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!

What people are saying about Chichén Itzá

Overall rating

4.3 / 5

based on 2,175 reviews

We got to see a lot of places in one day. Felt a bit rushed but everything was on time and got picked up in our hotel located in Hotelera zona in Cancun. Cenote was beautiful and food was delicious. Chichen Itza and ballcourt looked amazing and tour provided information about Mayans. Valladolid was a quick 30 min stop on our way back. My only complaint is that there were a lot on people on bus tour with few empty seats with this ongoing pandemic. I thought maybe they would reduce amount of ppl. Overall good experience.

Really enjoyed this tour! Mike was a great tour guide, the bus was very comfortable (seats reclined a lot) and we could rest during the long travel. Knowledgeable tour guides. Easy to book. I would recommend using Get Your Guide and Sat Mexico for this specific tour.

Bus was comfortable, clear instructions and very punctual. Activities were engaging. Alfredo drove very well and Alan was educational and entertaining. Lunch stop doesn't have the best options for vegetarians and vegans. Get on this tour for a day well spent!

Great tour! We visited pyramids, had lunch, took a swim in the sinkhole, tour of town. Happy we picked this one. Tour guide Pastor and Richie were excellent from beginning to end making the long trip fun.

Alan was a very good and funny tour guide. We had a wonderful time. The driver (can’t remember his name) was a good and safe driver. The tour was good. Locations were good, food was good. Bus was clean.