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10 Mayan Ruins in Yucatan that you must visit!

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Want to visit the most beautiful Mayan ruins in Yucatan? Here they are.

The Mayan civilization (also called Maya civilization) was a Meso-American civilization of the Maya peoples. The Mayans occupied all of the Yucatan Peninsula (with Quintana Roo, Campeche, Tabasco, and Chiapas) and were known for their arts, architecture, mathematics, calendar, and astronomical system. 

Exploring Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins of Mexico - With Mexico Packing List
Exploring Chichen Itza

It is believed that the Mayans began to settle in the Yucatan region between 2600 BC and 1800 BC. We visited many of the stunning Mayan Ruins Yucatan archaeological sites and we think you should add them to your Riviera Maya Mexico vacation

This post also includes tours, distance from hotel zones in Riviera Maya, and other things to see!

Best Mayan Ruins in Yucatan Mexico

Mayan Ruins in Yucatan North America

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Other resources: Mexico bucket list | Unique places to visit in Mexico

Coba Mayan Ruins in Mexico Yucatan Peninsula

Coba ruins are the oldest Mayan ruins in Mexico. Coba ruins are located in a HUGE complex and are deeply embedded inside the Yucatan forests.

Coba ruins are characterized by the iconic – Nohoch mul pyramid or the mound. The Nohoch mul pyramid is the tallest pyramid in Mexico at 137 feet high. It is also credited to be the second tallest Mayan pyramid in the world. And yes you can climb this ancient pyramid.

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Coba Mayan Ruins Mexico

When we visited Cobá, we were allowed to climb up to the top of the pyramid. The pyramid is composed of 120 (large) steps.  

It does take a bit of effort in climbing downhill, but going up was easy. The pyramid steps were big and you will have to take giant leaps to climb up or down from one step to the next.

We did a history-guided tour of the Coba ruins, so we were not worried about being sore or driving back.

Coba Ruins Yucatan from top
Top of Coba Ruins Yucatan Peninsula

If you are up for it, take the leap and climb the steps – this IS the only Mayan pyramid where you can still do it. There are thick ropes attached to the pyramid so that you can hold them as guard rails to climb up and down.

The views from up the Coba pyramid were breathtaking. Everywhere you look – you will find the mighty Yucatan peninsula calling you. It is gorgeously stunning with all the greenery. This view is something that I will hold on to forever,

Never had I seen such a beautiful lush green carpet underneath – an aerial view of this ancient city will surely melt your heart!

Yucatan Forest top of Coba Ruins
Yucatan Forest top of Coba Ruins

Nohoch mul is just one of the many pyramids in Coba. In fact, there could be thousands of these buried under the thick layer of the forest. There are also many small temples and structures scattered in and around the Cobá ruins.

You will also find a smaller pyramid on the ruined grounds.

There are stone walls and underground tunnels that are open for visitors to explore. Two ball courts are open for exploration as well. 

You will most likely see some fossil beds and other inscriptions that speaks volume of the rich past and the trade activities and the civilization that flourished there.

Mayan Ruins of Coba
Mayan Ruins of Coba

Coba ruins are actually one of the least visited ruins in Mexico. When you arrive at the ruins site, you will be transported to the Mayan days of trade and living.

When you walk the forest beds, you will very well be taking the white roads that the Mayans took. The white roads (white sacred roads) or the sacbe are like today’s ring roads – multiple routes in and from the pyramid to the outside world, taking them as far as Honduras.

It is still unclear how the Mayans transported all the materials to build the pyramid, temple, and ball court in the forest depths. But they were definitely a civilization that was far ahead of its times.

Coba ruins can be traced back to 100 AD and at its peak, the complex was occupied by 50,000 inhabitants. The site must have been abandoned during the Spanish expansion in the 1550s.

To explore the Cobá ruins and understand their history, we took a guided tour of the Coba ruins.

Book your Coba day tour from Cancun with lunch here

We were told that what we see in Coba today is only 1-2% of the actual ruins, many of the structures are still buried in deep woods. Difficulties still lay ahead and many are unsure if the complex will be ever further excavated to reveal more structures.

The tour was definitely an interesting one, especially if you LOVE history or would like to know more about the ancient Mayan culture and civilization. 

