Places to visit in Yucatan Mexico

Known as “the land of the Mayas”, the state of Yucatan (bordered by Quintana Roo) is one of the best places to visit in Mexico if you’re interested in archeological sites and all things Maya, and the state truly lives up to its title, so you’ll be spoiled for choice when deciding what Mayan sites to visit such as Chichen Itza (pictured).
Places to visit in Yucatan Mexico
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Besides exploring Mayan ruins, you can also enjoy historic walking tours of Yucatan’s major cities such as Merida and Valladolid to see many Spanish-colonial structures like cathedrals, as well as natural areas such as Celestun wildlife refuge.

If you’re looking for suggestions on places to visit in Yucatan Mexico and things to do during your trip there, below we have put together suggestions that you can add to your itinerary:


The small town of Progreso is probably best known for boasting one of the largers piers in the world (around 6 miles long).

If you’re visiting Yucatan on a Mexico cruise, Progreso will be the likely port where you’ll disembark to enjoy on shore excursions to places such as Dzibilchaltun and Uxmal Mayan ruins.

Progreso is a nice little town to explore, so be sure to spend 1 or 2 nights there before you head back. Progreso is also a great place to enjoy fun water activities like swimming, jet skiing and that kind of thing, as well as shopping at the market where you can get very cheap local goods such as handbags, tequila, coffee, coral jewelry and traditional Mexican art.


Merida is the largest city in Yucatan and it’s definitely one of the places to visit in Yucatan Mexico, especially if you fancy visiting museums, art galleries and theatres.

If you’re looking to learn more about the Spanish colonial past and see well-preserved colonial buildings, you’ll be glad to know that Merida boasts the largest historic districts in the Americas so you can expect to see many 16th-17th century colonial houses.

Plaza Grande and Paseo de Montejo Avenue are two of the best places to take a walking tour in Merida to appreciate and see many of these colonial buildings which include Merida Cathedral and Government Palace (Palacio de Gobierno). Other places worth checking out in Merida Mexico include:

MACAY Museum

The MACAY Museum, also known as the Yucatan Museum of Art, is also located in downtown Merida and it’s a great place to visit to see beautiful art works from artists all across the Yucatan peninsula.

Merida English Library

Merida has a large English-speaking expat community who set up the Merida English Library as a social gathering place. If you’re in Merida and fancy gaining some local insights, you may also want to pass by the library to meet up the expats, which also offer walking tours of the city.

Uxmal Ruins

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Uxmal Maya Ruins are located around 70 minutes drive south of Merida and are the some of the best preserved Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula.

The Uxmal Site is not the easiest to get to but these ruins are, without a doubt, one of the best places to visit in Yucatan Mexico where you can explore a Mayan Site without too many crowds.

The Ruins are also much easier to navigate around since all the main structures such as the temple, the step-pyramid and the palace are located closed by.

Uxmal Mayan Site doesn't include a map with the admission price though, it has a visitor center, a small museum and a gift shop where you can get cool Mayan souvenirs.

Dzibilchaltun Ruins

The Dzibilchaltun Mayan Ruins are perhaps the most popular in Yucatan because of their close proximity to both Merida and Progreso (around 25 minutes drive either way).

It’s fairly easy to the ruins and you can actually hop on a bus from Merida to get to Dzibilchaltun Ruins, unlike Uxmal where you’ll need to use car rental.

The admission fee is around $12 and includes a map of the Site, so you can tour the Site independently, though you can also hire a private tour guide if you wish.

The Dzibilchaltun Mayan Ruins are some of the most breathtaking Mayan Sites and extensive featuring a large amphitheater, a large temple, a sink hole where you can enjoy a dip, and a great museum filled with Mayan artifacts like stone tablets and blouses, as well as artifacts from the Spanish colonial era such as swords and armors.

Mayapan Ruins

The Mayapan Mayan Ruins are located within the city of Merida, making this Site the most convient Mayan archeological site to explore in Yucatan Mexico.

Mayapan was built to resemble Chichen Itza so it shares many similarities with Chichen Itza such as the observatory temple. Though these ruins aren’t as extensive as the other ones in Yucatan Mexico they’re definitely worth a visit, especially if you can't make it to the major Mayan Sites.

Chichen Itza

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Chichen Itza Mayan Site is, undoubtedly, one of the most popular places to visit in Yucatan Mexico and rightly so. These ruins are the most extensive ones in the Yucatan Peninsula and they do live up to their reputation as being the most beautiful Mayan Site in the country.

Chichen Itza Ruins are located a couple of hour’s drive east of Merida, and around 40 minutes drive west of Valladolid. Though, it’s possible to do Chichen Itza on a round trip, you wouldn’t get the most out of the excursion in one day since the Site boast many structures such as a step-pyramid, pillars, ball courts, many statues as well as a sink hole.

If you’re based in Merida, I’d suggest spending the night in one of the nearby Chichen Itza hotels and make a visit to Chichen Itza a 1-2 day affair.


Valladolid is one of the largest towns in Yucatan Mexico and it’s also a popular vacation spot in Yucatan Mexico to base because Valladolid's central location in the state of Yucatan. Valladolid is within easy driving  range from places such as Chichen Itza, Ek’ Balam, Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum Mayan Ruins.

Valladolid may be smaller than Merida but it also boasts charming streets filled many Spanish colonial houses and stone buildings such as the San Gervasio Cathedral and Convent de San Bernardino.

Valladolid also boasts a cenote (Cenote Zaci), located not far from Los Heroes Park, where you can enjoy a dip. If you’re visiting Valladolid on a day trip, you also wouldn't want to miss a visit to Ek’ Balam Mayan ruins.

Ek’ Balam are only located 30 minutes drive north of Valladolid, and even though they're the lesser known of the Mayan Sites in Yucatan, Ek' Balam is one of the top places to visit in Yucatan Mexico as you can still climb the step-pyramids.

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