Guatemala RECOMMENDATIONS See all

Mayan Ruins in Guatemala

By Viator, August 2013

3.5 3 Reviews | Add your review

Guatemala is home to over 1,500 Maya sites, making it one of the best countries to visit for history buffs and archeology enthusiasts. Many structures are hidden amongst the dense jungle terrain, a living testament to the skill of the ancient Mayans. The Mayan culture thrived between 700 B.C. to 900 A.D. and it is believed only a fraction of the ancient cities have been excavated.

A majority of the most noted Mayan Ruins in Guatemala are located in the Petén department. Because of its natural flora and fauna and its importance in the Mayan ruins, the Maya Biosphere Reserve in the Petén area has been designated a UNESCO – Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Reserve.

If you are traveling to Central America with plans to visit at least one Mayan ruin in Guatemala, here are some of the most recommended ones in the country.

Tikal

Tikal is undoubtedly the most well-known Mayan site in Guatemala. It attracts travelers from Mexico and Belize who sometimes plan a visit to the country just to see Tikal. There are more than 3,000 structures at Tikal, many of which were built around 700 A.D., which is believed to be the height of the Maya culture. Tikal was once home to over 100,000 inhabitants and extends over six miles, comprised of temples, ceremonial platforms, palaces, ball courts, steam baths and more. Tikal has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its important combination of nature and archeological structures.

Yaxha

Situated halfway between Tikal and the Belize border, the archeological site of Yaxha achieved international fame after it was utilized as the filming location for the television show Survivor in 2005. It is third largest Mayan site in Guatemala, after Tikal and El Mirador, with over 500 structures. With neighboring Nakum and Naranjo, the three make up the cultural triangle, which is the most densely populated region of the Mayan Classic Period.

Aguateca

Aguateca dates back to the Mayan Classic Period and is one of the best-preserved and restored Mayan ruins in Guatemala. The journey to Aguateca is an experience in itself as you must take a boat and if the water level is not high enough, you will be walking the shallow parts. There are defensive walls surrounding the city on tall limestone buffs.

El Mirador

El Mirador is located near the Mexican border and is the second largest Mayan site in Guatemala. It’s important not only for its size, but also in that it is home to the greatest concentration of pre-Classic Mayan ruins in the world. The pre-Classic Mayan era dates back as far as 2,000 B.C.

Quirigua

Quirigua is one of the smallest Mayan sites in Guatemala, but it is home to some of the best displays of monuments, including the largest block of stone ever carved by the Mayas. The tallest carved stone, or stela, measures 35 feet and weighs more than 65 tons.

Uaxactun

Located near Tikal, Uaxactun is one of the oldest Mayan sites with structures dating back to 330 B.C. It is believed this is the primary place where the Mayans developed their calendar based on the four ruins built in alignment with the sunrise during equinoxes and solstices.
 
Zaculeu

Located in western town of Huehuetenango, Zaculeu is about a one-hour drive from Mexico. It is renowned for its use of a completely different material than other Mayan sites. It is believed to have served as the center for the Mam Kingdom and the word Zaculeu means “white earth” in Mam, the material used to build their city. The site contains a series of plazas, temples, a ball court, and stepped pyramids.

Tours & Tickets

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Tikal Day Trip by Air from Guatemala City with Lunch

4.5 star rating: Recommended 22 Reviews

Take an exciting air tour from Guatemala City to discover the beauty and ancient history of the Mayan ruins of Tikal! After a scenic flight to Tikal, spend a ...  Read more

Location: Guatemala City, Guatemala
Duration: 10 hours (approx.)

From USD $339.99

Tikal Day Trip by Air from Antigua with Lunch

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 11 Reviews

Discover the beauty and ancient history of the Mayan ruins of Tikal on this air tour from Antigua! Enjoy a scenic flight to Tikal and spend the day exploring ...  Read more

Location: Antigua, Guatemala
Duration: 10 hours (approx.)

From USD $369.99

Tikal and Yaxha Overnight Trip by Air from Guatemala City

Discover the Mayan ruins of Tikal and Yaxha on this overnight tour from Guatemala City! Head to the jungle of Guatemala on this 2-day adventure and admire the ...  Read more

Location: Guatemala City, Guatemala
Duration: 2 days (approx.)

From USD $534.99

Copán Day Trip from Guatemala City

3 star rating: Worth doing 2 Reviews

Explore the archeological ruins of Copán, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site of the Mayan Empire, on this full-day trip from Guatemala City. Head by ...  Read more

Location: Guatemala City, Guatemala
Duration: 14 hours (approx.)

From USD $158.99

Copán Day Trip from Antigua

Travel to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed site of Copán, one of the most elaborate cities of the Mayan Empire, on this full-day trip from Antigua. Enjoy ...  Read more

Location: Antigua, Guatemala
Duration: 14 hours (approx.)

From USD $188.99

Mixco Viejo Day Trip from Guatemala City

Take a day trip from Guatemala City and explore the Mayan ruins of Mixco Viejo. Discover the fascinating history behind the temples, pyramids and ball courts ...  Read more

Location: Guatemala City, Guatemala
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $99.99

Iximché Ruins and Antigua City Tour

Experience Guatemala’s mixture of Spanish and Mayan influences on this full-day tour of Iximché and Antigua. Learn about Mayan history from your ...  Read more

Location: Antigua, Guatemala
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $74.99

Mixco Viejo Day Trip from Antigua

Explore the Mayan ruins of Mixco Viejo on a day trip from Antigua. Discover the rich history behind the temples, pyramids and ball courts of this archeological ...  Read more

Location: Antigua, Guatemala
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $99.99

Iximché Ruins and Antigua City Tour from Guatemala City

4.5 star rating: Recommended 6 Reviews

See Guatemala’s mixture of Mayan and Spanish influences on this 8-hour tour from Guatemala City to the Iximché ruins and the city of Antigua. Learn about ...  Read more

Location: Guatemala City, Guatemala
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $74.99

Copan and Quirigua Overnight Trip from Guatemala City

4.5 star rating: Recommended 3 Reviews

Discover the beauty of the ancient ruins of Copan and Quirigua on this overnight trip from Guatemala City! After a scenic drive in a comfortable vehicle, spend ...  Read more

Location: Guatemala City, Guatemala
Duration: 2 days (approx.)

From USD $329.99

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