Thousands flock to the Yucatán Peninsula in southern Mexico each year to visit the Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá, Tulum and Uxmal. However, you can ditch the crowds and cycle down an ancient Mayan road and you’ll find the hidden Cobá – it’s the second-tallest temple pyramid in Yucatán, dating back more than 1,000 years. Highlights on the archaeological site include an ancient ball court and a stone stelae inscribed with hieroglyphs. Finish your day trip with a cool swim in a nearby, crystal-clear cenote, cavernous sinkholes cut deep into the limestone.
You can now book an exclusive adventure with Culture Trip to take in all these sights and more on a nine-day Yucatán Peninsula tour in Mexico.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Who built the Cobá ruins?
Historians believe that the main Cobá pyramid, named Nohuch Mul, was constructed around 600CE by the Mayans. At its apex, Cobá was home to an estimated population of 50,000. Original settlers were drawn to the abundant water supply in the surrounding lakes and cenotes. Not only is Cobá one of the tallest temples in the region, but it’s also connected to the 50 limestone roads called sacbe that link the main ceremonial pyramids and radiate out to other Maya cities. Only a fraction of the 6,500 ruins in Cobá have been excavated, but archaeologists recently deciphered a series of hieroglyphic texts engraved on monumental stelae; they identify nine previous rulers, including a female named Lady Yopaat. Cobá lost political influence to Chichén Itzá around 700 CE, but building here still continued into the 14th century.
Visiting the Cobá ruins
Most visitors head first to Nohuch Mul. You can no longer climb the 120 steps to the top of the 42m-high (138ft) pyramid, but it’s still impressive. Make sure to walk through the cool, corbel-vaulted tunnels by La Iglesia (The Church), another huge pyramid near the entrance.
The sprawling Cobá archaeological site is open from 9am to 5pm with last entry being at 3pm. A great way to reach the main Nohuch Mul pyramid is by bicycle, situated 2km (1.2mi) from the entrance. Alternatively, hop into a two-seater Tricitaxi rickshaw and let somebody else do the peddling.
What to bring with you
It’s hot and humid in Cobá, so take sunscreen and a hat, and try to visit in the early morning or late afternoon. Wear a good pair of trainers or trekking sandals as there’s plenty of uneven ground. You can’t bring in food but can take water. Don’t forget your bug spray, and bring a bathing costume if you plan to swim in one of the nearby cenotes afterwards.
Best time to visit
Cobá has become very popular and can fill up with tour groups from Tulum, Playa del Carmen and Cancún by 11am, so it’s best to arrive early if you want to both beat the heat and have the ruins to yourself. Avoid Sundays; that’s when local residents get free entry and the site is packed.
The Yucatán is hot all year round with a dry season from November to May and a rainy season from June to October. Surrounded by dense forest, it can rain any time in Cobá but short downpours can bring welcome relief from the humidity.
How to get to the Cobá ruins
The Cobá ruins are approximately 47km (29mi) from Tulum, 109km (68mi) from Playa del Carmen and 150km (93mi) from Cancún. Roads are good and renting a car to visit gives you the freedom to stop and explore on the way. ADO buses run to the site from Cancún, Playa del Carmen or Tulum, or you can splash out and take a taxi. Booking a guided tour is the easiest option and will include extra activities, such as visiting local Maya communities to see traditional thatched houses and try locally produced honey or chocolate.
Best cenotes near the Cobá ruins
After a hot day visiting the Cobá archaeological site, there is no better way to cool off than slipping into the fresh, invigorating waters of a cavernous sinkhole, or cenote.
There are three main cenotes located about 7km (4.3mi) from Cobá: Cenote Choo-Ha, Cenote Tamcach-Ha and Cenote Multun-Ha. Expect rudimentary changing areas, showers and slippery wooden stairs leading down to the crystal clear water.
Choo-Ha is the first cenote you reach from Cobá and is popular with families because of the shallow areas where you can stand. Tamcach-Ha has an impressive ceiling of stalactites, plus it’s a favourite with snorkelers due to the deeper water. Multun-Ha is 3km (1.9mi) further away; it may be the least-visited cenote but it’s great for snorkeling and has a hole in the ceiling that lets in ethereal light.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.