Spectacular Landscapes: Top Sights to Visit in Cancun

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Washed by the warm Caribbean Sea, Cancun is an authentic Mexican city on the Yucatan Peninsula. From beaches to jungles, it offers a multitude of natural wonders along with an abundance of nightlife, rich history and culture, and friendly locals.

Upon arriving at this amazing Mexican destination, your first question will be what places to visit in Cancun. Luckily, you get an extensive selection of highlights located in the city and within a short drive away. Iconic museums, scenic parks, ancient temples, modern shopping malls, and markets will leave you with no chance for a boring weekend or vacation. So, let’s check where to go to have fun and what things to see in Cancun.

Chichen Itza

Do you aim to go back to the roots and see the Mayan lifestyle? Set off to Chichen Itza, the oldest city on the Yucatan Peninsula. Formerly, it was a refuge for the ancient Mayans and Toltecs. Scientists believe that the city was built by the ancient Maya around the 7th-10th century, and later it was captured by the Toltecs.

Chichen Itza has a lot to offer, but the Pyramid of Kukulkan is what you shouldn’t miss anyway. With a height of about 24 meters and a length of 55 meters on each side, this incredible structure is among the new seven wonders of the world.

For an even wider exploration experience, make your way to the Temple of the Warriors, Avenue of a Thousand Columns, Stadium, Sacred Cenote, and Temple of the Jaguars. Also, you can watch the archaeological excavations being carried out near Chichen Itza.

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Cenote Hubiku

If you love discovering new natural horizons, visiting local cenotes will make your heart beat faster. A cenote is a naturally formed well in which groundwater flows. The Mexicans call Cenote Hubiku “the king of beauty among all cenotes”, and many sightseeing tours include this remarkable place.

The Mayan people say that the word “hubiku” means “the greatest master.” According to another interpretation, it translates as “iguana’s nest”. The large herbivorous lizard is sacred to the Indians, which is why the Hubiku Cenote is so important in terms of ancient beliefs.

Upon arrival, you will see a spherical well with a depth of about 30 meters. Small colorful fish live in the waters, so you can swim and snorkel while exploring the underwater world. Keep in mind that the best time to explore the cenote is noon when the sun’s rays illuminate its walls and allow you to see what is happening in the water.

Xcaret Park

You will be surprised, but the park got its name in honor of the Mayan tribe, who lived in that place in the pre-Columbian civilization. Originally a theme park, Xcaret organically coexists with partially preserved archaeological sites, with various shops, restaurants, attractions, a theater, a large aquarium, and a hotel. Archaeologists even managed to restore the ancient pyramids and Mayan structures for even more authenticity.

The distance from Cancun to the park is 75 kilometers, so you need to look for a bus or benefit from car hire to get there. Despite the highly-developed public transport, car hire in Cancun Mexico is the preferred method of getting around. First, you can plan a trip for any day and hour, and second, affordable hire cars in Cancun allow you to save money.

As for the park, it covers an area of more than 80 hectares and includes reserves with birds, various animals, a couple of museums, galleries with butterflies, as well as a unique collection of orchids. At the heart of Xcaret, you can also climb the 90-metre-high observation tower to take in the beauty of the surroundings.

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El Rey Archaeological Zone

Want to awaken the archaeologist in you? Located half an hour drive from Cancun, the ruins of El Rey give you that opportunity. The territory was inhabited in the second and first millennium BC and reveals to you the secrets of those times.

According to the Mayan language, Rey means “King”. That is, the archaeological zone got its name because of the sculpture of royal origin. Other popular finds are masks and skulls that served as attributes for ancient Indian rituals. They prayed to the sun god, as evidenced by the preserved elements of ceremonial structures.

Until our time, only ruins have survived from stone structures, but the foundation and paintings on the walls are still visible too. On the territory of the former settlement, you will see the places of the tombs of Indian rulers. It will take approximately 2 hours to explore the entire area. However, you can stay at one of the nearby hotels to devote more time to this amazing archaeological site.

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Garrafon Natural Reef Park

For a touch of serenity and solitude, head to Garrafon Natural Reef Park, which tops the list of charming ecological reserves near Cancun. It occupies the southern part of Isla Mujeres, and perfectly combines nature and entertainment.

