Ultimate Guide to the Mayan Ruins and Street Art in Tulum

Ultimate Guide to the Mayan Ruins and Street Art in Tulum


Tulum, you had me at white sand beach, Mayan ruins and cool beachfront bars.  Yet there’s also a growing arts scene to uncover. We recently combined a visit to the ruins with a tour of the colourful street art – hope you enjoy the photos!

We were staying at nearby Mayakoba, a luxury eco resort that’s halfway between Cancun and Tulum on the Riviera Maya. They can arrange group tours to Tulum but as we were limited in time we opted for a private car.

Tulum’s Mayan Ruins

It’s really worth setting out early to get to the ruins as soon as they open. The third most visited site in Mexico gets incredibly crowded from mid morning onwards and I can only imagine how busy they are late afternoon. However, it’s possible to visit at sunrise or sunset by paying a premium. Be warned that in theory you have to pay a considerable additional sum to film the ruins. Nevertheless, we saw lots of people filming on their phones so there seems to be a certain tolerance for personal use, although tripods are apparently a no-no without payment.

Our friendly driver dropped us off near the entrance and explained that we could either take a Land train or walk the 1 kilometer distance to the site itself. We chose to walk and were glad that we did as the land-train wasn’t much quicker than we were and doesn’t drop you all that close to the entrance. It would be a good option if visiting with small children, the elderly or infirm though.

tractor drawn train in TulumAfter purchasing an entrance ticket we headed straight inside. Before arriving on the cliffs themselves, you pass by some interesting ruins such as the House of the Cenote. The city thrived in the 13th to 15th centuries but was inhabited from the 6th century onwards. It’s thought to have originally been known as Zama or City of Dawn, it’s now known as. Tulúm meaning wall in Mayan. We did linger here a bit but in hindsight my advice to visitors would be to go directly to the 12 metre high cliffs to get your shots before its besieged by visitors and to double back afterwards to see the other Mayan ruins.

Visiting the ruins in Tulum, Mexico
As you can see, the scenery here is stunning.

Tulum Riviera Maya view
It’s an easy walk down a wooden staircase to the small white sand beach.

Tulum ruins staircase to the beach
There are some picturesque rock formations here and the views towards the Caribbean Sea are stunning.

Tulum beach photographyBy now it was getting pretty crowded so we explored the rest of the site, including the Temple of the Frescos, before heading back to our driver. There are some casual restaurants near the exit though I’ve heard that you get more choice and quality at neighbourhood restaurants such as Hartwood or Wild. We didn’t have time to lunch as we were flying back that day so it was straight on to a whistle-stop tour of Tulum’s street art.

Tulum ruins visitOur driver then whisked us into town which is quite a distance from the ruins and the beach. Don’t attempt to walk it as it’s a good ten minute cab ride. He was initially a bit baffled when we asked to be taken to the street art and we soon realized why. The murals, although very striking, are not in particularly picturesque parts of town. They were created thanks to an urban regeneration scheme by locals, under the umbrella of the  Tulum Art Project. However, he soon got into the spirit of it and was spotting street art way before we did.

Tulum Street Art

It would actually be great if the tourism authority put a map of the murals online to help people find them, or perhaps a local blogger or newspaper could make it their mission. The first mural that we came across was this one top left by Senkoe, a well-known street artist whom we had met in Mayakoba. He has painted many colourful nature murals at Andaz Mayakoba and was putting the finishing touches to one of them when we came across him. The golden leopard and elephant are part of one mural by CNJU whilst I’d love to know who created the striking female figure bottom right.

Tulum Art Project
We particularly liked the street art by Emma Rubens, including this mural encouraging people to recycle plastic…

Emma Rubens mural - Tulum street artand this striking fish themed artwork!

Fish mural in Tulum by Emma Rubens
It’s right next to another colourful Tulum mural by Miami based artist, Aquarela Sabol.

Tulum te amo
Many of the artworks focus on caring for the environment.

Girl mural TulumIn fact, quite a few use the hashtag #restorecoral, like the blue bird below.

