Top 5 Mayan ruins to visit in Mexico this November

Sandwiched between the rains of October and the crowds of December, November is the perfect time to visit Mexico's stunning Mayan ruins
Ruins of Palenque, Mexico. Photo: Shutterstock
Ruins of Palenque, Mexico. Photo: Shutterstock

Tourists visiting Chichen Itza. Photo: Shutterstock

The Mayan civilisation was the most advanced of their era. Today, millions of visitors flock to Mexico each year to see what is left of their civilisation. We recommend avoiding the crowds and visiting in November. We’ve found the best five examples of Mayan architecture in Mexico and how to travel there:

1. Uxmal

Occupying over 150 acres, the Uxmal temple complex emerges out of dense, green jungle in the state of Yucatán and is home to some of the most unique Mayan remains ever discovered in Mexico. The area is also a Unesco World Heritage Site. 

Of the many fascinating structures at Uxmal, the best place to see is the Magician’s Pyramid. Legend has it the Magician’s Pyramid was constructed by a magician-god named Itzamna in a single night. After its construction, the Mayans used it as a school for shamans, astronomers and healers. A fully guided visit to Uxmal is included in Insight Guides' The Yutacan: Ruins and Haciendas trip. 

The pyramid and the suite in Uxmal. Photo: Shutterstock

2. Chichén Itzá

The Mayan ruins at Chichén Itzá are the most famous in all of Mexico and represent Maya civilisation at its peak. The downside to this is, of course, the crowds. During peak season, Chichén Itzá can become so busy that it has an adverse effect on their awe-inspiring beauty. However, the ruins found in this huge, 1,600-acre complex are simply breathtaking, no more so than the iconic Kukulkan Pyramid, which dominates the skyline. The Kukulkan Pyramid was named as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. Book Insight Guides' Mexico's Mayan Trail and go this November, without the world and his wife. Of all the ruins on this list, Chichén Itzá perhaps benefits from the November climate and lack of crowds most.  

Snake Head Monuments At The El Castillo Temple, Chichen Itza. Photo: Shutterstock

3. Palenque

Widely regarded as the most atmospheric and impressive place to see of all the Mayan sites in Mexico, the Palenque complex rises out of the Chiapas rainforest. The dense jungle growth envelopes areas of the complex, combined with the dramatic mountain scenery surrounding Palenque, have given it this deserved reputation. The Palenque complex is also another Unesco World Heritage Site. More Mayan hieroglyphics have been discovered at Palenque than at any other complex in the world, making the Temple of Inscriptions a must see. Go with Insight Guides this November, and a local guide will show you around this stunning complex.

Mayan ruins in Palenque. Photo: Shutterstock

4. Coba

The temple complex at Coba houses over 6,500 structures, many of which are yet to be fully excavated. Coba is home to an intricate system of roads and pathways running through the vast Yucatán jungle. Coba also boasts Yucatán’s tallest pyramid, Ixmoja, which stands at over 42 metres. As the site is largely uncharted and so vast, the best way to get around is to hire a bicycle and explore it yourself. Be prepared to cycle 3-4 miles between each place – don't worry though, they are well worth the effort! Uncover multiple Mayan sites for yourself on Insight Guides’ Mexico City to the Yucatan trip.

Coba archaeological site. Photo: Shutterstock

5. Tulum

Perhaps the only temple complex in Mexico that can challenge Palenque’s location, the Mayan temples at Tulum are perched spectacularly on top of a cliff, looking out over the Caribbean Sea on the eastern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. The walled-off site includes the Castillo, an early tower to spot ships from, and the Templo de las Pinturas, a partially restored wall painting believed to be from the 13th century. While on your trip with Insight Guides, head inland from the cliffs, and you’ll find the Coba Archaeological Site, where has many pyramids that look inland toward the Tulum Eco Park.

Tulum Mayan Ruins. Photo: Shutterstock

Looking for a little more inspiration?

Grab a copy of Insight Guides: Mexico to discover more about the Mayan civilisation

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