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The most beautiful Mayan ruins on the Yucatán in Mexico – with a map, tips and recommendations

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No trip to Mexico is possible without visiting a Mayan ruin site. The millennia-old, monumental buildings simply speechless – not to mention the cultural achievements of the Mayas in terms of calendar, writing and Co.

If you If you are planning a trip to the Yucatán, then you have probably already read about one or the other Mayan ruin: First and foremost is Chichén Itzá, probably the most famous ruin site on the Yucatán. But there are also countless Maya temples on the Yucatán Peninsula away from the Wonder of the World, that will amaze you.

In this blog article we will introduce you those seven ruins that we visited on our Yucatán tour. We also talk about our personal experiences and of course reveal our tips for the visit.

1. Mayan Ruins on Yucatán in Mexico (with personal experiences and tips) Chichén Itzá THE ruin site in Mexico. Chichén Itza is not only the landmark of the region, but above all one of the seven new wonders of the world. The rush of visitors is correspondingly large, as you might imagine. Our tip is therefore to visit Chichén Itza at sunrise, because that way you can avoid the crowds completely.

The most important attraction of Chichén Itzá is the striking Pyramid of Kukulcán, also called El Castillo. . This is also the first place you come by when you visit. Appearances are deceptive: there are countless other buildings, such as the Gran Juego de pelota (Mayan sports ground) or the Templo de los Guerreros (Warrior Temple). We recommend that you plan about three hours for your visit.

Our detailed blog article with lots of tips: Chichén Itzá at sunrise

In summary – this is what awaits you in Chichén Itzá One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, hence easy something special during the day masses of visitors (the area is from approx. Watch hopelessly overcrowded)Buildings may not be entered Information on visiting Chichén Itzá Entry: 530 pesos per person (plus 80 Pes os parking fee)

Starting point for sightseeing:
preferably directly at Chichén Itzá or in Pisté

Recommendation accommodation: Mayaland Hotel & Bungalows (on site, just 5 minutes walk)

Time for site visit:
approx. 3 hours

Uxmal We traveled to Uxmal without any expectations – and lo and behold, we were pretty excited. This ruin site is located in the west of the Yucatán Peninsula, about an hour’s drive (80 kilometers) away from the colonial city of Mérida.

Uxmal is UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the wi most important excavation sites in Mexico. Nevertheless, the rush is limited, because Uxmal is still overshadowed by Chichén Itza. Nowhere else have we seen more iguanas in one place than here.

The most famous and striking building is the so-called Adivino Pyramid with its slightly oval shape. It may not be entered, but from the Governor’s Palace you have a great view of the area of ​​the Mayan ruins of Uxmal.

You can find more about Uxmal in our Mérida blog article: Mérida tips & excursion destinations

In summary – that awaits you at the ruins of Uxmal Quite extensive area with beautifully restored ruinsNot overcrowded, therefore much more pleasant to visit than Chichén Itzá Not all temples may be climbed, but you have a really nice view from one Information about visiting Uxmal Entry: 240 Pesos per person (plus 240 Pesos Parking Fee)

Starting point for visit:

Recommendation for accommodation in Mérida:
Viva Merida

Time for site visit:
about 2 hours

Calakmul Calakmul is without a doubt the most isolated ruin site we have visited. All around is nothing but Jungle: Calakmul is about 60 kilometers away from civilization and can only be reached after a 1.5 hour drive through the rainforest. This gives the Mayan ruins of Calakmul a very special flair – during our visit, for example, a herd of monkeys crossed our path.

In Calakmul, the ruins can be climbed. The distant view of the jungle from the imposing, 45 meter high Main Pyramid (Estructura II) is one of those travel experiences that will stay in your memory forever.

More about Calakmul can be found in our blog article: Tips for Calakmul & Becán

In summary – this is what you can expect from the Mayan Ruins of Calakmul Quite a long journey (1.5 hours drive through the deepest jungle)Very few visitorsUnique, mysterious flair as the ruins are completely surrounded by jungleRuins can be climbed, so you have a great view over the rainforest Information about visiting Calak mul Entry: total approx. 240 Pesos per person (you pay three times along the way)

Starting point for sightseeing:

Recommendation Accommodation in Xpujil:
Casa Ka´an
Time for on-site inspection:
approx. 3.5 hours

Tulum No other ruin site can compete with this imposing backdrop: The Mayan ruins of Tulum are located directly on the Cliffs with a view of the turquoise blue sea. For this reason alone, we believe that you simply have to see the ruins.

