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Attractions of Yucatan. Where to go from Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum (archeology, nature, entertainment, islands, cities)

The Yucatan Peninsula is one of the most famous and visited holiday destinations in Mexico.

The majority of tourists prefer to stay in three resorts of Yucatan - Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum, washed by the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea; as well as travel around the peninsula, which is rich in various attractions.

This article provides a list of attractions in Yucatan, including the top ones that can be visited from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and other places in Yucatan. In other words, the article contains sights and interesting places that are worth visiting while vacationing in Yucatan.

You can travel around Yucatan by public buses (sometimes you will have to travel with transfers to get to one or another attraction), a rented car (which is more convenient if you want to visit several places of the peninsula on your own), a taxi or with organized excursions.

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Excursions to Yucatan (out of town) from Cancun

Tours of Yucatan (out of town) from Playa del Carmen

Tours of Yucatan (outside the city) from Tulum

All the attractions of Yucatan can be divided into several categories:

- boat trips and visits to nearby islands

- archaeological - cultural and historical wealth of Yucatan, which was left to the descendants of ancient civilizations

- interesting cities of Yucatan

- natural: cenotes, natural parks, lakes, etc

- entertainment - amusement parks and stories

Boat trips and nearby islands

The main sea trips include such activities as going out to the open sea, snorkeling and diving.


Akumal, washed by waters with a coral reef and tropical fish, is considered a bay of sea turtles of the Tortuga verde species.

Diving and snorkeling can be enjoyed on Akumal's north beach. There are diving centers in Akumala.

Also in Akumala there are beaches with white sand and all the necessary infrastructure.

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Women's Island and Underwater Sculpture Museum

Isla Mujeres (Spanish name: Isla Mujeres, which translates as "island of Women") is a beautiful island with excellent sandy beaches, all necessary infrastructure and attractions, which is located in the Caribbean Sea near the mainland, opposite Cancun.

Some guests come to the island on a day trip, while others prefer to stay on the island and enjoy a leisurely vacation.

Near the southwest coast of the island of Mujeres is the famous museum of underwater sculptures (MUSA - Museo Subacuatico de Arte). The museum's website: .

You can get to the island by ferry from Cancun or visit with excursions. More about Isla Mujeres...

Accommodation facilities (hotels, apartments) on the island of Women

Contoy Island

Contoy (Isla Contoy) is a small uninhabited and neighboring island with Isla Mujeres, which is a protected nature reserve with valuable specimens of Caribbean flora and fauna.

To visit the island, you can rent a boat, yacht or catamaran, as well as take advantage of excursions.

Cozumel Island

Cozumel (Cozumel, which translates as "Swallow Island") is an island in the Caribbean Sea off the Riviera Maya, near Playa del Carmen.

Cozumel is the largest island in Mexico, where residential towns, ruins of a temple complex, cenotes, beaches and snorkeling and diving near a large coral reef are located.

The island is suitable both for a one-time visit and for a full rest.

You can get to the island by ferry from Playa del Carmen; small planes also fly to the island.

Accommodation facilities (hotels, apartments) on the island of Cozumel


A special place among the attractions of Yucatan is occupied by archeology - archaeological excavations of an ancient civilization.

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza (Chichen Itza) - archaeological excavations of the ruins of the ancient Mayan city, which are recognized as one of the new seven wonders of the world.

Chichen Itza is one of the most impressive ancient cities of the Mayan culture, which ranks second in tourist popularity in Mexico, behind the ancient city of Teotihuacan.

Modern Chichen Itza is a fairly large open-air archaeological area with the ruins of the ancient city, which have been partially restored and the central place among which is occupied by the Kukulkan pyramid. More about Chichen Itza...

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Ek Balam (Zona Arqueologica de Ek Balam) - archaeological zone, - ruins of a traditional Mayan village with a temple and a pyramid.

Website: .

Archaeology in Tulum

The archaeological zone of Tulum (Zona Arqueologica de Tulum) is the ruins of a Mayan city near a cliff and sea waters, including fortress walls, several entrances and two watchtowers.

In the Park: the temple of the Descending God with a small base; main road with several buildings, the most important of which is the Temple of the frescoes; palaces, known as the Home of the Columns and the House of Halacha of Wynika; Casa del Cenote, indicating the importance that Maya gave water to the cult associated with cenotes, the temple of the God of Wind, is named after him round the cellar, belonging to KUKULCAN, the God of the winds.

