A 3 day Itinerary for Cancun is the perfect way to make the most of a short trip. I’ve been to Cancun several times and followed this 3 day itinerary, with each day offering something exciting and different. From exploring ancient ruins to snorkelling in the Caribbean Sea, there’s always plenty to do!
Cancun is great for all sorts of travellers because it has a strong tourist presence so you won’t ever feel unsafe or alone. Plus with so much on offer, you’ll never be bored. And if you’re unsure about what to do, just talk to some other travellers – they’re sure to have some great advice.
Are you planning a trip to one of Mexico’s most famous cities but unsure how many days in Cancun will be enough? Well, 3 days in Cancun is enough to enjoy what it offers!
Cancun is known for many things but is renowned for its pristine white sandy beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and vibrant nightlife.
With this, Cancun has become one of the world’s premier vacation destinations. In this 3 Day Itinerary for Cancun, we will guide you through the must-see attractions and experiences that make Cancun Mexico an unforgettable destination.
A weekend in Cancun usually means you spend your days outdoors doing activities and then your nights hopping from one bar to another. Since Cancun is at the southern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, it has plenty of clear, turquoise-coloured beaches.
Meanwhile, you’ll find a vibrant blend of entertainment and luxury at Cancun’s Hotel Zone. This is where you’ll find various all-inclusive resorts that most travellers (especially college students) look forward to staying in over the holidays or Spring Break.
Since there’s so much to see and do during a 3 day trip to Cancun, you’ll have to be sure that the weather during your visit is pleasant.
Cancun’s tropical climate ensures year-round appeal, but the best time to visit is between December and April. The weather remains warm and dry during this period, ideal for outdoor activities and beach relaxation.
Choosing suitable accommodation is vital to having 3 perfect days in Cancun. Cancun’s Hotel Zone is the best place to stay. All-Inclusive Resorts like Grand Fiesta would be great choices. But you can also find boutique hotels and hostels in downtown Cancun.
Ultimately, a 3 day trip to Cancun is possible with proper planning. So, if you want to know how to enjoy a Cancun weekend trip, keep reading!
Plan your trip?
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Overview of 3 Days in Cancun Itinerary
Here’s a glance at what you’ll see and do in three days in Cancun:
Day 1 in Cancun
- Have Tacos de Canasta for Breakfast
- Explore El Rey Ruins
- Visit El Meco Archeological Site
- Beachside Lunch at Playa Delfines
- Go Snorkeling at the Cancun Underwater Museum (MUSA)
- Enjoy Happy Hour at Playa Tortugas
- Dinner at Porfirio’s
Day 2 in Cancun
- Breakfast at a Palapa
- Drive to Chichen Itza
- Take Pictures at El Castillo
- Lunch at Oxtun
- Go on a Cenote Tour
- Shop at Mercado 23
- Relax at Playa Langosta
- Dinner at La Parilla
- Enjoy the Nightlife in Cancun
Day 3 in Cancun
- Breakfast Hacienda Sisal
- Ride a Catamaran going to Isla Mujeres
- Visit Playa Norte
- Go Kayaking or Paddleboarding
- Get Seafood at La Lomita for Lunch
- Explore Punta Sur Sculpture Park
- Dinner at Xochimilco
Day 1 in Cancun
Have Tacos de Canasta for Breakfast
The best way to start your trip to Cancun is to have a local culinary delight for breakfast. While many options are available, we suggest you indulge in Tacos de Canasta for breakfast in this itinerary.
Tacos de Canasta (Basket Tacos) is usually a Mexican breakfast or snack for locals. This is made by wrapping tortillas that are made with a variety of fillings such as beans, potatoes, chicharron and carnitas.
This delicious and portable treat is a great breakfast meal since you can easily find them everywhere — street vendors, small local eateries, and high-end restaurants. Plus, don’t forget to pair them with a cup of freshly brewed coffee or a refreshing fruit juice for a satisfying and flavorful start to your day.
Explore El Rey Ruins
El Rey Ruins is one of Cancun’s most important ancient Maya trade routes. It is named after the King stone sculpture on the site and has managed many functions.
