1000+ videos of Mayan Ruins listed by overall popularity:
*Below see all 25+ ruins broken down into separate pages and video playlists.
There are over 4000 Mayan Ruins scattered across Central America and Mexico. The most famous ruins near Cancun would be Chichen Itza. Below are 25+ Mayan Ruin sites and up to 50 videos on each site. Also check out my page on Cancun Cenotes here.
North Yucatan above Cancun
Located just under two hours away from Cancun and Playa del Carmen, the Punta Laguna Nature Reserve is a must see for nature and animal loves. Punta Laguna is a unique opportunity for travelers to catch a rare glimpse of spider monkeys in the wild and tour the nearby Mayan village for a peek at indiginous Mexican culture.
The Mayan ruins of the Templo Ixchel (Temple of Ixchel) can be found on the southern tip of Isla Mujeres, just 6 miles off the coast of Cancun, Mexico. The Ixchel Ruins are small, reduced by time and repeated hurricanes battering the island over centuries, yet they are easily accessible from Cancun. Of note are the Ixchel Temple and other nearby activities.
Closest to Cancun Mexico
You may be surprised to find the Yamil Lu’um ruins nestled between two hotels (the Park Royal Cancun Resort and Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort). The ruins consist of two temples, Temple of the Scorpion and Temple of the Handprint, were built between 1200 and 1550 AD and served as lighthouse towers. The ruins are well-preserved for their age and central location in the Cancun Beach Hotel Zone.
Only 5-minutes drive from the city of Cancun, El Meco is a must-see archaeological zone near Punta Sam. The site is made up of three “plazas,” with additional structures off-site that are closed to the public due to their location on private property. Archaeologists and care-takers have uncovered 18 structures between public and private land including the tallest pyramid in the Cancun area and second tallest in all of the Yucatan Peninsula, after the main pyramid at Chichen Itza.
Across the water from Playa del Carmen, the San Gervasio archeological zone is one of the most important cultural areas on the Island of Cozumel. The zone consists of six main areas with additional temples in the area. The site was the location of pilgrimages made by the Maya people who worshiped Ixchel, the Goddess of Fertility and Medicine.
The ruins of El Rey (Zona Arqueologica El Rey) are located within the Cancun Hotel Zone and offer several hours of exploration of approximately forty-seven small structures. El Rey dates back to 1200 AD. There are two main plazas which hold the ruins and all the structures are connected by white stone roads (sacbe). You will notice that the main draws of El Rey are two small temples, used as lighthouses, and the royal heritage of the area. You can view a sculpted bust of a king on display; a previous excavation at the site revealed the remains of someone thought to have been royalty. The name of the ruins, El Rey, is Spanish for The King.
Located in the Cancun Hotel Zone, the archaeological site of San Miguelito is home to over a dozen structures that date back to 1250 AD. Though the original name of the site is lost to history, San Miguelito is named after the coconut ranch on which it was found. The central structures of the ruins include a palace with 17 columns and a small pyramid, in addition to numerous ruins of Mayan dwellings. The area was part of an extensive Mayan trade network which was effectively destroyed by the Spanish colonization of the area in the 1500s.
While this is not the only site for ruins on Cozumel, the ruins of El Cedral are the oldest Mayan Ruins, dating back to 800 AD. The ruins are located in the town of El Cedral on the island of Cozumel. The entrance is marked by a massive white and red arch, adorned with crosses. All that remains of the historical capital of Cozumel and former home to its largest community is a small house-sized ruin. The site is smaller than the San Gervasio Ruins [Link] which can also be found on Cozumel, but as the island is quite small itself the site is easily accessible.
Mayan Ruins Near Tulum
(80 miles south of Cancun along the eastern Yucatan coastline)
These ruins, also known as Chunyaxché, gained their name from the times of Spanish colonialism. The area dates back to at least 300 BC, but the majority of the ruins that stand today date to the late Postclassic period between 1200 and 1450 AD. Due to its location, Muyil was an important part of trade networks in the area for centuries.
Recently, Tulum has become a prized location for vacationers who value luxury, privacy, and incredible nature. It’s no wonder that Tulum appears on so many top five lists of best places to see in Mexico. In addition to stunning beaches and five-star hotels, Tulum has some of the best preserved Mayan ruins in all of the Yucatan.
Mayan Ruins Near Chetumal
(240 miles south of Cancun along the eastern coastline)
Chetumal is a popular hub for visitors to the area’s ruins. If your hotel is located in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or Tulum, you will likely be making an overnight stay in Chetumal as the Mayan ruins in the area are some of the hardest to get to. Chetumal is roughly 240 miles south of Cancun along the eastern coastline. Take a look below for some of the best Mayan ruins you will find near Chetumal.
The Mayan Ruins of Kinichna and Dzibanche are often treated as a package deal, which makes sense as the area used to be connected as one large city. Visitors will find these ruins a couple of miles apart, together with other ruins like Kohunlich and Calakmul, which we wrote about as well.
The Mayan Ruins of Calakmul are some of the best preserved and remote Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula. Nestled inside a rainforest near Mexico’s border with Guatemala, the ruins are sure to delight not only fans of Mayan architecture and culture, but also ornithologists since the rainforest is home to many incredible tropical birds. The great pyramid at Calakmul is one of nearly 7,000 structures that have been uncovered by archaeologists. At 147 feet, it is one of the largest Mayan ruins to be discovered in the Yucatan.
Xpuhil (or Xpuji) ruins is a site covering 5 square miles near the town of Xpujil. There Mayan Ruins have a distinct architectural style that is similar to the Classic Rio Bec. The largest and most impressive structure is Structure I, which has three towers (rather than the common two tower construction) making them look more like the ruins of Angkor in Cambodia than the ruins of the Maya.
