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North America > Mexico > Cancun

See: Why rent a car in Cancun ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

(All of these pages will look a lot nicer when they are tidied up later in the spring)

Your key questions for any destination:

Do I need a car in Cancun?

Strictly speaking, there are very few travel destinations anywhere in the world where it's absolutely essential to rent a car in order to see the main points of interest.

That's why we give you loads of ratings scales from 1 to 10, rather than just yes or no answers!

  • The need question is generally answered by looking at public transport (transit) options. Is it good enough for visitors who are happy to consider using it?
  • How many public transport routes are there, and are they mainly rail or road (bus) based?
  • Is public transport fast, frequent, safe, reliable and cheap?
  • Does public transport actually take you to the places you'll probably want to see?

Is it worth hiring a car in Cancun?

This question is usually more about value for money. For this, we look at Cancun car hire options, and consider how rental costs compare with using transit.

How far are you likely to drive anyway, and how much might you expect to spend on fuel, road tolls, parking and any other charges. We compare Cancun with other destinations locally and around the world.

This is obviously much more of an issue if you are planning a longer road trip than it is on a small island.

Should I rent a car in Cancun? 

This is basically a merging of the two questions. Everything else might be about giving certain facts about the costs of car rental or using public transport in Cancun, but answering this question is very much a matter of opinion.

Although many cities in Mexico have a substantially longer history, since the 1970s, Cancun has grown extensively around the tourism industry. This a destination which was largely developed around the car. Needless to say, airport transfers here are easy enough to come by. There are plenty resort shuttles travelling around and between the main hotel areas. However, no visit to Cancun can ever really do the area justice without also visiting some of the other coastal areas which are nearby and also venturing inland within the Yucatan Peninsula. In particular to visit the world heritage sites at Chichén Itzá.

Please note that is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2022 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. 

We do not intent to include detailed covid information, nor do we intend to suggest hiring a car, just because public transport might still have a mask requirement. Our advice will be based on the same criteria we've always used, ie whether or not you can get a better travel experience, or at least a better value one, by choosing not to hire a car.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Cancun is in car rental price band: 4/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Cancun? 

Sometimes. Car rental is slightly cheaper than global averages.


Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Cancun between the peak and the off peak season?

5/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 4/10

Non car score:3/10

Balance: 6

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -


Why? Visiting Cancun using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Cancun ?

  • Felxibility to explore the Yucatan on your own terms.
  • No rail service in or around Cancun.

Why not? Visiting Cancun without a car

Why don't you need a car in Cancun ?

It’s also worth pointing out that many of these historic sites can also be done as part of a packaged day trip, but they are much harder to do by scheduled bus. Although there are various different scheduled bus services to and from Cancun, there is no rail service in this part of Mexico.

  • Most places can still be visited using taxis, local buses, coaches or organised tours.
  • No car needed for any beach activities.
  • Daily first class buses to Chichén Itzá will take you there in around 3 hours. You can also take cheaper, slower and less comfortable standard bus services or collectivos (large minibuses).

Ratings: How does Cancun compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Cancun? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Cancun, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?



Do you need to hire a car in Cancun? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Cancun (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Cancun? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel


Car hire basics:


Public transportation basics:


Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):


As you start ....

Does Cancun airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No






Has our advice for Cancun car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 6

2019 - 8

2021 - 6

Average score - 7



Should you rent a car in Cancun? On balance, Cancun is the sort of destination where our advice leans towards getting a hire car, but it’s certainly far from essential – verdict yes.


Do you or don't you need a car in Cancun ?

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