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3 Day Cancun Itinerary For an Epic Adventure in Mexico

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You don’t need to spend long in Cancun to have an amazing time which is part of the reason as to why we created this 3 day Cancun itinerary.

If it’s the first time you’re visiting Mexico then Cancun is a great introduction to this phenomenal country. Whilst it is not authentically Mexican, Cancun is a wonderful place to visit for relaxation, partying and sightseeing.

In particular, it is a really great place to visit as a base to explore other areas around Yucatan. This is one of the reasons why Cancun is worth visiting because you will get to explore a lot of the Yucatan easily from here especially if you’re backpacking.

Within this guide, you will find a recommended 3 day Cancun itinerary so that you can follow this and take some stress off of planning your trip.

Ruins in the Chichen Itza Park.

We’ve also left some tips on how many days we recommend you spending in Cancun as well as alternative things to do within 3 days in Cancun so that you can adapt the itinerary to suit you.

For our money-conscious travellers, at the bottom of this post, you will find a guide on how much money it will cost for a trip to Cancun for 3 days and some of the best places to stay in Cancun too.

It truly is a wonderful area of Mexico and if you’re backpacking around Mexico and planning to spend a few days in Cancun then don’t forget to try and head to Isla Mujeres for a few days too!

Quick Glance: 3 Day Cancun Itinerary

Day 1

Morning – Arrive and then go relax at one of the beaches

Afternoon – Enjoy some lunch at Fred’s before going on a jungle speedboat tour

Evening – Choose from either having dinner at Mextreme and enjoying a live show or having dinner at Cancun Lighthouse Restaurant before partying the night away at Coco Bongos.

Day 2

Morning & Afternoon – take a day trip to Chichen Itza

EveningCancun Taco Tour

Day 3

Morning & Afternoon – Enjoy breakfast at your hotel or hostel and then head to XCaret for some adventure. Enjoy an ATV & Ziplining experience as well as jumping into some cenotes.

Late Afternoon – Downtown Cancun tour as well as enjoying a late lunch.

Evening – If you’re travelling as a couple then head out on a romantic dinner cruise on a Spanish Galeon. However, if you’re travelling solo or as a family then go on an Xochimilco Boat Cruise.

Amy with the Cancun sign.

3 Days in Cancun Full Itinerary

Day 1

On your first day in Cancun, we left the itinerary quite relaxed so that it can be adjusted easily depending on what time you arrive in Cancun.

No matter where you’re travelling to, we often suggest spending the first day relaxing and slowly exploring the area and getting your bearings.


  • Arrive

Arrive into Cancun, check into your hotel and drop your baggage off at your accommodation before freshening up. If you’re arriving into Cancun airport then it will take you between 30 minutes to 1 hour to transfer to Cancun downtown or the hotel zone.

If you arrive early into Cancun then you will want to go and enjoy some breakfast too. For anyone staying in Cancun’s hotel zone, enjoy some delicious breakfast at Mar de Miel Zona Hotelera. Alternatively, if you’re staying in Downtown Cancun then you can enjoy some tasty brunch at Rooster Mero.

  • Relax at one of the beaches

Once you’ve enjoyed some breakfast, get yourself straight to one of the beaches and relax. This is one of the best ways to start off your vacation so that you have plenty of energy to sightsee for the rest of your days in Cancun.

There are plenty of different beaches to choose from so it will depend on what kind of vibe you’re looking for. We recommend taking a trip to the popular Playa Delfines at least once before leaving Cancun.

Another beach that is worth a visit include Playa Tortugas which is one of the ways that you can get to Isla Mujeres from Cancun.

Playa Delfines in Cancun

Other beaches to mention include Playa Caracol and Playa Marlin. No matter what beach you choose, spend some time sunbathing and basking on the glorious golden sand.


After spending your morning relaxing in Cancun, you will want to enjoy some lunch before heading out to do some exploration.

In this section of the itinerary, we recommend going on a speed boat jungle tour in Cancun so that you can see some unique sights in Cancun on your very first day!

  • Lunch

If you’re like us and only want to have a small bite to eat at lunch then it is worth considering getting some food from one of the street vendors.

