The Best Mayan Ruins to Visit in Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala
Tikal, Guatemala | © Mike Vondran / Flickr
Photo of Jack Guy
3 January 2018

Guatemala is a paradise for anyone who’s into archeology and history as the country is home to hundreds of Mayan ruins ready to be explored. With so many to choose from, we’ve narrowed down the list to the best ones you should make sure to visit.

Yaxhá

The impressive pyramids of Yaxhá are found an hour away from the Guatemala-Belize border and sit on a beautiful lake that was once used for freshwater and now offers wonderful views of the region for visitors. Though the ancient city is smaller than Tikal, it has 500 structures, two Mesoamerican ball courts and 40 stelae to keep an eye out for.

Yaxhá National Park, Guatemala

El Mirador

These almost inaccessible ruins are found near Guatemala’s border with Mexico in the northern region of Petén. To get there, you’ll need to drive for three hours from the town of Flores along a dirt track before taking on a two-day hike through dense jungle. It’s an arduous journey but worth the effort and you’ll be rewarded by views from one of the largest pyramids in the world.

El Mirador National Park, Guatemala

Zaculeu

Head to the western city of Huehuetenango to visit these unique ruins. The site is relatively small, but its ancient structures are made from a white stone that isn’t seen elsewhere in Guatemala—the name Zaculeu means ‘white earth’ in the local Mam Mayan dialect and these white ruins are beautiful. The park is located only three hours from the Mexican border (by car) and can easily be built into your itinerary if you’re traveling between the two countries.

Parque Arqueológico Zaculeu, Ruinas de Zaculeu, Huehuetenango, Guatemala

Topoxte

Located on an island in the middle of Yaxhá Lake, Topoxte was one of the largest Postclassic Mesoamerican sites in Guatemala’s northern region of Petén. The site shares many similarities with the ruins of Tulum, Mexico, which suggests that the two ancient cities were built by civilisations that shared cultural traditions.

Isla Principal Topoxte, Guatemala