Chichen Itza is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and ranks among Mexico's star attractions. This Mayan city features on many Cancún tours and is a great place to travel back in time. Hidden deep in the jungle, Chichen Itza will make you feel like a pioneer of old.
The main draw is the iconic pyramid, El Castillo. At 30 meters tall, this temple has kept watch over the city for centuries. It dominates the complex and will be the main focus of your photographs.
During your visit to Chichen Itza, you'll also see the Temple of the Warriors, the Observatory and one of the world's first ball courts. As you wander around the atmospheric ruins, your guide will let you into secrets of the past with tales about those who once lived here.
Many Cancún tours to Chichen Itza also swing by the historical town of Valladolid for a bit of contrast. The colonial architecture will blow you away while the nearby cenotes are perfect for a refreshing swim.
For a slice of island life, take a trip to Isla Mujeres, which is a short ferry ride from Cancún. This tropical paradise is all about sandy beaches and turquoise water – relaxation is the name of the game here.
Most people come to Isla Mujeres for some beach time, and there are plenty of places with sun loungers and bars to enjoy. Some of the best snorkeling tours in Cancún are based on the island too. You can swim over the world's second-largest coral reef system which is home to exotic fish, turtles and even manatees.
Other popular haunts include the Punta Sur Eco Beach Park, which offers up everything from scenic views to crocodiles. You can also explore the Underwater Museum and the Dolphin Discovery Center, or cycle around the island on a bike excursion.
For a luxurious experience, book one of the private Cancún tours that sail around the island by catamaran. You'll stop at secluded beaches and spend as long as you want in each location.
If the Yucatán Peninsula is known for one thing, it's the mysterious cenotes that punctuate the jungle. The Mayans believed that these pools were gateways to the underworld. Pilgrimages and human sacrifices were associated with the cenotes, which have long been seen as sacred places.
Today, these natural sinkholes have a more modern function – as a swimming spot for visitors. There are thousands of cenotes in Yucatán, occurring where limestone bedrock has collapsed to reveal the water below.
Located near Chichen Itza, the Ik-Kil Cenote is one of the most visited in the region. Turquoise water fills this giant subterranean cavern, and light cascades down from the hole in the roof to create an ethereal underworld. Viewing platforms make for great photo vantage points and the cool waters are idyllic on a hot day.
Other popular cenotes visited on Cancún tours include Cenote Azul, which has a cliff jump, and Cenote Las Mojarras, which has a zip line. Many cenotes also have shallower areas for families to safely enjoy.
Alongside Cancún, Tulum is another favorite destination on the Yucatán Peninsula. Famed for its ocean-facing archaeological site, Tulum boasts some of Mexico's best coastal views. You can take a day trip to Tulum from Cancún to discover the place for yourself.
The Mayan ruins at Tulum perch on the cliffs above the Caribbean Sea. The setting is as magnificent as the complex itself, with enough photo backdrops to keep you busy for hours. You'll see the El Castillo watchtower as well as the Temple of the Frescoes as you wander around this ancient port city.
After your guided tour, head down to the white sand beach below the ruins and enjoy a bit of downtime. You can relax on the shore or take to the sea for swimming and snorkeling. Remember to pack sunscreen and a towel.
Some day trips to Tulum also include a stop for cenote swimming in the jungle surrounding the archaeological site. Cenote Mariposa is a popular choice for a dip in an otherworldly cave.
Scuba diving in Cancún is a joy for all ability levels, with courses for beginners and deeper dives for experts. The clear waters and vibrant marine ecosystems make Cancún one of the world's top diving locations.
If it's your first time, there are day-long lessons that teach you the basics. You'll begin in the pool to gain confidence, before moving to the sea for some shallow water dives. Certification courses are also available, for those who want to further develop their skills.
Experienced divers can enjoy night dives, cenote dives and wreck dives. If you're fully qualified, you can explore the C-58 and C-55 minesweepers, which are among the deepest dives in Mexico. There are also multi-day trips from Cancún by boat to some of the region's top diving sites.
One of the more usual Cancún tours for divers takes in the Underwater Museum. This unique installation is home to 500 sculptures, which are easily visible in the clear water. You don't need certification to be able to dive here.
If you're looking for rip-roaring family fun, then you're in luck. Cancún has a staggering range of theme parks to explore, all of which are nature-based to make the most of the gorgeous Mexican scenery. Swimming, zip lines and ATV tours are all on the cards.
For full-on jungle immersion, head to Xcaret where cenotes and beaches await. This ecotourism project on the Riviera Maya has over 50 attractions, including an aquarium, butterfly garden and entertainment shows. Meanwhile, at the natural water park of Xel-Ha, snorkeling and waterslides are the business.
Up the action with a trip to Extreme Adventure Park or Xplor Adventure Park. At these popular spots, you can go zip lining in the jungle canopy and raft along underground rivers. If you're looking for adrenaline-inducing activities, these are the parks to visit.
Cancún quad tours are another way to explore the forests of the Yucatán Peninsula. You'll zoom along jungle tracks, far from the crowds, stopping at cenotes to wash off all the mud!
Located up on the northern Yucatán coast, Las Coloradas is another popular destination on Cancún tours. This humble fishing village has become famous thanks to its mesmerizing pink lakes. It's a coveted spot for Instagrammers and nature lovers looking to see something a bit different.
The pink color of the lakes comes from the large amounts of algae and salt in the water. During a guided tour you'll learn about the unique ecology of the lakes and the history of the surrounding region.
You can explore the village and walk along the salt flats, taking as many photos as you like. Discover how the salt mining industry has influenced the area and find out about the traditional harvesting methods still used today.
