Heading to Cancun this year? Plan your trip with my tips on the best places to stay in Cancun, including neighbourhoods suited to your budget and vacation goals!
Mexico’s beautiful Yucatan Peninsula home to beautiful sandy beaches and Mayan Ruins. One of the most popular places to base yourself is the city of Cancun, known as a gateway to to the Riviera Maya.
Formerly known as Nizuc or ‘point of grass’ to its Mayan inhabitants, the city now called Cancun means ‘enchanted snake’ or ‘nest of snakes’.
But its far from a nest of snakes. Being the entry point to Mexico – Cancun is a vibrant city that is home to crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, luxurious resorts, and a thriving night scene.
The perfect base to explore the Mayan Riviera, Cancun is also well connected to Isla Mujeres, Tulum, Chichen Itza, Playa del Carmen and more.
Your stay in Cancún will introduce you to Mexican delicacies, nightlife, and street food. It’ll also be the perfect chance to go scuba diving, snorkelling, explore nearby Mayan ruins, go shopping, and join some cultural experiences.
If you’re looking for the best hotels in Cancun to enjoy your stay, read this free guide to the best areas in Cancun and find the perfect accommodation for your budget!
Mexico Travel Restrictions 2022
Mexico is open to most travellers again, including American tourists. However you do need proof of your COVID-19 vaccination(s) or a negative test result before being allowed entry.
Many hotels, attractions, and private tours are open with new health & safety protocols in place, and you still have to follow certain guidelines.
You can find the latest updates on traveling to Mexico here.
Best Places To Stay In Cancun Guide
Top Neighbourhoods In Cancun
Zona Hotelera is Cancun’s main tourist district where you’ll find the higher-end resorts that cater to tourists. Stay here and you’ll find restaurants, shopping malls, and a happening night-life scene. Extending all the way from Puerto Cancun to Punta Nizuc. It’s also where some of the best beaches in Cancun are located.
El Centro (Downtown) Cancun
The place to be if you want to feel the heartbeat of the city. Watching busy locals go about their days, eating street food at stalls, or visiting affordable night clubs and restaurants. El Centro offers more affordable budget accommodation options than other parts of Cancun.
At the far North end of the Zona Hotelera sits Playa Mujeres (Costa Mujeres) – a newer developed luxury resort area of Cancun. A bit closer to El Centro and Puerto Juarez, this area is not as crowded as Zona Hotelera. If you’re looking for a bit more peace and quiet on a holiday with the family, Playa Mujeres is a top choice.
Situated about 2 km from the centre of Cancun, Puerto Juarez is another good place to stay in Cancun if you’re on a budget. It’s quieter than the city centre, but not as touristy as Zona Hotelera. It’s also the perfect place to stay if you plan to visit Isla Mujeres, since the Ultramar Ferry to the island leaves from here twice and hour.
Zona Hotelera – Where To Stay For First Time Visitors
Luxury Hotels In The Hotel Zone ($200+ USD)
- Ritz Carlton Cancun – The luxury AAA Five Diamond Award winner, the Ritz Carlton is within walking distance of popular beaches Playa Marlin and Playa Ballenas. Guests will enjoy the 2 swimming pools, Kayanta Spa, 7 onsite restaurants, kids club and a teens club. Elegantly decorated rooms with the best amenities, iPod docking stations, Egyptian cotton sheets, private beach cabanas, what more can you ask for?
- Nizuc Resort & Spa – Situated on Boulevard Kukulcan in Zona Hotelera’s Punta Nizuc, the Nizuc Resort is one of the best places to stay in Cancun. Guests at this 29-acre beachfront resort can soak in the most luxurious environment catering to all their needs. Enjoy access to 6 international restaurants, 2 swimming pools, a top-grade fitness centre, spa and wellness treatments, thermal experiences, free parking, free Wi-Fi, and the best amenities.
Mid-Range Hotels In The Hotel Zone ($150 – $190 USD)
- Renaissance Cancun Resort – Located in the Puerto Cancun section of Zona Hotelera, the Renaissance Cancun is within walking distance of the Marina Town Centre, restaurants and a shopping centre. There’s a free shuttle to the beach, a sauna, infinity pool, beach club, and spacious rooms and suites with every amenity you need.
- Marriott Cancun Resort – Set on the beachfront of the Caribbean sea, the large spacious rooms at the Marriott are perfect for a luxurious stay at not-so-luxurious prices. Guests have access to 8 international restaurants including Japanese and Thai, free Wi-Fi, fitness centre, and the top amenities. Day care programs to take care of kids too.