Through this tour, we learned about Mayan history and its ultimate fate – when and why it was abandoned and civilization moved to Chichen Itza.

Coba Ruins Travel Tips

As the Coba pyramid is located in a densely forested area, vehicles are not permitted inside. You will have to park the car or leave the tour van, and then rent a bike or hire a tuk-tuk to reach the pyramid.

We took a tuk-tuk (or bici cycle) for $10 USD for two, and it was actually so amazing to get some relief from the heat and enjoy the breezy ride to the pyramids. So worth it and LOVED every bit of it!

Coba Ruins Information Board
Coba: Yucatan Mayan ruins

Entry Fees to Coba Mayan Ruins

  • Ruins entrance – 70 pesos or 4 USD per person 
  • Car Parking – 50 pesos or 2.50 USD

How to get to Coba Mayan Ruins in Mexico – Yucatan?

Coba ruins are located in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. 

  • Drive from Tulum – 1 hour 
  • Drive from Playa del Carmen  – 1 hour 30 minutes 
  • Drive from Cancun – 2 hours 10 minutes

Guided Tours to explore Coba Ruins

Guided tours are a great way to explore Coba Ruins. Here are a few recommended tours including the one that we took –

  • Coba and Cenote Tour from Riviera Maya – BOOK HERE
    • Full-day guided tour of Coba ruins
    • Swim at a cenote nearby
    • Traditional Mexican lunch
    • Round trip from hotels in Riviera Maya (call to confirm pick or meeting point)
  • Coba and Tulum day tour from Riviera Maya – BOOK HERE
    • Coba and Tulum ruins tour
    • Swim at a cenote
    • Traditional buffet lunch (Mexican)
    • Round trip from Riviera Maya
  • Coba and Chichen Itza day tour – BOOK HERE
    • Coba and Chichen Itza Ruins Tour
    • Swim at the beautiful Ik Ill Cenote
    • Small-group tour with lunch
    • Round trip from Cancun hotel zone or Playa del Carmen hotels

Other activities and things to see near Coba Ruins

Coba ruins are surrounded by 2 lagoons and 3 cenotes. These 3 cenotes are located only a 10-minute drive away from the Coba ruins. As part of our guided tour, we were taken to Choo Ha cenote as well. Let’s take a quick look at what cenotes are and which ones are located near Coba ruins.

Mayan Ruins Yucatan - Coba Ruins of Mexico
Choo Ha Cenote

Cenotes are sinkholes. The ancient Mayans used to regard the cenotes as very sacred and even today the existing Mayan people rely on the water from their cenotes for their day-to-day living. 

Because Mayan consume this water even today, it is recommended that before a swim at the cenote, you take a shower and do not apply any lotions (or chemicals) on your body.

  • Choo-Ha – Great for a quick dip in the cenote water on a hot day. This cenote is beautiful with a lot of stalagmites. You have to have a stairway leading down to the sinkwater underneath. This cenote is closest to Coba Ruins. 
  • Tamcach-Ha – One of the MOST popular cenotes in the area. You can swim and dive here. 
  • Multum-Ha – Located a little further away from Coba ruins, this cenote is BEST for snorkeling. 

Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins Yucatan 

One of the MOST iconic most visited Mayan ruins in Yucatan is the Chichen Itza ruins. This site alone attracts millions of visitors every year, especially around the time of the summer solstice in June. (And yes it is super hot, but also very crowded).

Riviera Maya Mexico Things to do - Mexico vacation Riviera Maya bucket list items like snorkeling, adventure water activities, honeymoon ideas. Add these beautiful vacation destinations and ideas from Cancun. Read Riviera Maya Mexico excursions in this post.
Chichen Itza tours – Riviera Maya Excursions

Chichen Itza is considered one of the new seven wonders of the world. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. So you can give yourself a trophy for checking this off from your bucket list.

The Mayan name “Chichen Itza” means “at the mouth of the well of the Itza.” The El Castillo pyramid (which is the centre of the Chichen Itza archaeological site and the main temple) is dedicated to Kukulkan – the serpent deity. 

The pyramid dates back to the 9th century. Unlike the Coba ruins, you cannot climb the pyramid here.

