14 Tulum Mayan Ruins to visit: the best Mayan Ruins of Tulum

In this blog, we will delve into the mysterious world of the Tulum Mayan Ruins, exploring the stories behind its grand structures, the breathtaking vistas surrounding it, and the secrets that still lie hidden within its walls.

Nestled along the shimmering Caribbean coastline of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, the Mayan Ruins of Tulum offer a captivating blend of rich history, ancient mysteries, and unparalleled natural beauty.

mayan ruins of tulum

Once a thriving seaport and a critical trading hub for the Mayan civilization, Tulum now stands as a testament to this fascinating civilization’s architectural prowess and cultural heritage that thrived over a thousand years ago.

Whether you’re an avid history buff, a fervent adventurer, or simply a curious traveler seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience, Tulum promises to be an unforgettable journey into the heart of Mexico’s ancient past.

Join us as we embark on an incredible adventure through the magical world of the Mayan Ruins of Tulum!

🔗 Tulum Mayan Ruins: quick links

🗺️ Mayan Ruins of Tulum Map

🏺 14 Tulum Mayan Ruins to visit

Tulum Archaeological Zone

Tulum Mayan Ruins
@patrickwelsch90 / Instagram

📍 Carretera Federal, Cancun – Chetumal Km 230
🚗 7 min (3 km / 1.86 miles) from Tulum

The Tulum Archaeological Zone is an ancient Mayan walled city perched on a cliff overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.

It was first inhabited during the late Postclassic period of Mesoamerican chronology, between AD 1200 and 1521 by the Mayans.

The site features some of Mesoamerica’s most impressive architectural remains, including El Castillo, the Temple of the Frescoes, and the Temple of the Descending God. 

The famed El Castillo is among the well-preserved remains that tourists may awe at while taking in the clear Caribbean waters and white-sand beaches.

Due to its proximity to contemporary Tulum, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has easy access to eco-adventures, cenotes, and local food, making it a memorable vacation spot for history buffs, beach lovers, and adventure seekers alike.

Chichen Itza

Tulum Mayan Ruins
@nick.caruso / Instagram

📍 Chichén-Itzá, Yucatan, Mexico 
🚗 2hr 10min (148 km / 91 miles) from Tulum

Chichen Itza is a renowned ancient Mayan city and is one of the most important ruins in Mexico. It is recognized as one of the World’s New Seven Wonders.

As one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the iconic Kukulkan Pyramid (El Castillo) attracts travelers with its breathtaking design and equinox light-and-shadow display.

You can explore the Great Ball Court, Temple of the Warriors, and the Sacred Cenote, delving into the site’s rich cultural history.

Coba Archaeological Zone

📍 77793 Quintana Roo, Mexico
🚗 44 min (47 km / 29 miles) from Tulum

The Coba Archaeological Zone is an important historic site 40 minutes inland from Tulum. It houses the remnants of an ancient Mayan city, a time-worn ensemble of pyramids, monuments, and causeways submerged in a steamy Mexican jungle.

Coba Archaeological Zone is also recognized for its architectural and cultural significance, which has the tallest pyramid in Yucatan, the Nohoch mul. 

Tulum Mayan Ruins
@cangab21 / Instagram

You can wander along sacbeob, the ancient white roads, leading to impressive structures like Nohoch Mul, the tallest pyramid in the region. Climbing Nohoch Mul rewards adventurers with panoramic views of the surrounding jungle and lagoons.

Coba’s extensive network of stelae and hieroglyphs provides a glimpse into the lives of the Maya people.

With its intriguing archaeological remains and immersive jungle setting, Coba promises an unforgettable off-the-beaten-path experience for history enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

El Rey Archaeological Zone

📍 El Rey, Q.R., Mexico
🚗 1h 31min (128 km / 79 miles)

The El Rey Archaeological Zone is a historical urban complex that dates back to the pre-classical period of Mesoamerican civilization.

The zone was a small ceremonial center and contained several well-preserved structures, including a temple, platforms, and a ball court.

Tulum Mayan Ruins
@wander.mom / Instagram

Moreover, it comprises evidence representing the cultural and technological developments during this era through stelae, altars, and other monumental architecture.

Its well-preserved ruins, featuring temples, plazas, and platforms, transport visitors to a bygone era. The site is home to the remains of an important Maya trade and religious center, providing historical context to the region.

Surrounded by lush vegetation and inhabited by friendly iguanas, El Rey provides a serene, educational experience for history buffs, nature lovers, and curious travelers seeking a quick escape from the bustling modernity of Cancun.

