CancúnTravel Guide

Cancun in Mexico is a beach lover’s paradise situated on the Caribbean Sea.  An idyllic honeymoon location, a tourist hotspot and the ultimate destination for students during spring break, it’s part of the Yucatan Peninsula, known for many pristine bays and beaches, as well as jungles. 

Hitch a ride on a ferry to spend a day on the beautiful Isla Mujeres (Island of Women), marvel at the Mayan ruins in Chichen Itza or sit down to a delicious meal of fresh seafood at a fine-dining restaurant in the luxurious Hotel Zone. No matter what’s on your agenda – a vacation in Cancun is guaranteed to be an escape that dreams are made of.  

Ready to find out about some of the must-sees and must-dos? Our Cancun travel guide will let you in on the unmissable.

Cancún quick facts

Language

National language

Spanish

Beverages

Bottle of Coke/Pepsi (330ml)

CAD $2.26

Local time

Thursday

2:48pm

Currency

Mexican peso

CAD $1.00 = MXN $13.42

Eating out

Restaurant meal (casual dining)

CAD $19.34

Electricity

Plug type: A

2 or 3 pins • 127V

Explore Cancún

Where to stay in Cancún?

Wondering where to stay in Cancun? Here’s a look at a few of the areas that should be on your radar and the accommodation options we’d like you to know about.

Aptly named, Cancun’s Hotel Zone is a strip on which the vast majority of the luxury hotels are built, so if you have some extra cash at your disposal, this is definitely where you want to be. Of course, it’s important to note that the Hotel Zone is also “party central”, so be prepared to share your space with party-goers determined to live their best life at every possible opportunity. Eco-certified, five-star hotel Hard Rock Hotel Cancun is an all-inclusive resort with its own private beach, swim-up bars and an outdoor swimming pool. The Grand Hotel Cancún is another five-star sure-fire win, with a high-end spa, outdoor swimming pool, private terraces and private balconies.


Costa Mujeres, also known as Playa Mujeres, is an isolated gated community with a much quieter vibe, a variety of stunning beaches and offering direct connections to the nearby Isla Mujeres. Atelier Playa Mujeres is a five-star, all-inclusive resort with 593 suites, a golf course and sea views. If budget allows and you’d like to go all-out on luxury, book your stay at the Catalonia Grand Costa Mujeres, known for its private terrace suites, swim-up rooms and world-class restaurants.


On a budget? Head for downtown Cancun, packed with hotels and hostels with rates a fraction of the price of a stay in the upmarket areas. Motel Costa Express is a great pick for every type of traveller, from families to couples and corporate travellers alike. Santa Fe Studios and Suites promises a relaxed atmosphere, an outdoor swimming pool, parking and free Wi-Fi.


Believe us when we say, this is just the start. Book your accommodation today!

  • woman sitting by pool with ocean behind
    • woman sitting in natural pool
    • woman sitting infront of Mayan pyramid
    • ancient ruins
    • woman walking on coastal path with bright skirt
  • woman sitting by pool with ocean behind
    woman sitting by pool with ocean behind
    woman sitting by pool with ocean behind
  • woman sitting in natural pool
    woman sitting in natural pool
    woman sitting in natural pool
  • woman sitting infront of Mayan pyramid
    woman sitting infront of Mayan pyramid
    woman sitting infront of Mayan pyramid
  • ancient ruins
    ancient ruins
    ancient ruins
  • woman walking on coastal path with bright skirt
    woman walking on coastal path with bright skirt
    woman walking on coastal path with bright skirt
  • aerial view of cancun beach and ocean
    aerial view of cancun beach and ocean
    aerial view of cancun beach and ocean

Things to do in Cancún

If you manage to tear yourself away from the beach and incredibly blue waters even for a day or two, you’ll discover plenty of exciting and unique things to do in Cancun. Here are a few to consider adding to your itinerary:

Step away from the waves and take a refreshing dip in a cenote instead. A cenote is essentially a deep sinkhole that is formed when the ceiling of a limestone cave collapses – and there are thousands of them in Cancun. The magical blue waters entice for swimming, snorkelling or scuba diving. If you’re keen to take this particular activity to the max, you could consider booking a cenote tour to visit some of the most famous sinkholes in the region.


Hop aboard a ferry to the breath-takingly beautiful fishing village of Isla Mujeres, best known for its magnificent sunsets and surrounding coral reefs, ideal for scuba diving and snorkelling. A visit here provides a welcome change from the loud, vibrant, party atmosphere that Cancun and its Hotel Zone are famous for.

Rent a golf cart or a bicycle to explore the island or lounge around on the powdery sand to your heart’s content. If you opt for the former, be sure to make a stop at eco-park, Punta Sur – 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres) of lagoon systems, coral reefs, exotic birds and crocodiles (!). Another must-see is MUSA, the Underwater Museum of Art with its hundreds of sculptures beneath the ocean or find your Zen by doing yoga on the beach.


