Skip the Hotel Zone and Live Among the Locals in Downtown Cancun

When planning a trip to Cancun, you can choose between staying in the Hotel Zone or in downtown Cancun (also known as "El Centro"). The two areas are very different, but each place has its advantages.

The Hotel Zone has huge nightclubs, great beaches, and miles of comfortable beachfront hotels. Millions of people visit Cancun each year. The vast majority of them stay in the Hotel Zone and never set foot in downtown Cancun. Those people never get a true taste of Mexico and don't fully experience everything Cancun has to offer. 

Downtown Cancun is a typical city, where most of the locals live. It is only a couple of miles from the entrance to the Hotel Zone and the beaches on the Caribbean Sea are only about a 20-minute bus or taxi ride from downtown Cancun. In downtown Cancun, you'll find supermarkets, shopping malls, incredible Mexican food (both in fine-dining establishments, as well as from street vendors and the little take-out restaurants in El Parque de las Palapas), and affordable, conveniently-located hotels.  Budget-minded travelers or people that wish to experience what life is really like in Mexico, will find that downtown Cancun a great alternative to the glitz and glitter of the Hotel Zone. 

Krystal Urban Cancun-Malecon is one of downtown Cancun's newest and nicest hotels. It is the perfect spot for business travelers or families. It is within walking distance of Plaza Las Americas mall, Malecon Americas mall, nice restaurants and bars, and Plaza de Toros, which is packed with bars and restaurants. This high-rise hotel has views of downtown Cancun or of Nichutpe Lagoon and the Hotel Zone.

For a bit of Mexican flavor, Xbalamque is a great choice. The hotel is filled with original artwork and the outside of the hotel is a work of art in itself. It is covered with a beautiful, intricately-painted Mayan mural. There is a pool surrounded by lush foliage and a small spa where you can get inexpensive but very nice spa treatments. The hotel is walking distance from Cancun's largest and most popular market, Mercado 28 (Market 28), as well as from restaurants, bars, Parque de las Palapas, Walmart, Sam's Club, and bus stops where you can catch the bus to the Hotel zone.  

Less-expensive lodging options include the brand new La Quinta Inn & Suites Cancun, Hotel Ibis Cancun Centro, City Express Cancun and City Express Junior Cancun.  


Hotel Bonampak
Photo courtesy of Kristin Busse


Hotel Bonampak is located on, well, Bonampak Avenue, just steps from the entrance of Cancun's Hotel Zone. All 80 of this small, economical hotel's rooms were recently remodeled so the rooms are new and comfortable and offer LCD TV, telephone,...  Read More

Eco-Hotel El Rey del Caribe
Photo courtesy of Kristin Busse


El Rey del Caribe is a lush, green oasis that happens to be located in the heart of downtown Cancun on Uxmal Avenue. It looks like a basic colonial-style hotel from the outside, but there is a whole other world waiting inside. The lush, green...  Read More

ibis Cancun Centro
Photo courtesy of Kristin Busse


The Ibis Cancun Centro hotel is located in the city's largest commercial and financial district, a short walk from Plaza Las Americas and Malecon Americas shopping centers, just 10 minutes from the airport and 5 minutes from the crystal-clear...  Read More

Fiesta Inn Cancun Las Americas
Photo courtesy of Kristin Busse


Fiesta Inn is a chain of Mexican hotels, and Cancun's version is located in Malecon Americas mall. Yes, a hotel in a mall! This is a business class hotel but they welcome all guests. Fiesta Inn offers 152 rooms, La Isla restaurant, a bar, a...  Read More

Ramada Cancun City
Photo courtesy of Kristin Busse


Ramada Hotel Cancun City is located in downtown Cancun on Yaxchilan Avenue. Within a few blocks of the hotel there are popular bars and nightclubs as well as many great restaurants. La Habichuela, La Parrilla, and Pericos are three very popular...  Read More

Airport - Cun


The Oasis Smart is situated on Tulum Avenue, the main drag in downtown Cancun. It's only 20 minutes from the airport and 10 minutes from the Hotel Zone. Located very close to restaurants, cinemas and shopping centers, Oasis Smart has 58 rooms...  Read More



With its central location, La Quinta Inn & Suites Cancun is within easy reach of most tourist attractions and business addresses in Cancun. This 4.5-star hotel offers 132 comfortable guestrooms with a range of in-room facilities suitable for...  Read More



The Adhara Hacienda Cancun is located downtown, just steps from the main drag, Tulum Avenue, and close to shopping and dining. Guest can take a bus or taxi to the Hotel Zone, just 10 minutes away. The charming pool area is located in a...  Read More



The Xbalamque Hotel is perfectly located for both business and leisure guests to Cancun. The hotel provides all the amenities that today's travelers desire in all of its 93 rooms. Each guestroom features amenities such as air conditioning,...  Read More



The Krystal Urban Cancun-Malecon is located in the heart of downtown Cancun, close to the best shopping, dining and downtown nightlife. It is also just 5-10 minutes from the Hotel Zone by taxi or bus. The hotel is only a few years old, and...  Read More


Meet Kristin Busse

After vacationing in Mexico many times, Kristin decided to move to Cancun "for a year". That was in 2001.

Kristin grew-up in Michigan and studied Communications at Michigan State University....  More About Kristin