27 Best Places in Yucatan Mexico to Visit in 2023

Best places in Yucatan Mexico? Too many to count. 

This is one of Mexico’s most cultural and historical regions. While most Yucatan itineraries may only focus on the well-known highlights of the area such as Chichen Itza, the Yucatan capital of Merida, and pueblo magicos like Valladolid and Izamal, the Yucatan has a lot more to offer than meets the eye.

Indeed, you could easily spend as much as a month in this part of Mexico and still feel as though you have barely scratched the surface. There are dozens of Maya ruins in this area alone and more than 200 in Mexico overall.

The Yucatan is filled with gorgeous beaches, charming villages, and other-worldly cenotes that are unlike anything you can see anywhere else in the world. This is one of the safest parts of the country and going off the beaten path here is both rewarding and encouraged.  

Some of the best Yucatan travel memories are made not by queuing in line to see world-famous landmarks, but at the random, non-touristic villages you discover en route to somewhere else. Some of the best places in Yucatan Mexico to add to your radar are discussed here. 

27 Best Places in Yucatan Mexico


Yucatan must see: Merida, Mexico
Yucatan must see: Merida, Mexico

The cultural Yucatan capital of Merida is, without hesitation, one of the best places in Yucatan to visit. It is characterized by its opulent, grand colonial mansions and ornate, colorful houses.

The historic center of Merida is a photographer’s dream. Every single building here has been painted in bright, vibrant colors. 

During the henequen boom, this was one of the richest cities in the world and its former grandeur still shows. There is a reason that Merida was chosen to be one of Lonely Planet’s ¨best in travel¨ destinations for 2022. 

Head to Calle 59 for all of your Insta-worthy photos. This is one of the most colorful streets in town and it exudes Cartagena vibes.

Nearby, Avenida del Deportista boasts grand 19th-century mansions and architectural wonders. 2-3 days is enough for an initial Merida itinerary.

Merida makes a good base for a wider exploration of the Yucatan. It also has an excellent Merida restaurant scene that will suit even the fussiest of travelers.

Yucatan food is distinctly different from general Mexican food. Head to a Comida Yucateca in Merida to sample delicious regional delicacies like cochinita pibil (essentially the Ancient Mayan pulled pork), poc chuc, and relleno negro. 

Merida is also very safe. The city is the safest in Mexico and one of the safest in the Americas on the whole. When choosing where to stay in Merida, opt for a hotel close to the Paseo Montejo or one of the central parks (Santa Ana, Santa Lucia, or the Zocalo).


Yucatan must see
Yucatan must-see: Progreso

Progreso is a charming little beach town just 43km away from Merida. It is by no means one of the most beautiful of the Yucatan beaches. 

However, with excellent public transport links, it is one of the most convenient places to get to from Merida if you want a day at the beach. Progreso sits on the Gulf of Mexico and the soft, powdery white sand and crystal-clear turquoise waters here would rival those in the Mexican Caribbean.

Playa Progreso is the main beach and its Malecon is lined with stores, bars, and restaurants serving local and international fare. If you have access to a car, you can visit some other gorgeous beaches nearby – such as the beach at Chelem and Yucalpeten. 


Yucatan must see: Valladolid pueblo magico

Yucatan must see: Valladolid pueblo magico

The charming pueblo magico of Valladolid flew largely under the radar until recently. It has only risen in popularity in recent years, with day-trippers from Cancun and Tulum stopping in Valladolid the night before visiting Chichen Itza. 

The town is small and can be explored in a day. It is easy to take a bus from Merida to Valladolid.

There are also some gorgeous cenotes in the area where you can go swimming if you want to extend your stay a little longer. Cenote Xkeken, Cenote Zaci, Cenote Saamal, and Cenote Oxman are all worth adding to your radar.

You can find great hotels in the central square for as little as $25 a night. The city dates back to 1543 and was developed by the descendants of Spanish Conquistadors. 

It was originally built close to a lagoon but then relocated inland, to its current location on the site of a Maya town. This led to several violent clashes and fights between the Spanish and the Maya that would last for centuries. 

Modern-day Valladolid is sleepy and tranquil – a stark contrast to its violent origins. San Servacio is the imposing catholic church found in Valladolid town center. 

It was founded in 1545 & rebuilt in the 1700s. You should also make time to visit the colorful Convent San Bernardino – one of the oldest convents in the Yucatan.