The Gran Museo del Mundo Maya is yet another spot to do some digging into Mayan culture. Hundreds of artifacts, ancient skeletons, art galleries and right next to the San Miguelito Ruins in the jungle, the Museo Maya is an absolute must-visit.


Step into the ancient Mayan way of life by taking part in a temazcal ceremony, designed to cleanse mind, body and soul. These ceremonies are traditionally led by a local shaman, but, in recent times, many of the luxury spas in Cancun have started incorporating them into their offering, so you needn’t look far to find an opportunity to embrace this unique experience.  
 
Typically, the ceremony unfolds inside a darkened, domed hut in which hot volcanic rocks have been placed in the centre. Water mixed with herbs like sage is carefully poured onto the rocks to create steam while the shaman chants and you slowly enter an immersive, meditative state. The sweat lodge is meant to represent the womb and emerging from it is symbolic of being reborn. But you’ll certainly feel refreshed, rejuvenated and at peace afterwards.  


The well-preserved ancient city of Chichen Itza is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. It’s crammed full of Mayan ruins and ancient buildings, the oldest of which dates back to the 5th century. It’s located just a few hours from Cancun (a two-and-a-half-hour drive if you have your own wheels) and definitely worth the journey for the history buffs.


Raring to go and start exploring? Book your Cancun vacation with the help of our experts.

Flights to Cancún

Cancún food and drink

Some like it hot, and if that’s the kind of foodie you are, you’ll fit right into the Cancun food scene! Get your fix of spicy, moreish Mexican dishes and fresh seafood. Oh, and don’t forget to taste your way through street food while out and about (which shouldn’t be difficult since there’s a vendor on practically every corner!)

You’ll find loads of restaurants for fine wining and dining scattered throughout the Hotel Zone, as well as downtown, so deciding where to eat in Cancun can be tricky. Decisions, decisions! Our favourites include the long-standing La Habichuela, 15 minutes from the Hotel Zone and celebrated as an authentic tribute to Mayan culture. The menu features an array of fresh seafood and Mexican classics, including grilled jumbo lobster, deep-fried coconut shrimp and crunchy tortillas with guacamole. The Club Grill is another must, particularly for meat lovers. You’ll find it on-site at the Grand Hotel Cancun, where you can savour an artfully plated meal complemented by excellent wine to the sounds of live jazz piano music.


So much to tickle your taste buds, from steamed “basket” tacos stuffed with spicy chorizo and potato to cochinita pibil (a slow-roasted pork dish), considered by locals to be the Mexican street food item. You’ll also find esquites (cups filled with juicy corn removed from the cob), elotes (grilled corn-on-the-cob), handmade ice cream in a variety of mouth-watering flavours and, of course, tacos, tacos, tacos!


Get a real taste for the local cuisine by booking a tour.

Cancún through your eyes

Where to shop in Cancún?

While full of fancy shopping centres and stylish boutique stores, it’s all about the flea markets when it comes to shopping in Cancun, especially if you want to live like the locals or find some great souvenirs for loved ones back home. Keep reading for a round-up of the best shopping hotspots if you have some cash to spend, after all those activities you’ve done in Cancun!

If upscale and sophisticated shopping centres are your thing, La Isla Shopping Village is sure to fit the bill. Found in the Hotel Zone, it ticks all of your shopping and entertainment boxes, boasting a mix of souvenir shops and boutiques. The open-air mall is also home to the Interactive Aquarium, a movie theatre and restaurants with a view. Another option to visit where you’re guaranteed to feel swipe-happy with your Travel Money Card in hand is Malecon Americas in downtown Cancun, bursting at the seams with all sorts of shops. It’s also connected to Plaza Las Americas, which was the original shopping destination for locals before the newer malls were built.


Mercado 28 is the most famous flea market in Cancun and offers access to a host of vendors selling their wares and creations. Stroll through the maze of stalls with your best poker face at the ready to strike a bargain on items that catch your eye. Mercado Coral Negro is another flea market worth a visit, full of trinkets and treasures from hand-painted pottery to hand-made jewellery.  


Looking for a safe and simple way to bring your money when you travel? Our Travel Money Card has you covered!

When is the best time to travel to Cancún?

Believe it or not, winter is the best time to visit Cancun, between December and April, which is when the weather in Cancun is at its best. But be warned this is also the time when hotel prices are at their highest, so be sure to book in advance. And, unless you’re keen to party it up alongside the spring breakers, it’s better to avoid Cancun in March and April.  

