Chichén Itzá#1 in Best Things To Do in Cancun
Chichén Itzá is a large Mayan archaeological site and one of the most notable and recognized landmarks on the Yucatán. The site itself was originally a main hub of Mayan civilization and has since been named a UNESCO World Heritage site. The focal point of the ruins is the pyramid-like El Castillo that was once used by Mayans as a temple to the god Kukulkan.
Unfortunately, because of its fame, Chichén Itzá is crawling with tourists trying to snap a picture of one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Nevertheless, the spectacular ruins are well worth it, even for the jaded traveler. You can avoid crowds by visiting the site in the early morning before the throngs of tour buses arrive. Recent visitors also advised bringing water and bug repellent and wearing appropriate footwear and a hat.
In addition to large crowds, another drawback to Chichén Itzá is its distance from Cancún: about a 2½-hour car or bus ride. If you've strictly come to Cancún for the beaches and parties, you might want to skip the trek. But if you want to discover the strong cultural roots of the Yucatán, there's no better place. To get the fullest experience, some visitors recommend hiring a tour guide to explain the history and significance of the site. You can hire guides at the site, or through a company like Gray Line, which past travelers recommend as the tours include transportation to and from your accommodations and the cost of admission, among other perks. You can read more about organized tours here. If you're not reaching Chichen Itza via an organized tour, there is bus service provided by ADO that departs every day at 8:45 a.m. Bus tickets cost about 250 pesos (about $12) and do not include admission to the site. Chichén Itzá is open year-round from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission costs 230 Mexican pesos (roughly $12) per person.
More Best Things To Do in Cancun
#2 Isla Mujeres
To escape the frantic beat of Cancún's nightlife and beaches, head to Isla Mujeres (or the Island of Women). There is little to do on this small, 4-mile island just a 20-minute ferry ride from Cancun, but travelers like it that way.
Despite the island's sleepy reputation, it hosts a few sites worth checking out. Recent visitors suggested renting a golf cart and driving to Punta Sur, located on the island's southern tip. Home to an ancient temple honoring the Mayan moon goddess, the landscape is surrounded by steep cliffs and spectacular bay views – in fact, this is where the rising sun first greets Mexico. This area is also where you'll find Garrafon Reef Park, which offers a variety of activities against the scenic backdrop of Punta Sur, including a swimming pool, a zip line, kayaking and snorkeling.
Explore More of Cancun
If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.
Holly JohnsonJanuary 16, 2020
Kyle McCarthyJanuary 8, 2020
Lyn MettlerDecember 23, 2019
Gwen PratesiDecember 9, 2019
Lyn MettlerNovember 25, 2019
Kyle McCarthyNovember 21, 2019
Holly JohnsonNovember 14, 2019
Gwen PratesiNovember 12, 2019
Christine SmithNovember 12, 2019