Everything you need to know to visit the Uxmal ruins near Mérida, Mexico

Want to visit some of the best Mayan ruins near Mérida, Mexico? In this guide we’re sharing everything you need to know to visit the Uxmal ruins!

The Yucatán Peninsula is the heart of the ancient Mayan civilization and Mérida is close to many different Mayan ruins, with Chichén Itzá being the most popular. But if you’re looking for a less busy and vendor-free experience, head to the Uxmal ruins instead!

Uxmal (pronounced “oosh-mahl”) is a set of ruins located a little over an hour southeast of Mérida and while it may not have the “7 Wonders of the World” title that Chichén Itzá has, it still offers a magical experience, with different pyramids to see, gorgeous architecture to admire, and a plethora of iguanas to entertain you!

Watch our journey traveling from Mérida to Uxmal by bus, as well as our time exploring the Uxmal ruins, including a visit to Choco-Story! And if you’re looking for specific information about visiting by bus, check out this guide with step by step instructions!

In this guide we’re sharing everything you need to know to visit the Uxmal ruins, including how to get there, logistics for visiting, what to expect while inside, and more! 

Looking for more things to do in Mexico? Check out our Mexico guides and vlogs!

Note: this guide contains affiliate links, which means that if you use the links provided and make a purchase, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We will only ever recommend products we truly love, actually use during our adventures, and think you can benefit from too!

About the Uxmal Ruins

Uxmal Ruins | 20 FUN things to do in Mérida, Mexico

Uxmal was said to be first settled around 500 BC, although we read so many conflicting dates, but grew in power in the ninth and twelfth centuries AD. And while the word Uxmal itself means “thrice built,” one of the most iconic buildings on the property, the Pyramid of the Magician, was actually made up of five temples built in different periods on top of each other.

Uxmal is said to be a perfect example of the Puuc architectural style that was practiced by the Mayans, which from our understanding, consists of a plain lower portion and a highly decorative upper section. These decorative upper sections are loaded with different symbols that held significance to the Mayans, including the rain god Chac, who held extra importance, as there were no natural water sources here and Mayans relied on water storage systems to collect rain.

It is estimated that around 20,000-25,000 Mayans lived at Uxmal until around 1200 AD and it’s not 100% clear why they left, but some of the common theories are that it was due to drought, a degrading environment, or warfare. The site was rediscovered in the 19th century and excavated starting in 1929, with so much more to be uncovered!

Where are the Uxmal ruins?

The Uxmal Archaeological Ruins Zone is located a little over an hour drive south of Mérida, Mexico. You can get there by renting a car and driving, taking a taxi, hiring a guide to take you, or by taking the bus from the bus station in Mérida. We’ll explain each option next!

Looking for things to do in Mérida? Check out our detailed guide with 20 FUN things to do in Mérida, plus tips for the city, suggestions of places to stay, where to eat, more day trips, and an itinerary!

How to get to Uxmal from Mérida

We personally took a bus from Mérida to Uxmal and would recommend it, but it may not be the best option for you! Below is a breakdown of your four main choices to get to Uxmal and some of the things to consider for each.

Mérida to Uxmal by bus | 20 FUN things to do in Mérida, Mexico

Driving yourself

Driving yourself to Uxmal will give you the most flexibility to arrive and leave when you’d like. 

We didn’t rent a car while in Mérida and while we could’ve rented one just for the day and it would’ve been affordable, when adding up fuel and insurance costs, it was going to be more expensive than taking the bus. Plus it is a bit chaotic driving in the city and my car anxiety was a bit high in town. Driving outside of the city is a lot calmer though!

If you decide to rent a car in Mérida, we suggest reading this blog post beforehand, as it covers a lot of important information, plus scams to be on the lookout for!

Taking a tour

By taking a tour to the Uxmal ruins you’ll be able to have easy transportation, a helpful guide, and you may get to experience other activities besides Uxmal, as many tours include additional spots. The downside is that it’ll make visiting Uxmal more expensive than going on your own or taking the bus.

The tour option we were heavily considering was this tour through Airbnb Experiences. This tour looked like a great option because it was a small group, they get you to the Uxmal ruins early, and they take you to the Choco-Story museum, providing more context and understanding than you can learn on your own. We booked this same tour company for a cenotes tour and had such a great experience!

The downside of this tour is that the guide is not licensed to guide inside of Uxmal, so if you want a guided experience inside, you’ll have to pay extra for a guide inside.

Some other tour options that look good include this private tour, which is a bit pricey, but includes a cenote and the Choco-Story museum, as well as this tour, which includes a hacienda and cenote!