Keen to celebrate Day of the Dead with the locals? Then a late October/early November getaway is recommended.  If you’re looking to save money or dying for some really warm weather, visit in summertime between May and August, keeping in mind that hurricane season falls between June and November.  

Got your heart set on a Mexico cruise? It’s definitely a good idea to book for the dry season, extending from late November to May.

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How to get around Cancún

Since it’s a massive tourist hub, there are heaps of convenient ways for getting around in Cancun.

It’s easy to hitch a ride no matter where you are in Cancun. The city relies both on local taxi services and e-hailing apps, like Uber. If you’d prefer to use the former, ask your hotel or resort to schedule your lift on your behalf.


Planning on doing a fair bit of exploring? Then renting a car is definitely worth it. The roads in Cancun are generally well maintained and traffic isn’t a problem unless there’s been an accident or a big event going on.


Buses are the most affordable mode of transport for getting around in Cancun. They generally run every five minutes and follow two main routes across the Hotel Zone and the downtown areas, which pass by many popular shopping centres, attractions, beaches and hotels. There are the airport buses as well that travel between the airport and various bus stations. Book your tickets online though as they get full quickly.


Sightseeing on the Isla Mujeres involves hopping aboard a ferry, but fear not, there are plenty of them. You’ll also have three piers to choose from if you’re staying in the Hotel Zone, namely Playa Tortugas, Playa Caracol and El Embarcadero, each running every half an hour.


Let us help you organize your own wheels for exploring. Hire a car today.

What are the best beaches in Cancún?

Cancun is considered one of the best travel destinations in the world and the gorgeous beaches are the main reason why travellers make a beeline for this popular Mexican city. But which of the beaches stand out from rest? These are our top picks: 

Ask both the locals and the tourists what’s considered the “best” beach in Cancun and you’re almost guaranteed they’ll enthusiastically respond with “Playa Delfines”, the largest public beach in the city. It’s the only beach in the Hotel Zone without any nearby resorts or hotels marring the scenery, so it’s perfect for your vacation snaps. It’s also home to the iconic, colourful Cancun sign, located on the El Mirador lookout platform, perched on a hilltop overlooking the water.


Playa Chac Mool is a quieter beach in Cancun, taking you away from the loud music and festivities that can be found on some of the other beaches in the city. It’s your white-sand escape, ideal if you are the kind of traveller who wants to enjoy a typical beach vacation, including a variety of water sports.


Looking for somewhere more private to sun your skin and enjoy the sea? Then the secluded gated community of Costa Mujeres is where you want to be. Get there early to reserve your spot on a private beach, such as Isla Blanca.


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Cancún Frequently asked questions

Arguably the most recognised destination in all of Mexico, Cancun frames the Caribbean Sea and is known for its beautiful beaches, resorts and nightlife. If you can manage to step away from the sand, visitors can explore the Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá and El Rey before making a pit-stop at The Maya Museum.


Cancun is undoubtedly blessed with some of Mexico’s most pristine stretches of sand, perhaps some of its most notable are Playa Delfines (also known as El Mirador), Costa Mujeres is a gated community with plenty of all-inclusive resorts, and Isla Mujeres. If you prefer things a little less developed, head to the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, south of Tulum. The UNESCO World Heritage site boasts 23 archaeological sites and is widely regarded as one of the best preserved habitats in Mexico.


The most popular time to visit Cancun is from December through to April when the weather is slightly less steamy and the crowds have thinned out. From March to early April is when spring breakers from the United States swarm the idyllic slice of paradise with pool parties, DJs and drinking contests, so if that’s not your vibe, best avoid.


From pristine beaches to ancient ruins, Cancun offers a plethora of attractions for a truly memorable getaway. Whether it’s exploring the underwater world, partying at the hottest clubs or eating your way around with a taco in one hand and a margarita in the other, Cancun promises a vacay filled with excitement and adventure.


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Despite popular opinion, Cancun isn’t all spring break and revelry – there are plenty of family-friendly activities to keep the whole tribe amused including several theme parks within the Xcaret family of parks including its namesake Xcaret, Xplor, Xavage and Xel-Ha. There’s also an aquarium and plenty of epic jungle tours.


Your sense of fun and a solid appetite for tacos and tequila. Other than those things, pack beach attire for sun-soaked days and something a little fancier for evenings. If you’re planning on exploring the ruins, be sure to pack some comfortable shoes.


From pristine beaches to ancient ruins, Cancun offers a plethora of attractions to curate the trip of a lifetime. If you’re looking to soak in a little ‘vitamin sea’, you’re spoilt for choice with Playa Delfines (also known as El Mirador), Costa Mujeres, Isla Mujeres and the UNESCO World Heritage Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. If, however, you’re keen for lively nightlife and mouth-watering restaurants, it’s hard to go past Playa del Carmen and Tulum. 


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