Your ULTIMATE Guide for Where to Stay in Cancun → With a Map

cancun mexico

Cancun is a Paradise on Earth and the perfect place for a spoiled getaway if you love laying on superb beaches, partying, drinking until the sun rises and tasting amazing gastronomy. There’s no wonder why it has become one of the main destinations for Spring Break!

Are you heading there soon? That’s amazing, get ready for the vacation of a lifetime! But if you want to create the perfect holiday for yourself, you might be wondering where to stay in Cancun, right? Well, my friend, this is quite an important question and I’m here to help you find your answer quickly and easily!

Cancun is located on the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, in South-East Mexico. So get ready for some unbelievable beaches and some incredible hotels, as well as some more affordable options. In this article, I’ll explain everything about the 3 best areas in Cancun, as well as some awesome bonuses about Puerto Morelos and accommodation close to Cancun airport. And yes, there are going to be plenty of all-inclusive hotels in this article! 😉

All you have to do is pick the right one for you, depending on your travel style and budget and book it in advance because hotels here really do go quick!

Are you ready? Let’s find out about the best neighborhoods and hotels in Cancún!

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If you’re in a hurry…

If you need to make a quick decision and book immediately, I got your back, check this list with the best hotels located in the central Hotel Zone, perfect place to be for first-timers in Cancun:

cancun mexico, where to stay in cancun

  1. Zona Hotelera – for first-timers
  2. Punta Cancun – for nightlife
  3. Cancun Downtown – on a budget

Cancun is divided into different neighborhoods, each of them with its own charm and advantages. But which one of them is perfect for YOU? This is what I’m going to explain below!

In short, I am recommending three different areas. Zona Hotelera Cancun is a long strip of beach and the place where you’ll find tons of all-inclusive luxurious hotels, and fine dining restaurants.

Punta Cancun is the Northern part of Zona Hotelera and it’s more alive, the ideal spot for party animals, as there are tons of great clubs and bars here.

A bit to the West there’s El Centro (also known as Downtown Cancun) a.k.a. the center of the city, a residential area, and the place where you’ll find more affordable accommodation options. Go there for an authentic atmosphere, traditional restaurants and charming streets.

Now that everything’s a bit more clear to you, let’s find out more about these areas and my hotel recommendations in each of them, broken down by budget:

1. Zona Hotelera – where to stay for first-time visitors

where to stay in cancun, Zona Hotelera

Zona Hotelera is the perfect place to stay in Cancun for first-timers and for people who want to spend their vacation on the beach or to party like crazy!

Zona Hotelera is a looong strip of beach (24 km, to be more precise) that was created with tourists in mind. It basically offers all the best things that Cancun has to offer: superb, golden-sand beaches (the color of the sea is absolutely amazing, I don’t think I have seen it so rich blue anywhere else!). World-class restaurants, water activities, shops and plenty of bars. There’s always something happening here, so you won’t get bored, not even for a second!

This is also the place where you’ll find tons of all-inclusive resorts where you can feel spoiled and completely relaxed during your holiday, all while enjoying some beautiful, turquoise sea views. Another advantage is that El Rey Archaeological Zone is super close, a bit south in this area!

In short, Zona Hotelera (which means “Hotel Zone”) is perfect for all types of travelers, regardless if you want to relax, to dance or to try some adventurous water sports (snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing etc.) in Nichupté lagoon, for example. It’s also easy to get around the city and to and from the airport, so basically all your needs will be well-catered here.

Now that you’re convinced that this is your place to be, I will share with you my best hotels in Cancun Hotel Zone:

Luxury (US$200 and up)

best hotels in cancun

  • Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun – All Inclusive – Adults Only – This superb 5-star hotel in Cancun is the perfect place to get a royal treatment! It’s a super cool all-inclusive resort that has its own private beach and it’s actually rated in top 100 Hotels in the World! Featuring a luxury spa complex, it’s one of the best hotels in Cancun for couples!
  • Nizuc Resort & Spa – Here’s another amazing 5-star resort that awaits with an outdoor pool, 6 on-site restaurants, on-site spa and many other luxurious amenities! Needless to say that the rooms are simply beautiful, just like the entire property!

By the way, if you want more recommendations for all-inclusive hotels in Cancun, head over to the bonus section below where I’m giving you my top 10 selection!

