Welcome to Cancun, a dynamic city situated on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula with the Caribbean Sea as its backdrop. It is split into two sections: the bustling downtown area filled with local markets, restaurants and lush gardens, and Zona Hotelera or Hotel Zone for domestic and global tourists who seek white sand beaches, all inclusive resorts, modern shopping malls, an array of dining options and energetic nightlife – this guide will provide all you need to know about magical Cancun and the best things you can do in downtown! You can also read our guide on the best things to do in Cancun.
Cancun is easily accessible, regardless of how you plan to travel. You can take the bus from other cities in Yucatan Peninsula and Central America or fly into Cancun International Airport – only 30 minutes away from downtown! The airport hosts both domestic flights within Mexico as well as international ones, so visitors are able to arrive wherever they’re coming from around the world. Plus, transportation options make it even easier for tourists who want to explore neighboring locations during their trip.
If you’re looking for an economical and safe way to commute while in Cancun, buses are the perfect solution. Not only do they operate from the Hotel Zone all throughout downtown 24/7, but fares cost less than a dollar each way! Plus, with cash payment options available using Mexican pesos, you don’t have to worry about not having enough local currency on hand during your stay.
Of course if public transportation isn’t your preference then there’s always the option of renting a car – it’s up to you! With only one road in and out of the Hotel Zone, navigation is a breeze. To truly immerse yourself in Yucatan culture, why not consider hiring a car to explore attractions such as Chichen Itza’s ancient Mayan settlement and pyramids, Tulum, or Merida’s picturesque colonial city? For an extra special experience without having to drive yourself, you could also book private transfers or tours from your destination.
Surrounded by the vibrancy of Mexican culture and ancient traditions, Downtown Cancun is a sight to behold! Street vendors emphasize their animated calls as they offer fresh local produce while mariachi bands set an upbeat atmosphere throughout the area. For something more tranquil, there’s Kabah Park – an oasis that brings locals together for leisurely strolls amongst nature.
From wild spider monkeys swinging through trees to a museum deeply honoring Mayan culture, downtown Cancun truly offers something special for everyone! If you’re seeking to experience a vibrant cultural scene and indulge in Mexican cuisine, Plaza Las Americas mall is your place! Along Avenida Yaxchilan, local bands perform live Latin music several evenings per week – it’s an unforgettable atmosphere.
These are the 10 Best Things to Do in Downtown Cancun
1. Shopping Time – Explore Mercado 28 Flea Market
Cancun Centro’s main attraction is undoubtedly the Mercado 28 flea market. Located in Plaza San Miguel, this beloved marketplace has been around for years and keeps gaining recognition as a must-visit destination in Cancun. From handcrafted souvenirs to authentic Mexican snacks, you’ll find everything your heart desires at Mercado 28!
Immerse yourself in the vivid and romantic atmosphere of Cancun’s downtown market and explore its abundant stalls displaying vibrant handmade textiles, jewelry, and other local goods. With its vast size, you will have plenty to investigate – luckily there are an array of restaurants and street food vendors along the way for a much-needed energy boost! Don’t forget to sample some traditional delicacies unique to this area; Cancun is renowned for their delicious cuisine that is sure not disappoint!
2. Visit Parque De Las Palapas
To understand Cancun on a deeper level, you need to immerse yourself in the swirl of energy at Parque de las Palapas. This downtown park is an essential part of local culture; families come from far and wide to mingle with one another while savoring dishes from nearby food stalls. Don’t miss out on sampling these scrumptious offerings – and don’t be afraid to join the conversation either! You just might meet some lifelong friends here!
If that doesn’t suit your fancy, no problem! Frequently there are open-air shows around Parque de las Palapas that you can check out for free. Catch some regional music or dance performances with a mouthful of yummy tacos – what could be better than that?
