Discover the main Mayan ruins in Mexico, their main attractions and learn how you can include them in your travel itinerary.

Mexico is a country with Spanish and mesoamerican influence and it is very famous for its gastronomy, beaches and all inclusive resorts. Places like Cancún and Tulum for example, are very popular Mexican Caribbean’s tourist destinations. But what not so many people know, is that the country is also very rich in history, art and culture and it is the country of the Americas with the highest number of places designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.

And that is the reason why we decided to show you in this article 21 incredible Mayan ruins that can be visited in different regions of the country, and also let you know where they are located (note the map at the end), what are their main attractions and how you can include them in your trip to Mexico.

The Mayan Civilization

The Mayan civilization was developed in Central and North America, and its biggest part is where Mexico is now located. The Mayans stood out for their written language, agriculture and also for their art, architecture, mathematics and astronomy. The civilization’s influence can also be seen in countries like Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and El Salvador.

It peaked between AD 250 and AD 900, being considered the most culturally dynamic society in the world at that time, reaching a population of around 13 million people.

In its decline phase, which is supposed to have happened because of the combination of some factors such as internal wars, disease outbreaks, foreign invasion and climate change, many urban centers were abandoned and today they form the ruins, also called archeological sites or archeological zones.

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Mayan Ruins in Mexico

Find below our selection with 21 Mayan ruins in Mexico, divided by region, for you to visit during your trip:

Region: Quintana Roo

Tulum

The Mayan ruins of Tulum are considered one of the most beautiful places in Riviera Maya. Zamá, as it was called in the native language, means “sunrise”. Its location makes its ruins contrast with the Caribbean Sea, providing an unique view.

Its main attractions are El Castillo, the castle that faces the sea, and Casa del Cenote, a building made under a natural water deposit and the Templo del Dios Viento, which is Tulum’s most famous postcard.

This archaeological site is 131 km away from Cancún and 64 km away from Playa del Carmen, making it super easy to do a day trip from those cities.

Mayan ruins of Tulum
Mayan ruins of Tulum
Photo: cptq.mx image bank

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm (last entry).

Entry fee: 80 pesos

For additional information click here.

Note: If you want to book a tour, we recommend Alltournative, a company with which we have a partnership and an exclusive discount. For more information click here: Alltournative Promo Code.

Cobá

Even nowadays, most of the city is covered by trees, which guarantees a wild aspect to this place, differentiating it from the others Mayan Ruins of Mexico. Its main temple is the great pyramid of Cobá, known as Nohoch Mul, which is 42 meters high and has over 100 steps that you can climb.

As the ruins of Cobá are spread out, there is the option of renting a bicycle or tricycles for visiting, which I particularly recommend.

Pirâmide de Cobá: Nohoch Mul
Cobá’s Pyramid: Nohoch Mul
Photo: cptq.mx image bank

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm (last entry).

Entry fee: 80 pesos

For additional information click here.

Note: Alltournative has a full day tour combining Tulum and Cobá. There is also the option of visiting only Cobá Park and the Pac Chén community, which is the tour that I took and I enjoyed a lot as it involves adventures like abseiling, zip lining and kayaking.


Muyil

Also known as Chunyaxché, it was one of the villages that maintained a long occupational continuity thanks to its strategic location on the commercial route. This is one of the few archaeological sites to be found in the middle of a nature reserve and also one of the most important due to the number of buildings, the main one being the El Castillo pyramid. It is located 70 km away from Cobá and 26 km away from Tulum.

A pirâmide El Castillo em Muyil
El Castillo’s Pyramid in Muyil
Photo: cptq.mx image bank

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm (last entry).

Entry fee: 45 pesos

For additional information click here.

San Gervasio

The Mayan ruins of San Gervasio are located on the island of Cozumel and have a religious character, as it is the sacred site of the goddess of fertility, known as Ixchel in the Mayan language. Being located in the Caribbean Sea, it is one of the tour options for those who are traveling on cruises.

Sítio Arqueológico de San Gervasio, próximo a Cozumel
Archaeological Site of San Gervasio
Photo: cptq.mx image bank

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm.

Entry fee: 80 pesos

For additional information click here.

El Meco

Located 10 km away from the city center of Cancún, this city started with a small fishing village and became a commercial center due to its proximity to the coast. El Meco has 14 structures, and the main one is a 12-meter high Mayan pyramid, known as El Castillo, the highest point in the region and from where you can see Cancún area from above.

Ruínas maias em El Meco no México
Mayan Ruins in El Meco
Photo: cptq.mx image bank

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 4 pm.

