Cancún offers the visitor the best of different worlds: Caribbean and Mexico; Present and past; Adventure and recreation. The range of cultural and natural treasures, activities and luxury awaiting the discerning tourist is unique.
Thanks to its almost perfect climate, the beauty of its nature and the good accessibility, Cancún is unrivaled. What was once a remote, tiny village giving home to barely 12 fisher families became one of the trendiest locations in Latin America. After all, here you will find also some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. In our Cancun travel advisory we have put together some interesting details for you.
What you should know for your trip to Cancun
What to expect
Cancun is a modern Mexican city full of life. You will look in vain for a colonial downtown, Cancun was built only a few decades ago for tourism in the region. Dreamlike beaches, hotels for every budget, excellent restaurants and endless party make Cancun probably the most popular travel destination in Mexico.
Climate: Pleasantly warm all year round at about 30°C / 80 °F. High humidity.
Rainy season & Hurricane season: June – October. Mostly short and violent showers. The sun comes out quick again.
Best time to visit: High season December – April. Around easter, many american Spring Break parties. Then it gets very crowded and noisy. Party is great all over the year, but without Spring Break it is clearly more pleasant.
Language: Spanish. Many locals work in tourism and speak rather good English.
Currency: Mexican Peso. Some restaurants and shops also accept US dollars or euros. But exchange rate is often unfavorable and there is usually no small cash for returns. So better stick to the Mexican peso.
Credit cards: Upscale hotels and restaurants will accept VISA or Mastercard. But often, the original passport must be carried. It’s always better to rely on cash. Foreign currency can be exchanged in exchange offices or banks for local currency. Also, ATMs can be used for cash withdrawal when your card is activated for the country.
Safety: Cancun is very safe for tourists. You can walk at night without worry if you know how to use your common sense. As in any other destination, however, you should pay attention to your valuables.
Closest Airport: Cancun airport
Getting around: No need for a rental car. The city’s public transport is excellent and affordable around the clock. The public bus between Cancun downtown and the hotel zone is particularly recommended. Taxis are the ideal solution for individual routes. The fare should be agreed with the driver before boarding.
Location & History of Cancun
Cancún is a very young city at only 10 m above sea Level, which was founded only in 1970 and was artificially designed for tourism due to well-thought-out planning. The City is located on the coast of the Caribbean Sea on the Yucatán Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo in Mexico, at the northern end of a long stretch of coastline that is now marketed under the label Riviera Maya.
A very narrow headland off the coast was connected to the mainland with a small dam. The approximately 20 km long strip of land separates the 3,000 hectare large lagoon Nichupte from the Caribbean Sea.
On the mainland, the town of Cancún was built, on the headland a 20 km long Hotel Zone. The hotels there have a view either on the Caribbean Sea or the lagoon.
Landscapes in Cancun
The scenery of Cancún is rich in exotic flowers, such as the flame trees that adorn sidewalks and squares. When you walk around the city, a rich flower splendor in all colors awaits you at almost every corner, which makes the heart beat faster and awakens a real feeling of holiday.
The region also boasts a fascinating tropical fauna, from sea turtles to prehistoric iguanas. It may well happen that you fall asleep on the snow-white beach and when you wake up, you discover that one of those giant lizards takes a sunbath right next to you.
The beaches of Cancún are miles long and covered by snow-white coral sand, which does not heat up strongly even in the midday sun and allows walking without shoes at all times. On one side, there is the Caribbean Sea with clear turquoise waters – and on the other is the dense green of tropical vegetation. What more can you desire?
Restaurants, shops and entertainment can be found both in the Hotel Zone and in the very lively center of town. The Hotel Zone is more expensive than the center of Cancún. The offer usually has very good international standard, but also the typical Mexican insider tips are represented, which are usually more likely to be visited by locals.
Avenida Tulum is home to shops and the Market Mercado 23 where a wide selection of souvenirs is offered and suitable gifts can certainly be found for those at home. The Mercado 28 in another part of town also offers souvenirs, and those looking for authentic and cheap Mexican food will certainly find what they are looking for.
Avenida Yaxchilan offers a good range of Mexican family restaurants, and lovers of the Street Food culture will get enthusiastic about traditional dishes as Tamales, Salbutes, Cochinita Pibil, Barbacoa, Atole and tropical fruits from the region.
Of course, there is also a wide range of hotels in the City of Cancún. These are usually smaller, simpler and cheaper than the accommodation in the Hotel Zone. But of course they don’t have direct access to the beach. This is not really a problem, however, as the long beaches of the Hotel Zone can easily abe reached by public bus.
In Cancún, the best way to get around is by bus, there is a very good connection between the center of town and the Hotel Zone. Taxis are also a good choice, but rather within the city, as prices from the center to the Hotel Zone are significantly more expensive than the bus, which operates at short intervals.
Cancún hotel zone
The Hotel Zone of Cancún is located on the 20 km long headland that separates the lagoon from the Caribbean Sea. This headland really is not very wide, just one street fits on it, with hotels, restaurants and shopping malls on both sides. On the eastern side, the turquoise waters of the Caribbean is sparkling in the sun, on the west side the dark waters of the lagoon and the lush green of the tropical jungle are refreshing the surrounding.
