LET'S TRAVEL TO CANCUN

The Perfect Cancun Itinerary: From 3 to 7 Days + Useful Tips (By Car or Bus)

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If you are planning your Cancun itinerary you couldn’t have landed in a better place!

In this detailed post, you will find some sample itineraries from Cancun for 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 days with alternative options, the best area to stay in Cancun, and all the practical tips you need to know before traveling.

I have lived in Mexico for the past 12 years (as I am writing this post) and Cancun has always been my base and forever home, where I would always go back to from my multiple trips in and out of Mexico.

Therefore in this post, you will get all the insider information you need to tailor your perfect Cancun Itinerary.

Cancun Beach Aerial View - Cancun itinerary

You can use this useful Table of Content here below to get to the session of your interest or you can just scroll down and read the entire post at your own pace and enjoy the beautiful images of Cancun to picture yourself on that spectacular beach that we all dream of. (Some of the pictures are mine 🙂

This post is packed with useful information that you don’t want to miss if you are traveling to Cancun AND will help you organize your trip even if you don’t follow my itinerary. In fact, I made it customizable so that you can adjust it to your liking! 🙂

Cancun Itinerary at a Glance

This Cancun itinerary is packed with things to do because I thought you may want to make the most of it during your stay in Cancun.

However, you can switch around the day or switch a day out with a day basking in the sun, especially if you are in an All-inclusive hotel on the beach, by all means! You are on vacation it shouldn’t feel like work!😂

Day 1 – Cancun highlights: Isla Blanca – El Meco – Mercado 23 – Playa Delfines – El Rey – La Isla (sunset)

Day 2 – Explore the Yucatan Peninsula: Chichen Itza – Valladolid – Cenote

Day 3 – Boat tour (or ferry): Isla Mujeres

Day 4 – Tulum bound: Tulum Archeological Site – Tulum Beach – Cenote

Day 5 – Cancun backyard: Cancun Cenote near Puerto Morelos + Lunch on the beach, relax in your hotel

Day 6 – Playa del Carmen day: Xpu-ha beach + Cenote + Playa del Carmen

Day 7 – Long day out: Las Coloradas or Coba

Aerial view of Cancun Hotel Zone and Nichupte Lagoon.

Travel to Cancun: know before you go

Before diving into the itinerary details I thought I should share some important information that you should know before traveling to Cancun . So here you go.

How many days do I need in Cancun?

If you are wondering how many days are enough in Cancun , the short answer is it depends on how many days you have available and what you want to do with your time.

Some people prefer to have a base for the entire travel time and do small day trips, others prefer to rent a car and spend the night close to the attraction they are visiting.

There is no right or wrong here. It all boils down to what you feel like doing and what sort of vacation you want to have.

I would say two days are enough to explore Cancun and do some of the tours, but if you want to stay longer, I assure you, you won’t get bored. It’s a promise.

Cancun Playa Delfines

How to get to Cancun?

Whether you are flying from another country or from any other city in Mexico, Cancun international airport is the closest and most convenient airport to fly into.

Cancun is one of the most trafficked airports in Mexico after Mexico city which means that you have a lot of great connections with the major hubs from the United States and Europe with the best chance to find great deals.

I suggest you should check on n  Expedia for flight or package deals as they always have the latest offers.

How to get around Cancun?

If you are wondering, there is no Uber in Cancun . Even though the law finally approved the car-shared services a few years ago, many taxi drivers didn’t approve of it and showed their disagreement with violent actions.

However, the taxi association decided to meet the UBER car share company halfway and now some taxi drivers have also joined. However, you can use it in the Hotel Zone or in the proximity of a taxi stand. 

From Cancun International Airport to your hotel There are many ways to get to your hotel from Cancun airport . The easiest way, and my favorite one, is a door-to-door private shuttle service offered by Cancun Airport Transportation because it’s all about comfort and convenience. Cancun Airport Transportation staff speak English, are reliable, and professional, and provide a minimum waiting time service!

Cancun airport transportation staff

Public transportation

The public transportation options within the Cancun area are not very convenient unless you stay in the Hotel Zone, in which case you could hop on and off the R1 and R2 public buses for approximately 10 MXN.

To travel around the Yucatan Peninsula (Day 2 and Day 4 of your Cancun itinerary) you can use the ADO buses or the minivans (colectivos), when possible.

Cancun drone view

Sometimes, I love to join tours when they combine different attractions and destinations that would be impossible to visit by bus in one day simply because there aren’t enough connections or because buses don’t even get there.

Tours are also the best option for water-related activities, such as snorkeling or scuba diving in Cancun , which is amazing.

Also if you have little time and want to see as much as possible, tours are great and you also have a knowledgeable tour guide that will share useful historical and cultural data.

Car Rentals

However, my favorite way to explore Cancun and Mexico overall, is by renting a car, because you have the freedom to make your own itinerary, change it when you want, and drive at your own pace.

To find the best rental car deal I recommend the Discover Cars platform where you can compare different car rentals and then pick the one you like the most, for price and conditions. (Read the full Discover Cars review) .

If you want to use a local car rental, instead, I often use MexrentaCar . Their customer service leaves a lot of room for improvement, but every now and then they offer great deals and full insurance.

Driving in Cancun is quite easy although it may take some time to get the hang of it, just like when you rent a car in any foreign country.

Travel Insurance

Do I need travel insurance to travel to Cancun? Yes, you do. I actually purchase my travel insurance everywhere I go just to have peace of mind, one of the most important aspects of my travels.

If you ask me I have two recommended sites, one is  SafetyWings , which I find relatively affordable and quite comprehensive.

The other one is the Travel Insurance master  site which will help you find the perfect insurance for you.

You fill out the form with the information about your profile and requirements and they select the insurance company that is a good fit.

Hyatt Ziva

Where to stay in Cancun

While planning your Cancun itinerary you may need to decide where to stay in Cancun.

Luckily for you, there are many different options, whether you want to stay right on the beach or in town, from all-inclusive resorts to affordable hostels , small hotels, or apartments.

Here below I am going to share my top 3 places in Cancun and then you can check out more options in my Cancun Travel Guide

Best Cancun Budget hotel in Downtown  –  Hotel Kavia Plus Best Cancun Vacation Rental Property – Budget (downtown)  –  Villa Sofia Best luxury hotel for solo travelers in Cancun  –  Breathless Cancun Soul Resort & Spa – Adults Only – All Inclusive Best hotel for families  –  Hyatt Ziva Cancun All-Inclusive Best hotel for couples  –  Turquoize at Hyatt Ziva Cancun – Adults Only – All Inclusive Best luxury hotel in Cancun  –  Nizuc Resort and Spa

Is Cancun safe?

The short answer is yes, Cancun is relatively safe to travel to and to get out of your resort and explore. There is a crime in Cancun and there have been quite a few unpleasant episodes. The positive part of it is that those were all drug and cartel-related and if you stay away from that, you should not have any issues.

However make sure you don’t do silly things that may put your life in danger, be aware of your surrounding, and if you go out at night avoid dark isolated streets and keep an eye on your drink. Also, don’t get wasted, please!

Cancun is also a great solo female traveler destination but make sure you use common sense and stay aware of your surroundings, avoiding shady areas, especially at night, including walking on the beach alone at night, which is not recommended.

Among other things you should watch out for are, mosquitos (use repellent), strong currents in the sea, sunstrokes, and tap water (don’t drink it).

Use a refillable water bottle instead and fill it up in your hotel or restaurant and always take it with you. More about it later in this post.

water bottle close up

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The complete Cancun Itinerary 3 to 7 days

We have finally arrived at the core of this post, the Cancun Itinerary. It wouldn’t be a respectful Cancun travel blog if I didn’t include a suggested itinerary from a local point of view (mine). I hope you will find it useful!

Day 1 – Cancun highlights

Isla Blanca Cancun beach

On your first day in Cancun, you either want to spend all day in your spectacular all-inclusive hotel on the beach or you can’t wait to explore and see as much as possible of Cancun.

Either way, I think a day trip itinerary in Cancun would be perfect. I have included the top Cancun sites for a day packed with things to do but you can skip some of them if you don’t feel like doing everything.

It would be ideal if you had a car so it would be much easier to move around. As I mentioned before along the Cancun Hotel Zone you can take the R1 or R2 buses but to get to Mercado 23 or Isla Blanca it gets complicated.

If you don’t have your own car, ask your hotel for a recommended taxi driver.

Here is the Epic Day-1 itinerary (click on the interactive map to check out the itinerary and distances)

8.30 am – Isla Blanca

start your day with one of the most spectacular and off-the-beaten-path beaches of Cancun, Isla Blanca .

Keep in mind that there is nothing there, so we won’t stay too long so that you can explore more of Cancun. Also, you would get there early morning so the sun is not too strong. Regardless, remember to bring:

  • sunscreen, hat, water, and towels

10.30 am – El Meco archeological site

Situated on the way to Isla Blanca you can stop by on the way back. It won’t take long to visit as it’s very small but definitely worth it. The ancient Mayan ruins are surrounded by a lush tropical jungle home to birds, squirrels and iguanas among others. You may be able to see a family of the funny Coaties hanging around.

El Meco archaeological site entry fee – 55 MXN

INTERACTIVE MAP OF DAY 1 ITINERARY

cancun tour itinerary

12.30 pm – Mercado 23

On the way back to the hotel zone you can make a detour and check out Mercado 23 where the locals hang out. This is a real authentic market where you can find local produce and all sorts of food. You can try the local restaurant for some authentic Mexican tacos, quesadillas, or tortas (Mexican Sandwiches)

14.00 pm – El Rey

El Rey is another small but interesting ancient ruin located right by the beach in Cancun opposite to Playa Delfines.

El Rey ruins entry fee: 60 MXN

El Rey Archeological site

15 pm – Playa Delfines and Cancun colorful sign

Playa Delfines is one of the most popular attractions in Cancun together with the colorful Cancun sign located right on the lookout terrace, with the spectacular turquoise Caribbean sea as a backdrop.

Playa Delfines is an equipped public beach where you can find bathrooms and showers, sunbeds and shades for rent. Before rushing to the beach make sure you take a minute to enjoy the view from the lookout terrace.

When I was younger and I just arrived in Cancun, I used to get there at 6 am to take surf lessons. I was happily surprised to find out that the surf school is still there and there are actually more surf schools in Cancun now.

Although this area is not the best surfing spot in Mexico you can still find good waves and take classes if you want to learn. Check out Good vibes surf school as well.

Otherwise, you can just take nice walks on the beach and relax after a long morning exploring Cancun

Isla Mujeres view on a sunset.

5 pm – Plaza La Isla

I love hanging out in Plaza La Isla around sunset times, window shopping, or maybe even shopping, and stopping by the Nichupte lagoon to watch the sun setting over the Cancun skyline.

Keep in mind that the sun sets around 6 to 630 in winter and 7.30 in the summer.

After sunset, you can decide whether to go back to the hotel and get dressed for dinner or, just stay out for dinner in Plaza la Isla since there are many delicious restaurants to choose from.

In my guide to the Cancun Restaurants , I mention Elefanta (Indian) and Thai Cancun that I particularly love, and are located right on the lagoon.

Alternative things to do in Cancun on day 1 of your itinerary

If you think that this plan is not for you, you may want to check out other things that you can do in Cancun on your day-1. Here is a list

✔️ Relax on the beach in one of the all-inclusive hotels – If you chose among the spectacular Cancun All-inclusive resorts I suppose you want to spend at least one day in the resort enjoying the beautiful If you are not staying in a resort on the beach, worry not.

Many hotels offer a day pass option, where you can pay a fee that usually includes lunch and drinks and the use of beach beds and hotel facilities.

Nichupte' Lagoon and Caribbean Sea in the Hotel Zone Mexico

✔️ Join a tour on the Nichupte’ Lagoon – The Nichupte’ Lagoon is a spectacular huge body of water that separates Cancun Downtown from the Hotel Zone. It’s home to a wealth of wildlife and a great place to practice all sorts of watersports.

There are different tours that take you to explore the Nichupte lagoon. Here are my favorite ones:

👉 Sunset boat tour – One is a 4-hour tour at sunset by a small fisherman boat cruising around the mangroves spotting the wildlife and watching the sunset that you can drive yourself. Another one, more eco-friendly and fun, in my opinion, is kayaking either at sunrise or sunset. ↳ BOOK IT HERE

👉 Kayaking in the Nichupte’ lagoon – this is more ecological but requires some work on your end 😜. Kayaking is not easy but doable. The Nichupte’ lagoon doesn’t have strong currents so you should be ok even if you don’t have a lot of experience. They have tours at sunrise and sunset, both amazing. BOOK IT HERE

✔️ Go scuba-diving – If you are a certified diver you cannot miss the chance to dive here. Scuba diving in Cancun is a great experience ad a choice among many different dive sites, including a shipwreck and the MUSA underwater museum, among others.

DIVER BY A CORAL UNDERWATER

2 Tanks Scuba Diving for Beginners in Cancun ~ Personalized Service

44 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Reviews Ideal tour for noncertified or beginner divers. This excursion is for a small group of people and covers the ins and outs of diving during a half-day lesson. Then, you will start exploring the ocean at two diving locations: the sculpture-filled MUSA Underwater Museum and the iconic underwater reefs of Manchones.

✔️ Reef and Shipwreck Snorkeling Tour – If you love being in the water but you don’t dive, this tour is perfect for you. It’s only 3 hours 30 minutes and it takes you to some of the best sites for snorkeling including a shipwreck and coral reefs.

Day 2 – Explore the Yucatan Peninsula

Cancun Itinerary Day 2 Map

On day 2, my suggestion is to explore the cradle of the Mayan heritage in the heart of Yucatan and visit one of the 7 wonders and UNESCO World Heritage site Chichen Itza.

8.30 am Chichen Itza – The majestic site is definitely a must if you have never seen it before. Include El Castillo (the largest pyramid) the thousands column, the observatory, the ball game field, and the sacred cenote, among others.

If you don’t go on an organized tour you should hire one of the certified guides that you will find at the entrance of the site.

Try to get there by 8.30/9 am to avoid the crowd.

12.00 Valladolid – at only 45 minute drive from Chichen Itza you will find the pretty colonial town of Valladolid. It’s worth taking a walk around the iconic plaza and walk along the Calzada de los Frailes to the Convent.

Chichen El Castillo

Along that road, you will find some local restaurants where you can have your lunch. There are many vegan and vegetarian options as well. Although Valladolid is a popular tourist destination, it conserves the old town’s charm.

3.30 pm – You can either visit the cenote Zaci which is located only 2 blocks from the main square, or you can explore further many different hidden cenotes around Valladolid. In this guide, you can find some amazing suggestions.

For this day, the best option is to rent a car and drive around at your own pace. This way you will manage to skip the lines and enjoy the day in peace and tranquillity.

If renting a car is not an option for you, there are many amazing organized tours, which include transportation, a guide, and a stop at a cenote and Valladolid.

Some tours include entrance fees others don’t. Make sure you check the details before booking the tours. Here below some high-rated guided tours that I recommend.

choj-ha cenote

↳ Chichen Itza, Cenote and Valladolid All-Inclusive Tour – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 8206 Reviews – Book it here

↳Chichen Itza, Buffet Lunch, Cenote, Tequila tasting & Valladolid – 4.5 ⭐️ 5997 Reviews – Book it here

↳Chichen Itza Early Access, Buffet Lunch & Cenote English Tour – 4.5 ⭐️ 2526 Reviews – Book it here

Alternative things to do in Cancun on day 2

Nohoch Mul Pyramid close up Coba

If you have been to Chichen Itza already, I would suggest checking out Coba archeological site. It’s only 2 hours drive from Cancun if you take the internal road, skipping Tulum.

You can check out the Coba archeological site and the spectacular Coba cenotes in the area.

If you don’t feel like driving you can always check out an organized tour from Cancun to Coba.

↳ Tulum, Coba, & Cenote: Full-Day Tour 4.5 ⭐️ 220 Reviews – Book it here

Cancun -Coba itinerary 2 alternative

Day 3 – Boat tour (or ferry)

Your 3-day Cancun Itinerary couldn’t end better than with a boat tour to Isla Mujeres. After two days spent exploring the cultural stuff and the magic of the Yucatan peninsula, on day 3 of your Cancun itinerary, we are going to take it easy and relax.

Isla Mujeres is a pretty Mexican island located just 30 minutes ferry ride off the Cancun coast.

There are different ways to visit Isla Mujeres , here they are:

► Spend a couple of days on the island

This is ideal if you have plenty of time ad want to relax on the north beach or in a luxury boutique hotel in Isla Mujeres. There are quite a few options available. You can check out my post about Cancun vs Isla Mujeres to see which destination is the right fit for you.

Isla Mujeres

► Take the ferry and explore Isla Mujeres on your own

Enjoy a quick ferry ride while you admire the spectacular turquoise waters of the Caribbean sea. Those colors only are worth the trip.

The ferry lives from different locations, one in Puerto Juarez , and other locations in the hotel zone such as Playa Tortuga and Playa Caracol . Check out the rates and schedule on the Ultramar ferry site

Once you get to Isla Mujeres you can rent a golf cart and explore the island, which is only 5 km long and bask in the beautiful playa norte, the perfect place where to swim and enjoy the crystal clear calm waters.

Isla mujeres playa norte aerial view

► Join a catamaran tour

The other option is to join a catamaran tour which usually includes a snorkeling stop, lunch, and some free time in Isla Mujeres.

Some tours combine the spectacular protected reserve Isla Contoy and Isla Mujeres in only one trip which is great if you are short of time and you want to see as much as possible. Here below the top-rated tours.

↳ Luxury Catamaran and Snorkel. Lunch & Open Bar Onboard  – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1825 Reviews Read more

↳ Private Isla Mujeres Catamaran Tour From Cancun with Open Bar – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 264 Reviews Read more

Catamaran on torquoise water

Alternative things to do in Cancun on Day 3

If you have been to Isla Mujeres already or you don’t feel like going there, here are some other amazing tours that you could join

↳ ATV, Ziplines, and Cenote Tour at Extreme Adventure Eco Park Cancun ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1334 Read more here

↳ Horseback Riding and Cenote Swim from Cancun ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 963 Read more

Day 4 – Tulum bound (4-day Cancun Itinerary)

Your 4-day Cancun itinerary ends with Tulum, an unmissable spot on the Riviera Maya. Located about 95 km from Cancun on the Riviera Maya, Tulum is one of the trendiest beach destinations in Mexico.

Europeans usually prefer staying in Tulum rather than Cancun but they are both great destinations, just different.

If you are based in Cancun you can visit Tulum on a day trip either by car or choosing one of the existing tours.

If you go on your own I would visit first the Tulum archeological site before it gets crowded and hot, and then you can hit the beach for some swimming time and lunch in one of the Tulum Beach Club.

I love Posada Margherita and Cinco Tulum.

Then you can visit one of the Cenote near Tulum and on the way back to Cancun you can stop by the spectacular Xpu-ha Beach or Yalku-lagoon , near Akumal beach one main attractions in the area.

Tulum archeologlical site

Alternative things to do in Cancun on day 4

This 4-day Cancun itinerary is well-packed with all the major highlights in Cancun and the surroundings but you may also want to consider just chilling for one day and enjoying your resort facilities or one of the stunning Cancun Beach Clubs.

Day 5 – Cancun backyard

Cancun itinerary day 4

I like to call Puerto Morelos Cancun Backyard as the pretty underrated town is located only 30 minutes drive from Cancun Cancun.

Here you can check out some of the Cenotes of the Ruta Puuc, take a boat tour to the coral reefs from the beach, and eat in one of the seafood restaurants on the beach. My favorite one is El Merkadito.

You can rent a car and easily get there on your own or, you can join some of the organized tours available.

Here I am including a few top-rated excursions:

↳ Small-Group Mesoamerican Barrier Reef Snorkeling in Puerto Morelos ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 278 Read more

Cenote Cristalino Cave

Alternative things to do in Cancun on day 5

If you don’t feel like moving from Cancun you can always do some boat tours. If it’s from June through September I would recommend swimming with whale sharks . It’s an unforgettable experience. Here is one of the top-rated tours.

↳ Whale Shark Tour from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Riviera Maya ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 494 Read more

↳ Puerto Morelos Catamaran Secret Sandbar Sail with Lunch and Drinks ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 158 Read more

Day 6 – Playa del Carmen day

Playa del Carmen Cancun Itinerary

On day 6 of our Cancun Itinerary, we’ll head out to check out some spectacular beaches on the Riviera Maya, and some cenotes and we’ll stop by the vibrant beach town of Playa del Carmen.

It’s advisable to rent a car for better comfort but this itinerary is definitely doable by bus.

First stop: Cenotes on the Riviera Maya – Leave Cancun around 8 am – if you want to take the bus, get to the ADO station and hop on the Playa Express mini vans right opposite the ADO entrance or the ones on the other side of the Av. Tulum.

They will take you to Playa del Carmen, and from there you will hop on one of the minivans that go to Tulum and stop at Cenote Azul.

Right there you have so many cenotes options to choose from or you can see them all. It’s cenote Azul, Cenote Cristalino, Cenote Eden, and the Cenote park Chikin-ha . They are all close to each other and close to where the van will drop you off.

PRO TIP – Mind that the ADO bus doesn’t stop there. You need to get the minivan (colectivo or combi) and ask the driver to drop you off at Cenote Azul.

xpuha beach

2nd Stop – Xpu-ha Beach – After enjoying the cenotes you can go back to the main road ( federal highway) and wait for the next COMBI to arrive. Hail at them and they will stop. Tell the driver to drop you off at Xpuha beach. it’s just 6 km from Cenote Azul.

You will have to cross the road, so be careful because cars and trucks travel at a very high speed. And then you have to walk for about 600 mt to reach on a dirt road to reach the spectacular Xpuha beach.

There you will find restaurants and beach chairs for rent or you can walk a little further north if you want to stay more isolated from the crowd.

Playa del Carmen beach

3rd stop – Playa del Carmen – when you are tired of the beach or maybe you think you had enough sun, you head back on the main road where you catch your minivan in the direction of Playa Del Carmen.

There you can take a stroll on the famous Quinta Avenida, sit in one of the trendy bars for an aperitif and you can even wait for dinner in one of the local restaurants. La Cueva del Chango is one of them and the top rate on TripAdvisor is “The traveler table” ( I have never tried that but it has excellent reviews).

Or you can just head back to Cancun either by combi or ADO bus or of course your car if you rented it.

Day 7 – Long day out (7-day Cancun Itinerary)

Cancun itinerary day 7

If you were lucky enough to complete the full 7-day Cancun Itinerary, on your last day you can either relax on the beach or add one more exciting adventure to your vacation.

My first choice would be to visit the Protected Natural Reserve of Rio Lagartos + Las Coloradas and the ancient Mayan ruins of Ek Balam, one of my favorites.

If you have a car rental and go on your own make sure you contact Will , the best tour guide in Rio Lagartos, he’s a biologist and a photographer and is from there, passionate about his hometown and its spectacular nature.

He’s in high demand so, if you decide to take his tour get in touch early and arrange it. He speaks English.

If you want to join a tour, instead, see below some options:

↳ Ek Balam, Rio Lagartos Private Tour ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1 review Read more

↳ Private Tour: Pink Flamingos, Maya Temples, and Ek Balam ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 Reviews Read More

Ek Balam archeological site

Alternative things to do in Cancun on day 7

There are many other interesting sites and natural wonders to explore near Cancun. Here below I am going to share a couple of those.

↳ Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve and Muyil Ruins Tour ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 27 reviews Read more

A certified tour guide will take you around the spectacular Sian Ka’an Biosphere, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its diversity of landscapes, flora, and fauna.

After seeing the hidden gem of Muyil Mayan Ruins, you will walk through mangroves and tropical vegetation until you reach your boat to navigate the ancient canals used by the Mayas in the pre Hispanic times.

You will have time to swim in the lazy river and have a nice lunch before heading back to Cancun.

Note: this tour is available from Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen. Make sure you select your location before booking.

Sian Kaan aerial view

Multi-day birdwatching tours from Cancun

If you are a nature lover and would like to combine some of the most off-the-beaten-path places, ancient Mayan ruins, and natural surroundings with a focus on bird watching led by a local certified guide, you may want to check out this 11-day tour on Viator

The best time to travel to Cancun

It’s always a good time to travel to Cancun, it just depends on what you are looking for. Here I am sharing some information on Cancun seasons and the best time to travel to Cancun depending on different factors. Then you can head to my detailed guide (like here) for more specific information.

  • Cancun’s hottest month : June
  • Most humid month in Cancun:  September
  • Cancun’s driest month of the year:  April
  • The coolest month to travel to Cancun: February
  • The most popular time to travel to Cancun:  Holy Week  
  • The best month to travel to Cancun Mexico:  May
  • Best time to visit Cancun weatherwise:   January through March
  • Less crowded and cheapest months : shoulder season (May-June and September – November )
  • The perfect time to travel to Cancun : April  –  June
  • The cheapest time to visit Cancun : September through November

_Climate in Cancun

Cancun by season in a nutshell

June – October – (summer)  – Cancun wet season – more chance of rain (and hurricanes) and higher temperatures. Sargasso will most likely show up in these months. The Sea is warmer and Hotel prices are lower.

December through April (winter)  – Cancun dry season – Winter is also called the dry season when the weather cools down a bit and the sky is blue and sunny. The water temperature is cooler as well though, but it’s less likely to rain.

For this reason, it’s also called High Season and you will find the highest hotel prices in Cancun and anywhere in Mexico actually. It’s also the most crowded, hence the higher prices.

Whether you are a spring breaker or you want to avoid spring breakers, keep in mind that March and April are usually the months when you will find parties all over the place and packed hotels that welcome this kind of tourism.

Shoulder season (spring)- from after Easter through the beginning of June – That is my favorite season when you can find great deals, there are no big crowds and it’s not so hot and humid yet.

Shoulder season (fall) – mid-September – November  – During this shoulder season you will find more risk of rain and hurricane until the end of October. it’s really hot and humid until the end of October when it’s starting to get better. The sargassum is leaving the Mexican Caribbean coasts. The water temperature is still pleasant.

Hard rock Cafe Cancun at night

Things to do in Cancun at night

What I love about Cancun is that it has everything for anyone and if you are a party lover you can also find many opportunities and places to dance the night away.

The Coco Bongo is an institution to see great performances and dance in between. Otherwise other places are Mandala and the Hip Hop Nightclub experience among others.

What if you are not a party person? (like me) Well, there are many other things we can do at night, besides a lovely dinner in one of the fine Cancun restaurants or in one of the on-site restaurants of your hotel. Here below some ideas.

👉 Cirque du Soleil® JOYÀ Admission Tickets – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 498 Reviews – Read More

👉 Xplor Fuego Nighttime Adventure with Transportation ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 138 Reviews – Read More

👉 Captain Hook: Pirate Show and Dinner Cruise in Cancun ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1200 Reviews – Read More

Rio Lagartos flamingos

Cancun Itinerary: final thoughts

If you have made it to the end, I would assume that my job is done :). I hope this Cancun Itinerary was helpful and you have now a clear vision of what your Cancun Vacation will be like.

If you want to learn more about Cancun in general, though, head over to my Cancun Travel Guide which will give you a road map of Cancun and also of this site. 🙂 If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me . I’ll be happy to answer your questions.

For further reading:

How to get from Cancun to Mexico City How to get from Cancun to the Riviera Maya How to get from Cancun to Merida How to get from Cancun to Tulum How to get from Cancun to Holbox

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Hey there! This is Isabella, the founder and author of this site. I have been living in Cancun for the past 13 years and although I have been roaming around Mexico, Cancun's spectacular turquoise waters and pristine beach draw me back to this popular Mexican beach destination. That is why I decided to start this blog, to show you all the beauty you can find in Cancun and share helpful travel tips to help you plan a fabulous vacation in Cancun!

Jessie on a Journey | Solo Female Travel Blog

3, 4 & 7 Day Cancun Itinerary (The Best Things To Do In Cancun!)

By Jessie Festa. My trip to Cancun was sponsored by BeachBound and also contains affiliate links to trusted partners. I only recommend experiences I truly think you’ll love!

Looking for an unforgettable 7 day Cancun itinerary ?

Then you’re in the right place!

Located on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, Cancun is a tropical paradise known for its luxurious all-inclusive resorts, energetic nightlife, and stunning Caribbean coastline.

While it’s a top option for those wanting an unforgettable beach vacation, it can be challenging to plan the perfect Cancun trip with so many options available.

Luckily, I’ve done the work for you and created an itinerary for 7 days in Cancun — with additional options for shorter trips — based on my own experience in the destination. Personally, if you can’t swing a week, I recommend opting for 4 days in Cancun to really have time to enjoy all of its offerings, though you can get away with 3 if needed.

Keep reading to learn about the top things to do in Cancun along with important travel tips and recommendations for where to stay, excursions, and the perfect schedule.

🌞  Don’t forget to pack sun protection!  Along with sunscreen and a hat, a few other recommendations include  polarized floating sunglasses  and  rashguard clothing . 🏖️ Other beach essentials include a   waterproof fanny pack , a  quick-dry towel with hidden pocket , and a  waterproof phone case . 😍 And if you’re looking for stylish beach cover-ups, I’m obsessed with  these Kenny Flowers kimonos and sarongs !

Table of Contents

Booking A Cancun Vacation With BeachBound

If you’re planning a trip to Cancun — or really any beach getaway — check out the vacation packages and deals available on BeachBound.

BeachBound is an online travel company focused on selling luxury beach vacations around the world, with over 70 unique beaches in their catalogue. Their brand focuses on six experiences: Rejuvenation, Passion, Togetherness, Discovery, Adventure, and Immersion.

This means you can easily find a beach trip tailored to your interests. Plus, if you’re looking to travel on a budget, you can search their dedicated Deals page .

There are also a number of perks to booking with BeachBound:

  • They price match beat. If you find a desired vacation package for a lower price on another US-based travel site, they’ll match the rate — and then beat it by $25.
  • BeachBound accepts a wide array of payments — and they offer payment plans that allow you to pay off your trip over two years.
  • Travel Protection Plus is included with your booking — which features a number of benefits, like being able to cancel your trip for any reason for a 75% refund or a 100% travel credit.
  • They work directly with  Amstar DMC  on the ground — so there is no need to stress about transportation to and from the airport or excursions

Click here to search trip inspiration and vacation packages on BeachBound .

Also, if you’re looking for a Cancun trip planner on top of this post, check out their free trip planning tool .

woman on her master suite balcony at the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun All-Inclusive Resort

Where Is Cancun? + Map

Cancun is located in Mexico . More specifically, it sits on the northeast coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo, right on the Caribbean Sea.

To help give you a lay of the land, here is a Cancun map:

cancun tour itinerary

You can also click here for a link to the interative Google Map of Cancun.

Getting To Cancun

Getting to cancun by air.

Many people travel to Cancun by plane, arriving into Cancun International Airport — which is conveniently only 14 miles from the Hotel Zone.

To get to and from your hotel, it’s wise to pre-book your transportation. As noted above,  BeachBound  works directly with  Amstar DMC  for this.

In my experience, after clearing customs, it was easy to find my Amstar driver in his bright flower pattern shirt holding a sign with my name. The ride itself was comfortable, with a clean air conditioned car and a cooler filled with refreshments.

Bonus: The driver also gave me loads of interesting local tips — like that Taquería Los Chachalacos within the Hotel Zone is his favorite place to get tacos al pastor.

Getting To Cancun By Land

Additionally, travelers visiting Cancun as part of a larger Mexico itinerary may visit the destination by land. It’s easy to get from Cancun to Playa del Carmen , Tulum , and other nearby popular tourist destinations.

To complete the journey, you can rent a car (I recommend DiscoverCars for this) or take public transportation (ADO is the regional bus service).

Getting Around Cancun

There are a number of ways to get around Cancun, including:

Renting a car. Renting a car is generally considered safe in Cancun.

Booking tours. Amstar DMC   offers a number of excursions to add to your itinerary for Cancun, Mexico.

Walking. The Cancun Hotel Zone is very safe to walk around and has sidewalks.

Public bus. Cancun’s local bus system connects the main traveler points of interest like the Hotel Zone, Boulevard Kukulcán (downtown), and Avenida Tulum. Tip: Just make sure you have exact change in Mexican Pesos for the ride, as drivers often can’t break larger bills.

7 day Cancun itinerary inlcuding the beach

When To Visit Cancun

While Cancun is a year-round destination, certain times of year can be more enjoyable than others.

December through April is typically considered the best time to visit Cancun, with clear and warm weather that isn’t oppresively hot like it can be in the summer.

If you’re looking to book the cheapest time to vacation in Cancun, May through November tends to be more budget-friendly with better hotel and flight deals.

July is largely considered the warmest month of the year, though as someone who has personally visited Cancun in July, I’ll say you can still have a fun and memorable trip. Yes, it’s hot, but you’ll likely spend a lot of your time in the water anyway.

Want to avoid the spring break crowds? Book your Cancun trip outside of March or April — especially the last two weeks of March.

How Many Days Are Enough For Cancun?

If you’re wondering how many days in Cancun are enough, I’d say it really depends on your trip goals.

In my opinion, 3 days in Cancun is the minimum I would do. Less than that and you’ll basically be packing to leave before you’ve fully unpacked.

Cancun is a stunning destination full of opportunities to relax, so to really give yourself a chance to unwind, 4 days or more is best.

Now, if you’re planning a trip to Cancun, Mexico that includes a mix of relaxation, adventure, and exploration, a week is the perfect amount of time to really immerse yourself in what the destination has to offer. That is why I’m outlining a 7 day Cancun itinerary in this article.

How Much Is A Trip To Cancun?

Wondering “how much does a trip to Cancun cost?” Well, if you’re staying at an all-inclusive and stick to the food and experiences available onsite, it simply costs the amount you paid for your accommodation, plus flight, airport transfers, and optional (but appreciated) tips.

That being said, exploring Cancun beyond the resort is recommended if you’re looking to dive deeper into the destination. In Cancun and around the Yucatán Peninsula, you’ll find cenotes, Maya ruins, jungle adventures, and more. Most Cancun tours range from about $100-$300 per person.

You can also find flight deals by using these tips for finding cheap airfare , like signing up for alerts with Secret Flying and Airfarewatchdog.

In short, Cancun vacation costs vary, but it’s possible to enjoy the destination on a reasonable budget.

Where To Stay In Cancun

Most travelers to Cancun stay in the Hotel Zone (Zona Hotelera), a 14-mile strip showcasing over 70 hotels. Because there are so many options, it can be tricky to choose which Cancun resort to book.

I recommend choosing a place that is:

  • On the Caribbean side of the strip (vs the lagoon side)
  • Within Punta Cancun , the commerical heart of the Hotel Zone with loads of beach activities, restaurants, and nightlife

Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach

One property that fits both of those requirements — and more — is the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach, a stunning 5-star all-inclusive resort full of incredible experiences.

Here is a quick gallery snapshot of the resort:

Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach on a trip to Cancun, Mexico

Featuring nine restaurants, a sports bar with game room, a sumptuous 40,000-square-foot spa, an oceanfront fitness center, multiple pools and swim up bars, nightly entertainment, direct beach access, and an array of onsite activities from water polo to kayaking to tequila tasting, you’ll truly never be bored.

I’ve been to many all-inclusives over the years, and can say the service and attention to detail at the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach is outstanding.

Additionally, the dining and entertainment is next level. Not only do they host outstanding nightly entertainment like fire and aquatic shows, but almost every meal had an interactive element — from ballet dancers at Le Basilic to a mariachi band at La Joya to immersive 360-degree digital art at The Table.

The resort is also conveniently located adjecent to the ferry dock for trips to Isla Mujeres as well as next to Cancun’s famous nightlife-filled Party Zone. And if you’re traveling as a family, there is an onsite Coral KidZ Club to entertain the little ones.

In terms of accommodation, the property features 602 spacious and clean suites — all with ocean views and private terraces.

Looking to uplevel your Cancun trip? Opt for the resort’s Infinite Club, which features upgraded accommodation, access to exclusive areas of the resort, and special perks like hydrotherapy spa treatments, premium beverage selection, and special personlized resort experiences.

Click here for full information and to book your stay .

7 Day Cancun Itinerary

Now it’s time to dive into our Cancun 7 day itinerary .

This Cancun trip guide is based on my own experience in the destination, and is completely customizable. Feel free to move days around or swap out excursions to fit your interests.

There are some options for alternative Cancun experiences below, too. As stated above, your tours can be booked right through  BeachBound .

Additionally, I’ve included Cancun trip itinerary ideas for shorter trips toward the bottom of this guide. You’ll find options for 3 days in Cancun as well as 4 days in Cancun.

Remember, too, that the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach hosts a wide array of daily activities, like pool games, bingo, kayaking, beach volleyball, tequila tasting, circus-style shows, and more.

Here is a sample schedule. Keep in mind, this isn’t even the full roster of events:

7 days in Cancun itinerary

Day #1: Explore The Resort

Whether you’re staying for a week or only have one day in Cancun, you’ll definitely want to enjoy the resort.

