Best Free and Affordable Things to Do in Cancun

By - Updated on 02 February 2023

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Best Things to do in Cancun on a Budget

Cancun is a destination with paradisiacal beaches, beautiful jungle landscapes, full of culture, and wonderful tropical weather. Before visiting, you should know that you don't need a big budget to enjoy a memorable experience with friends or family.

Free or very inexpensive activities in Cancun are often the best way to get to know its culture in all its splendor. Some top-rated options for travelers include public beaches, archaeological sites, natural parks, nearby destinations like Isla Mujeres, shopping malls like La Isla Cancun, and more.  

For many, Cancun may seem like a destination with very high prices; however, this is not entirely true. Cancun offers amazing activities and sites that you can do and visit at a very affordable price, even for free.

girl having fun in cancun

A piece of advice we can give you before traveling to Cancun is to have a travel itinerary ready with all the cheap or free activities you like the most, which you can learn about with the help of this post. In addition, we advise you to have prepared the means of transportation in which you will move through Cancun; many travelers choose to book a Private Transportation service when traveling in a group; however, if what you want is more freedom of travel and enjoy hidden corners in Cancun, a Cancun Car Rental may be the ideal choice for you.

Keep in mind that if you want to save on your transportation, you must book your car rental or private transportation service in advance. Rates tend to go up in the high season; however, if you book in the low season, most companies will respect the price established at the time of booking.

To learn more about car rentals in Mexico, do not miss our article Everything You Need to Know Before Renting a Car in Mexico.

Here are some of the best things to do in Cancun for free or at a very affordable price.

1. Visit El Rey and other archaeological sites in Cancun

el rey cancun

El Rey is an ancient Mayan port city that flourished in different stages; it was abandoned before the arrival of Spanish people, and today only remains of it remain. This archaeological site is located at Km 18 of Kukulkan Avenue, the main avenue of the Cancun Hotel Zone.

This is the most significant archaeological site in Cancun, with more than 40 buildings and temples; nearby is San Miguelito, another popular archaeological site in Cancun. El Rey used to be part of a significant population center dedicated to trade and fishing in pre-Hispanic times. Admission is $55 MXN.

San Miguelito is part of the Cancun Mayan Museum, which costs $80 MXN. Here you can see some important artifacts of the Mayan civilization from both archaeological sites.
Another important Mayan archaeological site is located between the Park Royal and Westin Lagunamar hotels; this one has the name of Yamil Lu'um or the Temple of the Scorpion. It is a beautiful temple perched on a promontory.

2. Enjoy Playa Delfines and other Cancun public beaches

girl in cancun beach

By law, all beaches in Mexican territory are public. However, it is not possible to access some, for example, those that are near private properties such as hotels. But you don't have to worry about it, in Cancun, there are many beaches with public access so you can freely enjoy the sun and the sea.

One of the most beautiful beaches in Cancun is Playa Delfines, where you can rent lounge chairs and umbrellas and have a beer or your favorite cocktail to the rhythm of good music. Besides, from this beach you can't see the hotels, so you will be able to appreciate the scenery better.

Other beaches not to be missed during your visit to Cancun are Ballenas Beach, Forum Beach, and Chac-Mool. Some beaches, such as Playa Forum, are not recommended for small children due to their waves and the open sea. On the other hand, on beaches like El Niño and Playa Las Perlas, the waves are calm and safe for children.

3. Stroll through downtown Cancun

mercado 28 cancun

With the help of the method of transportation that best suits you, take a stroll through downtown Cancun. Here you can't miss visiting Mercado 23 and Mercado 28, where you can try a variety of typical Mexican dishes, buy handicrafts and souvenirs, and more.

Near Mercado 23, you will find the Parque de las Palapas, which has a lively atmosphere and places to sit in the shade of the palapas while enjoying the fairs and shows. Don't forget to visit Kabah Urban Park, where you will find some local fauna, such as iguanas and crocodiles.

Between Palapas Park and Kabah, you will find a small planetarium called Ka'Yok, which has some interactive galleries to learn about the stars and Maya knowledge about them.

4. Relax in Isla Mujeres

isla mujeres cancun

With the help of a ferry, Isla Mujeres is only 7 km from the other side of the sea. The trip takes about half an hour and costs at most $50 MXN per person. 

On Isla Mujeres, you can relax on Playa Norte, one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. Also, on the southern tip of the island, there is a sculpture park called Punta Sur, which has some works by contemporary artists and a beautiful piece in honor of Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of childbirth and medicine.

Ixchel was a very revered goddess on this island; before the arrival of the Spaniards, it had many sculptures, statues, and temples dedicated to this feminine deity, which is why it received the name of Isla Mujeres.

5. Visit La Isla Shopping Village and Cancun Lighthouse

cancun lighthouse

In the northern part of the Cancun Hotel Zone, you will find La Isla Cancun shopping mall, where you will find the Cancun Interactive Aquarium, as well as many stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and even a wax museum and a tequila museum. In addition, this mall has outdoor spaces and water canals, which are ideal for a pleasant stroll.

You will find a lighthouse at the end of the Hotel Zone, north of the island. To reach it, you must go to Playa Caracol, at Km 9 of Avenida Kukulkán, and walk along the coast for approximately 3 km. You will have to cross a stretch that belongs to the Ziva hotel, but be careful as there are rocky areas, so wear appropriate footwear. 

The sea near the lighthouse has a beautiful intense turquoise color, and the site is not usually crowded, so you can spend a relaxing time alone contemplating the beauty of the landscape.

As you have seen, you can do many fun things in Cancun on a budget. We hope this information has been helpful and that you enjoy your next trip to Cancun!

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