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Maya cities in Central America Mundo Maya Tikal ruins Belize Contours Travel

Top 10 Must-see Mayan Ruins

September 5, 2019

The Maya were an ancient civilisation that has continued along the time until modern day. They are known as the Mayan World, and their presence is felt from southern Mexico stretching throughout Central America. You can explore the Mayan ruins as well as experience the modern Mayan communities. We can suggest a few ideas to create a bespoke itinerary just for you.

Tulum

Tulum is one of the last inhabited cities built by the Maya. Its main temple overlooks the Caribbean on a clifftop with a backdrop to a white sandy beach. Tulum is the best known Mayan Ruin, probably for its idyllic setting. You won’t miss Tulum on any itinerary!

Contours Travel Tulum ruins by the sea

Contours Travel Tulum ruins by the sea

Uxmal and The Puuc Sites

Pronounced ‘oosh-mahl’, this site if one of Contours Staffs´favourites in Mexico due to the art and decoration of the pyramids, which is very detailed. The Pyramid of the Magician imposes the grandeur of the site at the very begging of your visit. But behold to what this area has to offer! Even better, do it in your own time on a self-drive itinerary to these Mexican Mayan ruins.

Mexico Uxmal ruins Contours Travel

Mexico Uxmal ruins Contours Travel.

Palenque and Bonampak in Mexico.

These are two of the most beautifully crafted temple cities. Lost in the jungles surrounding the Usumacinta River, both Palenque and Bonampak are known for their beautiful friezes and best-preserved examples of Mayan paintings.

Contours Travel Palenque Ruins in Chiapas

Contours Travel Palenque Ruins in Chiapas

Caracol and Cahal Pech in Belize.

Caracol is one of the best Maya sites in Central America, especially as you can camp on-site! Located close to the border of Guatemala, Cahal Pech near San Ignacio is the oldest known Maya site. Still today, on special occasions Traditional Mayan celebrations are held. Why not combining two countries to explore these off the beaten track Mayan ruins in Guatemala and Belize.

Contours Travel Caracol Ruins in Belize

Contours Travel Caracol Ruins in Belize

Lamanai in Belize.

Nestled on the banks of a lagoon, Lamanai has three large pyramids, a ball court, and open plaza. To reach this Maya Ruin, you will have to travel up-river on a boat ride through the lush jungle. On this boat ride, you will be spotting exotic birds, crocodiles, and howler monkeys.

Contours Travel Lamanai Ruins in Belize

Contours Travel Lamanai Ruins in Belize

Tikal in Guatemala.

Tikal is a 3,000 structure complex surrounded by rainforest. Howler monkeys and macaws give a beautiful soundtrack to enjoy this area truly. In 1979, Unesco named it a World Site. We can tailor-make a multi-country itinerary to Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize and include Tikal as a must-see. Fun fact, it is one of the locations of Star Wars movies!

Contours Travel Tikal ruins in Guatemala

Contours Travel Tikal ruins in Guatemala

Copán in Honduras.

Copan is one of the most important Mayan sites. It was home to 20,000 people at its peak. Significant cultural developments took place in this site, including achievements in mathematics, astronomy and hieroglyphic writing. You can spend at least two days exploring this World Heritage Site. Believe us; it’s worth it.

Contours Travel Copan Ruins in Honduras

Contours Travel Copan Ruins in Honduras

 

San Cristobal de las Casas.

San Cristobal de las Casas is located in the highlands of Chiapas. Although it’s not an ancient ruin, it represents the contemporary Mayan hub. Thus different Mayan groups sell their crafts and products. ‘San Cris’ as locals call it is a must-see on your holiday to the best of Chiapas.

Contours Travel San Cristobal de las Casas

Contours Travel San Cristobal de las Casas

 

Chichicastenango in Guatemala.

 

This town has the most vibrant and colourful market to buy everything from pottery to condiments, textiles, and masks. You can visit Chichicastenango and other areas in the highlands of Guatemala. We can prepare an itinerary that includes the regions’ volcanoes and lakes.

Contours Travel Chichicastenango Guatemala

Contours Travel Chichicastenango Guatemala

Lake Atitlan in Guatemala

Lake Atitlan is still a great place to see the continuity of the Mayan population. Many lakeside communities are only accessible by boat or roads through the mountains. There are multiple ways to explore Lake Atitlan. A fantastic way to do it is on a Sky Route Trek from Antigua!

Contours Travel Lake Atitlan Guatemala

Contours Travel Lake Atitlan Guatemala

There is so much to see in this region, that no wonder they call it the Mayan World! One of our expert travel advisors can create a tailored made holiday to the best spots in this massive area crafted according to your interests, budget, and time. Call us in!