Best Mayan Ruins Tours near Cancun, Mexico
Last Updated on May 27, 2023
After having lived in the Yucatan Peninsula for over 2 years and having visited extensively the region, I can tell you a trip to Cancun wouldn’t be complete without visiting at least one or two Mayan archaeological sites.
The Riviera Maya and the Yucatan Peninsula are great places to see Mayan ruins, with some of the most beautiful Mayan sites in America. With tons of things to do along the Riviera Maya, make sure you add one or two archaeological sites to your itinerary.
BEST MAYAN RUIN TOURS FROM CANCUN
Don’t have time to read the whole article? The hands-down best choices are either this Tulum Ruins, Reef Snorkeling, Cenote and Caves Tour with over 2,800 5⭐️ reviews or this Chichen Itza Early Access, Cenote, Tequila & Traditional Lunch Tour
Chichen Itza, a UNESCO world heritage site, is definitely the most famous Mayan ruins near Cancun, but there are tons of different options, some way less frequented, that you can visit easily from Cancun.
Read on to discover the best Mayan ruins tours from Cancun you can easily do as day trips, from popular sites to hidden gems!
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My Top 3 Picks: Best Mayan Ruins Tours from Cancun
Chichen Itza Early Access & Cenote
✔ Lunch & Tequila included
✔ Early access to beat the crowds and the heat
✔ Hotel pick up available
Tulum Ruins, Reef Snorkeling, Cenote, and Caves
✔ Several must-do activities in one day trip
✔ Lunch & water included
✔ Hotel pick up
Coba & Tulum Ruins Day Trip
✔ 2 Mayan ruins in one day trip + 1 cenote
✔ Guided tour + time on your own to explore
✔ Hotel pick up
What are the closest Mayan ruins to Cancun?
There are a few Mayan ruins near Cancun, but most major archaeological sites in the Yucatan Peninsula can easily be accessed as day trips from Cancun.
Here are the closest Mayan ruins to Cancun:
- El Rey Ruins: Located within the Hotel Zone of Cancun, the El Rey Ruins are the closest Mayan ruins to the city. This archaeological site features the remains of a small ceremonial center and several structures, including temples and platforms. Yamil Lu’um, El Meco, and San Miguelito are also just a short taxi drive from the hotel zone.
- Tulum: While not as close as the El Rey Ruins, Tulum is still relatively accessible from Cancun. It is situated about 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of Cancun. Tulum is renowned for its scenic coastal location and the well-preserved ruins of a walled Maya city overlooking the Caribbean Sea. ▶︎ BOOK A TOUR TO TULUM FROM CANCUN
- Cobá: Cobá is located approximately 160 kilometers (100 miles) west of Cancun. It is known for its large network of ancient Maya roads (sacbeob) and the towering Nohoch Mul Pyramid, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding jungle. ▶︎ BOOK A TOUR TO COBÁ FROM CANCUN
🗿 Ready to book your Cancun Mayan ruin tour now? I recommend this tour to Chichen Itza (probably the best Mayan site to visit in Mexico!). The tour includes early access to the ruins to beat the crowds and the heat, a guide, a swim in a cenote, and tequila and lunch. ▶︎ BOOK NOW
Best Mayan Ruins Tours from Cancun
1 – Chichen Itza Early Access
⭐️ Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars | ⏳ Tour Length: 11 hours | 🗿 Check Rates and Availability
This Chichen Itza Early Access Tour is one of the best overall Mayan Ruins trips Cancun has to offer, with hundreds and hundreds of 5-star ratings.
The best part? You’ll enjoy early access to the site, beating the crowds and the heat.
“Incredible day!! Best advice is DO THE EARLY ACCESS. You beat the crowds, the heat and if you are lucky, you get Marco as your tour guide. He was a great source of knowledge and he took the best Instagram pictures.“
– HENRI (READ MORE REVIEWS)
When you think of Mayan ruins near Cancun, Chichen Itza automatically comes to mind. El Castillo, the most famous Mayan pyramid is a unique sight, walking through this ancient city, you’ll learn everything about the Mayas and their traditions.
