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Cancun is an absolute Caribbean paradise that promises romantic evenings watching the sunset, snorkeling among amazing coral reefs, shopping in local markets, discovering pre-Hispanic cultures and ruins, and dancing the night away. Whatever your travel tastes, a visit to Cancun is sure to be filled with excitement and adventure, and the beauty of the Mexican Caribbean will warm your soul.

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Nightlife Seeker
  • Nature Lover
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • Beach Goer
  • Like a Local

13 Places

3 City Tips

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Map

13 Places

Day 1

Mercado 28

Flea & Street Markets

El Cejas

Restaurants

Captain Hook Barco Pirata Pirate Ship

Dinner Theaters, Boat Tours

Day 2

Chichen Itza

Destinations

Cenote Samula

Geologic Formations, Bodies of Water

Hacienda el Mortero

Restaurants

Convent de San Bernardino de Siena

Historic Sites

Day 3

Isla Mujeres

Destinations

Playa Lancheros

Restaurants

La Isla Shopping Village

Shopping Malls

La Madonna

Restaurants

Mandala Cancun

Bars & Clubs

Playa Delfines

Beaches

Monica U's City Tips

  • Tipping is customary in Mexico for anyone in a service industry. These people depend on tips so be generous.
  • Cancun's taxis are pretty cheap, but if you want to get more value for your money, hop on the buses that run between the "Zona Hotelera" and Downtown.
  • Bargaining at the markets and with cab drivers is accepted and expected, so don't feel shy. (Sometimes they will hack the prices up by 50%.)
    Day 1
  • Save
    Mercado 28
    Flea & Street Markets
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    I am the kind of person who likes to buy souvenirs straight away in a local market; it's a good way to sample the local culture, try the cuisine, and interact with the people — not to mention practice my Spanish. Located in Cancun's downtown, Mercado 28 is the biggest souvenir market in the region. Whether you are looking for handcrafted plates and glasses, hammocks, traditional sombreros, toys, handmade statues and dolls, T-shirts or even Mexican piñatas, this is the place to find them.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Thrifty Traveler
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Most stalls will take USD but no credit cards. However, it is always best to pay in pesos.
    • Take the "Ruta 2" bus from the Hotel Zone, and ask the driver to let you know when you are close to Mercado 28.
    • There are several ATMs in the market, in case you've forgotten to bring along cash.
    Plan to stay:/
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #43 of 158 things to do in Cancun
    • Not our best experience... 11/16/2017
    • Great place to eat and grab some gifts 11/15/2017
    • Mercado 28
    Address:
    north of the Coba and Tankah intersection
    AV. 5 C.20 Y 22 Nte. 29-A
    Cancun 77710
    Mexico
    Phone:
    +52 998 892 4303
    Hours:
    Sat - Sun
    9:00 am - 7:00 pm
    Other:
  • Save
    El Cejas
    Restaurants (Mexican, Caribbean, Latin, Seafood)
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    Tucked away inside Mercado 28, this hidden gem offers some of the best value for your money in comparison with other downtown seafood restaurants. The food, cooked with local spices, is both affordable and delicious. This is a great place to mingle with the locals, listen to some tunes, and pretend you are a long-time resident of Cancun.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Mexicans traditionally have their biggest meal between 2-3pm, so if you spend the whole morning shopping, you will eat in time to mix with the locals.
    • The salsas can be very spicy at this establishment, so be careful!
    • I love the shrimp cocktail with spicy tomato salsa, the fried calamari, and the grilled fish with garlic, served with "arroz y frijoles" (rice and beans).
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #110 of 828 restaurants in Cancun
    • Atmosphere is great, not the best 11/15/2017
    • Eat where the locals do! 08/08/2017
    • El Cejas
    Address:
    Mercado 28, Avenida Sunyaxchen
    Cancun 77500
    Mexico
    Phone:
    +52 998 887 1080
    Other:
  • Save
    Captain Hook Barco Pirata Pirate Ship
    Dinner Theaters, Boat Tours
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    In my opinion, the Captain Hook offers the best dinner theater around Cancun. Imagine boarding a replica of an 18th-Century Spanish Galleon, and then getting whisked away into a Pirate adventure in the middle of the ocean. While you indulge in steak and lobster, the pirates and their Captain provide entertainment... until suddenly an unknown 'pirate ship' attacks! Add in contests, drinking, and dancing, and you have yourself a night to remember!