The beauty of staying at an all-inclusive in Cancun is everything is taken care of, from the activities to the food to the drinks to the stunning scenery.

Since today is a travel day, it’s smart not to schedule too much for yourself. Spend time exploring the resort, swimming the Caribbean Sea, sipping cocktails at the swim up bar, and taking part in one of the many resort activities.

7 day Cancun itinerary including a pool day at the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach

For dinner, immerse yourself in Mexican history and culture at The Table , an interactive 9-course dining and pairing experience. Each dish tells the story of Mexican history and Maya culture, from prehistoric times through colonization to modern day.

For instance, a king crab chilpachole cooked with lava rock in a dish made to resemble a volcano is served to represent how after the land was first created from cooling lava, crustacean-like creatures were the first life to emerge.

On top of that, digital art, live music, actors, and narration help to bring it all to life.

This will cerainly be a memorable meal, as The Table is one of the most unique restaurants in Cancun. Just note that seatings are limited and are only at 6:30pm on Fridays and Sundays.

Day #2: Enjoy Cancun’s Beaches

When researching what to do in Cancun , the beach will likely be at the top of your list. You could spend every day of your 7 day Cancun itinerary exploring the sand and be totally happy.

And for good reason: the Mexican Caribbean coastline is dreamy, with soft white sand and inviting turquoise waters.

Spend the morning swapping between swimming in the sea and lounging in the comfortable lounge chairs provided by the resort.

woman walking the beach during a 7 day Cancun itinerary

Then, after a lunch of fresh catch and conch ceviche at the al fresco Isla Contoy , get active with some kayaking, snorkeling, or stand up paddle boarding. You can also go jet skiing right from the resort!

Before heading back to your room to shower for dinner, enjoy a cocktail in the sand as you watch a beautiful Cancun sunset.

For dinner, opt for a AAA Five Diamond meal at Le Basilic , a fine dining French restaurant with a multi-course food pairing menu that features local ingredients and Mexican wines. Not only is the food delicious, but the eatery is decorated with abstract paintings created by local artist León Alva.

Live piano music and ballet dancing provide entertainment while you dine.

Afterward, check the resort’s nightly entertainment schedule, which ranges from circus shows in the Grand Coral Theater to live music in the Lobby Lounge to dancing in the Havannah Club and beyond.

Day #3: Day Trip From Cancun To Isla Mujeres

One great thing about planning a Cancun itinerary for 7 days is you have the chance to schedule in day trips — like to Isla Mujeres , a 4.3-mile-long island known for its beautiful beaches and abundant shopping.

The ferry departs from right next to the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach , and it takes about 30 minutes to reach Isla Mujeres.

Once you exit the ferry terminal, you’ll be bombarded with street vendors trying to sell you their wares and taxi drivers offering tours of the island.

My suggestion: walk away from the main drag to the quieter side streets to enjoy the shops in a more peaceful setting. A few items you’ll see a lot of include macrame clothing, Cuban cigars, and Talavera Pottery .

You can also walk to the stunning Playa Norte (North Beach), which has soft white sand and translucent blue water.

day trip to Isla Mujeres during a 7 day Cancun itinerary

On the beach are also restaurants and bars, some of which are really cute and offer beautiful ocean views.

To reach Playa Norte, you can walk El Malecon , a scenic seaside walking path between Calle Mateos and Calle Allende where you can enjoy a photo opp with the Isla Mujeres sign and potentially spot dolphins in the water

If you’d like to explore more of Isla Mujeres, you can rent a golf cart, which is about $50 for a half-day. A few experiences of interest on the island include:

  • Seeing the waterfront sculptures at Punta Sur
  • Visiting pretty churches like Capilla de Guadalupe and Iglesia de Concepcion Immaculada
  • Purchasing handmade jewelry at the Women’s Beading Cooperative

Once back in Cancun, freshen up for a delicious dinner at La Joya , the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach’s upscale Mexican restaurant. As you enjoy dishes like fresh fish in creamy tequila corn sauce and beef barbacoa cooked in maguey and avocado leaves, you’ll be entertained by an 8-piece mariachi band.

Pro tip: this eatery is known for its margaritas, which are delicious. I tried both a spicy margarita on the rocks and a frozen tamarind margarita. Yum!

Afterward, check out the nightly entertainment or play a round of air hockey or foosball in the Sports Lounge .

Day #4: Have A Cancun Jungle Adventure

Ready for an adventure? Today on your Cancun travel itinerary we’ve got another day trip, this time in the form of a jungle adventure.

There are a number of jungle tours that involve ziplining, ATVing, and swimming in Mexico’s famous cenotes — which are natural deep-water sinkholes.

The Yucatán Peninsula is home to at least 6,000 cenotes, so you certainly have plenty of options.

The closest cenotes to Cancun are along the Ruta de Los Cenotes Puerto Morelos , which is about an hour drive — either via tour or your own car — from the hotel. Many of the cenotes also have ziplines and high jumps that offer an adventurous way to enter the water.

visiting Ruta de Los Cenotes Puerto Morelos on a 7 day Cancun itinerary

Another option is Valladolid , which is about two hours away by car. While I personally haven’t visited this city, I’ve read that because Valladolid has a higher elevation than the coast, the cenotes feature more dramatic drops and scenery.

If you love adventure travel , this will likely be your best day in Cancun.

Afterward, come back to the resort to enjoy a delicious dinner at the Tuscany Trattoria & Terrace . Transport yourself from Mexico to Italy through plates of homemade pasta, creamy risotto, and bistecca alla fiorentina before enjoying some evening entertainment. Check the daily schedule to see the array of options.

Day #5: Visit Maya Ruins From Cancun

No Cancun travel blog would be complete without mentioning Maya ruins. The Maya are an Indigenous people of Mexico and Central America, who built remarkable cities featuring temples, palaces, and pyramids from the Mayan Preclassical Period (2000 B.C. to A.D. 250).

Today, these ancient cities sit in ruins, though are still incredibly impressive.

In fact, when researching what to do around Cancun, you’ll see numerous options for ruins to visit. A few of these include:

Chichen Itza. No travel guide to Cancun would be complete without mentioning this popular UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was one of the largest Maya cities. Known for its large central pyramid, It was founded by the Itza in the 5th century AD and is believed to have had over 50,000 inhabitants.

As it’s one of the New 7 Wonders Of The World, you’ll certainly want to add this to your 7 day Cancun itinerary.

visiting Chichen Itza during a trip to Cancun

Tulum Ruins. If you’re planning a Cancun Tulum itinerary, the Tulum Ruins are a must. These ruins are known for many things — like the site’s stunning location right on the Caribbean Sea. In fact, the Tulum Ruins are one of the few enclosed cities built by the Mayas, featuring walls on three sides and an open fourth side facing the water.

Coba. Coba is another popular Cancun Mexico itinerary addition. Located about 29 miles northwest of Tulum, Coba is known for having the highest pyramid in the northern Yucatan, called Nohoch Mul.

Ek Balam. While the previously-mentioned Maya sites are mentioned in almost every Cancun information guide, Ek Balam is less touristy — though still very important, especially as the site was the region’s main political center for many centuries. A few highlights of a visit are seeing the uniquely-shaped pyramid and getting to climb to the highest point of the ruins at 95 feet.

If you’d like to book a tour, Amstar DMC  offers a number of options.

For dinner, opt for a spot along the Hotel Zone or have an Italian meal at Viña Del Mar at the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach. While gazing out over the Caribbean Sea, you’ll be entertained by a soprano and tenor show.

Since you don’t have to be up early tomorrow, consider leaving the resort to enjoy the nightlife in Cancun’s Party Zone .

walking the Party Zone during 7 days in Cancun

Yes, it’s touristy, but you’ll find some epic dance parties at places like Coco Bongo and The City Discotheque , both of which also include acrobatic performances.

These clubs are surrounded by loads of other nightlife options, as well, and the streets in this area have a loud and festive feel.

If you’d prefer to enjoy Cancun’s nightlife away from the craziness of the Party Zone, another option of many is Distrito Gourmet , which is a kind of open-air food hall-meets-nightclub concept. The icing on top is that you also get beautiful water views.

Day #6: Explore Cancun Beaches & Hotel Zone & Spa Day

Whether you’re backpacking Cancun, traveling solo , creating a Cancun family itinerary, or planning a trip for two to Cancun, the beach will likely be a main point of interest.

In all honesty, you could visit the beach every day of your 7 day Cancun itinerary and still have an incredible trip.

Spend the morning swimming, snorkeling and paddling. Also, if you haven’t done so yet, take a short 15-minute walk along the beach to Punta Cancun Lighthouse . You can’t climb it, but it’s a scenic walk along — and sometimes in — the water that offers beautiful views looking back toward the resort.

visiting Punta Cancun Lighthouse on a Cancun travel itinerary

After lunch at the poolside Bikini Bar or inside at the bistro-style Coral Cafe , take a walk along the Hotel Zone. There are a number of points of interest, like:

  • Party Zone , a club area that is wild at night but still interesting to see during the day
  • La Isla Shopping Village , a mall with a wide variety of shops, eateries, and attractions like Ripley’s Mirror Maze and the Tequila Museum
  • Mercado Coral Negro , a flea market with souvenirs — though note it’s quite pricey
  • Playa Delfines , a public beach where you can also take a photo with the Cancun sign
  • El Sol de Cancun , a ferris wheel offering beautiful views of Cancun
  • El Rey , Maya ruins named after “the King” statue on site that also has a botanical garden
  • Museo Maya de Cancún y Zona Arqueológica de San Miguelito , a Maya museum and archeological site
  • Mayan Market , which sells Maya-inspired jewelry and handicrafts as well as artisanal tequila
  • Restaurante Lorenzillos , a great spot for fresh seafood meals right on the water
  • Taquería Los Chachalacos , a taquería known for its delicious tacos al pastor

After exploring Cancun, head back to the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach for a treatment at their Gem Spa .

Their signature treatment is the 80-minute Seventh Wonder Luxury Massage, which involves an essential oil massage where seven quartz stones are placed on the seven corresponding chakras of the body for a transformative experience.

When visiting, I personally did the Hydrotherapy Treatment, a 10-step circuit that involves a mix of hot and cold rituals.

Starting with a soothing eucalyptus steam, you’ll then cool down in a multi-jet shower before getting a clay body mask followed by closing the pores with cool ice crystals. From there, you’ll relax in a dry sauna followed by a rain shower. Up next is a series of pools: a hot whirlpool, a cool plunge pool, a colder plunge pool, and then a reflexology-focused underwater pebble walkway. The experience culminates with a swim in the “pool of sensations” with massaging neck jets, bubbles, floor geysers, and other therapeutic elements.

Afterward, you’ll be nice and relaxed for dinner on the beach at Nah K´aax , which means “Jungle House” in the Mayan language. Listen to the waves lapping up onto the coast as you dig into Mexican-Asian eats in a boho chic space.

You’ll also have live entertainment, either from a DJ spinning right on the beach or their twice-weekly fire show.

Day #7: Enjoy A Cancun Sunrise

While I personally woke up for sunrise every day of my Cancun trip, I realize getting out of bed before 5:30am isn’t for everyone.

If you haven’t seen a Cancun sunrise yet by the last day of your trip, make sure you take this final opportunity to do so.

woman on the beach at sunrise during a 7 day Cancun itinerary

If possible, skip going back to bed and instead and enjoy the resort amenities one last time before you have to leave for your flight. Savor an al fresco breakfast, swim in the pool, and dip your toes in the Caribbean Sea one last time before heading back home to reality.

Alternative: 4 Day Cancun Itinerary

Can’t swing a 7 day Cancun itinerary? You can still have an epic trip! Here is how I suggest you spend 4 days in Cancun:

  • Day 1: Explore the resort, relax by the pool, and partake in some included activities
  • Day 2: Relax on the beach, do some water sports, and book a spa treatment
  • Day 3: Do a Cancun day trip like exploring Maya ruins or having a jungle adventure
  • Day 4: Wake up to see a Cancun sunrise and enjoy the pool or beach before your flight home

Alternative: 3 Day Cancun Itinerary

Only have time for a weekend in Cancun ? Here is how I would spend 3 days in Cancun:

  • If you want to get away from the resort, do a quick nearby day trip like visiting the El Rey Ruins right in the Hotel Zone for an hour or two
  • Day 3: Wake up to see a Cancun sunrise and enjoy the pool or beach before your flight home

Tips For First Time Travelers To Cancun

Wondering how to plan a trip to Cancun, Mexico ? To help make your beach vacation as amazing as possible, here are a few tips for visiting Cancun:

Check the latest entry and exit rules for travel in Cancun. This goes for general passport, visa, and vaccination requirements, as well as necessary steps due to the pandemic.

Don’t schedule too much on your first day. Traveling is exhausting — especially when you factor in early wake up times and time zone changes — so don’t schedule too much for yourself on your arrival day. The good thing is all-inclusive resorts like the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach have daily activity schedules, so if you’re feeling energetic there will be plenty to do.

Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach  Cancun All-Inclusive Resort on a trip to Cancun, Mexico

Bring cash for tips and extras.  While tipping at an all-inclusive resort in Cancun is not mandatory, it is a nice gesture. The local currency is the Mexican Peso, though you can also tip in US dollars (just make sure to leave only bills and not coins).

Note that paying in Mexican Pesos off the resort can get you better rates. For instance, we paid US dollars for our ferry tickets to Isla Mujeres — and paid about $6 more per ticket than we would have if we used pesos.

Note that many all inclusive resorts bake tips and taxes into the room rate, though leaving a little extra for your servers and bartenders is a kind way to show your appreciation. You should also tip bag handlers, spa workers, and housekeeping.

As an initial guideline, consider tipping about $5 for breakfast and lunch and $10 for dinner.

Allow yourself to relax. If you’re lucky enough to have planned a 7 day Cancun itinerary, you’ll have plenty of time to just enjoy the all-inclusive resort and partake in all of the included food, drink, activities, and entertainment — not to mention the gorgeous scenery and beach. Dedicate a good chunk of your itinerary to enjoying these amenities.

Take at least one day trip. While your Cancun all-inclusive resort will certainly be a trip highlight, there is more to the destination. Spend some time getting to know the local history, culture, and landscape. Even if you only have a weekend trip to Cancun planned, you can still see Maya ruins right within the Hotel Zone. And if you have a week to spare, a 7 day Cancun itinerary gives you plenty of time to enjoy the resort and beyond.

Wear (reef-safe) sunscreen & sunglasses.  Cancun is a sunny Caribbean destination, so you’ll definitely want to pack sunscreen and sunglasses. To help protect the environment, consider a high SPF reef-safe sunscreen.

Wake up for at least one sunrise. The sunrise in Cancun is gorgeous and absolutely worth waking up early for. There is also something truly special about wandering the resort on your own.

seeing on the sunrise during a trip to Cancun at the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach

Is Cancun Safe?

Yes, Cancun is a safe travel destination — as long as you know where to go and where to avoid.

The Cancun Hotel Zone, for instance, is very safe, and you’ll see many local police helping to keep it that way. My Amstar driver explained that because tourism is so vital to Cancun’s economy, the destination really works hard to keep it safe for visitors.

If you plan to leave the Hotel Zone, check with your hotel to see where is and isn’t safe to explore in Cancun.

Mexico Travel Insurance

When visiting Mexico — or anywhere else in the world — it’s wise to get travel insurance.

One of the  best travel medical insurance for travelers  is SafetyWing as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage — including coverage if you’re traveling for months as well as limited coverage in your home country).

Additionally, SafetyWing is budget-friendly and offers $250,000 worth of coverage with just one low overall deductible of $250.

Click here to price out travel insurance for your trip in just a few clicks .

What would you add to this 7 day Cancun itinerary?

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Jessie Festa standing in front of grafitti wall

Hi, I’m Jessie on a journey!

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Wow, thank you so much for all of the great info and pictures as well. I’m definitely staying at the Grand Fiesta Americana next time and hopefully planning some of these recommendations as well. I’m completely sold and can’t wait 🙂

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Home » North America » Cancun

EPIC 3-DAY CANCUN ITINERARY (2024)

Cancun is a place renowned for its beaches, resorts, and thriving nightlife. Found on the Yucatan Peninsula, bordering the Caribbean Sea, Cancun is composed of 2 distinct areas — the beachfront strip and the traditional downtown area.

Planning a trip to Cancun? Most people visiting this idyllic beach city use it as an adventure base for discovering lagoons and caves, and exploring the temples of the Mayans. It’s also a great spot to indulge in the world-renowned vacation resorts and embrace the vibrant beach strip.

Whatever your reason for visiting the Mexican City of Cancun, this dynamic region offers visitors an action-packed beach style holiday. So whether you are spending 3, 4, or even 5 days in Cancun — this guide is for you.

For this Cancun itinerary, 5 days is enough to see the best of the city. We will look at the best activities and places of interest on the peninsula to ensure a fun-filled Caribbean getaway that will leave you feeling listful of sunshine-filled days, salty beaches and sandy shoes.

A Little Bit about this 3 Day Cancun Itinerary

Where to stay in cancun, cancun itinerary day 1: the introduction, cancun itinerary day 2: “i’m a mayan warrior”, cancun itinerary day 3: surf’s up, what to do with more than 3 days in cancun, best time to visit cancun, plan a trip to cancun – what to prepare, faq on cancun itinerary, final thoughts.

Cancun itinerary

Cancun, on the Yucatan Peninsula, is Mexico’s largest and most popular resort area. With paradisiacal beaches, fascinating archaeological sites nearby, and all the finest things you can think of, it makes for a great destination for couples and families, but also for solo travelers.

There are plenty of places to visit in Cancun , depending on how many days you can stay. We’re assuming you’re staying at least 2, but if you have 3 or even 4 days in Cancun, we’ve got a whole list for you to go through.

The city is fairly easy to navigate and get around. You can walk to a lot of the spots if you’re located in the Hotel Zone, and you’ll find loads of taxis and great public transportation available too. The most common is the bus, which runs regularly and is very affordable.

In this guide, we’re gonna lay out all the different areas you can stay at, the top things you should do, when to come, and how to make sure everything runs safely and smoothly.

If you’re still deciding how many days to spend in Cancun, we hope our suggestions help you get a better understanding!

cancun tour itinerary

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3 Day Cancun Itinerary Overview

  • Day 1 in Cancun: El Rey , Playa Delfines , El Meco , Playa Tortugas
  • Day 2 in Cancun: Chichen Itza , Mercado 23
  • Day 3 in Cancun: Surf Lesson , Playa Del Carmen
  • More Places to See in Cancun: Coba Ruins , Isla Mujeres , MUSA Underwater Museum

cancun tour itinerary

With a Cancun City Pass , you can experience the best of Cancun at the CHEAPEST prices. Discounts, attractions, tickets, and even public transport are all standards in any good city pass – be sure invest now and save them $$$ when you arrive!

Picking where to stay in Cancun will depend on what you want to prioritize for your trip. The downtown and surrounding areas are a great bet if you want to focus on the ruins and the cultural activities.

The Hotel Zone, or Zona Hotelera, is better for beaches and parties. It’s a long beachfront strip packed with all the resorts, nightclubs, and restaurants you can imagine… If you’re hoping to stumble home after partying the night away or indulging in Caribbean cuisine — this is the place for you! 

If you fly to Cancun International Airport, a taxi or bus for about 30 minutes will get you to the heart of the Hotel Zone. 

If it’s your first time in Cancun, the Hotel Zone will probably be the most convenient if you plan to do a lot of beach and sightseeing. If not, you’ll get a more lively stay in downtown El Centro, and the budget-friendly options are also here.

Punta Cancun is a good bet if you’re coming here for the nightlife. It’s at the north end of the Hotel Zone and offers some spectacular waters and views. If you want culture and charm, head over to Puerto Morelos. A piece of paradise away from the madding crowds plus all the perks of an ideal beach trip.

If you’re looking for somewhere near the airport and transport links to other parts of the Riviera Maya, consider staying at a vacation rental in Cancun that are in the more residential areas.

Best Hostel in Cancun – Mezcal Hotel Hostel and Bar

Cancun itinerary

Sunbathe in the pool, relax in a hammock, or chill at the bar. This is one of the best hostels in Cancun . The hostel invites you to socialize with guests from all over the world. They even have an HD TV to watch sports while you’re hungover, as well as hosting entertaining activities like Yoga, Zumba, Salsa Lessons, Karaoke and so much more!

Best Airbnb in Cancun – Loft footsteps from the Beach

Loft footsteps from the Beach

That’s right. Good ol’ A/C, baby! This loft is completely renovated and right off the sand of Cancun. If you are looking to explore around, you’ve got public transportation just outside the apartment. And for those working remotely, can we get a hallelujah for frickin’ amazing internet?!

Best Budget Hotel in Cancun – Hotel Kavia

Cancun itinerary

Perfectly located in the heart of Cancun, this hotel offers comfortable accommodation with a restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool and a bar. They have a variety of rooms available and many popular points of interest within walking distance! Guests are also free to use the indoor pool and business center.

Best Luxury Hotel in Cancun –  Oh! Cancun – The Urban Oasis

Cancun itinerary

This elegant hotel has an outdoor pool and sun terrace. With WiFi throughout the property and an on-site restaurant, they have everything you need for your stay in Cancun! Rooms have a view of the pool or the city, and transport is available near the property.

Cancun Day 1 Itinerary Map

Day 1 is the introduction to your stay in Cancun. You’re going to be covering a couple of its archaeological sites and checking out some beautiful beaches!

Every map that you see in this article includes a hyperlink to an interactive version on Google Drive. After clicking the map image, the interactive version will be opened in a new tab.

10:00 am – El Rey Ruins

El Rey Ruins Cancun

Let’s start with the basics.

The El Rey Ruins are conveniently located in the heart of the Hotel Zone. They’re easy to access and a great place to start if you’re visiting Cancun for the first time.

And while they’re not the most famous or largest Mayan ruins, they’re certainly the best you can begin with. We’re not gonna be spending the first day driving 2 hours to one of the more famous sites, we’ll get there eventually.

The ruins are named after an important sculpture of ‘The King’ (El Rey) found on the site and are part of an important ancient Mayan trade route.

The major development of this ancient Mayan site occurred between 1300 and 1550 AD, and the main inhabitants were fishermen and traders of salt. It was abandoned after the Spaniards arrived in the 16th century and became a haven for pirates for a long time.

Head out adventure through the Mayan ruins to spot some of the many iguanas that live in the area. They’re used to people and will come right up to you!

  • Cost: $2.50 USD (double if you bring in professional video equipment)
  • How long should I stay here? Around 1 hour.
  • Getting there – Frequent buses from the Hotel Zone. Ask the driver for the El Rey ruins.

11:30 am – Playa Delfines

Playa Delfines

Any decent Cancun itinerary has to include a visit to the city’s outstanding beaches. We’ll be covering the best ones along the way, but your first stop on the map is Playa Delfines.

Playa Delfines, or Dolphin Beach, also has the nickname El Mirador (The Lookout). Thanks to an unspoiled area without the usual masses of hotels, restaurants, and resorts that seem to take over the city, you can enjoy a blissful end of the morning at the beach here.

Soak up the sun and enjoy the sprawling views, rent a beach umbrella if you’re feeling fancy, and make the most of the groovy Mexican sunshine.

It is the only beach in Cancun with a public car park!

  • Cost: Free!
  • How long should I stay here? 1-2 hours, up to you.
  • Getting there – A short walk from the El Rey ruins.

2:00 pm – El Meco Archaeological Site

El Meco Archaeological Site

Onto the next one.

El Meco is a small Mayan archaeological site located in a remote part of Cancun that was highly influential in Maya culture. The site is well preserved and has recently been opened to the public.

It’s the perfect place to discover if you are interested in the history of Mexico and the Maya peoples.

The site is clearly influenced by Itzamna and Chichen Itza. You’ll also find many carvings that have remained unscathed at this small site, due to the shade covering that has been protecting them from damage.

Said to have been inhabited in the 3rd and left empty until the 11th century, it was an important port in the history of Cancun, offering a great vantage point to survey incoming ships.

You’ll get to explore parts of Cancun that you’ve never seen before, and see the serpent heads that decorate the Castillo staircase which leads you to the pyramid.

Overall, a great place to add to your Cancun itinerary!

  • How long should I stay here? 1-2 hours.
  • Getting there – Easier to reach by car, taxi, or minivan.

4:30 pm – Playa Tortugas

Playa Tortugas

It’s time to relax now. Enjoy the end of your first day in Cancun with some clean white sand and crystal clear waters.

Playa Tortugas is known for having a relaxed atmosphere and it’s the perfect place to cool down after a day getting to know the city.

Wander along the beach to the pier, pondering the wealth of knowledge that you’ve gained from the archaeological sites of the day

The beach is located in the northern part of Cancun’s Hotel Zone and it’s not too far from your last location.

  • How long should I stay here? It’s the last stop of the day. You’re a free bird now!
  • Getting there – If you rode to El Meco, arrange with your driver to drop you off at this beach.

cancun tour itinerary

Wanna know how to pack like a pro? Well for a start you need the right gear….

These are packing cubes for the globetrotters and compression sacks for the  real adventurers – these babies are a traveller’s best kept secret. They organise yo’ packing and minimise volume too so you can pack MORE.

Or, y’know… you can stick to just chucking it all in your backpack…

Cancun Day 2 Itinerary Map

On your second day in Cancun, you’ll be heading to one of the most epic locations in all of Mexico…

5:00 am – Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza

That’s right. 5 am, lads! That’s what you’ve gotta go through to enjoy this place without the crowds.

The ruins of Chichen Itza were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988 and occupy an area of 4 square miles. They’re marvelous all along.

It’ll be a 2h30 ride from town. A little stretch, but nonetheless a mandatory stop if you’re planning a trip to Cancun. The site was abandoned and its ruins were eventually hidden by the jungle. Now, Chichen Itza is one of the  New 7 Wonders of the World .

You’ll be able to explore the ancient ruins, take some amazing photos, and learn more about the place’s fascinating history. Book an experienced guide, and you’ll learn all about how it played an important role in Mayan civilization and remained a center of worship and pilgrimage until the arrival of the Spaniards.

Two big cenotes are on the site, formed by sinkholes in the limestone formations. They’re fascinating to see, and are a pivotal point in the existence of the city. As they’re the only source of water in the arid region, they’re the whole reason why the Maya tribe chose to settle there.

  • Cost: The entrance fee is around $25.
  • How long should I stay here? Between getting there and back, it will take you most of the day.
  • Getting there – Best done if you book a tour.

5:00 pm – Mercado 23

Mercado 23

After the bewilderment from the great Chichen Itza, we’re going to take it easy now. Shall we?

Mercado 23 is a great place to experience the lives of locals in Cancun. It was the first in the city and it is also one of the most popular markets around. You’ll find everything from crafts to grains, tortillas, groceries, medicinal plants, and more esoteric stalls.

Products are cheap and the quality is good. With the essence of a Mexican market, it’s ideal for travelers wanting to immerse in Mexican folklore. A great way to support the local economy too! Be sure to try the local Yucatan food.

Situated in a vibrant neighborhood, inhabited by the local workers and their families, this market will offer you the perfect authentic experience away from the resort life. Grab something to go home with, or simply wander while you drool at the sight of each stall.

The market closes at around 7 pm, so you have time to stroll around after a long day at Chichen Itza. Grab dinner in the area afterward!

  • How long should I stay here? Take your time, negotiate away, then grab some dinner in the area.
  • Getting there – From the Hotel Zone, take the R1 bus that says “Crucero” and tell the driver “Mercado 23”.

Cancun Day 3 Itinerary Map

3 days in Cancun and no surfing? Neigh way, Jose.

Today we’re hitting the waves before we do anything else. Then, we’re checking out the final stop for your short trip. If you can stay longer, we’ve got more suggestions coming up after that!

10:00 am – Surf Lesson

Surf Lesson

If it’s the first time you plan a trip to Cancun and you’ve never gone surfing before, this might just be your chance.

Cancun has the perfect conditions for beginners and learning how to surf is a great way to enjoy the pristine waters and the beach life around here.

You’ll find plenty of surf schools on the beaches in the Hotel Zone. Good Vibes Surf School is a good one, located in Chac Mool Beach, inside of Ocean Dream Hotel. All the equipment is provided and the lesson will start with some beach training before heading into the waves.

The instructors will be with you the whole time to help out, and you’re guaranteed a good time! They’re also good people to reach for some insider knowledge in the area. They’ll know all the best places to eat around the area, so you can get a refueling breakfast after the lesson.

  • Cost: Around $50 for a private lesson. You can book it through Airbnb.
  • How long should I stay here? 2 hours.
  • Getting there – The surf schools are located throughout the Hotel Zone.

2:00 pm – Playa del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen

So… after crossing all of the places you must see in Cancun in 3 days, we’ve reached our final stop: Playa del Carmen.

This stunning coastal resort town lies 45 minutes down the coast from Cancun and it is one of the Riviera Maya’s trendiest spots

Your first time in Cancun should be all about relaxing and enjoying life by the sea, so this is the perfect place to head to after hitting the waves in the morning.

With some archaeological explorations here and there, this region of Mexico offers a wide array of beautiful sights for you to enjoy. At Playa del Carmen, you can roam around, relax, find a pool party, or even explore an underground cavern.

With buses running frequently from downtown, you can spend the rest of your day here or even find some  places to stay in Playa del Carmen  for a few nights.

  • Cost: 5-10 dollars depending on when you book.
  • How long should I stay here? 3-4 hours. Come back on the last bus or by minivan.
  • Getting there – Buses leave from the ADO terminal downtown.

Need a place quick? Here’s the best neighborhood in Cancun

Zona Hotelera in Cancun

Zona Hotelera

Zona Hotelera is one of the most convenient and popular places to stay in Cancun. A short drive from El Centro, this area of the city caters to tourists.

  • Explore the exhibitions about Mayan Culture at the Museo Maya de Cancun.
  • Swim in the shimmering turquoise waters of Playa Delfines.
  • Shop til you drop at La Isla Shopping Village.

What if I have 4 days in Cancun? What can I do?

If you’re staying longer in Cancun, that’s perfect! There’s plenty to do around the area, and it will take a long time until you get bored.

Below, we’ve prepared a list of more awesome things you can do while you’re here. Read on, fellow traveler…

Coba ruins

Coba Ruins are some of the most interesting Mayan ruins in the state of Yucatan. They are not as popular as other ruins in Mexico, like the Chichen Itza, as they are a bit more remote.

If you managed to squeeze in an extra day (or more), this is a fantastic trip to take from Cancun. It will take you between 2 and 3 hours to arrive.

You’ll be greeted by a jungle that resembles a living green carpet from the top of the pyramid. And you can climb it!

Much of its fame comes from its large network of stone causeways that were known as  sacbes  (white roads) in the ancient world. There have been more than 50 of these roads discovered at the site and 16 of them are open to the public.

You’ll get the opportunity to explore these roads by walking along the raised stone pathways or renting a bike to cycle around.

  • Cost: Just under $4.
  • How long should I stay here? As with Chichen Itza, it will take most of your day.
  • Getting there  – Frequent bus tours run from the Hotel Zone. You can also rent a car and drive it yourself!

Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres

A small friendly island just off of Cancun. A day trip to Isla Mujeres will show you a peaceful paradise with absolutely gorgeous beaches.

The diversity of its population ranges from fisherman to artists, musicians to divers, chefs, and expats, making up a community unlike any other. Some say they’re the friendliest locals in the Mexican Caribbean!

If you get the chance, you can snorkel in the second largest coral reef in the world, the Belize Barrier Reef. Admire the incredible marine life, or just enjoy a relaxing day on the island.

Those who are feeling  the   splurge  can also opt for one of the all-inclusive catamarans that make regular day trips to Isla Mujeres. They usually include snorkeling, some exploring, and delicious local food. Oh, and grab some of that open bar goodness while you’re at it.

Either way, you’re guaranteed a day of sunshine before admiring the rich biodiversity of the underwater world.

  • Cost: $15 for the ferry. You can also book a catamaran tour if you’re feeling fancy.
  • How long should I stay here? A whole day if you have time.
  • Getting there – Frequent ferries from the dock at Puerto Juarez, a few minutes from downtown.

MUSA Underwater Museum

MUSA Underwater Museum of Art

Diving in Cancun has got to be the most epic thing you can do on your trip. If you have more than 3 days here, or want to switch it up with another of the activities we suggested, go for it!

The MUSA Underwater Museum offers some of the most spectacular diving experiences in the world, and there are different pricing levels according to your experience.

Explore the remarkable exhibits the museum has on offer, make the most of the Caribbean waters AND learn how to dive if you never have. This is one of the most spectacular locations to do it at.

It is quite common to observe sea turtles in this area, as the natural coral reef formations give shelter to an unending diversity of colorful fish — MUSA attracts all types of living creatures, including you ?

A perfect activity for beginners who are looking for a unique experience in Cancun.

  • Cost: Prices start at $90 for certified divers and $115 for those without a certificate.
  • How long should I stay here? Up to 5-6 hours!
  • Getting there  – Some organized tours run from the Hotel Zone, near the Sotavento Hotel.

Active Roots Security Belt

Stash your cash safely with this money belt. It will keep your valuables safely concealed, no matter where you go.

It looks exactly like a normal belt  except for a SECRET interior pocket perfectly designed to hide a wad of cash, a passport photocopy or anything else you may wish to hide. Never get caught with your pants down again! (Unless you want to…)

Now that you know everything you must see in Cancun in 3 days, you must be wondering when is the best time to come…

If you want a great mix of good weather, uncrowded places, and great discounts: come April, May, November & early December.

You’ll find the best weather in December, though.

Best Time to Visit Cancun

And all the way from December to the end of April, the conditions are great. January to March is the peak season, and when you can expect the least amount of rainfall, the sunniest skies, and the balmiest temperatures!

Expect gorgeous beach days, pleasant ocean waters, and perfect weather for exploring the ruins and jungles inland. So you can better plan your trip to Cancun, we’ve prepared a monthly overview of the weather below.

It may seem obvious at first, but there’s more to your Cancun packing list than you might think. Yeah, flip flops and a bathing suit are at the top of the list, but some good shoes to explore the ruins are much needed too. In case you’re feeling lost, we’ve prepared some tips on how to pack for any trip .

In terms of safety, there are very rare incidents of serious crime towards travelers. But as with any new and unknown location you travel to, it’s never a bad idea to stay vigilant and to be aware of your surroundings and actions.

In general, Cancun is a relatively safe place . If you’re coming for the nightlife, though, we advise you to be extra cautious. You may be more susceptible to problematic situations after chugging a few drinks, and the cartels in Mexico are no joke. NEVER leave your drinks unattended.

It’s best to keep your belongings on you at all times and be aware of pickpockets if you happen to be in a crowded area or slightly intoxicated. Stay away from dark and lonely streets, and don’t go anywhere that looks unsafe. Trust your gut, be self-aware, and you’ll do just fine!

Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance for Cancun

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing .

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

cancun tour itinerary

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Find out what people want to know when planning their Cancun itinerary.

How many days do you need in Cancun?

To see all the highlights and make the most of the journey to Cancun, I would recommend staying 3-5 days in Cancun.

How much does the average trip to Cancun cost?

The average price of a 7 day trip to Cancun will cost around $1,100 per traveller. This is assuming you stay in a nice hotel and eat at good restaurants.

What is the best month to visit Cancun in?

The best time to visit Cancun is December – April when the weather is at its best and it’s quieter.

What should you include on your Cancun itinerary for families?

Playa Delfines is a great beach to visit with the family as you can enjoy some awesome watersports there.

Ahhhh, Cancun. The perfect beach destination for any traveler looking for an introduction to the Mexican ways.

As you can see, there are plenty of places to visit in Cancun in 3 days. If you’re traveling longer, you can stretch it out and check out some of the extra suggestions too.

With world-famous archeological sites and a dazzling array of beaches, there’s much to be explored here. Walk through legendary ruins, feel the sand in your naked feet, and enjoy all that Mexico is about.

Take your time, cook up your perfect Cancun itinerary, and then let us know how your trip went. Sayonara!

Need help deciding between Cancun or Cozumel ? Check out our helpful guide.

cancun tour itinerary

And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links . That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!

Claire Martin

Claire Martin

Cancun Itinerary Pinterest Image

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cancun tour itinerary

Hi I’m planning my trip and I was wondering what should be better? book tours or get a car and drive around? any suggestions?

We can’t really say which is “better”. There are pro’s and con’s to each.

Personally, I don’t enjoy the responsibility to having a car when I am traveling unless it’s a proper, full-on road trip.

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My Adventurous Wings

Perfect 5-7 Day Cancun Itinerary for First-Timers! Tips & Guide

Disclosure: Some links are affiliate links – which means, at no extra cost to you, I earn a small commission if you make a purchase through a link.

Are you ready for an unforgettable adventure in paradise? I got you! This 5-7 day Cancun itinerary will help you make the absolute most out of your vacation time.

Cancun, Mexico, offers a little something for everyone. Whether you’re a beach lover, a food enthusiast, or just looking for thrilling adventures, it’s all here. Get ready to soak up the sun, explore ancient ruins, indulge in delicious cuisine, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

With five to seven days in Cancun, you’ll have just the right amount of time to experience all the exciting highlights of the Riviera Maya. So pack your bags and let’s embark on this exciting adventure!

