The Best Ruins And Cenote Near Merida

Looking for the best ruins and cenote near Merida?

If you are looking for the best ruins and cenote near Merida we highly suggest you check out the Dzibilchaltun Ruins, Xlakah Cenote & Museum.

During our stay in the Yucatan or more specifically Merida we took many day trips. One of the reasons we stayed in Merida for a month was because of its proximity to many fantastic sights in the Yucatan area. Besides, Merida has excellent restaurants, culture, entertainment, art, and nightlife.

We decided to take a day trip to see the Dzibilchaltun ruins, Xlakah Cenote and the museum. All of these attractions are offered for the price of one admission fee. Although, these are not the most extensive ruins or as impressive as Uxmal they are the closest to Merida, and with a cenote and a museum we found them to be a fun experience. Another added benefit is you can climb on the ruins, which made for plenty of photo opportunities.  Unfortunately, Joel was unable to use his drone because of their rules against it, but he did get some fantastic GoPro shots for his video (included in this blog post).

How do you get there?  It’s a short 30-minute drive north of Merida along the 261 highway.  GPS is correct for the directions.

Dzibilchaltrun means “place where there is writing on the stones.” This name is due to the many stones found with writing on them. The area was inhabited between 500 BC until 1540. It is believed, at one time the population reached as high as 40,000 inhabitants, which makes it one of the largest ancient cities in the area. Dzibilchaltrun is located within a National Ecological Park.

One of the most well-known structures is called the Temple of the Seven Dolls. It was constructed on a pyramid base with a short tower built on its roof. The structure was named after the seven small figurines discovered at the site by an archeologist in the 1950’s during an excavation. You can see these figurines when you visit the museum. Many of the artifacts are well preserved, and it’s a fascinating look back into the past when seeing these ancient relics.

The temple has many carvings within the stucco; it’s quite beautiful and amazing to see. If you visit during the vernal equinox at sunrise in the spring or fall, you may have the opportunity to see the sun pass symmetrically through the portal. It is thought, because of the origination of this ruin, the Mayan people had an understanding of the solar system. I’m sure this is a magical sight and something not to be missed if you were in the area during either of those times.

“Everything has a spirit – honor that.”

Costs, Hours, Tips & Warnings

  • Costs: 20 pesos to park, entrance fee for the ruins, cenote, and the museum is 220 pesos ($11.00) – They do not accept credit cards.  If you’re a local, it’s free to visit the ruins on Sundays, having said that if you are a tourist, you may want to avoid Sunday.
  • Hours: Daily 8 am to 5 pm Museum is closed on Mondays.

Tips when visiting:

  • I would suggest visiting Dzibilchaltrun in the morning because of the heat, especially in the summer.
  • Make sure you bring lots of water.
  • Wear a swimsuit under your clothes, wear biodegradable sunscreen if you plan on getting in the cenote, and probably bring a hat.
  • Wear good shoes and come prepared you will be walking a lot, as these ruins are spread out and there are many to see.

*** If you bring a backpack (even if it’s small) they will make you leave it at the front booth.  You can have a huge beach bag or purse, but for some reason, they don’t allow ANY type of backpack in.  

Note if you are afraid of heights:

These ruins are not as high as Ek Balam; however, they are quite impressive. If you are afraid of heights at all, which we are they can be a bit intimidating to climb. The steps are very steep and they may give you the feeling of falling backward because of the way they are slanted. The steepness resembles that of going up a ladder. Going up is a lot easier than coming down if you are at all afraid of heights or if your balance is a bit off just take it slow.

Trip Video


This video shows our day in the cenote, museum and ruins. What a great experience for the price. All of our video footage is taken with GoPro HERO6.  It’s a waterproof digital action camera for travel with a touchscreen.  We use this camera daily, and we love it. If you are interested in checking it out here is the Amazon link:  Click here.

Xlakah Cenote, Museum & Cenote Chen

Xlakah Cenote

The Xlakah Cenote was one of our favorites because it is warmer and bigger than most we have visited, also it’s an open-air cenote which we prefer. The only downside was.. it was the most crowded. We visited on a Saturday, and it was quite busy. If you can go through the week, I would assume it would be less busy. Be prepared to have somewhat of a pedicure, as the little fish will nibble at your toes and feet.