Muyil Archaeological Zone

📍 Reforma Agraria-Puerto Juárez km 25, 77710 Chunyaxché, Q.R., Mexico
🚗 24 min (24 km / 14 miles) from Tulum) 

The Muyil Archaeological Zone is an ancient Mayan site in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve that dates back to the pre-Classical period. Muyil is known for its well-preserved buildings and structures, including the Castle (El Castillo).

The area also provides evidence of early agricultural practices and its inhabitants’ relationship with their environment, and it is believed that the occupants of Muyil constructed an extensive network of canals to manage water resources for domestic use and farming.

Tulum Mayan Ruins
@mexicoprehispanico / Instagram

You can admire the well-preserved El Castillo pyramid and intricate stelae, providing a glimpse into the site’s rich history.

Muyil’s location within the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve offers unparalleled access to diverse ecosystems, including mangroves, marshes, and lagoons.

Travelers can embark on guided boat tours, floating down ancient canals, and marvel at the area’s biodiversity. Muyil is a must-visit for those seeking a tranquil, immersive experience combining archaeology, culture, and nature.

Archaeological Site of Xel-Ha

📍 México 307, 77774 Q.R., Mexico
🚗 17 min (20 km / 12 miles) from Tulum 

The Archaeological Site of Xel-Ha is a pre-Hispanic Maya site inside the Xel-Ha eco-park in Riviera Maya. The site has natural structures and architectural features, such as small stone temples and cenotes.

It is also believed to have been used by the region’s ancient inhabitants for ritual and administrative activities.

mayan ruins of tulum

You can explore the well-preserved ruins while learning about the site’s significance in trade and pilgrimage. The surrounding natural park boasts crystal-clear cenotes, lagoons, and rivers, perfect for snorkeling, swimming, or kayaking.

Xel-Ha’s unique combination of archaeological treasures and water-based activities makes it an ideal destination for those seeking cultural enrichment and fun-filled outdoor experiences.

Archaeological Zone of Xcaret

📍Carretera Chetúmal Puerto Juárez Kilómetro 282o
🚗 45 min (57 km/ 35 miles) from Tulum

The Archaeological Zone of Xcaret was an important trading center and seaport in the postclassic period. It offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore the region’s rich history and culture.

It features several well-preserved structures, including the House of the Four Winds, a temple dedicated to Itzamna. It is approximately 200 hectares in land area and has more than 50 archaeological sites. 

mayan ruins of tulum

You can explore the site’s well-preserved ruins, including temples, plazas, and residential structures, while learning about its historical significance as a strategic port and ceremonial center.

Xcaret Eco Park’s abundant attractions, such as underground rivers, wildlife exhibits, and cultural performances, complement the archaeological experience.

Xcaret’s combination of ancient history, natural beauty, and diverse activities makes it an appealing destination for travelers seeking a multifaceted, entertaining, and educational adventure in the Riviera Maya.

Archaeological Zone of Cedral

📍 Sur de la Playa San Francisco
🚗 2hr 5min (89 km / 55 miles) from Tulum

The Archaeological Zone of El Cedral is known as the oldest Mayan settlement at Cozumel, built in 800 AD. It is home to an archaeological museum that has been studied intensely since its discovery.

The site is considered one of the most important sites for understanding the development and decline of the Classic Maya period. 

mayan ruins of tulum

As one of the oldest Maya sites on Cozumel, Cedral boasts well-preserved ruins, including temples, altars, and residential structures, providing insight into the daily life and religious practices of its inhabitants.

The site’s tranquil, off-the-beaten-path atmosphere allows travelers to connect with history away from crowds. Cedral is an ideal destination for those seeking a deeper understanding of Maya culture while experiencing the natural beauty and charm of Cozumel Island.

Chacchoben

📍 Carretera Federal, 307 Via Carta Mérida
🚗 2hr 14min (188 km/116 miles) from Tulum

Chacchoben is another famous ancient Mayan site that returns to the pre-classic period. It is the product of a complex and wide-ranging cultural history, used as a center for trade and commerce.

Moreover, Chacchoben features several well-preserved structures, including three pyramids and a ball court, making it a popular tourist destination for years.

Tulum Mayan Ruins
@river747 / Instagram

You can explore well-preserved pyramids, temples, and stelae, uncovering the city’s history as a thriving agricultural and religious center. The site’s serene atmosphere, with its towering mahogany trees and abundant wildlife, enhances the experience.

Chacchoben’s location in southern Quintana Roo provides convenient access to nearby attractions like Bacalar Lagoon and Lake of Seven Colors. For travelers seeking a unique, off-the-beaten-path archaeological adventure, Chacchoben is an enchanting choice. 

