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Mayan Ruins of Cancun

By Viator, October 2014

4.5 1273 Reviews | Add your review

Cancun may be known as a beach holiday destination, but there’s so much more to do than here than soak up the sun and enjoy a few frozen drinks. One of the most popular area activities is a visit to the local Mayan ruins, remnants of a sophisticated civilization that once lived throughout Mexico and Central America. Visitors to Cancun who can pull themselves away from the white sand beaches and clear turquoise waters of the Caribbean will find several Mayan ruin experiences to choose from.

Chichén Itzá

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.

Tulum Ruins

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.

Cobá Ruins

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

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Chichen Itza Day Trip from Cancun

4.5 star rating: Recommended 713 Reviews

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

Location: Cancun, Mexico
Duration: 12 hours (approx.)

From USD $69.99
$74.99 Save $5.00

Viator Exclusive: Early Access to Chichen Itza with a Private Archeologist

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 212 Reviews

Gain essential insights into Mexico’s past on a visit to Chichen Itza with a private archeologist. Miss the crowds by visiting in the early morning, and see ...  Read more

Location: Cancun, Mexico
Duration: 9 hours (approx.)

From USD $74.99

Viator Exclusive: Early Access to Tulum Ruins with an Archeologist

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 73 Reviews

Tour Tulum, one of the most famous Mayan sites, with a private archeologist — a Viator exclusive available nowhere else! Arrive in the early morning and miss ...  Read more

Location: Cancun, Mexico
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $62.99
$69.99 Save $7.00

Tulum and Xel-Ha All Inclusive Day Trip from Cancun

4.5 star rating: Recommended 103 Reviews

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

Location: Cancun, Mexico
Duration: 9 hours (approx.)

From USD $148.99

Cancun Super Saver: Tulum and Coba Ruins Including Cenote Swim and Lunch

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 3 Reviews

Reveal the mysteries of ancient Mayan civilization with this Cancun Super Saver, a full-day adventure to Tulum and Coba combining two best-selling tours at a ...  Read more

Location: Cancun, Mexico
Duration: 11.5 hours

From USD $106.99
$207.99 Save $101.00

Rio Secreto Underground River Tour with Crystal Caves

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 9 Reviews

Discover the mysteries of the Yucatan on a visit to Rio Secreto Nature Reserve. Enjoy an exciting afternoon adventure at Rio Secreto, where you’ll wade and ...  Read more

Location: Cancun, Mexico
Duration: 7 hours (approx.)

From USD $78.99

Cancun Combo Tour: Xcaret, Xel-Ha, Xplor and Chichen Itza

4 star rating: Recommended 5 Reviews

Indulge in some of the greatest attractions on offer in the Yucatan with this Cancun combo! Select two out of four amazing options – Xcaret, Xel-Ha, Xplor or ...  Read more

Location: Cancun, Mexico
Duration: 12 hours (approx.)

From USD $238.99

Private Tour: Chichen Itza Day Trip from Cancun

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 10 Reviews

Spectacular Chichen Itza holds both mystery and magic, and you can explore it on a personalized, private tour from Cancun. This UNESCO World Heritage Site and ...  Read more

Location: Cancun, Mexico
Duration: Varies

From USD $86.99

Coba Ruins Day Trip from Cancun or Riviera Maya

4.5 star rating: Recommended 30 Reviews

Leave Cancun and Riviera Maya behind and take a day trip to the stunning Mayan ruins of Coba. Climb to the top of the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan peninsula ...  Read more

Location: Cancun, Mexico
Duration: 10 hours (approx.)

From USD $128.99

All-Inclusive Self-Drive Hummer Tour: Snorkeling, Ziplining and Interactive Zoo

4.5 star rating: Recommended 14 Reviews

Explore Cancun like never before - through the jungle and in a Hummer! Hop aboard a fully automatic Hummer and take the adventure of a lifetime, visiting an ...  Read more

Location: Cancun, Mexico
Duration: 9 hours (approx.)

From USD $144.99

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