Alternatively, consider stopping off at Fred’s for some of the best seafood in Cancun. You can enjoy some cocktails and delicious seafood with some of the most beautiful views of the marina.

  • Cancun Jungle Speed Boat tour

Depending on what time you finish lunch will depend on what time you go on this speed boat tour. If you prefer a later lunch then you will be able to join this tour at 12:00pm. Alternatively, you can join in after your lunch by catching the 03:00pm jungle tour.

On this tour you will be taken out into the jungle around the  Nichupte Lagoon. It is a great opportunity to take in some of the sights and look out for wildlife.

If you’re travelling to Cancun as a family then this is a great activity to do in Cancun with kids. After your jungle speed boat tour, you will be given the opportunity to do some snorkelling and look out for some of the MUSA underwater statues at  Punta Nizuc.

This is a really fun introduction to Cancun and you’ll get to experience a bit more authenticity of Mexico. It is worth trying to get this tour booked in advance so that you are guaranteed a spot.

It will last around 2 hours so this is a great opportunity to explore around Cancun and get to experience the Mexican jungle in a unique tour.

One of the lizards in Cancun.


For your first evening in Cancun, you have two different options to choose from depending on how tired you’re feeling and what kind of vibe you’re looking for.

Option 1
  • Dinner at Mextreme & enjoy a live show

Whilst it is not traditional Mexican food, visiting Mextreme is a great place to visit and get some good tex mex food. One of the best parts about this restaurant is that they also have live shows on each night.

Dinner and entertainment, what is not to love? If you’re feeling exhausted after your journey to Cancun and busy day then this is the perfect option for you.

You will get to enjoy a mariachi band and some delicious Mexican style food. From tacos, burritos and fajitas you will be stuck on what you want to try!

Option 2

If you’ve got plenty of energy or maybe you’re jetlagged and know you’re not going to sleep then why not go out and enjoy some of the nightlife that Cancun has to offer? All this after enjoying a tasty meal at a restaurant with some stunning views!

This is a great spot to enjoy some delicious food with a beautiful view. Try to head here before sunset so that you can amplify your views with your meal even more.

If you’re looking to get some great snaps for Instagram then this is the best place to go. There is a Cancun sign nearby with a view of the water. You’ll also get to enjoy some tasty cocktails and delicious seafood at this restaurant.

Some evenings there is also some live music so you will be in for a pleasant surprise and enjoy a nice peaceful evening. This is also one of the most romantic places for dinner in Cancun for couples.

  • Party at Coco Bongos

Once you’ve enjoyed your dinner, if you still have some energy left then hit Cancun’s hotel zone for some nightlife.

A lot of people head to Cancun for Spring Break so if you’re visiting during this time then the strip will be absolutely buzzing. One of the best places to go in Cancun is Coco Bongos and you will find that it gets absolutely packed.

If you’re planning to make a trip to Coco Bongos then you may want to consider purchasing one of their party packages too as it can get very busy.

Best Coco Bongo Packages

Day 2

Whether you’re waking up for your second day in Cancun with a slight hangover after partying at Coco Bongo or you’re feeling refreshed after an early night, today is going to be a good day.

One of the main things to do when you’re visiting Cancun is to visit Chichen Itza. If you’re spending some time backpacking around Mexico and not visiting Valladolid or Merida then Cancun is one of the best spots to get to Chichen Itza.

Mayan Ruins in the Chichen Itza park.

Morning & Afternoon

  • Chichen Itza Day Trip

Wake up early and grab some breakfast to go so that you can make the most of your day. If you’re spending only 3 days in Cancun then you will want to make sure that you visit Chichen Itza before leaving.

You have a few different options on how to get to Chichen Itza from Cancun. We would recommend using a day tour if possible as often you will have a trip to a cenote included as well as entrance and transportation to Chichen Itza.

Alternatively, if you’ve rented a car in Mexico then this is a really easy way to get to Chichen Itza and you can choose when you want to arrive and leave too.

When you’re visiting make sure that you check out our guide to Chichen Itza before you go so you know what to expect and how to get there if you’re going to get the bus instead of taking a tour.

