Mayan Ruins of Cancun
Written by Viator, May 2012
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chichén Itzá is the best restored and most visited of the Yucatán Maya archaeological sites. The most impressive structure at Chichén Itzá, the 25m-tall El Castillo pyramid, is a stone representation of the Maya calendar and an important pilgrimage destination during the spring and autumn equinoxes when the shadow of a serpent appears to ascend and descend the staircase; a phenomenon that’s recreated nightly at the sound-and-light show.
El Rey Ruins
Stay closer to the coast with a visit to the El Rey Ruins. Located in the heart of Cancun’s Hotel Zone, the Mayan ruins at El Rey are made up of 47 ancient stone structures, including several platforms and temples that are believed to have once been used for religious ceremonies. The El Rey Ruins are named after a ceremonial mask and skull honoring the Mayan Sun God that was unearthed at the site. As you explore the ruins at El Rey, keep an eye out for the giant iguanas that now inhabit the site. A few miles outside Cancun’s Hotel Zone you’ll find the El Meco Ruins, a smaller group of Mayan ruins consisting of 13 structures organized around a central temple.
Beach lovers will enjoy exploring the Tulum Ruins where you can split your time between the ruins and the beach. The ancient walls built around the edge of the archaeological site once served as a fortress protecting the ancient city’s ruling class, and the name Tulum translates to “wall” in Yucatec Maya. The seaside Mayan ruins at Tulum are some of the most picturesque in the region and best known for the Temple of the Wind God. Situated on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Caribbean, this ancient lookout post has become one of the Yucatán Peninsula’s most iconic images. Just a few steps from the temple, a staircase leads down to the beach where you can sunbathe and swim in the turquoise cove.
From Tulum, it’s just a short trip inland to visit the Cobá Ruins. Climb to the top of the tallest Mayan pyramid on the Yucatán Peninsula, the Great Pyramid Nohoch Mul, for spectacular views overlooking the jungle canopy. The ruins at Cobá are spread out over several kilometers and more closely resemble the ruins at Tikal in neighboring Guatemala than any of the other Yucatán Maya archaeological sites. Pedi-taxis are on hand to shuttle visitors throughout the site and well-marked paths make it easy to explore the ruins on foot, though you’ll likely work up a sweat. Cool off with a stop at one of the Yucatán Peninsula’s famous cenotes, or underwater sinkholes.
Tours & Tickets
Spectacular Chichen Itza holds both mystery and magic. Explore the most important archaeological zone and ancient capital of the Mayan Empire on a full day ... Read more
Duration: 12 hours (approx.)
Discover the mysterious beauty of Tulum and the stunning, natural Xel-Ha aquarium. This relaxing, all inclusive excursion from Cancun or Playa del Carmen will ... Read more
Duration: 9 hours (approx.)
If you’re looking for some outdoor fun, this adrenaline-filled Yucatan adventure tour is perfect for you! Visit the famous Tulum Ruins, snorkel in the Takbelum ... Read more
Duration: 7 hours (approx.)
The 4-in-1 Tulum Adventure offers you the ultimate Yucatan experience. You'll zipline, repel into a cenote, snorkel, ride a Skycycle and more on this adventure ... Read more
Cancun or Riviera Maya, Mexico
Duration: 5 hours (approx.)