Middle-priced (US$150 – US$190)

  • La Villa du Golf à Cancun Hotel Boutique – This amazing 4-star boutique hotel boasts incredible service and unbeatable prices, considering its perfect location in Zona Hotelera! Choose this hotel if you want beautiful rooms, a 24-hour outdoor pool and more!
  • Residence Inn by Marriott – What more do you need than a restaurant and an on site swimming pool when vacationing in Mexico? A place to relax and some privacy you say? Well Residence Inn has just that with individual studios featuring a modern design and well fitted kitchen!

Budget (up to US$100)

Yes, it’s true, there are even some affordable accommodation options in Zona Hotelera! Here are two of the best ones for you:

  • Cancún Suites Apartments – Situated in Cancún Hotel Zone, this great apartment offers rooms with air conditioning and a private balcony. I really recommend this for great value for price, and the host is great!

Things to do in Zona Hotelera:

2. Punta Cancun – where to stay in Cancun for nightlife

cancun city, where to stay in cancun, zona hotelera

Wondering where to stay in Cancun to party? Punta Cancun is basically the Northern side of the Hotel Zone (Zona Hotelera) and it’s THE place to be if you want to be surrounded by crazy cool clubs and bars! It’s the part of Cancun that never sleeps, so it’s ideal for night owls and party animals.

I definitely recommend it to people who want a vibrant vacation, full of dancing during the night and laying on the beach during the day. Trust me, you won’t even know what to choose from all the bars and clubs here! There is also a very good selection of fine dining restaurants nearby and the white sand beaches are just great.

Ah, and by the way, the famous Coco Bongo (the ultimate destination for fun, musicals and cool shows) is located in this area. Definitely a must-visit!

But Punta Cancun is not all about nightlife (even though it pretty much is), but you’ll also find some calm waters here, perfect for windsurfing for example! Plus, there are 15 reefs in the area, so you’ll have something to see if you decide to go snorkeling!

Here are the best hotels in Punta Cancun, just take in consideration that prices here are quite high due to the big demand, so make sure you book them far in advance if you want to find some good deals:

Luxury (US$500 and up)

top hotels in cancun all inclusive

  • Grand Fiesta Americana – In case you’re looking for a luxurious all-inclusive resort in Punta Cancun, you just found it! This superb 5-star hotel in Cancun awaits with beachfront suites, spacious rooms, concierge services, a rooftop infinity pool and more! I have actually stayed here and I enjoyed everything about it! You can read more about my experience staying here in my post about Riviera Maya.
  • Hyatt Ziva Cancun – This is another gorgeous all-inclusive resort for the best stay in Cancun! It’s actually one of the most popular choices and the guests will definitely enjoy the superb rooms, fun activities (theater shows, tequila tasting etc.) and more. By the way, it’s only 300m from Coco Bongo and other entertainment places!

Middle-priced (US$150 – US$240)

  • Beachscape Kin Ha Villas & Suites – Here is another amazing option if you want a budget beachfront accommodation. This one has an outdoor pool, a kids pool, and many other perfect facilities. By the way, make sure to book it as much in advance as you can so you can find an even better price deal!

Budget (up to US$130)

  • Mayan Monkey Hotel – Looking for an incredible accommodation that you can book for some more affordable prices? Well, you just found it! Here you’ll have access to a delicious breakfast, a rooftop terrace, and all the advantages of a party hostel.
  • Beachfront Apartment – Enjoy this beautiful beachfront apartment with an amazing view and location super close to the best restaurants in Cancún and nightlife – ideal for couples, groups of friends and families!

Things to do in Punta Cana:

  • Go on a horseback riding tour in the middle of the jungle!
  • Attend a cool show at Coco Bongo
  • Relax on the pristine beach at the Mandala Beach Club
  • Dance the night away at the City!

3. El Centro / Downtown – best for traveling on a budget

cancun hotel zone, where to stay in cancun, cancun downtown

Do you want a local, authentic experience in Cancun? Then “El Centro” is the ideal place for you!

El Centro, also known as Downtown Cancun is the place where the locals live and where you’ll find tons of authentic restaurants, cool bars, local shopping places and more! So if you want variety, you’ll definitely find it here.

I think it’s the perfect place if you want to discover the true colors of Cancun and to avoid the tourists in Zona Hotelera. Needless to say that this is a great place for budget travelers and backpackers, as the prices here are lower than in the hotel zone and you can find tons of hostels and guesthouses.

