Landmarks in the Yucatan Peninsula

See large ruins and small museums while exploring the Yucatan

Photo credit: © Alberto Azparren
 

Not just a modern party destination, the Yucatan Peninsula is one of the most historically significant areas in the Americas. With Maya ruins scattered throughout the region and marks of Spanish colonialism still present, the Mexican Caribbean is alive with history in a way many Caribbean destinations are not.

One of the most renowned Mayan destinations is the Chichen Itza temple group. A huge selection of Mayan architecture can be visited here, and many structures have been restored to preserve their historical importance. The focal point of Chichen Itza is the El Castillo temple, which houses a smaller temple within, as well as a hidden throne room. Visitors are also welcome to explore the area’s other temples, great ball court, bathhouse, marketplace structure, numerous platforms and the Cenote Sagrado, which served as the site of sacrificial ceremonies. Travelers with interests in archeology or history should definitely consider a trip to Chichen Itza for an unforgettable immersion into Mayan culture.

Museums

Assuming you like to expand your knowledge of other places and cultures, you might enjoy visiting a museum during your vacation. Try clicking on the name of each museum to read complete information.

If you are looking to do some sight-seeing, visit Banquitas House of Culture. It is Orange Walk, in southern the Yucatan Peninsula. The museum at the Banquitas House of Culture features a display of Maya artifacts and shares information regarding the importance of logging and cane farming in the region.

Another landmark that often intrigues visitors is Corozal House of Culture. It is Corozal, in southern the Yucatan Peninsula. Since it was originally built during the latter half of the 19th century, Corozal House has serves as a market place, a tourism center, an archeological management facility, and finally, a cultural center. Visitors who encounter Corozal House today find a beautiful community center which houses an art gallery of local works, and a museum of local history.

Ambergris Museum: Tours are given of the museum collections, which includes a good quantity of Maya artifacts like pottery and flint tools. Then learn the 17th century history of Ambergris as a pirate hideout.

The following chart enables you to learn a few details concerning some museums worth checking out in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Museums In the Yucatan Peninsula
Name Phone Location
Ambergris Museum -- 0.4 mi. East of Central San Pedro Ambergris Caye
Banquitas House of Culture (501) 322-0517 0.6 mi. East-Northeast of Central Orange Walk Belize
Cedam Museum -- 0.9 mi. South of Central La Gloria Mexico
Corozal House of Culture (501) 422-0071 0.2 mi. South of Central Corozal Belize
Museo Arqueológico de Cancún (998) 883-0305 2.9 mi. Northeast of Central Cancun Beach Hotel Zone Mexico
San Roque Museum -- 23.9 mi. East of Central Chichen Itza Mexico

Historical Sites

Chichen Itza

In case you enjoy experiencing the history of a foreign place, you should consider visiting a few of these historical sites while vacationing in the Yucatan Peninsula.

A common landmark for vacationers is Chichen Itza. It is located within Chichen Itza, the Yucatan Peninsula. The ruins admit guests into the ruins everyday between 9:00am and 5:00pm. There is also a popular light show that takes place at El Castillo (the main ruin on site) at 8:00pm in the Spring and Summer, and at 7:00pm during the other half of the year.

Many travelers also choose to visit Tulum Maya Ruins. It is located within the Yucatan Peninsula. The ruins are open to visitors from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Ek Balam Ruins: The Ek Balam Ruins is the site of an ancient city that was likely an active native site since around 2000 BC until some time in the 1500's. The site is full of artifacts, wall paintings, and buildings.

Take a moment to look through the following chart for a list of historic sites in the area.

