If you don’t have a lot of time in Cancun or you’re just not huge on planning a jam-packed schedule everyday — here is a quickie guide to Cancun that will make sure you hit the important spots, eat the good stuff and sleep on the softest pillows in Mexico. Enjoy this guide to Cancun, curated by expert travelers from the Getting Stamped travel blog.
Getting In[caption id="attachment_39416" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Awash with shades of blue, green and white. Photo by f. ermert CC BY[/caption]
Taxi: 40 minutes, price depends on destination, Uber is not currently available in Cancun.
Van: Shuttles leave continuously from the airport for door to door service.
Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Cost:$12 USD per person
Bus: ADO Coach Bus service from Cancun airport to Cancun terminal — 25 minutes
Cost:$66 MXP – Discounts available online in advance.
Where to eat
Local Favorite | Las Quekas[caption id="attachment_39369" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Try traditional sopas at Las Quekas. Photo by Author. [/caption]
A favorite among locals and visitors alike Las Quekas is quick, simple, tasty food. This is a good place to try quesadillas and the traditional sopas in a casual atmosphere.
Hours: Open 24 hours
A Classic Romantic Meal | Restaurante La Habichuela Sunset
One of Cancun’s oldest food establishments La Habichuela Sunset has been around almost as long as the city. It’s a great place for dinner with sunset views over the lagoon. Try the ‘Cocobichuela’ the restaurant’s signature dish.
Location: Blvd Kukulcan Km 12.6, Zona Hotelera
Hours: Mon-Sun 1:00 p.m. – midnight
Unique Dinner in Cancun | Thai Lounge
Head to the Thai Lounge for some good Thai food in a beautiful setting. Dine inside small, palm-covered shelters that overlook the lagoon of Cancun. Traditional Thai dishes are prepared by Songkran born chef Supoj Thamtinno.
What To Do
Underwater Museum of Art[caption id="attachment_39366" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Swim through the Underwater Museum. Photo by Ratha Grimes CC BY[/caption]
In 2010, progressive artist Jason de Caires Taylor sank over 500 life-size sculptures at the bottom of the sea creating the world’s largest underwater museum. The Museum’s message is to convey the interaction between art and environmental science. The art is also intended to form an artificial reef system where corals can grow and sea life can colonize. There are several sites within the museum and one even has a sunken VW beetle.
Salon Manchones is located off shore from Isla Mujeres at eight meters depth and is best for divers, while other sites like Punta Nizuc have sculptures closer to the surface making them better for snorkelers.
Location: Museum Office – Blvd. Kukulcan Km. 15.3, Zona Hotelera,
Cost:$40 snorkeling, $60 for a 1 tank dive, $100 for beginner divers
Swim in a Cenote[caption id="attachment_39368" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Swim in the beauty of collapsed limestone, a Cenote. Photo by Author. [/caption]
Cenotes are collapsed limestone caves filled with water from underground rivers. The Yucatan is home to over 7,000 cenotes. Local favorites include Dos Ojos cenote, located 1 hour and 45 minutes south of Cancun and the Gran Cenote near the town of Tulum. IkKil cenote (pictured above) is just a few miles from Chichen Itza and is commonly combined for a great day trip. The Mayans believed the cenotes to be a gateway to the underworld and would often make sacrifices, including humans, into the cenotes. Exploring these unique geological features is a must when visiting Cancun.
Location: See map for Dos Ojos
Cost: Most cenotes are 100 MXP to visit
Swim with Sea turtles in Akumal[caption id="attachment_39371" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Get up close to adorable sea turtles. Photo by Author. [/caption]
Just over an hour down the coast is the small town of Akumal. The town beach boasts a large population of sea turtles who call the warm turquoise waters of the bay at Akumal home. They lay their eggs in the soft sand and can almost always be found in the shallow waters in front of the beach. Rent snorkeling gear at the beach or arrange a tour from Cancun which includes a guide, gear rental, and transportation to and from Akumal.
Location: See Map
Cost: Gear rentals and optional guide
What To See
Tulum Ruins[caption id="attachment_39372" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Tulum Ruins. Photo by Author. [/caption]
Arguably one of the most beautiful settings to see are the Tulum Ruins. Mayan temples were constructed here on the tall ragged cliffs over looking the Caribbean Sea. Take in the 700 year-old ruins with stunning blue water as the backdrop.
