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This May Be The Most Stunning Archaeological Site In Mexico

8 min read
This May Be The Most Stunning Archaeological Site In Mexico

Welcome to the Riviera Maya in Mexico, where you’ll find sun, sand, and some of the most spectacular Mayan ruins in the world.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know why YOU should visit the Tulum Ruins. This is still a hugely undervalued location in Mexico!

Let’s get started!


Ruins of Tulum, Mexico and a palm tree overlooking the Caribbean Sea in the Riviera Maya
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

The Tulum Ruins are located on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula, in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.

The Ruins are situated on 40-foot-tall cliffs along the east coast of the Caribbean Sea. The Ruins are actually built to face the rising sun so definitely visit at sunrise! We guarantee you Instagrammable pictures!

What’s more, Tulum was one of the last cities built and inhabited by the extinct Maya people. Tulum is located about 80 miles south of Cancun (approximately 1 hour 10 minutes from Cancun). The Tulum Ruins are accessible by car, there is a large parking lot available for visitors.

Easy to Reach

Popular beautiful beaches of Tulum in mexican state of Yucatan, bicycle tour for sun bathing
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

There are four ways to get to the Tulum Ruins.

If you’re coming from a further destination, we recommend using a private car. For example, if you’re coming from Playa Del Carmen, the drive is around 45-60 minutes. There is a large parking lot available at the Ruins.

If you’re staying in Tulum town, biking is a popular and eco-friendly way to get to the Ruins. It’s about a 20-minute bike ride from the town center to the archaeological site.

You can also opt to use a taxi. They are available in Tulum and from nearby towns like Playa del Carmen. The price from Playa del Carmen to the Tulum Ruins is around 600 to 650 pesos.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can also take the bus from Tulum town to reach the Tulum Ruins. However, the bus does not completely stop at the Ruins site, so you might have to take a taxi after all.

Historical Significance

Temple at Tulum Ruins
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

The historical significance of the Tulum Ruins is one of the most important reasons to visit the Tulum Ruins.

The Tulum Ruins represent one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Maya civilization. It thrived from the 13th to the 15th century, making it a valuable site for understanding the Late Post-Classic period of Mayan history.

What’s so special about this site? Well, the Tulum site was one of the only walled cities built by the Mayas and the only one built on a coast. This makes it unique among Mayan archaeological sites. You cannot find this anywhere else in the world.

Besides being a one-of-a-kind attraction, this archeological site is also well-preserved. Especially the El Castillo pyramid and the Temple of the Frescoes, offer insights into the architectural ability of the Mayan civilization.

However, there is also an astronomical reason why the Ruins were important for the Maya people. The Tulum Ruins are known for their connection to astronomical events. For example, the main entrance to Tulum’s wall corresponds with the Mayan calendar’s “Descending God” event, demonstrating the Mayans’ advanced understanding of astronomy.

Well Conserved Mayan Site

Photo of the Mayan ruins in Tulum Mexico.
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Unlike many other ancient ruins, the structures at Tulum are remarkably well-preserved, allowing visitors to get a real sense of how the city would have looked back in the day. The Tulum ruins are exceptionally well-preserved due to several factors.

Firstly, the location of the Ruins has definitely played a role in their preservation. Tulum is perched on a cliff overlooking the sea, which has provided some natural protection from the elements.

Secondly, the Mayans used special materials and construction techniques that preserved the site. For example, they used limestone to build the structures, a material that we know can endure time. We can comfortably say that they were skilled artists.

Lastly, the abandonment and rediscovery of the city have also contributed to its preservation. After the fall of the Mayan civilization, the city was left alone for centuries until it was rediscovered in the late 19th century. Since then, consistent efforts have been made to preserve and restore the site. In the last couple of years, the Mexican government, together with international organizations, has been investing in preservation efforts for the archeological site.

Unique Setting

Ruins of the Mayan fortress and temple near Tulum, Mexico
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

The unique location of the Tulum Ruins is another key reason why you should visit it.

The Ruins are the only known Mayan coastal town on a cliff. Because of its location, you can admire amazing panoramic views that also give you a feeling of the importance of this city. We especially like that El Castillo, the castle of the city, is located right on the edge of the cliff.

Easy Accessibility

Scenic aerial landscape of the peninsula of Tulum in Quintana Roo, Mexico.
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Easy accessibility is a significant reason why the Tulum Ruins are a popular tourist destination.

The Ruins are relatively small and can be explored in a couple of hours, making it an easy half-day trip for visitors. The archaeological site is well-maintained with clear paths, which makes navigating the ruins straightforward.

Moreover, parts of the Tulum Ruins are wheelchair accessible. This inclusivity allows more people to experience the stunning cliffside views and learn about the ancient Mayan civilization. The Ruins are also equipped with plenty of amenities such as parking, restaurants, and shops nearby.

Less Touristy Than Other Mayan Ruins

Old touristic ruins at Tulum, Mexico
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

The Tulum Ruins are still largely left alone by tourists. Most people go to famous attractions such as Chitzen Itza or visit the city of Cancun. But they do not visit the hidden gem that the Tulum Ruins are. This makes the ruins stand out in calmness and tranquility. Fewer tourists mean better Instagram pictures without people in the background.

Beautiful Beaches

Perfect Caribbean beach in Tulum Mexico
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

One more reason to visit the Tulum Ruins is for the beaches that are in the neighborhood. For example, right under the archeological site is a beach with amazing turquoise water and white sand. So this is perfect to cool off after visiting the Ruins site.

Most of the beaches in the neighborhood are also protected areas. So you can find many species of fauna and flora nearby. Sometimes, even turtles visit the beaches to rest during the right season (between May and October). It’s important to respect any signs that areas are closed when turtles are lying there. This is done to preserve them and create as little stress as possible for the turtles.

We saved the best for last. The Tulum beaches are facing east, so they are perfect to watch at sunrise! The whole sky is filled with orange and pink colors. all that at the background of the archeological site.

Winter Visits

Pair of scarlet macaw birds in Mexico
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Visiting the Tulum Ruins in winter has several advantages that make it an attractive time to tour this archaeological site.

We especially like the pleasant weather. The winter months (December through February) in Tulum offer cooler temperatures, typically ranging between 70°F and 80°F (21°C – 27°C). This makes exploring the Ruins more comfortable than during the hot summer months.

What’s more: winter is also the dry season in the region. So there is less chance that you will be ambushed by heavy rainfall. Another reason is that in the winter there are generally fewer tourists, not only in the Tulum Ruins but also in the whole of Mexico. This means you can have a relaxed and private experience.

The last reason is that in the winter, there is a lot of wildlife activity. You might especially spot a lot of different and majestic birds at the Tulum Ruins.

Centrally Located

Cancun coast with sun
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

The Tulum Ruins are easily accessible from other locations in Mexico. They’re only around 2.5 miles from Tulum town center, 45 minutes from Playa del Carmen, or about 1.5 hours from Cancun. This makes the destination perfect for a day or half-day visit.

Nearby Cenotes

Photo Credit: Jenn Coleman.

You don’t have to go to Tulum only for the Ruins. It also has the world’s largest underground river, which breaks through the surface in a series of cenotes and sinkholes.

Nearby cenotes include: Cenote Calavera, Also known as the “Temple of Doom,” this cenote is one of the most popular diving spots in the world and Cenote Dos Ojos, part of a flooded cave system and is popular for snorkeling and diving.

This article originally appeared on Coleman Concierge

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