Exploring the Mayan Ruins of Chichen Itza, Mexico. Read all about its history, travel tips and itinerary. A quick guide to Chichen Itza, one of the wonders of the modern world.
Chichen Itza

The Kukulkan pyramid is believed to be constructed in utmost symmetry and in line with astrological directions. Each of the pyramid’s four sides has 91 steps. In the past, tourists were allowed to climb up the steps and reach the top court, but not anymore.

The 91 steps on each side sum up to a total of 365 (including the temple platform on top as the final “step”) which represents the 365 days of the year.

When the Autumn equinox hits the earth, the northwest corner of the pyramid casts a series of triangular shadows against the western balustrade on the north side that evokes the appearance of a serpent wriggling down the staircase.

Chichen Itza ruins also have other structures including a ball court, temples comprising 108 pillars, and markets. The number 09 was very sacred and dear to the Mayans.

Chichen Itza pillars
Chichen Itza tours

Of all the guided tours that we took in Riviera Maya, the Chichen Itza tour with a historian was the most memorable and very interesting, to say the least.

We LOVE history and getting the insights and lessons from a researcher was great. (And the pictures you see here were all taken during the guided tours, and no we didn’t find them intrusive. It was informative without the hand-holding/interference!)

What to pack for Mexico? Outfit Ideas for Mexico travel
Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins Mayan

Expect a decent amount of walking at the archaeological site. So wear comfortable shoes and carry bug spray and an umbrella.

The actual site complex only has the pyramid itself, no trees are located near it, so it gets very hot if visiting at noon. Trees and benches are placed in the distance, where you can sit and admire the pyramid.

Read our full guide to Chichen Itza exploration

Chichen Itza Ruins Visit Tips

Chichen Itza Ruins site is easily accessible from Playa del Carmen and Cancun. We did a guided tour/ day trip to Chichen Itza from Playa del Carmen.

Chichen Itza Tour
Chichen Itza Tours and Tickets

Entry Fees to Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins

  • Ruins entrance – 480 pesos or $24 USD (for foreign nationals)
  • Car Parking – 30 pesos or 1.50 USD

How to get to Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins in Mexico – Yucatan?

  • Drive from Tulum – 2 hour
  • Drive from Playa del Carmen  – 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Drive from Cancun – About 2 hours 25 minutes

Guided Tours to explore Chichen Itza Ruins

There are SO SO many tours to Chichen Itza and with a lot of variety like sunrise and evening lights tour, planetarium, and also visits other Mayan ruins sites like Uxmal. So let’s begin 

Chichen Itza Tour options

  • Chichen Itza – Classic tour from Cancun – BOOK HERE
  • Chichen Itza Lights and Sound Show with Cenote Swim – BOOK HERE
    • Guided tour of Chichen Itza, with Light and Sound Show
    • Access the Temples at Chichen Itza through a private entrance with no lines
    • Swim in a sinkhole at Cenote Hacienda Chukum
  • Chichen Itza Sunrise tour – BOOK HERE
    • Special tour to watch the sun rays fall on Chichen Itza
    • Tour is conducted in a Mercedes Benz
    • Early access to the site. Toll fees paid
    • Breakfast included
    • This tour is from Merida. The colonial city of Mérida is the largest city in Yucatan. Merida is located off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. 
  • Chichen Itza and Uxmal 2 day tour – BOOK HERE
    • 2 day tour to Chichen Itza and Uxmal Mayan Ruins Tour 
    • Round trip Mercedes Benz transportation
    • Tour from Cancun or Riviera Maya
    • Includes use of all facilities at the Mayaland Resort (swimming pools, lounge chairs, botanical gardens)
    • 1 night’s accommodation at the Hacienda Uxmal
  • Chichen Itza and Ek Balam Tour BOOK HERE
    • 2 Mayan ruins exploration one from the Classic Mayan period and another from post Classic period
    • Chichen Itza architecture belongs to the post-classic Mayan civilization. With Ek Balam, you will view the architecture of the Classic Period with the pointed top of the main temple. 
    • Swim in the sacred Cenote Hubiku
    • Full day tour from Cancun or Playa del carmen

Other activities at the Chichen Itza Ruins

After exploring the Chichen Itza pyramid and other structures on-site, you can visit the small market stalls at the complex. Most souvenir stores will be a tad pricey, but a bargain! 

