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 2,418 reviews

This tour was outstanding and our tour guide Ricardo was very knowledgeable and out-going. I had been here before 28 yrs ago and I was not disappointed with everything I learned, visiting the Mayan community and even though I am not a swimmer I was able to enjoy the Cenote with my life jacket. Only draw back was that I didn’t get any time to shop for cheap souvenir at Chichen Itza. But other than that I loved the tour and our tour guide. Highly recommend this.

It was perfect compair what I got and price. Most amazing thing was Maya civilization. You can see buildings in pictures, but you must visit to feel real atmosphere. Maya was amazing culture and such knowledge in astronomy, mathematics, arcitecture, science. It was extraordinary. Our trip guide was Ruth. she was very good, during 2 hours ride she told lit of impresive and funy things about Maya and her sense of humor was amazing :) Definitely 5+ stars

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!

All in all it was an amazing trip, especially Ruth the tour guide was super funny :-). We were a Spanish and a German speaker so we decided to do the Chichen Itza stop with the English group. The Guide (Andreas I think) didn’t speak English really well and we didn’t understand a lot :/ that’s why we just give 4 instead of 5 stars. But overall and according to the money we spent it was a lovely day :)

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!