San Gervasio

📍 San Gervasio, 77667 San Miguel de Cozumel
🚗 1hr 59min (80 km / 49 miles)

San Gervasio is a significant religious center in Cozumel, featuring three prominent temples dedicated to Ixchel, the Maya goddess of fertility and childbirth.

Besides being a Mayan sacred center, the site provides valuable insight into Mayan life’s spiritual, commerce, and political aspects during this period.

Tulum Mayan Ruins
@viaggiandoatestaalta / Instagram

The island’s largest and most significant archaeological site features temples, plazas, and arches dedicated to the goddess Ixchel. You can delve into the site’s rich history, which served as a pilgrimage center for women seeking fertility blessings.

Surrounded by lush vegetation, San Gervasio provides a serene setting to explore and appreciate the cultural heritage. An ideal destination for history enthusiasts and nature lovers, it adds depth to the Cozumel experience beyond its beautiful beaches.

Ek Balam

📍 Ekbalam, Yucatan, Mexico
🚗 126 km, 1hr 47min

Ek Balam is an ancient Mayan ruin located on the Yucatan Peninsula. The site features a large acropolis, various plazas, and several temples, pyramids, and other monumental structures.

One thing unique about the place from other Mayan ruins is that the earliest evidence of human activity at Ek Balam has been dated to around 200 BC, making it one of the oldest sites in the area. 

Tulum Mayan Ruins
@wanderlusting_rima / Instagram

The site’s impressive Acropolis showcases intricate carvings and well-preserved stucco facades, offering unique insights into Maya art and architecture. You can climb the Acropolis for panoramic views of the surrounding jungle and nearby cenote.

Ek Balam provides an intimate, authentic experience with fewer crowds than neighboring sites. Combining history, art, and natural beauty, Ek Balam is a must-visit for those seeking an off-the-beaten-path archaeological adventure in Mexico.

Chac-hal-al

📍 77734 Puerto Aventuras, Quintana Roo, Mexico
🚗 42km, 31 min

Chac-hal-al is famous among tourists for being a unique small Mayan ruin in Mexico. Accordingly, it is believed to have been a center of religious activity and pilgrimage for the ancient Maya.

The site also includes intricate architectural features such as carved stone stelae, altars, buildings, and temples, indicating a complex community social structure.

Tulum Mayan Ruins
@molocheto / Instagram

You can explore modest yet intriguing ruins, including a small temple, plazas, and ceremonial structures, and learn about Chac-hal-al’s history as a trading post. The site’s coastal location allows for picturesque views and a relaxed atmosphere.

Chac-hal-al is an ideal destination for those staying in Puerto Aventuras or nearby areas seeking a quick, accessible taste of Maya history amidst their beachside vacation.

Nohoch Mul Pyramid

📍 Coba archaeological site, 77793 Q.R., Mexico
🚗 43 min (47 km / 26 miles) from Tulum

The Nohoch Mul Pyramid is renowned for being the highest Mayan pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula, standing at 42 meters high. The structure features a large stairway and several platforms, where visitors climb its 120 steps to get great jungle views.

Until now, the purpose of Nohoch Mul Pyramid  is still debated, but according to some, it may have been used for ceremonial purposes or astronomical observations.

Tulum Mayan Ruins
@kiniarozkminia / Instagram

As one of the tallest Maya pyramids in the Yucatan Peninsula, Nohoch Mul offers a rewarding climb to its summit. Visitors who conquer the 120 steps are rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding jungle and other ancient structures.

Nohoch Mul provides a thrilling adventure for history enthusiasts, nature lovers, and active travelers, seeking to combine archaeology, physical challenge, and unforgettable vistas in the heart of the Mexican jungle.

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🧭 Tulum Mayan Ruins tours

Chichen Itza, Cenote and Valladolid (All-inclusive)

🕒 12 hours
💲 from $59 USD 

This all-inclusive tour in Tulum Mayan Ruins allows you to explore some of the region’s most famous spots in just one day. 

You will visit the Ancient Tulum Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, Cenote Saamal, and the colonial town of Valladolid.

cancun in april
@claudialifter / Instagram

Additionally, a knowledgeable guide will be with you throughout the tour to share critical historical facts about the places you are to visit. Some of the tour’s inclusions are buffet lunch, hotel picks up, and free time for some photo-ops. 

Tulum Mayan Ruins and Cenotes Tour

🕒 9 to 10 hours
💲 from $29 USD 

Explore two distinguished Caribbean cities in one day as you join the Tulum Mayan Ruins and Cenotes Tour

Not only do you get a guided tour of the famous Tulum Mayan Ruins site, but you will also have plenty of time to enjoy the cenotes in the area. 