There are a few cenotes located in the vicinity including the popular and beautiful Ik Ill cenote. 

Tulum Mayan Ruins in Mexico

Tulum Ruins are the youngest among the 3 popular Mayan ruins in Yucatan, namely Coba, and Chichen Itza. The location of the Tulum ruins is unique as it is enclosed by walls on three sides and faces the stunning Caribbean sea on one side.

Tulum one of the finest Mayan Ruins Yucatan
Tulum Ruins

It is believed that when the Mayans suffered from drought, they eventually moved to Tulum and set their community here. The sea also allowed them to connect with other Mayan civilizations in Central America.

Tulum Ruins are much smaller compared to Coba and Chichen Itza. It is however scattered all across the site. 

The main structure at Tulum ruins is the El Castillo pyramid. Every Mayan ruins site has an El Castillo pyramid and it is the main castle of the site.

As you enter the Tulum archaeological site, you will pass a huge wall – this 16 feet wall safeguarded and fortified the city. That is why Tulum is often referred to as the “walled city”.

Tulum is a coastal town located in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Tulum is well-known for its beaches and the ancient Mayan ruins. This post highlights a day’s itinerary and a quick guide to the Parque Nacional Tulum, including the Playa Paradiso.
Great Palace – Mexico Tulum Ruin site

The site also has 5 gates that lead to the central part of the Tulum ruins archaeological site. There are many smaller structures – temples, houses of cenotes, and a great palace located at the Tulum ruins.

Once upon a time, these structures were painted in red (vermilion color, denoting the Goddess of fertility). Much of the paint is now gone, leaving the bare (beige-colored) structures, but you can still see inscriptions on the stone on a closer look.

What makes Tulum unique is the Caribbean Sea and the God of Winds temple, facing the sea. That image has drawn thousands of visitors to this gorgeous site.

Tulum is a coastal town located in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Tulum is well-known for its beaches and the ancient Mayan ruins. This post highlights a day’s itinerary and a quick guide to the Parque Nacional Tulum, including the Playa Paradiso.
A day at the Tulum Ruins of Mexico

Although easily accessible by road and tours, expect to walk a lot at the Tulum complex. It is almost like a mini hike. So wear comfortable walking shoes and carry a hat or umbrella for sun protection. Add a bug spray to the list as well!

Almost all of the structures at Tulum are barricaded and visitors are allowed to explore them from a distance. And of course, you cannot climb any pyramids here.

Tulum Ruins Guide Tips

Tulum ruins site is easily accessible from Playa del Carmen and Cancun. We did a guided tour to Tulum from Playa del Carmen. If you are planning to drive to Tulum ruins, you can park your car close to the site. 

Tulum is a coastal town located in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Tulum is well-known for its beaches and the ancient Mayan ruins. This post highlights a day’s itinerary and a quick guide to the Tulum Ruins including the Playa Paradiso.
El Castillo – Tulum Yucatan ruins

The parking area is located a little further away from the ruins, so you can either walk to take a train for $1 USD.

Entry Fees to Tulum archaeological zone  

  • Ruins entrance – 65 pesos = $3.50 USD
  • Car Parking – 30 pesos or 1.50 USD

How to get to Tulum Mayan Ruins in Mexico – Yucatan?

  • Drive from Playa del Carmen  – About 1 hour 
  • Drive from Cancun – About 2 hours 

Guided Tours to explore Tulum Ruins

  • Tulum Exploration Tour – BOOK HERE (good value)
    • Half-Day tour to Tulum
    • Explore Tulum ruins in 4 hours
    • Round trip transportation from Cancun and Riviera Maya hotels
  • Tulum and Coba day tour from Riviera Maya – BOOK HERE
    • Coba and Tulum ruins tour
    • Swim at a cenote
    • Traditional buffet lunch (Mexican)
    • Round trip from Riviera Maya
  • Tulum and Xel Ha Full day tour from CancunBOOK HERE
    • Explore Tulum ruins with a guide
    • Spend time at the Xel Ha Park
    • Entrance fees included for Xel Ha Park with lunch 
    • Round trip from Cancun

