Skip to Content

Visiting the Tulum Ruins: A Complete Guide [2024]

Visiting the Tulum Ruins soon? Here is a complete guide to these Mayan Ruins – how to get there, best tours, what to visit + prices and practical info!

If you’re visiting the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, you can’t miss the Tulum Ruins. This Mayan archaeological site gets its fame (mainly) for being perched on a cliff that overlooks the Caribbean Sea

The ruins at Tulum offer views that will make you believe you’re in paradise. (Or your favorite Pirates of the Caribbean scenery!), and they’re definitely one of the best Mayan ruins in Mexico.

Woman with red dress standing in front of the Castillo at the Tulum Ruins.

Visiting the ruins is one of the best things to do in Tulum, and one of the best day trips from Playa del Carmen and from Cancun.

But there’s much more to the ruins of Tulum than their stunning surroundings. In this complete guide you’ll find plenty of tips for visiting the Tulum Ruins.

It includes fantastic tours (or self-guided tours), the best time to escape the crowds, and how to get there. Check it out!


Taking a tour is one of the best ways to visit the famed Mayan Ruins at Tulum. You won’t have to worry about transportation or parking. And besides an interesting tour around the ruins, you’ll get to experience some cool activities afterward! 

I researched the best tours to the Tulum ruins in Mexico, and here are the ones that I believe are the absolute best ones.

▶️ The Viator Exclusive: Tulum Ruins, Reef Snorkeling, Cenote and Caves is a fantastic excursion. Visit the Tulum archaeological site, snorkel through a coral reef with sea turtles, swim in a local cenote, and explore a limestone cave. 

The tour includes pick-up from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, and Tulum, so it’s a great option no matter where you’re coming from.  ➥ BOOK IT HERE

▶️ The Tulum Ruins Visit and Swim in a Cenote Guided Tour is affordable and a great option if you’re short on time. You’ll visit the ruins with a guide who’ll tell you about the Tulum Ruins history, and then head to the beautiful cenotes Chen Ha and Mariposa.

Transportation from Cancun and Riviera Maya is available. ➥ BOOK IT HERE 

▶️ With this Full-day tour to Tulum and Jungle Maya Native Park you’ll head to the jungle after exploring the ruins. Spend the day snorkeling, rappelling, ziplining, and witnessing a Mayan blessing ceremony.

It includes transportation from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, and Tulum. ➥ BOOK IT HERE 


Getting to the Tulum Ruins on your own is fairly simple, and there are many options depending on where you’re coming from. 

How to get to the Tulum Ruins from Tulum

The Mayan ruins are near Tulum Town (about 3 Km), and there are several ways to get there if you’re visiting the Tulum archaeological zone on your own. 

▶ You can take a taxi directly to Tulum Ruins. This is the most comfortable option, although considerably more expensive. The 3-minute ride from Tulum can set you back around 1,500 MXN ($90).

▶ An alternative is to rent a bike. There’s a great bicycle path that connects the nearby town of Tulum with the ruins, and the ride only takes about 10 minutes. While you can leave your bike at the bike racks outside the site, remember to take a bike lock just in case!

▶ The cheapest option is to take the colectivo (shared mini-van) at Tulum town’s main street and tell the driver where you’re headed. The Colectivo departs regularly and you’ll be there in no time! The ride costs approximately $3.

▶ Of course, you can also drive to the ruins. The closest Tulum Ruins parking lot is a 10-minute walk away, or you can park in Carretera Tulum Boca Paila street for free. 

How to get to the Tulum Ruins from Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is 64 Km (40 miles) from Tulum. If you’re driving you can take the 307 Highway straight to Tulum Ruins, and you’ll be there in about 45 minutes.  

Other options to get from Playa del Carmen to the Tulum Ruins include: 

▶ Take a bus for about 150 MXN ($9). Be sure to ask the ticket office if the bus stops at the ruins; as some buses will only leave you in Tulum Town. ADO has regular buses from Playa del Carmen to Tulum, and you can find the bus station at 5 Av. Nte. LTE 2, Centro.  

▶ Though more expensive, you can take a taxi to the ruins. If you’re going in a group and share the expense it could be worth it! Expect to pay between 3000-3500 MXN ($180-200) for the 1-hour ride.