Tulum street art murals
This girl peeking shyly out from under a thatched canopy is by street artist Miguer.

Street art in Tulum, Mexico by MiguerI spotted one final colourful scene before it was sadly time to head home.

Tulum colourful streetVisiting Tulum – facts

  • Tulum’s Mayan Ruins opening times: 8 am to 5 pm
  • Entrance fee: currently at $64 pesos per person, and an additional $30 pesos for video cameras
  • Early morning or late afternoon access: $220 pesos
  • Land-train: $10 pesos
  • Additional charge for parking
  • Bring a hat, sunscreen, swimsuit and bottle of water as there’s very little shade
  • For the street art, you can find quite a few murals on the street simply known as Sol

Have you ever visited Tulum? Which of these murals is your favourite?

Your ultimate guide to the Mayan ruins and street art of Tulum on the Riviera Maya in Mexico

  • Hannah Chau

    I’m a sucker for white sand beaches as well! Not only is Mayan beautiful naturally, they also have such amazing street art! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful place 😀

    • We were really impressed by the street art and of course the ruins. I’m very glad that you enjoyed reading

  • Ahhh I was so sad that we didn’t have time to visit Tulum!!

    • We really crammed it in and to be honest it was such a rush but I wasn’t sure when we’d next be back that way again

  • Linda

    What an active last day for you! I really like that small beach, I’m always a fan of such places!!! Street art is fantastic and it’s nice that they arise the issue of climate change.

    • The beach was gorgeous, though I can imagine how packed it gets in the afternoons. It’s great that the local people are so interested in conservation

  • I’ve been reading a lot about Tulum recently! The beach looks stunning, but wow was I shocked at the price to get into the ruins. It’s quite expensive!

    http://thetatteredpassport.wordpress.com

    • xtronchic

      Prices are in pesos. Exchange rate is about $19/$20 pesos to US $1 dollar.
      $ 64 pesos per person, and an additional $30 pesos for video cameras

      Early morning or late afternoon access: $220 pesos

      Land-train: $10 pesos

      • Well explained, Xtronic – thankfully the prices aren’t in dollars! If I was going back, I’d definitely opt for the sunrise or sunset entry just to avoid all the crowds

      • Oh that makes more sense!

  • travellingslacker

    Wow I jsut loved this post… the car pulled by tractor will remain etched in my memory.
    I have always had a great fascnation ofr Mayan and Aztect ruins, especially after watchng Apocalypto, not exactly the best advertisement of that culture but who cares… he he

    Also, the surreal streetart is mindblowing… much better than many other cities I have seen…

    • Now I’m regretting not getting on that tractor bus! Haven’t seen Apocalypto but you’ve got me intrigued

  • We’ve really enjoyed Tulum’s ruins – they’re so beautiful overlooking the sea! Somehow we missed Tulum’s street art ?? (Yes, it would be a great idea to have an online map to them.)

    • Well there is a map at Tulum Art Project but we couldn’t work it out as the writing is so small! So a proper map would be great.

  • Fábio Inácio

    The street art are amazing, a lot of colors, like you I also loved the one encouraging people to recycle plastic. I really think it is important we show what is right in every ways of art. We should take care of our beautiful world!!
    The place are just amazing, this water, are so clean, looks so relaxing be there. Also like the Tulum’s Mayan Ruins, I really like constructions from the old, old times!

    • I don’t know if the interest in conservation there is recent or if it has always been the case but it’s very positive indeed!

  • Marj O. Rie

    It has always been a dream to visit these Mayan ruins. For a long time, I have totally interested with archaeological structures and feats. Your photos are totally amazing as well! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • I find archaeology fascinating too, just imagining people living there all those years ago

  • Ingrid

    I just love the colorful buildings and murals in your pictures, i can only imagine joyfulnes, especially coming from an all grey concrete building city like mine. It looos like you had a wonderful day just strolling around these streets and visiting the ruins, which sounds appealing.

    Ingrid

    • It was a nice surprise to come across such colour and unique artworks. As for the ruins, they’re majestic!