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • If you book 72 hours in advance, you can get 10% off.
    Plan to stay:/
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 9 Concerts & Shows in Cancun
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Bad 11/13/2017
    • Good experience but too long of a ride! 11/13/2017
    • Captain Hook Barco Pirata Pirate Ship
    Address:
    Avenida Lopez Portillo
    Terminal Maritima Puerto Juarez
    Cancun 77500
    Mexico
    Phone:
    +52 998 849 4451
    Hours:
    Fri - Wed
    8:00 am - 8:00 pm
    Other:
  • Day 2
  • Save
    Chichen Itza
    Destinations
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    I am a bit of a history buff, so in my opinion a visit to Chichen Itza is as crucial to any Cancun visit as is sipping cocktails by the azure sea. The center of Mayan culture from A.D. 700-1200, the ancient city is truly fascinating to behold. My suggestion is to hire a car and spend a day exploring. Set out early and explore Chichen Itza before the throngs arrive, then stop off for adventures on your way back.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Should you choose to visit in evening instead of morning, there is a light and sound show every night at 7pm during fall and winter, and at 8pm during spring and summer.
    • Don't forget to bring lots of water and wear comfortable shoes.
    • If you are driving to Chichen Itza, it is advisable to get a map of Cancun and the highway that leads there so that you don't get lost!
    • Plan to spend at least 2 hours walking around the Mayan temples and pyramids.
    • Try to get there when it opens (8am) to have the ruins more to yourself. It's about a two-hour drive from Cancun.
    Plan to stay:/
    More than 3 hours
    • Chichen Itza
  • Save
    Cenote Samula
    Geologic Formations, Bodies of Water
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    According to Mayan hieroglyphics, the word 'dzonot' (which the Spanish translated as 'cenote') means 'abysmal and deep.' To the Mayans, these subterranean sinkholes, formed by porous limestone, were 'Sacred Wells,' believed to be doors to the Underworld. Cenote Dzitnup is one of the largest cenotes in the Chichen Itza area, a cavernous underground swimming hole with limestone walls and ropy stalactites. The ethereal lighting, stalactite formations, and vibrant turquoise waters create an enchanting world that just begs you to jump in.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The cenote gets very crowded around 4:30pm, because of all the people coming back from Chichen Itza.
    • There is a small charge to get in.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #4 of 39 things to do in Valladolid
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A little overpriced but the place is amazing. 11/14/2017
    • quiet and beautiful cenote 11/13/2017
    • Cenote Samula
  • Save
    Hacienda el Mortero
    Restaurants (Mexican, Latin)
    Monica U Says:

    Set on the grounds of an old cattle ranch, only five minutes from the city of Valladolid, Hacienda Selva Maya provides a fabulous dining experience: a delicious and authentic Yucatan buffet to be enjoyed in a beautiful tropical environment. The kitchen staff here take great care in cooking the traditional dishes — such as cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork), longaniza de Valladolid (a delicious local sausage), and queso relleno (cheese stuffed with ground beef) — all according to the traditional recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • My favorite dish is the Lomitos de Valladolid, pork cooked in a traditional tomato and spices sauce.
    • The buffet is served from 12-5pm daily.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #68 of 828 restaurants in Cancun
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Dinner at Hacienda el Motero 09/13/2017
    • Mexican night 09/09/2017
    • Hacienda el Mortero
    Address:
    Blvd Kukulkal Km. 9.5
    Cancun 77500
    Mexico
    Phone:
    +52 998 848 9800
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    6:00 pm - 12:00 am
    Other:
  • Save
    Convent de San Bernardino de Siena
    Historic Sites
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    On the way back to Cancun, stop in Valladolid to visit its stunning Convent de San Bernardino de Siena. Founded in 1552, this Franciscan convent is an architectural treasure. In one of the chambers, you can still see some of the hand-painted murals that portrayed a procession of saints.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The convent was built over a natural cenote. Head to the back of the convent to view part of an old wheel that stands on the cenote's mouth.
    • Look for the small statues of Santa Teresa de Jesus and the "Virgen Dolorosa."
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 39 things to do in Valladolid
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Good to visit but lacks a bit of content 11/14/2017
    • Impressive 11/10/2017
    • Convent de San Bernardino de Siena
    Address:
    Calle 49 # 238
    Barrio de Sisal
    Valladolid 97780
    Mexico
    Phone:
    +52 985 856 2160
    Price range:
    US$30 - US$30
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    8:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Day 3
  • Save
    Isla Mujeres
    Destinations
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    Isla Mujeres is an island located only 20 minutes by ferry from Cancun. There are great snorkeling spots, Mayan ruins, and beautiful beaches to explore here. The turtle sanctuary is also well worth a visit, or you can venture to beautiful El Garrafon park at the end of the Island.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Beach Goer
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Upon arrival, you can hire a golf cart to drive around the island.
    • You can catch a ferry to Isla Mujeres from a terminal in the Hotel Zone, or from Puerto Juarez.
    Plan to stay:/
    2-3 hours
    • Isla Mujeres
  • Save
    Playa Lancheros
    Restaurants (Seafood, Mexican, Caribbean)
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    On the way to El Garrafon, stop at Playa Lancheros ('Boatman's Beach'), a popular stretch of sand with calm waters and kayak and canoe rentals. The small open-air restaurant here, founded in 1940, prepares a very special fish 'Pescado Tikinxik' (grilled fish in a special marinade, wrapped in a banana leaf) according to a secret Mayan recipe that has been handed down through generations. The restaurant also serves live lobster, and a variety of other seafood dishes.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Make sure you get some cash before you leave the main part of the island; they do not take cards at the restaurant.
    • If playing with children, be careful to stay close to shore — the bottom has a steep drop-off.
    • This beach has a small kids club, and its calm waters are a good place for kids to play.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #91 of 170 restaurants in Isla Mujeres
    • Beautiful Location 10/25/2017
    • great place to drink with your feet in the sand 10/09/2017
    • Playa Lancheros
    Address:
    South End Bahia
    Carretera a Garrafón km. 4.6 Playa Lancheros
    Isla Mujeres 77400
    Mexico
    Phone:
    +52 998 274 3733
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:30 am - 8:00 pm
    Other:
  • Save
    La Isla Shopping Village
    Shopping Malls
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    Upon your return from Isla Mujeres in the afternoon, you might be in need of some retail therapy. La Isla Cancun, located on Boulevard Kukulkan, is an outdoor shopping mall with more than 160 shops, as well as a variety of entertainment options that surround the villa: an aquarium, swimming with dolphins, and even a boat that goes around the canals.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    Tips
    • Spend at least an hour strolling through the Plaza — you will feel like you have entered an Island of pure pleasure.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #7 of 158 things to do in Cancun
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Perfect 11/16/2017
    • Great shopping 11/16/2017
    • La Isla Shopping Village
    Address:
    Blvd Kukulkan km 12.5
    Zona Hotelera
    Cancun 77500
    Mexico
    Phone:
    +52 998 883 5025
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 am - 10:00 pm
    Other:
  • Save
    La Madonna
    Restaurants (Italian, European)
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    La Madonna is a glamorous Italian eatery at La Isla. The food is authentic, the decor fantastic, and the bar offers a list of the 10 best martinis in the whole of Cancun.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Luxury Traveler
    Tips
    • Ask for a table on the terrace — it's a great place for people-watching.
    • Start with a Caesar Salad (made at the table), and then try the Lobster La Madonna.
    • The food is a bit pricey here, but it's worth it. If you don't want to spend on the food, stop by for a drink instead.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #47 of 828 restaurants in Cancun
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Last night in Cancun 11/14/2017
    • This place gets better and better! 11/14/2017
    • La Madonna
    Address:
    Boulevard Kukulcan KM 12.5
    Cancun 77500
    Mexico
    Phone:
    +52 998 883 2222
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    12:00 pm - 12:00 am
    Other:
  • Save
    Mandala Cancun
    Bars & Clubs
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:

    It's hardly Cancun if you don't go dancing, so why not end your day at one of the hottest nightclubs in town? From the minute you walk into Mandala, you will feel like you've stepped straight into a VIP Lounge. The eastern decor sets the glamorous tone, and the dance floor is packed with pretty people, grooving to the DJ's fabulous beats.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • Bottle service guarantees you a table.
    • Call the nightclub in advance to reserve a table to secure one of the best tables in the house.
    Plan to stay:/
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 53 Nightlife in Cancun
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Classy Place, great ambience 11/11/2017
    • Best music 11/08/2017
    • Mandala Cancun
    Address:
    Blvd Kukulcan km 9, Zona Hotelera
    Cancun 77500
    Mexico
    Phone:
    +52 998 883 3333
    Price range:
    US$35 - US$35
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 pm - 6:00 pm
    Other:
  • Save
    Playa Delfines
    Beaches
    See more photos
    Monica U Says:
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 158 things to do in Cancun
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Very busy... 11/16/2017
    • Relaxing day 11/11/2017
    • Playa Delfines
    Address:
    Boulevard Kukulkan
    Zona Hotelera
    Cancun 77500
    Mexico
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