Table of Contents

Are 5-7 Days in Cancun Enough?

You might wonder how many days in Cancun are enough?

If you’re traveling to Cancun on limited vacation days, 5 days are enough for first-timers to dip their toes in. You’ll get to explore the city, lounge on the stunning white sand beaches, and even take day trips to the nearby islands.

Now, if you have 7 days in Cancun, you can squeeze in more adventures or simply kick back and relax on the beach.

And here’s the best part: since getting around the Riviera Maya from Cancun is such a breeze, you’ll have endless choices of exciting activities and attractions at your fingertips.

Trust me, you won’t be able to do everything in 5-7 days. You will leave Cancun craving for more! But hey! That’s just the perfect excuse to come back again, right? I know that’s exactly what I did!

Are you ready to optimize your 5 day Cancun trip? Let’s go!

Suggested 5-7 Day Cancun Itinerary

Consider this sample itinerary when you’re planning a trip to Cancun. I’ve planned this itinerary so that it’ll alternate between slow pace and fast pace days. Switch around the days so you can create your own perfect 7 day Cancun itinerary.

Day 1 – Hotel Zone & Beach Day

Day 2 – isla mujeres & snorkeling, day 3 – chichen itza & cenotes.

  • Day 4 – Downtown Cancun & Cirque du Soleil

Day 5 – Cozumel & Submarine Ride

Day 6 – xcaret park, day 7 – shopping & bird’s-eye view.

Get ready to kick off your first day in Cancun by exploring the Hotel Zone and soaking up the sun on the beach as soon as you’ve settled in!

Cancun’s Hotel Zone is famous for its fancy resorts, lively parties, and breathtaking beaches. Stroll down the main strip of the Hotel Zone, known as Boulevard Kukulcán, and marvel at the incredible hotels that line the street..

And if you are near the Mayan Museum of Cancun (Museo Maya de Cancun), why not swing by and learn about some Mayan history?

In the afternoon, grab your beach essentials and head over to beautiful Cancun beaches, such as Playa Delfines or Playa Tortugas. Spend some time sunbathing on the soft white sands or take a dip in the crystal-clear turquoise waters.

End your day with a delicious dinner at one of the many restaurants in the Hotel Zone. Whether you want Mexican or international cuisine, there are many choices available.

I highly recommend Restaurants Mextreme , a lively traditional Mexican restaurant. You won’t be there just for the food, but also for the vibes and dances.

Not ready to call it a day yet? Check out some of Cancun’s famous nightclubs, such as Coco Bongo, and immerse yourself in its energetic nightlife.

Afterwards, head back to your hotel to get some well-deserved rest before you exhaust yourself. Our exciting days in the city are just getting started!

Day two, let’s get going!

Jump on a ferry and embark on an exciting day excursion to Isla Mujeres, a little island situated just a short 15-minute ride off the coast of Cancun. With its compact size, you can easily explore the entire island in no time, making it an ideal choice for a day trip.

Exploring the island in a golf cart is one of the top activities to do on Isla Mujeres. Don’t forget to bring your driver’s license so you don’t miss out! Have a blast exploring the island!

Make sure you put these two stops down on your Isla Mujeres itinerary: the turtle santuary and the Temple of Ixchel, located at the farthest point of the island!

Can’t drive, that’s okay too! There are plenty of things to do on Isla Mujeres even without a car.

Join a tour for some epic diving in the Caribbean Sea!

The Manchones Reef is only 10 minutes boat ride from Isla Mujeres. Here you’ll find yourself in the enchanting underwater world of MUSA (Cancun Underwater Museum of Art). Take your pick of diving and swimming alongside colorful fish or snorkeling on the reef .

And when the sun sets, indulge in a sunset dinner with breathtaking views. Isla Mujeres has it all, from rugged adventures to serene moments. Just make sure to catch that last ferry back to Cancun!

Rise and shine! You’ll need to wake up extra early, for it’s going to be a long day.

Right in the heart of the jungle lies an ancient Mayan city, just waiting for you to explore. Chichen Itza is an absolute must-see on all first-time visitors’ itinerary. You definitely don’t want to miss out on it, especially if you are in Cancun for 5-7 days.

There are plenty of ways you can do this day trip. You can opt for a solo road trip, hop on a bus, or join a lively tour from Cancun to Chichen Itza. For more details, check out my comprehensive travel guide to Chichén Itzá !

Either way, prepare yourself for a mind-boggling experience. It’s like stepping back in time, except without the time machine. Prepare to spend at least 3 hours touring around the ancient Mayan ruins.

Don’t forget to drop by a cenote for a revitalizing swim before returning to Cancun.

Now that you’re back in Cancun, bet you’re starving! But don’t go into hangry mode just yet.

No matter where you’re staying, you can enjoy a delicious feast at the Brazilian steakhouse, Mr. Pampas . It’s conveniently located in both the Hotel Zone and downtown Cancun. Not only that, this all-you-can- eat experience will cost you less than $30 per person!

Day 4 – Downtown Cancun & Cirque du Soleil

Let’s explore Cancun’s bustling downtown on day 4. Take a leisurely walk down Avenida Tulum, filled with an array of shops and restaurants.

Don’t miss out on Market 28 , a vibrant handicraft market, perfect for souvenir shopping!

During the evening, locals gather at the Palapas Park for food and music. The night market is one of the best places in Cancun to experience local life. There’s also a circular ride that toys with human emotions by hanging you upside down in the air for a good minute.

But don’t end the day just yet. The highlight of this day is the  Cirque du Soleil’s Joya show . Since it’s near Cancun, you can easily take a taxi over.

Witness the breathtaking acrobatics and spellbinding performances of this world-renowned circus. Snag a dinner & show combo ticket if you want to enjoy some fine dining before the show.

It bummed me out to miss the Cirque du Soleil’s Joya show during my first trip to Cancun. Which is why I made it a priority the second time around and even included it in this first-timer’s Cancun itinerary!

If you only have a 5 day trip to Cancun, get ready to wrap up your vacation with a bang by heading to Cozumel island for an unforgettable adventure!

Here’s a detailed guide if you help on how to get to Cozumel from your hotel.

Hop into the Atlantis submarine and embark on a breathtaking journey to the bottom of the ocean floor.

Fun fact: Less than 1% of the world’s population has ever experienced a submarine ride. Well, you’re about to become part of that exclusive group!

Be prepared to witness the most magnificent sights imaginable as you descend deeper into the unknown. From vibrant coral reefs to fascinating marine life, you will be able to see it all up close. There’s no better way to end your 5 days in Cancun than with this unforgettable submarine ride.

Looking to make your return trip a breeze? Cozumel’s got you covered with its very own international airport! Picture this: lounging on the stunning beaches of Cozumel, soaking up the sun before hopping on your flight. Sounds like the perfect way to this Cancun trip, right?

Otherwise, head back to Cancun. Since the submarine tours are early in the morning, you’ll have plenty of time to catch your afternoon flights.

Now if you got a week in Cancun, there’s still much to do!

Get ready to have a blast at the beach clubs on the west side of the island and enjoy some well-deserved down time! If you rent a car or moped, you can explore the whole of Cozumel!

Before you head back to Cancun, enjoy the evening in Playa del Carmen. Explore the shops and nightlife on Fifth Avenue.

Xcaret Park is another day trip from Cancun that you must put on your itinerary! This massive ecological park will take at least 2 whole days if you want to explore it completely. Regardless of who you’re traveling with, there’s something for everyone at Xcaret Park.

Begin your day by swimming through the refreshing underground rivers. Don’t worry if you can’t swim. There are life jackets and lifeguards, plus 5 exit points along the way. I can’t swim and still had a blast.

Enjoy the rest of the morning sunbathing on the beach (we’ll all know we’ll need to even out that tan from the past few days) or try out some exciting water sports.

When you feel your stomach growl, dry off and make your way to one of the many buffets available for a delightful lunch. Once you’re full, continue wandering through the Xcaret Park.

See the amazing marine life at the aquarium or dive deep into Mexico’s culture. Check out the history and traditions at the Folk Art Museum or the Mayan Village. Get up close and see wildlife, birds, and butterflies in their respective sanctuaries.

The day ends with an epic 2 hour cultural show!

With an all-inclusive ticket combo , you can make the most of your day. This incredible package provides round-trip transportation, lockers, buffet lunch–all in one!

We’re back in the Cancun hotel zone for the last day of our 7 day itinerary. End the amazing week by spending the day treating yourself to some retail therapy at the many shopping centers. This is the perfect time to buy some souvenirs for your friends and family (and for yourself!).

Make sure you don’t miss out on the chance to see Cancun from above! Experience the thrill of parasailing or enjoy a ride on a Ferris wheel for a bird’s-eye view of the city. These are short activities you can easily fit into your last day in Cancun before your flight.

Planning Your 5-7 Days Cancun Itinerary

Have I got you excited yet? Here are some resources to help you get started on planning the perfect Cancun trip for 5-7 days!

Want a complete guide? This post I’ve written about  things to do in Cancun will give you a full rundown of what to expect in Cancun, as well as more fun attractions in Cancun.

Save Money with Go City Cancun Pass

There’s a bunch of things to do in Cancun that I can’t even squeeze into this 5-7 day itinerary! If you’re all about joining excursions, getting a Go City Cancun Pass will totally help you save some cash! Plus, some activities on this Cancun itinerary are already included in the pass, so it’s definitely worth checking it out to see if it suits your trip.

You can choose a pass depending on how many days or activities you’re up for and get ready to have a blast!

What to Pack for Cancun

  • Enough summer clothes for 1 week in Cancun
  • Driver’s license (you’ll need it to rent the golf carts!)
  • Beach towel
  • Sunscreen (lots of them! The sun is strong!)
  • Comfortable walking shoes – like Tevas
  • Refillable water bottle with a purifier – Grayls (don’t drink the tap water in Mexico!)

Where to Stay in Cancun

There’re plenty of choices for where to stay in Cancun. You got the main areas – Hotel Zone or downtown Cancun.

For Cancun resorts and beach life, the Hotel Zone is where it’s at!

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the local culture, staying in downtown Cancun is the way to go. Here, you’ll find a vibrant atmosphere with local markets, authentic eateries, and lively entertainment. It’s also a lot more budget friendly.

If you have many nights in Cancun, you can also try splitting up your stays between the two neighborhoods to experience it all.

Downtown Cancun

  • The Quetzal
  • Moloch Hostel & Suites
  • Salvia Cancun Aparts – ocean view suites
  • Cancun Beachfront Condo

Flying into Cancun International Airport

One thing that makes a vacation in Cancun so popular is the fact that it has its own international airport! It’s super convenient to get to from many countries.

Once you’ve arrive in Cancun, go through customs and collect your luggages. Swing by the ATMs to take out some Mexican pesos for your trip before you leave the airport.

How do I get from Cancun Airport to Cancun?

The Cancun International Airport is located just south of Cancun. Getting to Cancun has never been easier for first-time visitors.

The airport offers various ground transportation services, including taxis, shuttles, and rental cars. If you’re traveling alone and will like to save some money, make a beeline to the ADO bus stop just outside the terminal building. The bus to downtown Cancun leaves frequently throughout the day.

Getting around Cancun

This itinerary for 5-7 days in Cancun is totally doable with public transit. Download the Moovit app to get directions and real-time bus arrivals. There’s even a feature where they’ll alert you when to get off the bus! It’s super convenient.

Traveling in a group? Consider taking taxis or renting a car .

While you don’t need a car for this 5-day itinerary, having a car definitely makes traveling around much easier. So if you’re planning to drive, bring your driver’s license (or an International driver’s license if yours is not in English).

Best Time to Visit Cancun

If you’re looking for the best time to visit Cancún, get ready for an amazing adventure! Cancún is a paradise any time of the year, but knowing the perfect season to go can make your experience even more extraordinary.

One week in Cancun is a popular winter getaway choice for many people in the northern hemisphere. Which means from December to April, Cancun experiences its peak season. This means vacationing with incredible weather, but at a hefty price tag!

If you’re on a  budget , the low season from May to November might be the ideal time for you. You’ll be able to get great deals on accommodations and tours.

Swimming with Whale Sharks

One of the best things about going to Cancun during the summer months is the whale season, from June to September. It’s an incredibly fun experience to see these magnificent creatures in their natural environment. If you’re traveling to Cancun during the summer, you must include this on your Cancun trip itinerary!

Here are a few tours that offer swimming with whale sharks!

Check availability with EcoColors Mexico

Check availability with Ocean Tours Mexico

Check availability with Isla Fun Tours

Must-Visit Archaeological Sites

Ready to embark on an adventure to uncover all the archaeological wonders? The Yucatan Peninsula, where Cancun is located, holds a treasure trove of remarkable Mayan ruins. Apart from the must-visit Chichen Itza mentioned in this Cancun itinerary, you’ve also got Tulum, Coba, Uxmal, and Ek Balam waiting for you. Perfect reason to plan another trip, isn’t it?

  • Travel guide & tip to Tulum Ruins
  • Travel guide & tips to Uxmal Ruins

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventure, Cancun never fails to deliver unforgettable memories. Use this 5-7 day itinerary to help you plan your ultimate itinerary for Cancun.

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Planning Away

Perfect 7 Day Cancun Itinerary (The Best Things to Do in Cancun)

If you're new here, I would love for you to subscribe Please join me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter . Thanks for visiting!

Are you planning a Cancun trip? Need a little help putting together a Cancun itinerary?

Whether you have one week in Cancun or just a weekend in Cancun, this Cancun Mexico itinerary is for you!

We recently went to Cancun and had a blast. There are so many fun things to do in Cancun! I'm excited to share with you a lot of options so you can plan the perfect Cancun travel itinerary! 

How many days in Cancun do you want to spend? This is the first question you will want to ask yourself! In this Cancun trip guide, I list the best resources, so you can plan a 3,4,5 or 7-day Cancun itinerary. 

Looking forward to Cancun water activities? Maybe more of a jungle adventure tour? Or maybe you just want to relax at a resort pool.  No matter what your preference is, this Cancun itinerary will be adaptable for you.

In this post, we will help you plan a trip to Cancun.  I have put together a 7-day Cancun itinerary.  It will include all the major things to do in Cancun for adults as well as Cancun family activities. We will also add a few day trips from Cancun.

Don't worry if you are not spending one week in Cancun you can form a 3, 4, or 5-day Cancun itinerary based on what interests you most in this 7-day Cancun itinerary.

Let's get started with a perfect Cancun itinerary for your Cancun trip. 

If you want to save this information for later be sure to Pin this to Pinterest.  

This post may contain affiliate links that will give me a commission at no additional charge to you. 

Where is Cancun Mexico + Map of Activities

Cancun Mexico is located on the Yucatan Peninsula right near the Caribbean Sea.  This map lists every Cancun activity in this post! You can see there are quite a few fun day trips from Cancun. 

Getting to Cancun

You will most likely arrive in Cancun at the Cancun International Airport.  If you have never been to Mexico it may be a bit overwhelming.  There are people everywhere trying to sell you timeshares.  (your best bet is to ignore them.)

Transportation to the Cancun Hotel Zone

There are a few options of transportation once you arrive in Cancun.  You can take a shuttle , rent a car , or opt for public transportation.  

We rented a car, our experience wasn't wonderful. However, it is nice to have the freedom to be able to drive where you want to go, when you want to go.  I highly recommend reading my “ Should I rent a car in Mexico ” post so you can make a good decision.  

Take a Shuttle

Many of the hotels in the Cancun Hotel Zone offer a shuttle service. These typically cost between $24 to over $100 round trip depending on which hotel you stay at.  

Private Transportation Services

There are many companies that offer private shuttle services .  If you are going to use a shuttle service I would book ahead of time.  

Cancun Hotel Zone

The best place to book your accommodations is in the Cancun Hotel Zone  There are so many amazing resorts located along this area.  The beach is kept in impeccable shape.  The water is amazingly blue.  It is a gorgeous area.  

There are also many restaurants, shopping areas, clubs, and entertainment options all located in this area.  You really do not have to leave this area to have fun. 

Honestly, it is a lot safer to stay in this area because the police patrol it and want to keep it safe for tourists.  This is great advice when planning a trip to Cancun.

Hotel Brand Recommendations

  • Marriott Hotels
  • Moon Palace

I am just giving you brand names because each brand has several hotels located in this area.  Some are family-friendly while others are adults-only hotels. There are also all-inclusive options for most hotels.   

Okay, now that the basics are out of the way let's start planning our 7-day Cancun itinerary! Remember if you are limited on time you can easily create a 4-day Cancun itinerary or any amount of time you have available. 

1. Day 1 Resort and Beach Day

Day 1 of your Cancun trip itinerary starts with checking in at your hotel.  Most resorts in Cancun offer amazing amenities.  Almost, every hotel has beachfront property as well.  Spend some time getting acquainted with the hotel.

Day 1 Cancun Itinerary Agenda

  • Relax at the hotel pool
  • Do one Cancun water activity (if you have time)

Relax at the Pool

One of the best things about Cancun is that it is a vacation where you can relax.  For day 1 of your Cancun itinerary, I suggest getting to know your hotel and what it has to offer. 

We stayed at the JW Marriott .   It was amazing and offered a lot of perks.  The pools were amazing! 

Depending on what time of day you arrive at you may have time to enjoy a short excursion. If you want to do something extreme you could do one of the following:

If those Cancun water activities are too extreme you could opt for parasailing or catamaran ride on the ocean as well.   

2. Day 2 - Cancun Itinerary - Ancient Ruins Chichen Itza

An adventure to Chichen Itza is a great day trip from Cancun and is on the schedule for day 2. It is a great option for your itinerary for Cancun Mexico 

Day 2 Cancun Itinerary Agenda

  • Chichen Itza

Ready to get up early?  Today is the day to visit the ancient Mayan ruins of Chicken Itza. There are two options: booking a tour with transportation or if you rent a car, driving to Chichen Itza.

Getting There

Chichen Itza is a day trip from Cancun.  It takes 2 and a half hours to get there.  You will want to spend 3-4 hours exploring the site. This will still give you time to explore more around this area and get back to Cancun.  

Adults $571 MXN (around US $28 based on current exchange rates)

Child $85 MXN (around US $4.24 based on current exchange rates)

Chichen Itza Hours

9:30 am – 5:00 pm  

Word of Advice

When you arrive there are a lot of people begging to give tours (I didn't know which people were official workers) ….this made me highly uncomfortable.  If I could go back in time I would have booked my tour ahead of time.  

What Else Should I Explore in this Area? 

  • Valladolid 
  • Cenote Maya

There are many cenotes in this area.  Many of the tours to Chichen Itza will include a cenote stop.  Some will also include a stop in the colonial city of Valladolid.  This is a great place to grab dinner. 

3. Day 3 - Cancun Itinerary - Xcaret

Day 3 of your Cancun itinerary is an amusement park day. You could create an itinerary for Cancun and only do Xcaret parks every day of your stay.  There are so many! 

Day 3 Cancun Itinerary Agenda

Xcaret is a fun place to visit! It is the premier entertainment park in Mexico.  There are actually a lot of Xcaret locations and activities. You can choose a combination ticket or just one park.  

  • Xcaret Park – (Underwater Caves and a Cultural Show)

We went to Xcaret Park on our last visit to Cancun and it was really fun.  I loved the cultural experience.  I highly recommend going to at least one of the Xcaret parks.  

Each park has a different admission price.  The cheapest park is Xsenses and the most expensive park is Xplor

I think you need more than 3 days in Cancun, but if you only have enough time to plan a 3-day Cancun itinerary these are great options. 

4. Day 4 Cancun Itinerary - Isla Mujeres

Day 4 is all about enjoying the Cancun water activities, relaxing, and exploring the ocean. If you have one week in Cancun, I would add a day exploring Isla Mujeres. 

Day 4 Cancun Itinerary Agenda

After two really busy days exploring, let's relax and take a laid-back trip to the Isla Mujeres.  You can take a ferry there or book a catamaran tour .   Once you are there you can:

  • Visit Graffon Natural Reef Park

You probably want to dedicate an entire day to the Isla Mujeres.   

If you wish to plan a 4-day Cancun itinerary this is a good stopping point. Isla Mujeres is relaxing and a great way to end your trip. 

If you have more time to play, let's keep planning a trip to Cancun and complete this itinerary for Cancun. 

5. Day 5 Cancun Itinerary 5 Days - Resort and Beach Day

In a 7-day Cancun itinerary, I think there needs to be a day of rest and recovery. Day 5 is all about rejuvenation.

Day 5 Cancun Itinerary Agenda

  • Morning Yoga
  • Spa Treatment

Rest Rest Rest!!!  This Cancun itinerary has been packed with fun so far.  Take a day to relax and recover.  Enjoy the hotel pool and relax on the beach. 

Tired of Relaxing?

If you are antsy you can book a tour to see the underwater museum.  (But don't worry if you just want to relax, just relax) 

  • Underwater museum (3 hours)

If you only have 5 days in Cancun, your Cancun itinerary will be complete.  If you are planning the entire one week in Cancun experience let's keep going and plan out your 7-day Cancun itinerary.

If you are planning 5 days in Cancun, you may want to spend your last day exploring some of the options we have listed or Day 6. 

6. Day 6 Cancun Mexico Itinerary - Day Trip From Cancun

Day 6 is another exploring day.  Get out and see the Yucatan! 

Day 6 Cancun Itinerary Agenda

  • Pick a Day Trip

There are so many great day trips from Cancun.  Depending on if you want to explore more Mayan ruins, or see more cenotes, or beaches you can pick any of the following options for a day trip from Cancun. 

  • Cozumel  ( Chankanaab National Park )
  • Punta Laguna
  • Playa del Carmen
  • Las Colaradas 

As you can see there are so many options for day tours.  You can easily plan a 7-day Cancun itinerary and use any of these suggestions. 

Day 7 Cancun Itinerary - Cancun

The final day of the 7-day Cancun itinerary is about getting ready to go home! 

Day 7 Cancun Itinerary Agenda

Last day in paradise. If this is the day you are headed back to the airport I would suggest not going on a tour and just relaxing by the pool or beach.  You could also check out a spa, do some yoga, or eat some really nice meals.   

Pack Up and Go Home

If you rented a car you can drive yourself to the airport.  If you need a shuttle make sure to make pre-arrangements.  One thing to mention, sometimes traffic back to the airport can be really bad! Give yourself time to get to the airport! 

Ready to Plan a 7-Day Cancun Itinerary?

Hopefully, this helps you plan your Cancun itinerary. Cancun is a place you can visit over and over again and still experience something new every time you come.   Pack your bags for Cancun and get ready for some fun! 

There are so many things to do in Cancun for Adults as well as Cancun family activities.  It really is a great vacation spot for everyone.  No matter if you are only staying a weekend in Cancun or have the time to plan a complete 7-day Cancun itinerary, I know you will have fun! 

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Do you have any more questions about Cancun or need more  Cancun Travel Tips ?

Join my   Travel Community on Facebook .  This is a great group that can help answer any travel question you might have.  I also try to add any deals that companies send me as well.

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32 Comments

I don’t even remember what it was like flying into Cancun but you are so right about the Timeshare ppl! 😅 There is sooooo much to do in Cancun and its surrounding areas. This is a great itinerary. Highly recommend cenote experiences too, they’re so fun!

Yes, so many great options!

I LOVE MEXICO! We have always had a fabulous experience! These are great recommendations!

Thanks! Cancun is so beautiful!

Ugh, these Cancun beaches are calling my name!

me too girl!

Such great tips on what to do and how to plan a trip to Cancun! My daughter and I will be in that area next month and are looking forward to doing some of these activities.

Oh good! so much fun to be had!

I want to travel to Mexico. I am bookmarking this post. It has a wealth of information I can use. I love that there is so much to do if you want or not. I do love some relaxing time while on vacation. My husband prefers to go, go, go. So this is the perfect place for us.

Yes, it is a good place to balance activities and beach!

Cancun is on my bucket list! I pinned this for later when I actually can travel there! I’ve always wanted to go! This is going to be so helpful!!! Thank you

Oh good! I hope you get to go!

This is simply beautiful! Pinning to my bucketlist!

It is a bucketlist location for sure!

Would love to go back! We missed a bunch of these activities!

I would love to explore more of the area!

This 7 day Cancun itinerary would be quite an amazing trip!! So many beautiful excursions and beaches.

There really is so much to see!

Mexico is my happy place! This is a perfect 7-day itinerary for Cancun.

Yes, such a great place!

Great tips! Cancun looks like a lot of fun. I will take any beach right now! LOL

Me too! It won’t stop snowing here!

I love the Yucatan! I’ve been wanting to head a bit north of Cancun for a while now.

Such a beautiful area! So much to explore!

This looks absolutely amazing! I love that area and can’t wait to get back there some day!

It is a great area!

I’d love to visit Cancun! This is the perfect 7 day itinerary.

It is such a great vacation!

I love that you included two rest days in the itinerary. Those are so important.

I think that is what Cancun is all about enjoying the resorts and relaxing….there are plenty of activities to do but relaxing is important too for sure!

Fantastic itinerary for Cancun.. I love it there! It’s definitely a must-see location!

It is a great getaway vacation!

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Every Steph

The Ideal Cancun Itinerary for 3 / 4 / 5 / 7 Days [2023]

By: Author Stefania Guglielmi

Posted on Last updated: March 24, 2023

Categories Mexico , North America

Are you planning your Cancun itinerary? You’re in luck, because you’ve just found the ultimate itinerary guide to the destination, whether you’re staying there for 3, 4, 5, or 7 days. Check it out!

Cancun is a vibrant, bustling city that combines city life with the most dreamy beaches and paradisiac resorts. With so many attractions to offer, and aiming to cater to all sorts of travelers, Cancun is definitely Riviera Maya’s hot spot , and probably already in your Yucatan road trip plan.

And while a couple of days might be enough to check out the main landmarks in town, you might want to spend a whole week chilling at the beach, swimming in the cenotes, and even visiting nearby towns.

cancun tour itinerary

Over the last few years, I’ve spent a good amount of times in Cancun. Every time I visit Tulum or Yucatan, I always fly in or out of the country from Cancun Airport, so it only makes sense to spend a few days here and chill in some of the best beaches in Mexico.

Whether you plan to stay for a long weekend, 4, 5, or 7 days, this Cancun itinerary will help you plan your travel schedule , find astounding locations to stop by, and the best nightlife in town. 

Table of Contents

HOW TO GET TO CANCUN FROM CANCUN AIRPORT

There are various ways you can make the journey from Cancun International Airport to Cancun. The best transfer option will actually depend on your budget and priorities , so I’ve listed below all the possible alternatives. You can choose the one that suits your travel necessities best!

▶️ The most convenient option is pre-booking a private transfer . Your English-speaking driver will be waiting for you at the airport’s arrival area and help you settle in a comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle that’s solely for you and your party. You’ll then be driven to your hotel in either Downtown Cancun or the Hotel Zone.

We personally used this company multiple times and always had a great experience – 5-star service!

cancun tour itinerary

The private transfer to Cancun for up to 3 people costs $39 one-way, and $65 if you book round trip. If you already know you’ll be heading back to the airport after your vacation, you’re better off booking round-trip to save some money. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

▶️ If you’re traveling on a budget, the shared shuttle is a fantastic alternative . It takes slightly longer than the private transfer as it will be dropping off other passengers along the way, but you’ll also be taken to your hotel’s front door at a more affordable price. 

This shuttle only takes 2 + passengers, so it’s not a good option for solo travelers, but it’s still our first choice as we know the company and have used the service ourselves. 

cancun tour itinerary

The one-way trip to Cancun costs $15 per person, for a minimum of 2 passengers. You can’t book roundtrip directly, but if you want to buy your return trip already you can buy a one-way transfer from your hotel to the airport. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

▶️ Are you a solo traveler? Then your best option is this Cancun Airport Shuttle , which accommodates solo passengers and also drops you off at your hotel. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

▶️ If you plan on going on day trips from Cancun and driving around the Yucatan peninsula, you might as well rent your car at the airport and drive to Cancun. Both Downtown Cancun and Hotel Zone are 14 miles north of the airport, and the drive takes a little less than 30 minutes. 

Renting a car in Mexico, though, is a little tricky, especially because of the scams you’re likely to encounter. Most car rentals will try to charge you extra money, in most cases for damages or scratches that may have already been in the vehicle when you rented it.

That’s why is very important to take pictures of the car as soon as you get it , in case it’s already slightly damaged and you need proof that it isn’t on you. 

SAVE MONEY WITH THE GO CITY CANCUN PASS

To save money when exploring Cancun, I recommend getting the Go City Cancun Pass . You can choose between the Explorer and the All Inclusive Pass depending on your interests. 

The Explorer Pass lasts 60 days and allows you to visit the number of attractions you desire (either 3, 4, 5, 7, or 10). The All-Inclusive Pass , on the other hand, enables you to visit as many attractions as you can manage in a certain amount of days, from 1 to 5 days or 7 days. 

Depending on how many attractions you want to check out, the pass will help you save a lot of money as each individual entry ticket is more expensive when purchased separately than it is with the pass. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

THE IDEAL CANCUN ITINERARY

After traveling to Cancun multiple times, I created this itinerary in a way that makes sense no matter if you’re visiting Cancun for 3, 4, 5, or 7 days .

If you’re in Cancun for 7 days, simply follow the complete itinerary – of course, feel free to skip any attractions you’re not interested in, or switch the attractions based on your interests and schedule.

For example, you might visit Cancun for 5 days but you prefer to visit Xcaret (that is not in the 5 days itinerary) rather than the cenotes in Cancun. Remember that this is just a sample itinerary!

Also, some people might think this is too packed and want to spend more days lounging at the beach or by the pool. This is perfectly fine! In fact, you’d probably have a great time by just spending most of your time at your resort . It all comes down to personal interests – some people like to be on the go all the time, while others just want to chill.

So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Traveling to Mexico is quite safe, but you should always get travel insurance for your trips… just in case! As we all know after the last couple of years, unexpected things can happen and you want to be covered when you need it the most. I’ve personally had to use my insurance multiple times while traveling! I recommend SafetyWing , which covers you in 185 countries and is affordable. Prices start at 8 USD for one week.

3 Days in Cancun Itinerary

If you’re embarking on a 3 day trip to Cancun, make the most of it by following this short itinerary.

Day 1: Relax at Your Hotel

The first day you arrive in Cancun, you’ll probably want to chill at your hotel . Especially if you’re staying in a resort with many amenities!

cancun tour itinerary

Most hotels in Cancun feature a swimming pool with a bar , a spa that offers massage and beauty treatments, attractions for young guests, and a gym. Some even boast children’s clubs and live entertainment, so relaxing and enjoying the hotel’s facilities is also part of the experience.

Make sure to chill and save your energy for your second-day adventures, as you’ll be going on a day trip!

Day 2: Head to Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is a paradisiac island off the coast of Cancun with dreamy beaches, a fun downtown, and Mayan ruins.

cancun tour itinerary

The island boasts several miles of perfect white sand and crystal clear water that will surely keep you glued to the beach. Make sure to explore the other parts of the island as well, though!

There’s fantastic street art and plenty of craft shops in Isla Mujeres, as well as a pirate’s hacienda, a Natural Reef Park, and an underwater museum where you can snorkel or dive in.

You also can’t skip Ixchel, a Mayan temple built to honor the goddess of fertility . Isla Mujeres actually means Women Island , and the name is believed to have been inspired by the goddess Ixchel. Visiting the islands is one of the best things to do in Cancun.

➤ This Isla Mujeres Catamaran Tour is a full-day sailing excursion that takes you to visit the island. Besides some free time to explore it, you’ll also enjoy snorkeling around the island, an open bar aboard the catamaran, and transfers from your hotel. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ You can take your boat trip to the next level by booking a Luxury Catamaran Tour . You’ll stop at fantastic snorkeling spots, visit the island, and enjoy lunch and an open bar onboard. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

👉 If you want to visit on your own, you can check my post about getting from Cancun to Isla Mujeres .

At night, back in Cancun, go partying at Coco Bongo , a Cancun classic. Coco Bongo is the most popular nightclub in the city, but it’s not just a regular club.

cancun tour itinerary

There is a spectacular show every night that features flying acrobats, dancers, and very talented artists , besides bars and great music to dance to. It’s said to be a Vegas show and the Cinco de Mayo festivities, all rolled into one.

The venue accommodates 1,800 people, but tickets sell out fast, so I’d recommend buying yours in advance. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

If that doesn’t sound like your kind of night, but you’d still like to go clubbing, some great alternatives are Mandala Cancun , The City Cancun , and Palazzo Cancun .

On the other hand, you might be hoping for a more relaxing evening in Cancun. Dinner and drinks are a great way to end a jam-packed day, and you’ll find countless options in Cancun Hotel Zone.

My personal recommendations include Taco & Tequila , where you’ll find the most traditional food + drink combination in Mexico, Casa Rolandi and Nicoletta for Italian cuisine, La Habichuela for Mexican fare, and Harry’s Prime Steakhouse for meat lovers.

For a fancy post-dinner drink head to Doble B Bar Cancun , a modern bar with an atmosphere that emulates 1920’s New York City vibes.

Day 3: Beach Day in Cancun

On the last day of your 3 day Cancun itinerary you’ll get to relax at the beach . Cancun is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the area, and there are many gorgeous strips of sand and turquoise waters to choose from.

While the list of best beaches in Cancun is long, number one is undoubtedly Playa Delfines . This spectacular beach features shallow turquoise waters, which makes it ideal for families with small children. It also boasts the customary powdery white sand and offers free palapas to its visitors.

Playa Delfines is far from the resorts that act as a backdrop to most Cancun beaches , another reason why it’s considered the most beautiful.

Other amazing beaches include Playa Forum on the northern end of Cancun Hotel Zone, Playa Pez Volador , which is surrounded by lush vegetation, Playa Tortugas (Turtle Beach), and Playa Chac Mool .

At most Cancun beaches you can also practice watersports, rent sunbeds to sunbathe or nap by the sea, get drinks and food from the beach bars, and snorkel.

After a day under the sun, get ready to enjoy dinner and a magnificent show to end your 3 days in Cancun on a great note: Joya . Joya is a Cirque du Soleil experience that offers fine dining in a stunning setting in the jungle, while you marvel at the hypnotic show.

Joya presents a beautiful story that showcases the heritage and history of Mexico, featuring incredibly talented artists and amazing visuals. ➥ BUY YOUR TICKETS HERE

4 Days in Cancun Itinerary

👉 Follow the activities above for your first 3 days, and visit Chichen Itza on the last day of your 4 day Cancun itinerary.

Day 4: Visit Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza is Mexico’s most visited attraction . The archaeological site of Chichen Itza is around 1,500 years old, and of incredible importance to the Mayan civilization, considered one of the biggest and main cities in pre-Hispanic America .

cancun tour itinerary

These Mayan ruins feature many structures, among which the Kukulcan Pyramid stands out, and provide great insight into the Mayans’ beliefs and knowledge.

I highly recommend visiting the ruins as part of your Cancun 4 day itinerary, because it’s one of the most meaningful historical sites on the continent.

👉Before you visit, make sure you read my post about the most incredible fun facts about Chichen Itza , so you get to understand the site more deeply – and have fun in it!

Chichen Itza is about 124 miles from Cancun, and the drive there takes 2.5 hours. Since you’re only going on a day trip, I suggest booking a tour so you have both transfers covered, plus a guided tour of the ruins and food. Below are the best options.

➤ The Chichen Itza, Cenote, and Valladolid Tour is an all-inclusive, full-day tour that includes a visit to Chichen Itza with a knowledgeable guide, a swim in a nearby cenote, and some time in the charming town of Valladolid. You’ll also enjoy a buffet meal, and benefit from hotel pick-up and drop-off. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ Chichen Itza, Ek Balam, and Cenote Tour takes you around the world-famous Mayan ruins with an expert archeological guide, so you get to discover all that’s known about the site. You’ll also swim in a cenote, and visit the ruins of Ek Balam, another fantastic Mayan city. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ This Chichen Itza Private Tour includes skip-the-line tickets, as well as a guided visit of the ruins with your private guide, and some time to swim and cool off at a sacred cenote. You’ll also visit the town of Valladolid, and enjoy the snacks and beverages provided. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

👉 If you want to plan the trip on your own, I have a guide about visiting Chichen Itza from Cancun that you should check out!

That’s a wrap for this Cancun Itinerary (4 days), which should enable you to discover some of the main attractions in the city and explore the region around it.

5 Days in Cancun

👉 Follow the itinerary above for your first 4 days, and prepare for a fifth day full of adrenaline to end your 5 day trip to Cancun.

Day 5: Cenotes in Cancun and Jungle Adventure

Cenotes are one of the most beautiful features of the Yucatan Peninsula . They are natural sinkholes formed thousands of years ago that are fed by underground rivers, offering cool, fresh water in which to swim and snorkel.