Ah, and no worries about missing out, you will still have easy access to Cancun beach zone via bus or taxi. If you think El Centro is for you, here are the best hotels you can choose from for your stay in Cancun:

Luxury (US$200 and up)

cancun all inclusive resorts

  • Adhara Hacienda Cancun– This awesome 4-star hotel is perfect if you’re looking for a high-end service! It has an outdoor pool and an on-site restaurant, as well as some gorgeous, bright rooms. By the way, they even have a fitness center that you can use!
  • Suites Malecon Cancun – Here’s another very good 4-star hotel that has all the facilities and amenities you might need for a perfect stay, including a big terrace with pool overlooking the lagoon and the city landscape, cozy rooms, and more!

Middle-priced (US$70 – US$100)

  • Art Studios Local Acommodation – This guest house is another excellent choice where you’ll receive great service! It’s also ideal for a family-friendly vacation, as they have apartments with fully equipped kitchen and dining area.
  • Bed and Breakfast Pecarí – This bed and breakfast located within walking distance to the heart of the city is simply excellent! By the way, the rooms have air conditioning, a private terrace and access to a garden with a pool!

Budget (up to US$60)

  • Nomads Hotel Hostel & Bar – If you’re looking for a super cool place where you’ll feel spoiled for a very good value for money, this one’s for you! They have an outdoor swimming pool, a terrace and a nice garden where you can relax.
  • Nomads Enigmatic Hotel – In case you want an authentic hotel that will make any budget tourist happy, then book a room here! The rooms are super nice and they even have an outdoor pool. All in all, a great place!

Things to do in Cancun Downtown:

  • Explore Riviera Maya coral reefs, history, and nature with this tour!
  • Have a walk in the local Parque Las Palapas!
  • Eat authentic Mexican delicious food at Loncheria El Pocito
  • Check out Mercado 28 for souvenirs and snacks

Best apartments in Cancun

cancun all inclusive resorts, where to stay in cancun

I’m sure there are some travelers out there that prefer staying in the comfort of an apartment, even when it comes to Cancun! I really believe that if you are traveling in a large group (a family with kids, for example, or a group of friends) or if you want to save some money on accommodation, booking an apartment rather than a hotel could be a very wise choice.

In case you want to do so, below you can find my selection of hand-picked apartments from Airbnb (spoiler alert: I have found some excellent choices!):

Luxury (US$80 and up)

  • NEW Suite – This one’s a superb apartment located in the heart of the city. It is an excellent option for all those travelers who seek comfort, tranquility and relaxation!
  • The Quarry, Beachfront sub penthouse – In case you want to stay in a luxurious penthouse with unforgettable sea views, then this apartment is for you! You’ll be surrounded by white sand beaches, nightlife places, bars and more. Perfect for an upscale Cancun vacation!

Middle-priced (US$50 – US$70)

best all inclusive resorts in cancun

  • Studio Gold – Fully equipped cozy studio with one of the best locations in the city center, walking distance from the buses/taxis station, that brings you to the beaches in Hotel Zone.
  • Amazing Ocean Front – If you want to live a dream, choose this incredible Villa, surrounded by vegetation, sunrises over the sea, palm trees and pelicans, and where you’ll have the best sleep on a memory foam mattress!

Budget (up to US$50)

  • NEW RENO – This cute apartment is located in Downtown Cancun and it’s great for people traveling on a budget. It’s right in the heart of the city and it offers everything you might need for a pleasant stay. Recommended for two travelers!
  • Suite 15/4th floor inside Cancun’s heart – In case you’re looking for more budget options, here’s another one for you! This apartment has a very nice decor, simple and clean and it’s located in El Centro, very close to the beginning of the Hotel Zone. A great advantage!
👑 Luxury price: $400
🏨 Mid Range: $250
🛏️ Budget: $100
🏠 Airbnb: $150
💰 Accommodation prices: Medium
📍 Best Area: Zona Hotelera
🛎️ Best luxury hotel: Le Blanc Spa Resort
👛 Best budget hotel: Cancún Suites Apartments

BONUS 1: 10 Best All-Inclusive Resorts in Cancun

cancun beach

Cancun is world-famous for its excellent all-inclusive resorts! That’s why I decided to create a special section where I’m recommending the top 10 resorts that offer all-inclusive service for the perfect vacation on the beach.

These properties are located in Zona Hotelera (the hotel zone in Cancun), right on the beach and they offer world-class service. Needless to say that all of them have flawless reviews from former guests, right?