Compared to other archaeological sites, this settlement, in particular, was a burial ground for royalty and an astronomy centre.
Located in the Hotel Zone, this archaeological site showcases well-preserved structures and sculptures dating back to the 13th century. The site has a few large buildings and lots of platforms and bases.
When visiting, you get to stroll through the lush greenery and marvel at the intricate stone carvings, but this is also an excellent opportunity to learn about the rich cultural heritage of the Mayan civilisation.
Visit El Meco Archeological Site
Another archaeological site located in Cancun is El Meco. This is a lesser-known area that was recently opened to the public. It has not been around for centuries. The site was preserved to keep what can be maintained.
This hidden treasure offers a more intimate and tranquil experience than the other ruin site. It’s a few minutes from the beach, making it easily accessible. We included this on your itinerary for Cancun because it’s something you should not pass on when travelling to the city.
See the highest archaeological structure in the northern peninsula here. As you climb the 40-foot-tall El Castillo pyramid, you’ll have a panoramic view of the Caribbean Sea, lagoons and even Isla Mujeres.
What makes El Meco unique is because of how it played the role of two community risings. The first inhabitant of the site was back in 200 AD. Meanwhile, the second one took place during the post-classic period.
You’ll get to learn more if you visit and tour the site. There are available charters that can take you there, but you can also enter without joining a guided tour.
Beachside Lunch at Playa Delfines
One of Cancun’s most famous beaches is Playa Delfines. It offers the most scenic view of the Caribbean Sea with a passive stretch of sand. Other beaches in Cancun exist, but Playa Delfines provides something much more different.
Playa Delfines is the only beach in Zona Hotelera without the backdrop of a high-rise hotel. This is why; instead of dining at beach clubs or restaurants here, you can enjoy traditional Mexican eats like tacos, burritos, tamales, mole and more while staying under a palapa.
Aside from the access to water sports activities, you can enjoy this pristine beach without Cancun’s DJ-driven beaches and just relax under the sun.
Go Snorkeling at the Cancun Underwater Museum (MUSA)
If you’re planning a trip to Cancun, snorkelling (or diving) at the most successful conservation project in the world is something you should experience!
Cancun Underwater Museum (MUSA) has become one of Cancun’s top attractions. It has more than 500 submerged sculptures, serving as an artificial reef and marine habitat. These sculptures depict figures of animals, cars and even houses.
Now, whether you have experience in snorkelling, this excursion is friendly for beginners. You’ll need to book a tour to visit the MUSA and get professional guidance. Depending on your joining time, you will be allowed to dive and snorkel through them or even touch them!
Meanwhile, if you are a certified diver or have knowledge of introductory diving, you can also book a diving tour here and receive essential equipment ad supervision from a professional.
Ultimately, this experience is something you should look forward to, and even marine life enthusiasts from around the world come to Cancun just for this.
Enjoy Happy Hour at Playa Tortugas
After spending your afternoon swimming and exploring the underwater, head to Playa Tortugas to unwind, relax, and experience Cancun’s vibrant nightlife.
Playa Tortugas is another famous beach destination in Cancun, but compared to Playa Delfines, this area is lined with several open-air cafes, restaurants and bars.
Get to lounge on a beach chair, soak up the sun and sip on your favourite drink as you enjoy the happy cocktail hour at any of Cancun’s bars in Playa Tortugas. This is the perfect way to unwind and embrace the laid-back vibes of Cancun.
Dinner at Porfirio’s
After having a few drinks at Playa Tortugas, it’s time to head onto one of Cancun’s best restaurants– Porfirio’s.
Porfirio’s is a famous Mexican high-end restaurant chain with a few more branches around Mexico. Their Cancún branch transforms traditional Mexican cuisine with innovative techniques and flavours.
Their menu includes tacos, enchiladas, burritos, quesadillas, and other classic favourites, but one to recommend is their jumbo shrimp ceviche.
You’ll need around $30 to $40 to enjoy the food here, but that’s worth your money! With their quality food and great ambience, no wonder Porfirio’s is a crowd favourite.
