Is Chichen Itza worth a visit? It is one of the most visited Archaeology attractions in the world and receives almost 4 million visitors every year, for an archeological site is a lot!. But, it still is not even in the top 50 touristic attractions most visited in the world. If you want to see the complete list, here is a good article.
In my opinion, the only consideration to validate if it is “worth it or not” will be the distance because after you read my notes below, you will start to plan to visit one of the new seven wonders of the world.
A perfect reason to visit Chichen Itza is that other great and unique attractions surround the place. And maybe you will consider staying one night after what I’m going to show you in this blog post.
So why is Chichen Itza worth a visit?
Chichen Itza is an outstanding human creation and captures the history of one of the greatest civilizations we have ever known.
The remaining buildings and structures tell the history of a civilization that existed thousands of years ago and remnants of our modern age.
Is a collection of humanity’s most outstanding achievements, showcasing the evolution of astrology and design. These structures offer a living history lesson and represent the brilliant accomplishments of human beings from all throughout history.
The Mayan civilization were phenomenal mathematicians. They were able to invent and use the Zero to make calculations.
They were excellent astronomers capable of studying the movement of the planet and created their own calendar.
The Kukulkan temple is a fourth-sided pyramid, each with 91 steps on each side plus the platform, making 365 steps. The sides represent the fourth seasons and the steps the number of days. Below I will explain to you a little bit more of what happens in this pyramid during the summer equinox.
First things first, where is Chichen Itza Located?
To visit Chichen Itza, you should plan to visit the southern part of Mexico. Mexico is vast, and distances are the primary constraint to get to know all of the great attractions that our country offers.
Chichen Itza is located in the state of Yucatan, Mexico. The southwest part of Mexico and 200 km from Cancun Airport.
Another important hub close to Chichen Itza is Merida City, which is 120 km from the archeology area.
You can consider a one-day trip if you are in any part of the Riviera Maya. You might consider overnight if you are coming from other parts of the country.
Indeed, Chichen Itza is not close to any other “Big” tourist attraction in Mexico. Distance is one of the main constraints to visit this historical place. Still, I think it is worth it for the unforgettable experiences and excellent knowledge you will acquire once you are there.
How to get to Chichen Itza?
There are several ways to get there from other hubs nearby like Merida, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or Tulum.
If you can choose, try to drive to Chichen Itza is quite convenient and Safe. Renting a Car in Riviera Maya is relatively easy and for all budgets.
The most convenient way will be to take an original tour from any of the locations I mentioned. Just consider that you will need to be patient since organized tours offer pick-up to other clients too. This could take time, but you are always comfortable on the bus, and in exchange for your time, you get an excellent price for the activity.
By bus is possible but a little bit more complicated since you will need to arrive at Piste (city 2km from Chichen Itza) and take a Taxi. There are not many commercial buses going there, so you will need more planning and maybe to speak Spanish since all the information is in Spanish. Here is the link to the most reliable commercial bus in the area ADO.
Estimated Driving Times
- Cancun to Chichen Itzá – 2 hours and 30 minutes
- Playa del Carmen to Chichen Itzá – 2 hours and 10 minutes
- Tulum to Chichen Itzá – 2 hours
- Mérida to Chichen Itzá – 1 hour and 30 minutes
Best time to visit Chichen itza
As mentioned above, Chichen Itza is one of the most popular attractions for travelers visiting Cancun and Riviera Maya. One recommendation will be to arrive as early as possible so you can enjoy the area better and have the opportunity to take nice pictures. Otherwise, it will be overwhelming.
All the organized tours will arrive after 11 am. The Archelogic zone opens at 8 am. From Cancun, you need 2.5 hours to get there if you drive.
Also, since distances are something to consider, the best time to visit Chichen Itza will be after 3 pm. Consider spending the night in one of the hotels we will recommend below.
Visiting Chichen Itza after 5 pm and stay for the light show that is a unique experience. You can easily walk from the hotels we will mention below.
Important information for you to consider before you visit Chichen Itza
Opening Hours: from 8 am to 4:30 pm
The entrance fee iis $80 pesos or $4 USD
Taxes are divided for Nationals and Foreigners. Mexican Citizens pay 130 pesos, and international visitors pay 417 pesos ($21 USD)
Be aware Mexican Citizens are free to enter on Sundays, so expect more people than usual this day.
Or you to consider the Skip the line ticket offered by our partner Get Your Guide.
