Temple of Kukulcan, Yucatan

Yucatan Peninsula’s Guide. The Ultimate Archaeological Route. The Yucatan Trip

The Ultimate Trip across the Yucatan Peninsula and its 18 greatest ancient Mayan archaeological sites. The extended version including 24 sites is now available.

This 1,300 kilometers road trip (or 800 miles) is designed to be traveled by road. However, it is fully compatible with the Mexican Mayan Train route that will start operating in 2024.

File:Yucatan Peninsula.png - Wikipedia, le encyclopedia libere

The Yucatan Peninsula comprises the Mexican states of Yucatán, Campeche, and Quintana Roo. I designed this archaeological route and road trip to visit 18 Mayan archaeological zones in the three states of the peninsula.

Tulum. The beginning of the trip across the Yucatan Peninsula.

The tour starts at the Cancun airport and heads south on Highway 307 passing through Playa del Carmen. About 120 kilometers away (about 75 miles), the first stop is Tulum. Tulum is considered the second most visited archaeological zone in the Mayan area of Mexico.

Without having the monumentality of Chichen Itzá, Calakmul, Edzná or Uxmal, its main attraction lies its beautiful turquoise beaches.

Zona Arqueológica de Tulum | Experiencias Xcaret

The town of Tulum is just steps away from the archaeological zone. It is an exotic place with excellent hotels and restaurants to stay for a rest or a meal.


About 50 kilometers (or 30 miles) inland from Tulum is the archaeological zone of Cobá. Archaeologists believe it was the most important city-state in the area. It is even said that Tulum was an enclave belonging to Cobá built to facilitate the Mayan maritime trade that traveled along the coast from Honduras. Going around the entire Yucatán peninsula, to reach the coast of Campeche.

TULUM Y COBÁ desde la Riviera Maya y Cancún (privado) | Playa del Carmen |  2021 | Viator

The main attraction of Cobá is the definition of its buildings in groups, separated from each other. It has one of the tallest pyramids in the peninsula and borders a lagoon of special beauty.


Returning from Cobá to Tulum and then taking again the main road (307) towards south, at less than 20 kilometers (or 12 miles), at the foot of the road you will find Muyil. It is a small area whose attraction is the border with the Cunyaxché lagoon. This is where the Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve begins.

Kohunlich, Dzibanché, Kinichná

Continuing from Muyil, south on Highway 307 and passing by the town of Felipe Carrillo Puerto and the turnoff to Mahahual, further south you reach the Bacalar Lagoon,

The Bacalar Lagoon is one of the most beautiful nature spots across the entire trip in the Yucatan Peninsula. After 215 kilometers (or 130 miles) from Tulum, this is called “the lagoon of the seven colors”. It has different shades of color of the water in the lagoon.

Places to Stay in Bacalar | Boutique Hotels, Hostels & Camping

In this place, there are hotels and restaurants of good level to rest. A boat ride on the lagoon is not to be missed.

Kohunlich - Kinichná & Dizbanche Tour - Bacalar Adventure Tours

South of Bacalar, continuing on Highway 307 for a few more kilometers, you have to take Highway 186 to the west to go to the state of Campeche and less than 70 kilometers (43 miles) away is the archaeological zone of Kohunlich, whose pyramid, called the “Mascarones” is the main attraction.

From Bacalar by the same highway 186 and 82 kilometers (51 miles) away is Dzibanché another zone. Very near you will find Kinichná, another important archaeological zone in the state of Quintana Roo. You may visit all these three sites in one hasty day in you want.

Xpuhil, Becán, Río Bec, Hormiguero, Chicaná

We have left the state of Quintana Roo behind and are now entering the state of Campeche. Following highway 186 to the west and heading towards Escárcega, Campeche, 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Bacalar, you will find not only these five archaeological zones very close to each other, but others, practically at the foot of the highway.

This section of the route is very interesting because you can visit several zones in a few hours. Each of the zones has its individual attraction, and they all belong to the same architectural style known as “Río Bec”, but with their own intrinsic peculiarities.

