The best areas to stay in Cancun are the Hotel Zone, Downtown, and Isla Mujeres. Each one differs from each other, and besides these three, we recommend more. We explain where to stay in cancun and how they are for you to decide based on what you are looking for your vacation.
Cancun is an undisputed member of the top of the most recognized Mexican tourist destinations in the world. Those who visit it for the first time cannot avoid being surprised by the beauty of its beaches of fine white sand, and by the sublime shades of blue of the sea, which go from emerald to turquoise.
The city is in the middle of the Mayan jungle, a tropical paradise full of wonders. It is home to Xel-Há, an ecological park nestled right at the point where the subsoil currents meet the Caribbean Sea. It is not surprising that it is a scenario rich in species of fresh and saltwater, a true natural aquarium.
Rio Secreto is also located here, a turquoise underground tributary that passes just below a gallery of stalagmites and stalactites.
Where to stay in Cancun?
Cancun also has remarkably preserved vestiges of one of the most developed civilizations in pre-Columbian America. Such is the case of the sites known as the Temple of the Scorpion and the King.
Xcaret combines the best of both worlds: natural and cultural treasures. It houses a park with lush vegetation, cenotes, hidden rivers, and Mayan ruins. Also, the destination has a peculiar underwater museum that can only be traveled with the right diving equipment and some of the best nightclubs in the country.
Depending on what you are looking for, sleep in Cancun. We recommend 5 large areas with well-differentiated profiles: Downtown Cancun, the Hotel Zone, Puerto Juarez, Playa Mujeres, and Islas Mujeres.
Cheap hotels to stay a night in Cancun (2 person)
- Hotel ibis Cancun Centro: 950 Mexican pesos
- Selina Cancun Downtown: 325 Mexican pesos
- Hotel El Mesón De Tulum: 350 Mexican pesos
- Hotel Hacienda de Castilla: 410 Mexican pesos
- Kavia Cancun Hotel: 640 Mexican pesos
- COCO Hostel: 200 Mexican pesos
- Hostel Natura: 450 Mexican pesos
- Hacienda Hotel: 410 Mexican pesos
- Venado Hostel: 210 Mexican pesos
- Smart Cancun by Oasis: 960 Mexican pesos
1. Downtown Cancun
Only five kilometers after the hotel zone in the city center, known by Anglo-Saxon tourists as Downtown Cancun. We recommend you visit El Meco, an interesting archeological site that many tourists overlook when they come to the city due to the limited publicity it receives, compared to Tulum and Chichen Itza.
Its main building is El Castillo, a five-level pyramid. At the foot of its central stairway, there are two representations of Kukulcan, one of the many deities that the Maya worshiped. It is more than twelve meters high, making it the tallest pre-Hispanic structure in the entity’s north of Quintana Roo. Since the site is not so extensive and only one section is open to the public, it should not take you more than an hour to travel.
At lunchtime, you can go to La Habichuela, a popular restaurant very popular with both locals and visitors. The lightly lit garden has the perfect atmosphere to enjoy a romantic outdoor dinner. The specialty of the house is Yucatecan food, as well as various dishes of Caribbean cuisine and international haute cuisine. Do not leave without trying the famous Cocobichuela.
Downtown Cancun is the ideal place to enjoy rock classics. Many of the bars located along Yaxchilan Avenue offer live music of this genre almost every night. The bands play from midnight until four in the morning. However, depending on the capacity, the presentation could be extended until dawn. You will find the best atmosphere in El Asador, El Chikito, Los Arcos, and Ruta 666.
For shopping, nothing better than Mercado 28, a complex with dozens of local crafts, clothing, pottery, and souvenirs. You can get better prices if you dare to haggle, that is, to negotiate with sellers. The center also offers numerous alternatives to stay in Cancun. If, in the Hotel Zone, the “all-inclusive” predominates in the center of Cancun, you have a variety of hotels that offer more traditional urban formulas and with a wide range of prices.
We suggest you stay at the Ibis Cancun Center, One Cancun Center, the Four Points by Sheraton Cancun Center, the City Express Junior Cancun Official, or the Hotel & Spa Xbalamque Cancun Center.
2. Hotel zone
It is expected that one of the forced destinations in the Caribbean has a great infrastructure in terms of services and accommodation to make visitors feel welcome. This is especially true on Kukulkan Boulevard, the tourist area par excellence.
You cannot leave Cancun without having come to Ventura Park, a water park overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Without a doubt, its main attraction is the Dolphinaris, an area for swimming with dolphins.
On the other hand, history lovers will be able to learn more about the culture that prevailed in southeastern Mexico and part of Central America, before the arrival of the Spaniards, when they visit the Maya Museum of Cancun.
The Isla Cancun Shopping Village is a modern square located on the banks of the Nichupté lagoon. It is the ideal place to go shopping and spend unforgettable moments. In its dozens of stores, you will find all kinds of articles of the main local, national, and international brands.
Fun is guaranteed at the Cancun Wax Museum, with highly realistic wax representations of over a hundred celebrities.
It doesn’t matter if you prefer water sports or a quiet walk on the water aboard a yacht. Lighthouse Marina offers both modalities.
You can not miss a visit to Shopping Island. This mall is, at the same time, the headquarters of the Interactive Aquarium Cancun, where you can swim with dolphins, sharks, and manta rays, enjoy a live animal show, and see more than one hundred and forty aquatic species on display.
