Visit the coastal state of Yucatán to see its famous Mayan ruins and stretches of coastline. Find beautiful architecture, great entertainment and peaceful nature in the state capital and surrounding towns and villages.
Explore the ruins of ancient Mayan civilization at the famed Chichén Itzá archaeological site, one of the most extensively restored and most visited of all Mayan ruins. Examine the ball court and stone temples as well as the iconic pyramid. Many people stay overnight to see the ruins early in the morning or late at night, avoiding the tourist crowds and extreme heat during the day.
Scattered around the state are several other Mayan archaeological sites including Ek Balam, known for its well-preserved sculptures, and Uxmal, famed for its detailed, ornamental facades. Time your visit to coincide with the impressive sound and light show at Uxmal.
The state capital, Mérida, is a mix of old and new, filled with Mayan and colonial history. Known as the "White City,” due to the amount of white limestone buildings here, the city is comprised of narrow streets and broad plazas. Browse its busy markets and attend one of the events that happen most evenings in the downtown area. During the day, explore the city’s museums and marvel at colonial-era churches built using relics from ancient Mayan temples.
Merida’s residents escape the heat at the port town of Progreso, 20 miles (30 kilometers) north. Stroll along the promenade, which is always bustling with vendors selling crafts and fresh seafood. The emerald waters nearby are clean and good for swimming. En route to Progreso, stop at the ancient Maya site of Dzibilchaltun.
Head west of Mérida to explore the little fishing village of Celestún. From here, it’s just a short journey to the Reserva de la Biosfera Ría Celestún, a wildlife sanctuary known for its flamingos and waterfowl.
Access Yucatán via Manuel Crescencio Rejón International Airport in Mérida or Cancun International Airport. The state is served by bus routes, some of which are air-conditioned, but for ultimate comfort and ease, rent a car instead. The roads here are well-maintained.