Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula

14 June 2015

Once part of an extensive Mayan empire, the Yucatan Peninsula is these days better known as one of Mexico's most enduring tourist attractions. Little wonder when the so-called Riviera Maya, the famous ruins of Chichen Itza and the charming colonial city of Merida are all located on this isolated stretch of land.

Blessed with resplendent sunshine and the bright, sandy beaches of the Caribbean-facing Cancun, there's no shortage of visitors eager to relax on Mexico's unique Yucatan Peninsula.

Cancun

Once the party capital of Central America, these days Cancún is a somewhat more subdued seaside resort.

 With sunshine and sand Cancun is ever popular (image: Getty)

It may have lost some of its lustre since its heyday in the 1970s, however its prime location facing the Caribbean Sea ensures it remains an ever-popular tourist destination.

Indeed, Cancun has pride of place on an endless stretch of warm-water beaches teeming with swimmers cavorting in its turquoise waters. The water-based fun doesn't end there, with dolphin discovery tours, snorkelling and guided scuba dives all popular exploits in this glamorous coastal city.

Chichen Itza

When Christopher Columbus took his first tentative steps in the so-called New World, he was unaware that indigenous civilisations were already flourishing. One of the most powerful was the Mayan and the remains of Chichen Itza are an impressive reminder of their power and prestige.

 Ruins rediscovered (image: Getty)

This vast complex was one of the largest Maya cities and contains an overwhelming array of architectural styles and structures. Like many of the great Maya cities, the ruins of Chichen Itza lay forgotten amid dense Mexican jungle for hundreds of years. However it's now one of the Yucatan's most popular tourist sites.


Don't miss the street food. Mexico’s Street Food: No Más Stodgy Burritos

If you need more reasons, here they are. 10 Reasons To Visit Central America


Merida

Merida is Yucatan's charming state capital and this sizeable city owes much to its Spanish roots.

Named after the Spanish birthplace of three consquistadores, Merida was actually built atop a former Mayan city and is sometimes referred to as the oldest continually occupied city anywhere in the Americas.

Today it houses a fascinating mix of Spanish colonial and Mayan influences, and the city's famous 'centro historico' district is one of the largest in Central America.

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