The food markets around the main square are often crowded with tourists and nothing to write home about. However, it is the random taquerias and food trucks down unsuspecting side streets that serve the best Mexican food.


Must see Yucatan: Izamal pueblo magico
Must see Yucatan: Izamal pueblo magico

Gorgeous Izamal is another Mexican pueblo magico in the heart of the Mexican Yucatan. The entire town is painted yellow because the locals wanted to beautify it ready for Pope Jean Paul’s visit in 1993. 

The joy of visiting Izamal is found in simply wandering the city streets, stumbling across cute houses and churches down nondescript alleyways, and taking photographs. However, the town’s piece de resistance is the 1561 Convent of San Antonio de Padua in the center square. 

The convent, perched atop a hill, is the perfect place to watch the sunset. It is still in use today. 

Izamal’s Kinich restaurant has gained international recognition for its exquisite menu. The Yucatecan dishes served here are prepared using the same ancient methods that the Mayans did thousands of years ago.

Nearby, Kinich KakMo is the largest pyramid in the Yucatan peninsula and one of the most important in all of Mesoamerica. It is one of just a handful that survived the Spanish colonization. 

Playa Uaymitun 

st things to do in Yucatan: visit the areas beaches
Best things to do in Yucatan: visit the area’s beaches

Looking for a peaceful and secluded beach that exudes desert island vibes? Look no further than Playa Uaymitun. 

The Yucatan off-the-beaten-path beach sits in the northern part of the Yucatan, between the beach towns of Chicxulub and San Benito. Unless you specifically knew where it was, you are unlikely to stumble across it.

The entrance to Playa Uaymitun is not clear. Access to the beach is via a dirt trail that veers off from the main road.

The beach is hidden behind grand beach houses and mansions and cannot be seen from the road. If you take the time to venture here though, you are in for a treat. 

Not only is Playa Uaymitun a beautiful tropical paradise with clear turquoise waters, coconut groves, and soft sands. Better yet, there is seldom anyone here. Traveling here in January or in other points of Mexico travel high season and you may have the entire stretch of coastline to yourself.

El Cuyo

Best things to do in Yucatan: spend a few days in El Cuyo
Best things to do in Yucatan: spend a few days in El Cuyo

Looking for a gorgeous sleepy beach town that has all the hippy vibes of Isla Holbox but without the tourists? Venture to El Cuyo.

El Cuyo is one of the most beautiful and best places in Yucatan. That being said, it is hugely underrated and few people are even aware of its existence.

This, in part, may be due to the fact that El Cuyo is not all that easy to get to. El Cuyo sits at the northeastern tip of the Yucatan.

Public transport links to the area leave a lot to be desired and you should only really attempt the journey by car. El Cuyo is 2.5 hours from Cancun and 3.5 hours from Merida, respectively. 

But is it worth the effort to get to? Absolutely. 

El Cuyo is little more than an inexplicably gorgeous beach and a small scattering of restaurants and hotels. It’s an exclusive place that sees just a few visitors in the know and locals hope to keep it that way. 

Days spent in El Cuyo are about waking up to watch the sunset, lazing on the sand, and eating traditional food from palapa restaurants. The conditions here are perfect for kitesurfing so if that’s your thing, you can opt to try your hand at it or take a class. 


Best things to do in Yucatan: Visit Sisal pueblo magico
Best things to do in Yucatan: Visit Sisal pueblo magico

Sisal is a pueblo magico and a beach town in the northwestern part of the Yucatan state. The name sisal is actually that of a plant that is native to Southern Mexico and used for making rope and other fabric items. 

The beach at Sisal is stunning and, owing to the town’s proximity to Celestun, you can often see flamingos flying overhead here as they migrate east toward Rio Lagartos. Sisal is little more than a fishing village but it is the natural beauty of the area that makes it special.

Lovely Sisal is surrounded by dense woodlands and fauna, natural springs, and mangroves. The beach is everything that you would expect of a Caribbean paradise – powdery white sands and warm, aquamarine seas.

You can rent palapas on the beach for the day for just a few pesos. Sisal does get quite busy at weekends so visiting during the week is advisable if you want a quieter experience. 

There are a couple of stores and restaurants along the Malecon where you can pick up any beach day items you have forgotten or buy homemade ice cream. The restaurants here cater to tourists and are nothing really to write home about. Instead, stop in nearby Hunucma and treat yourself to some grilled meat cooked at the side of the road or some arrachera tacos. 