Historic Sites In the Yucatan Peninsula
Name Phone Location
Akab-Dzib -- 0.2 mi. South-Southwest of Central Chichen Itza Mexico
Ball Court -- 14.4 mi. North of Central Valladolid Mexico
Casa del Cenote at Tulum Mayan Ruins -- 2.1 mi. East of Central Tulum Mexico
Chac Balam -- 7.6 mi. South-Southwest of Central Xcalak Ambergris Caye
Chacchoben Mayan Ruins -- 33.8 mi. North of Central Chetumal Mexico
Chichen Itza -- 0.2 mi. North of Central Chichen Itza Mexico
Chichen Itza Ball Court -- 0.3 mi. North-Northwest of Central Chichen Itza Mexico
Chichen Viejo (Old Chichen) -- 0.6 mi. South of Central Chichen Itza Mexico
Church (La Iglesia) -- 0.2 mi. South West of Central Chichen Itza Mexico
Coba Ball Courts -- 25.8 mi. Northwest of Central Tulum Mexico
Coba Ruins -- 25.9 mi. Northwest of Central Tulum Mexico
Colonnades -- 0.2 mi. North-Northeast of Central Chichen Itza Mexico
Cuello Mayan Archaeological Site -- 8.9 mi. Northeast of Central Shipyard Belize
Ek Balam Ruins -- 14.4 mi. North of Central Valladolid Mexico
Ekab Maya Ruin -- 4.6 mi. Southeast of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
El Caracol -- 0.1 mi. South West of Central Chichen Itza Mexico
El Castillo -- 0.2 mi. North of Central Chichen Itza Mexico
El Meco Mayan Ruins -- 4.8 mi. Northeast of Central Cancun Mexico
Fuerte de San Felipe -- 0.4 mi. Southeast of Central Bacalar Mexico
House Of The Cenote -- 14.6 mi. South-Southwest of Central Akumal Mexico
House Of The Chultun -- 14.7 mi. South-Southwest of Central Akumal Mexico
House Of The Columns -- 14.7 mi. South-Southwest of Central Akumal Mexico
House Of The Deer -- 0.2 mi. West of Central Chichen Itza Mexico
Iglesia de Cristo Rey (998) 881-2745 Downtown Cancun Mexico
Isla Mujeres Cemetery -- 0.2 mi. West-Southwest of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
La Milpa -- 10.0 mi. West-Southwest of Central La Union Belize
La Rafaelita -- 22.6 mi. East of Central Chichen Itza Mexico
Lamanai Mayan Archaeological Site -- 4.6 mi. North of Central Lamanai Belize
Lookout Tower -- 14.6 mi. South-Southwest of Central Akumal Mexico
Main Entrance To Tulum Ruins -- 14.6 mi. South-Southwest of Central Akumal Mexico
Marco Gonzalez Maya Site (501) 672-2725 3.7 mi. South West of Central San Pedro Belize
Muyil Mayan Ruin -- 21.1 mi. North-Northwest of Central Punta Allen Mexico
Nohmul -- 9.5 mi. North of Central Orange Walk Belize
Nohoch Mul -- 26.8 mi. West of Central Akumal Mexico
Nunnery -- 0.2 mi. South West of Central Chichen Itza Mexico
Ossuary -- 0.1 mi. West-Northwest of Central Chichen Itza Mexico
Oval Palace -- 31.5 mi. East-Northeast of Central Chichen Itza Mexico
Oxtankah Maya Site -- 7.9 mi. Northeast of Central Chetumal Mexico
Pintura -- 27.1 mi. West of Central Akumal Mexico
Plattform Of The Skulls (Tzompantli) -- 0.3 mi. North of Central Chichen Itza Mexico
Puetra del Cielo 52-98-842-862 1.5 mi. West-Southwest of Central downtown Playa del Carmen Mexico
Pyramid of Masks -- 24.5 mi. Northwest of Central Caledonia Mexico
Red House -- 0.2 mi. West of Central Chichen Itza Mexico
Ruinas del Rey (998) 883-2080 2.5 mi. South-Southwest of Central Cancun Beach Hotel Zone Mexico
San Bernardino Monastery -- 23.2 mi. East of Central Chichen Itza Mexico
Santa Rita -- 2.6 mi. Northeast of Central Corozal Belize
Sian Ka'an Arch (Entrance To Biosphere) (984) 141-4245 21.1 mi. South-Southwest of Central Akumal Mexico
Stacked Stones -- 0.2 mi. East-Northeast of Central Chichen Itza Mexico
Steam Bath -- 0.2 mi. East-Northeast of Central Chichen Itza Mexico
Stelae -- 31.5 mi. East-Northeast of Central Chichen Itza Mexico
Temple Of The Descending God -- 14.7 mi. South-Southwest of Central Akumal Mexico
Temple Of The Initial Series (Temple Of The Stellae) -- 14.7 mi. South-Southwest of Central Akumal Mexico
Temple Of The Pinturas -- 14.7 mi. South-Southwest of Central Akumal Mexico
Temple Of The Sea -- 14.8 mi. South-Southwest of Central Akumal Mexico
Temple Of The Warriors -- 0.2 mi. Northeast of Central Chichen Itza Mexico
Temple Of The Wind -- 14.7 mi. South-Southwest of Central Akumal Mexico
Temple of the Church -- 27.5 mi. West of Central Akumal Mexico
The Acropolis -- 31.6 mi. East-Northeast of Central Chichen Itza Mexico
The Grand Palace -- 14.7 mi. South-Southwest of Central Akumal Mexico
The Macanxoc Group -- 26.9 mi. West of Central Akumal Mexico
The Sacred Cenote -- 0.5 mi. North of Central Chichen Itza Mexico
Tulum Maya Ruins (987) 882-0972 14.7 mi. South-Southwest of Central Akumal Mexico
Tulum Outer Wall -- 14.8 mi. South-Southwest of Central Akumal Mexico
Twin Pyramids -- 31.5 mi. East-Northeast of Central Chichen Itza Mexico
Xaibe Temple -- 26.9 mi. West of Central Akumal Mexico
Xcaret Maya Ruins (998) 881-2400 1.4 mi. South West of Central Playa del Carmen Mexico
Xel Ha Ruins (998) 883-3143 6.4 mi. South-Southwest of Central Akumal Mexico
Xlapak Mayan Ruin -- 19.2 mi. North of Central Punta Allen Mexico
Yamil Lu'um Mayan Ruin -- 1.3 mi. North-Northeast of Central Cancun Beach Hotel Zone Mexico