At nightfall, the party continues at the Forum By the Sea, a complex with access to the beach that brings together the best clubs in the city, such as Cabana Beach, Coco Bongo, Daddy’O, Mandala, and The City.
Get the best view of the city, and perhaps the Mexican Caribbean, from the Scenic Tower Cancun, a building almost thirty meters high with a panoramic elevator. Enjoy the diving, jungle excursions, jet ski rides, fishing, and sky rider at Aquaworld Cancun.
Many of the best accommodations in Cancun are in the hotel zone. Our selection for you includes hotels with affordable prices and All-Inclusive packages, such as Aquamarina Beach Hotel, Holiday Inn Cancun Arenas, Calypso Hotel Cancun, Flamingo Cancun Resort and Beach House Dos Playas by Faranda Hotels.
However, those looking to stay in Cancun with maximum luxury and comfort can stay at Ritz Carlton, Royal Hotel Cancun, Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun, JW Marriott Cancun Resort And Spa and Live Aqua Cancun All Inclusive.
3. Puerto Juarez
North of Cancun, traveling along the road that leads to Punta Sam, you will arrive at Puerto Juárez, from where ferries depart towards Isla Mujeres. The boats leave every half hour, between half-past six in the morning and half-past eight in the evening. The service from the island to the port operates every half hour between six in the morning and nine at night. Every hour outside of the said schedule.
Now, Puerto Juarez is more than a simple access road to another destination. Like the rest of Cancun, Puerto Juarez has dream beaches. In addition, its privileged location allows you to get an unbeatable view of the Caribbean Sea.
Being a less crowded destination than the hotel zone of Cancun, the atmosphere is quieter. It is an excellent alternative for those who wish to enjoy the sun: the sea and the sand in a relaxed environment.
Along the road that passes through Puerto Juarez, there are several establishments with palapa roofs where to eat delicious seafood dishes. One of the best is the Flamingos Restaurant & Bar. Dare to order the exquisite grilled octopus.
Puerto Juarez is a good place to sleep in Cancun, oblivious to the bustle of the busiest area of the city and very close to Isla Mujeres. It’s good that there are good accommodation options!
You can book a room at the Hotel del Sol, Casa Mexicana, and Mayambe Private Village. Do you have a trailer house? You will find a parking space and all services at Trailer & Cabañas Mecoloco Inn. And if you want something even further from the conventional, then you can rent a houseboat in the Boat and Bed Ocean View.
We recommend that besides this post about the best areas to stay in Cancun, you also read these others: Where to stay in Mexico City, where to stay in Playa del Carmen.
4. Playa Mujeres
Another alternative to the tumult that characterizes the downtown area and the Kukulkan Boulevard in Playa Mujeres, a site that keeps its original wild appearance.
Isla Mujeres, which faces the coast, looks even more beautiful at night, offering a spectacle in the front row for those who contemplate its coastline from the homonymous beach. Best of all, you don’t have to leave Cancun to enjoy the charms of Playa Mujeres. A journey of about twenty minutes from the center, heading north, is enough to get there.
Visiting this site is equivalent to making a return to a time before the tourist boom that has suffered the city and virtually the entire coast of Quintana Roo.
The few hotels currently in this place had to comply with a series of measures in order to inflict the least possible damage to the environment. As they were not erected directly on the beach, the sand dunes were respected.
Each hotel has viewpoints that make it possible to contemplate nature without problems. Even the regulations require that earthy tones be used when painting the exteriors of buildings, thus ensuring that they are fully integrated into the environment.
And as these tourism projects are recent, visitors who choose to sleep in Cancun on this beach will spend their stay in modern facilities, with all the amenities they could wish for.
This list includes four and five-star resorts such as Beloved Playa Mujeres, Secrets Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort, Finest Playa Mujeres, Dreams Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort and Excellence Playa Mujeres. Without a doubt, first-class options to stay in Cancun.
5. Isla Mujeres
In our count of places you have to know, you could not miss a fascinating island that is located less than thirteen kilometers north of the coast of Cancun. We are talking about Isla Mujeres, a place whose attributes have given it great popularity in recent years. When you visit this site, you will feel like in paradise.
The ideal means of transport for tourists of this small portion of paradise are golf carts. You can rent them for a full day or half of one. Take a tour of the Turtle Farm to admire the newborn turtles and other marine species.
At certain times of the year, anyone who wishes to be part of the release of sea turtles is invited. It is an event in which human beings help the young make their way from the beach to the sea. On the southern border of the island is the Temple of Ixchel, a vestige of the Mayan civilization.
In the center and north of Isla Mujeres, you will encounter a wide range of restaurants. Most times, their seafood was caught the same day by local fishermen: literally, from the sea to the table. Minino’s, a few steps from the overseas ferry docks, is a good option to enjoy fresh produce at affordable prices.
The nightlife of the island is almost nil. There are a few bars open, but nothing compared to the clubs in continental Cancun. There is always the option to travel on the ferry to the city where you will find endless options.
The hotel offer in Isla Mujeres is wide for the small size of the island. The options to stay in Cancun include bed & breakfasts, boutique hotels, condominiums, and luxury resorts, such as Privilege Aluxes, Ixchel Beach Hotel, Hotel Chac Chi Bay, Secret Hotel and Grand Oasis Palm.