Possibly the most famous archaeological site in Mexico, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Chichen Itza is the most extensively excavated of all the Mayan sites and one could easily spend an entire day exploring its scattered ruins. Still, some people may ask themselves "is Chichen Itza worth it?", and we are here to put all doubts aside.
Historically, Chichen Itza was something of a late starter, only reaching its peak well after the great Mayan cities of the south, such as Calakmul, Tikal & Palenque, had been largely abandoned. Although Mayanologists still disagree about exactly who founded the city, the variety of architectural styles points to an ethnic diversity that is hard to find elsewhere.
At the center of Chichen Itza is its most recognizable structure, the imposing Temple of Kukulkan, also known as El Castillo. This pyramid has precisely 365 steps – 91 steps on each of the 4 sides plus the top platform – all tied in with the Mayans’ incredible understanding of astronomy and most clearly demonstrated on the spring and autumn equinoxes.
Almost as famous as the Pyramid of Kukulkan, and just near the main building, is the Ball Court, the largest in the world. Tradition says that losing at one of the ritual games played here came with the ultimate penalty, death. This is not a lie but not entirely true, history says something more. Regarding the ball game, some games were only for ceremonies and didn’t imply death.
Chichen Itza is the second most visited archaeological site in Mexico, receiving comfortably over a million visitors a year. Although the site is large enough to absorb some of these numbers, it is far more enjoyable to visit Chichen Itza either early in the morning or late afternoon, before and after the numerous coach tours from the beach resorts.
Wondering how to get to Chichen Itza or which city to stay near? You can get to the site from one of the nearby towns listed below:
If you don't want to worry about driving you can easily get to Chichen Itza on one of our tours.
Close to Chichen Itza, you will also find a number of cenotes, the best of which is probably Yokdzonot Cenote Eco-Park, a 15-minute driveway and a great place to enjoy a post-ruin, refreshing swim.
Chichen Itza is located some 30 minutes drive from Valladolid, 3 hours from the east coast, and around 90 minutes from Merida.
To round up all the great things to do near Chichen Itza, go check out the different tours offered on our site. You can visit Chichen Itza, a cenote, and Valladolid in one day!
As one of the ‘must-sees on any vacation to the Yucatan Peninsula, Chichen Itza becomes an almost obligated stop for everyone
. And when it comes to hotels near Chichen Itza, there are splendid places to truly immerse in the atmosphere:
Mayaland was first built and operated by a local family, and their descendants still manage the hotel. This is how you get to enjoy the full Chichen Itza experience, just a few steps from the ancient city.
Hotel Villas Arqueologicas Chichen Itza is found in an area of lush vegetation within easy walking distance of the archaeological site. Villas Chichén Itzá is located at the rear entrance to the archaeological site, within a small group of three hotels. A walk from Hotel in Chichen Itza to the ruins takes less than 5 minutes and has the great advantage of allowing guests to explore the archaeological site before most visitors arrive in the afternoon.
Hacienda Chichen Resort is a boutique Spa hotel within a private 200 Hectares Maya Jungle Reserve. Naturally isolated and dedicated to wildlife conservation and reforestation; this hotel offers guests the comfort of its own garden gate to the Maya archeological.
Hand-built from local materials, the bungalows at the Lodge at Chichén Itzá were designed inspired by traditional Mayan “Casitas”. Everything is put together to make the guest experience the ultimate local experience. From artisan stained-glass windows to extensive use of local marble and handmade terracotta tiles, this location is all you’re looking for when it comes to artisan and hand-made design.
The word OKA'AN comes from the Mayan word meaning "where the road begins".
This hotel near Chichen Itza is deeply interested in providing visitors with complete experiences that involve their surroundings. This includes recreational tourism, luxury lodging, an integral medicine spa, and workshops for reflection and development.
So if you needed an excuse to visit Chichen Itza, there you have it. Chichen Itza is totally worth visiting and staying in one of the near by hotels.