Website: .

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Archaeology in Koba

The archaeological site in Coba (Zona Arqueologica de Coba) is one of the oldest and largest Mayan cities in Yucatan.

In the park you can climb one of the highest ancient structures in Yucatan - the pyramid of Nohoch-Mul. Also in the park there is an extensive network of roads with the ruins of majestic buildings.

Website: .

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The archaeological site of Uxmal (Zona Arqueológica de Uxmal) is the most representative architectural settlement of the Puuk region. In it, the facades of buildings are decorated with masks of Chuck, the rain god, frets, panels with hieroglyphs and high crests.

Among the most representative buildings: the Wizard's Pyramid, the Nuns' quadrangle and the house of Pigeons.

Website: .

Accommodation facilities in Uxmal can be viewed and booked here

Xcambo Ruins

Xcambo Archaeological Site (Zona Arqueologica Xcambo) with roads, buildings and an old pier.

Website: .


Sayil Archaeological Site (Sayil Zona Arqueologica), located in a narrow valley surrounded by hills.

The geological features of the place make surface water completely absent, so the ancient settlers had to drill the rocky soil to build reservoirs or chultuns for water.

Website: .


The Ohkintok Archaeological Site (Zona Arqueologica de Oxkintok) is considered one of the most important former settlements in northern Yucatan and possibly the oldest city in the central Puuk region.

The position of the city allowed it to control the flow of commercial goods from the south of the peninsula and connect with other modern cultures.

Website: .


The archaeological site of Mayapan (Zona Arqueologica de Mayapan) is a former fortress city, which is considered the last great capital of Maya culture in the postclassic period (1200-1450 AD).

The place and architecture of the ancient city reflects the strong influence of Chichen Itza. An example of this is the main building or better known as Castillo de Cuculcan, which is the same as Chichen Itza, only smaller.

In the Central Square of Mayapan there are the remains of public, administrative and religious buildings, as well as the residences of the ruling class. These are buildings built on foundations, with corridors with columns, temples and oratorios with an altar in the background and a banquet on the sides. Round buildings are also representative, known as observatories and small sanctuaries.

Some ruins can be climbed.

Website: .


The Dzibilchaltun Archaeological Site (Zona Arqueologica de Dzibilchaltun) is a former settlement that has a long life sequence from the late Preclassic to the late Postclassic periods. For this reason, the city was one of the largest settlements on the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Website: .

Accommodation facilities in Dsibilchaltun and the surrounding area can be viewed and booked here


The zone of archaeological excavations in Izamal (Zona Arqueologica de Izamal), the main chronology of which is calculated from the proto-classical period (150 BC - 250 AD) to the late classical (600-800 AD).

It was called the first magical city of Mexico, as well as the city of three cultures.

Website: .

All accommodation facilities in Isamal can be viewed and booked here


The archaeological site of Calakmul (Zona Arqueologica de Calakmul) with the remains of a unique urban layout with large parade squares and residential complexes.

Kalakmul is an example of a settlement adapted to the geography of its surroundings, where its main territory is represented by five architectural ensembles connected by squares.

Website: .

In addition to these, there are other small archaeological areas in Yucatan, including Cancun.

Interesting cities


Valladolid or Valladolid is a colonial city that is a very popular tourist destination in Yucatan and attracts tourists who want to get acquainted with the history and culture of the Yucatan Peninsula.

The city stands out for its colonial appearance: small colorful houses, a cathedral, a monastery of the 16th century, a cenote, some sights and museums. More about Valladolid...

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Merida is the capital of the state of Yucatan and the administrative center of the municipality of the same name. The largest city in terms of population on the Yucatan peninsula.

Merida has a rectangular network of streets (based on the streets of the ancient Mayan city), and many buildings in the city are 16-18 centuries old and have a harsh fortress appearance.

Merida has a Large Museum of the Maya world, a zoo, the Cathedral of San Ildefonso, the Monastery of San Francisco, historical buildings, squares, parks, monuments and the municipal palace of Casa del Montejo, built in 1542 by the family of the founder of Merida Francisco de Montejo

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Campeche (Campeche, full official name - San Francisco de Campeche / San Francisco de Campeche) is a colonial fortress city, the capital of the state of Campeche and the administrative center of the municipality of the same name. It is located in the west of the Yucatan Peninsula on the shore of the Bay of Campeche.