Best things to do in Yucatan: See American flamingos in Celestun
Best things to do in Yucatan: See American flamingos in Celestun

Celestun, in the western part of the Yucatan state, is one of the best places in Yucatan for those who love getting back to nature. The town boasts a couple of stunning beaches that Yucatecans claim offers some of the best sunset views in the entire Yucatan peninsula. 

However, the raison d’etre for most people to travel to Celestun is for its Ría Celestún biosphere reserve and the opportunity to see American flamingos in their natural habitat. From November/December to April each year, the area is home to more than 40,000 flamingos. 

When you arrive in Celestun, it is possible to take a boat through the mangroves of the reserve. The boat is 1800 pesos and can seat up to 8 travelers. 

This is one of the best places in Yucatan to visit and it is a popular travel destination. So, if there are just a few of you traveling here, you can easily meet other travelers that you can split the cost of the boat with. 

The boats take you close to the flamingos while maintaining a respectful distance. Crocodiles and dozens of other species of birds can also be seen here. 

Rio Lagartos 

things to see in Yucatan: Rio Lagartos
things to see in Yucatan: Rio Lagartos

Rio Lagartos in the northeastern Yucatan shares some similarities with Celestun. The lagoon here is UNESCO protected.

It consists of 150000 acres of protected wetlands that are home to crocodiles, American flamingos, and more than 395 species of birds. Both Rio Lagartos and Celestun are among the best places in Yucatan to visit.

You may not want to visit them both however if you have a limited amount of time to spend in the Yucatan as the attractions they offer are somewhat similar. Why choose Rio Lagartos over Celestun?

There are far fewer tourists here and this is about as off the beaten path as you can get in Southern Mexico. Rio Lagartos attracts a different type of traveler – someone who wants to explore at a slow, laidback pace, immerse themselves in nature, and enjoy a peaceful few days by the water.

Boat tours in Rio Lagartos are cheaper too. You are generally looking at 900 pesos for a 2.5-hour boat tour of the lagoon, an ancient Maya mud bath spot, and a couple of beaches in the area. 

From Rio Lagartos, you can take day trips out to the pink lakes of Las Coloradas. Alternatively, continue up the coast to El Cuyo. 


Things to see in Yucatan: Homun cenotes
Things to see in Yucatan: Homun cenotes

Homun is a little town in the center of the Yucatan state. It is situated 55.6km away from the capital of Merida (approximately an hour’s drive) and is a popular day-trip destination from Merida.

Homun has its charm. But the main draw of visiting is not the town itself, but the cenotes in the area. 

Homun is home to more than 30 breathtaking cenotes. If you drive or take the bus to Homun, you can then hire a local guide on arrival and have him take you cenote hopping in a motorbike taxi.

A Homun guide costs around 200 pesos for the day and they will take you to 4-5 cenotes (or more, if desired). The cenotes range from small intimate affairs that are nothing more than a hole in the ground in the middle of the jungle to fabulous crystal-clear pools in dramatic cave complexes.

Having a guide on hand is great as you can specify things that you like (i.e. water that is not too deep, tourist-free cenotes, etc). Even if you are not a huge cenote fan, Homun is likely to change your perspective on that. 

There are a few other things to see and do in the area too. The ruins of Kampepen, Zion, and Yalabau are worth checking out. Near the town center, don’t miss the church and ex-convent dedicated to San Buenaventura.


Things to see in Yucatan: Hunucma
Things to see in Yucatan: Hunucma

Hunucma is a little town just 40 minutes out of Merida. It is not a tourist destination in itself, but you will likely pass through Hunucma en route to Celestun or Sisal and it is worth a stop.

Hunucma central square is always teeming with life. Here, you will see young couples strolling through the park, eating street food on the ¨you and me¨ chairs, and street vendors selling everything from elotes to churros and marquesitas.

Hunucmá is a Mayan word. In Spanish, it means “only answered”.

There are several great local restaurants in Hunucma offering Yucatecan and general Mexican fare. Most of them are centered around the main square.

Feel free to meander along the streets and duck inside wherever takes your fancy. Hunucma is absolutely a Yucatan off-the-beaten-path destination. 

There are no tourist traps here. Wherever you choose to eat, you are guaranteed to be met with only the best, highest quality food.


places to visit in yucatan: Kikil
places to visit in yucatan: Kikil

The charming village of Kikil is worth stopping at if you are driving through the Yucatan. You may pass by it en route to El Cuyo, Tizimin, Rio Lagartos or Los Coloradas.