Entry fee: 55 pesos

For additional information click here.

El Rey

Located near the hotel zone of Cancún, it is the largest archaeological site in the region and it is believed that there lived people who were dedicated to fishing activities and maritime trade. This site has 47 mayan stone structures and its name is due to a mask carved in stone to honor the sun god that was found in the region.

Sítio Arqueológico de El Rey em Cancún
Archaeological Site of El Rey
Photo: cptq.mx image bank

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 5 pm (last entry at 4:30 pm).

Entry fee: 55 pesos

For additional information click here.

Chacchoben


The Mayan ruins of Chacchoben were practically unexplored until the early 2000’s and the archaeological site has many pyramids and sacred Mayan temples that are still being excavated with the aim of finding more information about the people who lived there. Due to its location, it is one of the possible tours for those who pass by cruises through this region. It is located 300km away from Cancún and just 50km away from Bacalar.

Chacchoben's Pyramid near Bacalar and Mahahual
Chacchoben’s Pyramid
Photo: cptq.mx image bank

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 5 pm (last entry at 4:30 pm).

Entry fee: 65 pesos

For additional information click here.

Region: Yucatán

Chichen Itzá

Ruínas maias de Chichen Itzá
Chichen Itzá
Photo: Diego Imai

Considered one of the best attractions in Yucatan Peninsula, Chichen Itzá was built around AD 550 and was also considered one of the most important capitals. It is there that the Kukulkán Pyramid is located, also called “El Castillo”, which is the main postcard of the entire Mayan civilization and one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World.

Its name means “the city on the edge of the well of Itzaes” and is about 200 km away from both Cancún and Playa del Carmen.

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 4 pm (last entry).

Entry fee: 80 pesos

For additional information click here.

Note: I visited the park twice. In 2011 I made a tour that included the Cenote Ik kil, but I didn’t really enjoy the experience because we arrived on both places at peak times. In the last one, July 2019, I took a tour with Alltournative and I was delighted with the company’s work. Check it out our photos and stories on Instagram. The tour includes a visit to a park, a Mayan ceremony, abseiling, cenote, and much more.

Get 10% off to visit Mayan Ruins with our exclusive Alltournative Promo Code


Uxmal

Considered a World Heritage Site by Unesco since 1996, The Archaeological Zone of Uxmal brings together one of the most impressive examples of Mayan architecture represented by the Pyramid of the Adivino, the Cuadrángulo de las Monjas and the Casa de las Tortugas. It is located 382 km away from Cancún and 84 km away from Mérida.

The Pyramid of the Diviner at Uxmal
The Pyramid of the Diviner at Uxmal
Photo: inah.gob.mx

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 5 pm (last entry at 4 pm).

Entry fee: 80 pesos

For additional information click here.

Izamal

Known as the yellow city for having most of its buildings painted in that color, this city is a mixture of indigenous, spanish and mexican culture and is also called the city of the 3 cultures.

Its main tourist spot is the San Antonio de Padua convent, built by the Spanish on the top of one of the Mayan pyramids and, located nearby and surrounded by urban features is its main ruin, the Kinich Kak Moo pyramid, one of the largest in Mexico.

Izamal is located 254 km away from Cancún and 67 km away from Mérida.

Convento Izamal
Convento San Antonio de Padua
Photo: Sefotur Yucatán

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 5 pm (last entry at 4 pm).

Free entrance.

For additional information click here.

Ek Balam

Its ruins have as main attractions the Oval Palace and the Acropolis, the latter being the most important and tallest, with 32 meters high. Both have steps that can be used for the climb. It is located 172 km away from Cancún and 68 km away from the Archaeological Zone of Chichen Itzá.

Archaeological Site of Ek Balam
Archaeological Site of Ek Balam
Photo: inah.gob.mx

Opening hours: It is temporarily closed due to damage caused by Gamma Storm, but it usually works from Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 5 pm (last entry at 4 pm).

Entry fee: 75 pesos

For additional information click here.

Note: Visit the Ek Balam Park with Alltournative and enjoy some adventure sports like Rappel and Slack Line as well as a refreshing dip in the Cenote. The tour lasts all day.

Region: Campeche

Calakmul

The Calakmul archeological site covers an area of ​​70 square kilometers, has more than 6,000 structures and it also has a museum with various ceramic items from the period such as masks and necklaces. It has been a World Heritage Site since 2002.

Calakmul
The two adjacent hills in Calakmul
Photo: inah.gob.mx

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 5 pm.

Entry fee: 80 pesos

For additional information click here.