Previously, it was a walled fortress city.

The old Spanish fortifications that protected the city from pirates have been preserved in the city. Due to its good condition and colonial architecture, the city is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Fort San Miguel contains archaeological finds of the state of Campeche.

In addition, Campeche has a bright historical part, a cathedral, churches and museums.

All accommodation facilities in Campeche can be viewed and booked here


Celestun is a small town founded as a settlement in 1718 on the site of a Maya fishing village.

Later, reservoirs designed for the extraction of sea salt were formed in the city.

The city has several beaches near the Gulf of Mexico with snow-white sand and authentic beach cafes, and there is a nature reserve nearby, which is very popular among tourists.

All accommodation facilities in Celestun can be viewed and booked here



Cenote (cenote, "cenote") is a form of karst relief, a natural sinkhole formed by the collapse of the vault of a limestone cave in which groundwater flows.

These are a kind of wells (caves) with underground lakes of pure water, where you can swim, walk and admire stone vaults, stalactites and stalagmites.

There are open cenotes, closed and semi-open.

There are many cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula, in some of which you can swim. The water temperature in the cenotes ranges from about +20 to +24 degrees Celsius.

The tourist cenotes have infrastructure, including places for changing clothes, lockers for things, places for walking and relaxing, cafes, you can rent scuba diving equipment. Visiting such cenotes is paid.

Of the famous cenotes:

- Ik Kil (Cenote Ik Kil), located on the way to Chichen Itza, so you can combine visiting two attractions;

- Gran Cenote (Great Cenote), located near Tulum;

- large Cenote Cenote Suytun, located near the city of Valladolid;

- Cenote Palomitas, which is little known among tourists, so it is usually not crowded;

- Cenote Calavera, which is popular among divers, and also suitable for swimming and diving;

- Cenote Nohoch Nah Chich for cave diving;

- Cenote Yaxbacaltun - outdoor cenote, which is considered one of the best for swimming;

- Cenote Chihuan - a small underground cave cenote;

- Cenotes Sac Actun;

- Cenote Tak Be Ha, etc.

Pink Lake Las Colorado

In the Rio Lagartos Nature Reserve, the lagoon with the pink lake Los Colorados (Las Coloradas) especially attracts attention.

While traveling around the reserve, you can see crocodiles and pink flamingos, feed pelicans and albatrosses. Smear yourself, as they say, with healing mud and swim in the Gulf of Mexico.

Sian Kaan Nature Reserve

Sian Ka'an National Park (Reserva de la Biosfera Sian Ka'an) is a tropical biosphere reserve with the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In the reserve, you can take boat trips around the lagoon, see wild animals and Mayan ruins, walk along hiking trails and reach the coastal waters of the Caribbean Sea with a section of the barrier reef.

The population of the reserve is estimated at 2 thousand people, most of whom live in the fishing settlements of Punta Allen and Punta Herrero on the Caribbean coast.

Jaguar Caves

Jaguar caves or Balancanche (Grutas de Balancanche) with artifacts, stalactites and stalagmites, which is about 500 meters long.

This cave, located 6 kilometers from Chichen Itza, served as a ceremonial center for ancient Maya settlers.

In the cave you can admire stalactites and other rock formations, but the most important space of the cave is a room that is 200 meters from the entrance and where there is a structure called the Throne of Balam. In the center of the same 7-meter room there is a large pillar formed by the fusion of stalactite with stalagmite, resembling a large ceiba tree, called "Sagrada La Ceiba". Among the ancient inhabitants of Mesoamerica, caves were considered entrances to the underworld, and among the Maya, ceiba was a sacred tree assimilated as the axis of the world connecting heaven, earth and the underworld.

Website: .

Amusement parks, nature and history

The most visited amusement parks and history of Yucatan are located off the coast just south of the resort of Playa del Carmen.

From the parks at Playa del Carmen

Iskaret (Shkaret) or "I am Mexico" (Parque Xcaret) is an amusement park that is an ecological natural and archaeological park with cultural attractions of Mexico, ruins of the May civilization, caves, gorges, underground rivers and places for snorkeling. The park has more than 50 attractions, an aquarium, a butterfly farm, an aviary, a show and more.

