level.

If you don’t want to or can’t dive, you can book one of the many boat trips with snorkel tours. Here the snorkeling equipment is usually already included and even beginners can easily explore the great underwater art landscape. The museum is located on the Isla de las Mujeres, only a short distance from Cancún.

4. Relax on the Isla de las Mujeres

From the Centro de Convenciones you can reach the popular Isla de las Mujeres, where you will find some worthwhile sights. It is only ten kilometres away from Cancún and is popular for its quiet atmosphere. The Caribbean main town occupies the north, the rest of the island consists of a nature reserve and picturesque beaches. Since the new building was limited by the administration, things on the island are comparatively relaxed.

At the southern end, historically interested Mayan ruins await you. In the national park Garrafón, also located in the south of the Isla de las Mujeres, snorkelers get their money’s worth. In the deep blue and clear water even beginners can explore a coral reef. And for those who are even more interested in marine animals, the best place to visit is the turtle breeding station. Young animals are raised here and later released into the wild. Children in particular are enthusiastic visitors.

5. Caribbean dream on Isla Holbox

Another island before Cancún invites you to an unforgettable day trip. The Isla Holbox still offers Caribbean flair in its purest form, despite the numerous day visitors. On the island, which is primarily inhabited by fishermen, there are beautiful beaches and a bird breeding station worth seeing.

Not only different water birds can be observed here, dolphins are regular guests. As the beaches are very shallow, they are especially popular with families. If you like, you can also stay overnight in one of the hotels. The village of Holbox consists mainly of colourful wooden houses that create a unique atmosphere.

6. Mayan ruins in El Rey

On Boulevard Kukulkán in the Zona Hotelera there are several smaller Mayan ruins. They are among the most popular sights in Cancun. The largest excavation site is in El Rey. It is named after a royal tomb discovered here in the 1970s. The Maya built the pyramid with the three temples between the 13th and 16th centuries.

In the middle of the turbulent hotel quarter you can walk comfortably between the foundation walls of the temples and get an impression of the ritual sites of that time. If you wish, you can book a guided tour, which is definitely worth it. Not far from this archaeological park is the Maya Museum, where interested visitors can find out more about the pre-Hispanic period.

7. Magic triangle – after Tulum and Chichen Itza

If the Maya Museum Cancún on Boulevard Kukulkán does not give you enough impressions, you will certainly be enthusiastic about the two most popular sights of the entire Riviera Maya. A day full of unforgettable impressions awaits you as you set off from Cancun to the ruins of Tulum.

The old Maya site lies directly at the turquoise blue sea and is a real magnet for visitors. To form the magic triangle, you drive from here further inland and reach the most important and best preserved Mayan ruins on Yucatán in Chichén Itzá. One of the highlights here is the famous Kukulcán pyramid!

8. Day trip to the island of Cozumel

The island of Cozumel is also accessible from Cancun for a day trip. Here it is romantic sandy beaches and spectacular coral reefs that attract visitors. The extensive beaches are very quiet especially on the west side and therefore also suitable for families with small children.

The forests close to the beach are charming and can be easily explored in the Punta Sur eco-reserve. In the national park Chankanaab visitors admire the fish variety in the lagoon of the same name. Here, too, there are various Mayan ruins to visit, for example in the very well preserved archaeological park San Gervasio.

9. Strolling through Playa del Carmen

One of the most popular sights for Cancún visitors is the nearby town of Playa del Carmen. The tourist centre is the picturesque town centre of the coastal municipality. Here you can enjoy a relaxed and yet very colourful atmosphere. But it never gets boring: live music is usually already available at noon, hip bars and discos open in the evenings.

In addition to the centre, the Quinta Avenida attracts visitors above all. It runs parallel to the beach and is lined with small shops, bistros, bars and restaurants. The pedestrian zone is well frequented during the day and at night, perfect for a leisurely stroll. The wide beaches in the north of the city invite you to sunbathe and swim during the day.

10. Molecular Kitchen in the Restaurante Benazuza

If you are looking for a unique culinary experience, we recommend the Restaurante Benazuza. It is located in the middle of the Zona Hotelera and welcomes its guests in a sophisticated ambience. And as noble as the interior is, as sophisticated and sophisticated is the food on offer.

The trademark of Benazuza is the combination of traditional Mexican dishes with technical gastronomic innovations. A degustation menu is recommended in order to try as many delicacies as possible. The plates are also a visual delight, they are originally arranged with many colors. Technoemotional the restaurant calls its style, which it absolutely does justice to.

More things to do and activities for your Cancun holiday

Best time to visit Cancun

We recommend the following months as best time to travel for exploring the attractions and acivities of Cancun:

January, February, March, April, May, November, and December

You can find more information about the weather, including all climate data, on our climate page for Cancun.

Share your experiences and win!

You already did a Cancun holiday and know other sights or interesting places? Then share your travel tips with us and our website visitors. Among all submissions, we’re giving away a travel voucher worth 1000 $. Info Icon
Please rate your overall holiday experience with 0 to 5 stars.
First name
years old
E-Mail (voluntary disclosure, will not be shared)
All information entered will be stored according to our privacy policy.

More holiday ideas

Preview: Things to do in Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
Historic old town of Santo Domingo and more …
Preview: Things to do in Vancouver
Vancouver
Canada Place and more …