13 Best Mayan Ruins to Visit in Mexico

best mayan ruins

13 Best Mayan Ruins to Visit in Mexico.

Wherever you choose for your vacation in South Mexico, there are likely to be Mayan ruins nearby. A private tour is ideal for history and culture lovers to learn more about the Mayans and the extraordinary legacy they left behind.

The Yucatan Peninsula has a rich historic heritage with many Mayan ruins to explore in each of its 3 states:  Quintana Roo, Yucatan State and Campeche State. Further south, Chiapas State has its own archaeological treasures. Here are the best sites of Mayan ruins in each state:

Best Mayan Ruins in Quintana Roo State

tulum ruins


Tulum ruins - the most visited Mayan ruins after Chicken Itza, Tulum ruins are in a beautiful location overlooking the beach and sea. Explore the well-preserved temples and Castillo, appreciate the Mayan culture and take photos of this breathtaking spot.



These ancient Mayan ruins were swallowed up by the jungle and lost for centuries until being rediscovered. Coba ruins has many raised paths (sacbes), pyramids and standing stones (stelae).



One of the oldest Mayan ruins in Quintana Roo, Muyil includes the beautiful Sian Ka’an lagoon.



A huge site of Mayan ruins located one hour from Bacalar. Set among palms and tropical hardwood trees, this peaceful site has two large restored pyramids.

Best Mayan Ruins in Yucatan State

Chichen Itza

The massive El Castillo step-pyramid stands 30m high and is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. This 1.9 square-mile archaeological site is the most visited in Mexico with a ball court, temples, pyramids and El Caracol observatory.


This UNESCO Word Heritage Site has many ceremonial buildings from the late Mayan period.


The political and cultural capital of pre-Columbian Maya civilization, Mayapan is still under excavation with cenotes, pyramids and over 4000 structures within the city walls.

Best Mayan Ruins in Campeche State

Calakmul Mayan Ruins


Deep in the jungle and close to the border with Guatemala, Calakmul was one of the most powerful Mayan cities ever uncovered. It has 6,750 ruins of Mayan structures including a 45m-high pyramid containing four tombs.

Becan Mayan Ruins


Off the usual tourist trail, visitors hike through the rainforest to Becan, a powerful ancient city dating back to 550 BCE. It includes many towering pyramids, palaces and ceremonial structures.


Climb the K’inich Na’ (House of the Sun God) pyramid on this compact archaeological site which was once the capital of the Kan dynasty.

Best Mayan Ruins in Chiapas State

Chiapas is the southernmost state in Mexico, bordering the Pacific Ocean and home to several ancient Mayan ruins.



Built in the 7th century and lost beneath the jungle, the Mayan ruins in Palenque have since been recovered. They include examples of fine carvings and hieroglyphic inscriptions.



Engraved stone pillars (stelae) and temple murals record Mayan life, war practices, human sacrifices and politics from AD580 to 800.


These Mayan ruins have well-preserved carved lintels above the doorways to the rooms in many ancient structures,

With such a wealth of fascinating Mayan ruins and archaeological sites, Southern Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula are the ideal travel destination for history lovers.

Key Facts about Ek Balam Ruins

ek balam mayan ruins


and the Significance of the El Jaguar Negro

Ek Balam is Mayan for ‘Black Jaguar’ or ‘Sun Jaguar’. The ruins are located near Valladolid another colonial city in Yucatan located in Mexico. Famous for the El Torre pyramid, 700 AD to 1000 AD was one of the most culturally significant periods for Ek Balam. The ruins were mapped in the late 80’s, where research and excavation work was undertaken for a decade, ending in the 1990’s. Ek Balam is no doubt a wonderful and exhilarating site for adventurers, seeking historical facts of the ancient Mayan ruins.

The Magnificence of the Ruins

Ek Balam was operational for a staggering 1000 years! Cultural and economic development in the ruins began in the Pre-Classic era, from 100 B.C and continued till 300 A.D. Construction and development in the city of Ek Balam continued till 900 A.D. According to expert speculation it is said Ek Balam was inhabited till 16th century, when the Spanish began their invasion.

Key Facts

  • Ek Balam mayan ruins are situated 51 kilometers of Northeast Chichen Itza
  • Archeologists have only been able to excavate the middle of Ek Balam
  • Ek Balam covered an area of 12 sq. km, however, you can only view 1 square kilometer
  • Archeologists have been able to map 45 structures in Ek Balam
  • The infrastructure of the city were designed utilizing the Petén architectural principles and designs, which is based on large pyramids and roof combs on buildings
  • Ek Balam consists of numerous temples, two huge palaces and the famous (El Torre) a pyramid, which is situated in the middle of the city

The City Walls

Archaeologists are fascinated with height of the walls, which they state aren’t high enough to provide any sort of protection whatsoever. They arrived at the conclusion that the walls were made for ceremonial purposes around the ‘Central Plaza’, spanning towards the South Plaza. The exact nature of the ceremonies has not yet been identified. Another interesting thing you will get to see on your tour to Ek Balam and the El Torre is the famous ball court within the city where the Mayan people engaged in playing some sort of game with a ball as a ceremonial feature.

The El Jaguar Negro (Black Jaguar)

The black jaguar or ‘Sun Jaguar’ is a very powerful symbol of the ancient Mayan civilization. At the initiation of the Mayan Long Count, which was thousands of years ago before even before Chichen Itza was a major city; the Black Jaguar became one of the most important symbols in the Mayan culture. Warriors, emperors and priests alike, thoroughly studied the jaguar, not just because it was, at the time, America’s biggest predator, but because of a number of other attributes the big cat exhibited. They studied the cat’s distinctive features and day and night habits. It was believed by the Mayans that the great black jaguar was a part of the myth behind creation and that noblest of the bloodlines and kings in the Mayan civilization were all descendents of the Black Jaguar. And so the incredible cat became Maya’s most significant emblems, illustrating not only Mayan culture, but the entire Mesoamerica.


You will be mesmerized to witness Ek Balam ruins and the Black Jaguar sculptures during your adventurous trip to Ek Balam ruins with Absolute Adventure.