But what’s included in an all-inclusive resort, you might ask? Well, it depends on each hotel, but an “all-inclusive” Cancun vacation package usually means that you’ll have the room, all meals and beverages (both alcohol and non-alcoholic), as well as access to a private beach, a kids club and cool water sports in the case of Cancun. But make sure to check for your chosen resort to see what exactly is included!

By the way, for many all-inclusive hotels you’ll see the phrase “Adults-only” in the title. What does this actually mean? It means these properties do not allow children, as they’re meant for people who want a getaway without kids.

That being said, here are the best all-inclusive resorts in Cancun that I can recommend:

  1. Le Blanc Spa Resort – All Inclusive – Adults Only
  2. Haven Riviera Cancun
  3. Secrets The Vine Cancun All Inclusive – Adults Only
  4. Hyatt Ziva Cancun
  5. Sun Palace – All Inclusive
  6. Hyatt Zilara Cancun – All Inclusive – Adults Only
  7. Live Aqua Beach Resort Cancun
  8. Beach Palace – All Inclusive

BONUS 2: Best hotels near Cancun Airport

cancun airplane

Cancun Airport (CUN) is the second busiest airport in Mexico and it’s located 12 km from Cancun Downtown and around 20 km from Zona Hotelera.

In case you have a super early flight back home or your flight arrives to Cancun very late at night, a wise choice would be to book a hotel room as close to the airport as possible. This way you’ll save some sleep and you’ll enjoy some convenience! Regardless of your reasons, I have found the best airport hotels for your stay down below (one for each type of budget):

  • 1st Luxury Warehouse – This one is perfect for people looking for luxurious accommodation and a great value for the money. This property awaits with gorgeous rooms, free parking, and only 1 mile Cancún International Airport!
  • Cancun-Soho B&B – Looking for great value for the price? Then I recommend booking a room at this great bed and breakfast located only 4.5 km from the airport. It has an outdoor pool, a kitchenette and an airport shuttle as well.
  • Casa del Arquitecto – Here’s my recommendation for people looking for super cheap accommodation close to the airport. This apartment offers free wifi, access to a kitchen,  and free private parking!

BONUS 3: Best hotels in Puerto Morelos

best all inclusive resorts in cancun

Even though you’ll find Puerto Morelos mentioned in many other posts about Cancun accommodation as a neighborhood inside Cancun, this classic Mexican fishing village is actually 38 km away from the city and 40 minutes by car (it’s halfway from Zona Hotelera to Playa del Carmen, to be more precise) and it’s actually a separate town. Puerto Morelos is also 25-minutes by car from Cancun Airport, so it’s not that far!

But this doesn’t mean it’s not a great destination and a very good place to stay for a beach vacation! Puerto Morelos has super beautiful beaches and it’s the best place to go if you want to enjoy a beach paradise while also avoiding the hustle and bustle of the tourist Hotel Zone in Cancun.

It’s also a great place for culture, as you’ll have interesting Mayan Ruins close by, as well as Botanical Gardens and cenotes (Cenote La Noria, Cenote Verde Lucero and more), perfect for some swimming and fun. By the way, this fishing village also has an off-shore reef called Puerto Morelos National Reef Park!

If you think the calm and charming Puerto Morelos is for you, here are the best hotels you can choose from:

Luxury (US$350 and up)

cancun all inclusive

  • Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya All Inclusive – Yup, it’s true, Puerto Morelos is nothing short on all-inclusive hotels! This gorgeous 5-star hotel is excellent for a spoiled stay where you’ll have everything you’ll need! It’s great if you want some variety regarding the dining and entertainment activities!
  • Hotel Marina El Cid Spa & Beach Resort – In case you prefer a 4-star hotel instead, then I can recommend this one! This hotel overlooks the Puerto Morelos National Reef Park and it’s the perfect place to splurge and enjoy a spoiled treatment!

Middle-priced (US$80 – US$200)

  • Vela’s Condos – This condo-hotel is the best choice for people who want to enjoy great value for the money. The condos are simply great, super clean and with great decor taste. Plus, they also have an outdoor swimming pool – so great!
  • Casa Boutique Hokhmah – Here’s another wonderful budget option for your stay. This is actually a boutique type of accommodation that offers some pretty good prices, not far away from the sandy beach!