There are many cenotes near Cancun , and you should definitely visit a few of them if you’re staying in Cancun for 5 days. I’ve written a whole post about the best Cancun cenote tours , so if you have time, check it out!

cancun tour itinerary

But how about you combine a visit to the cenotes with some jungle adventure? The amount of eco and adventure parks in Cancun make it a great destination to enjoy a thrilling day, and most experiences combine the excitement with some downtime cooling off at the cenotes .

Below are the best tours that offer you both. Check them out!

➤ Tour Cenotes By Xcaret is a full-day trip that takes you into the jungle. There you’ll kayak in underground rivers, swim in the cenotes, and snorkel. You’ll also rappel down a rock wall into a cenote, and discover the mythical tales that surround the cenotes, their formation, and their importance to the Mayan. A picnic lunch and all transfers are included. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ This ATV, Ziplines, and Cenote Tour takes place in Extreme Adventure Eco Park, where you’ll get to drive an ATV on mud roads, soar above the jungle on the zipline course, and then cool off in a wonderful cenote. The tour includes refreshments and hotel roundtrip transportation, and it’s family-friendly. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ The Selvatica Ziplines and Cenote Tour is a great half-day activity that takes you to Selvatica Adventure Park. You’ll enjoy the 10 different ziplines, including a zipline coaster and Aquazip, and finish your trip cooling off in a beautiful cenote. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

It’s the last night of your Cancun itinerary (5 days), and I suggest that you spend it in Playa del Carmen. Playa is renowned for its nightlife, and it will provide a nice change from Cancun’s night scene. While there’s also another Coco Bongo in the city , whose party atmosphere is said to put Vegas to shame, you can have a great time just strolling along 5th Avenue.

cancun tour itinerary

This main street in Playa del Carmen features a great number of bars, restaurants, and shops, and at night it becomes even livelier . You’ll see street performers, street food stalls with all sorts of dishes, and a lot of movement, music, and smells. 

You can also go to one of the beach or rooftop bars for a few drinks, and have dinner at Zitla , Porfirio’s , or Harry’s . If you’re up to partying, Coco Bongo and Mandala are your best options. 

This 5 days in Cancun itinerary combines nature, adrenaline, relaxation, and vibrant nightlife, so you truly enjoy the most of what the city has to offer. If you’re lucky enough to spend a whole week in Cancun, continue reading!

7 Days in Cancun

👉 Follow the guide above for your first 5 days, and read on to discover what you’ll be doing on your last days in town if you’re planning a Cancun 1 week itinerary.

Day 6: Day Trip to Tulum

On day 6 of your Cancun itinerary for 7 days, I recommend going on a day trip to Tulum . Tulum is a charming, boho-chic town south of Cancun with stunning beaches, one of the most spectacular Mayan ruins you’ll see, and a great vibe. 

cancun tour itinerary

Among the attractions you can’t miss are the Tulum Ruins , perched on a clifftop with stunning views over the sea, the gorgeous Tulum beach , a visit to the cenotes that surround Tulum , which are some of the best in the peninsula, and chilling at one of the beach clubs . 

There are a few ways you can organize your Cancun to Tulum day trip , either taking public transportation, driving, or going on a tour. The last option is fantastic if you don’t have a car and want to skip the planning for both the transfers and the activities. 

➤ This Exclusive Combo Tour lasts a full day and takes you on a guided visit of the Tulum Ruins, as well as snorkeling on the reef and some time to cool off in a cenote. All entrance fees and a buffet lunch are included. ➥ BOOK IT HERE  

➤ The Tulum and Cenotes Tour is a full-day trip in which you’ll enjoy a tour around the Tulum Ruins with a knowledgeable guide, and then visit two beautiful cenotes to cool off and swim. All transfers are covered, as well as the ruins’ entrance fee. ➥ BOOK IT HERE  

➤ This 4×1 Tour to Tulum covers a great number of sites in a single day. You’ll visit both Tulum and Coba Ruins with a guide, as well as relax in a spectacular cenote and wander around Playa del Carmen. A buffet lunch and all entrance fees are included. ➥ BOOK IT HERE  

Day 7: Xcaret or Xplor or Rio Secreto

This Cancun Itinerary (7 days) finishes with a visit to one of the spectacular adventure parks in the area.

▶️ Xcaret is a beautiful eco theme park that boasts dozens of thrilling activities , taking advantage of its natural wonders. Situated in the jungle, it offers hikes, shows, cenotes to swim in, underground rivers, and even Mayan ruins. 

cancun tour itinerary

At nighttime, it showcases its best trait: the Xcaret Show Espectacular, an astounding performance that tells the history of Mexico with music, lights, and actors. 

➤ This Xcaret Day Trip offers priority access when you get to the park, as well as all the activities, equipment, and the use of hammocks to rest. You’ll get to enjoy the fantastic night show, and if you upgrade your ticket there’s also a buffet lunch with fruit. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

cancun tour itinerary

▶️ A fun alternative is Xplor, another adventure park situated near Xcaret . It also offers adventure activities that go from ATVing to ziplining , swimming in underground rivers filled with stalactites, and relaxing in a cenote. 

➤ This Xplor Adventure Park Tour includes hotel pick-up and drop-off, as well as priority access to Xplor to enjoy all the activities on offer. The ticket includes a buffet lunch, beverages, lockers, and equipment. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

▶️ You can otherwise take a trip to Rio Secreto , another gem in the Riviera Maya. Rio Secreto, which translates to Secret River, is an underground river that boasts so many stalagmites and stalactites that has been given the nickname crystal museum .

When visiting, you’ll get to swim in the river marveling at your surroundings and meeting the small animals that inhabit it.  

➤ The Tickets to Rio Secreto grant you access to the site, where you’ll explore a network of underground rivers with labyrinths and stalactites, before indulging in lunch. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

You got to the end of the perfect Cancun 7 day itinerary, with which you’ll be able to plan a fantastic time in the city and its surroundings .

Feel free to adapt the itineraries to your own fancy and interests, and make sure to enjoy yourself. Cancun is a gorgeous destination, and I’m sure you’ll have a great time, regardless of how many days you spend there!

WHERE TO STAY IN CANCUN

All-Inclusive Resort : Wyndham Alltra Cancun – This All-Inclusive Resort is situated right on the beach, and features a fitness center, a massive swimming pool, a restaurant & bar, and a spa. There are also family rooms, a games room, children’s playground, and breakfast in the room is available.

Luxury Hotel : Hyatt Zilara Cancun – This 5-star hotel boasts astounding views of the sea, besides providing great amenities to guests. From spectacular architecture to personal trainers at the gym, a pool, private beach, a tennis court, and plenty of activities, there is enough to keep you entertained the whole of your stay. 

Boutique Hotel : Casa Tortugas Boutique Suite – There is a swimming pool overlooking the sea, suites with seating area, kitchen, and fully equipped bathrooms, and a sun terrace with loungers at Casa Tortugas. The hotel is very close to restaurants, bars, and the beach. 

On a Budget : Bed and Breakfast Pecari – This B&B offers cozy and very comfortable rooms with A/C and a private bathroom. Some rooms feature a balcony, and all guests have free parking, breakfast, and access to the outdoor pool. 

Hostel : Mayan Monkey Cancun – This fabulous hostel offers both dorms and private rooms, as well as an outdoor pool, a shared kitchen, a bar, and a restaurant. There are also sun loungers and bike rentals, besides events that make it very easy to meet other travelers. 

CANCUN ITINERARY FAQ

How many days in Cancun you should plan will depend on your interests, but I’d say 3 to 5 days is the perfect amount of time. However, I’d recommend planning a trip to Cancun for a full week if you also want to go on day trips.

Yes, 7 days is definitely enough time to explore Cancun and also go on day trips to some other cities in the Riviera Maya. This itinerary for Cancun should help you plan your perfect 7 days in the city!

The cost of your trip will depend entirely on the type of trip you embark on, and how long you stay there. If you’re traveling on a budget, one week in Cancun can cost you around $600 including lodging, food, and some tours/activities. If you decide to go on luxury, the trip for two can cost well over $2500.

If you’re looking to spend a long weekend in Cancun, you’ll be able to discover some of the city’s gems, enjoy the nightlife, and relax by the beach. I’ve written this Cancun 3 day itinerary which will help you plan a fantastic trip there!

A perfect Cancun trip for 5 days includes chilling at the stunning beaches, visiting Chichen Itza, exploring Isla Mujeres, and swimming in the cenotes.

Stefania Guglielmi

Stefania Guglielmi is the founder of Every Steph. Originally from Bologna, Italy, she's been traveling full-time since 2016 and has visited over 50 countries across 6 continents. She believes sustainable travel and luxury travel can go hand in hand and has been advocating for responsible tourism since 2014. Stefania's advice and travel experiences have been featured in important publications such as Business Insider, Refinery29, and Yahoo Money.

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The Ultimate 5-Day Cancun Itinerary

5 day cancun itinerary

From exploring ancient ruins and shopping for souvenirs, to snorkelling and island hopping, this 5-day Cancun itinerary has it all!

Are you planning a trip to Cancun and wondering where to go and how to make the most of your time? Well, you’ve come to the right hacienda! Cancun is one of my favourite holiday destinations. This coastal city, located on the tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, is known for its amazing beaches, unique Mayan heritage and natural landscapes.

Beach walks in Cancun, Mexico

If you’re spending 5 days in Cancun, you’ll find there’s a lot to fit into your itinerary. You’ll want time to explore the picturesque beaches, plan a few day trips, shop for souvenirs and eat your way around the city. There are some amazing Mayan ruins close by, beautiful turquoise cenotes and even an underwater sculpture park.

Ready for a holiday in paradise? My 5-day Cancun itinerary will help you create a trip to remember.

A Bit About Cancun

Cancun is a busy city of around 750,000 people. However, from a visitor’s point of view, it doesn’t feel like such a big place. The streets are wide and leafy and the traffic isn’t too bad.

The city is divided into two main areas. La Colonia is the sprawling downtown part of Cancun. Here you’ll find some great shopping (more about that later), all sorts of restaurants and some amazing street food. If you are looking for a cheap night out, you’ll find the restaurants and bars of La Colonia much more reasonable than by the beach.

That being said, however, the area known as the Hotel Zone — aka The Beach Side —  is where Cancun really shines. This is where you’ll find all of the top-end hotels, shimmering pools, glitzy night spots and plenty of action. If you’ve seen some of those slick travel adverts for Cancun with lots of speed-ramped footage and techno soundtracks, they’ll be showcasing this part of Cancun. 

Cancun Hotel Zone

The Mayan civilisation was present in the Cancun region for over 5,000 years and ruins from this fascinating culture dot the landscape from Cancun to Tulum. Plenty of tour companies offer day trips to see these ruins. More about those coming up too!

Cancun is the sort of holiday destination that you can return to again and again. For a few quick tips for your trip, don’t miss my guide to 9 awesome things to do on your Cancun holiday .

Cancun itinerary

Day One In Cancun

Welcome to Cancun! With amazing beaches, a hectic nightlife, superb food, lots of interesting places to explore and plenty of room for activities, your time here is going to be epic. Arriving in Cancun is straightforward as Cancun International Airport is close to the area of town known as the Hotel Zone.

Hit the beaches

Once you’ve settled into your hotel and got to know the lay of the land, it’s time to hit the playa (beach). And there are plenty of playas to choose from! Here are a few I’d recommend.

  • Playa Chac Mool. Although this secluded beach sits right beside the popular party beach known as Playa Forum it is quiet and peaceful. If you are looking for a place to chill out, read a book or snuggle up with someone, head here. It’s got all the paradise vibes, with white sand and turquoise ocean views.
  • Playa Delfines. The turquoise waters of this popular beach (Cancun’s largest) are the playground of dolphins. As you laze on the gleaming powdery white sand, recharging after your flight, keep an eye out for these playful locals. There are plenty of umbrellas for hire if you need a bit of shade (don’t get burnt on your first day), free palapas, and loads of beach vendors selling cold drinks and snacks.  

5 days in Cancun

  • Playa Caracol. This lovely beach of powdery white sand is right in the heart of Cancun’s Hotel Zone, right beside the dock for ferries to Isla Mujeres. The beach is small by Cancun standards but it is popular with the locals and the crystal clear water is absolutely gorgeous.
  • Playa Langosta. This is a fun family beach in the Hotel Zone. There’s a pier jutting out into the ocean and lots of shady palm trees to relax under. Locals love Playa Langosta and the calm, shallow water is ideal for basking.
  • Playa Marlín. Stretched out along the front of some of the Hotel Zone’s finest complexes, this long stretch of sugary sand, washed by deep turquoise waves, is the picture-perfect Cancun beach. Be aware that the waves here pack quite a punch and there’s sometimes an undertow so stay within the lifeguard’s flags.

Watch the lights go down

After a few hours on the beach, you’ll be ready for some pre-dinner drinks. Cancun has a welter of amazing bars but, to me, one of the best is The Surfin’ Burrito . Grab a beer and sit watching the sun go down as you plan your next day in the city!

With a few bevvies under your belt, it’s time to head out for dinner. Once again, Cancun has got you covered. The hotel zone has plenty of places where you can sample delicious Mexican cuisine such as tacos, enchiladas and carne asada. Yum! 

the surfin burrito

A couple of my favourite places are Fred’s and Taboo . Both are seafood restaurants, but they sit at opposite ends of the dining spectrum. Taboo is a stylish, fine-dining restaurant, perfect for an intimate dinner with your lover. Fred’s is a more laid-back, informal sort of place. Take your pick!

Now… the wise choice would be to get a good night’s sleep because you have an action-packed day ahead of you tomorrow. But on the other hand, you’re on holiday, so if you feel like hitting a few bars, go for it!

Day Two In Cancun

Today is going to be a day of full-on adventures… with some great food and some nightlife thrown in. But first, time for breakfast. Whenever I’m in Cancun, my go-to breakfast joint is 100% Natural on the leafy Avenue Sunyaxchen. Serving colourful bowls, sumptuous farm-fresh produce, Mexican dishes and great coffee, you can set yourself up for the day with one stop. 

With breakfast sorted, it’s time to be picked up for your day of adventures. Bring sunblock, a hat, your swimmers, and a sense of adventure. The first stop will be the ancient Mayan ruins at Cichén Itzá 

Chichén  Itzá

This ruined Mayan city and temple complex was inhabited by the Mayan civilisation from 600 AD until 1,200 AD. Its central feature is the massive step pyramid known as El Castillo, aka the Temple of Kukulcan. 

Chichen Itza, Mexico

Graphic sculptures are carved into the stone at the Temple of the Warriors and the Wall of the Skulls. It sounds like something out of an Indiana Jones story! It’s an amazing sight to behold and a must for any Cancun itinerary.

Swim in a cenote

From the sophisticated geometry of Chichén itzá, you will now head into the jungle and down into the shimmering depths of one of the 6,000 cenotes that dot the Riviera Mara area. Cenotes are natural sinkholes filled with emerald-blue water and draped with rainforest greenery. The Mayans believed that they were gateways into the underworld, and they’re still considered to be sacred places. 

Cenotes Ik Kil in Mexico

One of the most popular cenotes is Ik Kil but it can get crowded with swimmers so if you can, try to visit Cenote XKeken and Cenote Samula.

Although they are side by side, the two cenotes are very different. Cenote Xkeken is like a mystical cave, with eerie-coloured stalactites hovering over a pool of turquoise water. Cenote Samula is an enclosed pool with a single opening overhead. This is an awesome place to go swimming – one of my favourite experiences in Mexico yet!

Cenote Samula, Mexico

Wander around Valladolid

This charming colonial town is an undiscovered Mexican gem. With backstreets lined with colourful houses and all sorts of colonial buildings, a visit to Valladolid is a great addition to your itinerary for Cancun. These are just a few of the things you’ll find in this super cool town.

Valladolid Mexico

  • Mercado Municipal. The colourful stalls at this large covered market in the centre of town are a great place to wander around and soak up the colour and aromas of fresh Mexican fruits and vegetables. 
  • Meander down Calzada de los Frailes. This quiet, pedestrian thoroughfare has been described as “the prettiest street in Mexico.” Your Instagram is going to love the colours and shapes of this street!
  • Casa de los Venados. Marvel at the Mayan art treasures in this private house. Inside this renovated hacienda you’ll find one of the largest collections of pre-Hispanic artwork in Mexico. It’s located just off the main square in the centre of town.
  • Nightly Jarana dance performances. If you happen to be in Valladolid’s main square, the Parque Francisco Canton, at around 5:30pm you’ll encounter traditional Mayan dancers performing Jarana, a traditional dance unique to the Yucatan.  

By the way, if you are looking for an all-inclusive day trip to Riviera Maya and Chichen Itza, with a swim in a sacred cenote as well, check out this excellent tour by GetYourGuide .

Day Three In Cancun

Today’s adventures are going to be built around sightseeing, underwater fun and chilled out island life!

You could take an organised tour like this one to the island or hire a car and make up your own itinerary for the day. Either way, it’s going to be fun!

Visit Isla Mujeres

This beautiful island lies a few kilometres off the coast  It has a cool, hippy vibe and feels really quiet after the bustle of Cancun. Golf carts and bikes are the only transport allowed on the island.

Boats in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

A great way to visit the island is aboard a catamaran. Lots of tour operators offer reasonable cruise packages, which include buffet lunch and snorkelling. 

Golf buggies on Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Snorkel around MUSA: The Underwater Museum of Art

This amazing sculpture museum lies a few feet beneath the waves off Isla Mujeres. You can view the museum pieces from a glass-bottomed boat or snorkel around them. The exhibits include a group of people sitting around a table, a VW Beetle, a circle of upturned hands and single figures in various poses and postures. It is a surreal experience! 

Diving at MUSA in Cancun

You could book a SCUBA diving trip which might also take you to the Manchones Reef, further out in Isla Mujeres Bay. The marine life on this reef is stunning and there are also two more underwater sculptures: The Man on Fire and the Ernest Hemingway Desk .

Go Snorkelling with turtles in Akumal

Ready for another great underwater adventure? How about snorkelling with turtles in Akumal . As well as seeing the majestic sea turtles that live in the water just off stunning Akumal Beach, you’ll also spot a colourful array of marine life and coral. 

Snorkelling with turtles in Akumal

The reason that this underwater splendour can be found here is its proximity to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef which is the world’s second-largest reef system after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Now there’s a fun fact for your next quiz night! 

Back in Cancun after a busy day, head for some tacos at Taqueria Coapenitos down on Avenue Nader. They specialise in Latin dishes and serve some of the best tacos in town.

Day Four In Cancun

It’s been a hectic few days so how about treating yourself to a lie-in this morning? But not for too long… there’s still lots to do! Today will be all about soaking up some Mexican culture and sampling some incredible street food.

Visit Museo Maya

Featuring artefacts and displays from the many Mayan ruins found in the Cancun and Tulum area, the Museo Maya de Cancun is a must-see for anyone interested in this fascinating lost culture. It houses the world’s most complete collection of Mayan treasures and it is the sort of museum that you can return to again and again. The museum is open daily from Tuesday to Sunday.   

Go on a street food tour

The flavours of Mexico come alive in Cancun’s street food scene. You can wander around at random and discover all sorts of tasty delights around town or go on a guided street food walk with a knowledgeable local who knows all the best places. 

Alternatively, you could take a taco-tasting tour (now that’s an alliteration!) in nearby Puerto Morelos, with a few shots of tequila to wash them down!

Tacos in Cancun

Downtown street art

Cancun is rapidly becoming a world-renowned destination for lovers of street art. You’ll see everything from murals on garden walls to entire buildings decorated with art. You can combine a Cancun street art tour with a street food tour to get a real appreciation for these spectacular artworks.  

Pick up souvenirs at Markets 28 and 23

These two local markets are great places to pick up a few souvenirs or some jewellery to remember your trip. Mercado 28 has souvenir stalls and some unique jewellery outlets. Be prepared to haggle – it’s part of the fun.

Market 23 is a nice place to wander around and immerse yourself in Yucatan culture among the fruit and veggie stalls, taco sellers and other cheap eats.

mexican souvenir shopping

Explore Avenida Tulum

Cancun’s main street is a great place for a stroll. There are wide pedestrian footpaths on both sides and a selection of shops, craft markets, galleries, bars and handicraft exhibitions to discover.

Shop at Malecon Americas shopping complex

This modern, open-air shopping complex is a popular weekend hangout for locals. All of Mexico’s big department stores are here along with ice cream stalls, and some excellent restaurants. The Malecon Tajamar lagoon is right across the street so when you tire of shopping you can go and enjoy the views with a refreshing drink.

Day Five In Cancun

Well, here we are on the last day of your holiday. It goes fast, doesn’t it? You could spend the day checking out a few more Mayan sites, head to one of the beaches to soak up some sun, or maybe indulge in a spa day. 

Visit Tulum’s Ruins

Tulum means “wall” in the Mayan language and these ruins beside the sea are enclosed by walls on three sides. This is a lovely place to wander, with the sound of the nearby ocean echoing around the stone walls of the temples and houses.

You have to visit the Mayan ruins in Tulum

Pamper your body and soul

Just about every Cancun hotel has a spa with treatments, or a yoga class on offer. These are a few of my favourites.

  • Awe Spa. This luxurious spa at the Moon Palace Hotel has a signature Hydrotherapy Journey package that is tailored to your exact needs. I’d also recommend the 80-minute, 4-hand Kukulcan massage. Bliss!
  • Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera Maya Spa. Even the name of this luxury spa sounds relaxing. Try a Thalassotherapy treatment that includes heated seawater, seaweeds and warm marine mud.

Beach massage in cancun

  • Vassa Spa. Overlooking the perfect sand of Azul Beach, this beautiful spa caters for families. Your massage can take place on the beach or in the tropical garden.
  • Heavenly spa. This fancy spa in the Hotel Zone, overlooking the Caribbean, has six indoor treatment rooms and (my favourite) three terrace cabanas where you can be pampered to the sound of the breeze in the palm trees and the sigh of the ocean on the sand. Their signature Heavenly Massage speaks for itself.

A last night out

Feeling relaxed and rejuvenated after a day of pampering, you’ll be ready for one last night out before your flight home. After a few drinks while the sun goes down, and a slap-up dinner, you could hit the nightclubs for a last dance or two.

Coco Bongo, Cancun, Mexico

The most legendary is Coco Bongo , with its fast-paced music and dance show. Other lively options include The City nightclub and Senor Frogs . Both are world-famous for their rowdy shows, epic music and theme nights.

As you’ve seen, there are so many things to do in Cancun! You can take it as fast or slow as you fancy. A good idea might be to spend your first 3 days in Cancun getting up to all sorts of adventures, then relax and chill out for the final days of your trip. With ancient Mayan ruins, island tours, jungles, cenotes, and nightlife, you’re guaranteed to have an amazing holiday!

I hope this 5-day Cancun itinerary helps with your planning. Have a great trip!

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3 days in Cancun

Jay Blades

Cancun may be known as a spring break hotspot, but it’s so much more than nonstop nightlife. The city is home to some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, prime snorkeling and scuba diving, and, on the outskirts, amazing Mayan culture, like at the pyramids of Chichén Itzá. Don’t worry though; you don’t necessarily need a full week to soak it all up. Three days is just enough time to sample a bit of everything the city has to offer, from coral reefs to Mayan ruins, local markets to late-night clubs.

The below three-day itinerary helps you pack it all in by balancing the big attractions (Isla Mujeres, Chichén Itzá, Coco Bongo) with plenty of taco and margarita breaks. We’ve grouped everything together by location to minimize your travel time between activities and based each rec on Tripadvisor reviews and ratings. That way you won’t waste a single second wondering, “Is this place worth it?”

Beach with bright-blue water, and large sandy stretch lined with straw umbrellas

MORNING: A postcard-perfect beach

We won’t blame you if you want to spend your first morning lounging by your hotel pool. But if you’re up for an adventure, hop the R-1 or R-2 bus (or drive) to Playa Delfines . Just 15 minutes from the heart of the hotel zone, it’s the only beach in the area where you can take in the sugary-soft sand and turquoise waters without a high-rise in sight. Photo op alert: It’s also where you’ll find the iconic, colorful Cancun sign.

Keep in mind there are no restaurants here (though vendors sometimes roam the beach selling fruit and drinks), so eat breakfast before you go or pick up something at the Chedraui or Oxxo markets on the way.

If you’re not the lay-on-the-beach-for-hours type (or just need a break from the heat), drive five minutes north to the Mayan Museum of Cancun . It’s small (you can see the whole thing in an hour or two), costs just under $4, and offers an excellent primer on Mayan history and culture.

Travelers say: “The San Miguelito archeological site located beside the museum (included in the entrance fee) is a must-see. The forest, ruins, and the peaceful atmosphere around the site makes you feel like you have taken a journey back in time.” — @Annijatravels

AFTERNOON: Shop and snack at a Mexican mercado

You’ve seen the hotel zone. Now it’s time to get a feel for the local side of Cancun. Drive, grab a taxi, or take the R-2 bus downtown to Mercado 28 , a sprawling flea market where you can load up on souvenirs like embroidered dresses, Mexican wedding shirts, ceramics, silver jewelry, and handmade dolls. Shop around (many vendors sell similar items) and don’t be afraid to haggle.

When you’re ready to rest your feet, sit down to a seafood cocktail at El Cejas , a small mariscos restaurant in the middle of the market. Or save your appetite for your next stop: Mercado 23 . Smaller and a little calmer than Mercado 28, it’s one of Cancun’s oldest markets and a good place to sample regional fruits and cheeses. Don’t miss the slow-cooked pulled-pork tortas and tacos at El Paisano del 23.

DOWNTOWN CANCUN TOUR OPTIONS

  • A walking tour is one of the best ways to appreciate the colorful murals that cover downtown Cancun. You’ll learn about the artists and their techniques as you explore the streets around Parque de Las Palapas .
  • If you travel to eat, try this street food tour , which goes to Mercado 23 as well as popular taco stands like El Polilla . You’ll even get to see some street art along the way.
  • For an easy way to see all the highlights, hop on this guided bus tour . It goes down Tulum Avenue in downtown Cancun and stops at Mercado 28, Playa Delfines (in case you missed it earlier), La Isla (see Day 3), and more.

EVENING: Street food and choose-your-own-adventure nightlife

Make your way to Parque de Las Palapas (it’s about a 10-minute walk from Mercado 23) by early evening. Popular with locals and tourists alike, it comes alive at night, especially on weekends when there’s live music on the stage in the center of the park. Walk around, people-watch from a bench, or pick up a few more souvenirs—stands scattered throughout the park sell everything from straw bags and serape blankets to colorful Talavera pottery.

For dinner, you could make a meal out of the park food stalls hawking elotes (grilled corn on the cob), esquites (off-the-cob corn with cheese, lime, and chile), churros, and marquesitas (crispy, Edam cheese–filled crepes). Or you could walk 10 minutes to Taqueria Coapenitos for some of the best tacos in town. Adventurous eaters should try the tripa (tripe) and lengua (beef tongue), but you also can’t go wrong with suadero (beef) or al pastor (seasoned pork with pineapple)—or the margaritas, for that matter.

After dinner, keep the night going. A few blocks south of Taqueria Coapenitos, you’ll hit a stretch of restaurants and bars with everything from a rooftop lounge ( Mumma ) to a speakeasy ( Sigfrido ) to a cozy wine bar ( El Rincon del Vino ).

Worthy detours along the way

cancun tour itinerary

MORNING: Go under the sea

With calm, clear waters and vibrant coral reefs, Cancun is a snorkeler’s paradise. Total Snorkel’s 5-in-1 tour is great for beginners—they pick you up at your hotel, give you the basics, and take you to five different spots. You’ll get to swim along a coral reef, see sculptures at Museo Subacuático de Arte (Cancun’s underwater museum), paddle next to sea turtles, explore a shipwreck, and even dive into a cenote (a natural swimming hole). The whole thing takes about three and a half hours, making for a doable morning excursion.

AFTERNOON: Ferry to a tropical island

Instead of riding back to your hotel after your snorkeling excursion, hop on the ferry from Puerto Juarez to Isla Mujeres , a tiny, five-mile-long island just off the coast of Cancun. Boats leave every half hour and get you there in about 15 minutes.

When you arrive, walk inland to Ocean’s Isla , grab a sidewalk table, and order two-for-one margaritas alongside fajitas or coconut shrimp. After, stroll back to Playa Norte , where you can rent chairs and an umbrella from one of the many vendors or wade in the shallow water.

If you’d prefer something more active, rent a golf cart at Golf Carts Indios and explore other parts of the island, like Punta Sur (a lookout with epic views), the Women’s Beading Cooperative (where you can buy jewelry and crafts made by local artisans), and Capilla de Guadalupe (a seaside chapel).

ISLA MUJERES TOUR OPTIONS

  • Sure, you could take the ferry like everyone else. Or you could book this fancy catamaran tour , which includes lunch, an open bar, and snorkeling gear. You’ll still get time to explore Isla Mujeres, but you’ll have way more fun getting there.
  • Cross “swimming with whale sharks” off your bucket list. During the summer, hundreds of these gentle creatures feed on fish and plankton north of the island. This whale shark adventure sails you to the best viewing spots and provides you with snorkeling equipment, food, and non-alcoholic drinks. (Note: You can choose to depart from Isla Mujeres or get picked up at your hotel in Cancun.)
  • If you prefer dry land, eat and drink your way around Isla Mujeres instead. This small-group golf cart bar crawl visits offbeat places and includes samples of specialty beers and local spirits like mezcal.

EVENING: A sunset lobster dinner and over-the-top dance party

Stick around for sunset (it’s especially stunning from Playa Norte). Or ferry back to the mainland and head to Lorenzillo’s , a popular restaurant along the lagoon (also prime sunset-watching territory). Lobster is the order here, but Tripadvisor community members also rave about the oysters Rockefeller, tableside Caesar salad, and filet mignon. If you’re lucky, you might even get a visit from Lorenzo, the lagoon’s resident crocodile.

By the time you’re done eating, Cancun’s legendary nightlife will just be getting going. Cab it to C oco Bongo , a wild club that puts on Vegas-level shows with everything from Mad Max stunts to a Queen tribute. Tickets aren’t cheap (they start at $113 per person), but they come with an open bar. If you don’t want to stand all night, splurge on a Gold Member or Front Row ticket, both of which include reserved seats, premium booze, and better views.

Travelers say: “No words to describe the awe felt as we watched the show [at Coco Bongo]—blows your mind and makes you feel like a kid again. Cannot wait to go back. Tips: Do VIP, wear comfy shoes, and show up early.” —@ Jodi B

cancun tour itinerary

MORNING: Day trip to a Wonder of the World

If you rented a car, get on the road early for the two-and-a-half-hour drive to Chichén Itzá , an ancient Mayan city west of Cancun. No car? You can also take the ADO bus from downtown (it leaves daily at 8:45 a.m.) or book a full-day tour that covers Chichén Itzá and nearby sites.

Plan to spend about three hours exploring the ruins, which include the famous El Castillo pyramid, a sacred cenote, several temples, and the “Ball Game Court,” where a ceremonial sport was once played. You can view the grounds on your own, but it’s really helpful to have someone explain what you’re seeing. If you don’t book a tour ahead of time, there are plenty of guides-for-hire on site (talk to a few to get a sense of their experience and language skills).

Travelers say: “A totally amazing experience. Get there early because the heat is intense, plus you will beat the crowds that arrive on tour coaches. The place opens at 8 a.m., and it's already busy. Definitely recommend a personal guide to show you around. Barter for the best price on a guide and items you wish to buy. Take loads of water, sun[screen], and an umbrella.” —@ Justin B

CHICHEN ITZA TOUR OPTIONS

  • Early risers should opt for this early-access tour , which gets you to Chichén Itzá before the crowds (and the heat of the day). It includes lunch, a swim in a cenote, and a tequila tasting.
  • History buff? Tack on another ancient Mayan site—the city of Cobá—with this guided day trip , which also makes stops at Chichén Itzá and Cenote Ik Kil .
  • A more budget-friendly option, this downloadable self-guided tour allows you to see Chichén Itzá at your own pace while still getting tons of helpful info.

AFTERNOON: Pit stop at a pueblo mágico and dip in a cenote

Drive or hop the ADO bus to Valladolid for a late lunch. About 40 minutes from Chichén Itzá, the charming town is one of Mexico’s pueblo mágicos , or “magic towns” (a government title given to select villages for their beauty, traditions, or folklore). It’s a worthwhile detour, filled with colorful, Spanish-style buildings; cute shops and cafes; and fascinating museums.

At IX CAT IK , sample traditional Mayan dishes like lime soup and cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork) while learning about the spices and techniques that go into each (the super knowledgeable servers are happy to answer questions about the menu). After, walk west to Convent de San Bernardino de Siena , stopping on the way at Valladolid’s main square, Parque Principal, then cutting down Calle de Los Fraile , the prettiest street in town.

If you’re traveling by car, pop by a cenote before you leave the area ( Cenote Palomitas and Cenote Maya Park are both highly rated by Tripadvisor reviewers). Swimming in one of these natural sinkholes is a must when you’re in the Yucatán.

EVENING: Late-night shopping and a bird’s-eye view

Back in the hotel zone, head to La Isla , an open-air shopping center along the lagoon. Not your typical mall, the complex includes an aquarium, a movie theater, a Ferris wheel, and even a canal. Browse the high-end stores (Tiffany’s to Prada), pick up last-minute souvenirs at one of the gift shops, and take a spin on El Sol de Cancun (it’s especially magical at sunset but also lights up at night).

For dinner, you’ve got lots of options. We like Taco y Tequila (great margaritas, tacos, and churros), but if you’re taco-ed out, Thai serves traditional dishes in romantic cabanas overlooking the lagoon.

Got the energy to fit in one more Cancun hotspot? Take a cab to Mandala Cancun —a fun club with themed nights like Mardi Gras Monday—and dance your last night away.

cancun tour itinerary

Know Before You Go

Cancun shines from December to April, when comfortably warm temps provide a welcome escape from the cold weather elsewhere. Of course, it’s also the city’s busiest time (especially March, when the spring breakers roll in). If you want fewer crowds and lower prices, the shoulder seasons (April-May and October-November) are good options. Summer and fall are also nice, but expect more rain, higher humidity, and smelly seaweed on the beach.

Since Cancun is a popular tourist destination, most attractions are open every day of the week. A few are closed on Mondays though, so check before you go. If you visit midweek, you might get fewer crowds at the airport and local spots, but clubs and restaurants, especially in the hotel zone, tend to stay busy all week long.

Museum and attraction hours vary, though most are open between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Markets open around 8 or 9 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

Restaurants in the hotel zone are usually open all day until late (11 p.m. or midnight), but some of the local spots downtown have slightly more limited hours. Generally, you’ll find that places serving breakfast and lunch shut down around 8 p.m., while lunch and dinner restaurants may not open till 1 or 2 p.m. but stay open until midnight.

Most nightclubs open around 8:30 or 9 p.m., but the party doesn’t really get going until 11 p.m.—and goes strong until 3 a.m.

Hotel Zone (Zona Hotelera) : This is where most visitors stay, as it has the largest selection of hotels and resorts in Cancun. Live Aqua Beach Resort is a Tripadvisor favorite for its above-and-beyond staff, spotless rooms, and boutique-hotel feel. If you don’t want an all-inclusive, Casa Tortugas is a smaller, quieter, family-run hotel with charming Mexican touches and a view of the lagoon.

Downtown (El Centro) : Downtown is where most of the locals live, but there are also a few budget-friendly hotels and hostels in the area. You won’t be beachfront, but you will be within walking distance of great markets and street food. Plus, it’s just a short bus ride to the hotel zone. Trendy Nomads Hostel has private rooms in addition to typical dorm-style accommodations, plus a rooftop pool and bar, coffee shop, and communal kitchen.

Playa Mujeres : Playa Mujeres is just 15 minutes north of downtown Cancun (45 minutes from the airport) but feels much quieter and more secluded than the hotel zone. It’s home to some stunning all-inclusives, like Excellence Playa Mujeres (a splurge) and Atelier Playa Mujeres (slightly less of a splurge).

Puerto Morelos : South of Cancun, a stretch of resorts near the small fishing village of Puerto Morelos offers a remote feel and less-developed beaches, with the added bonus of being closer to the airport. Situated next to a mangrove preserve, Waldorf Astoria is one of the best (and more luxurious) of the bunch—every room has an ocean view, a private balcony, and an outdoor soaking tub.

Public transportation : A public bus system makes getting around Cancun without a car fairly easy. The R-1 and R-2 buses run regularly between downtown and the hotel zone and cost just 12 pesos per ride (less than $1), which you can pay on board.

If you’re traveling outside of Cancun, the ADO bus is also reasonably priced and easy to navigate.

By bike : Cancun doesn’t have a bike-sharing program, but there are a few rental shops ( Bike & Go , Bike Rental Energy of the World) downtown and in the hotel zone. Many hotels also have bikes you can borrow. Downtown isn’t super bike friendly, but Boulevard Kukulcan, which runs from downtown through the hotel zone, has a separate cycling and running path.

By taxi : Taxis are plentiful but can be expensive—be sure to ask for a rate card and agree on a price beforehand. If you hail one on the street, make sure it’s legit (the car should be white with green lines, there should be an identification number on the side, and it should have two license plates, front and back).