Interesting facts about Chichen Itza
During the spring equinox, the perfect alignment with the sun and the Kukulcan temple is possible to see how a serpent is descending through the side of the pyramid to Xibalba (Mayan Underworld)
The Archeological site is vast, but the most important sight is the Castillo or Temple of Kukulkan. There are other important sites that you shouldn’t miss, like the Great ballcourt, the temple of the warriors, the observatory, and the Chack – mol.
The Mayan civilization holds several mysteries. By the time the Spanish conquered the area, this city and many other Mayan cities were ghost towns. There is no clear explanation or theory regarding why the Mayan civilization disappeared or left their cities for almost 100 years.
Chichen Itza is a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the seven wonders of the world named in 1988. It was the most outstanding capital of the Mayan area in the late Classic and early Postclassic periods.
Nowadays, it has been said that the Maya were the Greeks of the New World since few other civilizations developed their culture as abstract and intellectual as they did.
If you are not that much of a history buff, I think you can appreciate the stature and importance of this historic site in the world. Of course, if you also love the pure history of it all, you will love the fact that this is one of the most extensive Mayan ruins dating back 1500 years with great importance to mankind.
Attractions close to Chichen Itza
One great thing that can be taken out of all this and that I think makes the trip to Chichen Itza worthwhile is the experience around the place. Several attractions are related o visit Chichen Itza like the jungle itself, Cenotes (sinkholes), and gastronomy. Once in Chichen Itza, here a list of places you can not miss.
It is 45 km from Chichen Itza. When coming from Riviera Maya is on the way.
Valladolid is a little colonial town in between Riviera Maya and Chichen Itza. Is an obligated stop if you visit the Archeological site. There are many different restaurants here and also the opportunity to buy a hammock in the local market.
It is 45 km from Chichen Itza.
The cenote Zaci is located inside the city of Valladolid. In my opinion, this is one of the best places to jump and cooling off. It offers a great experience and also is a significant component to add to your visit to Valladolid.
Cenote Ik Kil
6 km from Chichen Itza
The closest Cenote to Chichen Itza is Ik Kil. But this is also the main reason why it is always crowded. Is one of the most beautiful cenotes close to Chichen Itza.
Cenote Selva Maya
40 km from Chichen Itza. I recommend you to have lunch and visit the cenote after you visit Chichen Itza.
Personally, this is my favorite cenote when visiting the area. It is really close to Valladolid and offers a great experience. It is not that crowded since it is inside the Hacienda Selva Maya, and most of us will relate the place with the restaurant or the Hacienda.
Is a hidden treasure worth the visit.
Web: Hacienda Selva Maya
Where to Stay in Chichen Itza?
Some hotels nearby will put you right in the heart of the archeology site, giving you a chance to be one of the first ones through the gates in the morning and avoid crowds.
Hotel Hacienda Chichen Itza
If you are looking for a hotel with great Mexican character, this is a great place to stay.
It is surrounded by the Mayan Jungle and is the only hotel in the area with a spa.
The hotel offers great activities like a Mayan cooking class.
Hotel Mayaland & Bungalows
This hotel offers a direct entrance to the Archaeological site. It is an excellent option if you want to be the first to enter the site.
It has a great view of the Mayan Observatory and is a first-class hotel with an excellent gastronomic offer.
Web: Hotel Mayaland
Hotel Villas Arquologicas Chichen Itza
This hotel offers excellent value for money. Located just steps away from the new seven wonders of the world, Villas Chichen Itza is situated at the rear entrance to Chichen Itza’s archaeological site.
Health and Safety when visiting Chichen Itza
When I wrote this article, we were at the end of the coronavirus pandemic, and you might wonder if it is safe to visit the place.
To get there is as flexible as you need. Instead, you can choose to take an organized tour and share the transportation with other passengers or to contract a private tour and follow your own protocols.
The archeological zone is a vast outdoor space and does not have closed areas. Some protocols will be explained at the entrance so they can guarantee everyone is comfortable visiting the place.
So now it is no longer an impediment to get to know this great site full of history and culture.
What is stopping you?
By now, it should be easy for you to decide if you think it is worth visiting the great historical site that is Chichen Itza.
There are no limitations regarding budget since you can instead choose to take a guided tour or flight there. It is an activity that adapts to every type of traveler’s budget.
As you might notice, Chichen Itza is totally worth visiting for its uniqueness, culture, history, etc. It is a place that will surprise you because it is unique in the world.