The Best Ruins Near Tulum Mexico

(Last Updated On: March 31, 2021)

Tulum Mexico is a piece of paradise. Tulum is located just under 2 hours from the Cancun airport. Besides breathtaking beaches there are historic ruins that are a definitely worth a visit. Discover the best ruins near Tulum Mexico.

must see tulum ruins

The Best Ruins Near Tulum Mexico

Tulum Mexico is located approximately 1.5 hours from the Cancun airport. You will drive past the city and the busy to a relaxed and blissful paradise. While in Tulum, many make time to visit the Tulum Ruins. These Mayan Ruins are breathtaking and worth the trip if you have the time in your vacation to Tulum Mexico.

Although most people visiting the Mayan Riviera head straight for the ruins at Chichen Itza (Chichen Itza is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World), the temple at Tulum is well worth a detour.

The coastal ruins at Tulum on the Mayan Riviera look straight out over the Caribbean Sea. El Castillo, the main temple, can be seen from the beach, but unlike Chichen Itza, Tulum was built as a fortress. Tulum and Mayapan, which is also in the Yucatan peninsula, are the only two ancient Mayan cities that had boundary walls for defense.

The city probably housed less than one thousand inhabitants, and most of their houses were located along both sides of the main roads while the more important buildings, such as El Castillo, were grouped around the site. The Mayan ruins at Tulum house, some well-preserved frescos are depicting Chac, the rain god.

Tulum Mayan Ruins

El Castillo

Tulum’s great temple, called El Castillo, stands almost on the edge of a high cliff overlooking the blue waters of the Mayan Riviera’s Caribbean sea. The courtyard is surrounded by small buildings facing the town. The wide staircase leading to the entrance of the temple has two serpent-like columns similar to those found at Chichen Itza. The frieze on the facade is made up of three niches of stucco sculptures and at the center is a descending god. The corners of El Castillo are decorated with stucco masks with large plumes.

best tulum ruins

Tulum Ruins

Apart from El Castillo, the two other temples in Tulum are well worth a visit if only to see their frescos. The Temple of the Diving God is decorated with a big stucco statue of a god above its entrance. The only chamber in the temple is a stunning mural painting showing several of the Mayan deities.

The other Temple of the Frescoes stands on the site of an earlier building, which was later surrounded by a portico. This portico’s facade has murals in blue-green on a black background depicting various Mayan gods of the time, including Chac, the rain god, and the goodness Ixchel who was the focus of an important cult at the time the Spaniards arrived on the Mayan Riviera.

Chac Mool

The rain god Chac is often confused with Chac Mool, the name of a Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican stone altar. These alter resemble a human figure reclining with its head turned up and tilted to one side with a tray placed on the stomach area. The tray was used for sacrifices. Chac Mool can be found in the post-Classic Mayan sites in the Yucatan peninsula, including Chichen Itza.

The site is open every day from 8.00 to 5.00. As with Chichen Itza, It is wise to get there as early as you can as the tour buses start to arrive around 9.00 with hordes of travelers. It can also get very hot during the day and the earlier hours of the morning are more pleasant.

Take plenty of water with you and your bathing suit – you can walk down the beach and swim in the bay below the site. If you are not taking a tour, the ruins are a long walk from the town center. A taxi is reasonably inexpensive and well worth it unless you want to hire a car or a bicycle.

Best places to stay near Tulum Ruins Encantada Tulum

While in Tulum, I recommend staying on Encantada Tulum. Encantada Tulum is a private paradise. With just 8 guest rooms, it is not crowded and the staff is friendly and always willing to get you anything you need….from a delicious breakfast, to a perfect latte, to margaritas.  I will say that the wine selections wasn’t what we were used to, but you can bring wine into Mexico.  You are allowed three bottles per person, so we brought along several of our favorite bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Best places to stay near Tulum Ruins Encantada Tulum Hotel

Have you been to Tulum? Have you been to Cancun?

The Best Ruins Near Tulum Mexico

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2 thoughts on “The Best Ruins Near Tulum Mexico

  1. I’ve spent over 2 months here, so I want to share with you the best Mayan ruins to visit in Mexico s Yucatan Peninsula from popular and well-visited sites, to a few that are more off-the-beaten-path you’ll get a well-rounded idea of Mayan history and architecture. And if you follow the order I list them in below, you can easily shape your itinerary first spending a few days in the colorful colonial city Merida, and then relaxing on the beautiful beaches of Tulum (with a few side trips to the ruins of course!).

    1. Thank you so much! I will definitely be adding these to my MUST-SEE list. We are hoping to return later this year.

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