Best Mayan Archaeological Sites Near Cancún

Cancún is often known as a destination for sun, sand, and surf. However, it’s also a gem for those who wish to experience the real culture and history of Mexico.

There are many archeological sites near Cancún that provide visitors with a unique perspective on Mayan history.

The ancient Mayan civilization left behind breathtaking ruins that are just miles away from Cancún. Apart from the world-famous Chichen Itza, there are captivating sites that you should include in your itinerary.

In this full guide, you’ll discover some of the most famous and powerful cities in all history that are worth the journey around Quintana Roo.

What Mayan Ruins Are Close To Cancún?

Cancún, one of Mexico’s most vibrant cities, is surrounded by some of the world’s most captivating ancient cities built centuries ago.

On your trip to Quintana Roo, you can visit extensive and dazzling ruins or venture out into the lush jungles. In fact, the Mayans had a fascinating civilization and their cities are still standing today.

That being said, the closest Mayan Ruins to Cancún are:

  • Museo Maya de Cancun – 13 miles from Downtown Cancún
  • El Rey – 15 miles from Downtown Cancún
  • Xcaret ruins – 47 miles – Around 2 hours drive
  • Tulum, Quintana Roo – 80 miles – 2.5 hour-drive

Other fairly nearby attractions that you may enjoy are on the extensive list here below so make sure to read until the end.

Lastly, it’s important to consider the tourism tax before traveling to Quintana Roo. You should pay for it ahead of time and it’ll just take a few clicks to get it on

Best Mayan Archaeological Sites Near Cancún

The Yucatan Peninsula is home to some of the world’s most ancient and fascinating ruins. You can glimpse into a seemingly endless cosmos that was once inhabited by Mayan tribesmen. They had knowledge about what lay beyond their land and sky.

Here are the best Mayan ruins near Cancún that you should surely include in your itinerary.

Chichen Itza (Kukulcán Pyramid)

Entrance fee: 539 MXN / $27 for adults – Kids under 13 years enter for free

Opening hours: 8.00 AM – 4:30PM Daily

Chichen Itza is one of the most famous Mayan archeological sites in Mexico, located just over 120 miles by car from Cancun in Quintana Roo.

It was probably the most important of all Mayan cities.

By 600 A.D., it was a major center for trade, religion, and politics. With its peak in the late 800s, Chichen had as many as 50,000 inhabitants within 10 square kilometers (4 square miles).

Nowadays, it is a must-see archeological site in Quintana Roo. Visit the pyramids, El Castillo (Temple of Kukulcán), the Cenote Ik Kil, and many more sites inside.

To sum up, Chichen Itza is one of the 7 Wonders in the World and you simply can’t leave Mexico without visiting it.

Tulum Archaeological Zone

Entrance fee: 80 MXN / $4

Opening times: 9.00 AM to 3:30 PM daily

The archaeological zone in Tulum is a very well preserved and organized Mayan ruin that will definitely get your attention. Tulum used to be a great seaport at the time of the Mayans, with 1,000 to 1,600 inhabitants.

The ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum are one of the most popular sites to visit in Mexico. With their beautiful white sand beaches, it is no wonder why they attract so many visitors each year.

What time should you visit the Tulum ruins? The best time for you to enjoy the experience is to come right before the opening time at 9.00 AM.

You’re going to spend at least an hour at the ruins of Tulum. One of the Best Mayan Archaeological Sites Near Cancún.

If you want more time in paradise we recommend staying another couple of hours. This way, you will be able to go swimming as well.

There are endless hotels, hostels, and private villas in Tulum beach and you’ll have the chance of staying for the night if you want to enjoy the other sites around.

El Rey Archaeological Zone

Entrance fee: 55 MXN / $2.70

Opening times: 8 AM to 5 PM daily

This is another great Mayan archeological site located right next to Cancun in Quintana Roo.

Entering the ancient city of El Rey, one is greeted with a vast landscape dotted by over 40 Maya structures.

However, only a few are in reasonable condition and many were once occupied from the 9th to 15th century BC. That being said, it’s pleasant for all visitors to wander around aimlessly looking at every stone wall they come across.

The El Rey ruins are a sprawling, ancient complex that originally served as the center of an important Maya city.

The two plazas and platforms come together on either side to form what would have been one large plaza. It was used for ceremonial events such as coronations or public announcements.

Apart from the rich historical background, you’ll find endless iguanas and birds which will make the experience more pleasant.

The great thing about El Rey ruins is that you can reach them by taking the bus from Kukulcán in Cancún. The journey will only cost you 12 MXN and you’ll get there in a few minutes.

Kabah Maya Archaeological Site

Entrance fee: 55 MXN / $2.70

Opening times: 8 AM to 5 PM daily

Originally built around 300 B.C, Kabah is one of the oldest Mayan cities in Quintana Roo with impressive monuments.

Inside Kabah, the very special Palace of the Masks is a building with hundreds of stone masks that are all different shapes and sizes. The most famous one on it looks like the rain god Chaac.

The Maya people of the Yucatan Peninsula worshiped Chaac as their god for rain. The reason was that there are no cenotes in this part of Quintana Roo and the soil was often dry.

The Kabah ruins aren’t as impressive as the others on this list. However, they are certainly worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Only about 14 miles from Kabah, you’ll be able to reach the Uxmal ruins and this takes us to our next Mayan archaeological site near Cancún.

Uxmal Mayan Ruins

Entrance fee: 418 MXN / $21.00 – Museum: 65 MXN/$3.20

Opening times: 8 AM to 5 PM daily

Uxmal is a remarkable Mayan city in the Quintana Roo state of Mexico. The ancient city developed between the 6th and 10th centuries CE, becoming an important trading hub with remarkable temples built.

It is one of the best-preserved sites among all other ruins found throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. In addition, many visitors found it to be even better than Chichen Itza as crowds are definitely fewer.

To sum up, the Uxmal ruins are definitely one of the most interesting Mayan ruins near Cancún.


These popular ruins in Mexico are all worth visiting. Not only to see the history but also for the cultural experience.

They all offer something different and unique. Whether it’s Tulum or Cancún, each offers a new perspective on Mexican culture.

In conclusion, the list of Mayan ruins near Cancún is long and varied. The great thing about this region is that it’s a treasure trove of history for travelers young or old, amateurs or experts.

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