Cancun Mayan Ruins Tours: Up Close & Personal

Your Cancun vacation is the perfect excuse to discover fascinating ancient Mayan ruins near Cancun! The ancient Mayan civilization left behind a fascinating legacy and visitors to Cancun will find history all around. A Chichen Itza tour should top your bucket list, it's one of the "New Seven Wonders of the World" and a marvel to see! The Mayan ruins of Tulum offer spectacular views of the sea, the archaeological site of Coba brings you to the top of the tallest pyramid in the region and Ek Balam is a secret gem in Yucatan just waiting to be explored.

 

Mayan Ruins near Cancun:

Among the many benefits of Cancun’s location, is its proximity to magnificent Mayan ruins full of mysteries and charm with Chichen Itza being the most famous of all. This city once was the center of the Mayan Empire, it was a cultural melting pot several hundreds of years ago, It is also one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico, as many as 1.4 million visitors take a Chichen Itza tour every year. No wonder why in 2010 it was named one of the New Seven Wonders of The World, besides being a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. Other sites that are popular among travellers from all over the world are the beachfront walled city of Tulum ruins and the off the beaten path sites of Coba and Ek Balam ruins.

El Rey Mayan Ruins, Cancún


Did you know there are archaeological sites in the hotel zone of Cancun? Just off Playa Delfines (also known as "El Mirador") at kilometer 18 of Boulevard Kukulcán there is an archaeological site that shows an architectural style similar to that of Tulum; these Mayan ruins in Cancún received the name of "El Rey", for a sculpture of a man found in the place in 1909, whose clothing made explorers think he portrayed a Maya nobleman.



San Miguelito Archaeological Site, Cancún


At kilometer 16.5 on Kukulcan Boulevard in the Hotel Zone,  you will find the Mayan Museum of Cancun, with an interesting collection of pre-Hispanic artifacts permanently and temporary exhibitions on the pre-Columbian history of Mexico. Within the grounds of this museum is a small Mayan ruins site that we recommend you visit, the archaeological site of San Miguelito that has trails flanked by lush gardens with typical vegetation of the region.



El Meco Archaeological Site, Cancún


Another interesting Mayan ruins site within Cancun is the archaeological site "El Meco"; They are located about 1/2 hour from the Hotel Zone but there is public transport that can take you there. These Cancun Mayan ruins are located at kilometer 2.7 of the road that goes from Puerto Juarez to Punta Sam, near El Embarcadero, the maritime terminal where the boats depart to take you to Isla Mujeres (where, by the way, there is also a small temple dedicated to the goddess Ixchel).

Important Information:

Although Chichen Itza is a very well known city, excavations and archaeological researches are still taking place on the site, the most recent even discovered a third structure or pyramid underneath “El Castillo” or Kukulkan Pyramid, the larger pyramid and center of this outstanding place, the pyramid is a sort of Mayan era Russian doll in a way, with layers and mysteries to be unfolded and discovered. With the exception of Tulum ruins which is completely discovered due to its smaller size, most of the Mayan ruins near Cancun are still widely unexplored, including major cities such as Coba and Ek Balam. You'll see just the tip of the iceberg of structures at these Mayan ruins sites, many of the buildings are still buried deep in the jungle foliage, their mysteries awaiting discovery! 

Mayan Ruins Tours in The Riviera Maya & Yucatan

Tulum Mayan Ruins, Quintana Roo

This is a fascinating archaeological site located about two hours from Cancun. The beauty  of the Tulum pyramids is their location on the top of a cliff facing the sea, resulting in incredible landscapes, with the combination of pyramids in the Riviera Maya to the front and the beautiful colors of the Caribbean Sea in the background. The ruins of Tulum are not very extensive, allowing the visitor to combine the Tulum Express half-day excursion with other activities such as our Tulum and Aktun Chen Cenotes tour, Tulum and Playa del Carmen tour and many others.

Cobá Mayan Ruins, Quintana Roo

The Mayan ruins of Coba offer travelers the opportunity to get to know an ancient Mayan city covered by the thick jungle of Quintana Roo. The Cobá pyramids are less than three hours from Cancun and boast one of the tallest buildings built by the Maya, the Nohoch Mul temple, which can still be climbed by visitors. Some of the temples in the ruins of Cobá are so far apart that the option of exploring this archaeological site by bike is offered! Book a tour to Cobá separately or take the opportunity to visit this settlement in conjunction with many other activities on the Tulum + Cobá + Cenote + Playa del Carmen Plus tour.

Chichen Itza, Yucatan

To visit one of the most famous pyramids in the world, El Castillo or Temple of Kukulcán, the simplest and most comfortable way is to book a Mayan ruins tour of Chichén Itzá. You can not leave the Mexican Caribbean without having been to one of the 7 New Wonders of the World! Take a tour to Chichen Itza from Cancun, swim in a cenote, visit the magical and colonial town of Valladolid, Yucatan, and also enjoy the typical cuisine of the state.

Ek Balam Mayan Ruins, Yucatán

If you have already visited all the Mayan ruins in Cancun, Riviera Maya and Yucatan that we have mentioned, you will surely want to venture to the archaeological site of Ek Balam, in Yucatan. This archaeological site, much less visited than all the other Mayan ruins mentioned above, has several temples that you can still climb and appreciate from the top, the imposing Acropolis the most spectacular of all. At the top of the Acropolis you will find one of the most impressive facades you have ever seen in a Mayan temple, it shows the jaws of a huge monster that is also guarded by winged warriors! The classic Ek Balam tour includes a visit to the Cenote Maya, where you can descend to rappel, swim and slide by zip lines.

Recommendations:

Chichen Itza and most of the Mayan ruins near Cancun are large cities located in the jungle and therefore, humidity and temperature levels may be a little extreme during the summer months. It is important that visitors wear comfortable clothes (light shirts with long sleeves) and comfortable shoes as well as hats and sunscreen all year round. You are also welcome to bring your camera and unique point of view to take the best photos of your trip. Stay hydrated and fueled, drink lots of water and be sure to eat well to prepare for your Indiana Jones day of exploration.