Other activities at the Tulum Ruins

Playa Paradiso

There are many things to do at the Tulum Ruins other than the ruins. Tulum ruins themselves can be a full day’s itinerary. After exploring the ruins, you can head to Paradise Beach (Playa 

Tulum is a coastal town located in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Tulum is well-known for its beaches and the ancient Mayan ruins. This post highlights a day’s itinerary and a quick guide to the Parque Nacional Tulum, including the Playa Paradiso.
Pancho Villa

Pancho Villa – bar and restaurant is conveniently located at the beach. It is a perfect spot to grab a beer and some fish tacos while enjoying the gushing sound of the waves.  

READ: Tulum itinerary one day with Tulum ruins tour

We have a recommended tour here that combines all 3 Mayan Ruins Yucatan sites on a full-day tour! (with lunch)


On the Yucatan peninsula, you will find more Mayan ruins that are worth visiting including Ek Balam and Uxmal. We have included tours to visit the same under the Chichen Itza Mayan ruins section.

These 3 Mayan ruins in Yucatan are the BEST that shouldn’t be missed from your Riviera Maya vacation. 

Uxmal Mayan Ruins, Yucatán Peninsula

The Mayan ruins of Uxmal, located in the west of the Yucatán Peninsula, sit in the shadows of Chichén Itzá and date back to around the sixth century A.D. These ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and annually attract millions of visitors. 

Uxmal ruins site
Uxmal ruins site

But, don’t let the crowds of eager historians and travelers scare you off. Uxmal is one of the most important sites ever constructed by the Mayans  — and it’s worth a visit.

When translated, the name means ‘three times built’, and even though other sites surrounding it were constructed geographically, Uxmal has its construction roots in astronomy. 

The main attraction in Uxmal is the Pyramid of the Dwarf, sometimes called the Pyramid of the Magician. Legend says the entire pyramid was built in one night by an unknown magical dwarf with the help of his mother, a witch. 

Once the seat of power in the Puuc region, research shows that the site was astonishingly abandoned sometime before the Spanish invasion. Although seemingly left for (pardon the pun) ruin, the site is still a showcase of ornate Mayan architecture. 

Most of the buildings on this site, including the Pyramid of the Dwarf, and the House of the Governor, are oval-shaped. Rounded buildings are visible throughout the ruins and seem to be an escape from the traditional geometric designs the Maya used. 

Tips for visiting Uxmal ruins

Entrance fees to Uxmal

Adults: $494 pesos or $24 USD for foreigners and $225 pesos for Mexican nationals

How to get to Uxmal? Puuc route

Getting to Uxmal can be done from the nearest city, Mérida. It is about 64 km (40 miles) south of Merida. While most of the ruins are open to the public, the Adivino Pyramid is not. 

But we recommend climbing into the nunnery quadrangle to fully immerse yourself in the best of what Uxmal offers.

  • Drive from Merida – 1 hour 

Guided tours to Uxmal

Ek’ Balam

Located roughly 51 km (32 miles) from Chichén Itzá, Ek’ Balam lies in the north of Yucatán. If you’re on the hunt for some fascinating ruins that don’t garner as much public attention, the ruins of Ek’ Balam are perfect.

View of Ek Balam in the Yucatan is a recently discovered Maya city lost in the jungle archaeological sites
View of Ek Balam in the Yucatan

Over 90% of the ruins are yet to be excavated. But it is estimated that Ek’ Balam was built during the Preclassic Period (between 100 B.C. to 300 A.D.). 

Covering 4.6 square miles, only one square mile can be viewed by the public. The sense of mystery created by the site lives up to the translation of its name,  the ‘black jaguar’. 

Mapping has revealed that Ek’ Balam comprises 45 structures. Out of these, there are several temples, two palaces, and a giant pyramid. The latter, El Torre, sits in the center of the city and is considered the biggest attraction point of the site. 

Most of the buildings at Ek’ Balam carry a large build and have quite enormous dimensions. El Torre is the crowning jewel, one of the largest Mayan structures in the Yucatán Peninsula. 

