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Mayan Ruins in Cancun

Even if you’re headed to Mexico for a lazy week on the beach, one trip to see Mayan ruins is a must-do! Here are the top three ruins sites in the area:

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza is the largest, best known and best excavated ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s about a two hour ride from Cancun and reachable by bus, car, or with organized tour groups. It will cost you approximately $20 each way on the toll road, $10 admission and $1 to park if you decide to drive yourself. It’s a large park with a lot to see. Make sure you take the time to see two of its main attractions—the Great Ball Court and El Castillo.


Tulum sits about 50 miles south of Cancun right on the ocean. The Tulum ruins are the only large ruins you can visit directly on the Caribbean Sea. The temples rest on a high cliff above the sea. It’s a great photo opportunity. You can tour these yourself or hire a tour guide. Wear your swimsuit under your clothes so that you can jump in the ocean to cool off after touring.


The ruins of Coba are open to tourists, but are nowhere near the tourist traps that Tulum and Chichen Itza can be. They are located another 40 minutes west of Tulum and are easily accessible. Coba is great for several reasons: it’s in the jungle, it’s much cooler and only a few of its estimated 6,500 structures have yet to be uncovered—including the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan which you can actually climb! You can even rent bicycles or have a guide cart you through the ruins on a tricycle.

Beyond these sites are some you might “discover” yourself. On a beach just south of Puerto Aventuras, for example, I found an unnamed ruin and a beautiful lagoon. It was completely ours the rest of the day!

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