The site is pretty big, many structures have been found and excavated. Chichen Itza is one of the best restored Mayan sites in Mexico and a must-see.
The Chichen Itza Early Access allows you to gain early access to the site avoiding the crowds and the heat. It’s a great tour as it gives you free time to explore on your own as well as a guided tour with a licensed tour guide who will explain the history of the ancient city and tell you all about Maya culture and traditions.
After the visit, you can get a buffet-style Mexican lunch (the tour operator can accommodate special diet needs.
After lunch, you’ll head to a nearby cenote to go for a swim and do a tequila tasting before heading home. Pick-up and drop-off are included for most hotels in Cancun.
2 – Tulum Ruins Visit and Swim in Two Cenotes Guided Tour
⭐️ Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars | ⏳ Tour Length: 10 hours | 🗿 Check Rates and Availability
This Tulum Ruins Visit and Two Cenotes Guided Tour is one of the best overall Mayan Ruins trips Cancun has to offer, with hundreds and hundreds of 5-star ratings.
The best part? You can combine a visit to an archaeological site with a swim in two cenotes.
“We had a great time on this trip! The ruins + cenotes are a perfect combination for a day trip. Our guide and driver were also wonderful. Thanks!“
– GENNA (READ MORE REVIEWS)
Tulum is renowned for its scenic coastal location and the well-preserved ruins of a walled Maya city overlooking the Caribbean Sea. It was a prominent Maya trading port during the Postclassic Period (900-1521 CE).
It reached its peak between the 13th and 15th centuries and was known as Zama, meaning “City of Dawn” in the Maya language. Tulum was a walled city and served as a gateway to maritime trade routes. The Temple of the Frescoes and El Castillo are notable structures within the site.
The tour will start with a guided tour of the Tulum ruins with a knowledgeable guide then you’ll head to an area with 2 cenotes: Chen Há and Mariposa (one underground and one open-air) where you can take a dip in the refreshing water, lounge on the side, and gaze a the beautiful natural scenery.
Pick-up and drop-off for most hotels in Cancun are included. Lunch is not but, that way, you get to pick where and what you want to eat.
You’re sure to spend a memorable day on this Tulum Ruins and Cenotes Guided Tour from Cancun.
3 – Chichen Itza, Cenote, & Valladolid Tour
⭐️ Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars | ⏳ Tour Length: 12 hours | 🗿 Check Rates and Availability
This Chichen Itza, Cenote, & Valladolid Tour is another great option to consider when looking for Chichen Itza tours from Cancun, not only do you get to visit the ruins but you get to swim in a cenote and visit the charming colonial town of Valladolid.
“One of the best tours, they are very organized and well planned. They picked us up on time and the tour guide was very good !!!“
– MANU (READ MORE REVIEWS)
This tour includes pick-ups and drop-offs, all transportation, a guide, and lunch. You’ll start by visiting Chichen Itza with a licensed guide, then head to the underground Saamal where you’ll find restrooms, lockers, changing rooms, and life jackets.
A buffet-style lunch will be served before heading to Valladolid where you can stroll around the main plaza, see the colorful colonial buildings, and shop for souvenirs.
You’re sure to spend a memorable day on this Chichen Itza, Cenote, & Valladolid Tour.
You should know: This tour is one of the most affordable Chichen Itza tours from Cancun, but it means traveling with a large group of people – so it’s a great pick for travelers on a budget, but not so much if you’re not a big fan of big group tours. Also, the entrance fee for Chichen Itza is not included (it’s not included in most tours), count 35 USD per adult and 5 USD per child.
4 – Tulum Ruins, Reef Snorkeling, Cenote, and Caves
⭐️ Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars | ⏳ Tour Length: 8 hours | 🗿 Check Rates and Availability
This Tulum Ruins, Reef Snorkeling, Cenote, and Caves Tour is another great option to consider when looking for Tulum tours from Cancun, not only do you get to visit the ruins but you get to go snorkeling and swim in a cenote inside a cave.
