Skip to Content

Why This Stunning Beach City Continues To Be The Most Popular Destination In Mexico

Share The Article

Last Updated

Historically, Mexico City has been Mexico's number one tourist destination.

It is, after all, the country's capital, its largest metropolis, as well as its main cultural center and entry point, but it seems as if CDMX's decades-long reign is coming to an end.

As a matter of fact, it might as well have ended already.

Aerial View Of The Hotel Zone In Cancun, The Mexican Caribbean, Mexico, Latin America

According to the latest data informed by the Ministry of Tourism (Sectur), Cancun, previously Mexico's second-best offer, now concentrates a majority of foreign arrivals into Mexico, as well as boasts the busiest air traffic.

So far this year, it's hosted 7.48 million international visitors, a majority of those hailing from the U.S. and Canada, against CDMX's 3.13 million, and increasingly trendy Cabo's 1.72 million. This irrefutably makes it Mexico's leading destination.

The question is: why is Cancun still so popular, and why does its popularity keep increasing?

Young girl walking in sexy bikini relaxing on tropical Cancun dolphin beach in Cancun Mexico under the bright sun. Tourists on Caribbean beach with turquoise water. Vacation concept

Cancun Is Mexico's New Number One Tourist Hotspot

As new numbers released by Sectur suggest, Cancun is Mexico's number one destination, surpassing the cultural hotspot that is Mexico City and the wellness hub that is Los Cabos.

In a way, it's not hard to see why:

This is a city is famous for an elongated Hotel Zone bounded by the Caribbean Sea, home to some of the most traditional and luxurious hospitality brands, from your Rius to Hiltons, Le Blancs and JW Marriots: it is somewhere most Americans go for living it up and splurge on world-class amenities.

Tourists Strolling Down A Street Leading Down To The Caribbean Sea In Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico

When they book a getaway to Cancun, they know just what awaits them: one week in a state-of-the-art beachfront resort with access to a private, white-sand beach, sumptuous buffets with exquisite chef-curated assortments, and award-winning catering.

Cancun is an easy enough vacation.

Why Do Americans Love Cancun?

A majority of guests in the Caribbean city are U.S. and Canada passport holders, who don't normally get lots of opportunities to go abroad every year, and when they do, they will deliberately go for the less stressful, most obvious pick.

Beautiful Beach Near Cancun, The Mexican Caribbean, Mexico

Not that that's inherently a bad thing.

Cancun's all-inclusive resorts are the perfect place for escaping your mundane worries and treating yourself, whether it's the beach bar margaritas at sunset hours or a one-hour-long deep tissue massage at the spa center, and they are simply worth every penny.

Nowhere else in Mexico has a hospitality industry as developed and as well-equipped as Cancun and its accompanying Mayan Riviera.

Then, there is the region's diverse tourist offer.

Drone photo Playa Ballenas, Cancun, Mexico

Cancun Is So Much More Than Just Beaches

Though many visitors will be reluctant to leave their hotel premises and may be looking for a sunny break exclusively, this does not mean Cancun and the wider Mexican Caribbean do not have more than beaches to offer.

The modern city has developed on one of the most historically significant parts of Mexico: the Yucatan Peninsula, which was previously ruled by the native Mayan peoples.

Tourist In Chichen Itza, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Prior to the arrival of colonizers and the Hispanicization of Mexico, the Mayans were the ones who controlled the Yucatan, and further down the map of the Americas, the Central American isthmus for more than a millennium through their highly advanced cities and trade routes.

These may be now mostly lying in ruins, and only a shadow of their past glorious self, but important Mayan cities can still be admired all across Yucatan, within short driving distance of Cancun.

The most iconic ones are Chichen Itza, a popular selfie spot for tourists, with its landmark step pyramid and ancient temples, and the Tulum Archaeological Site, located in the lively resort town of Tulum.

Mayan Ruins In Chichen Itza, Mexico

Tulum's postcard-picture ruins sit on the edge of a prominent cliff overlooking the bright-blue Caribbean, and they are easily some of Mexico's most easily recognized monuments and a national treasure.

Breathtaking Tropical Nature

Other than Mayan ruins, Cancun visitors also have a plethora of natural attractions to discover around the Mexican Caribbean during their stay, including idyllic islands, underground cenotes – natural limestone-formed reservoirs of typically crystal-clear waters – jungle reserves, and walking trails.

Traditional Street Market In Merida, Yucatan State, Mexico, Latin America

Additionally, there are several picturesque colonial-era towns a short two to three-hour drive away from Cancun, such as Merida, where you will find the oldest cathedral built in the mainland Americas, and Valladolid, with a historic center filled with 16th-century colonial mansions.

Numerous tour companies offer day tours and different activities, and it's truly up to you how you make your Cancun trip more interesting, based on your own personal preferences.

Your hotel concierge may be able to assist you with bookings, or you can book activities directly via reliable third parties.

cenote in mexico

Cancun Is Reinventing Itself

Finally, Cancun keeps getting popular and growing as a destination because it keeps reinventing itself and improving tourist infrastructure.

One such example is the Maya Train, a scenic railway set to start operating this December, linking Cancun to all of the trendiest spots on the Mayan Riviera, including the smaller beach towns of Tulum and Playa Del Carmen and the colonial settlements in Merida and Valladolid.

Cancun is one of the most tourist-friendly destinations South of the border, and it's truly no wonder Americans keep flocking to its beaches even though it's been a household name for years on end now.

↓ Elevate Your Travel↓

Sign Up Now For Travel Off Path Premium! No ads, VIP Content, Personal Travel Concierge, Huge Savings, Daily Deals, Members Forum & More!


Enter your email address to subscribe to Travel Off Path's latest breaking travel news, straight to your inbox.

This article originally appeared on

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.