Calakmul. A must on this trip across Yucatan Peninsula

Approximately 50 kilometers (32 miles) down highway 186, you will find the turnoff to the archaeological zone of Calakmul, which is reached after 60 kilometers (37 miles) of a very narrow road that crosses an important part of the Calakmul biosphere reserve, considered one of the largest and most important in the country, which is home to about 250 species of fauna.

Zona Arqueológica Calakmul, Campeche | Travel By México

UNESCO as a World Heritage Centre has recognized Calakmul. It is certainly a remote area with few visitors, even though it is becoming more and more known in Mexico and the world.

This archaeological zone is of a magnitude and monumentality at the level of large areas such as Chichen Itza, Palenke (in the state of Chiapas) and Tikal (in the neighboring country of Guatemala). Perhaps because it is the most recently discovered of these areas, it does not have the archaeological reconstruction work of the others, but it is easy to imagine its magnificence in some of its routes (short, medium and long).

There are hotels nearby on Highway 186 with good food. It is worth scheduling an overnight stay near the area since the trip to the city of Campeche, which is the one we recommend, from the archaeological zone is more than four hours.


Leaving from one of the hotels on highway 186 near the Calakmul area, heading towards the city of Campeche via Escárcega and after 3.5 hours, you will arrive in the city of Campeche, which is worth visiting and spending at least one night there because of its beauty and gastronomic tradition. Edzná is located 50 kilometers (31 miles) east of the city of Campeche and is, after Calakmul, the most famous archaeological zone in the state. Its attraction is the so-called ” Edificio de los 5 pisos” or “5-Floor Building”.

Uxmal, Kabah y Sayil

We leave the state of Campeche behind and continue the trip into Yucatan on highway 180 and about two hours later we arrive at the archaeological zone of Uxmal; from there both Sayil and Kabah are only a few minutes away. In fact, we recommend visiting Sayil first, then Kabah and crowning the visit with the monumental Uxmal.

Nearby are other areas within what is called the PUUC route: Labná and Xlapac, which can also be visited depending on time and the desire to see more archaeological zones.


For its grandeur and beauty, Uxmal is another story; It has at least three spectacular monumental buildings: the pyramid of the soothsayer, The Nunnery Quadrangle and the Governor’s Palace, but it is much more than that; its ball game, the unevenness of the built-up areas, are only a part of its beauty. Uxmal is considered on the same level as the most important zones of the Mexican Mayan world, such as Chichén Itzá, Palenque and Calakmul.

Apareció en Uxmal un túnel escondido... debajo de una pirámide

Chichén Itzá. A Wonder of the Modern World.

The route takes us from the city of Campeche, to leave this state behind and venture into the state of Yucatan, to the beautiful city of Mérida, which is about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Uxmal. The city of Mérida is very famous for many things, but perhaps most famous for its architecture and gastronomy. You must spend at least one night in this city.

The most important archaeological zone of the Mexican Mayan world is Chichén Itzá. It is the most visited of the Mayan zone of the country and the second most visited in Mexico, only after Teotihuacan. The Castle or temple of Kukulcán is undoubtedly one of the most famous antiant buildings in the world.

▷ Conoce → CHICHÉN ITZÁ YUCATÁN MÉXICO ↓ en el【2021】

This area is considered one of the seven modern wonders of the world. The sacred cenote, the observatory and the thousand columns, are some of its main attractions and has the largest ball game in Mesoamerica.

Ek Balam

Just an hour from Chichén Itzá and half an hour from the city of Valladolid, is the archaeological zone of EK Balam. Its main attraction is its main pyramid.

Ek Balam, el templo del jaguar negro que más cautiva en Riviera Maya

At its highest point, you can see the circumference of the earth at 360°. A few meters from the exit of the zone, there is a cenote that is worth a visit.

End of the Road Trip across the Yucatan Peninsula.

Spending a night at the end of the tour in the city of Valladolid and enjoying the delights of its gastronomy is an excellent way to complete the tour and then head to the Cancun airport or to the hotel zone of this famous tourist city.

Another option is Playa del Carmen and perhaps spend a night or two there to rest and start the trip back to the original destination, as this city is only about 60 kilometers (38 miles) from Cancun airport.

Written and designed by Sergio Larios Pérez.

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