Visitors to Kohunlich will get a chance to see beautiful Mayan ruins and wildlife at the same time. Unlike other ruins closer to Cancun which are taken over by iguanas and other lizards, you will notice as soon as you arrive at these Kohunlich that its howler monkeys that rein supreme here. This Mayan settlement has several structures of note spread over 21 acres surrounded by palms and other vegetation. The Temple of Masks is adorned with intricate polychrome stucco masks painted red and black.
Mayan Ruins Heading Inland
(30 miles inland, west of Tulum & Cancun)
Though certainly less glamorous than their more famous neighbor, Chichen Itza, the ruins of Ek Balam are home to 45 structures including the city’s defensive walls, oval palace, and Acropolis which contains the tomb of Ukit Kan Le’k Tok’, a former ruler of Ek Balam.
El Castillo, also known as the Temple of Kukulkan, is the main pyramid at the complex and immediately springs to mind. A large stone carving of Kukulkan, the feathered serpent deity, gives it his name and can be seen at the foot of the pyramid. The entire structure is big, standing at nearly 100 feet. In 2016, archaeologists discovered a smaller second pyramid hidden inside El Castillo using noninvasive imaging techniques. Though it is inaccessible to visitors and has not been viewed by archaeologists in person, its existence speaks to the layered history of the site and its significance to Mayan cultures across hundreds of years.
Coba is a testament to Mayan engineering and architecture. When Coba was booming, the population size rivaled that of Chichen Itza with nearly 55,000 inhabitants living in Coba between 600 AD and 900 AD. The tallest pyramid temple at Coba is Ixmoja which, at 138 feet, is slightly shorter than the tallest Yucatan pyramid in Calakmul. It goes without saying that Ixmoja is taller than Chichen Itza’s El Castillo.
Mayan Ruins Near Merida
(200 miles west of Cancun below Merida)
The Kabah ruins can be found south of Merida and are the second largest of the Puuc region, after Uxmal. The ruins of the ancient Mayan town once held a population of 10,000. Structures were constructed around 800 AD and include the Palace of Masks, the Temple of Columns, and sacbeob totaling dozens of miles in length.
The Xlapac ruins, also known as Xlapak ruins, can be found along Ruta Puuc; a road that is home to five major Mayan ruins. This site is the smallest of the five, but well worth the visit considering there is no fee to see the beautiful ruins. Xlapac has three palaces which stand in a clearing of a Yucatan jungle. Similar to the ruins of Kabah, the most intricately carved palace is adorned by masks which depict the Mayan God of Rain, Chaac.
When you step onto the site, you’ll quickly realize why Sayil shows up on so many must-see lists of Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula. A massive three-tiered palace is the focal structure of the ruins. While you cannot climb the structure, you can’t help but marvel at its beauty. The palace stairs ascend in one large stairway from the ground to the top of the third tier. Much of the right side of the palace is covered in grass and roots after centuries of laying in ruin. The left side, however, remains intact and has an amber stone color to it. The town was large at its peak with nearly 10,000 inhabitants.
There have been nearly 4000 structures found at this site making it one of the largest ruins in the Yucatan. Though most have not been excavated, there is still much to see in Mayapan, which once was home to nearly 12,000 Maya. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived, it was Mayapan that was the last standing civilization of the Maya people.
Uxmal is located 62 kilometres or about 38.5 miles south of Merida. Merida is just 22 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. It is about a 6 hour drive from the Riviera Maya (Cancun, PDC, Tulum).
To the east of Uxmal, about 90 miles, is Chichén Itzá and Mayapan is just 25 miles (40 km) Northeast. By road, it is some 50 miles (80 km) south of Mérida. Uxmal was designated a World Heritage site in 1996. Merida is the state of Yucatan’s capital city.
While these Mayan ruins are not home to any massive pyramids, the area makes up for this with the well preserved Temple of the Seven Dolls; the focal point of the Dzibilchaltun ruins, 10 miles from the state capital of Merida. Named after the seven effigies on the site, the temple is a popular destination during the spring and autumn equinoxes. There is some debate as to whether the Maya intentionally built the temple in this way, but sightseers visit at this time to watch the sunset through the temple’s doorways and they are perfectly positioned to frame the sun.
The ruins of Labna will find a place on your Ruta Puuc itinerary, since they are unavoidable placed with their neighbors: Sayil and Kabah. The ruins date back to 600 AD to 900 AD and have strikingly unique features. The elaborately decorated Gateway Arch of Labna is famous for its interesting shape; different from a standard arc, the tall entrance is pinched at the top. El Palacio is another feature of the ruins and is known for being one of the longest structures on the Ruta Puuc.
The “Three Sun Stone” ruins of Oxkintok can be found on the edge of the Puuc Hills near the city of Merida. The site has four complexes and numerous pyramids for travelers to discover. The entry arch to the Ah Dzib group of structures is built in a similar style to that of the famous Gateway Arch at the Labna ruins.
Mayan Ruins Near Campeche
(Far west of Cancun on the western coastline)
Four hours north of another famous Campeche ruins, Calakmul, the ruins of Edzna are far from the usual stomping grounds of Cancun tourists and provide a perfect respite from the crowds. The main pyramid at Edzna is a sight to behold, with some proclaiming that it is even grander than the structure at Chichen Itza.
Experience the Mayan Ruins of the Yucatan! Here are a few of the most popular Mayan Ruin tours and excursions. These are all offered by Viator a TripAdvisor Company!
- Ek Balam Mayan Ruins and Cenote Combo Tour
- Price: $99.00
- Altun Ha Mayan Ruins and River Wallace Tour
- Price: $85.00