El Castillo is something that you need to add on your 3 day Cancun itinerary.

If you’re spending most of the day at Chichen Itza then either bring some food with you or eat at the restaurant on site. If you’ve booked a day tour then often lunch will be included with the price.

Whether you’re taking a guided tour or not, this will take up pretty much your whole day as it takes around 3 hours to get there so prefer for a long journey. On the plus side, if you do have a touch of a hangover then you can always rest on the bus before getting to Chichen Itza!


Take your tastebuds on a ride with this incredible Taco tour within Cancun. Before joining this tour, make sure that you have your plans with Chichen Itza ironed out so that you can make the taco tour on time.

If you think that your timings may be a little short then swap out this evening itinerary with the one from the day before.

On this taco tour you will stop off at 5 different places and get to try some incredible authentic Mexican food including Cochinita Pibil, al pastor tacos and churros.

In our opinion, this is one of those tours that you absolutely cannot miss and what is even better is that it also includes drinks and a trip to the market at night.

Day 3

If this is your last and final day in Cancun then you really want to make it count. Head out for some adventure at XCaret and get your adrenaline pumping.

Even though this is your last day in Cancun, it is one of the best days that you will spend before heading back home or onto your next stop.

If you’re spending some more time in Mexico then you may want to go to Isla Mujeres as it is worth visiting for some relaxation, partying and water activities!

Morning & Afternoon

Enjoy some delicious breakfast at your hotel / hostel or nearby before heading out for the day on an adventure. Whether you’re travelling to Mexico solo, as a couple or with the family then this will be a great day out for everyone.

However, in particular if you’re travelling to Cancun with kids then one of the ultimate things that you can do is take a trip to XCaret. Your family will absolutely love this place and the amount of activities that they can do!

Amy ziplining in the jungle in Mexico.


There are quite a few different XCaret parks but we recommend in particular visiting the original XCaret or Xel-Ha. Both of them have different perks so have a little look at the activities they offer before visiting to see which one is best for you.

Before leaving Cancun, you absolutely need to go and ride ATVs and try ziplining in the Mexican jungle. This was one of the best things Amy done when she was in Cancun and something that you should experience too!

This tour usually lasts around 4 hours so it is a great way to spend your morning and early afternoon. If you want to spend a bit longer at the XCaret park then there are plenty of other activities to choose from including exploring some of the cenotes around Cancun too.

Late Afternoon

  • Downtown Cancun

If you decide to leave XCaret after your ziplining and ATV tour then you will have some time to spare. Head into downtown Cancun to have a wander and explore.

When Amy was staying at the Mayan Monkey Hostel, they offered free tours of downtown Cancun so this is also something worth considering as it was a really good tour!

If you want to go on a self-guided tour of Cancun then make sure that you check out some of the incredible street art across the downtown, it truly is phenomenal.

Downtown Cancun tour showing bottles of the different tequila and liquer in the international jewelery store.


On your last evening in Cancun, there are two options that you can choose from which will depend on who you’re travelling to Cancun with and what you feel like doing for your last night.

If you’re travelling to Cancun as a couple then we recommend choosing option 1 as this is a really romantic experience and perfect for couples.

However, if you’re heading to Mexico solo or as a family then option 2 is a great choice for you.

Option 1Romantic Dinner Cruise on a Spanish Galeon

Head out on an ultra romantic evening cruise with dinner included. With this cruise you will be able to see Cancun from the water in a unique setting and watch the sun set.

Another perk with this cruise is that it also includes a main meal of either lobster, steak, surf ‘n’ turf or a vegetarian alternative. Alcoholic beverages are also included with this tour so you can end your last evening in Cancun with a bang.

With live saxophone music, this is the epic setting for a romantic evening and would be one of the best places to pop the question if you’re thinking about proposing in Cancun too.

Option 2 – Dinner on a Xochimilco Boat

For any solo travellers or families with older children, you will absolutely love this Mexican fiesta cruise. Dinner is included with the cruise which will give you a taster of some authentic Mexican food.

You will also have a mariachi band on board so there is plenty of entertainment provided as well. If you don’t have time to visit Xochimilco in Mexico then this is a great way to enjoy a similar experience.