Mayan statue of Ek Balam Mayan ruins Yucatan
Mayan statue of Ek Balam Mayan ruins Yucatan

This tower features multiple layers of decorated facades, inscriptions, and sculptures of great Mayan warriors. 

El Torre houses the tomb of the city’s highest office during its peak — Ukil-Kan-Lek-Tok. Along with numerous murals and wall paintings that are still in immaculate condition.

Travel tips for Ek Balam

Entrance fees to Ek Balam

Adults: $413 pesos or $20 USD

How to get to Ek Balam?

Ek’ Balam is about a two-hour drive from Riviera Maya and Mérida and just 24 miles from Valladolid. For a great road trip to the ruins, we recommend driving through Tulum.

  • Drive from Cancun – 2.50 hours 

Guided tours to Ek Balam


The word “secluded” springs to mind when thinking of Calakmul. Mysterious as well, yet secluded a bit more, as thick and lush forests entirely surround the ruins of Calakmul. 

Steps of the pyramid stairs. Structure of 1  in the complex rises over the jungle of Calakmul, Mexico
Steps of the pyramid stairs. Structure of 1 in the complex rises over the jungle of Calakmul, Mexico

Tucked within a deep jungle about 60 km (37 miles) from any civilization, these ruins are well worth the trek.

Around 6,750 ancient structures have been discovered at the ruins of Calakmul, with one of the tallest Mayan temples at its center. The city is also home to another slightly smaller temple, but both are odes to the translation of the city’s name — “two adjacent mounds”. 

At roughly 145 feet high, the main temple can be climbed to get epic views of the region.

Ancient temple at Calakmul, a Mayan archaeological site

Thought to be home to about 50,000 citizens at the height of its existence, the city was abandoned somewhere around 700 A.D. The jungle slowly reclaimed most of it, and today it resembles a scene straight from an adventure movie. 

Nature lovers will be in paradise as the Calakmul region is home to more than 200 species of birds, monkeys, and turtles.

Calakmul is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and uniquely one of the ruins where you’ll encounter fewer tourists due to where it is located. 

Travel tips for Calakmul

Entrance fees to Calakmul

Adults: $68 pesos or $4 USD

How to get to Calakmul?

Getting to the ruins is only achievable via an arduous drive through deep jungle terrain.  The closest city is Campeche, 300 km or 186 miles away. 

  • Drive from Cancun – 7+ hours 

Guided tour to explore Calakmul


Discovered in 1934 by archeologists Karl Ruppert and John Denison, Becán is in the lowland regions of  Yucatán. 

Ruins of the pyramid in the ancient Mayan city of Becan, Mexico
Ruins of the pyramid in the ancient Mayan city of Becan, Mexico

Although broadly mapped today, much of it remains a mystery. With estimates being that the city began construction in 550 A.D., the city is characterized by massive courtyards and sprawling, monumental structures.

According to research, Becán was once an important city as an economic, political, military, and religious hub. Surprisingly the original ancient Mayan name for the city is unknown. 

With a moat surrounding the city center, Karl Ruppert and John Denison named the city in the contemporary Yucatec-Maya dialect. 

Notably, the pyramids built in Becán are all styled with Río Bec and Chene’s influences. The result is that the twin towers distinguish most pyramids, although they serve no purpose. 

As for the Chenes influence, this can be seen in the plaza sculptures and engravings — specifically with numerous references to Itzamná.

Slow to catch up to the popularity of other ruins in the Yucatán Peninsula, during your visit, you can explore a variety of buildings (20 in total) separated by plazas and courtyards. We highly recommend ascending the giant pyramid for unparalleled panoramic views.

Becán travel tips

Entrance fees to Becán

Adults: $65 pesos or $3 USD

How to get to Becán?

It is fairly easy to get to Becán. The nearest large city is Campeche, a four-hour drive away. Heading out from the small town of Xpujil, the ruins are roughly five miles from the sleepy town.


Chichén Itzá and Uxmal are both considered to be the most significant of the Mayan ruins in  Yucatán. But it is Mayapán that holds the title of the last great Maya capital.

