Our kids were really disappointed when we visited Chichen Itza with them that they couldn’t climb the pyramid there. However, we don’t like disappointing them so as we travelled around Mexico on a road trip we found 3 fantastic pyramids to climb with the kids and highly recommend doing so. So here’s our guide to Mayan Pyramids you Can Climb with the Kids in Mexico.
Pyramids to Climb on the Yucatan Peninsula
The Mayan’s built many pyramids throughout the 1000s of years that they ruled the area of the Mayan world.
Each time you visit Mayan Ruins you see these pyramids dominating the sites.
These pyramids are not actually like tombs as you would associate the pyramids in Egypt with but instead are temples.
Possibly the most well known the temples is at Chichen Itza it dominates the central plaza and is much photographed.
Unfortunately, though it’s also not one of the Mexican pyramids you can climb.
However, in our travels around the archaeological sites, we discovered 3 fantastic pyramids to climb that the kids loved.
Pyramids to Climb in Mexico
The pyramids and temples are common at most of the ancient Mayan sites around Yucatan and Quintana Roo but to prevent injury and damage to them many are roped off and you can’t climb.
There are though 3 that you can climb.
Coba, Uxmal and one in Izamal.
Coba is a Mayan site near to Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya. It can be reached from Cancun and Tulum in around about 2 hours.
Of the 3 pyramids, we are highlighting, it’s also likely to be the busiest.
However, following the rule of getting their early and heading straight there, you are likely to be able to experience it without the crowds and to make your way to the top.
We recommend if you are going straight there to take a bike. Either cycle yourself or hire one of the Tricitaxi (Mexican Tricycles) where you are driven around the site.
“Ixmoja” pyramid is the only one of the 3 mentioned here that has a rope and believe me you will need it to climb down from the top.
It’s one of the tallest in the Mayan world around about 42 meters tall. Like the pyramid at Uxmal, this one is still partially covered in jungle and does make it a fantastic experience for the whole family.
The view from the top of the pyramid lets you see parts of the Yucatan Peninsula and Coba site that you wouldn’t normally see including both of the lakes that surround the complex.
Climbing of the pyramid is free but there is an entrance fee to Coba however, of the 3 Mayan Ruins that are easily accessible for families from Cancun this is the one that we recommend out of those 3.
Here, the kids under 12 are FREE and the guides were very good at pointing this out to us when we arrived.
Uxmal a UNESCO World Heritage Site is further north towards Merida.
It’s quite a distance from Cancun (around 4 hrs drive if not more) and if you visit we’d recommend staying nearer.
We stayed at Souta de Peon a small town south of Merida but about 50 minutes to an hours drive from Uxmal.
There are lots of structures to climb in fact the only one that really can’t in this ancient Mayan site is the Pyramid of the Dwarf or Magician (see above) depending on the guide that you have at the time.
Apart from that, it is possible to climb and explore inside the Nunnery Quadrangle, the steps up to the plaza in front of the Governor’s Palace and then again onto the Governor’s Palace itself.
But by far the best experience and also the best steps to climb we found of the 3 temples featured here was climbing up to the top of the Great Pyramid.
Fully restored these are cut sharply and although steep they are fairly easy to climb up and then climb down again which is by far the hardest to do.
From the top, you can see across miles and miles of jungle. Only marred by a hotel in the distance that sticks out from the treetops like a sore thumb.
The pyramid here at Uxmal is part of the archaeological zone so like at Coba you have an entrance fee but to climb in the temple is included for those that want to.
At Uxmal too, kids under 12 are FREE no matter if they are Mexican Citizens or from the UK like our two.
Kinich-Kakmo at Izamal
Unlike the other two Yucatan pyramids to climb mentioned above Kinich-Kakmo is completely free to climb. There is no entrance fee at all.
In fact, you find it just off the main plaza in the city of Izamal.
This is a “rustic” pyramid. It was a bit of a challenge for T to climb. From the street, you can’t actually see the pyramid and at this point, she was quite happy.
However, once you walk up the first few steps and reach the plaza in front of the temple you suddenly realise how much of an experience this is going be.
Standing alone with the jungle cleared from all around this is much more similar to the Temple of Kukulkan at Chichen Itza.
Going up is easy. And the view from the top unlike at Coba and Uxmal gives you 360 degree towards the city from one direction and out across the jungle to the other.
Do take a moment to have a deep breath at the top because going down is hard.
J our eldest turned into a mountain goat and made his way down easily. However, T struggled and decided like many others the best way was to go down on her bottom.
If you do this though, please take care as it does have a lot of broken glass on some of the steps.
Kids View on Which was the Best Mayan Temple to Climb in Mexico
We had to ask the kids what was their favourite to climb and they couldn’t agree.
T (8 years old), said her favourite was Uxmal. She loved how it was safer to climb and felt like she was still in the jungle from the top especially as only the front of the pyramid is restored.
J (10 years old), said his favourite was Kinich-Kakmo at Izamal mainly because it was a challenge to get up and down, and the view from the top was unlike the other two.
We’d love to know your opinion!
Have you climbed any of these 3 fantastic temples to climb in Mayan Mexico what did you think?
Which was your favourite?
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