In the center of the town, you will find the sunbleached ruins of an old Franciscan convent that you can explore for just 20 pesos. Nearby, is a fabulous blue and yellow church that looks like something straight out of a storybook.

There are a couple of great al fresco eateries in Kikil. If you are an adventurous eater and you like to try new foods when you travel, consider having a spot of lunch at Domingo Cochinita.

Here, you can order up a serving of beef birria. Birria is not a Yucatecan dish. 

It originates from the state of Jalisco and is most commonly eaten in Guadalajara, Tlaquepaque, and the north of Mexico. So it is special to find it here and it is perhaps only cooked here because a lot of rancheros work around Kikil.

The stew is made from a combination of beef marinated in chili, adobo, garlic, cumin, bay leaves, and thyme, and cooked at low heat. You can then add lime, spring onions, and hot sauce as desired. 


Breakfast at Cenote San Ignacio
Best places in Yucatan: Cenote San Ignacio

The village of Chochola, just southwest of Merida, is home to one of the best cenotes in the Yucatan. Here you will find cenote San Ignacio. 

Visiting the cenote here is a wonderful experience because the San Ignacio complex boasts an upscale restaurant, a cenote, and an outdoor swimming pool all in one. So, you can stop by for an early morning dip in the beautiful cenote nestled deep in a local cave.

Then, dry off and treat yourself to a traditional Mexican breakfast (perhaps some chilaquiles or huevos con longaniza with a side platter of Mexican fruit) and a strong Chiapas coffee. The environment here is beautiful and you dine beneath private cabanas surrounded by trees.

Relax by the side of the pool as your breakfast goes down before jumping in for a quick swim. Chochola town itself is worth exploring for half an hour or so. 


places to visit in yucatan: Uxmal
Places to visit in Yucatan: Uxmal

The Ancient Mayan city of Uxmal can be found 83.4km south of Merida. It is easy to get from Merida to Uxmal by bus, although the buses here run infrequently and require some advance planning. 

Uxmal is often overlooked in favor of Chichen Itza. However, it is also a very important Mayan city and is very expansive and worthwhile to explore. 

The site dates back to 700 AD and was once home to over 25,000 people. It was eventually abandoned between 1441 and 1541 AD and was designated as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1996. 

If you want to learn more about the site, it is worth hiring a guide from the entrance. It is 200 pesos to have a guide for several hours and guides are available in English, Spanish, and several other languages. 


Yucatan attractions: Mayapan ruins
Yucatan attractions: Mayapan ruins

Unless you are majorly interested in Mayan history, it is likely that you have never heard of Mayapan. The Mayapan ruins are often missed on Yucatan itineraries which is a shame. 

Mayapan is widely regarded as being the last great Mayan city. It is believed to have been founded around 1000 A.D. However, there is some debate among archaeologists and historians about the exact date.

It is estimated that approximately 12,000 people lived within the city’s defensive walls, with a further 5000 or so living in the rural areas just outside it. The site is small – spreading over an area of just 2.5 square miles. 

Following the downfall of Chichen Itza, King Kukulkan II of Chichen Itza and his people moved to Mayapan. He ruled over the city between 1263 and 1283 AD. 

The large temple here is known as the temple of Kukulkan. If you think that it looks just like Chichen Itza, you are right.

The temple was built as almost an exact replica of the great temple at Chichen Itza. However, archeologists confirm that it is an inferior copy.

Most temples, houses, and structures in Mayapan have not been built with the same care as in other Mayan cities. This was the beginning of the end for the Ancient Maya.

It is believed that the city was abandoned sometime in the 15th century. This was perhaps a result of constant violent clashes between the two cultural groups that occupied the city at that time: the Xiu and the Cocom.


Places to visit in Yucatan: Chicxulub
Places to visit in Yucatan: Chicxulub

Chicxulub (pronounced chick su lube) is a sleepy beach town on the northern coast of the Yucatan. It has a population of 5,000 and most residents are involved in fishing and trade.

But Chicxulub is more than just another Mexican beach town. This area is interesting because it is here where the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs hit the earth 66 million years ago. 

In fact, it didn’t just wipe out the dinosaurs, it caused mass extinction and wiped out 80% of all animals. It is also believed that the asteroid is the reason for the abundance of cenotes in the Yucatan.

