10 Best Things to do in Downtown Cancun Mexico + Travel Tips

Visiting Malecon Tajamar is one of the best things to do in Cancun downtown

Looking for things to do in Downtown Cancun? This post will show you all the must-do activities!

When you think of the perfect beach getaway, Cancun is probably on your mind. Every year, more than 15 million visitors go to Cancun for the same reason. However, many only visit the main tourist area, the Hotel Zone. 

There is nothing wrong with enjoying the Hotel Zone, but what if you want to explore the heart of Cancun? To get a more authentic experience, take a trip to Downtown Cancun.

This post covers the 10 best things to do in Downtown Cancun, and some tips for the ultimate Cancun experience.

Where is Downtown Cancun?

Want to explore Cancun downtown but not sure what to do? This post will show you all the best things to do in Downtown Cancun for a fun trip!

Cancun Downtown, also known as Centro de Cancun, is only a few miles from the Hotel Zone. Taxis can be quite expensive, so renting a bike or taking the bus are more affordable options for getting here. 

Related post: The Ultimate guide to traveling to Mexico

Best 10 Things to Do in Downtown Cancun

1. Explore the Mercado 28

One of the major highlights of Cancun Centro has to be the flea market of Mercado 28.

This flea market has been running for many years in the Plaza San Miguel. Over the years, it has grown in fame and is an essential part of Cancun.

Exploring the Mercado 28 is one of the cool things to do in downtown Cancun

Explore the numerous small stalls, and see all the beautiful local goods on sale. From local handmade textiles to jewelry, there is a mix of everything here.

It is quite the large market, so it will take a while to explore it all. Luckily, there are a ton of small restaurants and street food stalls to fuel you in your journey.

Cancun’s downtown area is known for their delicious food, so make sure to try some local delicacies. 

2. Join the Locals at Parque De Las Palapas

If you want to experience Cancun’s Centro like a local, then you have to spend some time in Parque de las Palapas.

This central square is a huge meeting place for the local people living in Cancun. Many families gather here to eat some street food and chat.

Grab some food from one of the many food stalls, and join a group of locals for a chat. You may just make some new friends.

If that isn’t your cup of tea, no worries. There are usually open-air performances around Parque de las Palapas that you can watch for free!

Watch some local dance or music performances while munching on delicious, fresh tacos. What can be better than that?

3. Eat Your Way Through the Taquerìas

There is nothing more emblematic of Mexico’s cuisine than the delicious taco.

There is no better place to eat tacos than in Cancun’s city center! One of the most popular activities for anyone visiting Downtown Cancun is the “Taquerìa Crawl.” 

Eating your way through the Taquerìas is one of the cool things to do in downtown Cancun

Jump around from taco shop to taco shop, and try a variety of tacos. All with different fillings, toppings, and sauces.

The best part of it all is you won’t be paying Hotel Zone prices. Start your journey with an empty stomach, and end it with a belly full of tacos. 

4. Taste Local Produce at Mercado 23

When you visit a new city, you should try the local fruits and vegetables, especially when you are in such a biodiverse area like Cancun.

Tasting local produce at Mercado 23 is one of the cool things to do in downtown Cancun

Mercado 28 is full of homemade goods, but if you want to try the local ingredients, check out Mercado 23. This flea market is where the locals go to buy their groceries for the week. 

You may not have all the same facilities as Mercado 28 here, but it will give you a much more local experience.

If you are staying in an Airbnb, try cooking a local meal with ingredients bought from Mercado 23. It will definitely be a unique experience. 

5. Discover Hidden Gems on Avenida Tulum

Right in the heart of the Centro de Cancun (Downtown) is Avenida Tulum. This is the city’s main street where all the hippest places are.

Discovering hidden gems on Avenida Tulum is one of the cool things to do in downtown Cancun

Most hotels and restaurants are along this road, so you will likely be visiting this street a lot. 

There are many small shops and restaurants along Avenida Tulum that many tourists are unaware of.

Take some time to walk along the main street and see what hidden treasures you can find in the heart of Downtown Cancun. 

6. Go on a Street Art tour

Many first-time visitors to Downtown Cancun are surprised when they see all the gorgeous street art.

Going on a Street Art tour is one of the best things to do in Cancun downtown

Buildings are covered with spectacular, vibrant murals all around the city. When you are walking around, keep an eye out for the amazing artwork.

If you want to take a deeper dive into Cancun’s Downtown art scene, book a walking tour! 

There are a bunch of street art tours that will take you around Downtown Cancun.