3. Stroll around Mercado 23
Exploring a new city is always exciting, and Cancun offers an opportunity to experience the region’s natural biodiversity. If you want to taste some of the local culinary delights for yourself, then Mercado 23 is your go-to spot! Unlike its more touristy counterpart – Mercado 28 – this flea market is where locals come for their weekly shop. While it may not have all the same facilities as other markets in town, here you’ll get much closer insight into how life really looks like on Mexican soil. So don’t miss out – grab a basket and take home some delicious fruits and vegetables from Mercedo 23 today!
If you’re staying at an Airbnb, why not spice up your stay by cooking a dish with fresh ingredients purchased from Mercado 23? Not only will it be delicious and budget-friendly, but it will also give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture. It’s sure to be an unforgettable experience!
4. Try some authentic Tacos
The taco encapsulates the flavor of Mexican cuisine, and there is no tastier place to sample tacos than in Cancun’s city center! A favorite among visitors to Downtown Cancun is the tantalizing Taquerìa Crawl. Hop from one taco stand to another and savor a variety of tacos filled with different ingredients, complemented by varying toppings and sauces.
Embark on your adventure with an empty stomach, and finish it with a gratifying meal of tacos. Plus, you won’t have to pay Hotel Zone prices! The best part is that you can savor delicious Mexican-style cuisine without breaking the bank.
5. Visit Avenida Tulum
Nestled at the core of Cancun, Avenida Tulum is the city’s primary avenue. You can find some of Cancun’s most popular hotels and restaurants along this strip – meaning you will likely become quite acquainted with it throughout your journey! But if you venture a bit off-the-beaten track on Avenue Tulum, there are many hidden gems just waiting to be discovered; small shops, eateries and other unique places that often go unnoticed by tourists.
Meander down the main street and explore the hidden gems of Downtown Cancun.
6. Join a Street Art tour
From the moment you step foot downtown in Cancun, you will be astounded by the dazzling street art that decorates nearly every building. Everywhere your eye falls there are vibrant and intricate murals for your enjoyment! Don’t forget to take a stroll through this mesmerizing city so you can admire all of its stunning artwork.
For the most enriching experience of Cancun’s downtown art culture, take a guided walking tour! Through these street art tours you will get to explore unique pieces of artwork while having your guide explain each one’s history and context. It’s an enjoyable way to learn about this fascinating city!
7. Delight your tastebuds Calle Tulipanes
Downtown Cancun is a paradise of unbeatable value, particularly when it comes to food. Perambulate along Calle Tulipanes and uncover countless Mexican restaurants serving some of the region’s finest fare – most dishes at an incredibly economical price point! But don’t be fooled; even if the prices are low, that doesn’t mean you’ll receive anything other than high-quality meals with delicious flavors. Immerse yourself in all the culinary delights that central Cancun has to offer – there isn’t a better way to engage with local culture than through its gastronomy!
8. Malecon Tajamar
Malecon Tajamar, located in the rapidly-expanding city of Cancun, is a lively neighborhood that has something for everyone. From strolling along its picturesque streets to exploring its many restaurants and shops, there’s no shortage of things to do here! And if you’re looking for an incredible view of the stunning skyline then take a walk by Nichupte Lagoon – it will truly take your breath away.
If you take a stroll around Malecon Tajamar, you will discover an array of opportunities for growth and expansion – the future is undeniably bright! With each visit to this neighborhood, uncover something new as it continues to evolve.
9. Downtown Cancun’s Nightlife
Cancun is alive and kicking after the sunsets! While the Hotel Zone boasts more nightclubs, there are plenty of places to explore in Cancun’s city center. From sports bars to reggaetón spots–the party-goer will never run out of options. Beach Please and Botanero Nacional are two popular choices that should definitely be on your list when visiting Cancun. Plus, don’t forget about all those amazing food stalls standing outside these bars offering up Mexico’s renowned street cuisine–a perfect late night snack! So if you’re looking for a wild time at night, look no further than bustling Cancun town!