Day 2 in Cancun
Breakfast at a Palapa
A Palapas, essentially food courts, are famous among many locals in Cancun. You will find yourself in a plaza surrounded by food stalls with all of Mexico’s most authentic and local delicacies!
While many tourists also know about Palapas, most of the time, residents are dining here. This means you can easily interact with the locals and ask about their culinary delights.
We suggest you eat at a Palapa during breakfast because we want you to experience newly cooked meals! Plus, the crowd isn’t that many yet during the early morning, so it’s the perfect time to enjoy some chicken mole or tamales.
Drive to Chichen Itza
Your Cancun weekend trip will only be complete with a drive to nearby areas, including the famous Chichen Itza. Chichen Itza, one of the World’s New Seven Wonders, is a few hours’ drive from Cancun.
This UNESCO World Heritage site is a testament to the ingenuity and grandeur of the civilisation and is a must-see when visiting Yucatan. Here, you can learn more about the ancient Mayan civilisation while exploring the archaeological site.
To give you a brief background, Chichen Itza is the Mayan term for “at the mouth of the well of the Itza.” Itza’s were an ethnic group that had power over the Yucatan peninsula. The site was built and developed into a political and economic power centre, becoming the largest city in the Mayan world.
At the site, you can explore different structures and buildings that each serve their meaning. One is the iconic El Castillo pyramid, which stands 98 feet in height.
Other notable large structures include the Great Ball Court, the Temple of the Warriors, the Sacred Cenote and more. All these have their play in Chichen Itza’s history, so just take your time exploring these structures.
Take Pictures at El Castillo
While it’s a given that you’ll be capturing every moment you spend at Chichen Itza, we cannot stress enough that you should take time to grab a great photo at its most iconic spot, the El Castillo.
This iconic pyramid, with its perfectly symmetrical design and intricate carvings, serves as the focal point of the archaeological site. It serves as a great wonder to everyone, given that when it was built, they only had simple technology available then.
Standing 98 feet tall, many organisations (and the government) spend time preserving the pyramid. Tourists, in fact, are not allowed to climb El Castillo to conserve this natural wonder.
Lunch at Oxtun
After spending your time roaming around Chichen Itza, it’s time to satisfy your appetite with a delicious lunch at Oxtun! This restaurant is one of the famous restaurants in the neighbourhood. They serve a fusion of Mexican and international cuisine and have vegetarian-friendly options.
This time, we suggest you try Mexico’s traditional cochinita pibil, a slow-roasted marinated pork dish, or poc chuc, a grilled marinated pork steak, when dining at Oxtun. If you have special dietary requirements, you can always ask them to suggest a dish that will still satisfy your Mexican cravings.
Go on a Cenote Tour
Yucatan Peninsula is home to several magnificent centos, and if you’re still thinking of what to see in Cancun in 3 days, cenotes should be part of that list.
Now, at this point of your day, you’ll be driving around Yucatan to explore different cenotes in the region. To make the most out of your 3 day trips to Cancun, you’ll visit at least 2 or 3 cenotes on your second day.
Cenotes are natural sinkholes filled with crystal-clear freshwater, and they are scattered throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. Some of the most famous cenotes in the region accessible from Cancun are Cenote Azul, Cenote Ik Kil, Gran Cenote and Cenote Yal Ku.
If you’ve rented out a car to drive around, these cenotes are easily accessible. But, you can also
join a guided tour to take you to these cenotes, especially if you’re not so good with new directions to follow. This way, you can maximise your time and then have the opportunity to swim, snorkel, or even dive into the cenote’s pristine waters.
Aside from swimming, you can also explore the fascinating underground caves and marvel at the otherworldly beauty of stalactites and stalagmites. This excursion is something outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers would enjoy!
Shop at Mercado 28
Now that you’re back in Cancun, you’ll need to make some time to visit their traditional and local markets; and one of the city’s most famous and bustling markets is the Mercado 28.
This vibrant local flea market is a hub for locals and tourists alike. It is a long-running Market in Cancun, home to various local shops and boutiques, street food and souvenirs.