After you've had your fill of the pink lakes, you can continue your adventure at Rio Lagartos. Here, boat tours through the biosphere reserve are on offer, taking you deeper into this wild landscape. Keep your eyes peeled for flamingos and turtles – crocodiles are sometimes spotted too.
Is swimming with whale sharks at the top of your bucket list? There are several places around the world where this is possible, but Cancún is one of the most reliable when it comes to sightings.
These Cancún tours take place in the warm Caribbean waters where the whale sharks come to feed. The best time to go is between May and September as the whales are migratory and don't stay around all year.
You'll head out to sea by boat, cruising along until you reach the open water where the whales hang out. Once the gentle marine giants have been spotted, you'll jump overboard and swim alongside them. There are usually multiple swimming opportunities on each trip, with the boat staying out for a couple of hours.
For the ultimate whale shark experience, book a private tour with exclusive pickups and boat transfers. Your biologist guide will teach you about the local marine life before joining you in the water. It'll be just you and the whales.
Nichupte Lagoon attracts visitors from near and far to experience its blue waters, stunning scenery and thriving marine life. It's a popular stop on many Cancún tours and feels a world away from the bustle of the city. The lagoon is easy to reach as it sits between Cancún's "Hotel Zone" and the mainland.
On a guided tour around Nichupte Lagoon, you'll enjoy a range of adventurous activities suitable for all the family. Go snorkeling or scuba diving to discover colorful coral reefs and tropical fish. Alternatively, rent a kayak or a glass bottom boat and paddle through the mangroves in search of adventure.
During a boat tour on the lagoon, you'll be perfectly positioned to spot wildlife – birdwatching is particularly rewarding here. For added romance, head out for a sunset or dinner cruise for dreamy views and drinks.
Meanwhile, those looking for faster thrills can take a speedboat excursion to explore the secret coves and inlets of the lagoon. Hang on tight – you'll be reaching speeds of up to 35 knots!
Take to the saddle and channel your inner cowboy as you explore Cancún on horseback. You'll be riding along the rainforest trails, getting back to nature in the Yucatán jungles. No experience is necessary as instruction will be given – you'll be matched with a mount based on your ability.
Most horse riding excursions take place along the Ruta de los Cenotes, which is one of the prettiest parts of the Mayan jungle. This hidden world is on the city's doorstep yet feels a million miles from civilization.
As you delve deeper into the forests, learn about the diverse flora and fauna from your guide. The lush jungle is home to an incredible array of wildlife, including spider monkeys and coatis.
Many horse riding tours in Cancún also take in other adventurous activities for a fun-packed day out. Stopping for a cool dip in one of the famous cenotes is particularly welcome after a hot ride. You can opt to include zip line experiences and ATV trips in your itinerary too.
Cancún is one of the most popular vacation destinations in Mexico. Around 10 million tourists come here every year. The wide range of attractions and excellent infrastructure makes Cancún a great place for everyone from families to solo travelers.
Overlooking the Caribbean Sea, this resort on the Yucatán Peninsula is famous for its hotels, nightlife and beaches. If you're looking for water sports, sunbathing and clubbing into the early hours, then Cancún is sure to float your boat.
Visitors traveling from abroad will be pleased to know that Cancún is super easy to reach from the United States and Europe. There are several direct flights to Cancún from numerous destinations across the world, and the city is well connected to Mexico City too. Many people like to combine a trip to Cancún with other destinations in Mexico, like Oaxaca, Palenque or Merida.
The weather in Cancún is best between December and March, yet this means it's also the busiest time to visit. To avoid the crowds and still enjoy the warmth, come in the shoulder months of April, May and November. The rains fall from May to October, bringing with them some great hotel deals if you're traveling on a budget.
You'll find many of the all-inclusive hotels dotted along Boulevard Kukulkan, on the famous 24-kilometer-long sandbar. This is known as the "Hotel Zone" and is the place to stay if you want the beach on your doorstep. For a taste of local life away from the resorts, base yourself in "El Centro", which is the city's downtown.
Everything in Cancún is fairly spread out, so the best way to get around is by bus. There's an extensive network that links the beach resorts with downtown, so it's easy to reach all the main tourist spots. Travel by bus is inexpensive which means you'll have more to spend on excursions.
Taxis are also available to drive you around the "Hotel Zone" while private shuttle transportation can take you further afield. Private Cancún airport transfers are the ultimate way to arrive at your hotel after a long flight. Meanwhile, Cancún hop-on hop-off bus tours allow you to see the area with minimal hassle.
Cash is king in Cancún as not all restaurants and stores accept cards. You can exchange your money at the airport kiosks and many resorts offer this service too.
Cancún has some of the best beaches in Mexico, and even the Caribbean! So, you should spend at least some of your vacation at the coast – hotspots include Las Perlas, Playa Langosta and Playa Tortugas. Inland, cenote swimming is a must, and visits to the archaeological sites of Chichen Itza and Tulum should be at the top of your list.
Yet away from the limelight, there are still plenty of things to see and do in and around Cancún. Enjoy day trips to Coba or Ek Balam if you're interested in Mayan cities or explore the Rio Secreto for adventurous immersion in nature. There are lots of offshore gems to visit on Cancún tours too, including Holbox Island and Contoy Island.
Cancún's hotels offer a wide range of cuisines for international tastes, but if you're looking for authentic Mexican fare, downtown is the place to go. Head to Parque Las Palapas for traditional street food sold from carts. Don't leave without popping into Mercado 28 to browse for artisan souvenirs to take home.
Keeping an eye on your budget? You can visit the beaches, see the street art in Cancún and go bird watching in Kabah Urban Park for free.