Miscellaneous Landmarks

Punta Sur Lighthouse

Vacationers may discover some other interesting places to visit in the Yucatan Peninsula.

If the functional aspects of living by the sea interest you, you might enjoy a visit to Punta Allen Lighthouse. There is no park surrounding the lighthouse or activities to draw tourists to the area, but it is a nice photo opportunity.

Additionally, if the nitty gritty aspects of life by the sea interest you, you should think about visiting Leaning Lighthouse. Once upon a time there was a lighthouse in a small village surrounded by a beautiful flower bed at the base, and that lighthouse lit the night and brought many a sailor to safety. Then, a hurricane hit and caused erosion which had an effect so strong on the lighthouse that it began to lean.

Punta Sur Lighthouse: Punta Sur Lighthouse accepts visitors daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The chart just below enables you to learn some key facts regarding other kinds of attractions of interest to visitors.

Miscellaneous Landmarks In the Yucatan Peninsula
Name Type Location
Birds Island Observation Tower Observation Tower 3.8 mi. East of Central Downtown Holbox Birds Island
Chetumal Lighthouse Lighthouse 2.1 mi. Southeast of Central Chetumal Mexico
El Farito Lighthouse 0.9 mi. South of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
El Faro Lighthouse Lighthouse Downtown Playa del Carmen Mexico
Fisherman's Statue Monument 0.2 mi. South West of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Ixchel Goddess Statue Monument 0.1 mi. South-Southeast of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Leaning Lighthouse Lighthouse 3.6 mi. South of Central Riviera Cancun Mexico
Mahahual Lighthouse Lighthouse 0.8 mi. Northeast of Central Mahahual Mexico
Pac Chen Attraction The Riviera Maya, Eastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico
Plaza Principal Attraction Downtown Playa del Carmen Mexico
Punta Allen Lighthouse Lighthouse 1.5 mi. South-Southeast of Central Punta Allen Mexico
Punta Sur Lighthouse Lighthouse 4.5 mi. Southeast of Central Downtown Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres
Tulum Lighthouse Lighthouse 15.0 mi. South-Southwest of Central Akumal Mexico

If you are looking for more attractions beyond what's offered in this category, you should find others. To read our detailed guide to other attractions, visit this page.

Destinations in the Yucatan for Landmarks

The Yucatan Peninsula is a large region, and unless you are staying for an extended period time, it is unlikely you will be able to see everything. With that said, take a look at the table below to see the top destination in the Yucatan for landmarks.

Where to go for Landmarks
DestinationSignificance
Cancun Founded in the year 1970 AD, Cancun is a young city. Nonetheless, this city is the center of tourism in the Yucatan, and offers a few historical attractions.
Chichen Itza Perhaps the most famous ruins in all of the Americas, Chichen Itza is a must go for any history buff visiting the area.
Tulum It may not be as well known as Chichen Itza, but Tulum is rife with Maya ruins and cenotes. Offering both quantity and quality, the only reason Tulum is not as well known is because of its proximity to the more famous Chichen Itza.

The Mayan Riviera combines the ancient traditions of the Mayans with modern advances to create a contemporary district of hotels, restaurants and more. Many of the resort developers in this area have modeled their properties to mimic Mayan architecture and culture. The Mayan Riviera is a true testament to Cancun’s dedication to preserving and celebrating their ancient roots.

 

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