Hiring a taxi

Another way to get from Mérida to Uxmal is to take a taxi! However, this is the option we know the least about and we can imagine it would be a bit pricey. From the forums and blogs we have read, this can be up to $1,400-$1,800 MXN round trip ($75-$95 USD), which is more than renting a car would be. If you have taken a taxi to Uxmal, let us know about your experience in the comments!

Mérida Uxmal by Bus | 20 FUN things to do in Mérida, Mexico

Riding the bus 

Taking a bus from Mérida is the most affordable way to get to Uxmal. And while it may seem daunting, we personally found it to be pretty easy, very safe, and an overall positive experience.

We paid $398 MXN ($21 USD) for two roundtrip bus tickets and the ride was an hour and a half each way. A bus heads to Uxmal everyday at 9 AM and 12 PM, with return times at 3 PM and 5 PM, however, the ride back is almost always delayed by 30 minutes or so. You could easily take the 9 AM bus to Uxmal and 3 PM back to Mérida and have plenty of time!

To learn much more about how to ride the bus from Mérida to Uxmal, including step by step instructions and more about our experience, check out this blog post! You can watch our experience as well!

Important things to know before visiting the Uxmal ruins

Cost to enter

During our visit it cost $499 MXN per person (which is around $26 USD) to enter Uxmal, with the fee being less for Mexico and Yucatán residents (and free for them on Sundays). This includes a $90 MXN fee that you pay first and is cash only and then a separate $409 MXN fee which you can pay by card. We did hear that sometimes this card reader does not work, so we’d suggest having enough cash on you to pay for the entire fee. 

And if you want to film your time in Uxmal, it costs an additional $50 MXN (<$3 USD). No one asked us to pay this, but we wanted to be honest and not get in trouble later, so we paid the fee.

We hear that the entrance fee for Uxmal is constantly going up, so we would expect to pay more than this. You can often find the most recent price by reading Google reviews, but if you paid more, let us know in the comments! 

Uxmal Ruins | 20 FUN things to do in Mérida, Mexico


Driving yourself to Uxmal? There are two parking areas, one of which is a dirt lot right by the entrance and one that is actually on the grounds. As of our visit, parking is $80 MXN (~$4 USD).

Tour guides

If you want to hire a guide inside of the Uxmal ruins, which you can do once you enter, it costs $900 MXN, or $47 USD, for an English speaking guide (make sure to tip too!). We went back and forth on this, as we wanted to get the most out of this experience and heard there weren’t a ton of signs to read and that the guides were valuable.

But we ultimately decided to explore on our own, as we were filming the experience and wanted the flexibility to get as much footage as we needed. We did a lot of research beforehand and felt like we learned enough to appreciate the site, but for many visitors, a guide would be helpful!

How much time do you need?

While we spent way more time than most due to filming, for the average visitor, 2 hours would be plenty. This would allow you to see the main buildings, read signage (as we mentioned above, there aren’t a ton of signs), and take some photos.

When should you visit?

Uxmal is open 7 days a week from 8 AM-5 PM, with the ticket counter closing at 4 PM.

We’d suggest avoiding the weekends, especially Sundays, as it will likely be busier due to the free entrance for Mexican residents. We visited on a Monday and it was great!

We’d also suggest going as early as you can to avoid the heat. We went on a 90+ degree day and we were glad that we went on the earlier bus so that we had a couple hours before it got even more blazing hot.

Facilities inside of Uxmal

Inside of the Uxmal ruins you can find restrooms (which are FREE! Woo!), an ATM, a gift shop, bag storage (which you may not need), and a restaurant, plus a drink stand, which we will share more about below.

Food Options

There is a drink stand inside of the Uxmal Ruins (cash only), as well as a restaurant called Yax-Beh, which serves Yucatan food items, like the ones we tried in this video! However, as you may expect at a tourist site, we hear that it is a bit overpriced.

Outside of the ruins you can find other dining options, like Coole Chepa Chi, as well as the Papaya Orange Café which is a cool little orange truck that sells snacks and drinks.

We opted to bring our own food, a torta and some tacos we picked up from Taqueria La Lupita that morning. And while they weren’t fresh by the time we ate them, they were still delicious and cost us under $10 USD total! You are not allowed to eat while inside the ruins, but we ate in the entrance area without any issue.


We personally did not think Uxmal was very crowded. When we first entered on a Monday at around 10:45 AM, we saw quite a few groups near the Pyramid of the Magician, but it seemed like many of them were leaving. We ended up having many opportunities to photograph the pyramid without anyone else around.

As we continued through the Uxmal ruins, the crowds seemed to get thinner and thinner. And by the time we left the ruins, around 2:45 PM, it felt like no one was really there anymore. 