Budget (up to US$80)

  • Hotel El Moro – This accommodation is another excellent choice for super good prices. Some of the features of this property include an on-site restaurant, private parking, a garden, a terrace and more.
  • Abbey Del Sol – This is another great condo-hotel that has some pretty amazing reviews, I must say! Book a room here if you want free WI-Fi, free bike rental and access to a super cool outdoor pool. The rooms are pretty fab as well!

BONUS 4: Best accommodations in Cancun for families

cancun beach

Even if Cancun receives a lot of tourism for parties, nightlife and spring break celebrations, it offers lots of cultural and outdoor activities for a perfect family vacation, so it’s very important to find the right accommodation option to enjoy them to the fullest!

Good news: from family-friendly hotels to all-inclusive resorts and apartments, Cancún has a wide range of options, where you can enjoy white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, and engage in fun water sports!

Here are our favorite accommodations in Cancun, where every member of the family will feel comfortable… check them out:

Luxury (US$100 and up)

best hotels in cancun for adults

  • Hyatt Ziva Cancun – If you’re looking for a luxurious all-inclusive property, here you have a brilliant choice! This one comes with dolphins, three infinity pools and a kids’ club with a mini-water park!
  • The Ritz-Carlton – And here you have another great choice for where to stay in Cancun with the family! Two pools, delicious dining, a tranquil spa and kids’ and teens’ club’s entertainment all day- these are just some of the advantages of staying here!

Middle-priced (US$50 – US$100)

  • The Royal Islander – This beachfront resort has some pretty amazing reviews, so you can expect to have a great stay at this accommodation! The family rooms are super clean and comfortable and some other advantages include excellent dining, a small kids’ club, and two free-form pools.
  • Casa Zoe – And if you didn’t make up your mind just yet, here’s another budget accommodation for your stay. This one is only 5 minutes away from the beach Puerta del Sol, and is located in a very tranquil neighborhood – so good!

READ MORE: The 10 Best All-Inclusive Resorts In Riviera Maya for Families

Budget (up to US$50)

  • El Rey del Caribe – In case you want to save some money on accommodation, I recommend booking a room in this nice boutique hotel! With a small pool, hot tub, and kid’s playhouse set in a jungle garden with plants and birds, expect to enjoy a very pleasant stay!
  • Entire residential home – Entire home with an excellent and quiet location, just 6 blocks from the Hotel Zone and just nearby the beach. With a Jacuzzi pool and all the amenities to relax after the excursions, this accommodation has everything you need for a vacation with the family!

Frequently Asked Questions about Cancun

🤩 What part of Cancun is best to stay in?

The best area where to stay in Cancun, especially for first-time visitors, is the Hotel Zone, where all the inclusive hotels are located, like the luxurious Le Blanc Spa Resort or Nizuc Resort & Spa

🏨 Is it better to stay in downtown Cancun or Hotel Zone?

If you’re looking for all-inclusive resorts and luxury hotels you should stay in the Hotel Zone (in Le Blanc Spa Resort), while Downtown Cancun offers cheaper accommodations, like the Nomads Enigmatic Hotel.

🏨 Where to stay in Cancun to party?

The best area to stay in Cancun to party is Punta Cancun, where all the clubs and bars are located. Stay at Mayan Monkey Hotel or Aloft Cancun Hotel, both with great value for the price!

🕵️‍♀️ Is Cancun safe to visit?

Cancun is generally a safe town: locals are friendly and crime rates are very low compared to other Mexican cities. Anyways, you should avoid non-touristy areas, especially at night.

Conclusion

cancun sea

I hope you enjoyed this ultimate guide on where to stay in Cancun, Mexico, one of the most popular destinations for spring break! I’m sure that you’re already an expert on the best areas and hotels in the city by now and maybe you even found the perfect place for your stay in Cancun, who knows?

In this post I told you everything about the 3 best areas to stay in Cancun, as well as some bonus sections for Puerto Morelos, another great beach paradise a bit outside Cancun city. Of course, I also made a selection of the top 10 best all-inclusive hotels in Cancun that you can choose from, as well as airport hotels and apartments.

In short, this article contains all you need to know about where to stay in Cancun, now all you need to do is to make a choice! Still not sure? Check out my two absolute favorite options, both located in Zona Hotelera:

I hope this post was useful to you. If you need more travel inspiration on Mexico and Riviera Maya especially, I recommend checking out my article about 9 Unforgettable Things to Do in Riviera Maya – Mexico Travel Guide.

And if you have any questions, let me know in the comments below, I’m happy to help!

Yulia

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