Tulum Mayan Ruins
@othamilviajes / Instagram

The tour starts with a visit to the Tulum Archaeological site, where you will be given time to explore the place independently. Here, you can learn about the Mayan culture and how the place has been preserved for years. 

The next stop will be the Cenote Chen Ha, where you can relax for the rest of the day and maybe participate in water activities like snorkeling or paddleboarding. 

Chichen Itza, Cenote, and Valladolid with tequila tasting and lunch

🕒 12 hours
💲 from $41 USD 

This full-day tour to different regional areas offers the perfect mix of adventure and history. 

The tour begins with a stop at the Real Mayab Hotel, where you will have breakfast and have time to shop for souvenirs. You will drive through stunning Mexican jungle scenery as you head to your first destination. 

The first stop is the Chichen-Itza, where you’ll take a guided tour of this incredible ancient city. Afterward, you will head to the cenote chichikan for an exhilarating swim before taking a break for lunch at a nearby restaurant. 

Tulum Mayan Ruins
@alanvnamdo / Instagram

The final stop is Valladolid, known as the Magic Town of Mexico, where you can spend the rest of your day roaming the village. This is also where you will have lunch and tequila tasting as part of the tour package. 

Tulum Mayan Ruins with cenote swim

🕒 8 hours
💲  from $29 USD

This comprehensive and Tulum Mayan Ruins with cenote swim includes a visit to some of the best spots in the area. 

casa cenote

Your journey will begin at Tulum’s archaeological ruins, where a professional guide will lead you through the historic site. You will also have the chance to learn about the fascinating Mayan culture and its history as you explore the ruins.

Next, you will visit the stunning Cenotes Casa Tortuga Tulum, where you can marvel at the beautiful natural scenery and crystal-clear waters. With your snorkel gear, you can even explore the depths of the cenotes and get a unique perspective on the underwater world.

WE CUSTOMIZE TOURS IN TULUM! 🎉🥳

We live here and have traveled the whole state of Quintana Roo. Contact us for a quote: no hidden costs, just simple prices. E-mail us at [email protected] or call our office at +52 473 171 5259.

Coba Ruins with Cenote swim from Tulum

🕒 11 hours
💲 from $70 USD

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of Cancun and explore two of Mexico’s best-known Mayan sites in Tulum and Coba Ruins. 

Together with an expert guide, this full-day tour takes you to the famous Tulum Mayan Ruins, perched atop high limestone cliffs. You will also be visiting Coba’s ruin site, once a thriving Mayan village in the rainforest. 

Tulum Mayan Ruins
@fabiovivas / Instagram

After the first half of the tour, you will enjoy a buffet lunch before heading to your next stop, the Calle Quinta Avenida in Playa del Carmen. 

Before returning to your hotel, you’ll dip in the Cenote Kuxtal and enjoy some free time to marvel at the cenote’s lush jungles and crystal-clear waters.  

Private Tulum Mayan Ruins tour

🕒 4 hours
💲 from $114 USD 

If you’re looking for a comfortable and Tulum Mayan Ruins private tour, this half-day tour to the famous archeological ruins site is perfect. 

Tulum Ruins
@dingoatemyticket / Instagram

In this private tour, you can avoid the midday sun and crowds as you visit Tulum Mayan ruins in the morning. Your knowledgeable guide will lead you throughout the tour, explaining the history and culture of the Mayans. 

Additionally, you’ll also have the chance to explore the Mayan ruins without the tourist crowd and time to take photos to capture your experience. 

Selva Maya Eco-Adventure Park

🕒 4 hours
💲 from $80 USD 

In this Selva-Maya Eco Adventure, you’ll explore the Mayan jungle, swim in underground river pools, and learn about traditional Mayan customs. 

A visit to the Eco-adventure Park will also allow you to participate in many exciting activities like zip lining, snorkeling, kayaking, and rappelling. Plus, you’ll have a chance to visit some of Tulum’s historic archaeological sites.

Tulum Mayan Ruins
@dlmotr / Instagram

Throughout the tour, a knowledgeable guide will join you through the lush jungle trails as you go through mysterious cenotes and spot exotic wildlife aboard an all-terrain vehicle. 

But that’s not all! After your adventure, you will enjoy a delicious Mayan lunch prepared using traditional methods and local ingredients. This meal will be the perfect way to end your exciting tour through the Selva-Maya Eco Adventure.

