Is Cancún Worth a Visit or It Is an Extremely Overrated Tourist Trap?

by Tsvete Popp

This post is part of the series Mexico

Other posts in this series:

  1. Is Cancún Worth a Visit or It Is an Extremely Overrated Tourist Trap? (Current)
  2. Things to Know Before You Visit Chichen Itza in Mexico
  3. The Best Cenotes Near Valladolid You Can’t Miss ~ Mexico

With its 50 years of modern history, Cancún is one of the youngest cities in Mexico. Despite this fact, Cancún has become one of the most visited and important tourism hotspots in Central America. For many people, Cancún is the dream destination. In fact, the weather is good throughout the whole year, the Caribbean white sand beaches are gorgeous. And if you are searching for a good party – this is probably your place to be!



But, if you are looking for the best things to do in Cancún, Google suggestions would be – “visit Chichen Itza”, “Visit Tulum”, “Visit Coba”, etc. And I agree with Google! The best things to do in Cancún, are actually not in Cancún! All the great spots and surrounding areas you should visit when travelling to Yucatan, can be visited without staying in Cancún.





Cancún has gotten a bad reputation during the last couple of years and you will probably find very mixed reviews online. And there are many reasons for that! I, personally, think that Cancún is one of the most overrated places I’ve been to, but of course, there are reasons why you might really enjoy a visit to Cancún as well. If you’re considering visiting Cancún, you should be aware of the following facts:


  • Cancún feels more American than Mexican
  • Cancún is too overpriced: Be aware of booking too many activities!
  • The sellers are very aggressive and too cheeky!
  • The Mexican culture is not authentic!
  • Cancún is overcrowded and overbuilt – it feels not like the tropical heaven, but like the concrete heaven.
  • … and not to forget – it is the heaven if you are looking for All Inclusive offers or party …
  • The coastline of Cancún is suffering a lot (at the moment) from seagrass
  • The beaches are not the typical tropical paradise and they are NOT secluded
  • Cancún is a great party spot, but not the best place for chilling.
  • Everybody tries to make money out of ANYTHING!


Cancun Sign

Can you spot the line waiting to get a photo with the Cancun Sign??? Isn’t it ridiculous?

Cancun Sign

Cancún Sign


We flew from Munich to Cancún and we spent two days in the city in order to get used to the weather and the new time zone. This was the only reason why we stayed there for 72 hours.  The two days were enough to realize Cancún is not our place to be. The strip of Cancún felt like the cheapest version of Las Vegas. There were many drunk American everywhere. The beaches are wide, but overcrowded for my taste. Everyone tried to make money out of our visit, no matter if it was parking, buying something or just having some lunch. The two days were arduous! The best feeling was leaving Cancún after the 72 hours of constant disappointment …



I’m trying to stay fair with Cancún as with any destination I’m visiting. The city of Cancún is not my place where I want to spend my holidays, but this doesn’t mean you won’t like it. It depends on the type of traveller. If you are the “All Inclusive” type of a person, or you don’t mind touristy destinations, or dealing with overpriced activities doesn’t bother you – there is a good chance you will like Cancún. But if you are looking for the real culture, adventure, nature, and the real vibe of Mexico, it is better to leave the city as soon as possible after landing, I guess!


Main Strip, Avenida Kukulkan in Cancún

Main Strip, Avenida Kukulkan in Cancún


Here are some interesting facts about Cancún you probably didn’t know:


  • In 1970, Cancún was home to only three residents. Today over half a million people live in Cancún … without counting tourists!
  • Cancún is actually an island and the famous Hotel Zone is a peninsula on a peninsula.
  • Before Cancún got its name, it used to be called Ekab (Black Earth). The word Cancún is Mayan and means “Nest of Snakes”.
  • The beachfront of the Hotel Zone, also called Zona Hotelera, faces the Caribbean Sea on one side, and the Nichupte Lagoon on the other.
  • Zona Hotelera is home to 22.5 km of white sand beaches.
  • All beaches are public, but (!) the strip is so overbuilt so it was difficult to find a path to the beach.
  • Before the bridges Calinda and Nizuc were built, Cancún was separated from the mainland.
  • Cancún and the Riviera Maya region are home to over 47.000 weddings every year.
  • The international airport is the second busiest airport in Mexico and Latin America.
  • The white sand beaches are made from crushed coral from the Great Mayan Barrier Reef.
  • The Great Mayan Barrier Reef in Cancún is the second largest coral reef in the world after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
  • Almost 12 km of an artificial white sand coastline were added during the last couple of years.



Accommodations in Mexico:

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Enjoy the day!




*This post contains Affiliate Links. I only recommend high-quality items and services I am confident about. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

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