This is a really great fun activity to enjoy your last night in Cancun. You will get to meet other people as you will all be sitting on one long table so it is an extremely sociable event.

What to do in Cancun for 3 Days

If there are some things that you want to swap out on the itinerary that we made above then don’t worry we’ve got you covered. There are a lot of different things to do in Cancun so it is hard to fit them all in 3 days.

Below you will find other things to do in Cancun within 3 days so that you can change the itinerary to suit your needs!

Day Trip to Isla Mujeres

If you don’t have any time before or after visiting Cancun then you may want to squeeze in a day trip to Isla Mujeres before you leave.

This is a beautiful island with plenty to offer especially if you want to enjoy the beautiful sandy Playa Norte, explore the town in Isla Mujeres and try some snorkelling.

Isla Mujeres sign.

We’ve created a guide with some tips for visiting Isla Mujeres so be sure to check this out before visiting the island. Amy ended up spending 3 weeks there when it was only meant to be a few days so it is safe to say the island hooks you in!

However, if you have time after visiting Cancun then we recommend spending a couple of days there and maybe even visiting some of the dive sites in Isla Mujeres.

Best Day Trips from Cancun to Isla Mujeres

Explore the Cenotes

Cenote in Cancun

There are plenty of cenotes to explore around Cancun so it is worth taking some time to explore them.

You will find open-cenotes and underground cenotes so you can choose which you would prefer or try a mixture of the two.

Some of the cenotes we recommend visiting include Ik Kil, Cenote Azul, Gran Cenote and Cenote Zacil Ha. If you’re renting a car in Mexico then this will be much easier to get around these sites.

Best Cenote Tours from Cancun

Scuba Diving

Even though you’re only in Cancun for 3 days, you may want to take some time out to enjoy some scuba diving.

Cancun is a beautiful place to go diving and you can also see the underwater museum whilst you’re at it which is unique to Cancun and Isla Mujeres.

Boat out at sea between Isla Mujeres and Cancun

There are plenty of amazing dive sites around Cancun so it is worth considering doing some scuba diving. Depending on the season you’re diving, you can often expect to see turtles, manta rays, sharks, barracudas and plenty of stunning marine fish.

Scuba Diving Tours in Cancun

Ventura Park

If you’re travelling to Cancun as a family then visiting Ventura Park should be at the top of your list. Alternatively, if you’re like us and just want to be big kids for the day then you will enjoy it too!

Ventura Park hosts the only rollercoaster in Cancun but there are plenty of other things to do. You can enjoy the amusement park, go karting, arcade games, the water park and much more!

Swim with Whale Sharks

Whale sharks

Before you leave Cancun, if you’re visiting between June – September you have to tick off swimming with whale sharks from your bucket list.

There are a few locations that you can experience this within Mexico but if you miss out on this in Cancun then you can also snorkel with whale sharks in Isla Mujeres too.

These friendly giants of the sea are absolutely magnificent and it is an incredible day trip from Cancun that you should not miss!

Best Whale Shark Tours in Cancun

How much is a trip to Cancun for 3 Days?

Generally speaking, you can keep your trip to Cancun on a budget if you are savvy about it.

Depending on where you’re travelling from to get to Cancun will dictate how much your flights will cost. Due to this you can search your flights on the form below so that you can see how much it will cost from your local airport.

For anyone that is visiting Cancun as a solo traveller or on a budget, you may want to choose to stay in a hostel as they are much cheaper.

Depending on the hostel you choose, it can cost you between $210MXN – $420MXN (£10GBP – £20GBP / $13 – $25USD) per person, per night for a dorm room. This can total between $630MXN – $1,259MXN (£30GBP – £60GBP / $38USD – $76USD)  for a 3 night stay.

However, if you would rather stay in a hotel then this can increase the costs significantly. You can expect to pay between $3,147MXN – $8,392MXN (£150GBP – £400GBP / $189USD – $505USD) for a well-rated hotel in Cancun for 3 nights.