Edzna

Its name comes from the word Ytzná, and its meaning can be considered “house of the Itzá”. The highlight of the Edzna ruins is the Edificio de los Cinco Pisos, an impressive five-story building, 31 meters high, and the Templo de los Mascarones, which has a facade with sculptures of different types of masks.

Building of the Five Floors in Edzná
Building of the Five Floors in Edzná
Photo: inah.gob.mx

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 5 pm (last entry at 4 pm).

Entry fee: 65 pesos

For additional information click here.

Region: Mexico City

Teotihuacan

Located just 40km from Mexico City, Teotihuacan is the most explored site in Mesoamerica and it is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Its structure has a complex building system, with residences that resemble the apartments of today, and its highlight is in its pyramids: the Pyramid of the Sun, with 65 meters in height and the Pyramid of the Moon, with 45 meters.

Teotihuacan Archaeological Site
Teotihuacan Archaeological Site
Photo: inah.gob.mx

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm.

Entry fee: 80 pesos

For additional information click here.

Tula

90 minutes away from Mexico City there are the ruins of Tula, which has as its main attraction sculptures of Toltec warriors of 3 meters in height that are at the top of the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl.

Sculptures of warriors in Tula
Sculptures of warriors in Tula
Photo: inah.gob.mx

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm.

Entry fee: 75 pesos

For additional information click here.

Region: Oaxaca

Monte Albán


Also considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this was one of the most important cities in Mesoamerica and its site is located high on a hill in the Oaxaca Valley. It was once the capital of the Oaxaca region and was the first in that area to be abandoned. The visit to the ruins of Monte Albán includes a 360 degree view of the entire city and other valleys around it.

Archaeological Site of Monte Albán
Archaeological Site of Monte Albán
Photo: inah.gob.mx

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 5 pm.

Entry fee: 80 pesos

For additional information click here.

Mitla


In Mitla, where the name means “place of the dead”, many tombs of kings and priests of that time were found and it is believed that this site functioned as a religious and military center for the cities in the Oaxaca Valley region that has developed a lot after the departure of the Zapotecs from Monte Alban. Its ruins stand out for the colors and mosaics carved in stone that mix with the buildings made by the Spanish invaders.

Mitla's Archaeological site
Mitla’s Archaeological site
Photo: inah.gob.mx

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 5 pm.

Entry fee: 75 pesos

For additional information click here.

Yagul

It is situated around a hill and it is one of the cities that developed after the decline of Monte Alban. The Yagul site stands out for having its structure divided into three parts, which are the fortress, the common housing area and the ceremonial center.

Yagul's Archaeological site
Yagul’s Archaeological site
Photo: inah.gob.mx

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 5 pm.

Entry fee: 75 pesos

For additional information click here.

Region: Chiapas

Palenque

A World Heritage Site since 1987, Palenque is where the tomb of Pakal the Great is located, being considered one of the most relevant discoveries in Mesoamerica. His city was covered by nature for almost a thousand years and today it is one of the most visited places in Mexico.

Its architectural ensemble has more than 200 structures with emphasis on the Gran Palacio, the Templo de las Inscripciones, the Templo de la Calavera and the de la Reina Roja.

Palenque's Palace
Palenque’s Palace
Photo: inah.gob.mx

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm.

Entry fee: 80 pesos

For additional information click here.

Bonampak

Bonampak means “painted walls” and it is called like that because of the highly complex colored drawings that are located inside its Mayan temples that represent the history of the city. The recovery of these paintings began only in 2009.

Bonampak Square
Bonampak Square
Photo: inah.gob.mx

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 4:30 pm (last entry at 3 pm).

Entry fee: 75 pesos

For additional information click here.

Region: Tabasco

Comalcalco

A strategic commercial city in the midst of Mayan society, its architecture is different from the others due to the fact that its buildings are not made of stone, but of tiles joined by mortar. The architectural complex of Comalcalco consists on: the Acropolis, the Great Acropolis and the Plaza Norte.

Comalcalco's Pyramid
Comalcalco’s Pyramid
Photo: inah.gob.mx

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 4 pm.

Entry fee: 65 pesos

For additional information click here.

How to visit the Mayan ruins?

There are several options of archaeological sites spread across all the regions of Mexico and as we can see on the map, most of them are at great distances from the main cities. You can either choose to rent a car and set up your itinerary on your own, or hire tour operators for excursions or private tours.

Mexico’s Mayan Ruins Map

LMTM tip: don’t forget to wear a hat, sunscreen and bring water, as it is usually very hot and the visits to the Mayan ruins in Mexico are open air most of the time.

Have a good trip!

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