Cancun is a traveler’s dream, as it not only has gorgeous beaches, but also plenty of fun activities. From snorkeling to visiting ancient Mayan ruins to exploring cenotes to boutique shopping, Cancun offers something for everyone. Here are some fantastic things to do if you’re a budget traveler visiting this region of Mexico.
What places can you visit in Cancun on a budget?
1. Cancun Spot.
The proof you need to show off to everyone that you were lucky enough to visit Cancun, is to take a picture at this spot known as the “Cancun Spot”. It’s a new place, and you’ll also find free Wi-Fi to immediately upload your photo to social networks. It is located at Kilometer 19.5 of Kukulkan Boulevard, Hotel Zone and the entrance is free.
2.- Mirador Playa Delfines.
Besides taking your picture at the “Cancun Spot”, at this same point is the Mirador and the beach known as “Playa Delfines”. It is one of the best public beaches on this destination, is one of the places you should not miss in Cancun. On weekends it is full of tourists and cancun citizens, but it is a huge beach, so you can always find a good place to dive and enjoy the sea. Also if you travel with children, there are some children’s games. The swell is a bit strong sometimes, so if you are not an experienced swimmer don’t go too far from the shore. It is located at Kilometer 19.5 of Kukulcan Boulevard, Hotel Zone and the entrance is free.
3. El Rey Archaeological Zone.
About 200 mt from the “Mirador Playa Delfines” is the entrance to the archaeological site of El Rey. The price entrance is 3 USD. It is an archeological zone with several small structures distributed along about 700 meters. Inside there is a large number of iguanas, which is very attractive especially for children. It is advisable to bring water, a hat and comfortable shoes. There are toilets, but no shops or vendors inside.
4. Mayan Museum of Cancun and San Miguelito.
The Mayan Museum of Cancun is the only space in miles around for the exhibition of Mayan remains. It is located exactly at Kilometer 16.5 on Kukulkan Boulevard. While visiting the museum you can take a tour of the vestiges of the archaeological zone of San Miguelito, which is located next to this museum. It is open from 9am to 6pm. To visit this archeological zone we suggest you arrive early, since when it starts to get dark the access is limited. The entrance to the museum has a cost of 4 USD and includes both places.
5. Playa Langosta, Art Garden.
Beach or Lagoon? at kilometer 5 of Kukulkan Boulevard, you will have 2 options to choose from, either Playa Langosta, a quiet beach ideal if you are traveling with children or older people, or visit the place known as the Art Garden, where you can admire the channels of Nichupte Lagoon and watch boats and wave runners pass by constantly. The public beach is ideal to visit in Cancun since it has basic services and on the side of the lagoon there are some kiosks and tables where you can even organize a small picnic.
6. Cancun’s bike path.
If you love sports, from mile zero on Cancun hotel zone you can find a small park with equipment for outdoor exercise, and on the side of the sidewalk begins a road known as the Ciclopista, in which you can ride your bike or skates through the hotel zone of Cancun. If you start from mile zero, stop at kilometer 2.5, since this is where Playa Las Perlas is located, a good spot to swim and refresh yourself to continue with your adventure. Excellent for keeping in shape! Bring a towel, sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat and plenty of water.
7. Scenic Tower.
In the place known as “El Embarcadero”, there is a revolving structure of approximately 100 meters high known as the Scenic Tower of Cancun. Whether day, evening or night, here you will have a great view from Cancun hotel zone. Ideal for taking a beautiful postcard home. The entrance fee is approximately 10 USD and the walk in the heights takes about 15 minutes. It is located at Kilometer 4.2 of the Hotel Zone.
8. Chac Mool Beach.
This beach is located near the area known as Punta Cancun on Kilometer 9.5 of Kukulkan Boulevard. It is ideal for sunbathing and swimming. At the entrance there are some convenience stores where you can buy something to eat and refresh yourself, remember to pick up your trash so you don’t dirty the beach. There are showers and lounge chairs for rent. The swell is moderate to strong.
9. La Isla shopping mall.
On kilometer 12.5 of the hotel zone is the shopping center La Isla Shopping Village better known as “Plaza la Isla Cancun”. It’s an ideal place to buy clothes and things you need for your trip, it’s full of shops, boutiques and restaurants, which although for backpackers may not be so attractive, what you have to see are the spectacular sunsets on the side of the pier that the plaza has. This is one of the activities worth visiting in Cancun.
