Mexico Feature: Pyramids and Ruins

Many tourists to Mexico visit the popular resort destinations of Cancun and Riviera Maya. Only some, however, venture away from their vacation sites to explore the Mexican inland—with its wild jungles, gorgeous cenotes and, most remarkable of all, its towering pyramids.

Scattered across the diverse lands of Mexico are hundreds of these impressive pyramids, masterfully fashioned exhibits of pre-Columbian, Meso-American architecture. These structures have lasted through weather and war and time, relics of old Mesoamerican empires. The largest pyramid in the world by volume is the Great Pyramid of Cholula—and it still stands today in the Mexican state of Puebla. Let’s take a quick look at some of these extraordinary edifices:

photo by Hector Garcia


The archaeological site of Teotihuacan is located just about thirty miles from Mexico City. The largest pre-Colombian city in the Americans, it lasted around 800 centuries or so, and housed nearly 150,000 people at its peak. One of the most impressive sites of Aztecs, you can climb the pyramids, and visit the Temples of the Moon, the Sun, and the Temple of Quetzacoatl with its serpent heads. Look for the magnificent colorful murals and the Avenue of the Dead. Visits to the site can be arranged as a day or half-day trip from the capital. We also offer hot-air balloon adventures that give you unique, aerial views of the pyramids.

photo by Gervasio Varela

Chichen Itza

Just a short ride from Cancun resorts (2 hours), Chichen Itza was once the capital of the Mayan Empire and now a spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Site. From the 7th century to the 13th, it underwent several architectural renovations, and this is evident in the multitudes of styles and decorations. Explore the beautiful and ancient castle, observatory, cenotes, and temples with a personal guide. We can arrange a day trip from your Cancun hotel, with an optional buffet lunch and folk dance. There are also resorts available onsite, complete with bungalow suites and secluded swimming pools.

Tulum and Xel-Ha

Another fascinating wonder of old Mexican landscape not far from Cancun, the abandoned city of Tulum is situated on the gorgeous backdrop of the Caribbean Sea. Snorkel in the gorgeous waters of the Takbelum cenote, a pool of freshwater in an underground cave. Zipline through the jungle treetops of Yucatan or pedal across the treetops on a Skycycle, a cable bike suspended from the trees. Admire some of the peninsula’s amazing wildlife. Take a brief drive to Xel-Ha, a natural aquatic theme park that houses a variety of colorful fish, underground rivers, lagoons, and cenotes. Enjoy kayaking, biking and cliff diving. We can arrange this day trip from any Cancun resort.

photo by tslane888


A worthwhile excursion from Cancun or the Riviera Maya to the tallest pyramid (140 feet or 42 meters) in the Yucatan peninsula. Climb to the top of Nohoch Mul or bike around the ruins and the historical Mayan village. Enjoy lunch at an authentic restaurant and then a finish up with a swim in a freshwater sinkhole. Combine this tour with a biological and cultural tour of the Mayan traditions, wildlife, and history.


The unforgettable Uxmal archaeological site is home the Magician’s Pyramid, the Nun’s Quadrangle, the Palace of the Governor, and the impressive Great Pyramid. Just 62 km south of Merida, the buildings are famed for their ornate design—with decorative friezes, trapezoidal shapes, entwined snakes, and divine masks. This is a spectacular day trip from either Cancun or Riviera Maya.

Interested in adding more to your trip to Mexico? Want to book a vacation or destination wedding? Most of our agents at Willamette Intl Travel have had on the ground experience in Mexico, and we book clients there regularly. Call for more information 503-224-0180 or email

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Filed under Art & Architecture, Mexico

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