By car : You don’t necessarily need a car to get around Cancun, but having one can be handy if you want to explore the nearby beaches and towns (or are staying outside of Cancun proper). You can find all the major rental companies (Enterprise, Hertz, Alamo) at the airport.

Airport transfers : The Cancun International Airport is about 17 miles from the hotel zone. For taxis, make a reservation ahead of time for the best rate ($24-$33, depending on where you’re going). There are also shared shuttles , or you can take the ADO bus to downtown Cancun. Keep in mind that Uber is not legally allowed to pick you up at the airport (though they can drop you off).

cancun tour itinerary

The Ultimate Cancun 5 Day Itinerary: Beaches and Jungle

Cancun 5 Day Itinerary

Our ultimate Cancun 5 day itinerary covers all the bases of this happening Mexican resort. From the shimmering, white-sand beaches to the tropical Caribbean islands that lie off the coast, the dank cenotes of the jungles to the wild nightlife of the city itself, we’ll check all the boxes that you can think of.

Each day on our Cancun 5 day itinerary has a unique vibe. We’ll start with those legendary Hotel Zone playas. There are lots of them to get through, all with talcum sands and turquoise seas. Then we’ll push on to the rich history of the Yucatan, the further-afield beaches of the Riviera Maya , and finally the wild, hedonistic side of Cancun.

We’ve planned it all so that you can easily tweak and change the order of the day. Add in beaches here; drop them out there. Choose to swap and alter cenote visits for more history if you wish. Transport wise, there is some public transport in the form of buses and boats, along with one day where you might be better off with your own car rental.

Table of Contents

Day 1 – Hit the beaches

beach in Mexico

Morning: Don’t worry, there’s no rush to get out of the hotel fast on the first day of our ultimate Cancun 5 day itinerary. This one’s all about enjoying the beaches and curing the jet lag. We’ll assume you’re staying somewhere in the Hotel Zone . That’s prime for hitting the best sands in the city. The northern end of the area is where the top swimming beaches are, so head to Playa Tortugas for your dip in the Caribbean Sea. Afterwards, Sirenas Raw Bar offers fresh tropical smoothies and tostadas for breakfast. It’s about 10 minutes’ walk down Kukulcan Boulevard (the main road in the Hotel Zone) from the beach.

Afternoon: After a late brunch and your first swim, head back to Kukulcan Boulevard . There are very regular buses running north and south up and down its whole length. You’re looking to go south, to start that odyssey through the Cancun beaches. First stop: Playa Chac Mool . It’s a perennially popular stretch of caster sugar-white sand that has big hotels to its back and some frothing ocean waves. After that, hop back on the bus and head to Playa San Miguelito , where the vibes become much quieter and there are noticeably fewer people on the beach. The final stop will be Playa Delfines . It’s one of Cancun’s most exclusive spots, backed by five-star hotels with chic spas and eateries. Look out for dolphins in the water – they are regulars along this part of the zone.

Evening: For the sunset hour, try to make it back to the heart of the Cancun Hotel Zone. That’s at Punta Cancun , an area that throbs with bars and taco joints and slick cocktail outlets. Seafood lovers should be sure to patronize Habaneros Mexican Cevecheria on the shoreline. It’s got fresh lobster and some of the zestiest fish salads in the area.

Day 2 – Delve into the enthralling history of the Yucatan

Yucatan pyramid

Morning & Afternoon: We’d totally recommend taking an organized tour of the fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Site that is Chichen Itza . Put simply, no ultimate Cancun 5 day itinerary could be complete without a mention of this epic place. Day excursions make a visit super easy, too. They usually involve an early pick up right outside your hotel in the Hotel Zone or Centro areas of the city, a transfer to the site itself, and even guided tours with qualified historians when you arrive. That’s invaluable because it means you’ll have all the historical background behind the great structures of Chichen Itza, including the soaring Kukulkan Pyramid , the colonnaded Temple of a Thousand Warriors , and the Upper Temple of the Jaguar .

If you can, try to choose a day trip that also includes a visit to the nearby city of Valladolid . That’s a gorgeous colonial-styled town with flagstone plazas, arcaded palazzos, and a bustling Mercado Municipal for all your souvenir needs.

Evening: Most day tours of Chichen Itza and the surrounding Yucatan region will get you back into Cancun for the early- to mid-evening. That leaves time for dinner, but tonight you’ll be heading to the lagoon side of the Hotel Zone. There’s a slightly less-chic vibe there, so eateries run the gamut from Southern-fried seafood at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. to rustic Tuscan kitchens at Trattoria Limoncello . Take your pick because the sunset over the Nichupte Lagoon is spectacular no matter where you go.

Day 3 – The Isla Mujeres and Cancun’s centro

resort area in Cancun

Morning: Wake as early as you can and make for the marina at Puerto Juarez . It’s just outside of Centro Cancun and north of the Hotel Zone. A taxi there should take around 20-25 minutes in light traffic. Transfer onto the regular Ultramar ferry link that goes across to the Isla Mujeres . They leave roughly every 30 minutes, starting at 5am, while the trip lasts about 15 minutes in total. We’d say skip breakfast on the mainland, because the wonderfully welcoming Café Mogagua awaits just a single block inland from the port on the island. It’s a chilled, tropical eatery with a big terrace splashed with shade. The menus offer up everything from fluffy pancakes to huevos rancheros with bacon.

Afternoon: Rent yourself a golf cart . Yep – you read that right. It’s the prime way to get around the island. There are plenty of places that offer them for a single day. Rates range from about $40-60, but it’s worth it because you’ll be able to scoot down to the southernmost point, known as Punta Sur . There, wild waves smash into rugged cliffs below a headland that hosts the fascinating Mayan ruins of Ixchel Temple . Drop into the open-air terraces of Acantilado restaurant for lunch. The menu there has some mean beef fajitas, and the margaritas are a fantastic accompaniment for the coastal views.

Evening: Make the drive back up the west coast of the Isla Mujeres and plan a pitstop at the Tortugranja to see the local species of endangered sea turtles. There are also plenty of soft-sanded beaches stringing that part of the isle if you’ve got the time to fit in some sunbathing. Either way, your aim is the port area and the boat back to Cancun (there are boats every 30 minutes until 9.30pm). Once on the mainland, head for Centro , the heart of Cancun city. There, hit the Parque de las Palapas . Mexicana street-food stalls abound and it’s always buzzy after dark, with beer drinkers, mariachi bands, and entertainers of all sorts.

Day 4 – Explore the Riviera Maya

Cenote in Riviera Maya

Morning: Having your own car for the day will help things along when you come to explore the famous Riviera Maya that rolls out south of Cancun. If that’s not possible then don’t worry, because there are regular buses linking up most of the main towns mentioned here. Either way, try to get an early start, because your first port of call is the boat-bobbing town of Puerto Morelos . It’s known for being one of the few locations on this uber-popular run of shoreline that’s managed to retain a little of its true Mexican character. There are some lovely locations for breakfast on the main beachfront but the Local Coffee + Shop makes some great brews a few blocks back. The swimming here is wonderful, though the playa does suffer from seaweed blooms between May and August.

Afternoon: Playa del Carmen is where you’ll head for lunch. This town has risen to become the Yucatan’s answer to Chiang Mai in recent years. It’s now booming with digital nomads and young professionals. That means there are some great international eateries – personally, we can’t stay away from the fiery salsas and veggie tacos at La Cueva del Chango . Before eating, you’ll want to stroll the main beachfront , where bars and sunbeds spill out onto the shimmering sands. It’s one of the riviera’s liveliest spots, with watersports outfitters galore.

Evening: The final location on the Riviera Maya included in this Cancun 5 day itinerary will be Tulum . A much-photographed town that’s known primarily for the half-ruined remains of Tulum Temple , it’s a cracking spot to enjoy the sunset over the Caribbean Sea. If there’s time left in the day, then hit the Tulum Archaeological Zone . That’s where the bulk of the ancient ruins exist, all anchored on the mighty Pyramid El Castillo . For the photo op, be sure to search out Templo Dios del Viento on the shoreline. Remember that there’s a two-hour drive back to Cancun from here, so leave enough time for the return journey. Alternatively, you could stay the night in Tulum. There are some excellent hotels, and it’s a great starting point for Day 5’s activities…

Day 5 – Cenotes by day, nightlife after sunset

beach chairs and umbrella

Morning & Afternoon: No Cancun 5 day itinerary could possibly skip the incredible cenotes that dot the Yucatan Peninsula. These are natural sinkholes that have formed above underground rivers and springs. Many are now open to the air and offer unique swimming spots for those looking to escape the beaches. You’ve got two choices when it comes to seeing Cancun’s cenotes. Either take a planned tour. They usually last half a day or a full day, include lunch, and stops at three or four cenotes in total. Or go it alone with a car rental. We’ll leave it to you to decide, but some cenotes stand out from the bunch. They include:

  • Cenote Siete Bocas – A cobalt-blue cenote that drifts under some low-hanging caves near Puerto Morelos.
  • Cenote Azul – Cenote Azul is one of the most famous cenotes in Mexico. Close to Playa del Carmen, it’s a stunning series of Instagram-worthy pools filled with crystal clear waters.
  • Cenote Dos Ojos – Relatively unknown but with great access from Tulum, this one’s a whole underground cave system where you can swim under massive mineral formations.

Evening: Return to Cancun for the evening because there’s a side to the resort that you’ve yet to experience: Its hedonism. Let’s put it simply: The party here is epic. Cancun is hailed as a spring breaker mecca, so things get super wild in the months between February and April. That said, it’s positively bumping no matter the season. The place to find it going on is around Punta Cancun. Venues like Congo Bar Cancún, legendary Coco Bongo, Mandala, and Hard Rock lead the way, but there are plenty. Why not just let the night take the water direction it wants?

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For more than 11 years, Joe has worked as a freelance travel writer. His writing and explorations have brought him to various locations, including the colonial towns of Mexico, the bustling chowks of Mumbai, and the majestic Southern Alps of New Zealand. When he's not crafting his next epic blog post on the top Greek islands or French ski resorts, he can often be found engaging in his top two hobbies of surfing and hiking.

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What to Do in Cancun for 7 Days – A 1-Week Itinerary

Posted on June 26, 2023 | Julie J. |

Last Updated on July 20, 2023

Wondering what to do in Cancun for 7 days?

Let me help you plan your 1-week Cancun itinerary! After having lived for over 2 years in the Yucatan Peninsula and having traveled the area extensively, I can recommend some of the best things to do in Cancun, hidden gems to see, and must-do activities!

Welcome to the breathtaking paradise of Cancun, a destination renowned for its stunning beaches , crystal-clear waters, and captivating blend of ancient history and vibrant culture .

Nestled along the turquoise shores of the Mexican Caribbean, Cancun offers a mesmerizing escape where relaxation, adventure, and exploration converge. With plenty of romantic things to do for couples, kid-friendly excursions and activities , and fun things to experience with friends, Cancun is one of the best destinations in Mexico!

Whether you’re seeking to lounge on pristine white sands, unravel the mysteries of ancient civilizations, or immerse yourself in thrilling outdoor activities, this carefully curated 7-day Cancun itinerary promises an unforgettable experience that will leave you enchanted.

Pack your bags and get ready to embark on a 7-day journey through Cancun, where adventure, relaxation, and natural beauty intertwine to create an experience that will leave you spellbound.

Let the magic of Cancun unfold as you explore ancient ruins, indulge in beachside bliss, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

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What to Do in Cancun for 7 Days - A 1-Week Itinerary

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What to Do in Cancun for 7 Days - A 1-Week Itinerary

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on any links and make a purchase, we’ll get a small commission, at no cost to you.

Summary 7-day Cancun Itinerary

Day 1: arrival and beach time.

  • Arrive in Cancun and settle into your accommodation.
  • Head to the beautiful beaches of Cancun, such as Playa Delfines or Playa Tortugas, and spend the day relaxing under the sun.
  • Enjoy a swim in the turquoise waters and take in the stunning views.

Day 2: Chichen Itza, Cenote , and Valladolid

  • Take a day trip to Chichen Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Explore the ancient Mayan ruins, including the iconic El Castillo pyramid.
  • Learn about the history and culture of the Mayan civilization.
  • After visiting Chichen Itza, cool off by visiting a nearby cenote, such as Ik Kil or Cenote Hubiku, for a refreshing swim in the natural sinkhole.
  • Stop by the colonial town of Valladolid.

Day 3: Isla Mujeres

  • Take a ferry to Isla Mujeres, a charming island located just off the coast of Cancun.
  • Rent a golf cart or bicycle to explore the island’s attractions, including beautiful beaches and the lively downtown area.
  • Visit the Punta Sur ecological park, which offers stunning ocean views and a sculpture garden.
  • Snorkel or scuba dive in the crystal-clear waters to discover the vibrant marine life.

Day 4: Tulum and Xel-Ha

  • Take a day trip to Tulum, known for its well-preserved Mayan ruins overlooking the Caribbean Sea.
  • Explore the ancient city and learn about its history.
  • Relax on the picturesque beaches of Tulum or visit one of the many beautiful nearby cenotes.
  • In the afternoon, visit Xel-Ha, a natural aquatic park known for its snorkeling and water activities.
  • Enjoy snorkeling in the cenotes and lagoons, float along the river, or try cliff jumping.

Day 5: Day of Adventure

  • Embark on an adrenaline-filled adventure at one of the eco-parks in the area, such as Xplor or Xcaret.
  • Enjoy activities like zip-lining, ATV rides, underground river exploration, and cenote swimming.
  • Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the parks and experience the thrill of adventure.

Day 6: Beach, MUSA, and Nightlife

  • Start your day by enjoying the beautiful beaches of Cancun, such as Playa Delfines or Playa Tortugas.
  • Embark on an extraordinary underwater adventure at the Cancun Underwater Museum (MUSA)
  • In the evening, experience the vibrant nightlife of Cancun’s Hotel Zone.
  • Visit the famous Coco Bongo for an unforgettable night of entertainment, or explore the bars and clubs along the strip.

Day 7: Relaxation and Farewell

  • Take some time to relax and enjoy the amenities of your resort.
  • Indulge in a spa treatment or take a leisurely swim in the pool.
  • Head back to the beach for a final day of sunbathing and swimming.
  • In the evening, savor a delicious dinner at one of Cancun’s renowned restaurants and reflect on your memorable Cancun experience.

Beach in Cancun

Welcome to Cancun!

Once you’ve cleared customs and made your way to the transportation area, getting to your accommodation is a breeze. Cancun boasts a well-organized airport with a range of transportation options available, from shuttle services to taxis. Choose the option that suits you best and embark on the short journey to your chosen haven.

Travel Tips – If your hotel doesn’t offer airport pick-ups, you can take a taxi for around USD $45 at the airport. If you book online , you get a discount. If you’re on a budget, take an ADO bus to the bus station, then cross the street and take the bus to your hotel if you’re staying in the hotel zone, or cross the street and stop a cab if you’re staying downtown and it’s too far to walk (don’t take a cab in front of the bus station).

Once you’ve settled into your accommodation take the rest of the day to relax and unwind . Spend some time at your hotel pool or beach, sip on a cocktail, and enjoy the warm Caribbean waters.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, head out and explore some of Cancun’s top beaches . You can easily use the public bus to get around from beach to beach.

Most beaches in Cancun are public but many are only accessible through one of the hotels that line it.

One of the best public beaches in Cancun is Playa Delfines , you should definitely spend some time there. This beach is often considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Cancun . It offers breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea and has a laid-back atmosphere. It’s also known for its iconic Cancun sign , which is perfect for photo opportunities.

Playa Tortugas is another popular beach among locals and tourists alike. It offers a vibrant atmosphere with various water activities such as jet skiing, parasailing, and banana boat rides . It also has beachfront restaurants and bars.

Two other great beaches to visit, both situated in the Hotel Zone, are Playa Ballenas , a family-friendly beach known for its calm waters and gentle waves, and Playa Forum , a lively and vibrant beach known for its party atmosphere with beach clubs, music, and various water sports activities.

As the day unfolds, don’t forget to indulge in the local flavors and delights offered by beachside vendors or nearby restaurants . Savor the taste of fresh ceviche or sip on a refreshing margarita, immersing yourself in the culinary delights that Cancun has to offer.

Day 2: Chichen Itza and Cenote

Chichen Itza

On day 2, get ready to embark on a captivating journey into the ancient Mayan civilization. After breakfast, prepare yourself for a day filled with history, culture, and natural wonders.

Your first stop is the iconic Chichen Itza , one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

As you arrive at this awe-inspiring archaeological site, prepare to be transported back in time. Explore the remnants of the once-mighty Mayan civilization, marveling at the intricate architecture and captivating structures. The towering El Castillo pyramid stands proudly, an impressive testament to the advanced engineering and astronomical knowledge of the Mayans.

As you wander through the ancient city, take a moment to soak in the profound historical significance of this site. Imagine the vibrant marketplace that once bustled with activity, the ceremonial ball courts where important games were played, and the sacred cenotes that held great spiritual value for the Mayans.

After immersing yourself in the wonders of Chichen Itza, it’s time for a refreshing and unique experience. Journey to a nearby cenote , a natural sinkhole created by the collapse of limestone bedrock , and let its crystal-clear waters beckon you for a swim. Whether it’s the enchanting Ik Kil or the serene Cenote Hubiku , you’ll find yourself surrounded by lush greenery and a sense of tranquility.

Cenote Valladolid Oxman Yucatan

Dive into the cool, turquoise waters, feeling the thrill of connecting with nature in a truly special way. Swim amidst fascinating stalactites and stalagmites, and let the sunlight filtering through the openings above create a magical ambiance. Take a moment to appreciate the natural beauty that lies beneath the surface, with fish darting around in the depths below.

On your way back from Chichen Itza, take the opportunity to immerse yourself in the colonial charm of Valladolid , a picturesque town that showcases the blending of Mayan and Spanish cultures. As you arrive in Valladolid, you’ll be greeted by colorful facades, cobblestone streets, and a vibrant atmosphere .

Things to do in Valladolid, a colonial town in Mexico

Stroll through the town’s historic center , and you’ll discover an array of architectural gems, such as the majestic San Gervasio Cathedral, which proudly stands as a symbol of the town’s rich history. The main square, known as the Zocalo, offers a delightful ambiance with its shaded benches, local vendors, and the sound of children playing.

As you wander the streets, you’ll find charming shops selling handicrafts, traditional clothing, and local delicacies . Indulge in a taste of Valladolid’s renowned culinary delights, such as the mouthwatering cochinita pibil, a slow-roasted pork dish seasoned with achiote and citrus flavors.

For a cultural experience, visit the stunning Convent of San Bernardino de Siena , an architectural marvel that dates back to the 16th century. Explore the cloisters, admire the intricate details of the facade, and learn about the fascinating history of the convent.

Practical information:

  • Wear reef-safe biodegradable sunscreen ( like this one ) and natural mosquito repellent ( like this one ). Otherwise, you won’t be allowed in any cenotes.
  • You can rent a car for the day and do this itinerary independently, in this case, try to be at Chichen Itza as early as possible to beat the crowds and the heat.
  • Most Mayan ruins tours in Cancun to Chichen Itza will also include a swim in a cenote and a visit to Valladolid. I recommend booking this one for a private experience or this one for something more budget-friendly, both have hundreds of 5-star reviews.

Day 3: Isla Mujeres Exploration

Isla Mujeres

On day 3, you’re off to discover the wonders of Isla Mujeres , a charming island located just off the coast of Cancun. Prepare for a day of island bliss, where turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and a laid-back atmosphere await.

After breakfast, make your way to the ferry terminal in Cancun. Hop aboard a ferry and enjoy a scenic ride across the Caribbean Sea, soaking in the panoramic views of the coastline as you approach Isla Mujeres.

As you step ashore, you’ll immediately feel the island’s relaxed and inviting ambiance. Rent a golf cart or bicycle to explore the island’s attractions at your own pace . Cruise along the coastal roads, passing picturesque beaches and swaying palm trees, as the refreshing sea breeze accompanies you.

Head towards the southern tip of the island, where the Punta Sur ecological park awaits. This natural haven offers breathtaking ocean vistas, dramatic cliffs, and a sculpture garden that pays homage to the Mayan civilization and local artists. Take a leisurely stroll along the walkways, capturing Instagram-worthy photos and immersing yourself in the beauty of the surroundings.

When it’s time to cool off, indulge in some snorkeling or scuba diving in the island’s vibrant reefs . Dive into the crystal-clear waters and discover the kaleidoscope of marine life that thrives beneath the surface. Swim alongside colorful tropical fish, graceful rays, and even the occasional sea turtle, as the underwater world comes alive before your eyes.

For lunch, venture into Isla Mujeres’ downtown area , where you’ll find a variety of restaurants offering fresh seafood, Mexican cuisine, and international flavors. Savor the flavors of the region, and don’t forget to try the local specialty, Tikin Xic , a delicious dish of grilled fish marinated in achiote paste.

Craft market in Isla Mujeres

After lunch, explore the island’s charming downtown area , where you’ll find vibrant shops selling handcrafted souvenirs, beachwear, and jewelry. Don’t forget to pick up a memorable keepsake to remind you of your time on the island.

Spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying the island’s pristine beaches. Playa Norte , with its crystal-clear waters and powdery white sand, is a favorite among visitors. Unwind under a palm tree, take a dip in the gentle waves, or simply soak up the sun as you lose track of time in this tropical paradise.

As the day draws to a close, board the ferry back to Cancun.

If you were wanting to take a catamaran cruise while in Cancun , many tours head to Isla Mujeres for the day and include snorkeling, lounging on the boat, and some free time on the island. For a private experience, book this well-rated boat cruise – if you’re looking for a party cruise, book this one .

Day 4: Tulum Ruins, Cenote Exploration, and Xel-Ha

Tulum, Mayan ruins near Cancun

On day 4, get ready for a day filled with history, natural beauty, and adventure as you embark on a journey to the mesmerizing Tulum ruins and discover the mystical cenotes that lie hidden beneath the surface.

After breakfast, set out on a scenic drive south from Cancun to the coastal town of Tulum. As you arrive, you’ll be captivated by the breathtaking sight of the ancient Mayan ruins perched on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

Step back in time as you explore the well-preserved structures of Tulum . Wander through the ancient city’s stone pathways and marvel at the architecture that once served as a thriving Mayan port.

Discover the secrets of El Castillo, the iconic pyramid that offers panoramic views of the turquoise waters below. Learn about the fascinating history and cultural significance of Tulum as you soak in the mystical atmosphere.

After immersing yourself in the allure of Tulum, it’s time to cool off and discover the enchanting cenotes that lie nearby. Cenotes are natural sinkholes filled with crystal-clear freshwater, forming a unique and mystical underground network. Visit Gran Cenote, Cenote Dos Ojos, or any of the other mesmerizing cenotes in the area.

Cenote Tortuga, Tulum

Take a refreshing dip in the cool waters, snorkel through underwater caves, or even try your hand at scuba diving if you’re a certified diver. The cenotes offer a serene and otherworldly experience, allowing you to connect with nature in a truly extraordinary way.

After your cenote exploration, treat yourself to a well-deserved lunch at a local restaurant, where you can savor delicious Mexican cuisine or fresh seafood dishes. Located in the heart of Tulum, Hartwood is renowned for its farm-to-table concept and creative dishes.

The restaurant focuses on using fresh, locally sourced ingredients to create a menu inspired by global flavors. Make sure to try their wood-fired dishes and innovative cocktails.

In the afternoon, continue your journey to the nearby natural paradise of Xel-Há for an unforgettable afternoon of adventure and relaxation. Located just a short distance from Tulum, Xel-Há is a renowned eco-park that offers a unique blend of aquatic activities, lush landscapes, and serene beauty.

Xel Ha

Upon arriving at Xel-Há, you’ll be greeted by a sprawling natural aquarium teeming with marine life. Dive into the crystal-clear waters and embark on an incredible snorkeling adventure , exploring the colorful coral reefs and swimming alongside a myriad of tropical fish. Marvel at the vibrant underwater world that unfolds before your eyes, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

After snorkeling, take a leisurely float down the tranquil river that winds through the park. Grab an inner tube and let the gentle current carry you along, immersing yourself in the breathtaking scenery. Admire the lush greenery, cascading waterfalls, and exotic flora and fauna that surround you, creating a sense of serenity and harmony with nature.

For thrill-seekers, Xel-Há offers a range of exciting activities . Test your bravery with cliff jumps into the refreshing cenotes, or zip-line across the turquoise waters for an exhilarating aerial adventure. Explore the park’s jungle trails , discovering hidden cenotes and ancient caves along the way, immersing yourself in the rich natural wonders of the Yucatan Peninsula.

When it’s time to refuel, indulge in a delicious buffet dinner at one of the park’s restaurants, savoring a variety of international and traditional Mexican dishes. Afterward, find a cozy spot to relax, whether it’s lounging in a hammock, sunbathing on a pristine beach, or enjoying a refreshing drink at one of the bars.

Note that the park closes at 6 PM.

As the day comes to a close, make your way back to Cancun.

If you have your own car, the road from Cancun to Tulum is lined with beautiful beaches and stunning cenotes where you can stop for a while.

You can also reach Tulum via public transportation. Take the bus to the bus station in Cancun, then take a mini-van (colectivo) to Tulum. Once there, you can get a cab to the cenotes or rent bicycles for the day. The ruins are within walking distance of where the colectivo drops you off. The collectivo also can stop near Xel-Ha, just ask the driver.

You can also take a tour from Cancun.

Get ready for an action-packed day filled with adrenaline and excitement as you embark on a thrilling adventure in Cancun. Here are a few exhilarating activities to consider:

  • Ziplining and Jungle ATV Tour : Begin your day with an adrenaline rush by soaring through the treetops on a zipline adventure. Experience the thrill of flying above the lush jungles of Cancun, enjoying panoramic views of the surrounding nature. Afterward, hop on an ATV and venture into the dense jungle trails, traversing through rugged terrains and discovering hidden cenotes and ancient Mayan ruins along the way. ▶︎ BOOK your ATV and Ziplining Tour HERE
  • Scuba Diving in the Great Maya Reef : Explore the mesmerizing underwater world of the Great Maya Reef, the second-largest coral reef system in the world. Dive into the crystal-clear waters teeming with vibrant marine life, colorful coral formations, and submerged caves. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced diver, there are options available for all skill levels to discover the wonders of the ocean.
  • Jet Skiing and Parasailing : Get your heart racing with a thrilling jet ski ride along the sparkling turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. Feel the rush of adrenaline as you speed through the waves, taking in the stunning coastal views. For a bird’s-eye perspective, take to the skies on a parasailing adventure, where you’ll be lifted high above the water, enjoying breathtaking panoramic vistas.
  • Cenote Snorkeling and Cave Exploration: Explore the mystical cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula through a snorkeling and cave exploration adventure. Discover the hidden underground rivers, swim in the crystal-clear cenotes, and marvel at the spectacular stalactite formations within the caves. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty and tranquility of these unique ecosystems.
  • Jungle Zip Bike and Canopy Tour : Experience a thrilling combination of biking and ziplining through the jungle on a zip bike tour. Ride a specially designed bicycle along suspended cables, zooming through the treetops with an adrenaline-pumping rush. Along the way, stop at platforms to take in the breathtaking views and enjoy the sensation of flying through the jungle.

Underground River, Xcaret

Check out Viator or ask your hotel for the best activities in the area . You can also head to an adventure park for the day where you’ll get to do several fun activities within the day , most of these parks offer a buffet-style lunch and non-alcoholic drinks with the entrance. You’ll usually find all sorts of activities for all ages and abilities. Here are some great options:

  • Xcaret Park: Located close to Cancun, Xcaret Park is a vast eco-archaeological park that combines adventure, culture, and natural beauty. Experience thrilling activities such as snorkeling in underground rivers, swimming with dolphins, and exploring the park’s extensive network of caves. Immerse yourself in Mexican culture with live performances, traditional cuisine, and visits to archaeological sites.
  • Xplor Park : This adventure park is known for its adrenaline-pumping activities. Enjoy ziplining through the jungle, driving amphibious vehicles through rugged terrains, rafting in underground rivers, and swimming in cenotes. Xplor Park also offers a nighttime experience, where you can zip line under the stars and explore illuminated caves.
  • Xel-Há Park : Situated along the Riviera Maya coastline, Xel-Há Park is a natural aquarium that combines adventure with relaxation. Snorkel in the calm turquoise waters, float down the lazy river on inner tubes, and cliff jump into cenotes. Explore the lush jungle surroundings, relax in hammocks, and indulge in delicious food and drinks at the park’s various restaurants and bars.
  • Selvatica Adventure Park : Located in Puerto Morelos, Selvatica Adventure Park offers a thrilling canopy tour experience. Zip line through the treetops, test your skills on aerial bridges, and ride an exhilarating off-road Polaris vehicle. The park also features a cenote swim and a bungee swing for those seeking an extra dose of adrenaline.
  • Aktun Chen Natural Park : This park is famous for its stunning underground cave system and cenotes. Embark on a guided tour through the cave, marveling at impressive rock formations and swimming in crystal-clear cenotes. Aktun Chen also has a zipline circuit and an animal sanctuary where you can encounter native wildlife.

After an exhilarating day of adventure, take some time to relax and rejuvenate. Indulge in a delicious dinner at one of Cancun’s many restaurants, and maybe get a massage at one of the many spas in town.

Day 6: Beach Bliss and Cancun Underwater Museum

Start your day by indulging in the beauty of Cancun’s pristine beaches. Choose a picturesque spot like Playa Delfines or Playa Tortugas to soak up the sun , feel the soft sand beneath your toes, and take refreshing dips in the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.

Beach in Cancun

After enjoying a relaxing morning at the beach, it’s time to dive into a unique cultural experience at the Cancun Underwater Museum (MUSA) . Hop on a glass bottom boat or join a snorkeling tour that will take you to this extraordinary underwater museum located in the National Marine Park.

The Cancun Underwater Museum is a collection of over 500 life-size sculptures submerged beneath the sea. These sculptures serve as artificial reefs, providing a habitat for marine life and promoting the growth of coral formations.

Snorkel or dive among these captivating sculptures , as well as the vibrant marine life that has made the museum their home. It’s a truly surreal and awe-inspiring experience that combines art, conservation, and natural beauty.

After exploring the underwater museum, you can return to the beach to relax and continue enjoying the sun , sand, and sea. Take leisurely walks along the shoreline, sip on refreshing drinks from beachside bars, or try your hand at beach games and water sports.

As the day progresses, relish in the stunning sunset views over the Caribbean Sea. Find a cozy spot on the beach and witness the sky transforming into a canvas of vibrant colors, creating a magical atmosphere.

In the evening, head back to your accommodation and freshen up for a delightful dinner in one of Cancun’s renowned restaurants. Whether you prefer seafood, Mexican specialties, or international cuisine, there are plenty of options available to suit every palate.

Mexican meal

After dinner, you can choose to spend a relaxing evening strolling along the vibrant streets of Cancun’s Hotel Zone or venture into the bustling nightlife scene . Explore bars, nightclubs, and live music venues, immersing yourself in the energetic and vibrant ambiance that Cancun is known for.

As your incredible 7-day journey in Cancun comes to a close, take this day to relax, reflect, and bid farewell to the beauty and tranquility that has captivated your senses throughout your trip.

After breakfast, embrace the laid-back atmosphere of Cancun by spending the morning at your leisure. Whether it’s lounging by the pool, strolling along the beach, or engaging in a soothing yoga session, allow yourself to unwind and soak up the last moments of relaxation.

If you’re looking for some pampering and rejuvenation, consider booking a spa treatment or massage . Cancun offers a range of world-class spas where you can indulge in luxurious therapies that will leave you feeling refreshed and revitalized.

Temazcal

For those who want to explore a bit more before bidding farewell, take a leisurely walk through Cancun’s vibrant markets and shops . Discover unique souvenirs, handicrafts, and local treasures to bring back home as reminders of your incredible journey.

As the day progresses, find a cozy spot on the beach or by the pool to bask in the warm sunshine. Allow yourself to be mesmerized by the breathtaking views, the soothing sound of the waves, and the gentle sea breeze. Take this time to reflect on the adventures, the natural wonders, and the cultural richness that you have experienced during your stay.

In the evening, savor a farewell dinner at a restaurant that captures the essence of Cancun’s culinary scene. Delight your taste buds with a fusion of flavors, whether it’s fresh seafood, traditional Mexican dishes, or international cuisine. Raise a toast to the memories made and the new friends you’ve met along the way.

Restaurant strip in Cancun

After dinner, take a final stroll along the beach, allowing the tranquility of the ocean to wash over you. Embrace the beauty of the starlit sky, breathing in the salty air and cherishing the moments of serenity before saying goodbye to Cancun.

Cancun Travel Tips and Things to Know

  • Weather and Best Time to Visit : Cancun enjoys a tropical climate, with warm temperatures year-round. The peak tourist season is from December to April when the weather is dry and pleasant. However, visiting during the shoulder seasons of May to June or September to November can offer fewer crowds and more affordable prices.
  • Currency and Language : The official currency is the Mexican Peso (MXN). While many places accept US dollars, it’s advisable to have some pesos for local transactions – note that you’ll usually get a terrible exchange rate if you pay in dollars. Spanish is the official language, but English is widely spoken in tourist areas.
  • Safety: Cancun is generally safe for tourists, but it’s always important to take precautions. Keep your belongings secure, avoid isolated areas at night, and use reputable transportation services. Stay informed about local safety guidelines and follow any travel advisories.
  • Transportation: Cancun has a reliable transportation system, including taxis, buses, and private transfers. Taxis should use a meter or agree on a fare before starting the ride. Buses are an affordable option for getting around the Hotel Zone and downtown area. Renting a car is also a popular choice for exploring beyond Cancun.
  • Sun Protection: The Mexican sun can be intense, so pack and use sunscreen with a high SPF, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and light, breathable clothing. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, especially when spending time outdoors.
  • Water and Food: It’s recommended to drink bottled water and avoid tap water in Cancun. Be cautious when eating street food and choose reputable restaurants with good hygiene practices. Enjoy the flavors of Mexican cuisine, but remember to check the spice level if you’re sensitive to heat.
  • Excursions and Activities: Cancun offers a plethora of activities and excursions. Research and book in advance to secure your spot, especially for popular attractions like Chichen Itza, snorkeling tours, and eco-parks. Consider exploring nearby attractions like Tulum, Coba, and the cenotes (natural sinkholes).
  • Travel Insurance: It’s always advisable to have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and lost belongings. Check the policy details and ensure it meets your specific needs.

How much is a trip to Cancun for a week?

Overall, a rough estimate for a week-long trip to Cancun, including flights, accommodation, meals, transportation, and activities, can range from $1,500 to $3,000 per person.

The cost of your trip will depend on various factors such as the time of year, accommodation choices, dining preferences, activities, and personal spending habits.

Is 7 days in Cancun enough?

Yes, 7 days in Cancun can be enough to enjoy a fulfilling and memorable vacation. It allows ample time to explore the beautiful beaches, visit ancient ruins, indulge in water activities, experience the vibrant nightlife, and immerse yourself in the local culture.

However, the duration of your stay ultimately depends on your preferences and the activities you wish to engage in. If you want to explore more of the Yucatan Peninsula or have a more leisurely pace, you may consider extending your trip.

What’s the best month to go to Cancun?

The peak tourist season in Cancun is from December to April when the weather is dry and pleasant, making it ideal for beach activities and exploring the ancient ruins. However, this is also the busiest and most expensive time.

The shoulder seasons of May to June and September to November offer fewer crowds, pleasant weather, and more affordable prices. Just keep in mind that the hurricane season runs from June to November, with the highest risk in September and October.

Should you go off resort in Cancun?

Yes, going off the resort in Cancun can enhance your vacation experience by allowing you to explore the local culture, attractions, and cuisine. Venturing beyond the resort grants the opportunity to visit ancient ruins, swim in cenotes, experience local markets, and engage in water sports or eco-adventures. Interacting with locals and sampling authentic Mexican food can enrich your understanding of the destination.

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Cancun 7-day Itinerary

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Mayapan, Maya ruins, Yucatan, Mexico

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4 Day Cancun Itinerary – See It all in 2022

Chichen Itza - Mexico / June 12, 2021 by Daniel

4 Day Cancun Itinerary – Do it all!

Are you planning a trip to Cancun, Mexico? Follow this 4 day Cancun itinerary in 2022 if you don’t want to miss anything that this fantastic Caribbean city offers!

Found on the Yucatan Peninsula that borders the Caribbean Sea, Cancun is famous for its scenic beaches, relaxing resorts, and thriving nightlife

This 4 Day Cancun Itinerary is a go-go-go itinerary, so it is quite busy. You may have to skip a few things on the list to slow things down a bit. This can also easily be stretched to a 7-day vacation plan as well.

Check out our top 5 things to do in Cancun!

4 day Cancun Itinerary in 2022

10 a.m. – hit the beach i recommend playa delfines.

Why visit? Super nice, chill beach. Bring your own food and beer and just relax. I would spend half a day here!

Cost? Free plus whatever you bring to eat and drink.

