Visiting the Mayan ruins is an absolute must for anyone interested in the ancient Maya civilization. Dating back to approximately 2000 B.C. until around the 17th century A.D., the Maya ruled areas spanning over present day Mexico and Central America. The Mayan people were known for their impressive architecture and vast knowledge and appreciation of astronomy.
There are a variety of guided tours of the Mayan ruins available, but you can easily visit a number of the ruins using the public bus system along the Ruta Maya, or Maya Route. The best place to begin your tour of the Mayan ruins is with Cancun as your starting point due to its international airport and location on Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula. Here are some of the sites on the peninsula that you won’t want to miss while visiting the Mayan ruins.
Hours: Open daily 9:00am – 5:00pm
Entrance fee: Approximately $3 USD (parking is additional)
Built between 900-1600 A.D., Tulum is one of the few Mayan ruins sites overlooking the Caribbean. The well preserved ruins of this once powerful Mayan port town feature an ancient walled city to protect against invaders and a castle known as El Castillo. The ruins of Tulum also has several temples including the Temple of the Descending God and the impressive Temple of the Frescoes, which was used by the Mayans to track the sun’s movements.
Hours: Open daily 8:30am – 5:00pm
Entrance fee: Approximately $4 USD
One of the most powerful cities in the northern Mayan empire was Coba. Nohoch Mul, one of the tallest pyramids of the Maya civilization, was the heart of the city of Coba. The stone pyramid has 120 steps to the top, and unlike other Mayan ruins, visitors can still climb the pyramid that was built between 600-900 A.D. The climb itself only takes a few minutes, and the panoramic views of the surrounding jungle and other ruins in the area are well worth it.
While the climb up Nohoch Mul is quick, the walk from the entrance of the park is quite long. You can rent a bike to get around more easily and explore Coba’s many other sites, including the largest network of stone roads in the ancient Mayan world, called sacbes.
Hours: Open daily 8:00am – 4:30pm
Entrance fee: Approximately $13 USD
Chichén Itzá is the largest site of Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula and is visited by over 1 million visitors a year. The site was granted a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage list and is considered one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World.” The most famous structure at Chichén Itzá is the Temple of Kukulkan, a step pyramid standing 98-feet tall. The pyramid is a popular attraction during the equinox, due to the pyramid’s design that reflects a serpent as the sun is setting.
Hours: Open daily 8:00am – 5:00pm
Entrance fee: Approximately $7 USD
Located in the Puuc region, Uxmal was built around the 6th century A.D., andl is one of Mexico’s main archaeological sites. Uxmal has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its unique Puuc architectural style that shares its name with the region. The ruins of Uxmal consist of the elaborate Governor’s Palace, the Nunnery Quandrangle, and several other temples. However, the most important structure found at Uxmal is the Pyramid of the Magician. Known for its unique rounded walls, it was constructed so that its western stairway faces the setting sun at the solstice.
Whether you plan on taking a guided tour, or visiting the Mayan ruins on your own, we can help you plan your perfect trip to these impressive ruins.