In terms of activities, if you want to pay for activities separately following this itinerary then you would be looking at the cost of $6,294MXN – $8,392MXN (£300GBP – £400GBP / $379USD – $505USD). However, that is if you’re following this particular itinerary but you can budget this much more by taking advantage of the free things Cancun has to offer.

dinner at tex mex

If you’re on a budget then you should be able to cut this down for between $3,147MXN – $6,294MXN (£150GBP – £300GBP / $189USD – $379USD) at least. Alternatively, you can consider purchasing a Go City All Inclusive pass which has most of these activities included.

For anyone that chooses to go down the Go City All Inclusive Pass route, it will cost you $4,055MXN (£193GBP / $244USD) for 3 days where you can go on unlimited tours from the list.

When it comes to food in Cancun, you should look to budget between $498MXN – $997MXN (£24GBP – £48GBP / $30USD – $60USD) per person per day. If you are on a budget then you can cut costs even further by taking advantage of street food and purchasing groceries from a local supermarket.

Hostel for 3 Nights – $630MXN – $1,259MXN (£30GBP – £60GBP / $38USD – $76USD)

Hotel for 3 Nights – $3,147MXN – $8,392MXN (£150GBP – £400GBP / $189USD – $505USD)

Activities – $6,294MXN – $8,392MXN (£300GBP – £400GBP / $379USD – $505USD) for this itinerary if paying separately or $4,055MXN (£193GBP / $244USD) for 3 days all inclusive Go City Cancun pass.

Food – between $498MXN – $997MXN (£24GBP – £48GBP / $30USD – $60USD)

Is 3 Days Enough in Cancun?

Souvenirs available for purchase in the Chichen Itza Park.

There are a lot of things to do in Cancun so it will depend how many things you want to do before leaving Cancun.

3 days is perfectly fine for you to be able to get a good taste of what Cancun has to offer and visit some of the main attractions.

However, to really be able to see and do a lot of the things in Cancun, you will want to spend between 5 days or even 7 days to make the most of it.

This is especially true if you want to spend a whole day at Ventura Park, do some Scuba diving, as well as take a day trip to Isla Mujeres and Chichen Itza.

Where to Stay in Cancun for 3 Days

Really great hostel with an amazing social atmosphere located in Cancun’s hotel zone. It is also perfect for digital nomads with a business centre for those working on the go.

If you would rather stay in a hotel then the Residence Inn is a perfect choice which is also located in Cancun’s hotel zone. You will be close to all the action but also can sleep in peace at night.

Now You’re Ready For Your Trip to Cancun

In this 3 day Cancun Itinerary, we’ve given you what to do in Cancun in 3 days, where to stay, how much it is going to cost and tips on getting your tours booked.

Cancun is an amazing place to visit and if definitely worth a visit even though it is not the most authentic part of Mexico. If you’re looking for sun, sea, adventure and exploration than Cancun is a great spot to visit.

Locals dressed  up in traditional Mayan wear.

With 3 days in Cancun, you will be able to see the majority of the main attractions. However, if you want to make the most of your time in Cancun then we would recommend visiting between 5 – 7 days.

No matter how long you spend in Cancun, you will have a great time exploring. Check out our other Cancun and Mexico resources below to help plan your trip!

Mexico Bucket List

FAQs for 3 Days in Cancun

Is Cancun worth it for 3 days?

Absolutely! You can do plenty of things in Cancun over the course of 3 days. The best thing to do is to plan your time efficiently and organise the things you would like to do in advance so that you can use your time wisely.

Which part of Cancun is best to stay?

It completely depends on what you are wanting to get from Cancun. If you’re looking to enjoy Cancun’s nightlife then you will absolutely want to stay in Cancun’s Hotel Zone. However, if you’re travelling on a budget and looking to do more exploration then Cancun’s Downtown area may be the best area to stay for you.

What should a tourist not do in Cancun?

Do not expect Cancun to be an authentic area of Mexico. Most tourists come to Cancun and leave thinking that this is what the rest of Mexico is like. It is an Americanised version of Mexico but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit. Try to take it with a pinch of salt. Keep your belongings within your sights at all time and most importantly do not sit around and do nothing, head out into Cancun and say yes to every adventure!

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