Playa Delfines beach on a sunny day in cancun mexico

2 p.m. – Visit the Maya Cancun Museum

Why visit? Not too far from Playa Delfine is this impressive museum. Learn about the Mayan culture. The museum has large exhibition halls and well-preserved artifacts from the State of Quintana Roo and a few other ruin sites outside of the area.

Cost? $4 entry fee

5 p.m. -Head downtown to Mercado 23

Why Visit? It might be the biggest market in Cancun. Spend some time here getting all your survivor shopping done and over with for the trip! Also, grab a beer and some dinner while you are here!

Cost? Whatever you want to spend on souvenirs.

9 a.m. – Day Tour To Isla Mujeres

sign that says isla mujures on a sunny day in mexico

Why visit? A beautiful island that is close to Cancun with lots of bars, restaurants, and scenic views!

Cost? The ferry is $14 roundtrip from Ultramar Puerto Juárez . A golf cart is $35/day if you rent one. Add in alcohol and food costs.

Tours : Sail through the turquoise waters of the Mexican Caribbean aboard a catamaran to visit Isla Mujeres. Snorkel at the second biggest reef in the world and enjoy a relaxing day on the island.

Here are a few tours to check out!

4 p.m. – Hang out at your resort!

colorfun drinks at a resort in cancun mexico

Make sure to spend some quality time at your resort and see what all they have to offer. Many resorts provide daily entertainment in the form of acts, games, and events. Take advantage of the kayaks, bikes, and other things they may provide.

7 p.m. – Head over to the Hotel Zone

hotel zone hard rock cafe in cancun mexico

Why Visit? The hotel zone is loaded with fun restaurants and bars! Probably the best place to have a night out in Cancun. Don’t pass up on a night in this area from the famous Coco Bongo bar to Senor Frogs!

Cost : The hotel zone bars and restaurants is a huge tourist trap. Be aware the prices reflect this and are high. If you visit one of the many OXXO or 7-eleven stores in the area, you can find all sorts of drinks for under a dollar!

7 a.m. – Full Day Chichen Itza Tour

Why visit? This is a MUST-DO if you come to Cancun. The Chichen Itza archeological site is one of the 7-wonder of the world. Learn about the remarkable history behind it with a guided tour!

Cost? $50-$100

Sunny day at the chichen itza site

Here is a video of a tour of the amazing Chichen Itza, so you’ll know what to expect!

Check out these tours to Chichen Itza!

Related : What To See at the Chichen Itza Site [Videos] & Tour Recommendations

9 a.m. – Snorkle & Cenote Visit!

 look at the top of a cenote in cancun mexico

Why Visit ? Snorkeling in the Caribbean waters is absolutely unforgettable with how clear the water is and how colorful the fish are. Cenotes are one of the most extraordinary things to see on earth!

Cost : $60-$100

colorful fish while snorkeling in the Caribbean waters in cancun mexico

Check out these Snorkel and Cenote Tours!

The Wrap-Up

Cancun is an excellent vacation destination with tons to do and see.

I hope that you have a better insight into what those things are, and this guide will help you plan your 4 day Cancun Itinerary in 2022.

What’s Next?

G adventure guided tours.

Check them out!

Planning Your Own Adventure?

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Need Personalized Trip Planning Help?

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Have Questions?

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Cancun Itinerary – 3 Days to 1 Week in Cancun

Are you thinking about travelling to Cancun?

We love the Yucatan peninsula for its fantastic beaches , its Mayan ruins and its vibrant towns. No matter how much time you spend in Cancun, you have a lot of options for what to do. You might even have so many options that you have a hard time deciding what to choose.

That is why we have put together this very flexible itinerary for Cancun. We are going to cover the best places in the Yucatan peninsula, so you don’t miss out on the highlights. At the same time, there will be enough time to relax on a beach and enjoy your holidays.

Keep reading to find out how to spend your days in Mexico!

Want to save time when booking your trip? Then let us help you with these resources!

Best hotels in Cancun :

  • Iberostar Selection Cancun (all-inclusive hotel with a private beach and multiple pools)
  • Suites Malecon Cancun (mid-range; in the centre of Cancun, with a pool, a gym and panoramic views of the city and the lagoon)
  • Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun (luxury; offers a private beach, six different restaurants and many pools)
  • Bed and Breakfast Pecari (budget; includes breakfast and access to a pool)

Book your flight to Cancun by comparing the best deals on Skyscanner !

Join a tour to explore Cancun and Yucatan :

  • Guided tour to Chichen Itza (see the famous Mayan ruins, swim in a cenote and visit Valladolid)
  • Tulum adventure tour (discover the Mayan ruins of Tulum, snorkel at a reef and go for a swim in a cenote)
  • Isla Mujeres sailing adventure (sailing tour to Isla Mujeres, including stops to snorkel and see the island)
  • Jungle adventure (includes horseback riding, an off-road ATV experience, ziplining and much more)

Book your rental car on rentalcars.com .

Want to use public transport? Then get your bus tickets on Busbud .

Book your airport transfer ahead of time to ensure you have a good time from the first moment on.

Table of Contents

Cancun itinerary

No matter if you are on a 5-day trip to Cancun or you have one week in Mexico, this Yucatan itinerary will help you find out what to do.

We are going to start by including the highlights of the region in a 3-day itinerary for Cancun. Then, we add on one day at a time, so this itinerary works even for longer holidays.

Make sure to skip to the end afterwards to find out how to get around and where to stay in Cancun!

3 days in Cancun

Day 1 – relaxing at the beach.

The sea at Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Welcome to Mexico!

You have probably heard of Cancun’s fantastic beaches, so we suggest that you start your Yucatan vacation by relaxing on one.

Depending on where you come from, you might have had a long flight to arrive here. You might even be suffering from jetlag, so it’s a good idea to take it easy on your first day.

If you stay in a hotel with beach access, just grab a towel, walk down to the waterfront and enjoy your day. Grab a cocktail, dip your feet into the turquoise water and relax.

If not, don’t worry. Fortunately, you can find multiple public beaches in Cancun. Playa Delfines is the most famous one and definitely one of the best Yucatan beaches. Come here if you want to enjoy white sand and crystal clear water. Plus, you can take a picture of the Cancun sign on this beach!

Just be careful when you go in the water, as Playa Delfines is known for its strong currents.

Day 2 – Chichen Itza

The pyramid at Chichen Itza

The second day of this Cancun 3-day itinerary is dedicated to one of the highlights of Yucatan – Chichen Itza.

Chichen Itza is one of the best Yucatan ruins that you can visit. The main attraction in this complex is the giant pyramid, but there is so much more to see!

Make sure to stop by the ball court and learn more about the Mayan ball games. Did you know that the losing team was often sacrificed afterwards? The players were literally playing for their lives!

Today is also a great chance if you want to swim in a cenote in Yucatan. The Mayan people often used those sinkholes for sacrifices, but today, many are accessible for swimming and diving.

Next to Chichen Itza, you can find the Cenote Ik Kil, one of the most stunning cenotes in the area. The water is much colder than you might expect, but it’s perfect for cooling down on a hot day, and the views are fantastic.

Cenote Ik Kil from above

If you’re going by bus or driving, you can easily add this cenote to your itinerary. If you’re joining a guided tour, make sure to book one that includes a visit to a cenote.

Which brings us to the possible options for making this trip. The first one is to go by public transport. You can take an ADO Bus from Cancun to Chichen Itza. As only limited buses drive this route every day, you will have to make sure to time your visit well.

You can book your tickets at the ADO bus terminal and also online. The ADO website is in Spanish, but you can also book your ticket on Busbud .

Ruins in Chichen Itza

If you prefer having more flexibility and driving to Chichen Itza yourself, you need to rent a car. We recommend getting it on rentalcars.com , where you can easily get an overview of the cheapest available rental cars.

The last option is to join a guided tour from Cancun. Most tours offer hotel pick-ups and include a few more stops along the way. We highly recommend choosing one that lets you visit a cenote. Take a look at this tour , which receives excellent ratings and also includes stops in Valladolid and Cenote Saamal.

Day 3 – Isla Mujeres

Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres, Mexico

How are you enjoying travelling Yucatan so far?

After relaxing at the beach and exploring Chichen Itza, it is now time to head to one of Mexico’s islands.

You can find Isla Mujeres just off the coast of Cancun, which makes it a very convenient day trip. The island is known for its fantastic beaches, laid-back atmosphere and for being small enough that you can quickly get around in a golf cart.

Start your day at Playa Norte, one of the best beaches on Isla Mujeres. If you want to, you could easily spend the whole day here.

From Playa Norte, head to the town centre. Here, you can find lots of shops, restaurants and cafes. It’s a great destination if you want to buy souvenirs, but it’s also perfect if you just want to enjoy a cold drink.

A sea turtle at Isla Mujeres, Mexico

As we already mentioned, one of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres is to rent a golf cart and drive around the island. We recommend going to the southern tip of the island, where you can find some small Mayan ruins and enjoy the view.

Along the way, make sure to stop at La Tortugranja, where you can learn more about the turtles that live here. This turtle sanctuary protects turtle eggs and works in the conservation of many local turtle species.

To get to Isla Mujeres, you need to catch a ferry from Cancun. The port is called Puerto Juarez, and ferries regularly connect the island with the mainland. You can buy your ticket at the port, but if you prefer having them in advance, you can also get them online .

4 Days in Cancun

Ruins of Tulum, Mexico

For a 4-day Cancun itinerary, we recommend that you follow the steps above and then head to Tulum on your last day.

The Mayan ruins in Tulum are famous for their location just next to the beach. They might not be as big as the pyramid in Chichen Itza, but they are a lot of fun to visit. Plus, despite its smaller size, Tulum was once an important ceremonial centre.

Make sure to take a towel and beach clothes. If the weather is nice, you can go for a quick swim in the sea, just next to the Mayan ruins.

Tulum ruins

Besides the archaeological site, Tulum has a few more sights that you should check out. First, you can also discover some fantastic beaches here. If you want to, you could head to the public beach and spend the rest of the day there.

You could also explore Tulum itself. The town is known for its hippie vibe, and this is a perfect opportunity to check it out yourself. You can also find delicious Mexican food in Tulum, so make sure to grab a bite before returning to Cancun.

5 days in Cancun

colourful Merida sign

If you have five nights in Cancun, you’re lucky because today, you will see one of the best cities in the Yucatan peninsula. Merida is known for its colonial architecture and its many opportunities to experience the local culture.

The easiest way to get to Merida is by car. Buses take around four hours, and you can save a bit of time if you go by car. Plus, getting a rental car and going on a one-day Yucatan road trip offers you more flexibility.

In Merida, it’s best to start exploring the city at the Plaza Grande. Around this central square, you can already see lots of historic buildings. Plus, it’s a great place if you want to sit down and people watch for a while.

Street in Merida

Next to the central square, you can find the Palacio de Gobierno, the government palace. If you go inside, you can discover murals depicting the history of Merida and the local Maya population. Make sure to go up to the first floor if you want to see all of them!

Merida is home to lots of museums, so now is your chance if you want to visit one of them. The Gran Museo del Mundo Maya de Merida, for example, will teach you everything you have ever wanted to know about the Maya civilisation.

If you get hungry, make sure to grab traditional Mexican food in one of the many restaurants. Merida is the perfect city if you want to try regional food from Yucatan.

6 days in Cancun

Isla cozumel.

The sea and the lagoon on Cozumel Island, Mexico

Turning this itinerary into a Cancun itinerary for 6 days is very easy. Just follow the above days and then head to Isla Cozumel on your sixth day.

Isla Cozumel features some of the best beaches in Yucatan. The island is much bigger than Isla Mujeres, so you will need to rent a car to get around.

Once on the island, make sure to head to the southern tip of the island. You need to pay to enter the Punta Sur Eco Park, but it is well worth it.

Here, you can explore a mangrove forest, walk along eco trails and see some of the local flora and fauna. You are guaranteed to see many birds along the way, and you can learn more about the mangrove forest ecosystem.

The Punta Sur Eco Park is also home to a fantastic beach. You can easily spend the day here, relaxing in the sun and swimming in the turquoise water.

Beach on Cozumel Island, Mexico, seen from the water

If you prefer to visit a public beach, head to Palancar Beach. The beach is great for relaxing, and it’s also pretty good for snorkelling. You need to bring your own snorkelling gear, but you have the chance of seeing fish in the water along the beach.

Last, you could consider joining a tour that takes you to the main snorkelling spots around the island. Check out this tour which includes a boat ride to three fantastic snorkelling spots, including El Cielo beach, famous for its starfish.

To get to Isla Cozumel, you first need to get to Playa del Carmen. If you already have a rental car , you can drive, but otherwise, you can consider taking an ADO bus . Take a taxi from the bus terminal to head to the ferry dock and then catch the ferry to Isla Cozumel .

7 Days in Cancun

Go on an adventure / playa del carmen.

Swimming in the waters at Isla Cozumel, Mexico

If you are looking for a 1-week Yucatan itinerary, you should follow all of the days as mentioned above. For the last day, you have lots of different options and the choice is up to you.

Would you like to go shopping and explore a city? Then you should head to Playa del Carmen to check out La Quinta. This pedestrian street is lined by souvenir shops, stores selling artwork and cafes and restaurants.

Another option is to visit a museum, like the Frida Kahlo Museum, or head to the nearby Cenote Azul for a swim.

If you are not interested in Playa del Carmen, we recommend joining one of the many excellent tours you can find in Cancun.

Flamingos in Mexico

You could go horseback riding, fly through the jungle on a zipline and much more on this adventure tour . Or you could search for whale sharks with this tour .

If you prefer a relaxing day, you could also head to Isla Mujeres on a sailing adventure. Even if you’ve visited the island already, this tour is mainly about the sailing adventure, so make sure to check it out !

Last, you also have the option of staying in Cancun for a relaxing day at the beach. Soaking up the sun and swimming in the crystal clear water is a great way to end your 7-day Cancun itinerary.

If you have more time

Street art on Isla Holbox Mexico

If you have more than just one week in Cancun, we have a few suggestions for you. There are lots of things to do in Yucatan which you can explore during your holidays.

One option is to not only stay in Cancun. A road trip across the peninsula is a great way to explore the region. You could spend a night or two in Merida and see the Mayan ruins of Uxmal. Chichen Itza is more famous, but we loved Uxmal just as much as it is much less touristy.

Ilona enjoying the view in Uxmal

Another excellent option for an overnight stay outside Cancun is Isla Holbox. This island is famous for its fantastic beaches, its sandy streets and its colourful houses. Plus, you have the chance to see whale sharks in this area.

You could also head south from Cancun and explore the coast. From Cancun, you could head to Bacalar, a town known for the nearby Lagoon of Seven Colours. On a sunny day, the water in the lagoon shines in every shade of blue you can imagine.

Beach in Placencia, Belize

If you have an additional week, why not come up with a Cancun to Belize itinerary? You can combine the highlights of our itinerary above with a visit to Bacalar and then head to Caye Caulker in Belize from there.

Make sure to check out our Belize itinerary to discover all of the other great places that the country has to offer!

Where to stay in Cancun

There are so many great options for where to stay in Cancun that booking your trip can easily feel overwhelming. Finding the best Cancun hotel depends on many factors, including your budget, whether or not you want to have direct access to the beach and what you want to get out of this trip.

Here are some options that you should check out:

All-inclusive : If you’re looking to stay at an all-inclusive resort with direct access to the beach, then check out the Iberostar Selection Cancun. This hotel offers a private beach, multiple pools and comfortable rooms. Plus, if you need a rental car for the day, you can rent it directly in the hotel. Click here to see the latest reviews and book your stay !

Ilona sitting on a swing in the water in Isla Holbox, Mexico

Luxury : Do you want to stay in an extraordinary hotel with excellent ratings, a private beach and a 40,000-square-foot spa? Then check out the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun. You can choose from six different restaurants, relax by the pool or spend hours on the private beach. Check out availability and prices now !

Mid-range : All of the above hotels are located in the Cancun hotel zone, where you have access to a private beach. If you’re happy to stay in a different area and head to the public beach, you can find excellent mid-range hotels. The Suites Malecon Cancun, for example, offers panoramic views of the lagoon and the city. The hotel features a pool and a gym and is the perfect base for following our Cancun trip itinerary. Click here to see whether it is still available for your stay !

Cenote in Valladolid

Budget : If you’re travelling to Cancun on a budget, you have multiple options. The Hostalito is great if you’re looking for a hostel where you can get a dorm bed. There’s a pool, a lounge and plenty of opportunities to meet other travellers. Or you could stay at the Bed and Breakfast Pecari, where you also have access to a pool. The rates include free breakfast, and the owner is lovely, so make sure to check it out !

For your honeymoon : You can easily use this post to put together your Cancun honeymoon itinerary if you combine the above activities with a fantastic hotel. Take a look at the Moon Palace Cancun and their honeymoon suite. You’ll have a double whirlpool tub in your room, plus access to 24-hours room service and a private beach lounge area. What else could you ask for? Click here to book your stay now!

How to get to Cancun

Even though you can find multiple airports in Yucatan, we highly recommend flying directly to Cancun.

As Cancun is a popular holiday destination, you can usually find good flight deals. The easiest way to ensure you don’t pay too much for your flight is by searching on a website like Skyscanner . Here, you can see all available options and find the website where your flight is the cheapest.

Click here to go to Skyscanner and search for your flights to Cancun now !

View of the Central Square and Cathedral in Merida

From the airport, you have multiple options for getting to your hotel.

The first one is to take a bus. ADO buses connect the airport with the city regularly and are a great option if you’re on a budget. You can even look up the timetable and book your ticket in English on Busbud .

The next option is to get a taxi. You will find many taxi drivers waiting at the airport. Be careful to agree on the rate before you get into the taxi, or insist on using the meter to avoid getting ripped off.

An easier option is to book your airport transfer ahead of time. You can easily book a transfer on Viator , and a driver will be waiting for you at the airport.

Ilona sitting on the stairs of a temple in Uxmal

The last option is to get a rental car . This is great if you’re planning on driving around the Yucatan peninsula, but you need to double-check whether you can park your car at your hotel. Some hotels charge extra for parking, so look it up in advance to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Getting around Cancun and Yucatan

Whenever possible, we have mentioned methods of transport in our itinerary. Yucatan is surprisingly big, so getting around can be a bit tedious at times.

Within Cancun, you can either take public transport or use a taxi. When you want to leave the city, you have three options.

Zipline in Yucatan

The easiest is to join a guided tour. We have a few examples of tours above that we think you might like, so make sure to check them out.

The other options are to either travel by bus or to rent a car . A car gives you considerably more flexibility, but as I mentioned above, you will need to make sure that you can park it at your hotel. It’s also more expensive than going by bus.

If you prefer to use public transport, ADO buses connect most major cities and towns on the Yucatan peninsula. If you speak some basic Spanish, you can look up the schedule and book your tickets on their website .

Street in Campeche

If you prefer an English website, then you can book your tickets on Busbud. Booking is very easy, and you have support in English if you need it. Click here to look into bus tickets now !

We hope you found this Yucatan itinerary useful. We loved travelling through Latin America and have a few more resources that help you plan your trip and inspire you for future travels. Make sure to check them out:

  • Discover the best beaches in Mexico and Central America
  • Head to Belize from Cancun – find out now how to get to Caye Caulker
  • Extend your holidays and spend one week in Belize
  • Love beaches? Then head to Utila, a Caribbean island in Honduras.

Until your next adventure!

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Ilona is a world traveller passionate about sharing her experiences and giving advice to fellow travellers. Having visited over 70 countries, she is always excited about her next trip.

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Sandra Campillo

The Perfect Cancun 7 Days Itinerary: 23 Best Things to Do

SCampillo

Looking for things to do in Cancun? With this perfect 7-days Cancun itinerary and 23 of the best things to do, you will not fall short of experiences on your Caribbean vacation!

Let’s start with the beautiful beaches. 

cancun tour itinerary

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to make a purchase. These are products I’ve personally used and stand behind. You can read disclaimer here . 

It’s no secret that Cancun is a popular beach destination with white sand beaches, crystal-clear Caribbean waters, and plenty of sunshiny weather along with activities for everyone including water sports, snorkeling, and scuba diving excursions. Just be sure to bring a hat and sunscreen for sun protection!

And from Playa del Carmen to Isla Mujeres and Playa del Fines to the Riviera Maya, you’ll find the opportunity to explore ancient Mayan ruins, embark on a jungle tour or enjoy the cultural attractions and archeological sites.

There are also day trips you can take to Isla Mujeres to cool off in the best swimming holes in the Yucatan Peninsula known as Cenotes. Expand your exploration into Chichén Itzá, and explore the Seventh Wonder of the World!

This perfect Cancun itinerary for 7 days, will have you wanting to come back for more!

So if you’re looking for some fun in the sun in Cancun, Mexico, I’ve got you covered with 23 of the best things to do in Cancun that are both eco-friendly and fun along with the perfect 7-day itinerary  to help you plan your trip!

Table of Contents

23 Amazing Eco Things to Do in Cancun, Mexico

While this list doesn’t cover everything there is to do in Cancun , it’s a good place to help you start planning your Yucatan itinerary. It will also give you ideas if you want to add a couple days more to your plans or save for a future trip back.

1. Visit the Xcaret Eco Park

cancun tour itinerary

Xcaret Eco Park is one of my most recommended places to visit in Cancun and an absolute must when traveling to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It’s an eco-travelers fave!

Located right in the heart of the Riviera Maya, Xcaret is an eco-archaeological theme park with so much to do. This park offers a unique experience and unlike most amusement parks, Xcaret has been built using the natural environment and real Maya ruins as its foundation.

The word “Xcaret” actually means small inlet in Mayan. It’s the representation of the natural area that makes up Xcaret Eco Park today.

Among the history, lush jungle, and natural water that surrounds the park, you’ll find abundant activities, educational opportunities, and lots of fun to be had throughout this main attraction.

Be sure to make plenty of time to experience, explore, and enjoy the adventures Xcaret has to offer – from serene jungle trails, caverns, natural wildlife, coral reef aquarium, underground river, butterfly farm, and so much more!

As a ticket holder, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with regional species and tropical environments – Something you want to definitely take advantage of!

2. Scuba Dive in the Great Mesoamerican Barrier Reef

cancun tour itinerary

If you’re looking for a unique experience and an underwater adventure, head over to the Great Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.

The Great Mesoamerican Reef is the second-largest coral reef system in the world, stretching from Cancun to Honduras. It’s an underwater paradise and home to a wide variety of coral reefs, fish, turtles, and other marine life.

If you enjoy scuba diving, this would be an ideal place to dive in!

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3. Kayak and Snorkel through Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

cancun tour itinerary

Image Credit: Sian Ka’an Village

If you’re not a big fan of scuba diving in the deep ocean, a kayak and snorkel trip along calm waters may be more relaxing and enjoyable for you. Perfect for staying cool in the hot tropical climate.

The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, also known as, “Where the Sky is Born,” is located near Tulum in the heart of Mexico’s Mayan Riviera in Quintana Roo.

It’s also one of the largest protected areas in Mexico.

Here you can cruise through the mangrove forests, open cenotes, and explore the underwater life as you snorkel along the blue lagoons and relax on the white-sand beaches – A  nature lovers paradise!

As you kayak through the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, you’ll also have the opportunity to observe diverse wildlife and spot endangered species such as jaguars and sea turtles.

This hidden gem is a perfect place to visit if you’re a nature lover or eco-adventurer. It’s the best way to experience nature at its finest!

4. Swim with Turtles at Akumal Bay

cancun tour itinerary

Swimming with turtles at Akumal Bay is truly a unique experience and if you love sea turtles, this is the perfect way to see them up close!

The crystal-clear turquoise waters make it easy to spot them as they willingly swim up to you. You can get a tour guide if you’d like but you don’t need one. The easiest way is simply to walk out from Akumal beach into the water and swim alongside these gentle beings in their natural habitat.

It’s important to respect the animals and be mindful of their environment when visiting. This is their home you’re trespassing on so let them swim to you and circle around you naturally. Be patient. They will come to you.

The species of sea turtles (green turtle and loggerhead turtle) that nest in the Akumal area are endangered and have vital programs in place to keep them protected.

5. Explore Underground Tunnels in Rio Secreto Nature Reserve

cancun tour itinerary

Located in the heart of the Yucatan Peninsula in Playa del Carmen, Rio Secreto Natural Reserve boasts an array of underground rivers and caves, some of which have been recently discovered.

Visitors can take guided tours of the tunnels and cenotes, which offer amazing views of stalactites and stalagmites, crystal-like cave formations, and swim in the turquoise clear waters.

The guided tours are designed to educate visitors about the geological and ecological significance of the reserve, as well as the rich culture and history of the historic sites.

This is a great place to experience nature at its finest the best thing to do if you’re an eco-adventurer!

6. Go on a Beach Escape to Isla Contoy National Park

cancun tour itinerary

Image Credit: Google images

Take a tour of the small island of Isla Contoy commonly known as, “The Island of Birds.”

Spend a day on this beautiful, peaceful, secluded island surrounded by nature, and tropical landscapes, and observe wildlife in their natural habitat – an important nesting place for sea birds and sea turtles.

The trip begins in Isla Mujeres (or Cancun) before setting sail to the beautiful island. Once on shore, unlike the public beaches, you’ll feel like you are on a private island.

Enjoy the day snorkeling, exploring, and relaxing under the sun with over 150 species of birds. It’s a complete paradise!

Isla Contoy officially became a national park in 1998 and is now only accessible by a licensed and approved tour company allowing up to 200 visitors per day to help keep the island preserved. So be sure to book ahead of time so you don’t miss out!

7. Bird Watching in Puerto Morelos  

cancun tour itinerary

If you love birds, you’ll have to head over to Puerto Morelos where you can explore exotic and tropical birds along the mangroves and lush, tropical jungle. See colorful toucans, yellow-lored parrots, honeycreepers, and many others in their vibrant colors.

They are a sight for sore eyes!

The best time for bird watching is in the morning so give yourself enough time to truly enjoy the experience. If you’re staying in Cancun’s hotel zone or Playa del Carmen, the road trip is about an hour drive so it won’t take up too much time.

Taking a tour with a travel guide is your best bet for this experience. You’ll be guided on a hike through the pristine jungle and learn about the ecosystem of the Riviera Maya while being guided by a naturalist.

Your participation in these tours helps to support eco-tourism projects as well as protect the Mayan culture.

Book a 4-Hour Bird-Watching Tour

Book a 6-Hour Private Bird-Watching tour

8. Visit Chichen Itza – The Ancient Mayan City  

cancun tour itinerary

Image Credit: Expedia

The ancient city of Chichen Itza is one of the most important tourist attractions and the best-preserved Mayan archeological site. It was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998.

The highlight of any visit to Chichen Itza is the famous El Castillo pyramid, a towering structure with a unique design that aligns perfectly with the sun during the spring and fall equinoxes. Visiting Chichen Itza is a fun and educational way to experience Mexico’s rich cultural heritage and learn about the fascinating history of the Mayan civilization.

9. Explore El Rey Ruins   

cancun tour itinerary

Exploring El Rey Ruins in Mexico is a fun and unique activity that offers a glimpse into the ancient pre-Columbian Mayan culture. The Ruins are located in the heart of the Hotel Zone in Cancun, making them easily accessible for visitors staying in the area.

The entry fee is only $3 and takes about 30 minutes to walk through and explore. It’s a short walk from the hotel area and would make a nice late-afternoon stroll.

The archaeological site features 47 structures including pyramids, temples, and plazas dating back to approximately 1200-1450 AD when the area was once a large town.

Some structures are more preserved than others and swarm with iguanas that have since been inhabiting this archaeological site. Don’t worry, they won’t bother you as long as you don’t bother them!

And, don’t forget to bring your water. Dehydration will sneak up on you!

10. Relax on Playa Delfines Beach

cancun tour itinerary

Play Delfines is among the best of the Cancun beaches. A pristine beach located in the hotel zone of Cancun, Playa Delfines is one of the most beautiful and serene beaches in the area.

The beach is the perfect place to unwind, soak up the sun, and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The beach is relatively uncrowded making it an ideal place to kick back and relax during your Cancun trip.

11. A Night Out at Coco Bongo 

cancun tour itinerary

After a week of tours and relaxing on the beach, experience a night out at the famous Coco Bongo nightlife hot spot! Enjoy a unique entertainment experience that combines music, dancing, acrobatics, and theatrical performances.

The venue is designed to create a vibrant and dynamic atmosphere that is both energetic and exhilarating. Coco Bongo is particularly famous for its impressive production shows that feature high-energy choreography, stunning visual effects, and live music from renowned artists.

Turn it into a club crawl with the Ultimate Cancun Club Crawl Bongo Tour for an unforgettable nightlife experience.

12. Explore Las Coloradas Pink Lakes  

cancun tour itinerary

For a unique and awwing adventure, Las Coloradas Pink Lakes is a sight to see. This natural wonder is a small fishing village located on the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, known for its stunning pink lakes.

These lakes are actually shallow evaporation ponds used for salt production and are part of a larger salt evaporation facility in the area.

The pink color of the lakes comes from the high concentration of salt in the water, as well as the presence of a type of algae called Dunaliella salina, which produces a reddish-pink pigment in response to the high salt levels. In turn, creating a striking contrast of colors that attracts travelers from all over.

It’s important to note that while the lakes are safe to visit, they are not suitable for swimming or other water activities, as the high salt content can be harmful to the skin and eyes. Despite the swimming limitations, touring the facilities will be a lot of fun.

Don’t forget to charge your camera and have it ready because you’re going to want to capture some pretty amazing Instagrammable shots!

14. Xplor Fuego Nighttime Adventure

cancun tour itinerary

If you’re an eco-adventurer and thrill seeker, this experience is for you. The Xplor Fuego adventure park is super exciting and the perfect experience for thrill-seekers.

Visitors can explore the park at night when the park is transformed into a magical wonderland of fire, torches, and stars. The adventures at Xplor Fuego include ziplining through the jungle, swimming in an underground river, driving an amphibious vehicle through the jungle, and exploring ancient caves.

One of the most popular attractions at Xplor Fuego is the zip-line circuit, which allows visitors to fly through the jungle on a series of ziplines, including one that plunges into the waters of a cenote.

So if you’re ready for an adrenaline rush that combines adventure, nature, and excitement, be sure to add Xplor Fuego to your Cancun travel itinerary !

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15. Fly High Above Xel-Ha Waterpark  

cancun tour itinerary

What better way to cool off than a visit to Xel-Ha Waterpark – a popular waterpark located on the Riviera Maya, that offers water activities such as snorkeling, swimming with dolphins, and exploring underground rivers.

If you want more of an adventurous experience, the park also offers a zip line circuit that allows visitors to soar high above the park, taking in stunning views of the surrounding jungle and the park surroundings.

16. Bike Around Tulum, an Ancient Wall Town      

cancun tour itinerary

Biking around the vibrant and ancient wall town of Tulum located on the Riviera Maya is a great way to explore the ancient Mayan ruins, and pristine beaches while observing the sights, and sounds at your own pace. 

Bike ride through the narrow streets of the town where you’ll find colorful buildings and local markets where you can find some of the best-tasting fresh exotic fruit around! 

If you want to cruise on over to the beach and go for a swim, there are plenty of public access beaches or you can access it through the beachfront hotels. While some may just let you walk through, others may charge a small fee or require a day pass.

A bike ride around Tulum is a great way to stay active and explore the area at your leisure. Be sure to check out the delicious vegan food Tulum offers. You can’t leave without trying the delicious local vegan flavors!

Make a bike reservation:

17. Swim in the Cenotes’ Swimming Holes  

cancun tour itinerary

You can’t leave Mexico without swimming in the cenotes – the earth’s naturally created swimming holes and the Yucatan Peninsula’s most unique and natural wonders.

Cenotes are formed when the ceiling of a cave collapses and creates a natural sinkhole – Typically from limestone rock.

These pools are often surrounded by lush vegetation and unique rock formations, that create a serene and picturesque setting for visitors to enjoy. You can spend hours exploring the different cenotes, each with its own unique characteristics and features.

Cenotes are amazing for swimming, snorkeling, and exploring underwater caves making it an experience you’ll never forget.

18. Ethically Swim and Snorkel Alongside Whale Sharks in Isla Mujeres

cancun tour itinerary

Swimming with sharks may not be something that has crossed your mind, but not to worry, these gentle giants are harmless!

Don’t let their size fool you either. Whale sharks are among the largest fish in the world and are harmless to humans, making it safe to get up close and personal with them in their natural habitat.

You can catch their annual migration from June 1st through September 15th where they can be found in large numbers around Isla Mujeres.

This is a sight you don’t want to miss!

Isla Mujeres in the Riviera Maya is one of the few places in the world where you can swim and snorkel alongside these majestic sea animals. Just take an hour boat ride out so you can get in the water with these beautiful beings.

Because of the jump in tourists visiting the whale sharks, it’s important that you adhere to strict regulations when swimming with these magnificent creatures.

19. Take a Jungle Tour and Snorkel at Punta Nizuc Reef 

cancun tour itinerary

Cruise through the lush jungle and mangroves on a day trip to Punta Nizuc Reef – well-known for its coral reef and vibrant marine life. It’s a great way to enjoy a snorkeling tour adventure!

The Punta Nizuc Reef is located just off the coast of the Cancun hotel zone and is considered one of the best snorkeling spots in the area, with crystal-clear waters and a quiet, secluded beach.

The reef is home to a variety of species, including tropical fish, sea turtles, and even the occasional stingray or nurse shark.

20. Scuba or Snorkel at Cancun’s Underwater Museum of Art

cancun tour itinerary

The Cancun Underwater Museum of Art (MUSA) is an incredible underwater museum located off the coast of Cancun, Isla Mujeres, and Punta Nizuc in Mexico. It’s a unique art project that features over 500 life-size sculptures and showcases the beauty of the underwater world on several levels while providing a platform for artists to display their work.

The art sculptures are designed as artificial reefs to support the local ecosystem and encourage the growth of coral and other marine life.

MUSA has become a popular spot for both diving enthusiasts and art lovers, and it has also become an important research site for marine biologists and environmental scientists who are studying the impact of the artificial reef on the local ecosystem.

Visitors can view the sculptures either by snorkeling, diving, or guided tours from Isla Mujeres, Cancun, Puerto Morelos, or Playa del Carmen. If you want to go to the deeper levels of the museum, it would require going by dive boat.

21. Relax and Explore the Beauty of Nature on Holbox Island

cancun tour itinerary

A day trip to Holbox Island is a perfect way to enjoy a relaxing and nature-infused vacation. The island boasts stunning natural beauty, with miles of white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean sea, and lush tropical greenery.

You can explore the island by renting a bike , scooter, or golf cart and discover hidden gems such as the Yalahau Lagoon, where you can swim in the freshwater spring and spot beautiful exotic and tropical birds.

Another must-see is Punta Mosquito, a secluded beach where you can relax and unwind amidst the tranquility of nature. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a boat tour to see the famous whale sharks or swim with sea turtles. After a day exploring, head to the town square for some delicious vegan cuisine and enjoy a cocktail by the beach or poolside.

22. Vegan and Vegetarian Walking Food Tour

cancun tour itinerary

Go on a walking food tour in Playa del Carmen – the most vegan-friendly city in Mexico. Also, only a 45-minute drive from Tulum where the food scene is also popular and street vendors can be found along the main road.

Vegan food truck Liefs is also a popular stop in Tulum.

It’s no secret that Playa del Carmen is a hotspot for vegan food and what better way to experience it than on a tour guided by a local culinary expert? It’s a great opportunity to meet new people and enjoy food tasting like no other.

Learn about all the vegan options and enjoy savoring the flavors from tropical fruit dishes to amazing vegan tacos as you discover delicious non-meat dishes and the many flavors along the Gulf of Mexico.

23. Experience a yoga or wellness retreat

cancun tour itinerary

Mexico is a hotspot for retreats. It’s a perfect place to transform your typical vacation into a rejuvenating and transformative getaway.

Whether it’s a yoga, meditation, wellness, or detox retreat, there are plenty of options to choose from that offer affordable prices. The serene and picturesque surroundings of Cancun provide the perfect backdrop too.

From early morning yoga classes on the beach to guided meditations, there are numerous ways to unwind and recharge your senses as a vacationer in Cancun but the ultimate best is a wellness-focused retreat for recharging the mind, body, and soul.

Like this all-inclusive 5-star meditation retreat offering full vegan meals, this yoga Ayahuasca retreat in the Yucatan, or this long weekend yoga retreat in Malinalco – All offer unforgettable experiences to give you the reset your mind and body needs.

Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or simply seeking a break from the stresses of everyday life, a yoga or wellness retreat in Cancun can provide a truly rejuvenating experience that leaves you feeling refreshed and revitalized.

Cancun Itinerary 7 Days

cancun tour itinerary

Now that you have a list with plenty of options to choose from for your Cancun vacation, it’s time to break down your favorites. Use this 7-day Cancun itinerary as a guide to help you plan your stay. If your trip is less or more days, feel free to adjust it accordingly.

Day 1 Cancun Itinerary - Resort and Beach Day

The first day you arrive from Cancun airport, you'll want to get checked in and settle into your hotel. Hopefully, your flight gets in early so you have the entire day ahead to enjoy.

