Chichén Itzá

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Chichen Itza: Top 5 facts

Supposedly the great mythical city in Mesoamerican literature, this Mayan city stands today as one of the most popular archeological sites in Mexico. Read on for more on Chichen Itza history and Chichen Itza facts.

  • Origins: El Castillo & Kukulcan

    1. Origins: El Castillo & Kukulcan

    Archeologists believe the main monument, El Castillo, was dedicated to Kukulcan, the Mayan snake god, and was built between the 9th and 12th centuries A.D.

  • The Meaning Behind the Name

    2. The Meaning Behind the Name

    Chichen Itza translates to “at the mouth of the well of the Itza.” The Itza were a sea-warding subset of Mayan people.

  • Why was it built there?

    3. Why was it built there?

    It is likely that the city was built in this location on the Yucatan Peninsula because of two large natural “cenote” nearby that would have provided water to the population.

  • The Mayan Calendar

    4. The Mayan Calendar

    The total number of steps on the pyramid El Castillo, including the temple platform at the top, is 364—the total number of days in the Mayan calendar.

  • Take Me Out to the Ballgame

    5. Take Me Out to the Ballgame

    The Mayans were great athletes. Archeologists have found 13 ball courts for their Mesoamerican game; the best preserved and largest lies on this site just northwest of El Castillo.

Planning Your Visit

  • Chichen Itza Weather: How to pack & What to Wear

    Nothing is worse than setting out for a big day of exploration and getting hit with a spell of dehydration. Prepare ahead and bring lots of water, it cannot be overstated how hot this place can get. Bring a sturdy set of shoes and a hat or umbrella for sun. Bug spray is a must, especially in the rainy season when mosquitoes are running amok.

  • Rent A Car or Hire a Defensive Driver

    If you decide to rent a car, make sure to purchase a map and have a friend in the passenger’s seat navigating on the way to Chichen Itza. Be careful—some of the road is rocky or in disrepair. Be sure to keep your gas tank full, because there aren’t many gas stations along the toll highway. For a day trip from Cancun, the drive will take a little more than two hours.

  • Take a Dip in the Cenote for a Quick Cool off

    Stop at Ik Kil to go swimming in this ancient water source, a popular spot open to the public.

Good to know

  • When should I visit?
    Open daily, 8:00AM to 5:00PM, year-round.
  • Is it expensive?
    Adult tickets start at 64 MXV (about $4) and continue upwards with tours, packages and other perks available.
  • Will I need a guide?
    With so much history to learn about, a guide is a great idea.
  • How to get there
    You can rent a car (parking is 10 pesos), take public transportation, or take a tour from Cancun or Cozumel.
  • Additional information

    • Try to arrive in the morning or later in the afternoon, as the sun is hottest at midday.

    • A light and sound show is put on each evening, and times vary by season, so plan to stay late if you can!

Other Sightseeing Options in Chichén Itzá

Want to discover all there is to do in Chichén Itzá? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Chichén Itzá

Overall rating

4.3 / 5

based on 2,418 reviews

Ana Lilia was a fantastic guide! So much knowledge and true passion! The driver Claudio was great... got us to and from despite a horrible rain storm and traffic jam! Muchos García por todo! Highly recommend this tour! Plenty of water, rest, history, food, and care. Great for kids or adults. And for god sake... please don’t risk the guides licenses by not wearing a mask! We get it... none of us want to, but their livelihood depends on it!

This experience was great! It was our first time in Cancun and I definitely recommend doing this activity. Our guide Adan was awesome! I’m so happy we were able to see so many things. Instead of eating first at the restaurant, we decided to go swimming in the cenote and spend an hour there before going to eat which is your option. Truly recommend!

It was a very well organized trip! The hotel pick up was on time, the food was amazing too( typical mexican, so don’t expect american food!) Alain was our tour guide , he was absolutely amazing!! I recommend this trip !

Highly recommended and not to be missed when visiting Cancun. The tour guide was engaging and funny. The only downside is this took 13 hrs total and was exhausting, but well worth it for your money and experience.

It was almost 6-8 hours of driving depending on where your hotel is so if you don't like riding in buses I'd skip this one. I get motion sickness so that was a bit rough on me, but nothing to do with the tour.