The ruins themselves are, to be honest, less impressive than others. In addition, the Mayan site of Tulum is a magnet for visitors. We were glad to be there at 8am (when it opened). From about 10 o’clock the area is littered with bus groups. It’s definitely worth coming early!

Our detailed blog article with lots of tips: Tulum Tips

In summary – this is what awaits you at the ruins of Tulum Spectacular location right on the cliffsVery, very many visitors (the ruins are similarly overcrowded as Chichén Itzá)Temple may not be entered and are not as impressive per se as other ruin sites Info for visiting Tulum Entry: 80 Pesos per person

Starting point for visit: Tulum

Recommended accommodation:
Biwa Tulum

Time for on-site inspection:
approx. 1.5 hours

Becán If you visit Calakmul, we recommend that you also pay a visit to Becán. Becan is located in the state of Campeche near the town of Xpujil. Becán can without a doubt be described as something of a ruins insider tip for Mexico.

You can visit the ruins of Becán climb – and that’s exactly what you shouldn’t miss. From the larger pyramid you have a gigantic view over the rest of the area and the extensive landscape.

You can find more helpful tips in our detailed blog article: Tips for Calakmul & Becán

In summary – this is what awaits you at the ruins of Becán Off the beaten track ruins in the interior of the Yucatán PeninsulaVery spectacular ruins that can also be entered Information about visiting Becán Entry: 60 Pesos per person

Starting point for sightseeing:

Recommendation accommodation in Xpujil:
Casa Ka´an

Time for on-site inspection:
at least 1.5 hours

Cobá The ruins of Cobá are located in inland of the Yucatán Peninsula, well 15 Kilometre away from the coast. Cobá is one of those ruins that are in the middle of the jungle. Cobá was once one of the largest Mayan cities. The area is correspondingly extensive: In Cobá you can cover the paths through the jungle on a borrowed bike.

Although Cobá is far less frequented than, say, Tulum, the feeling of seclusion didn’t really want to set in with us. Cobá is simply too touristy for that. Nevertheless, we really liked it. Our undisputed highlight was the climbing the Nohoch-Mul-Pyramid, which meanwhile (as of November ) is unfortunately no longer allowed.

You can find more helpful tips for Cobá in our blog article: Tulum Tips & Excursions

In summary – this is what awaits you at the Mayan ruins of Cobá Relatively accessible, sprawling jungle ruins Crowds at the individual pyramids quite large (but Not nearly as bad as in Tulum)The Pyramids may no longer be climbed Information about visiting Cobá Entry: 80 Pesos per person (plus 60 Pesos Parking Fee)

Starting point for sightseeing:
Tulum or Valladolid

Recommendation for accommodation in Tulum:
Biwa Tulum

Time for site visit:
approx. 2 hours

Ek Balam The ruins of Ek Balam are located near the colonial city of Valladolid and are One of the lesser known Mayan ruins. Like many other ruins, Ek Balam is surrounded by jungle. Unlike other ruins, however, Ek Balam offers even more insight into Mayan culture. Thanks to the reconstructed roofs on the main ruins, you can get a good idea of ​​how the Mayas lived back then.

In Ek Balam you can climb the buildings. The view from the main ruins (the so-called Acropolis) is particularly impressive, but climbing the stairs is also worthwhile for the smaller ruins, as our photos show.

You can find more information about Ek Balam in this blog article: Valladolid Tips

In summary – this is what awaits you at the ruins of Ek Balam Unique ArchitectureComparatively unknown and little-visited ruinsTemple may be climbed Info about visiting Ek Balam
approx .450 Pesos per person

Starting point for visit ing:

Recommendation for accommodation in Valladolid:
La Flor Casa Boutique

Time for site visit:
about 1.5 hours

2. Worth knowing about visiting ruins in Mexico Visit Mayan ruins with or without a guide? Although we tend to “explore everything on your own” we believe that you should treat yourself to a guide at least once on a Yucatán tour . Guides (if they are good) can tell a lot of exciting things about the Mayan culture in just a few hours, so that you will also experience “aha” moments when visiting ruins in the future. In principle, of course, you can also explore each ruin completely on your own.