Chances are you're staying in Cancun's hotel zone which is full of all-inclusive resorts that sit alongside the Caribbean sea so you'll have full access to Cancun's white-powdered beaches.

If you're staying at an all-inclusive resort, grab a buffet lunch, take advantage of the delicious food available, and hydrate with some fresh fruit, smoothies, and juices to recharge your energy after your flight.

Explore the hotel grounds, go for a swim in the hotel pool, grab a cocktail from the open bar, walk along the beach, and afterward, spend some time exploring Cancun. There is a lot to see in this tropical paradise!

Be sure to head over to the CANCUN sign at nearby Playa Delfines and snap a selfie or group pic. It has a perfect, beautiful ocean backdrop!

Next, get yourself ready for day two!

Day 2 Cancun Itinerary - Ancient Ruins Chichen Itza

Now that you've had a chance to settle in and unwind, let the adventures begin!

Day 2 of your 7-day Cancun itinerary calls for a day trip to Chichen Itza to visit the archaeological site and nearby Ik Kill cenote for a unique swimming experience. A Chichen Itza and cenote tour is available for a guided experience.

Book your tour >>

You'll want to get started early so you can beat the crowds and make the most of the day.

Be sure to bring a backpack with water, snacks, sunscreen, and a hat to brave the sun! You'll also want to wear comfortable shoes for walking. You'll be doing a lot of it.

I recommend using a filtered reusable water bottle or a water filter you can use for drinking any where.

Day 3 Cancun Itinerary - Xcaret

Time for a day at the eco-park in Quintana Roo . You're going to love Xcaret! It's an all-around fun place to visit with a lot of activities and entertainment. There are several parks to choose from within Xcaret.

It's the Disney World of Mexico!

Combination tickets are available if you want to park-hop.

Since you're already in the area of Playa del Carmen, plan on sticking around for the Vegan Walking Food Tour for delicious Mexican food and drinks to end the day before heading back to the resort.

Day 4 Cancun Itinerary - Isla Mujeres

Today is a day a beach day and some fun in the sun - Enjoy water activities, relax, and explore the beauty of Isla Mujeres.

Days 2 and 3 were pretty busy so taking today to do something more relaxing will make your Cancun vacation more enjoyable and less stressful.

Go on an Isla Mujeres catamaran tour , snorkel, or scuba dive. Plan on spending the day exploring Isla Mujeres and taking the beauty all in.

Day 5 Cancun Itinerary - Resort and Beach Day

A 7-day trip to Cancun requires rest time to recover from all the fun so take day 5 of your Cancun vacation to relax and soak in the sunshine and vitamin D.

Make today all about indulging in resort amenities - from food to water activities to simply just chillin' by the pool, playing beach volleyball, or lounging beachside.

Make today all about indulging in resort amenities -

kick off the day with morning yoga

meditate on the beach

go for a spa treatment

float in the pool

relax on the beach

Whatever you choose to do, relax and recharge. Perhaps even head into downtown Cancun for a little shopping in the afternoon, or maybe even check out Playa Tortugas nearby for a stroll on the beach.

Remember, this is a vacation, not a stress-cation!

Day 6 Cancun Itinerary - Day Trip From Cancun

Tired of relaxing? Go on a jungle adventure tour and explore the Yucatan! You can't leave Mexico without experiencing a jungle adventure day trip that checks off all the fun stuff -

snorkeling in the cenotes

exploring Tulum ruins

This eco experience tops it off for a perfect Cancun trip!

Since 7 days in Cancun are almost up, you may want to start packing things up to make the best of your last day in paradise.

Day 7 Cancun Itinerary - Cancun

That's it. This is the last day of your 7-day Cancun itinerary. So today, it's all about winding down, packing it up (if you haven't already), and getting your travel bags ready to go home.

Go for a walk on the beach, relax by the hotel pool, and fuel up with some fresh fruit and juices to stay hydrated.

Pack Up and Go Home

If you are taking a shuttle or getting a transfer to Cancun International Airport or any other airport, be sure to arrange for it ahead of time so you don't have to wait too long.

If you're renting a car , you'll want to give yourself plenty of time to turn it in and make your way to the gate.

Capture the Moment!

Turn your best shots into lasting memories. CLICK TO VIEW OPTIONS

If you prefer to have a fully guided 7-day itinerary packaged into one tour, the Yucatan 7-Day Eco-Adventure tour is your best bet. It includes 7 days of action-packed sight-seeing experiences including the Sian Ka’an Reserve and Xcaret. 

Getting Around Cancun

cancun tour itinerary

When you visit Cancun, there are many ways to get around. Renting a bike or scooter is a great way to explore at your own pace and stay active at the same time. If your all-inclusive resort doesn’t provide them, you can easily rent them through a rental company.

Car rental cars are another option and are usually safe in Cancun.

The Cancun Hotel Zone is easily accessible by walking and is designed with sidewalk access.

Public transportation

Public transit in the Cancun area is very difficult unless you stay in the hotel zone where you can board a bus or taxi from R 1 to R 2 for about 10 Mexican pesos. The local bus system can also take you to Boulevard Kukulcaan (inside the town), and Avenida Tulum.

Travel Tip: Be sure to have the correct Mexican Peso for your trip. Drivers don’t usually have change for big bills.

You can rent a car for a part of your trip if not all of it, to make it easier to get around on your own time. The advantage of having your own rental car is that you can come and go as you please, take your time, and explore as much as you want.

Car rentals are usually safe in Cancun.

cancun tour itinerary

When is the Best Time to Visit Cancun

The best time to plan your trip to Cancun is from December through April . This is when you can expect crisp air with warm temps but not too hot. Typically between 75 and 90 degrees with a chance of some rain and an occasional cold front. Still, a perfect time for visiting Cancun.

Is Cancun Safe?

Cancun is one of the safest vacation cities to visit in Mexico. As with any city, there is always going to be crime but if you stay within the resort area like Cancun’s hotel zone, it’s extremely safe. Most resorts even have their own armed security and since tourism plays an important part in Cancun’s economic growth, they do whatever it takes to protect travelers and keep them safe.

If you intend to venture outside of the hotel zone, double-check with the concierge to make sure it’s a safe place to visit.

Stay Securely Connected

Stay connected throughout your whole trip with Solis . A pocket WiFi that can connect up to 10 devices at a time. Perfect for the entire family. 

cancun tour itinerary

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Sandra Campillo

Sandra Campillo

Sandra Campillo is an eco, vegan lifestyle and travel blogger and entrepreneur. Join Sandra and her community of readers on SandraCampillo.com to learn how to live a healthier, more sustainable, and compassionate way of life while creating a passive income lifestyle.

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3 days in Cancun: The best itinerary + Tips

How to spend 3 days in cancun: the best itinerary + where to stay.

You’re planning to spend 3 days in Cancun ?

Great idea!

But with so much to see and do in Cancun , how can you make the most of your time there? How can you plan a perfect itinerary that covers the best attractions and experiences in Cancun?

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!

In order to help you plan your stay , I have prepared for you the perfect itinerary to visit Cancun in 3 days.

In addition to the best places to visit and activities for each stage of your itinerary, I will also give you all my best tips and accommodation suggestions depending on your budget.

So, what are the best things to do in Cancun in 3 days? Where to stay?

Let’s find out!

Day 1: The Underwater Museum and the Hotel Zone

Day 2: chichen itza and cenote ik kil, day 3: isla mujeres or isla contoy, the best hotels for your 3-day itinerary in cancun, how to make the most of 3 days in cancun, 1. xcaret park, 2. xplor park, 3. cozumel island, 6. rio lagartos, 7. holbox island, rent a car for a your 3-day cancun trip, how to find a cheap flight to cancun, you’re traveling in mexico these articles will help you.

Start this 3-day itinerary in Cancun with a unique and memorable experience: visiting the Cancun Underwater Museum (MUSA) .

This is one of the most successful conservation projects in the world , and it has quickly become one of Cancun’s top attractions .

The museum consists of more than 500 sculptures that have been placed on the ocean floor, creating an artificial reef that attracts marine life and helps restore the natural reef.

They depict human figures, animals, cars, houses, and even a Volkswagen Beetle. They are meant to raise awareness about environmental issues and inspire people to protect the ocean.

Some of them are also interactive, allowing divers and snorkelers to swim through them or touch them .

No matter which option you choose (diving or snorkeling), you’ll be amazed by the beauty and diversity of MUSA . You’ll see colorful fish, corals, turtles and rays.

Book the tour you want here:

  • The diving tour is suitable for certified divers and beginners alike. It includes basic equipment and supervision from a diving instructor. The minimum age for this tour is 12 years old, and they should be accompanied by an adult (18+). The tour lasts around 5 hours.

I book my diving tour in MUSA now! I want to dive in Cancun

diving isla mujeres manchones

  • The snorkeling tour is ideal for families or younger visitors who cannot dive. It includes pickup from your hotel, basic equipment and training on snorkeling safety. The snorkeling tour last about 3 hours.

I book my snorkeling tour in MUSA now! I want to snorkel in Cancun

snorkel musa cancun

After exploring the underwater museum, you can head back to the surface and enjoy some time on the beach.

The Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone) is the main tourist area where you’ll find some of the best beaches in Cancun , such as Playa Delfines, Playa Marlin, Playa Caracoles, and Playa Tortugas.

You can relax on the soft sand, swim in the turquoise water or try some water sports like jet skiing , parasailing or kayaking .

cancun-hotel-zone

In the evening, if you’re looking for some nightlife, you’ll find plenty of options in the Zona Hotelera!

You can dance the night away at one of the famous clubs like Coco Bongo (book your tickets here!) , The City or Mandala , or enjoy a more laid-back atmosphere at one of the many bars and pubs.

party-cancun

To continue your three days in Cancun , you’ll want to visit one of the most impressive and iconic attractions in Mexico: Chichén Itzá (click here for my detailed guide!)

This ancient Maya city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World !

Some of the highlights include:

– The Pyramid of Kukulkan , also known as El Castillo , which is the main attraction of Chichen Itza . It has four sides with 91 steps each, plus a platform at the top, making a total of 365 steps that represent the days of the year. The pyramid is also aligned with the sun and the seasons, creating a fascinating phenomenon during the spring and autumn equinoxes, when a shadow of a serpent appears on the staircase. – The Temple of the Warriors : a large complex with a pyramid, columns and sculptures that depict warriors and jaguars – The Great Ball Court , which is the largest and best preserved ball court in Mesoamerica . The ball game was a ritual and symbolic activity that involved life and death. – The Observatory , also known as El Caracol : a circular building that was used as an astronomical observatory by the Maya.

My tip To get to Chichen Itza from Cancun you can:

  • Book a guided tour from Cancun (click here!) that includes transportation from your hotel, guided visit of Chichen Itza, cenote Ik Kil , buffet lunch and a stop in Valladolid ❤️
  • Rent a car and drive there yourself (about 2h30)
  • Take an ADO bus (there is only one bus: departure 8am and return 4.30pm)

After exploring Chichen Itza, you’ll want to cool off at Cenote Ik Kil , which is about 3 kilometers (2 miles) away from the site. A cenote is another type of natural sinkhole that is filled with fresh water and surrounded by vegetation.

Cenote Ik Kil is one of the most beautiful and popular cenotes in Yucatan , with crystal clear water that is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. You can also jump from a platform into the water if you’re feeling adventurous.

chichen-itza

For lunch, you can enjoy some traditional Yucatecan food at one of the restaurants near Chichen Itza or Cenote Ik Kil. Some of the dishes you should try are:

– cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork marinated in citrus and spices)

– sopa de lima (lime soup with chicken and tortilla strips)

– papadzules (tortillas stuffed with boiled eggs and covered with pumpkin seed sauce)

– panuchos (fried tortillas topped with refried beans, shredded turkey or chicken)

cochinita pibil mexico

After lunch, head back to Cancun and enjoy the rest of the day at your hotel or at the beach.

You can also do some shopping at one of the many malls or markets in the city, such as La Isla Shopping Village, Plaza Las Americas or Mercado 28 . You’ll find a variety of souvenirs, handicrafts, clothing and jewelry to take home with you.

la isla shopping cancun

If you still have some energy left, you can check out Joyà or Jolly Roger for some evening entertainment. It’s very important to book your tickets in advance, because they sell out fast!

-Joyà is a spectacular show by Cirque du Soleil that combines acrobatics, music, theater and cuisine in a unique setting. You can choose to watch the show only or enjoy a gourmet dinner as well. Book your tickets for Joya here!

-Jolly Roger is a pirate-themed dinner show that takes place on a replica of a Spanish galleon. You’ll enjoy a delicious meal, drinks and a lively performance with sword fights, cannon fire and fireworks. Book your tickets for the Jolly Roger Pirate Show With Dinner here!

jolly roger cancun

On your third and final day, you can do one of the best things to do in Cancun in 3 days : visit Isla Mujeres , a beautiful island that is only 13 kilometers (8 miles) away from Cancun.

  • You can take a ferry from the Zona Hotelera or Puerto Juarez (book it here!) and enjoy a scenic ride across the Caribbean Sea. The ferry takes about 20 minutes.

Isla Mujeres is a charming and laid-back place that offers a contrast to the hustle and bustle of Cancun. You can rent a golf cart, a bike or a scooter and explore the island at your own pace.

Some of the things you can do on Isla Mujeres are:

– Visit Playa Norte , which is considered one of the best beaches in Mexico . It has soft white sand, clear turquoise water and palm trees. You can relax on a sunbed, swim in the sea or try some water sports like paddle boarding, kayaking or snorkeling. – Visit the Punta Sur Sculpture Park , which is located at the southern tip of the island. It has a lighthouse, a Mayan temple and a collection of sculptures by local and international artists. You can also enjoy a panoramic view of the ocean and the Cancun skyline from the cliff. – Visit Parque Garrafon : you can zip line over the Caribbean Sea, kayak or snorkel in the coral reef, relax in the infinity pool or hammocks. You can also upgrade to a VIP ticket (book it here!) that gives you access to a private area with premium food and drinks.

For lunch, you can try some of the local specialties on Isla Mujeres , such as tikin xic (fish marinated in achiote and citrus and cooked on a grill), ceviche or pescadillas (fried tortillas stuffed with fish).

You can also check out my full guide: 21 Best Things to Do in Isla Mujeres!

Garrafón Park Isla Mujeres

Another option for a day trip from Cancun is to visit Isla Contoy . This small island is a protected national park that is home to more than 150 species of birds, as well as turtles, dolphins, rays and fish.

It is one of my favorite places in Mexico, no doubt about it! Once you get there, you can enjoy the pristine beaches, the crystal clear water and the lush vegetation. You’ll also have a delicious lunch of grilled fish and fresh fruits on the island.

You can only access the island by boat and with a limited number of visitors per day , so you’ll need to book your tour in advance. Book it here:

contoy beach

After returning by ferry to Cancun, you can enjoy a relaxing evening or go to Xoximilco if you want to experience a night of fun, culture, and tradition.

It is a tribute to the famous floating gardens of Xochimilco in Mexico City , where you can board a colorful trajinera (a Mexican gondola) and enjoy a ride through the canals.

Along the way, you will taste delicious Mexican dishes, drink tequila and other beverages from an open bar, and listen to live music from different regions of Mexico.

I had a blast at Xoximilco with my friends. It was the perfect way to end our three-day Cancun getaway . It was like a party on water!

I book the Mexican night at Xoximilco now! I want to party on a trajinera

xoximilco cancún

I hope you enjoyed this guide on the perfect 72 hours in Cancun  and found it useful for planning your trip. Check out my other Cancun guides:

  • 1 day in Cancun   – the best 24h itinerary
  • 2 days in Cancun – How to make the most of your 2 days in Cancun
  • The 30 Best things to do in Cancun
  • The 15 Best Cenotes near Cancun
  • Mayan Monkey Cancun : a hostel with a festive atmosphere in Cancun’s hotel zone , very close to the beach and bars. Terrace, outdoor pool, bar with happy hour , air conditioning, ping-pong, good wifi. Private rooms and dorms, from only 24$usd!
  • Bed and Breakfast Pecari : if you are looking for more comfort, I recommend without hesitation this establishment. It is a beautiful Bed and Breakfast located in a quiet street near the city center and the ADO bus station, with a relaxation area by the pool, spacious rooms, and a good breakfast, starting at 50$usd per night!
  • Beachscape Kin Ha Villas & Suites: rooms, suites, and villas for 2 to 12 people with direct access to the beach . Outdoor pool, children’s pool, gym, restaurant, beach bar. Breakfast included, starting at 218$usd per night.
  • The Royal Sands Resort & Spa : spacious rooms and suites with ocean views, in the heart of Cancun’s hotel zone. Large outdoor pool, gym, spa, fine restaurants, sports bar and many activities. All inclusive, starting at 485 $usd per night
  • Plan your itinerary in advance and book your tours, tickets and transportation online. This will save you time and money and avoid any hassle or disappointment.
  • Pack light and comfortable clothes , shoes and accessories for the tropical weather. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, swimsuit and towel. You can also bring a light jacket or sweater for the evenings or the air-conditioned places.
  • Bring some cash in Mexican pesos for tips , souvenirs and small expenses. You can also use your credit or debit card at most places, but check the exchange rate and fees before you do.
  • You can find ATMs and currency exchange offices in Cancun, but avoid using them at the airport or the tourist areas as they may charge higher rates.
  • Respect the local culture and customs and follow the rules and regulations of the places you visit.
  • Be polite and courteous to the people you meet and learn some basic Spanish phrases to communicate better .
  • Avoid drinking tap water or ice cubes

How to visit Cancun in 4, 5, 6 days or a week

You can do a lot of things in three days in Cancun , but if you have more time, you can discover even more amazing attractions nearby!

Whether you have 4, 5, 6 or 7 days in Cancun , you can plan a trip that suits your preferences and budget. Here are some of the places you should not miss on your extended stay in Cancun :

Xcaret is the Mexico’s water park where you and your family will live more than 50 natural and cultural attractions , from swimming in underground rivers and snorkeling in coral reefs, to watching traditional dances and ceremonies and visiting a replica of a Maya village.

You can also see amazing wildlife, such as jaguars, flamingos, butterflies and turtles, and learn about their conservation. Xcaret is a place where you can have fun, learn and connect with the beauty and diversity of Mexico.

And before leaving, don’t forget to experience the amazing history of the Maya through Xcaret Mexico Espectacular, a show with 300 talented performers.

Getting to Xcaret from Cancun:

  • Take the ADO bus from Cancún to Xcaret (1h30), départures 7h30, 7h50, 9h, 10h30, and only one return at 21h30 so buy your tickets in advance!
  • Get the Xcaret Plus ticket (click here!) with Buffet & Transport from your hotel
  • You can drive (1h15) from Cancún to Xcaret Park taking MEX-307

My advice The best way to enjoy the parks is to stay at the Xcaret Hotel ❤️

xcaret-park-riviera-maya

Xplor is an adventure park where you can unleash your adrenaline and explore the natural wonders of the Riviera Maya .

You can fly over the jungle on zip-lines, drive amphibious vehicles through caves and trails, raft and swim in underground rivers, and enjoy a delicious buffet.

Xplor is a park for thrill-seekers and nature-lovers who want to have an unforgettable experience.

To get to Xplor from Cancun you can: 

  • Drive 1h on the Federal Highway 307 (the park is just past Playa del Carmen )
  • Book the  Xplor Park All-Inclusive that includes the roundtrip transportation
  • Take an ADO bus to Playa del Carmen (1h) and a colectivo to Tulum (tell the driver you will get off at Xplor)

xplor-amphibious-vehicles

If you love diving, you will love Cozumel . It has some of the world’s best coral reefs and marine life, and Jacques Cousteau ranked it among the top 10 dive spots in the world .

The water is clear and blue, and you can find over 40 dive sites and hundreds of kinds of fish, coral, mollusks, marine mammals, and plants.

Cozumel has dives for everyone, from beginners to experts. My favorite dive site was the Palancar Reef , where I saw the most amazing colors and shapes of corals, sponges and tropical fish.

To get to Cozumel from Cancun, you need to go Playa del Carmen (1h10) and take the ferry to Cozumel ( book your ferry ticket here! )

The best Cozumel tours are :

  • Glass bottom boat and snorkeling tour
  • El Cielo Beach and Palancar Reef
  • Atlantis Submarine tour
  • Chankanaab Adventure Beach Park
  • Jeep Safari to Punta Sur with Beach Lunch and Snorkeling (I absolutely love Punta Sur❤️)

cozumel-chen-rio-beach

Tulum is a stunning coastal town with a bohemian vibe that combines history, nature, and adventure.

You can visit the Tulum Archaeological Site , where you can admire the ruins of a Mayan city that overlooks the turquoise Caribbean Sea.

Tulum has some of the most stunning beaches in Mexico like Playa Paraiso and Playa las Palmas, where you can swim in the turquoise Caribbean Sea, relax on the white sand and swim crystal-clear water.

It is also home to many cenotes , natural pools that are connected by underground rivers such as: Cenote Dos Ojos , Gran Cenote, Cenote Carwash, Zacil-Ha or cenote Calavera. 

Here are my favorite tours of Tulum (click directly on the link to book the tour you are interested in):

  • Guided tour of the Tulum ruins with hotel pick-up
  • Guided tour of the Tulum and Cobá ruins with hotel pick-up and lunch
  • Chichen Itza, Coba and Tulum Private Tour with Lunch
  • Tulum Ruins, Sea Turtle Swim in Akumal & Cenotes
  • Cenote Trail: Caves Visit and Bike Tour

tulum

Bacalar is one of my favorite destinations in Mexico because it has a tranquil and authentic vibe.

It is a town on the shore of a lagoon that is known as the lake of seven colors for its stunning shades of blue.

You can swim, kayak, paddle board or sail on the lagoon, or visit the nearby cenotes and forts. Bacalar is a place to enjoy nature and relax.

  • Check out my definitive guide: The 18 Best Places to Visit in Bacalar!

Some of the best attractions in Bacalar are:

  • The Cenote Azul (not to be confused with the Cenote Azul in Playa del Carmen !), a deep cenote that is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. You can see many fish and underwater formations in the cenote, and enjoy a meal at the restaurant on site.
  • The Pirates Canal (Canal de los Piratas), a narrow channel that connects the lagoon with the Chetumal Bay. You can take a boat tour through the canal and learn about the history of piracy and smuggling in the area.
  • The Rapidos de Bacalar , a natural wonder where you can swim or kayak in a narrow channel of turquoise water that flows between two lagoons. It is fun because you can enjoy the scenery, the wildlife, and the thrill of the strong current that carries you along.
  • The San Felipe Fort , a colonial fort that was built in 1729 to protect Bacalar from pirate attacks. You can see the cannons, walls and towers of the fort, and visit the museum inside that displays artifacts and information about the history of Bacalar.

My tip Bacalar is 5 hours away from Cancun by car, so if you only have one day to visit this beautiful lagoon, the best option is to take a tour (book it here!)

bacalar catamaran

Rio Lagartos is a fishing village and a natural reserve that is home to many species of birds, including flamingos, pelicans and herons.

Rio Lagartos is a place to admire the biodiversity, beauty and tranquility of the Yucatan coast.

Some of the attractions that you can visit in Rio Lagartos are:

  • The Flamingo Observation Point , a wooden platform that offers a great view of the flamingo colonies that inhabit the lagoon. You can see hundreds of these pink birds feeding, flying and nesting in their natural habitat. The best time to see them is from January to June, when they are more abundant and colorful.
  •  The Pink Salt Lakes called Las Coloradas,  a series of salt ponds that have a striking pink hue due to the presence of microorganisms and minerals. You can walk along the edge of the lakes and see how salt is extracted by local workers. You can also take photos of this unique landscape that contrasts with the blue sky and water.
  • The Mud Baths , a natural spa where you can apply some mineral-rich mud on your skin and let it dry under the sun. The mud is said to have therapeutic benefits for your skin, such as exfoliating, moisturizing and detoxifying. You can rinse off the mud in the lagoon or in a nearby shower.
  • You can take a boat tour through the mangroves and see crocodiles, turtles and other wildlife.

To get to Rio Lagartos from Cancun , you can drive 3h on Highway 180D, which is well-paved and safe.

Another option is to take an ADO bus from Cancun downtown to Tizimin (2h) and then transfer to another bus or a colectivo (shared taxi) to Rio Lagartos , which is an hour away. However, I think this is too complicated and time-consuming for a day trip from Cancun.

If you want to visit Rio Lagartos from Cancun and return the same day , the best option is to take a tour to Rio Lagartos and Las Coloradas  that includes transportation and activities. Book it here:

I book tour to Rio Lagartos now! I want to see the flamingos and the pink salt lakes

las-coloradas-yucatan

Holbox Island is a paradise for nature lovers, as it has pristine beaches, diverse wildlife and a relaxed atmosphere.

You can swim with whale sharks, see flamingos and dolphins, or enjoy the bioluminescence at night. Holbox is also known for its street art, which adds color and charm to the town.

I highly recommend renting a bike to explore the best beaches of Holbox : Punta Cocos and Punta Mosquito.

You can also take the Three Islands Tour , a boat trip that takes you to three nearby islands: Isla Pajaros, Isla Pasión and Yalahau.

You can see hundreds of birds, including flamingos and pelicans, on Isla Pajaros , relax on the white sand of Isla Pasión , and swim in the fresh water of Yalahau , a natural spring that is also a cenote.

To get to Holbox from Cancun , you need to travel to Chiquila first (bus ADO or drive 2h15-2h30) and then take a ferry to Holbox (20 min).

A tour from Cancun to Holbox (book it here)  is the most convenient way to explore this paradise island. It includes pick-up from your hotel, the three islands tour, lunch at a local restaurant and free time to enjoy the beach or the town of Holbox!

punta mosquito holbox

Renting a car is for sure the best way to explore Cancun and make the most of your stay!

While it’s not super useful to visit the city, having a car is a must to discover the rest of the country.

To rent a car, personally, I always use Rentalcars.com, for a few reasons:

  • You can easily compare the rental cars prices between all the agencies: for sure the easiest way to find the best rate!
  • Cancellation is often offered free of charge: no need to worry if you change your mind
  • Rentalcars offers full insurance coverage at a lower price than the rental companies , so it’s an instant saving with no effort

Simply click on the green button to find your rental car at the best price:

Cancun International Airport a large airport that receives many flights from Europe and North America, with the major known companies (Air Transat, Air Canada, Iberia, Aeromexico, Interjet, KLM, etc.). It will be very easy to find tickets at the date that suits you.

To find a  cheap flight to Cancun  as well as the  best domestic flights in Mexico, you should use our flight comparison tool in partnership with Skyscanner. It is guaranteed to get you the best price!

My tip  How to get from the Cancun airport to your hotel:

  • Book a shared van
  • Book a Private Luxury Car Service
  • Take the ADO bus  

avion-cancun

Discover all my articles about Mexico : All my articles to help you plan your trip to Mexico are listed there.

  • The 35 Best Things to Do in Mexico
  • Where to stay in Cancun? The guide to the best hotels and resorts, for all budgets
  • The Best Hotels near Cancun Airport
  • Cancun : the 35 Best Things to Discover
  • 1 Day in Cancun   – The Perfect 24h itinerary
  • 2 Days in Cancun  – How to make the most of your week-end in Cancun
  • Yucatan Peninsula : Top 20 things to Do and See
  • Playa del Carmen : Top 30 Things To Do and Must-See Attractions
  • Itinerary : 10 days in Mexico – Mexico City , Chiapas and Yucatan
  • Itinerary : 2 weeks in Mexico   – Best itinerary to discover the Yucatan Peninsula and Chiapas!
  • Itinerary : 3 weeks in Mexico – Mexico City, Puebla , Oaxaca , Chiapas, Campeche , Yucatán and Riviera Maya
  • Itinerary : 1 month in Mexico – My Epic 30-31 Days Itinerary from Mexico City to Cancun
  • Road trip in Mexico : The best itineraries for 10, 15, 21 days and a month
  • Itinerary : 1 week in Yucatan – The Ultimate 6, 7 or 8 days Itinerary
  • Itinerary : 10 days in Yucatan – Best Itinerary for 9, 10 or 11 Days in Yucatan
  • Itinerary : 2 weeks in Yucatan – Epic Itinerary + All my Best Tips!
  • Itinerary : 3 weeks in Yucatan – Best things to do in 20-21 days
  • Itinerary : 1 month in Yucatan – Yucatan Peninsula in 29, 30 or 31 days from Cancun
  • Road trip in Yucatan : The best itineraries for 7, 10, 15, 21 days and 1 month

You’re using Pinterest? Here is the picture to pin!

best places to visit in Cancun in 3 days

I have created this blog to give you all my best tips to plan your next trip to Mexico, regardless of your budget. I share detailed itineraries, advice about places to visit as well as recommendations for transportation, hotels and restaurants. I hope I will also help you to discover amazing off the beaten path destinations in Mexico!

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Home » Blog » The Ultimate 9 Day Mexican Riviera Itinerary: Cancun to Tulum

The Ultimate 9 Day Mexican Riviera Itinerary: Cancun to Tulum

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our Disclosure Policy  for details.

Cenote in Riviera Maya Mexico

The Yucatan Peninsula along the Mexican Caribbean is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. This region of Mexico offers a perfect blend of romance, adventure, and relaxation. That is exactly why Stephen planned a surprise honeymoon trip to Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum earlier this year, and why we want to help you plan the perfect trip around this stunning region of the Mexican Riviera!

This 9-day Mexican Riviera itinerary takes you from the vibrant turquoise beaches of Cancun to the charming streets of Playa del Carmen, and finally, to the bohemian beauty of Tulum. If you’re looking for a mix of adventure, relaxation, amazing food, stunning beaches and lots of history, then this vacation itinerary and guide is for you!

Things to Know Before Visiting Mexico

Best time of year to visit the mexican riviera.

View of Chichen Itza Mayan Temple

The best time to visit the Mexican Riviera, which includes Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum, is generally during the dry season, which runs from late November to April. This period offers pleasant weather with warm temperatures and minimal rainfall. It’s ideal for outdoor activities, beach days, and exploring the Mayan ruins.

However, keep in mind that this is also the peak tourist season, so accommodations and popular attractions may be more crowded, and prices may be higher. If you prefer a quieter experience and don’t mind a bit of rain, the shoulder seasons of late spring and early fall can also be good options.

Sargassum Season

Something that we had never heard of before visiting this area was Sargassum season. Essentially, sargassum is a type of seaweed that can wash up on the beaches in large quantities, impacting the pristine turquoise blue water experience, particularly in Cancun. Swimming and beach activities may be slightly less enjoyable during sargassum season.

Typically, this phenomenon is more prevalent during the warmer months, from late spring to early fall, with the highest concentrations occurring during the summer months. Although many of the 5 star resorts in Cancun try to clean it up to the best of their abilities, during certain parts of the year, it’s inevitable to avoid this seaweed on the beach.

This is another reason why visiting in the peak season may be more ideal for you if you are wanting to avoid a ton of seaweed on the beautiful beaches. Having said that, we did this exact itinerary in July during the seaweed season and it honestly wasn’t too bad. It was definititely worse in the afternoon, but in the morning it looked pretty similar to amounts of seaweed we get here in California.

It’s important to note that while sargassum can be a temporary inconvenience, it doesn’t affect all beaches in the region equally, and some areas may be less impacted than others. If you’re concerned about sargassum during your visit, you can consider checking with your chosen accommodations and local authorities for the latest updates and advice on beach conditions.

Is Visiting Mexico Safe?

Scuba Diving in a cenote in the Mexican Riviera

Mexico, like many countries, has regions with varying levels of safety, and it’s essential to stay informed and exercise caution while traveling. In our several trips to Mexico, we’ve never actually run into any scams or felt unsafe. However, like any tourist hotspot, it’s essential to be aware of common scams that can occur.

Common Scams You May Run Into in Mexico:

  • Timeshare Scams : In popular tourist areas, and especially at the airport, you might be approached by individuals offering free activities or gifts in exchange for attending a timeshare presentation. Be cautious, as these presentations can be high-pressure sales tactics. You do NOT need to say yes to these folks if you don’t want a time share – I promise you won’t hurt their feelings.
  • ATM Skimming : Criminals may tamper with ATMs to steal card information. Use ATMs located in well-lit, secure and reputable areas, and cover your PIN while entering it.
  • Rental Car Damage Scams : When renting a car, inspect it thoroughly and take photos before accepting it. Some rental companies may claim damage you didn’t cause when returning the vehicle.
  • Restaurant and Bar Scams : Be cautious of “specials” or “discounted” menu items that might be overpriced or not as advertised. If you are eating on the main tourist areas, you’re probably going to find very pricey restaurants for average food. Also, check your bill carefully when dining out, as some establishments may overcharge or add unexplained fees.
  • Fake Police Officers : Be wary of anyone claiming to be a police officer who doesn’t have proper identification. If you’re unsure, request identification and contact the local police station to verify their identity.
  • Petty Theft : Keep an eye on your belongings, especially in crowded areas. Petty theft, such as pickpocketing, can occur in tourist hotspots.
  • Gas Station : When filling up your gas tank in the region of Mexico, most only take cash. Make sure to count your bills out loud as you pay so that they don’t scam you into paying more claiming you owe more when you already paid the full amount.

Is Staying at All Inclusive Resorts in Mexico worth it?

Cancun Beaches

Staying at all-inclusive resorts in Mexico can be a fantastic option, but whether it’s worth it depends on your preferences and travel goals.

Things to Know About All Inclusive Resorts in Mexico:

all inclusive resorts cancun mexico

As people who don’t typically stay in all inclusives when we travel, there were definitely a few things we learned on this trip:

  • Make your dinner reservations in advance. There are many people that had a hard time getting into the all inclusive restaurants they wanted because the reservations filled up immediately. You can even make reservations before you arrive on property if you email your concierge in advance.
  • Utilize the hotel’s app or website to navigate around the property. Usually, they will have everything you need to know, schedules of activities, maps, and more.
  • If you want to keep your drinks cold, a lot of people brought ventilated cups with them like a Stanley. This way your drink won’t get super watered down in the tropical climate.
  • If ordering cocktails, know that they likely won’t be super strong. Many people will buy alcohol from duty free at the airport and add additional to their drinks.

Pros of Mexican All-Inclusive Resorts:

  • Convenience : All meals, drinks, and often activities are included, making it easy to budget and plan.
  • Amenities : Many resorts offer luxurious amenities like spa services, water sports, and entertainment.
  • Safety : Resorts often have security measures in place, adding an extra layer of safety.

Cons of Mexican All-Inclusive Resorts:

  • Limited Local Experience: Staying at a resort can isolate you from the local culture and authentic experiences.
  • Crowds : Depending on the resort’s size, it can be crowded, especially during peak seasons.
  • Cost : While all-inclusive packages can provide value, they may not be the most budget-friendly option.

If you prioritize relaxation, convenience, and a stress-free environment, all-inclusive resorts can be worth it. However, if you want to immerse yourself in the local culture, explore independently, and have a more adventurous experience, you may prefer to stay at boutique hotels or vacation rentals and dine at local restaurants. Ultimately, the choice depends on your travel style and preferences.

How to Get Around the Mexican Riviera

Cancun Gaviota Azul Beach

There are several ways to get around the Yucatan region of Mexico. Most travelers to the Mexican Riviera arrive at Cancun International Airport (CUN) . From there, you have several transportation choices to reach your destination:

  • Airport Shuttle : Many hotels and resorts offer airport shuttle services. You can arrange for a shuttle in advance or upon arrival at the airport.
  • Taxis : Licensed taxis are available at the airport, and there is a designated taxi stand. Confirm the fare with the driver before starting your journey.
  • Rental Cars : Rental car agencies operate at the airport, and you can rent a car if you prefer to explore independently. Make sure to have insurance and proper documentation.
  • Public Transportation : You can also take public buses from the airport to various destinations. The ADO bus company operates services to Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum.

Renting a Car in Cancun

We personally opted to rent a car. Now, in doing so, you’ll want to make sure you know the following about driving from Cancun to Tulum.

  • Car Insurance: For some reason, this region in Mexico isn’t covered by travel credit card insurance or USA insurance. If you are caught in an accident and don’t have Mexican issued car insurance you can get into a ton of issues.
  • Gas : As mentioned earlier, most gas stations in this region will only take cash . We advise you to absolutely take out cash during this trip as ATMs are a little hard to find the further you get away from Cancun.
  • Chaotic Driving: Driving in Mexico can be more aggressive than people from the USA may be used to. Make sure to exercise caution while driving and remain focused behind the wheel for people cutting you off, merging suddenly, etc.
  • Follow the Laws: This one goes without saying, but do NOT speed in this region. You do not want an encounter with the police in a foreign country.

Note : As of April 2024, you should be able to fly directly into the brand new airport in Tulum as well! So feel free to adapt this itinerary in reverse or one way so you don’t have to do as much driving.

Do you need to know Spanish to visit Mexico?

Chichen Itza Ruins Mexico

While it’s not an absolute requirement to know Spanish to visit this part of Mexico, having some knowledge of the language can greatly enhance your travel experience and make your trip more enjoyable and convenient.

