Travellers will find city breaks to Cancun a paradise of white sand beaches, water sports, and history. Mexico's most celebrated resort town is also renowned for its nightlife, which you can choose to engage in as it suits your travels. Whether you join the revelry or not, package holidays in Cancun are an ideal way to begin getting to know this culturally-rich country, as beloved for its cuisine as it is for its art (this is, after all, the birthplace of Frida Kahlo). This spot on the Yucatán Peninsula is also long on outdoor adventure, affording you the opportunity to explore ancient Mayan ruins in the jungle, protected reefs, and sapphire-toned cenotes.
What to Know Before Visiting Cancun?
It's easy to arrange a flight to Cancun, as there are direct flights from London, as well as from Manchester to Cancun. Cancun International Airport, about 19km outside the city centre, is Mexico's second largest airport, and as such there are numerous shuttle services to get you into town.
As a UK national you don't need a visa to enter Mexico for tourism purposes, although you will need to complete an immigration form upon arrival. The Mexican Peso is the primary currency, though you'll find many establishments also accept American dollars. Cancun is five hours behind the UK. English is widely spoken in restaurants and at major attractions, though you'll find learning a few Spanish phrases helpful for bartering and getting more than superficially acquainted with the friendly locals.
When Should I Visit Cancun?
Weekends in Cancun are blissful and great year-round, though the high season runs between December and April. You'll find that there are often significant discounts on flights and hotels in Cancun in the spring. Summer can occasionally bring stormy weather.
Mid-March is the wildest time of the year to visit due to an influx of university students on spring break, and it's best to avoid this period if the party scene is not what you're after. Throughout the year, international DJs and major music acts play Cancun, which is firmly marked on the world's entertainment map. You can make your city break to Cancun extra special by booking one of these special events during your stay in the sunshine.
What Can I Do in Cancun?
The activities are endless on package holidays in Cancun, including sunning yourself next to the Caribbean Sea, partying until dawn, and exploring the fecund surrounding natural environment. If you're taking a weekend in Cancun for the buzzing club life, check out Coco Bongo, one of the biggest of the superclubs, right on the ocean.
For a bit of luxury shopping, head to the aptly named Luxury Avenue or Kukulcan Plaza, and for a more authentic retail experience, stop by Coral Negro Flea Market, the area's most popular open-air market. You can hit the beach anywhere along the 22km white strand, but head to Playa Delfines for a public beach not so developed with hotels or restaurants.
What Should I Visit During a Stay in Cancun?
Chichen Itza: About two hours from Cancun by car, this archaeological site is an absolute must. Visit this ancient Mayan ruin for massive pyramids, temples, and more, with the most famous site being the Castillo Pyramid and its 365 steps.
Yum Balam Wildlife Protection Area: This neighbouring national park is home to beautiful beaches. Look out for birds and dolphins!
Xel-Ha Park: About a 90 minute drive from Cancun, here you can snorkel over corals teeming with life in turquoise water.
Cobá: About two hours away by car, here you can visit ancient Mayan ruins, the distinctive stepped pyramids that peak out above the forest canopy, which can also be climbed. Their height was believed to bring their ancient architects closer to the gods of the sky.
Xcaret Park: At this eco-archaeological theme park you can snorkel, swim with dolphins, and learn all about Mayan culture.
Isla Mujeres: Just off the coast of Cancun, here you can dive over an underwater sculpture garden and explore by golf buggy.
Playa del Carmen: Besides beautiful beaches, this resort's main pedestrian drag, Quinta Avenida, runs parallel to the beach and is home to numerous restaurants, shops, bars, and clubs.
What to Eat in Cancun
Cancun's culinary delights are numerous and diverse. Gigantic lobsters are served in every format at Lorenzillo's, which capitalises on Mexico's plentiful native lobsters, and even has its own dedicated farm. Chill out at Thai Lounge, where you can watch dolphins swim through a glass wall shared with the local aquarium. For a European-inflected menu in an atmospheric, rustic building, try La Fonda del Zancudo. Fancy surf and turf is on the menu at Puerto Madero, alongside glittering, panoramic views of the marina and lagoon. Even finer dining can be found at Tempo, a silver service affair boasting three Michelin stars and a menu dominated by reinvented Basque dishes.
What to Shop For in Cancun
Beach idyll it may be, but city breaks in Cancun can be easily tied up with luxury ribbon. La Isla Shopping Village is the destination of choice for many a window shopper, while Plaza Las Americas is where the locals prefer to shop. However, you might prefer to bring home local handicrafts over internationally-available luxury brands, in which case, visit any of the city's open-air markets for an array of handmade boho-chic jewellery, pottery, leather goods of all stripes, and for women, a traditional 'huipil', a floral-embroidered Mayan blouse.