When the asteroid hit the earth, it weakened the rock and led to the formation of these beautiful natural Maya water sources. You can’t see the impact site. It’s underwater. 

But regardless, it is very interesting to be able to say that you have visited the place where the asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs. Better yet, you can get a nice day at the beach out of it too. 

In 2022, a dino park will open just outside of Chicxulub. The park, named Sendero Jurásico, boasts a walking trail that runs around the impact site. Along the route, there are giant sculptures of various dinosaur species, along with information on the dinosaurs that once inhabited these parts and the dinosaurs that wiped them out. 

Xcambo Ruins 

Places to visit in Yucatan
Places to visit in Yucatan

The Xcambo ruins are a Mayan archaeological site located in the northern part of the Yucatan state, close to Telchac Puerto. If you are in the area visiting Laguna Rosada or the beaches of San Bruno and Telchac Puerto, it is worth stopping by. 

Xcambo was once an important port for commerce and trade. The locals placed a lot of dependence on the harvesting and sale of salt in the area. 

The salt mines that the Ancient Mayans used are still in use to this day. It is believed that Xcambo dates back to 250-600 A.D.

As it lost its importance as a trading port, it was eventually abandoned between 600-900 A.D. The site only recently opened to the public in 2001 and little is known about the rulers or political leaders of the city. Entrance is 85 pesos per person with no free admittance for Mexicans, making it a relatively expensive Mayan site to visit. 

As you enter the ancient site, you will see a Catholic church that looks out of place among the ruined temples. This church was built only 50 years ago and not 1500 years ago like much of the site. It was built by local people living in the area before Xcambo was fully excavated and identified as an important Mayan city. 

Las Coloradas

Las Coloradas is the Instagram-famous Mexican pink lake. The lakes are other-worldly in appearance and shimmer beneath the sun in a vibrant shade of cotton candy pink.

These lakes are actually part of a private salt farm and indeed, when you stop by, you will probably see local workers in action, harvesting the salt from the water. But why are the lakes pink?

The pink lakes actually get their color from the bright red-colored algae, plankton, and brine shrimp that live here. Unfortunately, Las Coloradas has become a victim of over-tourism in recent years thanks to social media.

If you do not stop by early in the morning, you are likely to be met with crowds and buses full of tourists venturing here to get that all-important Instagram shot. Regardless, Las Coloradas is a beautiful place, unlike anywhere else you have seen elsewhere in the world.

Telchac Puerto

Places to visit in Yucatan: Telchac Puerto
Places to visit in Yucatan: Telchac Puerto

Telchac Puerto is a coastal region in the Northern Yucatan. It sits along the stunning Emerald Coast: a coastal region that extends from Progreso to Dzilam de Bravo. 

Telchac Puertos beach is frequently overlooked but it offers a nice peaceful spot to relax without the crowds. There are several luxury four and five-star hotels in the area and you can treat yourself to a getaway here, complete with a massage and a facial in their on-site spas. 

Telchac has an interesting history. During the henequen boom and the days of grand Mexican haciendas, canoes would leave from here, taking their products to Progreso ready to ship overseas.

You can tie in a trip to Telchac Puerto with a visit to San Benito beach. Alternatively, head to Laguna Rosada – a smaller, alternative pink lake to Las Coloradas. The Xcambo ruins are also nearby. 


Hocabá, Yucatan
Best Places in Yucatan: Church at Hocabá

Hocabá is another small, off-the-beaten-path Yucatan settlement in the center of the state. You will likely drive through here if you are traveling between Merida and Homun. 

Street vendors crowd around the central square selling all manner of weird and wonderful, quintessentially Mexican snacks. For instance, have you ever had a serving of salsa verde flavor Tostitos with grilled elote (corn on the cob), fresh cream, jalapeno peppers, and spiced vegetables? 

In the town center, you will find the beautiful San Francisco de Asis church. Regardless of how many churches you have stumbled across in Mexico at this point, Hocabas principal church does not fail to impress.  

Chichen Itza 

As one of the new seven wonders of the world, Chichen Itza needs no introduction. It is easy to get to Chichen Itza from Merida, Valladolid, and Cancun. 

The term Chichen Itza means ‘the mouth at the well of Itza’. It is believed Itza means ‘water magicians’. Archaeologists are not sure exactly when Chichen Itza was built.