First, enjoy snorkeling or diving to explore the enchanting underwater world with reefs and sea creatures. Also, you can go kayaking and fishing. At the same time, if water is not your passion, take a ride on the zipline – a quick flight over the tops of the trees will certainly add adrenaline to your blood.

One more must-see attraction in the park is Hacienda Mundaca, the former estate of a 19th-century reputed pirate and slave trader. Looking around the remains of the building, you will walk along winding paths among gardens with exotic plants and get inspired by this atmospheric and colorful place.

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Ventura Park

If you come to Cancun with kids, you can’t do without visiting Ventura Park. This amusement park focuses on both adults and children and promises an unforgettable experience for the whole family. At the entrance, you can choose from several ticket options that differ in cost and level of entertainment programs. We recommend picking up a VIP package that includes all available rides within the park.

Ventura Park is divided into six zones and has its own beach. Adults and kids enjoy visiting the dolphinarium, as well as the underground world of the future. In one more zone, you get perfect conditions for karting races. At the same time, the most visited section features high-speed roller coasters.

Outdoor enthusiasts will be happy to walk along the rope bridges among centuries-old trees, jump with a parachute, or feel the adrenaline on the water tubes and slides. A food court with bars, cafes, and restaurants is also at your service. So, Ventura Park has everything you need to relax and have fun!

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Torre Escenica Lookout

The eponymous 110-meter-high steel tower offers an eye-catching panorama of Cancun and the surrounding area. You can visit this site at any hour from morning to evening, while the city looks completely different from a height at different times of the day. In natural daylight, you will see how the waters of the Caribbean Sea reflect the blue sky. And if you climb Torre Escenica in the evening hours, you will enjoy the enchanting skyline against the background of street lighting.

The observation deck is paid for and can accommodate 60 visitors at once. The good news is that you don’t have to go to the top on foot – a special lifting mechanism will take you to the upper floor in a few minutes.

Pyramids in Coba

Those who feel the thirst for historical discoveries can head to Coba, located a three-hour drive from Cancun. Coba is a former Mayan city that left behind ruins. The key attraction of this ancient city is Nohoch Mul Pyramid, whose name translates as “Big Mound” or “Great Pyramid”.

Indeed, the size of the pyramid is impressive – its height is 42 meters. You can climb to its top via small stone steps. However, they are quite slippery due to high humidity, so hold on to a special rope with knots when climbing. Going down these steps is also quite a challenge. In this regard, all visitors should wear comfortable shoes and always hold on to the rope.

Also, look at the Grupo Coba pyramid located nearby. Although its height is only 20 meters, climbing it is prohibited due to the high probability of collapse of part of the structure.

Playa Dolphins

Cancun’s coastal beauty leaves no one indifferent, and you can see this by going to Playa Delfines. The free 24-hour beach got its name from the Spanish name for dolphins – these marine mammals are frequent guests off the local coast. The beach area with palm trees and snow-white sand covers an extensive area and enjoys big popularity with locals and tourists. However, it’s more suitable for those who like to sunbathe. Swimming here is uncomfortable due to the large waves rolling ashore. On the other hand, this fact is a big advantage for fans of surfing and other water sports where high waves are a priority.

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La Isla Shopping Center

What trip to Mexico is complete without shopping? Indeed, Cancun offers incredible discount shopping opportunities. To check it out, head to La Isla Shopping Village, a true paradise for fashionistas and style lovers. The complex hosts over 200 global and Latin American brands offering high-quality clothing, accessories, and footwear.

Also, you can buy luxury cosmetics, jewelry, and unique souvenirs. And when you get tired of shopping, make your way to local restaurants and cafes, or visit the on-site cinema and interactive aquarium.

The shopping center consists of low two-story buildings erected on the banks of the city canals. By the way, gondolas with tourists and bridges over the canals create the feeling of being in real Venice!

Of course, these are just a few of the great points of interest in Cancun. The city and the entire Yucatan Peninsula are truly beautiful and multifaceted and hold many other amazing sights. Still, we hope this article will help you learn something useful and thoroughly prepare for your future trip!