The 3 must-see Mayan sites in Guatemala

Site Maya

Discover the different Mayan sites during your stay in Guatemala, the Mayan land par excellence and a country full of riches!

Guatemala may not be Central America’s best-known country, but it does boast a number of impressive natural and archaeological sites. Located at the heart of the Mayan world, but only recently attracting tourists, Guatemala’s Mayan sites are much less well known than those of neighbouring countries such as Mexico! And yet! Today, let’s dive into the heart of Guatemala’s three most beautiful Mayan sites, some of which are still buried deep in the jungle.

1. Guatemala’s best-known Mayan site: Tikal

Site Maya, Tikal

Photo credit: Pixabay – Ickandgak

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, the Maya site of Tikal is nestled in the heart of a lush jungle, endowed with dense and incredible flora and fauna. This ancient Mayan city was the capital of a powerful kingdom that, it is assumed, was home to over 45,000 inhabitants at its peak. A visit to Tikal reveals Mayan pyramids dating back to the 6th century B.C., although Tikal only reached its apogee during the classical period between 200 and 900 A.D. Some of the buildings are true feats of engineering. Some of the constructions are true feats of engineering: the site’s highest pyramid, on which you can climb to admire the sunrise, is over 75 metres high!

2. Yaxha: a Mayan site in the heart of nature

Located about 1 hour from Tikal, Yaxha is a Mayan site rediscovered in 1904, and which has only recently become a tourist attraction. As a result, it’s possible to stroll around almost alone in the world. A partial restoration of the site has been underway since 2002, but some temples are still buried under trees and grass, allowing us to imagine the arrival of the first explorers on site. Yaxha boasts over 500 temple structures, including 9 well-restored pyramids, which can be climbed to observe the tropical jungle as far as the eye can see. During a visit, you can also observe toucans, coatis, hummingbirds and more…

3. El Mirador: Guatemala’s largest Mayan site

We end this mini-top of Mayan sites to see in Guatemala with this archaeological complex, which is rarely visited because it’s so inaccessible! Indeed, the temples of El Mirador can only be reached via a two-day trek through the jungle. It is also one of the oldest Mayan sites in the country, having been inhabited between the 3rd BC and the 1st century AD.

The name of the site comes from its location in the middle of the jungle and on a hill, which allows you to admire the grandeur of Guatemalan nature from above. It’s still a mysterious site for archaeologists the world over, who regularly discover impressive new constructions.

As you can see, Guatemala’s Mayan sites are brimming with impressive temples, all nestled in lush natural surroundings, making them unique places to visit in Central America.

Main photo credit: Pixabay – DEZALB