We personally don’t know Spanish fluently, however, we do know elementary levels of Spanish and that does help with everyday conversation. Our biggest piece of advice would be to download Google Translate in Spanish before you arrive in Mexico. That way, even if you don’t have service, you can still translate signs, menus, and conversations without any issues.

That being said, most Mexicans in popular tourist destinations, especially in hotels, restaurants, and tourist areas, do speak at least some English. However, English proficiency can vary, and in more remote or less touristy areas, you may find fewer people who can communicate in English. Knowing basic Spanish phrases can help you ask for directions, order food, and interact with locals more easily.

What to Pack for Visiting the Yucatan Peninsula

Chichen Itza Mayan Temple Ruins

When packing for your trip to this region in Mexico, think tropical paradise! The weather is warm and humid pretty much year round, so you won’t need too much in terms of clothing.

  • Lightweight, breathable clothing: Pack comfortable clothes suitable for tropical weather. Cotton and linen fabrics are ideal.
  • Swimwear : Bring swimsuits, as you’ll likely spend time at the beach, cenotes, and pools.
  • Sun protection : Don’t forget wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and reef safe sunscreen with a high SPF rating. Our favorite for water activities is this one from SunBum.
  • Footwear : Comfortable walking shoes or sandals for exploring archaeological sites, and flip-flops or water shoes for the beach and cenotes.
  • Light rain jacket or umbrella : Sudden showers can occur, especially during the rainy season.
  • Casual evening wear: Pack some casual, slightly dressier outfits for dining out or enjoying nightlife in towns like Playa del Carmen or Tulum. Men should make sure to pack a collared shirt and a pair of long pants if wanting to dine out at finer restaurants.
  • Lightweight Towel: Although some resorts may provide you with towels, it’s always a good idea to bring your own for excursions as well!
  • Insect repellent : Protect against mosquitoes, especially in jungle areas.
  • Reusable water bottle : Stay hydrated and reduce plastic waste.
  • Snorkeling gear: If you plan to snorkel in cenotes or at the coast, consider bringing your own mask, snorkel, and fins.
  • Daypack : A small backpack or beach bag is handy for day trips and excursions.
  • Camera: Make sure to pack an underwater camera like a Go Pro to capture your memories in the beautiful water! We linked all of our favorite travel camera gear here .

The Ultimate Mexican Riviera Itinerary

Day 1: fly into cancun.

cancun tour itinerary

Since you’re starting in Cancun, you’ll be flying into Cancun International Airport (CUN). Customs typically goes fairly quickly. Just note, the second you clear them, you’ll likely get bombarded with timeshare presentation sellers. Keep walking until you find your rental car, shuttle, or bus to your accommodations in Cancun.

We stayed at the luxury Secrets the Vine Resort and loved our stay! It was by far the best service we received on this entire itinerary, and it’s an adults only hotel. If you are celebrating something special, we highly recommend upgrading to the VIP package so you have access to more restaurants, the VIP club, and special activities.

Spend the day settling in and relaxing along the breathtaking water. Spend a few hours relaxing on the beach, swimming, or sunbathing. You can also rent water sports equipment like paddleboards or jet skis if you’re feeling adventurous.

Dine at a downtown restaurant or return to your hotel for dinner. Consider watching the sunset at a beachside bar for a memorable evening view.

Overlooking the beach in Cancun from Secrets of the Vine Resort

Day 2: Explore Isla Mujeres

Swimming around Isla Mujeres

Take a ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres , a charming island known for its beautiful beaches, clear waters, and relaxed atmosphere. Explore the island by renting a golf cart or bicycle, visit Punta Sur for breathtaking views, and enjoy the pristine Playa Norte.

Savor a seafood lunch on Isla Mujeres. Try the local specialty, “tikin xic” fish, or enjoy fresh ceviche.

Day 3: Head Out on a Snorkeling Tour or Whale Shark Tour

Swimming with Whalesharks near Isla Mujeres

Depending on the time of year you visit, we’d recommend heading out on either a snorkeling tour or a whale shark specific snorkeling tour!

This whale shark season usually runs from late May to mid-September. The exact timing can vary slightly from year to year, but the peak months for whale shark sightings in the Cancun area are typically June, July, and August. During this period, these gentle giants migrate to the warm waters of the Yucatan Peninsula, including the waters around Cancun, to feed on plankton and other small marine organisms.

If you’re interested in swimming with whale sharks in Cancun, it’s essential to plan your trip during the peak season for the best chance of encountering them. Be sure to book a tour with a reputable operator that follows responsible and sustainable practices to ensure the safety and protection of both the whale sharks and the marine environment.

We booked this exact tour and had a fantastic experience. Note, it can be a bit chaotic as only 2 people per boat are allowed to snorkel at one time to respect the whale shark. This means that everyone has to rotate in order to get their time in the water. In total, you might have 5-10 minutes in the water swimming with them.

Once you are finished with your tour, return to Cancun in the afternoon and spend your last hours in Cancun by relaxing at your hotel’s beach or pool.

Day 4: Head to Playa Del Carmen

Fifth Avenue in Playa Del Carmen

Check out of your Cancun accommodation and travel to Playa del Carmen. If using a rental car, the drive should take about 1 hour and 15 minutes. We stayed at the Hilton in Playa Del Carmen , but there are plenty of other non-all inclusive options available too!

Once you’re all settled in at your hotel, head on down to the public beach to take in the beautiful views of the water at Playa del Carmen Beach. Spend your morning lounging on the sandy shores, swimming in the clear turquoise waters, and soaking up the sun.

Next up, it’s time to visit the iconic Fifth Avenue (Quinta Avenida) . Fifth Avenue is a pedestrian-only street filled with shops, boutiques, restaurants, bars, and street performers. It’s a hub for shopping, dining, and people-watching. It’s super lively and fun to explore during the afternoon or at night.

Grab dinner at one of the restaurants here, or head back to your all inclusive resort! We ate at Harry’s Steakhouse since we were celebrating our mini-moon, and can say it was one of the best restaurants we ate at during our trip. However, it is quite pricey, so we would only recommend for a fancy date night or special ocassion if you are trying to eat out on a particular budget.

Day 5: Day Trip to Cozumel

Scuba diving off the coast of Cozumel Mexico

A day trip to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen is a must if you are visiting the region. Cozumel is known for its clear waters, excellent snorkeling, and vibrant marine life, and it’s only a 30 minute ferry ride away!

You can purchase round-trip ferry tickets from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel. Two popular ferry companies that operate this route are Ultramar and Winjet. You can buy tickets at the ferry terminal or online in advance. Arrive at the ferry terminal at least 30 minutes before your chosen departure time, as ferries can fill up quickly, especially during peak tourist seasons.

If you plan to snorkel, consider bringing your snorkeling gear (mask, snorkel, fins) or rent it on the island. Cozumel is renowned for its incredible underwater life. Upon arrival in Cozumel, you’ll disembark at the main ferry terminal in San Miguel, the island’s largest town.

Cozumel offers a range of activities, including snorkeling, scuba diving, visiting beaches, exploring Mayan ruins, and shopping for souvenirs. You can tailor your day to your interests, and simply take the ferry back to the mainland at your lesiure.

Once you’re back, grab dinner at the restaurant Alux , where you can dine in the middle of a cenote cave! It was such a cool experience. You definitely want to make reservations in advance. Also, we would recommend taking a taxi over here as it’s a far walk from the ferry terminal and most resorts.

Day 6: Go Scuba Diving or Snorkeling

Scuba Diving Playa Del Carmen

As avid scuba divers, we knew we had to dive in the water around Playa del Carmen. We actually did our advanced PADI certification here, and we LOVED it! We booked our dives through Koox Diving and it was a great intimate diving experience.

Playa del Carmen has some of the most beautiful reefs and diverse dives from reef drift dives, to shipwrecks, to diving in some of the nearby cenotes.

If you aren’t a big scuba fan, there are tons of great areas to go snorkeling as well! We’ll link a few tours we’d recommend down below.

Finish off the day with your last dinner in the area. If you’re looking for a more local authentic dining experience, we loved the food at El Fogón.

Day 7: Head to Tulum

Tulum Ruins

Start your morning grabbing breakfast at your accommodations or a nearby cafe! Then, it’s time to make the drive from Playa del Carmen to Tulum. This is going to take about 1 hour depending on traffic. Check into your hotel and get settled in. We stayed at the Mi Amor Hotel which is a gorgeous small boutique hotel next to the famous Tulum Ruins.

Naturally, we’d recommend checking out the neighboring Tulum Ruins , one of the most iconic archaeological sites in Mexico. These ancient Mayan ruins are perched on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea and are located to many hotels in the area. Take your time to explore the ruins, learn about their history, and capture breathtaking photos. Although Chichen Itza usually is the talk of the town, it’s definitley still worth it to check out the Tulum Ruins.

Day 8: Chichén Itzá

Standing in front of mayan temple at chichen itza

To start your morning, grab some breakfast at Raw Love Cafe and then start the 2.5 hour drive over to the famous Chichen Itza!

When it comes to awe-inspiring archaeological sites, Chichén Itzá stands as a testament to the remarkable achievements of the ancient Maya civilization. Located in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, Chichén Itzá is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Its iconic step pyramid, El Castillo, dominates the landscape and serves as a striking reminder of the Maya’s astronomical and architectural prowess. As you explore Chichén Itzá, you’ll encounter not only El Castillo but also the Great Ball Court, the Temple of the Warriors, and the sacred cenote, each steeped in history and mystery. Chichén Itzá is a journey back in time, offering a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of Mexico and the ancient Maya. Don’t miss the opportunity to uncover the secrets of this remarkable site and immerse yourself in its fascinating history.

Chichen Itza Mexico Riviera Tulum

You will probably want to allot a half day to a full day here in order to see everything in the park! In order to visit, you’ll have to buy 2 tickets at the entrance. They do accept credit cards. You can also hire an official guide on site to learn more in depth about the area.

There is also an ATM available if you need one! We found this helpful when we ran out of cash and wanted to see some of the cash only cenotes nearby Chichén Itzá.

Pro Travel Tip: If you love your visit here, you’ll definitely want to add Guatemala’s Tikal National Park to your bucket list as well.

Day 9: Cenote Hopping

Cenote Ik Kil Mexican Riviera Tulum

It’s time to head out in search of the most magical cenotes in the Mexican Riviera! Visiting cenotes around the Yucatan Peninsula can be a memorable and unique experience. Cenotes are natural sinkholes or freshwater caves that offer opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. Before you embark on your cenote adventure, here are some important things to know:

  • Most cenotes are CASH ONLY. Make sure to have cash on hand before heading out.
  • Many cenotes will charge for bringing in your own camera gear like a Go Pro, Professional Mirrorless/DSLR camera, or drone. You’ll need to bring even more cash for these if you want to take photos.
  • Cenotes were sacred to the ancient Maya civilization and were often used for rituals and ceremonies. Respect the cultural and historical significance of cenotes when visiting them.
  • If you are trying to go scuba diving in cenotes around this region, most require you to have your advanced certification as they are deeper and more intricate to dive in.
  • The cenotes are extremely popular. The closer to the opening/closing times of the Cenote, the better chance you’ll encounter fewer crowds.
  • You will have to shower before entering each cenote at the facilities provided. This is to ensure sunscreen, repellent, etc. doesn’t damage the water.

Cenote Itinerary:

Today is the day to explore some of the best cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula! If you opted for a rental car, then you will have a lot of flexibility to visit as many cenotes in the area as you want! If you didn’t, you can book a tour that will take you to multiple cenotes for the day! Here were some of our favorites that we visited during our time in Tulum.

Cenote Ik Kil

Cenote Ik Kil in Riviera Maya

Immerse yourself in the beauty of Ik Kil, a cenote like no other. This open-air sinkhole boasts lush jungle surroundings, mesmerizing turquoise waters, and hanging vines that create a magical atmosphere. Dive into the refreshing cenote pool and experience its rich Mayan history and charm.

  • Hours : 9am-5pm
  • Entrance Fee : 180 pesos per person

Cenote Suytan

Cenote Suytan in Mexican Riviera

Witness the surreal play of light and shadow as it filters through the opening of this stunning cenote, casting a magical beam on the cenote’s underground platform. Explore this unique cenote for a one-of-a-kind adventure. If you’re hoping to time the beam of light just right, we’d definitely recommend visiting this cenote in the afternoon around 12pm-1pm when the sun is directly above.

  • Hours : 9am-4:30pm
  • Entrance Fee : 150 pesos per person

Taak Bi Ha

Swimming in cenote Taak Bi Ha in Tulum, Mexico

Taak Bi Ha, a hidden gem in the Yucatan, invites you to discover its serene beauty. This closed cenote offers a tranquil oasis for swimming and relaxation. Immerse yourself in the calm, clear waters and enjoy the natural wonders of Taak Bi Ha.

  • Entrance Fee : 350 pesos per person

Dos Ojos (Two Eyes)

Dive into the crystal-clear waters of Two Eyes Cenote, a captivating double cenote that is right next door to Taak Bi Ha. Connected by a cavern system, these cenotes offer an unparalleled snorkeling and diving experience. Most people say that the second eye is much more beautiful, so plan on spending some extra time swimming, snorkeling, or diving in the latter one!

  • Hours: 9am-5pm
  • Entrance Fee : 400 pesos per person
  • Camera Charge : There is an extra charge for bringing your own camera

Casa Cenote

Scuba Diving in Casa Cenote

This gorgeous cenote combines the beauty of the jungle with a mangrove setting. As you swim in its clear waters, observe the fascinating transition from freshwater to saltwater. Explore the unique ecosystem, paddle through mangrove tunnels, and appreciate the natural wonders of Casa Cenote. If you’re lucky, you might even encounter its famous resident crocodile.

Once you’re done with your day of exploring the Yucatan’s best cenotes, it’s unfortunately time to head home! You can either make the drive back to Cancun’s airport, or fly out of Tulum’s brand new airport in April 2024!

We hope you enjoy this Mexican Riviera itinerary from Cancun to Tulum! Let us know if you have any questions about planning your perfect road trip through this gorgeous region of Mexico!

Ready to Explore More of Mexico?

Looking for more inspiration on gorgeous destinations in Mexico? Check out our trip planning guide to visiting Puerto Vallarta . Or perhaps, check out our experience on one of the best taco tours in all of Mexico.

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How to Get From Cancun to Tulum

Posted: December 15, 2023 | Last updated: December 15, 2023

Are you looking for the best way to get from Cancun to Tulum? You’re in the right place.

I used to live in Cancun and have made the trip down to Tulum many times. The good news is it’s quite easy to get to Tulum from Cancun. And you have many options at a variety of price points.

Tulum is about 80 miles (130 km) from Cancun. It’s a beautiful drive, mostly through the jungle. You can take a private or shared shuttle, rent a car, take a bus, or even take a helicopter.

Let’s take a closer look so you can decide which is the best way for you to get to Tulum.

Best Way to Get From Cancun to Tulum

#1 TOP PICK

Private Shuttle by Cancun Airport Transfers

Most convenient

Great prices

From Cancun Airport to Tulum

Most people will be flying into Cancun and making their way to Tulum from the airport so let’s start there.

Later on, I’ll talk about getting to Tulum from downtown Cancun or the Hotel Zone.

1. Private Shuttle

The easiest and quickest way to get to Tulum is to book a private shuttle . Private shuttles offer a personalized service tailored to your schedule, providing the convenience of door-to-door service from the airport or your hotel.

This means you can enjoy a comfortable ride with space for both you and your luggage, ensuring privacy and comfort without the need to share the space with other passengers.

The best shuttle option is Cancun Airport Transportation . They provide great service at the best prices.

Check Private Shuttle Rates and Availability

Approximate Costs of a Private Shuttle to Tulum

The cost for a private shuttle typically starts at around $160 depending on the number of people in your group and the type of vehicle.

Private Shuttle Booking Tips

  • Book in Advance: Ensure availability and possibly better rates by booking your shuttle before your trip .
  • Confirm Details: Double-check the pick-up and drop-off points, and ensure the price includes all fees and taxes.

Pros of Taking a Private Shuttle

  • Convenience: Avoid the hassle of navigating public transportation, especially if you’re traveling with a lot of luggage or in a group.
  • Time-Saving: Direct route to your destination without stops, making it faster than other options.

Cons of Taking a Private Shuttle

  • Cost: More expensive than public transportation options like buses or colectivos.
  • Less Interaction: You might miss out on the opportunity to meet other travelers, which can be part of the adventure when using shared transport.

Find a Private Shuttle

2. Shared Shuttle

The shared shuttle service is a popular and budget-friendly option. It strikes a balance between cost and convenience, making it a great choice for solo travelers or small groups.

I like the Cancun Travel Experience shuttle because they have continuous departures. You shouldn’t have to wait too long before leaving.

Check Shared Shuttle Rates and Availability

Approximate Costs of Taking a Shared Shuttle

The cost for a shared shuttle averages around $75 per person.

Shared Shuttle Booking Tips

  • Book Online in Advance: To ensure availability and get the best prices, be sure to book your shuttle well in advance.
  • Check the Schedule: Some shared shuttles have fixed schedules, so make sure their timing aligns with your itinerary. Cancun Travel Experience shuttles depart around every half hour, which is why I like them so much. You never have to wait long.
  • Look for Reviews: Opt for companies with good customer feedback to guarantee a reliable service.

Pros of Taking a Shared Shuttle

  • Economical: Cost-effective for solo travelers.
  • Meet Fellow Travelers: Shared shuttles offer the chance to socialize and share tips with other tourists.
  • Direct Route: Though not as fast as a private shuttle, they still provide a direct route to Tulum without the multiple stops of public buses.

Cons of Taking a Shared Shuttle

  • Less Privacy: You’ll be sharing the ride with other passengers, which can be less comfortable and more crowded.
  • Fixed Schedule: Less flexibility compared to a private shuttle or taxi, as you have to adhere to the pre-set departure times.
  • Variable Travel Time: Depending on the number of passengers and their respective drop-off points, travel time can be longer.
  • Central Drop-Off Points: Shared shuttles will often drop you off downtown in Tulum. From there you’ll have to get a taxi to get to your hotel.

Find a Shared Shuttle

3. Rental Car

Renting a car offers the ultimate in flexibility and independence. This option is perfect if you love the freedom of exploring at your own pace.

My favorite rental car company is Discover Cars . In Mexico , you have to buy insurance when you rent a car. Discover Cars’ insurance is much cheaper than booking directly. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars by using them.

Check Rental Car Rates and Availability

Approximate Cost of Renting a Car in Cancun

Car rental prices can vary widely but expect to pay around $30 to $60 per day, depending on the car type and rental company. Remember to factor in fuel costs and insurance. Insurance can add around $100 to a weekly rental.

Rental Car Booking Tips

  • Compare Prices: Use online platforms to compare rates from different rental companies. Be sure to compare the fees and insurance costs as well.
  • Insurance: You must buy insurance in Mexico. You can’t opt out. Make sure you aren’t being oversold. Many times the car agency will try to sell you more insurance than you need.
  • Check Reviews: Look for rental companies with positive customer feedback. This is one problem with Discover Cars. Their reviews aren’t always accurate. Be sure to check Google Reviews as well.
  • Understand the Terms: Be clear about mileage limits, fuel policies, and additional fees.

Pros of Renting a Car

  • Complete Control: Travel wherever and whenever you want, without being tied to bus or shuttle schedules.
  • Comfort: Enjoy a private, air-conditioned space, especially during the hot and humid months.
  • Cost-Effective for Groups: Sharing the rental and fuel costs can make this a very economical option for groups.

Cons of Renting a Car

  • Driving in a Foreign Country: Navigating unfamiliar roads and traffic laws can be challenging. Many road signs in Mexico are only in Spanish.
  • Parking and Traffic: Finding parking in Tulum and dealing with traffic can be stressful.

Find a Rental Car

Taking the ADO bus is a popular option, known for its affordability and reliability. It’s an excellent choice if you prefer a straightforward, no-frills journey.

ADO buses are clean and comfortable. They have air-conditioning and onboard restrooms (using one is a bit of a challenge – believe me!). You may even get a movie.

Check ADO Bus Rates and Availability

Approximate Costs of ADO Bus to Tulum from Cancun

A one-way ticket typically ranges from $12 to $25, making it a budget-friendly option.

ADO Bus Booking Tips

  • Advance Booking: Tickets can be purchased online or at the bus station. Booking in advance is recommended, especially during peak travel seasons. You’ll get the best prices when you book in advance.
  • Check Schedules: ADO buses have set schedules, so plan your trip accordingly.
  • Arrive Early: Get to the bus station with enough time to find your departure point and settle in.

Pros of Taking the ADO Bus

  • Budget-Friendly: Ideal for solo travelers or those traveling on a tight budget.
  • Direct Route: Offers direct trips to Tulum without unnecessary stops.
  • No Need to Drive: Avoids the stress and cost of car rental and navigation.

Cons of Taking the ADO Bus

  • Limited Flexibility: Buses run on a set schedule, offering less flexibility than a rental car.
  • Travel Time: May take longer than a private transfer or driving, especially if the bus makes multiple stops.
  • Luggage Space: Limited storage for luggage, which might be a concern for those with a lot of bags.
  • Doesn’t Allow Pets: Pets aren’t allowed on ADO buses, even in carriers.

Taking a taxi is a convenient option if you want a direct and flexible mode of transport.

Ideal for those who prefer not to wait for scheduled departures or navigate public transportation, taxis offer a personalized travel experience. Taxis are also good for people who don’t like to plan too far in advance.

Approximate Costs of Taking a Taxi to Tulum From Cancun

The fare for a taxi from Cancun to Tulum can vary, typically ranging from $90 to $150. Be sure to agree on the fare before beginning your journey to avoid surprises.

Taxi Booking Tips

  • Negotiate the Fare: Always negotiate and agree on the fare before getting into the taxi.
  • Use Reputable Services: Opt for taxis from official stands or pre-arranged through your hotel for added safety.
  • Avoid Airport Taxis: If possible, avoid taking taxis directly from the airport as they can be more expensive. Consider a short shuttle or bus ride to a nearby location for better rates.

Pros of Taking a Taxi

  • Convenience: Ideal for those who want to avoid the hassle of public transportation or waiting for scheduled departures.
  • Speed: Often the fastest way to get from Cancun to Tulum, barring any significant traffic.
  • Privacy: Enjoy a private travel experience without the need to share space with other passengers.

Cons of Taking a Taxi

  • Cost: One of the more expensive options, especially if traveling solo or as a couple.
  • Variable Pricing: Rates can be inconsistent, and tourists may face higher charges.
  • Safety Concerns: While most taxis are safe, it’s important to be cautious, especially when hailing cabs outside of official stands or the airport.

6. Colectivo

Colectivos are local shared minibusses that are popular in Mexico. A Colectivo will be the cheapest way to get to Tulum, but not at all the best way.

They do offer a unique and authentic experience of Mexican transportation. I recommend you ride one during your stay in Mexico, but not for such a long distance.

Advantages of Taking a Colectivo

  • Cost-Effective: Extremely affordable, making them a favorite among budget travelers and locals.
  • Frequent Departures: Colectivos run regularly, offering flexibility in travel times.
  • Local Experience: Provides an opportunity to experience local life and interact with residents.

Approximate Cost of Taking a Colectivo to Tulum

The fare for a colectivo is usually very economical, typically ranging from $3 to $10 per person, depending on your starting point and the specific route.

Colectivo Booking Tips

  • Location of Colectivos: Find them at designated stops or along major routes. In Cancun, they’re often found near the ADO bus station.
  • Be Prepared for a Crowd: Colectivos don’t have a set schedule; they leave when full. During peak hours, they can get quite crowded.
  • Have Cash Ready: Colectivos generally only accept cash, and having small bills (in pesos) is helpful for quick payment.

Pros of Colectivos

  • Affordability: One of the cheapest modes of transportation available.
  • Cultural Immersion: Riding with locals offers a more authentic travel experience.
  • Flexibility: With no fixed schedule, they can be a convenient option for spontaneous travel.

Cons of Colectivos

  • Comfort: Less comfortable than buses or private transport, especially if crowded. Colectivos are almost never air-conditioned.
  • Limited Space: Not ideal for travelers with a lot of luggage.
  • Language Barrier: Drivers typically speak limited English, which might be challenging for non-Spanish speakers.

7. Tour to Tulum From Cancun

If you just want to add a day trip to Tulum to your itinerary , a guided tour is a great option. You’ll get transportation, knowledgeable guides, and sometimes even meals.

For a quick half-day tour, I recommend the Tulum Ruins Guided Tour . It has 5/5 stars with 141 ratings. You can see the ruins and get back to Cancun in time to spend the afternoon on the beach.

If you want to see more than the ruins, check out the Tulum Ruins with Cenote and Swimming with Turtles Tour . Cenotes are natural sinkholes full of cool, fresh water that are one of my favorite things in Mexico. You can snorkel, swim, or even scuba dive in them . Add that to swimming with turtles, and you’ve got an amazing day.

Check Tulum Tours Rates and Availability

Approximate Costs of a Tour to Tulum

The cost can vary, but typical tours range from $50 to $150 per person, depending on the inclusions such as food, entrance fees, and whether it’s a group or private tour.

Tulum Tour Booking Tips

  • Read Reviews: Check previous travelers’ reviews for quality assurance and to set the right expectations.
  • Check Inclusions: Confirm what is included in the price, like meals, entrance fees, and any additional activities.

Pros of Taking a Tour to Tulum

  • Comprehensive Experience: Tours often include stops at other points of interest, like cenotes or beaches.
  • Stress-Free: Eliminates the need to plan logistics like transportation and tickets.
  • Educational Value: Learn about the sites you visit in greater depth than if you were exploring on your own.

Cons of Taking a Tour to Tulum

  • Less Flexibility: Tours follow a set schedule, which can limit the amount of time you spend at each site.
  • Group Setting: May not appeal to those who prefer a more independent or private experience.
  • Variability in Quality: The experience highly depends on the tour company and guide, so quality can vary.

Find a Tulum Tour

8. Helicopter Transfer

If you want a luxurious and unforgettable journey, taking a helicopter is an option that combines opulence with breathtaking views.

I’ve never done this and I don’t know anyone who has, but it is possible.

Approximate Costs of Taking a Helicopter to Tulum From Cancun

From what I found, a helicopter will cost between $5,000 and $10,000.

Helicopter Booking Tips

  • Plan Ahead: Due to limited availability, it’s essential to book your helicopter transfer well in advance.
  • Check for Packages: Some services might offer packages that include additional experiences or amenities.
  • Understand the Terms: Be clear about the weight limits, luggage capacity, and weather-related rescheduling policies.

Pros of Taking a Helicopter to Tulum

  • Unmatched Speed: Makes it possible to travel between Cancun and Tulum in a fraction of the time it takes by road.
  • Comfort and Privacy: Enjoy a comfortable and intimate journey without the crowds.
  • Unique Experience: Adds an element of adventure and luxury to your trip.

Cons of Taking a Helicopter to Tulum

  • Cost: Prohibitively expensive for most travelers, making it an option for those willing to splurge.
  • Weather Dependent: Flights can be subject to cancellation due to bad weather.
  • Limited Luggage Capacity: May not be suitable for travelers with a lot of baggage.

How to get to Tulum From the Cancun Hotel Zone

Traveling from the Cancun Hotel Zone to Tulum is easy enough. The main differences are where to get the ADO bus and where to find a car rental.

If you opt for a private or shared shuttle, take a taxi, or book a tour, you’ll most likely be picked up from your hotel.

If you want to take ADO, you’ll need to get to the downtown bus station. It’s a short taxi or local bus ride to reach it. The station is well-equipped and serves as the main hub for long-distance bus travel.

While there are car rental agencies within the Hotel Zone, you’ll find a more comprehensive selection at the airport.

However, for convenience, you can opt to rent from agencies located within the Hotel Zone itself. These agencies are typically found along Kukulcan Boulevard, the main thoroughfare of the area.

How to get to Tulum From Downtown Cancun

When starting your journey to Tulum from Downtown Cancun, the options for catching the ADO bus and renting a car are conveniently accessible.

The main ADO bus station in downtown Cancun is centrally located and serves as the primary departure point for buses heading to Tulum. This station is easily accessible from various parts of downtown, either on foot or by a short taxi ride.

Downtown Cancun offers several car rental agencies. You can find them along major streets and near popular tourist areas. These locations provide an alternative to renting at the airport, especially if you’re staying in the downtown area.

Tulum Airport

Tulum’s brand new airport opened on December 1, 2023. At this point, you can’t fly from Cancun to Tulum directly, but it may be an option in the future.

According to their website , international flights should start arriving in March 2024. Until then you can reach Tulum via Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Tijuana, and Toluca.

Tren Maya is an ambitious transportation project set to revolutionize travel in the Yucatán Peninsula.

This train service represents a significant development in sustainable and efficient travel, promising to offer a new way to explore the diverse landscapes and historical sites of southeastern Mexico.

As of now (December 2023), you can’t get to Tulum on the train. It has just started operating on very limited routes. More routes and stops will be added in the future. You can learn more on their official website .

Expected Routes and Stops

  • Route Overview: Tren Maya is expected to cover approximately 1,500 kilometers, looping around the Yucatán Peninsula.
  • Key Stops: The route will include major destinations such as Campeche, Merida, Cancun, Tulum, and other significant archaeological sites and cities, potentially transforming how travelers experience these popular locations.
  • Accessibility: The train is planned to have multiple stops, making it easier for tourists and locals to access various regions, including some less-visited areas that are rich in culture and natural beauty.

Potential Benefits for Travelers

  • Cultural Immersion: Tren Maya is more than just a train journey. It’s a cultural experience, providing an opportunity to see and appreciate the region’s history and heritage.
  • Environmental Impact: With a focus on sustainability, the train is expected to be a greener alternative to car or bus travel.
  • Comfort and Convenience: The modern facilities planned for Tren Maya are set to offer a comfortable and enjoyable travel experience, making long-distance journeys more pleasant.

About Tulum

Tulum is known for its stunning beaches, well-preserved Mayan ruins, and beautiful cenotes (natural sinkholes). The town embodies a unique blend of laid-back beach vibes and rich cultural heritage, making it a must-visit destination.

Getting Around Tulum

  • Bicycles: Renting a bike is a popular and eco-friendly way to explore Tulum. The town is relatively small and bike-friendly.
  • Taxis: Widely available for longer distances or when traveling after dark.
  • Walking: Many of Tulum’s attractions are within walking distance, especially in the beach and hotel zones.
  • Colectivos: The local buses are a great way to get around and see the town.

Accommodation Options in Tulum

You can find a wide variety of accommodations in Tulum. Beachfront hotels are a popular choice, offering stunning views and direct access to the beach, perfect for those seeking a luxurious stay.

Boutique hotels, scattered throughout Tulum, provide a more personalized experience, often combining local charm with modern comforts.

For the budget-conscious traveler, hostels and budget hotels, primarily located in Tulum town, offer affordable lodging without sacrificing convenience.

Additionally, vacation rentals are an excellent option for families or groups, as they offer more space and home-like amenities, making them a practical choice for longer stays or for those wanting a more intimate setting.

Each of these accommodations allows you to experience Tulum’s unique atmosphere and beauty in a way that suits your individual needs.

Find a Tulum Accommodations

Family-Friendly Activities in Tulum

  • Beach Days: Tulum’s beaches are family-friendly with soft sand and shallow waters.
  • Cenote Explorations: Visit child-friendly cenotes like Gran Cenote or Cenote Dos Ojos for snorkeling and swimming.
  • Eco Parks: Parks like Xcaret offer snorkeling, zip-lining, and other family-oriented activities.

Insider Tips for a Well-Prepared Itinerary

  • Plan Ahead for High Season: Tulum gets busy during the high season (December – February), so book accommodations and activities in advance.
  • Cash is King: Many places in Tulum prefer or only accept cash, including pesos and sometimes US dollars. You’ll get the best prices if you pay with pesos.
  • Stay Hydrated and Sun-Protected: The climate can be hot and humid, so carry water and sunscreen, especially during outdoor activities.

Is it Worth Going to Tulum?

Absolutely! Tulum is an experience that caters to various interests and preferences. Whether you’re a history buff, a beach lover, an adventure seeker, or someone who just wants to unwind in a beautiful setting, Tulum has something special for you.

  • Rich Historical Significance: The Mayan ruins in Tulum, perched above a stunning beach, offer a unique glimpse into ancient civilization.
  • Natural Beauty: From the iconic turquoise waters and white sandy beaches to the mystical cenotes, Tulum’s natural wonders are breathtaking.
  • Cultural Depth: The town provides a blend of traditional Mexican culture with a modern, eco-conscious lifestyle.
  • Culinary Delights: Tulum’s culinary scene is a fusion of local flavors and international cuisine, suitable for all taste buds.
  • Relaxation and Wellness: Renowned for its yoga retreats and wellness centers, Tulum is a haven for those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation.

Frequently Asked Questions: Getting From Cancun to Tulum

What is the cheapest way to get from cancun to tulum.

The cheapest way to travel from Cancun to Tulum is by taking a colectivo (local shared minibus), with fares typically much lower than other transportation options. The next cheapest (and much faster) way is ADO, with tickets ranging from $12 to $25.

What’s the best way to get to Tulum from Cancun?

In my opinion, the best way to get to Tulum is on a private shuttle through Cancun Airport Transportation . They provide excellent service at a great price.

How far is Cancun Airport to Tulum?

Cancun Airport is approximately 73 miles (118 kilometers) from Tulum.

What is the travel time between Cancun and Tulum?

The drive typically takes around 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on traffic and the mode of transportation used.

Is driving a car between Cancun and Tulum safe?

Yes, driving between Cancun and Tulum is very safe.

Is it safe to take the ADO bus if I’m traveling solo?

Yes, the ADO bus is very safe. I’ve taken it solo many times and have never felt nervous.

Is There Uber in Cancun & Tulum?

There is Uber in Cancun, but not in Tulum. Therefore, you can’t take an Uber between the two cities.

Is there an airport in Tulum?

Yes, Tulum Airport opened in December 2023 with domestic flights. They plan to welcome international flights in March 2024.

Is it possible to fly from Cancun to Tulum?

At this time, no, you can’t fly between Cancun and Tulum.

What airport do you fly into for Tulum?

You can fly directly into Tulum, with a change of planes in Mexico City or Guadalajara. Otherwise, many people fly into Cancun as there are more options for now.

Wrap-Up: Getting to Tulum from Cancun

The journey from Cancun to Tulum can be as diverse and enjoyable as the destination itself.

My top choice is the private shuttle by Cancun Airport Transportatio n. They have great prices and a high satisfaction rating. It’s also nice to have direct service without having to deal with other people.

No matter how you get there, your journey to Tulum is the beginning of what promises to be a memorable experience.

Related Posts

  • Guide to Getting Through Cancun Customs Quickly and Easily 
  • 7-Day Cancun Itinerary: Best Things to See and Do 
  • How to Get From Tulum to Cozumel
  • Best Time to Visit Xcaret in Mexico
  • Best Tours For Scuba Diving in Cancun 
  • Cancun or Cozumel: Which is Better for Your Vacation?
  • How to Get to Cozumel From Cancun – and Back Again
  • Is Cozumel Safer Than Cancun?
  • Adventurous Things to Do in Cancun
  • 25 Amazing Cenotes for Mexico Cave Diving

Pro Tips for Your Mexico Trips

Do i need travel insurance.

YES . No matter when you visit Mexico, don’t forget to buy travel insurance. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. If you need it once it will pay for itself many times over. I highly recommend Safety Wing . They have a proven track record for customer satisfaction and a variety of coverage levels.

Is it safe to rent a car in Mexico?

YES. Renting a car in Mexico is not only safe, but it’s a great way to explore. Discover Cars is hands down the best rental car company . They check international and local companies to get you the best rates.

Will my phone work in Mexico?

Maybe  — It depends on your company, so check with your provider. If you don’t have free service in Mexico, the least expensive option is to buy a Telcel SIM card . As Mexico’s largest carrier, Telcel has the best coverage of any Mexico SIM Cards. I have one and it’s been a lifesaver.

You can also get an eSIM. Airalo has coverage in over 200 countries/regions, including Mexico.

What’s the best way to book my Mexico accommodations?

For Mexico hotels,  Booking.com is the best site , but for hostels,  check out Hostel World . If you’re considering a Mexico Airbnb, don’t forget to  check VRBO , which is often cheaper with more options.

What do I pack for Mexico?

  My Mexico packing list has all the info you need on packing for your trip to Mexico.

What’s the best site for great deals on flights to Mexico?

For finding cheap Mexico flights, I recommend using Skyscanner .

Do I need a visa for Mexico?

Probably Not . U.S., Canadian, and most European passport holders don’t need a visa for Mexico. To verify if you’ll need a Mexico travel visa  check the Mexican Consulate’s website.

For assistance with all your worldwide visa questions, check out iVisa .

The post How to Get From Cancun to Tulum (By a Local 2023) appeared first on Digital Nomad and a Dog .

How to Get From Cancun to Tulum (By a Local 2023)

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