The hotels in the Hotel Zone of Cancún are mostly large and magnificent. They are probably more in line with American tastes than the preferences of European tourists. Tourism staff enjoy the best education in the world, reflected in hotel chains, which include both cheaper options such as Best Western and Holiday Inn, and large luxury assets such as the Ritz-Carlton and the Hilton.
The restaurants in the Hotel Zone are sometimes very luxurious – not only in price, but also in quality. Some locations employ the top stars among the Chefs of the world and offer the solvent customer not only culinary delights, but an experience for all the senses. Of course, it can also happen here that one or the other star from Hollywood sits at the next table for dinner.
Don’t try to explore the Hotel Zone of Cancún by foot. It is 20 km long, and normally there is a temperature of about 30 ° Celsius and a humidity of about 90 %. Rather rely on the buses and cabs to take you to your destination!
Restaurants in Cancún
Mexican Cuisine is Mexico’s gift to the gorld, and Mexicans take cooking very seriously. Many Hotels in Cancún offer a first-class all-inclusive service – but you shouldn’t miss out on tasting yourself through the many wonderful restaurants in town.
In Cancún there is not only Mexican Cuisine, there is also everything else your heart desires: Fusion, Gourmet cuisine, French, Italian, American, Argentine, Brazilian, Japanese, Mediterranean, Greek, vegan and vegetarian Cuisine And much more.
Many Restaurants offer live music and are lovingly decorated. Be inspired by breathtaking sunsets, mysterious candlelit gardens or elegant avant-garde locations. And if you have the Mariachis singing a serenade during dinner, this evening will surely be remembered for a long time to come.
Nightlife in Cancún
Cancún is the Mecca of party cities on this planet. At Night, the Caribbean resort transforms into a sea of bright lights and music, and the streets and clubs fill up with cheerful people.
No matter what music you prefer … from Disco, Rock, Techno, House to Jazz and Salsa, everything is on offer, and dancing to sunrise is on the daily agenda. Trendy DJs, life music, performances and events provide fun and entertainment.
Many clubs work with “Open Bar” and the often not very cheap entrance fee includes free drinks in great profusion. VIP packages or club hopping deals broaden the offer. Making a choice can be a real challenge.
For those who like their evening program a bit more quiet and with a touch of culture, many hotels offer not only live music in the lobby but also evening folklore shows that resonate with colorful Mexican Costumes, lasso swinging Charros (Mexican Cowboys) and Native American Dancers in traditional costumes that give insight into Mexico’s colorful and diverse History. Whatever you choose, the evenings in Cancún will surely leave lasting memories.
What to do in Cancún: Beach & excursions
Of course, Cancún is all about the beach – if it is not about nightlife. If you like to relax on a white sandy beach of well-celebrated nights and swim in the crystal clear turquoise Caribbean Sea, you will definitely soon feel like you are in paradise on the Cancun beaches. Many hotels and beach clubs also offer high-quality wellness services such as Yoga or massages on the beach.
Cancún won’t disappoint Sports Enthusiasts either. Five large golf courses, wonderful coral reefs for snorkeling and deep-sea diving, fishing and round trips through the primeval forests are just some of the adventures that await you here.
In the region around Cancún there are several unique adventure parks, which have received numerous international awards and will leave unforgettable memories. The prices are often not quite cheap, but the investment is always worthwhile.
You can also spend an exciting day visiting the other places of the Riviera Maya: Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos, Akumal or Tulum are very worth a day trip and can easily be reached by bus. The nearby islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres are small but particularly worth seeing.
If you want to get around a little further, you should include the city of Mérida in Yucatán in your planning. Valladolid and the Biosphere Reserves of Río Lagartos and Sian Kaán are also absolutely unique. And a visit to some of the numerous Cenotes in the region may also leave a deep impression.
Then, of course, there are the numerous ancient cities of the Maya, which let you breathe the air of bygone times. Particularly well known and impressive and relatively easy to reach from Cancún are the sites of Tulum, Cichén Itzá, Cobá and Ek Balam. There are countless other places that deserve a visit – it’s just a matter of time and travel organization.
For visiting other places on the Riviera Maya the bus is very suitable. The bus station of Cancún is located on Avenida Tulum and offers connections to Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Mérida, Chetumal and to many other destinations. The buses of the Lines ADO (Autobuses de Oriente) connect Cancún with the main places, the Estrella de Oriente and Lineas del Sur lines offer more regional routes. There are also, of course, countless guided trips on offer.
The ferry from Puerto Juarez near Cancún to Isla Mujeres leaves every 30 Minutes between 6 am and 8 pm, in the Hotel Zone (Plaza Tortugas) a second ferry departs every hour between 9 am and 2 pm. The ferry to Cozumel departs from Playa del Carmen.
Do you want to get into more detail? Then our article about 40 Fun activities in Cancun might be just what you are looking for.
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