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Cancun is home to some of the best beaches, restaurants and bars in the Yucatan, and visitors from all over the world enjoy traveling here to relax and take it easy. Though Cancun is much more than the fabulous beachfront resorts, shopping, and nightlife for which it is acclaimed.

Conveniently located near many significant Mayan ruins, Cancun is a gateway to the ancient Mayan world, and travelers who can set down their beach towel and cocktails to take time to explore the past will reap the rewards.

Surrounded by Mayan Ruins and world heritage sites which date back between 300 and 900 AD, the following Mayan Ruins are a fantastic choice for day trips from Cancun, and tour companies offer many different options which be booked through your hotel concierge – remember to sort out your Cancun Airport Transportation too.

Chichen Itza

Once the capital of the Mayan Empire, Chichen Itza is one of the most impressive Mayan ruins that exists today, and one of the most significant Mayan sites due to its ties to Mayan culture.

Hundreds of buildings once stood across six square miles, and much of the Mayan art and architecture from this ancient civilization is still preserved today.

Photo CC by Dennis Jarvis

Chichen Itza. Photo CC by Dennis Jarvis

Visitors have access to explore temples, pyramids and sacred religious sites, and in many instances can climb to the top of these structures for sweeping views over the ruins.

125 miles from Cancun, Chichen Itza is a two to three-hour drive.


Tulum is known as the “Walled City”, and during its time was thought of as one of the most important cities in the ancient Mayan empire. It was once a busy ceremonial center and trading port and the ruins are set on a spectacular cliff with stunning views over the Caribbean Sea.

Travelers to Tulum can explore the ruins of over 60 buildings and view fresco remnants that are still visible from inside many of the structures. Most visitors then retire to swim or relax on the beautiful Tulum beach.

Tulum. Photo CC by

Tulum. Photo CC by Dennis Jarvis

Tulum is 72 miles south from Cancun and a two-hour drive – many travelers combine this with a visit to Xel-Ha to fill out a full day.


Coba is a unique Mayan site, with many of its ruins still covered by jungle. Two and a half hours from Cancun, travelers enjoy jungle views from Nohoch Mul – with 120 steps to the top spanning 12 stories the pyramid is the tallest in the Yucatán peninsula.

One of the largest Mayan archeological sites, Coba additionally contains four natural lakes making it home to many exotic birds, monkeys and other inhabitants which call the dense jungle their home.

Coba is still largely undiscovered due to the density of the jungle, and more than 5,000 mounds still remain completely covered.

You’ll find staying in the Riviera Maya also gives you the perfect base to see three of Mexico’s top archaeological wonders.

Mayan Ruins Located Near Cancun

As tempting as it is to spend your whole vacation at the beach, there are many amazing ancient Mayan sites just waiting to be discovered not far from many Cancun hotels.

So throw down your beach towel and instead rent a car – these amazing archeological wonders are not to be missed while in Cancun.

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Meg Jerrard is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging around the world for the last 7 years to inspire others to embark on their own worldwide adventure!  Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Follow their journey on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

Featured Photo CC by Ted Van Pelt

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