▶ Colectivo, which you can take in the Colectivo Stand located on Calle 2 between the 15th and 20th Avenue, in the city center. It costs around 70-90 Mexican Pesos ($4-5) currently and it departs every 10 minutes. 

READ ALSO: How to get from Playa del Carmen to Tulum

How to get to the Tulum Ruins from Cancun

Cancun is 131 Km (81 miles) from Tulum, and the Tulum Ruins are some of the Mayan ruins near Cancun that are most easily accessible.

▶ You can take the ADO bus directly from Cancun to Tulum. Prices are around 300 pesos ($17) currently, and the trip takes a little over 2 hours.

▶ The most convenient option, although the priciest, is to take a taxi. The trip could set you back anywhere between $250 and $300.

▶ There are no direct colectivos between them, but don’t panic! It’s really easy to visit the ruins from Cancun city center through Playa del Carmen if this is your means of transport of preference.  

You can take a colectivo from Cancun to Playa del Carmen (they depart every 15 minutes) and then switch to a Colectivo from Playa to Tulum. Prices for the Colectivo from Cancun to Playa range between 60 and 80 MXN (about $4 to 5).

▶ If you’re coming straight from the airport, check out how to get from Cancun Airport to Tulum.


Woman in front of one of the structures of the Tulum ruins.

Where are the Tulum Ruins located?

The ruins are in the Mayan Riviera, in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, barely 3 Km (1.8 miles) away from the nearby Tulum Town. If you’re coming from the hotel zone in Tulum Beach, it can take double the time.

If you’re driving to the site, the Tulum Ruins address is Carretera Federal, Cancun – Chetumal Km 230, 307, Tulum.

How much does it cost to visit the Tulum Ruins?

The Tulum Ruins entrance fee is 95 MXN (6 dollars) without a guide, perfect to explore it at your own pace. If you want to hire a guide on site, it’ll cost you around 600-800 MXN (35-50 dollars).

Be aware that if you want to take pictures with a device other than your smartphone you’ll have to pay a photography fee (around 45 MXN – 2.5 dollars)  

At the site they only accept Mexican pesos for the site’s entrance and any snack or beverages you may want to buy, so don’t forget to have some pesos with you!  

Tulum Ruins Opening Hours

The Tulum site is open from 8 AM to 4 PM daily. Arrive early to avoid the crowds.

Can I buy the ticket online?

Yes, you can buy your Tulum Ruins tickets online. In fact, I highly recommend it to ensure your entrance.

Parking at Tulum Ruins

Parking in the Tulum Ruins costs approximately 160 MXN ($9). Please note that prices in Mexico can change unexpectedly, so take more pesos just in case. From the parking lot, you can take a small train for $1 (20 MXN) or walk the ten-minute distance to the site. 

It used to be possible to park for free along the public beach Playa Santa Fe and walk a similar distance to the Tulum Ruins. However, it seems that this is not an option anymore.


Tulum is a town in the state of Quintana Roo in Mexico, Central America. It’s part of the Yucatan Peninsula and is best known as the site of the pre-Columbian Mayan walled city.

It’s home to the popular tourist attraction, the Mayan ruins of Tulum, the last remaining vestige of what was once a thriving civilization.

El Castillo in the Tulum ruins overlooking a beautiful beach (Playa Ruinas) in Tulum, Mexico.

The town of Tulum used to be called Zama, a Mayan name that means Place of Dawning Sun, because it faces the sunrise. The location of the town did more than just influence its name – it also served an important role during the time of the ancient Mayan civilization.

During the Classic Period, the ancient Maya built temples and pyramids to showcase their incredible power. They were known for their excellence in the field of arts, astrology, and mathematics.

This knowledge enabled them to construct intricate causeways and structures, some of which still stand.

The ancient walled city was built by the Mayans between 1200 and 1450 CE. It was abandoned by the late 16th century, after the Spaniards arrived with the fatal Old World diseases.

During its golden period, it represented a prosperous civilization that served as a crossroads for trade from land or sea. It’s also believed to have been a religious center.

Did you know that the word Tulum means “wall”? When Juan de Grivalja landed in Mexico during the 1800s, he stumbled upon the ancient walled Mayan city of Tulum

Ever since then, tourists from all over the world have been making their way to Tulum. It’s magical to experience firsthand contact with an ancient civilization.