You can spend more than an hour exploring the maze of colourful shops looking through a treasure trove of handicrafts, clothing, jewellery, spices, and fresh produce.
As you buy souvenirs and gifts, you can haggle with friendly vendors. Just be respectful of them, and they’ll let you on with some discounts.
You can also get some quick snacks at some of their food stalls. Have a quesadilla, taco or churro for something sweet! Since this street market is easily accessible, you don’t have to worry about getting to and from the area.
Watch the sunset at Playa Langosta
Playa Langosta is one of the most accessible beaches in the Cancun Hotel Zone. Before heading to your dinner plans, visit Playa Langosta to glimpse Cancun’s beautiful sunset.
Adored by locals and travellers, you’ll probably notice how crowded it can get in Playa Langosta. But this isn’t an excuse to skip visiting the beach. What makes the view here different is a picturesque pier going right down the middle.
This beach area is ideal for families visiting Cancun because the water here is calm and shallow. Although be aware that once the sun sets, you might not be allowed to enter the water.
Dinner at La Parilla
If you ask locals which restaurant they would recommend for a first-time visitor, they’ll mention La Parilla. La Parrilla has been in the industry since 1975, renowned for serving exquisite Mexican food.
Its first branch was set up in Cancun (and still operates), and ever since it has made a name in the food industry, it has opened other branches around Mexico.
For your second-day dinner, we suggest you visit La Parilla and see why the restaurant has become a go-to for locals and tourists.
The restaurant aims to serve traditional Mexican food using its recipe and simultaneously combine combinations of Mexican and international delights to suit different palates. They also have drinks and beverages you can enjoy, so don’t miss out!
Enjoy the Nightlife in Cancun
For you to have 3 perfect days in Cancun, enjoying the nightlife in the city is something you should not miss out on!
Cancun is known to have the best party places, and lots of college students and families who want to enjoy their Spring break and holidays come to visit the city just for the nightlife scene. In this 3 days in Cancun itinerary, we will not specify which bar to visit since we highly suggest you go bar or nightclub hopping!
Some famous nightclubs you can check out include Coco Bongo, La Vaquita, Mandala Beach Club, and 11:11 Club. Meanwhile, for chill spots, you can visit H Roof, Guandola Cancun, La Palapita La Luna and Hunter Bar instead.
Day 3 in Cancun
Breakfast Hacienda Sisal
On the third day of your trip to Cancun, begin your day with a delightful breakfast experience at Hacienda Sisal. This charming restaurant blends Mexican and Yucatecan cuisine in a beautiful hacienda-style setting, perfect for that authentic Cancun experience.
You can choose from several brunch menus, such as chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, or freshly baked pastries, all prepared with authentic flavours and fresh ingredients. Before starting your last day in Cancun, getting a hearty meal at a great restaurant is necessary!
Ride a Catamaran going to Isla Mujeres
While Cancun is home to plenty of picturesque and beautiful beaches, you should also check out nearby islands and beaches; and since you’ll be staying in Cancun in 3 days, you still have enough time to explore them.
Isla Mujeres, a charming and laid-back place, offers a time away front he the hustle and bustle of Cancun. Reachable only by water taxi, you’ll need to ride a catamaran to reach the island. Fortunately, several boat charters let you experience different kinds of luxurious, private and shared catamarans.
As you travel on a scenic catamaran ride to the Isla Mujeres, while you’re at it, feel the wind in your hair as you sail across the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean Sea, enjoying panoramic views of the coastline.
Once you reach the island, there’s so much you can do. From exploring its beautiful beaches, swimming in the azure waters, or simply relaxing under the shade of a palm tree.
Visit Playa Norte
Playa Norte is considered one of the best beaches in Isla Mujeres and all of Mexico. It is a white sand beach on the island’s north end, where plenty of locals and tourists come to relax and play.
You can rent a golf cart in Isla Mujeres to explore the whole Island, including Playa Norte. With the beach’s soft white sand, clear turquoise water and palm trees, this is the best place to relax on a sun bed or swim in the sea. Other water sports activities, including kayaking or paddleboarding.
