Trip to Cancun: beach, historic site, natural pools and much more! Discover 16 must-see tourist attractions

cancun, at the Mexico, is one of the top international destinations, and it's not hard to see why. Paradise beaches, bathed by the dazzling Caribbean Sea, and a wide hotel chain, make the city an excellent option for tourists from all over the world.

But you know what to do in cancun, besides enjoying its beaches and hotels? The truth is that this city on the Mexican coast has much more to offer than its white sands, turquoise sea and luxurious resorts. Cancún is a complete destination that pleases both beach lovers and those who enjoy historical tourism, ecotourism or adventure tourism. 

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Interested in getting to know Cancun better? So, continue reading this post and discover 16 must-see tourist attractions this paradise on the Mexican coast and start planning your trip there right now.

Discover what to do in Cancun with these 16 tips

Ready to get started? Here, I will tell you which are the 16 must-see tourist attractions in Cancun and region. There are beautiful places both in the famous city and in its neighbors, such as Tulum, Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya. In addition, there is no shortage of things to do in Cancún, there are tour options for all tastes.


Travel to Cancun: main attractions of the destination. Photo: Pakhnyushchy / shutterstock

Capital of the Mayan people, Chichén-Itzá is one of must-see tourist attractions in Cancun. An important place in the history of Mexico, the city is considered one of the seven wonders of the modern world and cannot be missed on your itinerary there. But it is important to visit it with the company of a guide, who will be able to better explain every detail of this incredible place.

Among its main points is the El Castillo temple, also known as the Pyramid of Kukulcan. Twice a year, at a specific time, their shadows form the image of the feathered serpent, Kukulcán, an impressive spectacle.


Photo: tommaso lizzul / shutterstock

Located 130 km from Cancun, tulum is a Mexican city that, every day, has become a tourist destination in the state of Quintana Roo. Although small, the city has many natural beauties and a Mayan archaeological site that attracts many tourists.

The beaches are one of the main attractions of Tulum. White sands and the Caribbean sea form idyllic settings. To top it off, there are several beach clubs – beach clubs – that make days by the sea even better. Another must-see tourist attraction are the cenotes of Tulum – natural pools formed from underground rivers. The most famous are the Gran Cenote, Cenote dos Ojos, Cenote Casa Tortuga and Cenote Ik-Kil.

Isla Mujeres

Travel to Cancun: main attractions of the destination. Photo: Fairy Lens / shutterstock

Bathed by crystal clear and extremely calm waters, Isla Mujeres is a great option for those who want to enjoy the sea in Cancún. To get to the island, you can hire a tour or simply board a ferry boat in Puerto Juárez or Playa Tortuga.

Its main beach is Playa Norte, which has a long stretch of shallow sea – waist high – perfect for relaxing baths. Great for those who enjoy diving, Isla Mujeres houses a curious aquatic museum, with underwater sculptures. Also, it is possible to swim with dolphins there.

Coco Bongo

Photo: Chad Zuber / shutterstock

Highlight of the night in Cancún, Coco Bongo is a kind of nightclub, theater and show house that promotes several shows. It is one of the most sought after places for those who enjoy nightlife and attracts people of all ages. 

It is common to find artists in Coco Bongo playing famous singers and actors. Located in the hotel zone of Cancún, the nightclub-spectacle is a very lively place and works in the Open Bar style, that is, you pay the entrance fee and can consume several drinks during the period you stay there.

Cancun Cenotes

Travel to Cancun: main attractions of the destination. Photo: Sergey Novikov / shutterstock

On the way between Cancún and Tulum there are several cenotes that can be visited easily. They draw attention for their beauty and are great places to cool off, as well as excellent places for surface diving – snorkeling.

You cenotes are natural pools formed by water from underground rivers or rain, located between caves and grottos. With crystalline waters and, in some of them, in turquoise tones, they form beautiful scenarios. In addition to the cenotes in Tulum, which I mentioned earlier, it is worth visiting Cenote Azul, in Puerto Aventuras, Cenotes Tamcach-Ha & Choo-Ha, in Cobá, and Cenote Rio Secreto, in Playa del Carmen.


Photo: Anton_Ivanov / shutterstock

Located in Playa del Carmen, the park Xcaret it is a kind of archaeological site where you can find a little bit of everything. There you can explore the jungle through secret passages, swim in underground rivers, go trekking, snorkel and attend cultural shows.

It is certainly one of the Cancun must-see tourist attractions. Therefore, when traveling there, include the Xcaret park in your travel itinerary. Among its main attractions are the Paradise River, the Maia Village, the Coral Reef Aquarium and the underground rivers. Be sure to also watch the shows about the history of Mexico. 

Swim with Whale Shark

Travel to Cancun: main attractions of the destination. Photo: Disclosure

Between the months of May and September, during the whale shark season, it is possible to take the tour from Cancún to swim with these animals, which arrive in the sea that surrounds the Isle of Contoy and Holbox to feed and mate.

Docile and friendly, whale sharks can measure up to 15 meters in length and diving with them is an incredible experience. To top it off, you can still see dolphins, rays and sea turtles.   

Cancun hotel zone

Photo: Christopher Lin / shutterstock

THE Cancun hotel zone is the main destination for travelers to this region of Mexico. And the reason is not just the various accommodations – hotels and all-inclusive resorts. Located around Boulevard Kukulcán avenue, the hotel zone is bathed by the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Nichupté Lagoon on the other.