However, it is believed that the site has existed since around 600-750 A.D. A lesser-known fact is that Chichen Itza is not the name of the temple here, but of the settlement itself. 

The site is quite expansive and consists of several structures. The main temple is called the Temple of Kukulcán. 

This is one of the most important historical sites in all of Mexico. As a result, Chichen Itza is perpetually crowded, even if you stop by early in the morning. 

Ideally, you need to get here before the site opens if you don’t want to contend with tourist hordes. Cenote Sagrado de Chichen Itza is a sacred cenote within the Chichen Itza complex.

The Maya would make human sacrifices here, most commonly throwing women and children into the water. Nearby, you will find another cenote: Cenote Ik Kil, where you can go swimming. 


Dzibilchaltun is an impressive Mayan ruin located in the northern part of Merida. Unfortunately, it was closed for a lot of 2021/2022 due to ongoing disputes between the government and local landowners so it is important to check if the site is open before you make the journey.

Dzibilichaltun means ¨Place where there is writing on the stones¨ in Ancient Maya. This points to the inscribed tablets that were found at the site.

As with many Maya ruins, the date that Dzibilchaltun was first built is the subject of debate. However, it is believed that the settlement has existed since 500 BC, possibly earlier.

The site was occupied until the Spanish conquest in around 1500 AD. Look out for the mysterious Temple of the Seven Dolls. 

This structure was once a place of worship. When the site was excavated, seven figures of clay in human form were found inside. 


Places to visit in Yucatan: make time to stay at a hacienda
Places to visit in Yucatan: make time to stay at a hacienda

The little town of Tixkokob is home to one of the most beautiful Yucatan haciendas: Hacienda San Jose. It sits just 36km east of Merida, encompassed by beautifully manicured gardens and tropical woodlands.

Treating yourself to a night’s stay in a grand hacienda is the ultimate Yucatan experience that you should try if your budget allows it. If you are traveling on a budget, you can also consider stopping by one of the region’s haciendas for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. 

The restaurant at Hacienda San Jose boasts a menu that has been lovingly prepared by an acclaimed local chef. It showcases the best of Yucatan cuisine prepared in Ancient ways.

The town of Tixkokob is charming and is home to some of the best restaurants in the Merida area. Two places not to be missed are Pueblo Pibil (Calle 21 & 28, N ° 180) and Celestial Cocina Jardin (Calle 27, Calle 18 y 20, 97470). 

Ek Balam

Ek Balam is an Ancient Maya archaeological site situated in the Temozón region. It is located  25km north of Valladolid, 56 km northeast of Chichen Itza, and 175km east of Merida, respectively. 

The name Ek Balam translates to meaning black jaguar or dark jaguar in Ancient Maya. Interestingly, the diaries of a Spanish Conquistador named Juan Gutiérrez Picón state that the area was named after Lord Ek Balam. However, there is no evidence that such a person existed and maybe something got lost in translation during the Spanish colonization… 

The height of Ek Balam’s political and commercial success was during the Late/Terminal Classic period (600-850/900 AD). The first known king of Ek Balam was Ukit Kan Le’t Tok and the city was believed to have been the seat of the Tlalol Kingdom. 

Coba Ruins

The Coba Ruins await across the border in the state of Quintana Roo. However, historically this was still part of the Yucatan peninsula. 

Coba means ‘waters stirred by the wind’ in Ancient Mayan. This is a fitting name as the site is surrounded by lakes and lagoons. 

Archaeologists believe that Coba was once one of the most important Mayan cities. Fascinatingly, it still remains largely unexcavated so who can imagine what other wonders await beneath the surface of the ground. 

The settlement is vast and home to the largest Mayan pyramid in the Yucatan peninsula: Nohoch Mul. It is estimated that over 6,000 structures once existed here. 

However, only three are open for public viewing and many still wait beneath the ground… The site is vast.

It is actually made up of several different areas that are connected to the main temple by sacred white roads (sacbéob). You can explore Coba on foot or you can opt to rent a bicycle for the day to get around. 

Labna Ruins 

The Labna Ruins are a Mayan archaeological site located south of Merida. They await along the Puuc Route south of the city and can be visited in conjunction with Uxmal if you have access to a car. 

Most visitors to the Yucatan have never even heard of Labna unless they are massively interested in Mayan history. The site is small but worth stopping at if you are in the area. 