Go Kayaking or Paddleboarding
Although this can be an alternative to your cancun mexico itinerary, we still highly suggest you at least experience kayaking or paddleboarding during your trip to Cancun.
Since you’re in Isla Mujeres, spending a day on a beautiful island surrounded by clear waters is the best time to do it!
Paddle through the calm waters, admiring the coastline’s stunning views and feeling tranquillity as you glide through the gentle waves.
Whether you choose kayaking or paddleboarding, this activity allows you to connect with nature and soak in the beauty of the Caribbean Sea from a different perspective. Plus, it doesn’t take much of your time!
Get Seafood at La Lomita for Lunch
Isla Mujeres is a tiny little village, so there are fewer food choices than in Cancun’s food scene. Yet, you can take advantage of this by getting the freshest seafood on the island!
La Lomita is one of the many seafood restaurants in Isla Mujeres that is famous among locals and visitors. Here you can satisfy your seafood cravings by getting an array of coastal delights, from ceviche and grilled fish to shrimp tacos and seafood platters.
The combination of fresh ingredients and expert preparation ensures a memorable dining experience.
Explore Punta Sur Sculpture Park
After spending your morning at the beach, spend the rest of your day discovering a captivating fusion of art and nature at Punta Sur Sculpture Park. This unique park showcases a collection of sculptures crafted by renowned artists worldwide.
Located at the island’s southern tip, you can view the endless cliff side of the Caribbean Sea. Spend your time strolling along the scenic trails, surrounded by lush greenery, as you encounter stunning sculptures that evoke emotions and inspire contemplation.
Besides the most picturesque landscapes, here you will find the remains of an ancient Mayan Temple, a one-of-a-kind outdoor Sculpture Garden, and a Caribean Village. You can also stop by their restaurant overlooking the garden for snacks or drinks.
Spend the rest of the Afternoon at Xochimilco
After returning to Cancun, you’ll need a few minutes to drive to Xochimilco. This district of Mexico is home to a network of canals and artificial islands, and no matter how many days in Cancun you spend, this is something you must include in your itinerary.
Historically, Xochimilco was a lake where Aztecs built manmade fields, which resulted in a canal system.
Now, these waterways serve as a place for trajineras to stay in. These trainers are brightly painted party boats you can hop onto with fellow travellers.
A trajinero will be pushing it through the canal through long poles, and while you tour around, you can have a part of your own, indulge in good food, and, of course, capture great photos!
Some other areas to discover in Xochimilco are the Island of Dolls and the ajoloterias. You’ll need to pay entrance fees to these destinations, so check ahead.
Dinner in a Trajinera in Xochimilco
Since you’re already in Xochimilco, it’s best to make the most of your visit! As mentioned earlier, these trajineras are big enough to accommodate several people and would be enough to let you party as you go through the canals.
This is why it is also possible for you to spend your dinner while riding in one. Most visitors pack their dinner before going here, but if you don’t have the time for that, several food stalls in the area serve a variety of local cuisine.
So make sure to buy your meal before getting onto the trajinera. But if you’re lucky, you might also come across vendors rowing their way in the canal selling tacos, quesadillas and more!
Tours in Cancun
Aside from the beaches and bars in Cancun, there’s so much more to try and enjoy in the city. One of these is to go on a speedboat tour at the Nichupte Lagoon. This Lagoon covers the entire hotel zone of Cancun, having seven different parts.
Compared to the beach, the waters at the lagoon are brackish. During the tour, you will be aboard a speedboat that will take you around Nichupte Lagoon to Punta Nizuc. You’ll also be cruising around thick mangroves and, if by chance, maybe spot-friendly crocodiles!
Another day excursion you can try, especially if you have the extra time, is an ATV tour. This is ideal for those who want to spend their day touring around different areas of the region while driving an all-terrain vehicle (ATV).
You will start at an adventure eco-park where you’ll ride over jungle trails with your ATV. You will also ride three zipline flights at the park and swim in a natural cenote. This is a complete package you can try during your trip to Cancun.