Cost: 64 MXP, Parking 100 MXP
Hours: 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Coba Ruins[caption id="attachment_39373" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Coba Ruins. Photo by Author. [/caption]
Less visited than both Tulum and Chichen Itza, Coba dates back to 600 A.D. Coba is a massive city and covers several miles; in case you don’t want to walk, pedicab drivers and bike rentals are available at the entrance to the archaeological site. One of the most impressive features within Coba is the massive watch tower. Also, don’t miss the tall pyramid which you are still allowed to climb, unlike at other sites.
Chichen Itza[caption id="attachment_39367" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Get to Chichen Itza early to avoid crowds. Photo by Author. [/caption]
Considered by most to be Mexico’s most impressive Mayan site, a visit to Chichen Itza is highly recommended for any Cancun itinerary. The main pyramid is a picturesque, tall and highly symmetrical stone structure.
Cost: 235 MXP, Parking 30 MXP
Hours:9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Colonial Town of Valladolid[caption id="attachment_39374" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Visit an old Spanish colonial town. Photo by Author. [/caption]
Include this charming Spanish Colonial town of Valladolid as an easy stop off on a day trip to Chichen Itza where you’ll get lost wandering through the colorful streets. This cute little town makes a great place to have lunch after a morning exploring the ruins.
Where to Stay
5 Stars | Fiesta Americana Villas Cancun[caption id="attachment_39396" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Fiesta Americana Cancun. Photo courtesy of the Fiesta Americana Hotel.[/caption]
The Fiesta Americana is a beachfront property with a pool, fitness center and spa. It’s located in the heart of the hotel zone, very close to shopping areas, restaurants, bars and many tourist attractions. The hotel has 179 rooms and offers both suites and villas in varying capacities. Most rooms have private balconies with sea views.
Amenities: Coffee maker, sink, refrigerator, on-site restaurant, spa, fitness center, private parking garage, free WiFi, children’s club, airport shuttle and VIP services. Full apartment style rentals include dining room and living room.
4 Stars | The Westin Resort & Spa Cancun[caption id="attachment_39397" align="aligncenter" width="978"] Westin Resort and Spa in Cancun. Photo courtesy of the Westin. [/caption]
The Westin Resort & Spa Cancun is a four-star hotel featuring a health club, full-service spa and multilingual staff. The Westin Resort & Spa Cancun features onsite shopping, an ATM, a rooftop terrace and a business center. Guests can enjoy the sun lounges, towels and beach umbrellas provided by the outdoor pool. The family-friendly resort offers babysitting, supervised children’s activities and a children’s club.
Amenities: A/C, Heavenly Beds with pillow-top mattresses, flat-screen TVs, separate bathtub and dual-shower head Heavenly Shower with free toiletries and a hairdryer provided. WiFi is available at a surcharge.
3 Stars | ibis Cancun Centro[caption id="attachment_39398" align="aligncenter" width="866"] ibis Centro Cancun. Photo courtesy of the ibis Centro hotel. [/caption]
The ibis Cancun Centro hotel is in the city’s largest business and financial district, a stone’s throw from the Las Américas shopping center, and just 10 minutes away from the airport and five minutes from the pristine Cancún beaches. The hotel has 190 modern and comfortable rooms.
Amenities: The hotel offers free WiFi, a car park and access for people with reduced mobility, and is non-smoking throughout.
Insider Tips[caption id="attachment_39417" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Photo by Trenten Kelley CC BY[/caption]
Rent a car
One of the best ways to experience Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is by car, giving you the ultimate freedom to visit all the amazing sites at your own pace. Car rentals are also very affordable compared to other parts of the world.
Head to the ruins early in the morning
Avoid the crowds and get an early start. Most tours leave mid morning to see the Mayan Ruin sites, so aim to get there before the tour buses leave and enjoy having significantly less people in your photos. An early start will also help you beat the heat as afternoon temps in the Mexican sun can be stifling.
Eat at The Surfin’ Burrito
This open-air restaurant serves up good authentic Mexican street food and drinks. The Surfin’ Burrito is most famous for their 1 liter cup of margaritas for just over 100 pesos (or about $6 USD). It can be a little bit touristy, but is usually a good time nonetheless. It’s also open 24 hours, in case you’re ever in need of a 4:00 a.m. snack.
Location: Blvd. Kukulkán Km 9.5 Col. Zona Hotelera