Uxmal Ruins | 20 FUN things to do in Mérida, Mexico


You will see lots of iguanas while walking around the Uxmal ruins, which is really neat! However, just like with any wildlife, please do not approach them, try to touch them, or feed them. Not only do these activities put you at risk, but it also is not safe for the iguanas. Please respect them and admire them from a safe distance!

Climbing pyramids

You are NOT allowed to climb pyramids at Uxmal and they make it very clear where you can and cannot go, by using ropes and signage. You are able to climb up some steps to some buildings, including near the Governor’s Palace, which has a great view overlooking the Nunnery Quadrangle and Pyramid of the Magician.

What to bring (and not bring) to the Uxmal ruins

Uxmal is pretty remote, so you’ll want to come prepared with a handful of items to ensure you have a comfortable visit. There are also items that you cannot bring in, which we will mention below, so you don’t get into any trouble.

ATM Mexico

What to bring 


As we mentioned above, some of the entrance fee is only payable in cash and if you hire a guide, you’ll want cash to give them a tip. There is an ATM on site, but it would likely be cheaper, both in the exchange rate and any fees, to use an ATM at a bank in Mérida beforehand.

Bug spray

While we didn’t notice tons of mosquitoes at Uxmal, many people had mentioned them being bad before our visit, so we wore bug spray just in case (which may be why we didn’t find them to be too bad).

Sun protection

It gets HOT, sunny, and humid at Uxmal and while there are some shady spots, there are also a lot of areas without any coverage. Make sure to bring sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen to protect yourself.


Water bottles are allowed inside of Uxmal and we brought two 32L Hydroflask water bottles and drank both of them easily and had to buy more water to fill them up again.

What not to bring

Uxmal Ruins | 20 FUN things to do in Mérida, Mexico


We had read online that backpacks were not allowed and that you’d have to store it in one of their lockers. We saw signage indicating that bags over a certain size were not permitted, but our backpack is pretty large (40L) and they didn’t say anything to us and we noticed many others with backpacks.

To be safe, plan to not bring your backpack in and make sure you have a way to carry your items without one. 


Tripods are not allowed in the ruins complex. We hid ours in our backpack so that we wouldn’t have any trouble. 


Drones are not allowed at Uxmal, so please leave them at home or at your hotel/Airbnb.


If you happen to have your dog with you while visiting Mérida, they are not allowed inside of Uxmal.

What to see while at the Uxmal ruins

The Uxmal ruins are a very impressive ruin complex and there are many buildings to admire and explore! Below are the top spots to check out while at Uxmal and a little bit of information about each.

Pyramid of the Magician

As you enter the Uxmal ruins, you will instantly be greeted by the Pyramid of the Magician, the most iconic feature at Uxmal. Like we said above, this pyramid is actually made up of five temples built in different periods on top of each other. 

The pyramid is about 35 meters (115 feet) tall and it has rounded corners, which is unique for Mayan architecture. As you stand at the front of the pyramid, make sure to clap your hands to hear a cool sound echoing back at you!

Something else pretty interesting we read about the pyramid is that back when the Mayans were living here, it was painted red, but over time it has faded to be the stone color you see today. It’s crazy to imagine what this would’ve looked like with color!

While viewing the pyramid head on is a classic sight to see, we really loved the view from the right side of the pyramid, which included a few more structures and was a bit more elaborate looking and had vegetation growing out of it!

Uxmal Ruins | 20 FUN things to do in Mérida, Mexico

Water storage

As we mentioned earlier in this guide, there were no natural water sources at Uxmal, so Mayans relied on rain and water storage systems to survive. And right by the entrance to the ruins is an example of one of these systems, called a chultun.

While you would’ve already passed this getting to the Pyramid of the Magician, there is a good chance you were distracted by its grandness, that you may have missed it. But it’s worth quickly checking out to read more information about these systems and see a diagram!

Nunnery Quadrangle

Uxmal Ruins | 20 FUN things to do in Mérida, Mexico

The Nunnery Quadrangle is another must-visit area at the Uxmal ruins. It is a complex of four buildings with 74 rooms, with a giant open, grassy space between them. These buildings are a really great demonstration of the Puuc style that we mentioned at the beginning of this guide, with the bottom part of the buildings being smooth and geometric, while the top is very ornate, with lots of different imagery.

One thing that we find super fascinating about Mayan architecture is the amount of symbolism that they included. We read that this northern building here has 13 doorways, which is likely a representation of the 13 levels of the Maya heavens, whereas the South Building, which happens to be the lowest of them all, has nine doorways, possibly referencing the nine levels of the Maya Underworld.