How do I get a guide?
This varies from ruin to ruin. At some ruin sites (e.g. Tulum) you can easily book a guide directly at the entrance. With others (e.g. Calakmul) it was not possible to find an English-speaking guide even the evening before.

In general, we are always of the opinion that the accommodation is a good starting point for a guide. Because hotels/guesthouses are usually well networked and know who they like to work with.

What is the cost of a guided tour?
Very different: You can sometimes get good bargains on site. An example: At the ruins of Tulum there is a separate counter at the entrance where you can book private tours. This costs in total (for a group of 4 people) approximately 15-50 US Dollars (approx 801 pesos). The price is usually negotiable.

Depending on how isolated a place is, it can also be considerably more expensive: In Calakmul, for example, a guided tour (including the 2-hour or departure by car through the jungle) a total of 2. 500 Pesos for both of us . In view of the fact that fuel costs also have to be factored in, we didn’t think it was that expensive at all.

For our 3-hour sunrise tour in Chichén Itzá we (without travel) actually got 1 .500 Pesos paid per person.

What attire is appropriate for the visit? There is no dress code at Mayan ruins such as at the Buddhist temples of Bagan. We would still recommend keeping your shoulders covered or at least not stingy with sunscreen, because the midday sun is pretty relentless.

Depending on the ruin site, you often see visitors with long clothes (e.g. in Calakmul) to protect against mosquitoes. We ourselves were also dressed long, although in retrospect it wouldn’t have been absolutely necessary. We didn’t have a lot of mosquitoes around. In general, you can’t go wrong with wide, long trousers.

The shoes should be comfortable and stable – this applies above all to those ruin sites , whose buildings you can climb. And a hat doesn’t hurt either.

May I take photos/films at Mayan ruins? Apart from the entrance fee, a camera fee has to be paid for many ruins, whereby this fee usually only applies to filming. For most ruins the fee is around 45 pesos. In our experience, you can avoid the fee if you leave the camera in your backpack or photo bag when entering the area.

Flying with a Drone absolutely forbidden. Appropriate signs also indicate this. If you start the drone anyway, you risk high penalties. We strongly advise against this.

What is the best time for the visit? The sooner the better! Some Mayan ruins are from 10 Clock completely overflowing – we think of Chichén Itzá or Tulum. At some ruins we found the mid-afternoon (15h) ideal (such as in Becán or Uxmal). The advantage: the light gets a little better then and there are not quite as many visitors on the move as at midday. It is only important that you plan enough time, because many ruins are already closing 17 Uh r their gates.

Keyword Lunch time: You should definitely avoid them! Especially at the well-known ruins, the bus groups are brought in at this time.

One more thing: On Sunday Mexicans have free entry to all archaeological sites. We would generally try to avoid this day of the week. However, we went to Ek Balam on a Sunday and didn’t find it overly crowded.

What should I take with me? Very important: Enough water! This applies in particular to those ruin sites where there are no stalls (Becán and Calakmul). A snack doesn’t hurt either. Climbing the ruins requires more energy than you think.

Two other things should not be missing in your bag: mosquito spray and Sunscreen. You will almost certainly need both.

You should also have enough cash with you. Cards are not always accepted and some services (e.g. guide on site, bike rental, snacks, etc.) can only be paid for in cash.

For larger and less well-known ruins (e.g. Calakmul and Becán), we recommend that you take a photo of the plan with your mobile phone as soon as you enter, so that you don’t lose your bearings. We also like to use the offline map on our phone to locate us.

3. Interactive Map of Yucatan Mayan Ruins 4. More Mexico Blog Articles to Prepare for Your Trip Itinerary through Yucatán in MexicoPractical travel tips for your trip to MexicoAll Mexico travel reports at a glance 17291Transparency: Affiliate Links This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!

Have you already been to the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico and do you have any other tips for Mayan ruins? Please leave us a comment with your experiences – we look forward to it!