Labna is best known for its famous monumental arch and its intricate carvings that are unlike anything in other Mayan cities. The site dates back to 600-900 A.D.  

It features pure Puuc-style architecture such as colonnettes and mosaic designs. Labna was abandoned around 1200AD and was discovered by American explorers in the 1840s.

Getting Around the Yucatan Mexico

places to visit in yucatan
places to visit in Yucatan

Public transport in the Yucatan leaves a lot to be desired. Yes, there are buses that service routes in and between cities.

However many of them are infrequent, there is very limited information online, and sometimes, you will find that you need to take more than one bus to get to a popular Yucatan attraction. Construction is currently being done on Tren Maya – a tourist route train that will connect all major Yucatan attractions and towns with Quintana Roo and Campeche.

However, this is not scheduled to be completed until late 2023 at the earliest. For now, the best options for exploring the Yucatan are either driving yourself or having plenty of patience and relying on buses. 

Buses in the Yucatan 

places to visit in yucatan
places to visit in Yucatan

Buses run between most major towns/cities and Yucatan tourist attractions. For instance, you can easily take the bus from Merida to Valladolid, Merida to Chichen Itza, and Cancun to Merida. 

ADO buses and Noreste are two major companies that you are likely to use if you decide to explore the Yucatan by public transport. They are both pretty good but ADO, in particular, offers excellent service. 

ADO buses are considered Mexico’s premium bus network. The buses are air-conditioned and boast complimentary wifi and reclining seats.

You can purchase tickets online via the ADOs website, via their app, or in person at the ticket offices of various bus stations. 

The app and website are only displayed in Spanish. However, it is all pretty self-explanatory. Even if you cannot speak a word of Spanish, it is easy enough to understand how to buy a ticket.

Noreste buses and other Yucatan bus companies have buses that are not as modern/comfortable as ADO. However, they are still clean, efficient, and reliable.

Sometimes it can be hard to find bus information and schedules online. Rome to Rio is a good source of information. 

Driving in the Yucatan

places to visit in yucatan
places to visit in Yucatan

Renting a car in Mexico is not as daunting as it may seem. In fact, driving in Mexico offers you a lot more freedom and flexibility in your schedule.

Not only does doing so mean that you do not have to depend on bus timetables. It also means that you can stop in random villages, visit remote cenotes, and generally explore more of the best places in Yucatan than you would be able to if you are relying strictly on buses. 

You can pick up rental cars in Merida, Playa del Carmen, Cancun, Tulum, and basically any other major town or tourist area. A lot of renowned international companies operate here and it is generally better to rent a car from them than an unknown local firm. 

Unfortunately, scams in Mexico do exist. You can use a comparison site to help you find the best deal on rental cars.

Companies like Avis, Budget, and Europcar all operate in Mexico. Purchasing insurance here is essential and it is better to opt for full coverage if you can. 

Always check your vehicle fully and take photos of it prior to driving off into the sunset. That way, if there are any disagreements about the condition of the vehicle when you return it to the rental company, you have time-stamped photo evidence. 

Taxis in the Yucatan 

places to visit in Yucatan
places to visit in Yucatan

Taxis can be a good way to get around Yucatan cities. However, some caution is required here. 

The Yucatan is generally a very safe part of Mexico and sketchy cab drivers or express kidnappings are virtually unheard of. Still, this is Mexico and you need to exercise caution everywhere. 

It is better to order cabs using apps like Didi and Uber in Merida than to hail them on the street. Locals will advise you to do the same. 

When you get in a cab ordered via one of these apps, you have the license plate and identity of the person who is driving you somewhere. You can also easily share your journey with family and friends and with Didi, you can audio record the journey if you wish. 

Didi is an alternative version of Uber. The rates are often substantially cheaper and you will note that most Mexicans prefer to use this app.

Final thoughts on the best places to visit in the Yucatan

Best places to visit in the Yucatan
Best places to visit in the Yucatan

Hopefully, this post on the best places in Yucatan has inspired you to make your own visit to the south of Mexico. Have you traveled to this region before?

Which places appeal to you the most? If this will be your first time visiting the Yucatan peninsula, you may also enjoy reading this post on the best time to visit the Yucatan.

Safe travels! Buen Viaje! xo

Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer based in Merida, Mexico and the Editor-in-Chief of Mexico Travel Secrets. She has produced written content for several high-profile publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, the Huffington Post, Rough Guides, and Matador Network.