Coba Choha with cenote swim

🕒 10 hours
💲 from $100 USD 

The Coba Choha tour is perfect for travelers exploring the region’s hidden gems in small groups, ensuring a personalized and intimate experience.

First, spend a fun day exploring the ancient Mayan city of Coba, where you’ll climb the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula. You’ll also have the time to visit the famous Tulum Archaeological Site and Playa Paraiso. 

tulum travel guide

After exploring the ancient Tulum Mayan ruins and Coba, you will head to the picturesque Choo-Ha cenote, where you can swim in crystal-clear waters and explore the fascinating underground caves.

Here, you can participate in optional activities such as snorkeling or paddleboarding to fully experience the beauty of this stunning location.

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🚗💨 How far are the Mayan Ruins from Tulum?

The Mayan Ruins are located right within the town of Tulum. It is situated on a cliff overlooking the beautiful Caribbean Sea, making it a trendy destination for Tulum tourists.

Technically speaking, the Mayan ruins are 3km away from the town center of Tulum. You will travel 7 to 10 minutes from Tulum Centro by car to get there.

Tulum Ruins
@hvolinka / Instagram

Aside from the Tulum Archaeological Mayan ruins, there are also other Mayan ruins located within a short distance from Tulum that are worth visiting, such as the ruins of Coba and Chichen Itza. 

Coba is located about 47 kilometers from Tulum Centro and can be reached in about an hour by car. Meanwhile, Chichen Itza, one of Mexico’s most famous and impressive Mayan ruins, is located about 148 km from Tulum and can be reached in about 2hr and 10 min by car.

🆚 Which ruins are better: Tulum or Chichen Itza?

Both Tulum and Chichen Itza are incredible and unique ancient Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula, and which one is better depends on your preference and what you’ll enjoy exploring. 

To help you weigh the two Mayan ruins, Tulum is a smaller and more compact site located right on the coast. It has a stunning backdrop of the turquoise Caribbean, perfect for your photos. 

Additionally, the Tulum Mayarn ruins are well-preserved and offer a glimpse into the daily life of the Mayan people who inhabited the area. While the site is smaller than Chichen Itza, it is still famous among tourists, especially those interested in history, archaeology, and stunning views.

Tulum Mayan Ruins
@rita_ferreira / Instagram

On the other hand, Chichen Itza is one of Mexico’s largest and most famous Tulum Mayan ruins. It is known for its impressive architecture and advanced engineering, home to several stunning structures, such as the Kukulkan Pyramid and the Great Ball Court.

Ultimately, suppose you’re interested in seeing the unique blend of Mayan and Spanish architecture and learning about the history and culture of the area.

In that case, Chichen Itza is a must-visit. But if you’re looking for a more relaxed experience and want to enjoy the stunning views of the Caribbean Sea while exploring the ruins, then Tulum is a great option.

🙋 Is Tulum Ruins the same as Chichen Itza?

No, Tulum Ruins and Chichen Itza are not the same. They are not located in the same place. 

Tulum Ruins are located in the town of Tulum, on the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, south of Cancun. The ruins are situated on a cliff overlooking the turquoise Caribbean Sea, and they are a well-preserved example of the Mayan civilization’s architecture and way of life. 

Tulum Mayan Ruins
@efrenmauleon / Instagram

Additionally, Tulum was an essential Mayan trading port and a walled city from the 13th to the 16th century.

Meanwhile, Chichen Itza is located inland in the northern part of the Yucatan Peninsula, about 120 km (75 miles) west of Cancun. It is a large and well-preserved ancient Mayan city that was inhabited from around 750 to 1200 AD. 

Chichen Itza is famous for its structures, such as the Kukulkan Pyramid, the largest ballcourt in Mesoamerica, and the Temple of the Warriors.

Overall, while Tulum Ruins and Chichen Itza are ancient Mayan ruins with some similarities, they are different and unique sites with different histories, architecture, and cultural significance.

🇲🇽 Tulum Travel Resources

✈️ Flights to Tulum
The airport that serves Tulum is Cancun International Airport. Use Kiwi.com to find the cheapest flights to Cancun. This is our favorite booking engine because they compare prices across all airlines for your route.

🛏️ Hotels and resorts in Tulum
Budget travelers can use HostelWorld to find cheap accommodations for as low as $25 USD per night. Resort vacationers, the best deals for all-inclusive stays in Tulum are on Booking.com!

🚑 Mexico Travel Insurance
Be prepared for the possibility that something can happen to you while traveling abroad. Do not travel to Tulum without travel insurance! We recommend SafetyWing (for digital nomad and entrepreneur trips) and Ekta Travel for comprehensive medical insurance starting at $0.99 USD!

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