Cancun is a popular destination along Mexico’s Mayan Riviera, famous for all-inclusive resorts, white sand beaches and turquoise water. While that may not scream budget-friendly, there are actually quite a few low-cost (and free) things to do when you fancy dragging yourself away from the poolside. (And, since you already used to find your flight, you may as well keep the savings coming.) We’ve rounded up some of the best low – or no – cost Cancun activities.

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Check out the Mayan ruins

Popular archaeological sites like Tulum and Chichen Itza are well worth visiting, but they can be expensive to access and get to. Luckily, there are a few other budget-friendly and more easily accessible ruins to explore nearby. El Rey Ruins are right in the Hotel Zone (where most people end up staying) making them very accessible and El Meco Ruins are located just north of Cancun. Both cost just 50 pesos to visit.

Explore Museo Maya de Cancún

Though Cancun is better known for its beaches and resorts than for its culture, you can get a unique and affordable learning experience at the Museo Maya de Cancún, which houses an extensive collection of Mayan artefacts. You’ll have the chance to see hundreds of pieces from important archaeological sites in the area, from sculptures to tools to ceramics. The cost of admission (70 pesos) includes access to the San Miguelito ruins that are on the museum’s vast property.

Hit the beach

Since Cancun is all about the beaches, you don’t want to leave without spending some time on the sand. If you’re staying at a resort on the beach, then you can simply leave your hotel and nab a spot to sunbathe. Otherwise, there are many beautiful beaches to choose from. All of Mexico’s beaches are known to be public so technically you should be able to visit any of them, but sometimes it can get tricky if you need to approach a hotel property (which is private) in order to access a certain beach. Some of the best public access beaches in Cancun include Playa Delfinas, Playa Tortugas, Playa Linda and Playa Langosta.

Hang out in Parque las Palapas

Get a taste for local life and take part in a free activity by heading to downtown Cancun and making time to wander through Parque de las Palapas, the city’s main square. The atmosphere is lively and there is lots to see. Here you’ll find food and drink vendors, an open-air food court, a playground, souvenir stands and artisans selling their wares. There is also a stage where you might catch a performance on a weekend evening.

Visit Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is a 20-minute ferry ride away from Cancun’s coast. If you have some extra time, it’s well worth spending a full or half day visiting. The cost of a one-way ticket is extremely cheap and once you’re there it’s easy to find cheap eats and exploring doesn’t cost a thing. The pace is relaxed and it’s easy to spend a few aimless hours wandering, browsing shops and taking advantage of the white sand beach.

Browse Market 28

Still in need of souvenirs or just want something to do? Market 28 (Mercado 28) is a large open-air market in downtown Cancun, brimming with things to see, buy and eat. The market occupies almost a full city block where you’ll find numerous souvenir stands and jewellery shops. There are also several restaurants at the centre serving quick, affordable meals if you need some sustenance during your visit.

Go snorkeling

Cancun’s crystal clear water makes it a prime destination for snorkelling and there’s lots to see under that sparkling Caribbean Sea. If you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort you’ll most likely have access to snorkel equipment making it easy to enjoy what’s on offer under the water.

Stroll Avenida Tulum

It doesn’t cost anything to stroll along downtown Cancun’s main street. The wide boulevard has buzzing pedestrian paths on either side and is lined with shops, small markets, bars and restaurants to explore.

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About the author

Jessica PadykulaJessica Padykula is a Toronto-based writer and editor who regularly covers travel and lifestyle trends. When she’s not writing or researching a story she can be found planning trips to places near and far in a never-ending quest to travel the world.

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