This area concentrates several options for activities, tours, clubs and restaurants. Among its main tourist attractions are the Playa Delfines Viewpoint, the El Rey Archaeological Site, the Maya Museum in Cancún, the Art Garden on Playa Langosta and the Panoramic Tower.  

revolving tower

Travel to Cancun: main attractions of the destination. Photo: Disclosure

The Rotatory Tower – or Mirante Giratório – of Cancún is a great option for those who want to have a panoramic view, especially of the hotel zone. Located on Playa Linda, the tower has a structure that moves around an axis as it rises, allowing tourists to see the city of Cancún in the background, the sea and the Nichupté Lagoon.

From the top, you can see the entire hotel zone, including Boulevard Kukulcán avenue. This tour option can be combined with a trip to Isla Mujeres, as access to the Revolving Tower is next to one of the boarding passes there.

Playa del Carmen

trip to cancun

Photo: Fairmont Mayakoba Resort

Located 70 km from downtown Cancun, Playa del Carmen is a great option for a day trip. More peaceful than its trendier neighbour, the city is usually frequented by European tourists. There, the pace is slower, ideal for those looking for peace. Also, prices are more affordable than in Cancun.

Playa del Carmen offers several attractions, such as water parks, archaeological sites and areas for diving. It also has a good range of services, such as beach clubs, restaurants and shops.

Xel-Ha Park

trip to cancun

Travel to Cancun: main attractions of the destination. Photo: MIKE FOUQUE / shutterstock

One of the greatest natural wonders in the world, the Xel-Ha Park is located in the heart of Riviera Maya, 115 km from Cancún. The great oasis of crystalline waters is the gateway to the ocean on the continent and also houses several freshwater channels, which form the largest underground river system in the world. A beautiful place that enchants everyone who visits it.

And if the natural beauty were not enough, the ecological park has a series of attractions for tourists, such as areas for swimming, floating and diving. In addition, it has mangroves and cenotes that can be visited. Its must-see tourist attractions are Piedra de Valor, Salto del Mono, Trepachanga and Salpichanga – all of which include jumping into the turquoise waters of the river, among other forms of fun.


trip to cancun

Photo: Tono Balaguer / shutterstock

San Miguel de Cozumel, or just Cozumel, is a beautiful island located just 60 km from cancun. Neighboring the largest barrier reef in the world, the island is very popular for diving, due to the rich marine life found in its clear and warm waters.

To give you an idea, the visibility of the waters that bathe Cozumel is 30 meters deep. That's why diving there is one of the most incredible experiences you can have when traveling to Cancún. With a country town atmosphere, however, Cozumel is much quieter than the hotel zone and offers fewer services.

Shopping in Cancun

trip to cancun

Travel to Cancun: main attractions of the destination. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The beaches and natural beauty are, without a doubt, the main attractions of Cancún. But those who visit this region of Mexico will also find great places to shop. There are several shopping centers, mainly along the hotel zone. In addition, most stores work with prices in dollars, but you can find some that use the Mexican peso – more devalued in relation to the real.

when doing shopping in cancun, you will find most of the most famous brands – such as Nike, Adidas, Apple, Zara and Puma – as well as several souvenir shops and Mexican handicrafts. A tip is to visit La Isla, an open-air mall where you can find a little bit of everything.


trip to cancun

Photo: dronepicr / Flickr

Home to turtles, Akumal beach got its name precisely because it is the home of this marine animal. This is because Akumal is a Mayan word that means, precisely, place of turtles. And this is one of the main reasons that bring so many tourists there.

With a sea of crystal clear waters in shades of turquoise and emerald, the beautiful beach of Akumal is on a private property and, to access it, you have to pay a ticket. If you choose to dive, you should also hire the tour, done in groups of up to four people at a time. It is possible to swim with the turtles, but the weather is controlled. In addition, the bathing area is also delimited. All measures aim to preserve the site.


trip to cancun

Photo: Madrugada Verde / shutterstock

Located 130 km from Cancún, the ancient city of Cobá is yet another archaeological site to visit in the region. It is located in the Riviera Maya and its ruins can yield a beautiful tour combined with the archaeological site of Tulum.

Cobá was an important political and religious center for the Mayan people between the 400s and 1100s. The city was home to 50,000 people and only lost importance when its rival, Chichén-Itzá expanded its territory. Today, its ruins can be visited with or without a guide. 

night walks

trip to cancun

Photo: Disclosure

Cancún is an excellent destination for those who enjoy night walks, especially those with lots of excitement and fun. Boulevard Kukulcán, which cuts through the hotel zone, is full of restaurants, bars and nightclubs. In addition, it has several shopping centers and malls that work at night.

If you like fun, it's worth visiting Señor Frog's, a very fun bar that has become one of the main attractions of the night in Cancun. Another must-see is the Coco Bongo nightclub, which I have already mentioned in this post. But the main avenue of the hotel zone is not the only place where you can take night walks. It is also worth visiting the Forum By The Sea, a region that concentrates bars and nightclubs.

Now that you know which are the must-see tourist attractions and what to do in cancun, there is no other way out than planning your trip there. This paradisiacal place on the Mexican coast is a complete destination that deserves to be known by you.

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