The tour guides will both show you incredible art pieces, but also tell you about the story behind the art. It’s both educational and fun!

7. Visit Malecon Tajamar

Malecon Tajamar is a newer neighborhood in Cancun that continues to grow. Simply walking along this road is a treat, but there is much to explore as well.

Visiting Malecon Tajamar is one of the best things to do in Cancun downtown

Explore the waterfront neighborhood’s many shops and restaurants. Or, take a stroll by the Nichupte Lagoon – you’ll get the best views of Cancun’s skyline here. 

The future of this neighborhood is bright as there are many expansion plans.

Depending on when you visit Malecon Tajamar, you may discover even more than there is now. 

8. Fill Your Belly at Calle Tulipanes

One of the biggest highlights about Downtown Cancun is how affordable it is, especially the food.

Filling your belly at Calle Tulipanes is one of the best things to do in Cancun downtown

Stroll down Calle Tulipanes and discover endless Mexican restaurants serving some of the best food in the region. And most go for a pretty cheap price. 

Just because the food is affordable, it does not mean it skimps on quality or taste.

Try some of the local cuisine, and taste all the Cancun’s Centro has to offer. There is no better way to learn about a local culture than through its food! 

9. Keep the Energy Up in Downtown Cancun’s Nightlife

When the sun goes down, Cancun doesn’t go to sleep. Though the Hotel Zone has more nightclubs, there are some clubs and bars in Cancun’s city center.

Enjoying Cancun’s Nightlife is one of the best things to do in  downtown Cancun

From sports bars to reggaetón bars, there is something for the party-goer to enjoy while here.

There are a few different places to visit, but two of the most popular are: Beach Please and Botanero Nacional. 

Look out for the food stalls that usually stand outside these bars. Mexico is famous for its unique and plentiful street food. And there is nothing better after a drink than something greasy and delicious.

10. Take the Plunge with a MUSA Tour

If you want a small day trip near Downtown Cancun, then you should take the MUSA tour.

This half-museum, half-workshop is an unforgettable Airbnb Experience. MUSA is a workshop for artists that want to create art that will eventually join the underwater gallery in La Isla Mujeres. 

Going on a MUSA Tour is one of the best things to do in Cancun downtown

When you arrive at this unique space, the owner will greet you and teach you all about the process.

Start with learning about the history of the underwater gallery. Then go through the garden and marvel at all the work-in-progress art pieces.

You can ask the museum curator all about the artists who created the works, and about the pieces themselves.

Who knows? Maybe one day you’ll visit Downtown Cancun again and see one of the art pieces underwater!

Looking for more day trips from Cancun? Holbox is a great idea! Here you can read all the things to do in Holbox, an authentic Mexican paradise; and how to go from Cancun to Holbox.

Useful Travel Tips for Visiting Cancun Downtown

Colorful Cancun Letters, Mexico
  • Downtown Cancun is quite safe, but it is best to keep your belongings close to you. When it’s night, try to stick to the main areas where there are more people. It is a safe city, but like most other cities, you have to be cautious.
  • There is a bit of a “taxi mafia,” in Cancun. So, try to avoid taking a taxi when leaving the airport. Even if it is an authorized taxi car. Try using one of the ADO buses. Buying an ADO ticket is easy. You can get a ticket from any of the ADO booths in the airport. The ADO bus is a public airport bus that can take you right to Downtown Cancun.
  • Though Uber is in Downtown Cancun, taxi drivers do not like Uber drivers. They tend to have many clashes, so it’s best to not take an Uber near other taxis. Walking is the best way to get around Centro Cancun, or via Colectivo.  A colectivo is a mini bus that can take you around town for cheap. 
  • Cancun is a modern city, but it is mostly cash based. The airport has many money exchange stores, but their rates are incredibly high. Try and look for money exchange stores outside of the airport for better exchange rates
  • Practice your haggling skills before going shopping in Mexico. Most of the time the goods sold in markets in Mexico are marked up, so you have to haggle your way to a better price. It isn’t easy at first, but you’ll get the hang of it in no time. 

Final Words on the Top things to do in Cancun

Cancun is a wonderful city filled with lots of fun things to do. But many tourists ignore the wonderful area of Downtown Cancun.

This region has spectacular food, vibrant murals, and bustling street markets.

Breakaway from the well-known Hotel Zone, and explore all the wonders of Downtown Cancun. 


Sara Rodríguez

A passionate traveler with a mission: Help you plan your next trip easily and enjoy it to the fullest.

In this travel blog you will find everything you need to get inspired and organize your next adventure. Read more about my story here.

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