“Amazing trip from start to finish. Our guide arrived exactly on time to pick us up, he was very knowledgeable about Tulum, the snorkeling was amazing and beautiful. The cenote was by far the best experience, everyone agreed it was the highlight. This is a can’t-miss experience!“
– LISA (READ MORE REVIEWS)
You’ll get to tour Tulum ruins with a guide then enjoy some free time to explore on your own. Afterward, go on a boat trip to reach a beautiful reef full of colorful fish and corals where you can snorkel.
Lastly, you’ll head to the rainforest where you’ll swim and snorkel in the crystal-clear fresh waters of a massive cenote, and marvel at the thousands of spectacular stalagmites and stalactites around you.
You’re sure to spend a memorable day on this Tulum Ruins, Reef Snorkeling, Cenote, and Caves Tour.
5 – Tulum, Coba, & Cenote: Full-Day Tour
⭐️ Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars | ⏳ Tour Length: 12 hours | 🗿 Check Rates and Availability
This Tulum, Coba, & Cenote Full-Day Tour is a great option if you want to visit two Mayan ruins in one tour! This tour has hundreds of 5-star reviews, and best of all, it includes a stop at a cenote!
“The cenote was amazing, very good lunch, and the tour guide was very good. Coba and Tulum are worth seeing.”
– YAQUELINE (READ MORE REVIEWS)
Cobá is known for its large network of ancient Maya roads (sacbeob) and the towering Nohoch Mul Pyramid, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding jungle. It’s a must-see Mayan ruin in Mexico that you can easily visit on this tour from Cancun.
The tour includes hotel pick-up and drop-off, transportation, a licensed guide, and lunch. You’ll tour two Mayan ruins: Cobá and Tulum then take a dip in a refreshing cenote.
This Tulum, Coba, & Cenote Full-Day Tour is perfect for anyone wanting to visit Mayan ruins near Cancun.
6 – Ek Balam, Valladolid, and Hubiku Cenote
⭐️ Rating: 5.0 out of 5 Stars | ⏳ Tour Length: 12 hours | 🗿 Check Rates and Availability
This Ek Balam, Valladolid, and Hubiku Cenote is perfect if you want to do several activities in one day. Visit Mayan Ruins, explore a colonial town, and take a dip in a cenote.
Ek Balam is smaller a site but feels more authentic. Surrounded by dense jungle, you can still climb two of the main pyramids and get a stunning view from above. The carvings there are spectacular and unique, some of the best you’ll see outside a museum.
Start your day exploring the ancient ruins of Ek Balam with a knowledgeable guide who will tell you everything there is to know about the site and the Maya people. You’ll then get some free time to explore on your own.
Then you will head to the semi-open Hubiku cenote where you can swim for a while and enjoy the natural beauty of the place. After this, a traditional Yucatan meal will be served ending with a tequila tasting.
The last stop is the charming colonial city of Valladolid where you can stroll around the main plaza, see the colorful buildings, visit the church, and shop for souvenirs.
This Ek Balam, Valladolid, and Hubiku Cenote Tour is definitely a fun day trip from Cancun that is perfect for people wanting to visit a less-visited site to avoid crowds!
7 – Merida, Uxmal, and Cacao Museum Day Trip from Cancun
⭐️ Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars | ⏳ Tour Length: 12 hours | 🗿 Check Rates and Availability
This Merida, Uxmal, and Cacao Museum Day Trip from Cancun is a great option if you want to visit a less frequented and more out-the-beatten-path Mayan site. The tour is private so you can follow the typical itinerary or adapt it.
And, best of all, you get to explore the charming colonial city of Merida and see how chocolate is made.
