I Heart My City: Ingrid’s Cancún

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German national Ingrid Ernst has been living in Cancún for the past decade.

She has traveled extensively throughout Mexico, documenting her adventures on her Facebook page and a bilingual (German and English) blog she started.

“The world should heart my city because [Cancún] combines breathtaking beaches, natural wonders, culture, and history,” she says. Here are a few of Ingrid’s favorite things about the place she’s proud to call home.

Cancún Is My City

When someone comes to visit me. the first place I take them is to eat tacos and drink a delicious agua fresca, water mixed with fruits and a little sugar.

September is the best time to visit my city. While Cancún enjoys warm weather year-round, September brings cooler temperatures, smaller crowds, and lower rates.

You can see my city best from the rotating Scenic Tower at El Embarcadero port. Get ready for spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea and the city’s hotel district.

Locals know to skip the beaches in the hotel district and check out the pristine beaches to be found on the Isla Blanca peninsula, located a short drive from Cancún, instead.

Mercado 28 is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs. Here you will find colorful Mexican handicrafts like textiles, Talavera pottery, and silver jewelry. Make sure to bargain; vendors expect to be asked to lower their prices.

My city’s best museums are the Maya archaeological sites that can be found nearby: Tulum, Chichen Itza, and Ek’Balam.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s to take taxis, which are cheap, quick, and available anywhere. Tip: Look for “sitio” cabs, which are authorized by the city and, though they’re a bit more expensive, are always a safe bet.

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is at the beach, of course. You can also visit one of the many cenotes that are spread all over the Yucatan Peninsula to take a refreshing dip, snorkel, or dive with a guide.

My city really knows how to celebrate Día de los Muertos.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they run around in flip flops everywhere—from the beach to business meetings. While most of Mexico has a rather formal dress code for work, life on the coast is much more relaxed.

For a fancy night out, I dine at the gourmet Mexican restaurant Porfirios in Cancún’s hotel district. By the way, did you know that Mexican cuisine is on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List?

Just outside my city, you can visit the Riviera Maya, which spans from Cancún all the way south to Tulum, with the world-famous beach town Playa del Carmen in the middle. Rent a car and drive the coast to check out the eco parks, fisherman villages, and splendid beaches.

My city is known for being Americanized, but it’s really just another face of Mexico. I get tired of hearing people say that Cancún is not the real Mexico, because it’s just as real as any other area. Mexico is very diverse; this is precisely what makes it so interesting.

The best outdoor market in my city is Mercado 23, located downtown. It’s a bit rustic, but it’s the place to be to experience authentic local flavor.

Cafe Antoinette is my favorite place to grab breakfast and Marakame is the spot for late-night eats. The latter is a local favorite and offers one of the most charming atmospheres in town.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, follow @vivoencancun on Twitter and read the Novedades newspaper.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I grab my towel and some sodas and head for the beach.

Xoximilco is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Coco Bongo‘s amazing night show.

In the spring you should visit a cenote.

In the summer you should swim with whale sharks, the biggest fish in the world. Don’t worry, they’re vegetarians.

In the fall you should experience the Day of the Dead festival during the first week of November. Visit local markets to learn about Día de los Muertos folklore.

In the winter you should visit Maya ruins because the weather is cooler and more pleasant.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the zip-line adventure park Xplor.

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