  • What a wonderful trip down memory lane 🙂 – I forgot how stunning Tulum is! The art street art murals are incredibly captivating and such beautiful colours too

  • Wow, this trip is dreamy! Absolutely love the pictures.

    Happy Thursday babe! Kisses,
    BLOG | TAISLANY

  • I can’t wait to visit Tulum, it looks stunning! One day 😉 Great post hun x

    http://clutchandcarryon.com/australias-east-coast-full-road-trip/

  • Dressed With Soul

    I have honestly a weakness for ruins 🙂 Therefore I would love to visit this place! Thanks a lot for sharing.
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena
    http://www.dressedwithsoul.com

  • Hayley Rubery

    Oh my GOD that street art is every bloggers dream, no?! It’s so colourful and beautiful (that beach shot is killing me!), also I can imagine it’s incredible to see the Mayan ruins; what a wonderful trip Suze!

    Hayley xo
    http://www.frockmeimfamous.com

    • I have to say that we were spoilt for choice with the street art ;-). Hope you get to experience Tulum, I know you’d love it.

  • Kate

    What stunning scenery! The street art is beautiful too – so vibrant. x

    Kate Louise Blogs

  • Amanda Blizzard

    I LOVE Quintana Roo! I spend most of my time in Playa, but heading to Tulum next week to check out the ruins and the artwork! Thanks for sharing! I’ll look for the road Sol!

    • I had to Google Quintana Roo 😉 Realized that it is the state in which Tulum is located. Have an amazing time and let me know if you find a good place to eat

  • Tony Wilson

    Love this post and Mayan ruins. I have been to Chichen Itza and Tulum. Can’t wait to go back to Mexico to check more ruins (like Palenque and Uxmal). Some very colorful photos.

    • We’d have loved to visit Chichen Itza but didn’t have time. Mexico really is blessed with fascinating history

  • How amazing to visit Mayan ruins and the street art is absolutely gorgeous!

    Miriam
    http://www.londonkitchendiaries.com

  • I am so jealous of your trip to Tulum! I’ve been to Mexico a few times but I would love to explore the Mayan ruins someday!

    http://thecourtneydiaries.com

    • You definitely need to see Tulum on your next Mexico trip, Courtney! Have a great weekend

  • Fabiana Aguilar Fernandez

    Can’t wait to go!!

    http://www.lacaleya.com

  • One day I’d love to visit Mayan ruins. How colourful and beautiful the street arts look. Also you in that pink dress;)

    Ela BellaWorld

    • That’s so sweet, Ela – I love colour as much as they do in Mexico! The street art is fantastic

  • Oh wow stunning photos, this is somewhere I’ve always wanted to go!

    • You definitely should visit, Becky – it’s every bit as good as we thought it would be

  • What a fabulous trip and I really love the unusual street art; so colourful and creative!

    Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice x

  • The first pics of the post are like postcards! The Tulum te quiero mural is my favourite <3

  • Wowee the ruins look incredible! A map of street art is a great idea, it’d be amazing if other cities did that too xxx
    Lucy @ La Lingua | Life, Travel, Italy

  • Dressed With Soul

    It must have been really great to visit the ruins! Thanks for sharing and the red dress suits you very well <3
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena
    http://www.dressedwithsoul.com

    • That’s very kind, thank you Rena! It was lovely to visit a place that I have seen so many photos of

  • We love the archaeological sites, where Its Angkor Wat or Roman Forums or Mayan Ruins, their is a certain charm about them which attracts so many people. I think its worth to witness a sunrise. Loved your street art pictures. Thanks for concluding your post with the facts, it really helps people who plans to visit there

    • I’d definitely try to return at sunrise or sunset, it would add an extra dimension! Glad you like the fact box too

  • What a lovely trip! I have always wanted to go to the Mayan Ruins. They look absolutely stunning. We are also huge lovers of street art and would fall in love with this place immediately. You have moved this up the bucket list! I would leave tomorrow if I could. Also I love that they brought you there being toed by a tracker.