You’ll get to discover the mystery behind the fortified walls, and understand life in the Mayan world.


The Mayan Ruins in Tulum are a magnificent seaport fortress built on a steep ocean cliff. It’s surrounded by thick and large limestone walls that enclose the city from all three sides. It protected the Mayans during the height of their civilization.

While walking around the ruins, you’ll also see iguanas and coatis (an animal similar to a raccoon). They will make the visit more fun if you’re traveling with kids!

This Mayan archaeological site is also home to a number of old stone structures that are worth checking out.

El Castillo (The Castle)

El Castillo at the Tulum ruins in Tulum, Mexico.

El Castillo structure is the main Tulum pyramid. It’s also the largest and most prominent structure of the Tulum settlement so it’s definitely a must-see.

This ancient pyramid served as a lighthouse during the time of the Mayans. It has a couple of small windows at the top that helped sailors to navigate the bay during dusk.

Woman looking at the Tulum ruins and Playa Ruinas in Tulum, Mexico.

The pyramid was originally covered in stucco and painted red but most of the paint has come off by now. If you examine the structure closely, though, you can still see smears of red paint.

There is a wide external staircase that will lead you to the top of the pyramid. There you’ll see that the central niche features a sculpture of the diving god.

The diving or descending god got its name from the position in which he is always depicted.

The Temple of the Frescoes

Iguana in front of the Temple of the Frescoes at the Tulum ruins in Mexico.

This Temple of the Frescoes in the Tulum Ruins is easy to find because it’s right in front of El Castillo. During the time of the ancient Mayas, this structure served as an observatory where they could track the seasons and monitor the sun’s movement.

It’s the best preserved of all the Tulum pyramids. If you peer inside it, you’ll see that there is a colored mural still intact! Unlike El Castillo, though, this is a rather small building, and it also features representations of the descending god.

The Great Palace

The Great Palace, called also the House of Columns, consists of several rooms that are supported by columns.

This place served as a residence for the Great Lord and his family. On top of that, there were also numerous religious ceremonies performed on the altar, so it has a lot of historical importance. 

House of the Halach Uinic

House of the Halach Uinic in Tulum.

When exploring the Mayan Ruins of Tulum, be sure to check out the House of the Halach Uinic.

In the ancient Mayan civilization, the halach uinic was the supreme leader for the government of Mayan Kuchkabal. This great lord was responsible for appointing administrative officers.

This building in the settlement of Tulum appears to have served as the official residence of the halach uinic and his family.

Relax at the Tulum Ruins Beach

Tulum Ruins beach from above.

The Tulum Mayan ruins not only consist of archaeological constructions. If you climb down a wooden staircase along the cliff, you’ll get to one of the most beautiful Tulum beaches. It’s located below the ancient ruins and somewhat hidden.

Tulum Ruins beach.

The beach opens at 10 AM and it’s a fantastic idea to swim in its incredible blue waters to cool off after visiting the historical site. The Tulum Ruins can also be seen from the water, so it’s quite a unique experience!

➤ And if you’re still craving some water experiences after relaxing at the Playa Ruinas beach, head to one of the many cenotes near Tulum. I personally suggest visiting Cenote Dos Ojos and Cenote Calavera, my two favorite ones.


These ancient ruins can get really crowded, with 2000 tourists visiting each day, so here are a few tips on the best time to visit: 

➤ One of the best Tulum ruins tips is: Arrive early! Tour buses arrive at around 10 AM so it gets really packed. When that happens, you can escape the crowds by taking a dip in the beach or go visit Tulum (make sure to bring your bathing suit!

Once you’re done for the day, make sure to visit one of the many great cafes and restaurants in Tulum!

➤ Visit late in the afternoon. After the hectic hours of the late morning and noon, the site gets quieter an hour or so before closing. It could be a good idea to visit the last couple of hours. 

➤ Avoid going on Sundays. This day the entrance is free for Mexican citizens and foreign residents, so it gets more crowded than usual.   


Visiting Tulum ruins while in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is on everyone’s bucket list, period. But which ruins to visit, when there are so many?

If you’re wondering which of these archaeological Mayan sites is worth your visit, this information will help you decide between Tulum and Chichen Itza (or convince you to visit both!).