It’s considered one of the largest and deepest (144 feet) open-air cenotes found in the Yucatan. There are beautiful lily pads in the center and one side is deep enough to jump into and the other side shallow.

Divers have found many artifacts, human bones, and pottery in the cenote. Archeological artifacts indicate the cenote may have used for religious purposes.

It was great to have a cenote as part of the excursion because it was so hot and it was great to be able to jump in and cool off in between checking out the ruins.


One of the cool things about visiting Dzibilchaltrun is that we were able to see a cenote, ruins, and go through a cool museum for one price and at one time. The museum has many Mayan and Spanish artifacts and statues from the colonial era, along with many stone monuments.

When walking through the museum, I couldn’t help but imagine what it might have been like to be alive during the Mayan era hundreds of years ago. The museum has a timeline where it shows you the progression throughout the Mayan Era, along with the changing times and economic conditions the Mayans endured. It was quite fascinating.

Many of the artifacts are well preserved, and it’s a fascinating look back into the past imagining what it might have been like to live during that time. The explanations on the wall displays are in English and Spanish. If you go outside of the museum, you will find a traditional Mayan home — such an interesting museum, which takes about a 1/2 hour to go through.

Another relatively close cenote:

After visiting the ruins, we decided to head about 20 minutes southwest to Cenote Chen. This small open-air cenote was a lot of fun because we were the only ones there and we got to swim through caves. It was the first time we have swam through caves, and it was awesome. It was kind of strange to be the only people there. I kept feeling like maybe there was a crocodile that was going to come to get us. LOL

At first, we passed the road because there is no sign. The GPS is correct, except it ends at a dirt road. Take the dirt road to the end, and you will hit the cenote. Part of the fun for us was having the cenote to ourselves out in the middle of nowhere.

We had a great time visiting the ruins, two cenotes, and the museum. Depending on how long you want to spend at these locations this would be considered a 1/2 to a full-day itinerary. We have been on a mission to slow down and enjoy every moment, so this was a full-day itinerary for us.

More 2 Traveling Lovers Article & Video links from the Yucatan peninsula:

We spent a month traveling throughout the Yucatan Peninsula.  If you’re interested in visiting the area, we hope you will find our articles and videos helpful.  All of our posts have a video included, and we have new videos on our YouTube channel. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel too so you won’t miss a video.

Below are a few articles and videos from our stay in the Yucatan:

15 Things You Should Know Before You Visit The Yucatan

Best Cenotes Near Valladolid

Best Things To See & Eat In Valladolid

Should You Visit The Mayan Ruins In Tulum?

Why You Should See The Flamingos In Celestun 

The Ultimate 4-Day Itinerary In Merida

2 Traveling Lovers Videos only on YouTube

The Ultimate Day In Valladolid – Restaurants, Food & Fun

Xcanche Cenote 

A Weekend On Isla Mujeres

Playa Del Carmen


Closing Words

I hope you found our tips and information to be useful and you are excited to visit the Dzibilchaltun ruins, Xlakah Cenote, museum, and Cenote Chen in the Yucatan. 

Travel Resources

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The drone we use is the DJ Spark with Remote Control Combo.  We like this drone because it’s compact, it’s effortless to take on trips, it’s easy to fly, and it shoots 1080p.  All of our drone footage on our blog posts and youtube videos are taken with this drone. We highly recommend it. If you are interested in checking it out here is the Amazon link:  Click here.             

Another item we use daily is our Primocean Backpack with an insulated cooler bag.  We use this as Christie’s carryon bag on the plane and as our cooler at our final destination.  We used to use a different backpack and we switched to this one because it’s better made of durable material with quality zippers.  We love this backpack!! The cooler section is smaller; however, all the compartments and the quality of the backpack make it a much better choice for basically the same cost.  We wish we would have thought of this item a long time ago. If you are interested in checking it out here is the Amazon link: Click Here.  

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