Budget Hotels In The Hotel Zone ($50 – $100 USD)
- Mayan Monkey Hotel & Hostel – Previously known as Senor Frog, and right in the heart of Zona Hotelera, the Mayan Monkey Hostel is within walking distance of beaches, restaurants and bars. You can either choose from dorm rooms, double rooms, or a suite. Free Wi-Fi, free private parking, barbecue facilities, a lounge, bar, and pool make this hostel perfect!
El Centro Neighbourhood – Cancun On A Budget
Mid-Range Hotels In El Centro ($150 – $190 USD)
- Selina Cancun Downtown – Within walking distance of the Cancun Bus Station and Cristo Rey Church, this Selina Hotel offers a swimming pool, free Wi-Fi and free onsite parking. Pets are allowed at a charge, and guests have access to a shared kitchen, breakfast at the onsite restaurant, as well as access to a co-working space. Whether you choose the dorms, apartments or rooms, you’ll enjoy your stay at this colourful hotel.
- El Rey Del Caribe – Located right in the heart of downtown Cancun, this eco-hotel has a hot tub, terrace, swimming pool and garden area. They have solar water heaters, and recycle all waste water, and use rain-water collection systems. Just one mile from Cancun’s famous beaches.
Budget Hotels In El Centro ($50 – $100 USD)
- Casa Blanca Boutique – You’ll love the bright and colourful rooms and furnishings at this El Centro bed & breakfast which allows pets on request. Guests have access to the onsite pool, continental breakfasts, rooms with balconies, and friendly advice from an accessible host. And in keeping with its organic mantra even the coffee here is organic!
- Gaia Studios – The rooms at Gaia come with kitchens, flat-screen TVs and a private bathroom. Some rooms have air conditioning and/or a balcony. Located in a nice area of downtown Cancun, close to the family-friendly park “Parque las Palapas”. They also offer airport shuttle service for an extra fee.
- Nomads Hotel – Featuring a rooftop pool and huge bar, this hostel is set 3-minutes from the main bus stop in Downtown Cancun. Apart from free Wi-Fi and parking, this adults-only hostel offers access to a shared kitchen, loungers, and is within walking distance of good nightlife.
Puerto Juarez – Cancun’s Newest Area
Luxury Hotels In Puerto Juarez ($200+ USD)
- Dreams Vista Cancun – A super nice luxury resort in Cancun’s Puerto Juarez area, it boasts a private beach, huge swimming pool, children’s playground, fitness centre, and free Wi-Fi. They have a spa, golf course, and water slides too.
- Planet Hollywood Resort Cancun – This fancy all-inclusive resort is adults only, and just a 10-minute walk away from Cancun’s Playa Blanca beach. The offer free parking, multiple outdoor swimming pools, bars, a spa and a fitness centre. There’s also an in-house movie theatre.
Budget Hotels In Puerto Juarez ($50 – $100 USD)
- Hotel Del Sol – Offering free continental breakfasts at their onsite restaurant, Hotel Del Sol is just 450 meters from Playa Blanca and a world of water activities. The affordable compact bedrooms include free Wi-Fi and air conditioning, and has the best amenities for a budget hotel.
Costa Mujeres – Luxury Beach & Golf Resorts
Luxury Hotels In Costa Mujeres ($200+ USD)
- Secrets Playa Mujeres – An adults-only all-inclusive resort offering Junior Suites and ocean-front Master Suites. They have a private beach, luxuriously decorated rooms, 7 international restaurants, an elegant spa, top-notch fitness centre, and everything you need for a fantastic holiday. It’s pet-friendly too!
FAQ: Top Cancun Questions
What’s The Best Neighbourhood In Cancun?
It depends on what you’re after. If you want to save money, and see the “real” Cancun, the El Centro neighborhood is where you want to stay. If you’re visiting Cancun to party, or stay on the beach, Cancun’s popular Hotel Zone is where most people stay.
Where To Stay In Cancun For Nightlife?
Cancun’s top nightclubs and attractions are located around the Hotel Zone (Zona Hotelera). Specifically the Punta Cancun area.
Is It Safe To Visit Cancun Right Now?
Mexico has its share of drug cartel problems, but overall Cancun is pretty safe compared to other regions of Mexico. Petty crime like theft can be an issue, so don’t leave stuff in your rental car or unattended on the beach!
|Travel Planning Resources For Mexico
Check out my travel gear guide to help you start packing for your trip.
Book Your Flight
Ready to fly? Here’s how I find the cheapest airline flights.
Rent A Car
Discover Cars is a great site for comparing car prices to find a deal.
Learn how I save money booking hotels & vacation apartments.
Protect Your Trip
Don’t forget travel insurance! Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read why you should always carry travel insurance.
This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.