By Kohleun Adamson, on May 5, 2017

Cancun itineraries for any schedule

You could spend hours figuring out what to do in Cancun. We know you’ll have more fun in this amazing destination if planning your trip is easy as pie—or coconut flan. That’s why we’ve gathered the best suggestions on the most popular attractions from all over the region—in one itinerary. Find a selection of things to do in Cancun for travelers of all ages and interests, and read up on the itinerary that works for your schedule to make the most of your travel time. You don’t want to miss one second exploring this exquisite seaside destination.

Cancun in three days

Via Flickr/Grand Velas Riviera Maya

Day 1:

You’ve finally made it to Cancun, one of the most coveted vacation spots in the world. After leaving your things at the hotel, start by visiting the city’s internationally loved Playa Delfines. It’s one of the few beaches open to the public in Cancun’s Hotel Zone, and tourists and locals alike know it’s the place to be on a warm day. Here you can look into the depths of the clear, blue sea.

After sunning and swimming at Playa Delfines, visit nearby El Rey, the most important archeological site in Cancun. El Rey includes 47 ancient structures dedicated to both the religious and daily life of the Maya. Make sure you visit Site 2, a burial place built in two different stages. The person buried here was likely quite important, as they were buried with a copper ax, bracelet, and various other ornaments.

Want to discover more local treasures? Spend some time at the Underwater Museum of Art, and swim in a gallery of sunken sculptures. Between historic sites and modern marvels, savor the culinary gems on the menu at Tempo. Chef Martin Berasategui’s beautiful Basque fusion has earned several accolades, including three Michelin stars.

Day 2:

After a good night’s sleep at a top Cancun hotel , get ready to visit Chichén Itzá, located 122 miles west of Cancun city center. This ancient site is so grand that you’ll likely need all day to immerse yourself in its history. Not convinced? Chichén Itzá is more than an archaeological site; it’s an archaeological city, with all its magic and history infused in each brick. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

You’re in the Yucatan now, where the picturesque ruins come with rustic cuisine. We hope you like your food smoky and spicy. Habanero peppers and citrus are key ingredients and they complement the light broth in sopa de lima—a tangy tortilla soup—and fire-cooked banana leaf tamales. ¡Provecho!

Day 3:

We have come to day 3 of our trip and it’s time to visit another great destination: the Nichupté Lagoon. Here you’ll encounter crocodiles, iguanas, leopards, and tropical birds in their natural habitat. Sit among the mangroves—communities of trees and plants that grow in a unique combination of saltwater and freshwater around the lagoon. The mangroves grow in just a few places in the world and this is a unique opportunity to see them up close.

Surrounded by this lush paradise, dine with a view of Cancun’s deep turquoise lagoon. The casual, open-air atmosphere and fresh, family-style service at El Galeon del Caribe make this lunch spot a local favorite.

Cancun in five days

Via Flickr/tinyfroglet

Day 4:

Why go back home when there is still so much to explore? We hope you decide to stay two more days in this beachfront bliss, because there’s more to see. Today is a great day to visit nearby Playa del Carmen. Its beaches are considered among the most beautiful in the world.

From Playa del Carmen, venture the short 6 miles south to Xcaret, an important Mayan mercantile and marine settlement. Ready for a full day? Make time to visit Tulum National Park, an archeological area with a walled city that dates back to the Postclassic period of Mayan culture (1200-1450).

Day 5:

After a long and culturally enriching day, what could be better than relaxing on Isla Mujeres? This island escape is located 11 miles from Cancun and boasts warm, clear waters, where dolphins and turtles thrive—yes, we’re saying you can swim with dolphins and turtles. This island receives its name because in pre-Hispanic times it was consecrated to Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of the moon, love, and fertility. On its beaches, people have left gifts to request favors from the divine.

Cancun in seven days

Via Flickr/Arian Zwegers

Day 6:

Want to stay through the week in this dream destination? While away your sixth vacation day on the mysterious island of Cozumel. This island was a shelter for famous pirates during the 17th century, and later uninhabited for unknown reasons. One look at the gorgeous natural attractions and you’ll know why swashbucklers staked their claim. Learn more about the local legends at the ruins of San Gervasio by day and soak in the sunset’s rays at the Chankanaab National Park or the Ecological Reserve Faro Celarain—both are lined with white sand and blue tides.

Day 7:

On your last day of the trip, wind down along the 26 miles of pristine platinum sand that circles Isla Holbox, north of the Yucatan Peninsula. Snorkel and swim with whale sharks, the largest fish in the world, for one more unforgettable experience before returning to your home sweet home. ¡Buen viaje!

What are you excited to do in Cancun?