Exporer (Xplor) - an extreme park among the jungle, where the excitement and adrenaline of entertainment "soar". In the park: several ziplines, a trip on a raft, swimming and rafting in an underground river with grottoes and caves, racing on amphibious all-terrain vehicles, flying over the abyss in a hanging hammock, bungee jumping, suspension bridges and a buffet. There are day and evening tickets to the park.

Xenses is an amusement park with a zipline and a cave.

Punta Venado Bike Park.

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Other Yucatan parks

Park Xel-ha (Parque Xel-ha), located not far (north) from Tulum.

This is a natural water park where you can snorkel without restrictions in the bay that flows into the Caribbean Sea. Also climb the observation lighthouse, ride a bike along the paths in the jungle, swim along the river, try yourself in a zipline, jump into the water from the stone of courage or with a rope and feel the excitement on the highest of the slides in Cancun and the entire Riviera Maya. Xel-Ha is an all-inclusive park, so a buffet and an open bar are part of the experience.

Xoximilco Theme Park, located just south of Cancun and has a festive atmosphere of Mexico in music, dancing and games. You can also ride a gondola in the park.

Tankah Eco Park is a nature reserve created for adventure and recreation, a place that inspires a deep connection with the jungle environment and the culture of the Maya region. In the park: a Mayan village with the traditions of everyday life and the culture of the people; cenotes, reservoirs, canoe, bungee and zipline.

The Centenario Zoo (Parque Zoologico del Centenario), which is one of the famous zoos in Mexico and is located in the city of Merida.

Near Cancun there is an amusement park "Ventura Park" with water slides, dolphinarium, zipline, go-karting and other entertainment. Website: .

Croco Cun Zoo, formed on the bass of a crocodile farm. In the zoo: rare pink iguanas, crocodiles, parrots, snakes, ocelots, roe deer, monkeys, red-eared turtles, raccoons and other animals. A visit to the zoo is possible with a guide and at a certain time. Website: .

Other attractions and places of Yucatan

In Cancun

Entertainment in Cancun: an 80-meter tower with a closed rotating observation deck "Torre Escenica del Embarcadero de Cancun" (ascent is paid) and pirate ships "Captain Hook Cancun", which go to sea in the evening and arrange themed shows with dinner for visitors (entertainment is paid). There are golf clubs in Cancun, near the beach strip.

The large shopping center "La Isla Shopping Village" in Cancun has a casino, a Ferris wheel and an interactive aquarium where you can get acquainted with more than 140 species of marine life and enjoy various activities for children and adults, including swimming with dolphins and sharks. More about La Isla Shopping Center...

Archaeological zones near the beaches of Cancun:

- not far from Nino Beach (2 kilometers) on the coast of El Meco is the archaeological zone of the ancient Mayan city El Meco Archaeological Site. Address: Carretera Puerto Juaréz, López Portillo, 85, 77520 Cancun;

- across the pedestrian and driveway from the Delfines beach there are archaeological excavations of the remnants of the Maya civilization - the ruins of El Rey (El Rey Archaeological Zone). Not far from the beach there is a golf club, a diving center and a Mayan archaeological site with the museum "Zona Arqueologica de San Miguelito";

- through the lobby of the 5-star resort spa hotel The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa Cancun, you can go to the small remnants of the Mayan ruins "Yamil Lu'um".

Mayaland Adventures SA de CV Museum

This is a place where you can not only drive one of the most iconic SUVs of the 20th century, but also "transfer" to another era and experience a unique experience, as it was in those days when archaeologists discovered Yucatan.

Website: .

Tequila Factory (museum store)

A small tequila factory-shop "Destileria Artesanal de Agave Mayapan", which is engaged in the distillation of tequila and where you can get acquainted with the production of a traditional alcoholic beverage of Mexico, taste several types of tequila, and, if desired, purchase the product.

It's probably not worth going to the factory specifically, but visiting it can be a good addition when traveling to other nearby attractions of Yucatan.

All accommodation facilities in Mexico, including on the Yucatan Peninsula: in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Merida, Valladolid, near attractions and parks, can be viewed and booked here

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