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.
Most Cancun vacationers never hear about this ancient Mayan city, even though it’s right under their nose. Located within the Cancun Hotel Zone, El Rey has structures of all sizes to climb and explore, just a quick city bus ride away from any Cancun hotel. It’s right across the street from the city’s best public beach, plus there are no pesky vendors.
You cannot find a Mayan ruin with a more dramatic location. This small but breathtaking city is set on a cliff top by the Caribbean Sea, just two hours south of Cancun. You can’t climb on these structures, but Tulum does have one of the world’s most unique beaches at the foot of the cliff.
Less than three hours from Cancun, the ancient Mayan city of Coba is built around two lagoons. Adventurous travelers fall in love with Coba for its gorgeous jungle scenery and climbable temples. The entire site covers a large area, and bikes are available for rent so you can easily explore the entire city.
By far the most famous Mayan ruins in Mexico, Chichen Itza is a popular day trip for travelers staying in Cancun. The main highlight is the famous El Castillo pyramid, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. However, this huge city also has other jaw-dropping structures like the Observatory and the Temple of the Warriors. The only downside: You can’t climb on these structures.
These climbable ruins are nestled in the jungles of Yucatan state, about two hours west of Cancun. The site has several large structures including a tall main pyramid, along with beautifully preserved carvings. Ek Balam is a great way to experience ancient Mayan culture without the crowds.
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