FAQs About 3 day trip to cancun mexico
What should I bring on my 3-day trip to Cancun, Mexico?
Make sure you pack a few days’ worth of clothes and accessories that can be layered depending on the weather. Be prepared for rain or shine with an umbrella, sunglasses, sunscreen and insect repellent.
It couldn’t hurt to bring a bathing suit and beach towel in case you find yourself near one of the many beaches. Don’t forget any toiletries you may need such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste, etc. Lastly, make sure your passport is up to date if you’re travelling across borders!
What attractions are there in Cancun?
There are plenty of attractions to explore while in Cancun! From relaxing on the powdery white sand beaches to exploring the incredible Mayan ruins – Chichen Itza and Tulum – there’s something for everyone.
You could also visit the underwater museum at MUSA (Museo Subacuatico de Arte) and marvel at more than 500 sculptures scattered across the ocean floor. If you’re looking for some nightlife action, head over to Coco Bongo and have a blast until sunrise!
What kind of food can I expect in Cancun?
Whether it’s delicious tacos packed with flavour or something more exotic like smoked iguana stew, there’s no shortage of great food experiences when visiting Cancun.
Many restaurants offer traditional Mexican dishes spiced according to regional tastes like Yucatecan cuisine which features habanero pepper-based salsas as well as seafood options like ceviche marinated in lime juice and pico de gallo salsa.
For those looking for a unique experience check out one of the many taco stands lining city streets where street chefs serve up tasty treats that will leave your taste buds tingling with delight!
how many days in cancun and tulum
Cancun and Tulum are both located in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, which is a popular destination for vacationers. Cancun is a lively city with plenty of beaches, resorts, restaurants and nightlife. The average length of stay in Cancun is usually between 3-6 days.
Tulum has become a popular destination as well due to its beautiful beaches and archaeological sites. Many people like to visit Tulum for two or three days alongside their time spent in Cancun, so if you plan on spending time in both areas then around 7-10 days should be sufficient.
how much is a trip to cancun for 3 days
A trip to Cancun for 3 days can cost anywhere from $300-$1000 USD for a solo traveller, $600-$2000USD for a couple and $1200 -$300 for a family. This is all depending on the time of year and type of accommodations you choose.
Travel during peak seasons such as spring break or summer holidays will be more expensive due to higher demand.
To get the best deals, book your flights and hotel rooms well in advance. Additionally, look out for special offers such as discounts or packages that may make your trip more affordable.
Final Thoughts: 3 days in cancun suggested itineraries
Although this 3 days in Cancun itinerary isn’t the only one available, it offers a good start to planning your trip. Have a great time and don’t forget to explore outside of the traditional tourist hubs! There is plenty of adventure to be had, even with limited time.
You can mix and match this itinerary so you can fully enjoy your 3 day trip to Cancun while still leaving with precious memories that will last a lifetime. So what are you waiting for? Book those tickets now and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime!
Recommended tours in Cancun
- Chichen Itza, Cenote and Valladolid All-Inclusive Tour
- Viator Exclusive: Tulum Ruins, Reef Snorkeling, Cenote and Caves
- Tulum Ruins Visit and Swim in Two Different Cenotes Guided Tour
- ATV Adventure, Interactive Bridges, Ziplines, Cenote & Free Lunch
- Mandala Club Cancun – Golden Personal Pass
- Horseback Riding and Cenote Swim from Cancun or Playa del Carmen
- Jungle Tour Adventure: Speed Boat Tour and Snorkeling (Shared Speed Boat)
- 5-in-1 Cancun Snorkeling Tour:Swim with turtles, reef, Musa,shipwreck and cenote
- Small-Group Eco Friendly: Whale Sharks tour in Cancun & Riviera Maya
Read More about Mexico:
- Where to stay in Cancun
- 9 of the Best Beaches in Cancún
- Unforgettable Holidays in Cancun
- Where to stay in Tulum
- Best Day Trips from Tulum
- The Ultimate Guide to Tulum Mexico
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