Woman standing in front of Chichen Itza pyramid.

While Chichen Itza is definitely more impressive – and home to the most famous pyramid in Central America – the drive to Chichen Itza is much longer.

If you’re visiting with a tour expect it to last about 12 hours between transportation to the site, visiting, and lunch.

If spending long hours on the road is not a problem and you really want to see this iconic landmark, then you should definitely visit Chichen Itza. Expect it to be quite crowded though, as it’s a major tourist destination (5 thousand visitors a day on average!)

The Mayan ruin in Tulum, Mexico, even if smaller and not so well-known, is still pretty impressive.

The Tulum Ruins’ history is really interesting, and not many archaeological sites have a backdrop of the sea like this one. And trust me, this alone is worth your visit. 

If you want to prioritize your time and don’t mind getting a lighter (though complete!) version of the Mayan history and the architecture of the ruins, then the Tulum Ruins tour is one you won’t regret

Other Mayan ruins that are worth visiting are the Coba ruins, one of my favorite ruins in Mexico.


Are the Tulum ruins worth seeing?

Yes! The ruins of Tulum are a historical site worth visiting even if you don’t enjoy history that much. The location in itself is breathtaking, the ruins are impressive and the view from the cliff is awe-inspiring to say the least. 

The Archeological Site is a fabulous way of traveling in time and learning about the people and ways of life of the ancient civilization. Also, these kinds of ruins can only be found in this region of Mexico, so you shouldn’t leave Tulum without visiting them. 

What to wear to Tulum Ruins?

These Mayan ruins are situated on the coast of the Caribbean sea, so it’s probably going to be humid and hot regardless of the time of year in which you visit. That said, you should wear light and comfortable clothes to confront both the heat and all the walking around.

Take a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen, especially if you visit late in the morning or in the afternoon, and don’t forget to take your swimsuit! You’ll definitely want to jump right into the water once you see the beach.    

How much time do you need at the ruins in Tulum?

You can spend from two hours to half a day in the ruins.
After you explore the site and relax for a bit at the Tulum beach area, you can visit the Bazaar, a nearby craft market (beware of the pushy vendors, be polite but firm when saying ‘no, gracias’) and get something to eat to wrap up your excursion. 

Are the ruins of Tulum in Central Mexico?

These ruins are situated in Quintana Roo, on the east coast of Mexico. If you’re looking for sites in Central Mexico, the Aztec ruins of Teotihuacan are the best in the area. They can be easily reached from Mexico City.

What is the best beach in Tulum near the ruins?

There are plenty of spectacular Tulum beaches near the ruins, but the best one is Tulum Beach, which can only be accessed by climbing down a ladder from the ruins.

Where can I buy the Tulum archaeological site tickets?

You can get your tickets online here, or else visit with a tour.

What are the best tours to visit Tulum Ruins?

In my opinion, the best tours to explore the Tulum Ruins are these:
Viator Exclusive: Tulum Ruins, Reef Snorkeling, Cenote and Caves
Tulum Ruins Visit and Swim in a Cenote Guided Tour
Full-day tour to Tulum and Jungle Maya Native Park

What are the Tulum Ruins hours?

The opening hours at the Tulum Ruins are daily from 8 AM to 4 PM.

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you book something through one of my links I might get a commission, at absolutely no extra cost to you

  • Stefania Guglielmi

    Stefania Guglielmi is the founder of Every Steph. Originally from Bologna, Italy, she's been traveling full-time since 2016 and has visited over 50 countries across 6 continents. She believes sustainable travel and luxury travel can go hand in hand and has been advocating for responsible tourism since 2014. Stefania's advice and travel experiences have been featured in important publications such as Business Insider, Refinery29, and Yahoo Money.

Christina Schneiderman

Wednesday 8th of February 2023

Are there “bike taxis” there for folks who have trouble walking?


Tuesday 14th of February 2023

I do not remember seeing anything like this. There are ramps for wheelcahir users, but not in a great state, In Coba, there most definitely are bike taxis, so you might consider visiting Coba instead (it's a great alternative!).


Tuesday 17th of January 2023

I'm heading to Mexico next week and have found all your posts very useful. I will definitely be heading to Tulum during my trip.


Wednesday 18th of January 2023

Thank you!! I'm so glad they were useful :)