    • Now I think that I should have got in the tractor! We walked the short distance but it did look fun

  • Wow, I would love to go there. The views are insane!!

    Thanks for sharing it with us. 💛

    Happy Monday Doll! Kisses,
    BLOG | TAISLANY

  • This sounds simply SO gorgeous Suze! It’s going on my list!!

  • Coco Cami

    This looks like a dream destination, amazing post and thanks for bringing these beautiful photographs to a rainy Monday 🙂

    Camille xo

    http://www.cococami.blogspot.co.uk

  • Neha Verma

    I have heard a lot about mayan ruins. And looking at them, I can understand why people can’t contain from filming them. However, a very high fee for carrying your camera along is disheartening. But anyways, the ruins are a must see sight. Didn’t know of the street art though, it also looks so wonderful

    • Yes I do wonder if they use all that fee to help preserve the site as there aren’t any toilets, cafes or other infrastructure within the immediate area. Hopefully it is indeed used to good effect!

  • Suruchi Mittal

    This street is so colorful and these street arts are making it more bright and beautiful. I loved the blue of the sky and water in all your pictures. You too look amazing and your that picture around 12 meter cliff is awesome. i like the idea of their graffiti s depicting nature and environment conservation.

    • That’s very kind Suruchi, thank you! The place lends itself so well to photos and thankfully the graffiti is all of a high standard

  • Lee

    Amazing wall art, how much is the budget if I wanted to stay here for. 3days??

    • There are hotels for all budgets, including at Mayakoba where we stayed. Once you’re there, food and drinks are quite reasonably priced

  • CurlyCurlyK

    Oh my all this street art! You can really get a feeling for a place by its street art and I have fallen in love! It’s kinda interesting to see how history and modernity have clashed here. It’s really beautiful actually. Thank you for sharing!

    • My pleasure and thanks for stopping by – you’re right that Tulum is a unique mix of historic and contemporary!

  • Such a great post Suze, the bold colours in your photographs of the street art really do stand out. The Mayan Ruin street art is something worth seeing, and the ruins themselves.

    Really am a fan of Mexico and the history, remember first visiting the Chichen Itza for the first time which was very memorable.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Laura xo
    http://www.shehearts.net

    • I really want to visit Chichen Itza, it looks so incredible! There’s something very special about Mexico, isn’t there!

  • I absolutely love seeing street art on my travels and I love how vibrant it all looks. When I went to Riviera Maya many years ago, I visited Chichen Itza but didn’t make it to the Tulum ruins unfortunately so that’ll be first on the list if I return!

    • And we didn’t have time to make it to Chichen Itza so I definitely want to visit if we return!

  • Marlene Marques

    Amazing street art! Couldn’t believe some of those images. Loved your post. You’ve manage to combine ancient history with modern art. Well done! And congratulations to the photographer. Your pictures are incredible!

    • Well all credit is due to the people of Tulum! The photos are taken by me and my husband, I’m pleased you like them

  • Monica Calangian

    You have such an amazing journey and I am envious! The beach and those wonderful rock formations would totally make me want to go there. However, thank you for bringing your readers’s attention to the street art in Tulum as well. I especially like it how they are focused on the environment. Raising awareness and art expression in one!

    • It’s great that they combined conservation of the environment with street art! Glad you enjoyed reading about it, Monica

  • I loved reading your article especially because I just booked a ticket to Mexico and I have a friend in Tulum who invited me to visit him. I am looking forward to seeing the Mayan ruins but also the street art. Who knew that Tulum has such great street artists? Your photos are amazing!

  • Parnashree Devi

    Tulum’s Mayan Ruins is such a gorgeous site. More than the ruins , I am fascinated by the murals . These are breathtaking and inviting. I would love to visit this place someday.

  • I’d love to visit the Mayan runs some day! Unfortunately it’s a bit far from Australia, so I’ll have to wait until I’m back in the UK!

    C x | Lux Life – Luxury Travel & Lifestyle Blog