Archeological ruins of the ancient city of Mayapan. a marvelous legacy of Mayan culture
Archeological ruins of the ancient city of Mayapan. a marvelous legacy of Mayan culture

Reaching its golden age during the Postclassic Period, Mayapán is recorded as one of the last operational cities of  Maya just before the Spanish conquered the region.

Thought to have been built under the alliance of Chichén Itzá and Uxmal, King Kukulkan II ruled over the city until the Xiu family orchestrated a coup d’etat in 1461 A.D. They ruled until the city’s demise at the Spanish’s hands.

As the last standing Mayan force in the region, the city was a massive and influential urban center that housed roughly 12,000 people. A total of 4,000 structures have been found, while many are yet to be excavated.

Influences from Chichén Itzá are still noticeable today, with a smaller replica of the Castillo of Kukulcan being the main attraction. Viewing the many altars, temples, shrines, and murals throughout the city is a must-do while here.

Tips for visiting Mayapán

Entrance fees to Mayapán

Adults: $45 pesos or $2 USD

How to get to Mayapán?

The closest major city to the Mayapán Archeological Zone is Mérida. Traveling to the ruins can be done via rental car or private tour. If you’re out on your own, you’ll head down to Telchaquillo, a small town about 48 km or 30 miles from the ruins.

Polé (Xcaret)

The ancient Mayan city of Polé, or as it is known today, Xcaret, is a unique and interesting site to visit. Unique because it was one of the few major Mayan coastal cities on the  Mexican Caribbean shoreline. 

Due to its location, the towns and villages that formed the city were devoted to fishing and merchant trading.

Mayan ruins at Xcaret Mexico
Mayan ruins at Xcaret Mexico

Close to the island of Cozumel, Polé was the main port for a number of industries. Beyond fishing, remnants of jade, obsidian, and other rock crystals indicate that the city was a popular mineral mining area as well. 

Due to its proximity to Cozumel, the city was also religiously crucial, as the port was used by many during their pilgrimage to the island. The island is notably home to the sanctuary of  Ixchel – the goddess of love and fertility.

During the Spanish conquest, however, the city completely collapsed due to trade routes being broken and the temple on Cozumel being destroyed. 

Thankfully you won’t need to venture into a deep and dark forest to find Polé, as it is located within the Xcaret Theme Park in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. 

Visiting Polé

Entrance fees to Polé

Adults: $2000 pesos or $99 USD to the Xcaret Archaeological Park

How to get to Polé?

Getting to the ruins is quite easy, although we must mention that you’ll need a park entrance ticket to view the ruins.

Guided entry to the Xcaret Park


One of the very first settlements on the Caribbean Coast, Muyil has a magical aesthetic unlike other sites in the Yucatán. Established in 300 B.C., the city quickly became a cultural and economic hotspot. 

Muyil (also known as Chunyaxche) was one of the earliest and longest inhabited ancient Maya sites on the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico
Muyil (also known as Chunyaxche) was one of the earliest and longest inhabited ancient Mayan sites on the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico

The city’s influence was widespread, covering a whopping 93 acres of coast and jungle.

Its location along popular trade routes made Muyil a strong and prominent city with firm relations with other pre-Colombian cities (including Coba). Surviving until the 16th century, the city was eventually almost destroyed during the Spanish invasion.

The Muyil ruins lie within the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, yet you’ll be surprised to find the ruins almost deserted at the moment. 

The site is split into Muyil A (a separate site open to the public) and Muyil B, which is not.  

A true hidden gem amongst the Mayan ruins, the site features the mesmerizing Kaan Luum Lagoon. The Castillo in the city is the highest in  Riviera Maya, standing at 57 feet tall — the top provides excellent views.

Muyil site tips

Entrance fees to Muyil

Adults: $29 pesos or $1.50 USD (free on Sundays)

How to get to Muyil?

The easiest and, in our opinion, the best way to see the site is by private car rental, a short 15-mile drive from Tulum Pueblo on Highway 37 — you can’t miss it.

So, that’s a wrap! We hope you enjoyed reading this list of the best Mayan ruins located in Yucatan to add to your itinerary!

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Pin: Mayan Ruins in Yucatan Sites to add to your bucket list

Mayan Ruins Yucatan
Mayan Ruin Sites in Yucatan

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