10. Visit the MUSA Tour
Are you seeking a thrilling day trip close to Downtown Cancun? Then MUSA is the ideal destination for you! It’s an Airbnb Experience that combines both museum and workshop. Here, artists have the possibility of creating art pieces which will be included in La Isla Mujeres’ underwater gallery. Upon arrival at this one-of-a-kind space, its owner will welcome you with open arms and explain every step of the process from beginning to end—starting with background information on the underwater gallery, followed by an exploration through their garden filled with masterpieces still in progress. Don’t miss out on such an incredible experience; book your tour today!
Immerse yourself in the art world by inquiring with the museum curator about each piece and its creator.
Expert Tips for visiting Cancun Downtown
Cancun is a flourishing city that primarily runs on cash transactions, so it’s best to be prepared. At the airport, you’ll find several money exchange stores with high rates; look for ones outside the airport for better deals. While Downtown Cancun is generally safe, it’s always prudent to remain mindful of your belongings. Once the sun sets, try and stay in areas where there are more people since this will minimize any potential risks.
Additionally, be aware that some taxis around the airport can be part of a “taxi mafia,” so we recommend taking one of the ADO buses instead for an easy public transport solution. Acquiring tickets from these booths at Cancun Airport is effortless – simply visit an ADO booth and you’re all set!
Plus, don’t forget: thanks to the convenient direct route on offer with these buses you’ll arrive straight into Downtown Cancun sooner than ever before! Although Uber is available in Downtown Cancun, taxi drivers tend to be rather hostile towards them. To avoid any potential unpleasantness, it’s best to steer clear of both taxis and Ubers when navigating Centro Cancun. Walking is always the safest option; however, if you want a quicker way to get around town then opt for a Colectivo instead – these mini buses provide cheap transportation in the area.
Don’t forget your haggling skills when shopping! Most of the items in Mexico markets are marked up and require some negotiation before obtaining a suitable price. While it might seem challenging at first, after a few practices rounds you’ll get into it and will soon become an expert bargain hunter!
Traveling to 🇲🇽 Mexico soon?
I recommend these travel resources for Mexico that I personally use:
🏨 Hotels: I have found that Expedia and Booking.com consistently have the best deals on hotels and resorts in Mexico. If you prefer to stay at a vacation rental, check VRBO that is usually cheaper than AirBnB’s added fees!
✈️ Flights: To find the best flight deals to Mexico, I always use Kayak. Remember to subscribe to their price alerts for the travel dates you want. Another great alternative for flight deals is Expedia.
🚗 Rental Cars: I always use and highly recommend Discover Cars because it allows me to compare several car rental companies and view ratings on various factors such as overall value, pick-up procedure, agent efficiency, car condition, and total time taken.
🚙 CancunAirport Transportation: For the fastest and easiest way to travel, I suggest arranging a private transfer with Cancun Airport Transportation. Honestly, no better way to travel from the airport to your hotel or resort.
🤿 Tours & Activities: For tours and activities in Mexico, I highly recommend using either Viator or GetYourGuide. These websites offer a full refund if you cancel your booking 24 hours before the start of the tour, and they also provide excellent customer service in case of any issues.
🚨 Travel Insurance: I always suggest purchasing travel insurance as a precaution before traveling, especially after a recent accident in a taxi in Mexico. For short trips, I recommend Travel Insurance Master, whereas for digital nomads, Safety Wing is a better option.
📷 Best Camera for your trip: I always carry with me a GoPro, It’s light, compact, takes great video and pictures, and most importantly, it’s waterproof! You just can’t go wrong with one. If you are interested in higher quality video and photography, I always carry with me on my trips and highly recommend the Sony A7IV which I think is the best travel DSLR Camera out there.
☀️ Biodegradable Sunscreen: Remember to include a good sunscreen to protect yourself from the summer sun. I always use and suggest Sun Bum Sunscreen, which is vegan, reef-friendly, and cruelty-free.
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