Top Weekend Trips From Cancún

Dive into Cenote Dos Ojos and explore stalactites and stalagmites from the fresh water
Dive into Cenote Dos Ojos and explore stalactites and stalagmites from the fresh water | © robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo
Perri J

Cancún has an endless variety of cocktails, beaches and sun-kissed tourists. But there’s plenty on offer outside the city – the Mayan ruins and tropical landscapes make Quintana Roo and the Yucatán Peninsula a phenomenal spot. Hop over to these sights for another view of this eastern region of Mexico.

Book Culture Trip’s exclusive nine-day Yucatán Peninsula adventure and explore more of this stunning region in Mexico for yourself.

1. Xcaret

Amusement Park, Park

Maya culture performance Los Rostros de Ek chuah, honoring the Mayan God of Cacao, at Xcaret park, Riviera Maya, Mexico.
© Greg Vaughn / Alamy Stock Photo
This eco-archaeological park along the Riviera Maya is jam-packed with attractions, natural sites and heritage experiences in the lush jungle. Nature enthusiasts can delight in bird aviaries, jungle trails and even delightful, yet intimidating, confrontations with the jaguar, the largest cat in America. With water slides, interactive animal exhibits and aquatic adventures, this park offers something special for any type of traveler.

2. Tulum

Natural Feature

Hammocks for sale in a Tulum, Mexico market.
© Brian Overcast / Alamy Stock Photo

Leaving behind a reputation as the sleepy, hipster sibling of Cancún, Tulum is a highly regarded destination in the region. Boutique hotels and shops line the narrow roads here, giving the town a quaint and cozy feel. Restaurants serve patrons delicious fare, including traditional street tacos. And though the town may go to sleep earlier than Cancún, the hippie vibes, beachfront Mayan ruins and jungle skyline keeps a lively profusion of tourists around for Instagram photo ops.

3. Playa del Carmen

Natural Feature

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO - DEC. 26, 2019: Visitors enjoy shopping on the famous entertainment district of Playa del Carmen beach in the Yucatan penins
© Ronnie Chua / Alamy Stock Photo

Only an hour from Cancún, Playa del Carmen has become a home from home for hordes of Europeans and Americans fleeing the cold to be beside the Caribbean Sea. The beaches here are beautiful, the water is aquamarine and the opportunities for snorkeling and diving are amazing. Many travelers bypass the mega-resorts of Cancún to relax here in more tranquil settings and to shop on La Quinta Avenida. During the day the street is alive with cyclists, eager pedestrians and the sound of flip-flops. At night, the pulse starts as vacationers head to the hottest party spots.

4. Mérida

Historical Landmark

Woman walking in front of the colorful colonial buildings in the city center, Merida, Yucatan Province, Mexico, Central America.
© agefotostock / Alamy Stock Photo

Mérida, a colonial city in the heart of the Yucatán that’s often missed by the Cancún party crowd, is the perfect destination if you want to experience more than DJs in beach bars. In downtown Mérida, pedestrians squeeze down tight avenues, passing buildings with colored, chipped and tattered paint. Colonial structures stand perfectly preserved, presenting a true snapshot of another time. In northern Mérida, you’ll find planned communities and golf courses.

5. Cenote Dos Ojos

Natural Feature

A swimming Lady seeing the Two Eyes cenote (Yucatan peninsula-Mexico).Nageuse decouvrant le cenote Dos Ojos (Yucatan- Mexique)
Take a short hike though the jungle to reach the clear underground waters of Cenote Dos Ojos. Snorkeling on the colorful coral reefs in Cancún is something special, but this offers a whole new experience. Divers looking for thrills come here to brave the cool waters and gaze at the stunning stalactite and stalagmite formations.

6. Isla Cozumel

Natural Feature

Snorkeling in Cozumel with school of fish
© James R.D. Scott / Getty Images

This popular cruise-ship stop has become the ideal destination for scuba divers, nature advocates and you, if you’re happy to leave the ultra-touristy areas behind. This island has trails for off-roading, intriguing nature parks and, of course, clear visibility for divers and snorkelers. Only a short boat ride from Cancún, it offers everything in the way of accommodation from romantic all-inclusive resorts to opportunities to witness sea turtle hatchings.

7. Chichen Itza

Archaeological site

El Castillo or Temple of Kukulkan pyramid, Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico
© Konstantin Kalishko / Alamy Stock Photo

Yucatán and Quintana Roo are brimming with ancient Mayan archaeological sites, museums and ruins. One of the most iconic of all the ruins is Chichen Itza, the name meaning “at the mouth of the well of the Itza people.” This Unesco World Heritage Site was once the largest city in the Mayan civilization and as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza has planted itself as an iconic part of any trip to this rich area. The stories and history that surround these protected ruins are cherished by visitors and the Mayan people.

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