For a really neat view of the Pyramid of the Magician, make sure to go to this spot! And as you leave the Nunnery Quadrangle, you’ll get to walk through this cool, triangular passageway, which makes for a unique photo opportunity. 

Pok Ta Pok Court

The next major site you’ll come across at the Uxmal ruins is the Pok Ta Pok Court.

Pok Ta Pok is a Mayan ball game that dates back thousands of years and the players can only use their hips (we also heard elbows and knees) to hit a ball into a concrete circular goal. You can see this goal on the courts here at Uxmal and it’s impressive to think about the skill they must have had.

One common fact you’ll hear about Pok Ta Pok is that the outcome of the game led to a sacrifice. Some sources we read said the winner of the game was sacrificed, some said the loser was sacrificed, and some said that neither were true. So who knows!

If you’d like to see a Pok Ta Pok game, head to Plaza Grande in Mérida at 8 PM on Saturday nights. Unfortunately during our visit this was canceled due to Mérida Fest, but hopefully we can see it next time we visit!

Governor’s Palace

Uxmal Ruins | 20 FUN things to do in Mérida, Mexico

The final major building at Uxmal is the Governor’s Palace, which is 328 feet long and is one of the largest Maya palaces ever discovered. Similar to many of the buildings, it has a lot of important symbols, including stone masks of the rain god Chac. 

The palace is elevated higher than some of the other buildings and to get to the base of the palace, you will have to go up some stairs. Once at the top, you’ll be on the side of the palace and have an amazing view of the property and surrounding area, including a higher up view of the Pyramid of the Magician and Nunnery Quadrangle.

Uxmal Ruins | 20 FUN things to do in Mérida, Mexico

If you walk around to the front of the palace, you’ll get to see its entire length, putting into perspective how long it is. There are stairs that lead up to the palace, but you are not allowed to climb on these and are only able to admire it from the grass.

Other things you’ll come across

Uxmal Ruins | 20 FUN things to do in Mérida, Mexico

Beyond these major buildings, you’ll also come across some smaller buildings, piles of stones, some of which have designs on them, areas that are currently being excavated and restored, and more! While the sites we listed above are the most popular, we recommend just strolling around and seeing what you find. It’s not a huge area, so you can accomplish a lot in a short amount of time.

More things to do while visiting the Uxmal ruins

If you finish your tour of the Uxmal ruins and have some time to spend, or are just looking for something else to do, here are a few spots to check out nearby!


Choco-Story | 20 FUN things to do in Mérida, Mexico

Choco-Story is located right across the street from Uxmal (next to the return bus stop) and is a chocolate museum that costs $180 MXN (under $10 USD) per person and is worth the money in our opinion! 

You walk between different huts, which each have different exhibits to see, including the origins of cocoa, why it was important to the Mayans and how they used it for trade, and the process of turning cocoa into chocolate. Between each hut is a beautiful outdoor walking path, surrounded by tons of vegetation!

They also have a Mayan ceremony every 20 minutes and there are also a few different rescued animals to see, all of which are unfit to be released back into the wild. We personally aren’t big caged animal fans, but we did enjoy seeing these animals. 

During our visit we saw monkeys (which were entertaining to watch), plus two jaguars, one of which had been shot and had been rehabilitated to be able to walk again, although he was still limping some. We even got within inches of a jaguar’s face (with glass separating us of course), which was wild!

We ended our time in the museum by watching a chocolate demonstration and getting to try some drinking chocolate. They had some different spices you could add to it as well! This experience took us about 1 hour and 45 minutes, without rushing.

Choco-Story | 20 FUN things to do in Mérida, Mexico


If you are looking for something quick to do, there is a planetarium right across from Uxmal, which has a 25 minute visual presentation about Mayan history and astronomy. If you go at night, you can also use a telescope to view the sky! It costs $180 MXN (just under $10 USD) to visit. 

Light and Sound Show

While the ruins close at 5 PM, they reopen at 7 PM for a light and sound show, where they do video mapping on the ruins, for an additional fee. This would be hard to visit if taking a day tour or the bus, but if you happen to be staying in the Uxmal area or have your own car, it may be worth checking out. You can read a bit more about it here!

Looking for things to do in Mérida? Check out our detailed guide with 20 FUN things to do in Mérida, plus tips for the city, suggestions of places to stay, where to eat, more day trips, and an itinerary!

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about us

Hi y’all! We’re Adam, Kathryn, and Kona, an adventurous married couple (+ pup!) living on the road in our self-converted sprinter van! You can often find us driving all around the US and Canada, scoping out the best coffee shops, eating tacos and ice cream (we’re a 5+ taco and 2+ scoop household), and enjoying nature.


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