Once home to some of the largest and most powerful ancient civilizations, Mexico has a plethora of captivating pyramids, each provide visitors a distinct glimpse into this regions rich past. While every ancient site site offers its own appeal, we’ve narrowed down a list of eight pyramids every traveler should try to see.
Where: Tulum, Quitana Roo, Mexico
The Tulum Archaeological Site features Mayan ruins perched on the edge of a sea cliff. The Zona Arqueológica de Tulum offers close access to the Cancun pyramids. After exploring these world re-owned ruins, you can visit Xplor, the newest eco theme park in the Mayan Riviera and zipline directly into a cenote (underground water cavern). After, cruise over to the beaches of Tulum, aptly named the best beaches in the Yucatan Peninsula. Tulum’s stretch of coastline consists of fancy resorts, vegan restaurants, health spas, yoga studios. Outdoor opportunities include scuba diving, snorkeling, kite surfing, mangrove tours, and swimming in cenotes.
Where: San Juan Teotihuacán, State of Mexico, Mexico
Ciudad Prehispánica de Teotihuacán is home to the most famous Mexico City pyramids. Discover the awe-inspiring Aztec pyramids at Teotihuacan, located 30 miles outside of Mexico City. Teotihuacán has two famous pyramids known as the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon. The two gigantic pyramids dominate the landscape. Check out the most known Aztec site in Mexico. A trip to Mexico would not be complete without visiting world-renowned Teotihuacán and climbing the Pyramid of the Sun.
Where: Tinum, Yucatan, Mexico
By far the most well known ancient Mayan ruins and Mexico pyramids, Chichen Itza is a popular day trip for travelers staying in Cancun and a well preserved ancient city. The main highlight of Chichén Itzá is the famous El Castillo pyramid, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The well preserved ancient city has other jaw-dropping structures such as the El Caracol observatory and the Temple of the Warriors. Historically, a major urban center of lowland Maya culture, Chitzen Itza houses numerous monuments of world importance and fame. As a center of historical significance since 1000 AD, Chichen Itza is home to the well-known monuments like the Great Ball Court, the Temple de Los Guerreros, and the Ossario pyramid. It is also the site of a unique natural sinkhole called the Sacred Cenote, which was used as a human sacrifice site. A large quantity of priceless archeological artifacts and human remains have been unearthed at Chichén Itzá. The stone-stepped pyramid of El Castillo lives up to its world fame. The grand structure of El Castillo was dedicated as a place of worship to the Maya feathered serpent god Kukulkan.
Where: Adolfo López Mateos, Chiapas, Mexico
The Temple of Inscriptions is the largest stepped-pyramid at Palenque and resting place of Lord Pakal. This Mexico pyramid was built as a funerary monument of an important Mayan leader. The Temple of Inscriptions records approximately 180 years of the ancient city's history. This famed archaeological site is located a nine hour drive from Cancun and a great day trip to add to your Mexico Tour.
Where: San Andrés Cholula, Puebla, Mexico
The Great Pyramid of Cholula, also known as Tlachihualtepetl, is part of a huge network of pyramids near Mexico City. The Zona Arqueológica de Cholula is around two hours away from Mexico City. Located in Cholula, Puebla, Mexico, The Great Pyramid of Cholula is the largest archaeological site of a pyramid in Central America and the largest pyramid known to exist in the world today.
Where: El Tajin, Veracruz, Mexico
El Tajin was one of the most important ancient cities of Mesoamerica. The ancient city flourished from 600 – 1200 AD, inhabited by people from diverse parts of Mexico. The impressive Aztec pyramids and monuments of El Tajin include the Pyramid of the Niches, Building 5 (also a pyramid) and other pyramid-shaped temples. El Tajin is around four hours away from Mexico City, located near the beach town and adventure hub of Veracruz.
Where: Campeche, Mexico
Calakmul was one of the largest and most powerful ancient cities uncovered in the Mayan lowlands. Calakmul was a major Mayan power hub within the Yucatán Peninsula of southern Mexico. Structure II is a district landmark of the famous Calakmul pyramids in Mexico. This colossal ruin stands at more than 148 ft in height, making it one of the tallest of the Mayan pyramids in Mexico.
Where: Monte Carmelo, Quintana Roo, Mexico
The ancient Mayan city of Coba built around two lagoons is driving distance from Cancun. The adventurous and hidden Coba ruins encompass gorgeous jungle scenery and climbable temples. Bikes are available for rent so visitors can explore the large ancient city with ease. The renowned Coba ruins are the site of the largest network of stone causeways and roads in the ancient Mayan world. The Coba structures show influences from ancient Teotihuacan architecture, evidence that inhabitants had contact with Central Mexico. Steep steps lead up to the top of the Nohoch Mul pyramid, which reaches over one hundred and thirty feet tall. The Nohoch Mul Pyramid is the tallest Mayan pyramid on the Yucatan Peninsula. Coba’s Ancient Nohoch Mul Pyramid is open to the public if visitors wish to climb the one hundred and thirty steps. The pyramid in Mexico is a popular tourist destination, but the site is not overrun with tourists, so visitors experience the untouched feel of the ancient Mayan world.
Where: Ek Balam, Yucatan, Mexico
Ek Balam is composed of several temples, two palaces and the large El Torre pyramid which is located in the center of the ancient site. Nestled in the jungles of the Yucatan state, these climbable structures are about two hours west of Cancun. The Ek Balam site has several large structures including the tall main pyramid of El Torre, adorned with beautifully preserved carvings. These Cancun pyramids are a great way to experience ancient Mayan culture without the crowds.
Where: Campeche, Mexico
The style and features of Edzná make it an ancient city that tourists will soon wish they visited before it becomes world-famous. These majestic Mayan ruins are around five hours driving distance from Cancun. Edzna is best-known for its Great Pyramid of Edzna, the five-level structure that distinctly combines a pyramid with a palace. The Great Plaza and the ball court encompass significant and photogenic sites within the ruins. Due to the solitude of this hidden gem, exploring the Edzna ruins feels comparable to Hiram Bingman searching for the lost Inca pyramids of Machu Picchu in South America.
It is clear that Mexico has an abundance of historically and culturally prevalent pyramids to visit. Every site has its own unique offerings for visitors, which can feel overwhelming feel overwhelming when trying to determine which ones are “must-sees” on your next adventure. Luckily, we’re here to help to help. Here at Global Basecamps, we specialize in creating custom trips that meet all your travel goals. Get in touch and we’ll start planning your Mexico tour today!