“This was one of the best excursions I have ever been on. The guide did an excellent job, showed amazing hospitality of what Mexico has to offer – definitely don’t miss out”
– SARAH (READ MORE REVIEWS)
Uxmal is a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the most beautiful Mayan ruins near Cancun. Less visited than its neighbor Chichen Itza, Uxmal is huge and offers a lot of different edifices to explore. There are several majestic pyramids you can climb on top of and smaller structures with beautiful carvings.
After having picked you up at your hotel, the driver will take you to Uxmal where you can explore the site and get on top of some pyramids to enjoy stunning views over the rainforest. Next, you’ll head to Merida where you can stroll around cobblestone streets and see colorful buildings.
The day ends with a tour of the Cacao Museum where you’ll get to see how chocolate is made from the bean to the bar.
An alternative would be to skip Merida and the museum and visit the Ruta Puuc instead and tour the smaller site of Kabah, Sayil, Xlapak, and Labna instead, Just ask if it’s possible when booking the tour.
For an epic Mayan ruin tour from Cancun, this Merida, Uxmal, and Cacao Museum Day Trip from Cancun is a perfect choice.
Note that it takes 4 hours to get to Uxmal from Cancun so be ready to spend a lot of time in the car.
8 – Private Day Tour from Cancun to Izamal with Lunch
⭐️ Rating: 4.8 out of 5 Stars | ⏳ Tour Length: 12 hours | 🗿 Check Rates and Availability
This Private Day Tour from Cancun to Izamal with Lunch will take you dip into the Mayan jungle to explore sacred cenotes before touring the ancient city of Izamal.
Izamal, nicknamed the Yellow City, is one of Yucatan’s cutest Pueblos Magicos (Magical Town). This village has kept its colonial architecture, with paved streets and traditional houses, all of them, painted yellow. Along the charming streets, you’ll find several Mayan ruins, sparkled here and there.
Around 6 archaeological sites have been identified and excavated within the town. The main pyramid, Kinich Kakmo, is the country’s third-largest Mayan structure.
You’ll spend your morning swimming in different cenotes known as the Cuzama cenotes reaching them via a train cart pulled by horses. After lunch (included), your next stop will be in Izamal where you can tour the town and the Mayan ruins.
See Mayan ruins in one of Mexico’s cutest towns and swim in impressive underground cenotes on this Private Day Tour from Cancun to Izamal with Lunch.
9 – Full-day tour to Tulum and Jungle Maya Native Park with Ziplines & Cenotes
⭐️ Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars | ⏳ Tour Length: 10 hours | 🗿 Check Rates and Availability
This Full-day tour to Tulum and Jungle Maya Native Park with Ziplines & Cenote is a great option if you want to go on a fun adventure, explore Mayan ruins, ziplines through the rainforest, rappel down a cenote, and visit an underground river.
“We were very pleased with our experience. The staff was on time, very helpful and nice, encouraging with the adventure parts, and knowledgeable on the history of the Mayan culture in Tulum. 10/10 recommend.”
– BERG (READ MORE REVIEWS)
Start the day by exploring the ruins in Tulum with a local guide before heading to the Jungle Maya Native Park.
There, discover the beautiful Sac-Actun System, the longest underground river in the world. Snorkel while surrounded by ancient rock formations, wander in the majestic Mayan jungle, rappel down and swim in the beautiful Yaaxmul cenote. You’ll also do ziplining and see an authentic Mayan blessing ceremony.
Lunch and pick-up/drop-offs are included.
For an adventure-filled day, this Full-day tour to Tulum and Jungle Maya Native Park with Ziplines & Cenotes is a perfect choice.
10 – Priority Access: Xcaret Day Trip + Night Show + Transportation
⭐️ Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars | ⏳ Tour Length: 6 to 12 hours | 🗿 Check Rates and Availability
This Xcaret Day Trip + Night Show + Transportation is great if you want to mix culture, wildlife, and adventures. Many activities are included and you can get add-ons or an upgraded package depending on what you want to do.