10. Interactive Aquarium.
Its official name is Aquarium Cancun, it is a small aquarium where you can interact with sea turtles or manta rays. The most spectacular thing is the big fish tank with sharks inside, you can observe them swimming from below or from one of the corridors at the top. There are dolphin swim programs, but preferably avoid promoting activities with animals, as it is stressful for them. The entrance fee is approximately 15 USD.
11. Marlin Beach.
The entrance is between the Cancun fire station and the “Plaza Kukulkán”. If you are looking for a beautiful & quiet beach to rest or walk, Marlin beach is a good place to start. It has basic services, table and chair rental and unlike others, on weekends there are not many people. If you wish, once you finish enjoying the beach, you can go into the commercial plaza to try the tasty Mexican food.
12. Plaza Forum by The Sea & Beach Club.
If you want to take a walk through the heart of Cancun’s nightlife and partying, a good place to start is Plaza Forum. Here you can find mexican food restaurants, clothing stores, souvenirs and accessories for the beach. But the best part is that in the surroundings you can find the best clubs in Cancun, like The City, Coco Bongo, La Vaquita, Mr. Frogs, etc. On the sea side there is a beach club ideal for those backpackers who want to lie on the beautiful sand, no doubt it is one of the places you must visit in Cancun and spend a day sunbathing, with all kinds of drinks and snacks at hand. The Day Pass costs approximately 30 USD.
What to do in Downtown Cancun
13. Market 28, Plaza Bonita.
It is a famous handicraft market, they say it is cheaper here than buying in the hotel zone and there are also several options of authentic Mexican food.
14. Cancun Planetarium.
The Ka Yok Planetarium is one of the must-visit places in Cancun, it is one of the most modern planetariums in all of Mexico. It offers several functions every day and the entrance costs approximately 3 USD. This planetarium is located just behind Wal-Mart on Avenida Coba, so those backpackers who include stocking up on groceries during their itinerary may want to consider a tour of this place.
15. Las Palapas Park.
It’s a must visit place in Cancun, it’s a meeting point for Cancun locals, especially on weekends when there are free musical events. There are also snack stands like tortas, empanadas and tacos. In the surroundings you can find several options of hotels and hostels very cheap.
16. El Ceviche Avenida Tulum.
This fountain is one of the symbols of Cancun, and welcomes travelers coming from the Riviera Maya or other states from the country. It is located right on the corner of Avenida Tulum and Avenida Coba (the continuation of Boulevard Kukulkán). If you are planning a visit to downtown Cancun, this is a good place to start, since you are close to Las Palapas Park and if you like to walk, you could go to Market 28.
17. Isla Mujeres.
One of the most popular islands you can visit in Cancun is “Isla Mujeres”. It is currently considered a Magic Town in the Caribbean. The most economical way to get to this place on your own is to get to the area known as “El Crucero” in Cancun, or you can take a shuttle service to the Isla Mujeres Ferry.
Modern boats depart from the Overseas Pier, with frequent departures and at a cost of approximately 4 dollars, in 20 minutes they will take you to Isla Mujeres. Another cheaper boat leaves from Puerto Juarez, it has departures every 2 hours and costs about 3.5 USD, but the trip takes about an hour.
Now if you want even cheaper, then go to Punta Sam, which is where the cargo ferry is located, there the cost is about 2.3 USD per person and the trip takes about an hour.
If you rent a car, the best option is to travel by ferry, if you do not have a car, renting a golf cart for a few hours to see the whole island is a great option.
You can also find cheap accommodation options.
18. Chichén Itzá.
If you are already in Cancun, take the opportunity to visit one of the new wonders of the modern world: Chichen Itza.
It’s recommended to rent a car to make it more economical and even more comfortable on the road. You can visit places like Valladolid and Izamal, as well as stop at real Mexican restaurants, making this a real adventure on wheels.
I hope these recommendations will be very helpful during your trip to Cancun, these sites are super enjoyable for backpackers looking for authentic experiences, beyond an all-inclusive hotel or guided tours, plus you can save a lot of money.
Bryan has visited exactly one more country than his wife, and she won’t let him forget it! Also an avid photographer, he enjoys entrenching himself within the local culture in order to learn more about the people of a place. He is the co-founder of Budget Your Trip and loves a good adventure, an exotic meal, or a passionate conversation about global events.