Mayan Ruins and Maya Sites

Whether you call them Mayan ruins or Maya sites (apparently Mayan means the language, Maya refers to the civilisation), the ruins left behind by the Maya people are some of the most spectacular around. From ball courts to stepped pyramids, temples to stelae, Mayan sites have plenty to offer both the history fan and the sightseer.

So if you’re looking to explore Maya archaeological sites and Mayan ruins and want to find the best places to view Maya history then you can explore our interactive map above or navigate further by using the links below.

There’s a great selection of Maya sites and Mayan ruins and you can plan some fantastic things to see on your trips. Once you’ve explored the list and selected those places you wish to visit you can use our itinerary planner tool to plan your trip and then print off a free pocket guidebook. This indispensible holiday guide will help you make the most of your time exploring Mayan sites.

Our database of Mayan historic places is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. Remember, if you know of other Maya sites, remains or ruins, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by visiting our upload page.

Maya: Editor's Picks

Photo by Historvius

1. Chichen Itza

With its incredible pyramids and well preserved buildings, this is amongst the most famous Mayan sites in the world. In fact, Chichen Itza is a World Heritage site. Begun by the Maya possibly as early as the 6th century AD, it was captured by the Toltecs in the 10th century and incorporates influences from both peoples.

Photo by Historvius

2. Palenque

One of the most impressive of Mayan ruins, Palenque is full of architectural marvels such as its palace, the Temple of the Inscriptions, the Temple of the Sun and its carefully engineering central plaza. It also has some of the best-preserved of Maya inscriptions.

Photo by Historvius

3. Tikal

A great religious, political and social centre of its time, Tikal is now one of the best preserved Mayan archaeological sites around the globe, with approximately 3,000 structures dating mostly from 600 BC to 900 AD. These include some fantastic pyramids - watch out for the great acoustics from the top to the bottom of these magnificent structures.

Photo by Historvius

4. Uxmal

When it comes to Mayan sites or Mayan ruins, it doesn't get much better than Uxmal. Populated by around 25,000 people at its peak and with great significance as a religious centre, Uxmal is an incredible site which demonstrates the sophistication of the Maya. Not only are its vast pyramids beautifully engineered, it is also carefully laid out to confirm with principles of astronomy and is full of stunning decorative carvings. Like other Mayan sites of this calibre, Uxmal is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Photo by Walter Rodriguez (cc)

5. Yaxha

Probably underrated in the world of Maya ruins, Yaxha in in Guatemala’s Peten region has quite a few pyramids and other Maya archaeological sites to see.

Maya: Site Index

Photo by jnissa (cc)

Aguateca

Once one of two thriving Maya capitals, Aguateca is now one of Guatemala’s most famous Mayan sites. It would have been a political and social hub before it was wiped out in approximately 800AD, although there are still some stepped plazas and ruins to see here.

Photo by Chixoy (cc)

Ceibal

Also known as “El Seibal”, Ceibal is believed to have been inhabited from the preclassic to the late classic period and then possibly once again at a later date. While not one of the richer Maya sites in terms of its quantity of Mayan ruins, it is quite a large site and does boast a circular temple, some stelae, other buildings and even a ball court.

Photo by roger4336 (cc)

Chacchoben

Within reach of the tourist hotspot of the Costa Maya, Chacchoben is one of Mexico’s more popular Mayan sites and features several pyramid temples.

Photo by joyosity (cc)

Cobá

One of the Mayan sites near Cancun, Coba has a range of Maya ruins including a ball court and several pyramid temples, one of which is an impressive 138 metres tall, making it the second tallest in the region and is known as the “Great Pyramid”.

Photo by Adalberto.H.Vega (cc)

Copan

Once an important ancient Maya city of great ceremonial significance, today Copan is UNESCO-listed and is brimming with Mayan places including homes, terraces and, of course, pyramids. Many of these Mayan ruins are ornately decorated with carvings.

Photo by vaticanus (cc)

Dos Pilas

This former Maya capital sheltered the people of Aguateca when they fled their city to escape enemy attack. While some Mayan ruins can still be seen here, notably some temples, a central plaza and a well-preserved staircase, this is not one of the more famous Mayan sites.

Photo by GOC53 (cc)

Dzibilchaltun

One of the Mayan cities along the Puuc route, Dzibilchaltun was once a vast, thriving settlement. Whilst it is now a shadow of its former self, this site does have some interesting sites to see. Its star attraction is the Temple of the Seven Dolls, a building which is perfectly aligned for the equinox.

Photo by archer10 (Dennis) (cc)

Ek Balam

Ek Balam is a Maya archaeological site on the Yucatan Peninsula with some impressive ruins.

Guatemala National Archaeology and Etymology Museum

The Guatemala National Archaeology and Etymology Museum has a comprehensive Maya exhibit and an extensive collection of Maya artefacts from a variety of Mayan archaeological sites.

Photo by robertoliebig (cc)

Kabah

Located in Mexico’s Yucatan State, Kabah is one of the smaller of Mayan sites, but has links with one of the biggest - Uxmal.

Photo by Olivier Bruchez (cc)

Labna

Labna is a Maya archeological site in Yucatan State in Mexico containing a small set of Mayan ruins, Labna’s remains are modest but ornately carved.

Photo by kudumomo (cc)

Merida Cathedral

Merida Cathedral in Mexico is the oldest one on the continent and was built on the site of the former Maya city of Tiho.

Photo by gripso_banana_prune (cc)

Mexico National Museum of Anthropology

The Mexico National Museum of Anthropology is one of the world’s best renowned museums of pre-Hispanic history.

Museo Popol Vuh

Museo Popol Vuh in Guateala City has an extensive collection of ancient, particularly Maya, pieces.

Museo Regional de Arqueología Maya

This Honduran museum specialises in Maya history and has finds from the nearby site of Copan.

Quirigua Archaeological Park

Quirigua Archaeological Park is a former Maya settlement and is now a small, yet important UNESCO listed site in Guatemala. Quirigua is best known for its ornately decorated stelae.

Sayil

Sayil in Mexico houses the ruins of a small Maya settlement built in the Puuc style. This is amongst the quieter Mayan sites, but does have a pretty palace and temple.

The Bruning Museum

The Brüning Museum has a varied set of exhibits from Peru's history, focusing primarily on the pre-Incas.

Tulum

Tulum is a cliff-top Maya site in Mexico’s Quintana Roo region. With its well-preserved ruins perched on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea, the once walled city of Tulum is certainly one of the more picturesque Mayan sites.

Photo by Herr_Bert (cc)

Xcaret

Xcaret has a range of Mayan archaeological ruins, dating mostly to the 15th and 16th centuries when this ceremonial centre reached its peak.

Photo by archer10 (Dennis) (cc)

Xlapak

Xlapak is a small archaeological site in Mexico’s Yucatan region, along the Puuc trail.