“That park from top to bottom is worth the money. The plus package is 100% worth it and saves you money in the long run. Food was amazing and park was fantastic.”
– CIAN (READ MORE REVIEWS)
Xcaret is an eco-archaeological park located in the Riviera Maya, near Cancun and Playa del Carmen. It showcases the natural beauty, history, and culture of the Yucatán Peninsula. While it is not a traditional Mayan ruin site, it does include some Mayan elements and attractions.
The Pre-Hispanic ruins at Xcaret are distributed at the back of the cove, on the Tropical Jungle Trail, behind the stage of the Papantla Flyers, and between the Open Forum and the Aquarium.
At Xcaret, visitors can explore underground rivers, swim in cenotes (natural sinkholes), and enjoy various ecological and cultural activities. The park also features replicas of Mayan temples, traditional Mayan performances, and exhibits that provide insights into the ancient Mayan civilization.
This tour includes transportation to and from your hotel and entrance to the park with priority access – make sure to check what activities are included or not.
This Xcaret Day Trip + Night Show + Transportation is a perfect tour to spend a day exploring that popular attraction and visiting its Mayan ruins.
11 – Chichen Itza Sunrise and Cenote Ik Kil from Cancun
⭐️ Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars | ⏳ Tour Length: 6 to 8 hours | 🗿 Check Rates and Availability
If you don’t mind waking up early, this Chichen Itza Sunrise and Cenote Ik Kil from Cancun Tour is a unique way to visit one of the best Mayan sites near Cancun.
Best of all, it’s a private tour so you get to spend time with your group only!
“We had a great time learning from Gabriel the history of the Mayan people and the ruins. He was also very punctual. The cenote swim and buffet lunch at Ik Kil was very refreshing and delicious respectively. Would book with this tour company again!”
– JENINE (READ MORE REVIEWS)
This private sunrise tour to Chichen Itza lets you avoid the crowds and heat. You’ll see the ancient Mayan city as the sun rises over its ruins. Afterward, you’ll have the chance to take a dip in the famous Ik Kil cenote.
As this is a private tour, the itinerary is flexible and you can add on another archaeological site, such as Ek Balam, Coba, or Tulum.
For an epic Mayan ruin tour from Cancun, this Chichen Itza Sunrise and Cenote Ik Kil from Cancun Tour is a perfect choice.
What to Pack for your Mayan Ruin Tour near Cancun
- Bring sunscreen (biodegradable if you’re going to swim in the cenotes), a cap or hat, and long light clothes that’ll protect you against the sun.
- Pack natural mosquito repellent.
- Bring plenty of water and snacks, you’ll find shops in the most popular sites but maybe not in the smaller ones.
- Wear comfortable shoes, you’re going to walk a lot.
- If your tour includes a swim in a cenote, make sure to bring a towel and a change of clothes.
- Make sure you know some basic travel Spanish phrases.
Mayan Ruins Around Cancun FAQ
Are there Mayan ruins in Cancun?
Yes, there are four Mayan ruins in Cancun that are just a short taxi drive away from the hotel zone. These four Mayan ruins in Cancun are El Rey, Yamil Lu’um, El Meco, and San Miguelito
What are the best Mayan ruins to visit in Cancun?
The “best” Mayan ruins to visit in Cancun will depend on you’re preference. While Chichen Itza is the most popular, it’s also the most touristy. For something just as stunning with lesser crowds, Uxmal and Ek Balam are good options.
How far are the Mayan ruins from Cancun?
While there are a couple of Mayan ruins within Cancun, many can easily be visited as a day trip from Cancun and are within a 3-hour drive.
How safe is it to visit Mayan ruins in Cancun?
Visiting Mayan ruins near Cancun is as safe as it gets, especially if you’re on a tour.
Can you still climb the pyramid at Chichen Itza?
No, you can’t climb the pyramid at Chichen Itza, but you can climb some pyramids in Uxmal, Cobá, and Ek Balam.
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So beautiful places! Definitely must see!