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Visit Chichen Itza during your trip to Cancun

By Kevin D. - Updated on 06 February 2023

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Discover Chichen Itza during your trip to Cancun

One of the most emblematic sites in Mexico is undoubtedly Chichen Itza. UNESCO recognizes this ancient Mayan city as a World Heritage Site and one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. 

couple in chichen itza

Chichen Itza is an archaeological zone that stands out for its buildings' beauty and majesty, such as the Pyramid of Kukulcan. In addition, this tremendous ceremonial center houses significant vestiges such as the Sacred Cenote, the Temple of the Thousand Columns, and the Ball Game, among others.

Where is Chichen Itza located?

The archaeological site of Chichen Itza is located deep in the jungle. Specifically, it is located in the east of Yucatan, on the road to Cancun, 120 km from Merida.

Location: 20.6843 ° N, 88.5678 ° W 

Chichen Itza from Cancun

Chichen Itza is approximately 2 hours from Cancun. The trip from Cancun to Chichen Itza is approximately 200 km or 124 miles if you do it by the highway. Chichen Itza is located west of Cancun, and both are in different states, Cancun in Quintana Roo and Chichen in Yucatan.

What to see in Chichen Itza?

1. Archaeological remains in Chichen Itza

This fascinating Mayan city is an emblem of Mexico; the archaeological zone is a set of imposing buildings with constructions corresponding to the last period of the Mayan civilization. The design and architecture of Chichen Itza are unique since they are the result of the Puuc style, typical of the Mayan people, together with the architectural styles of the Mexican highlands. Among the principal buildings that you can find in this archaeological site are:

Pyramid of Kukulcan. This icon of the Mayan world is also known as El Castillo and has a height of 24 m, 9 levels, and ends in a rectangular temple. It expresses the sophisticated Mayan knowledge in architecture since each one of the 4 sides of the pyramid has a great stairway of 91 steps each; adding the 4 and the only step that leads to the upper temple gives a total of 365 steps, that is, one for each day of the year. On the north side of the staircase are two large feathered serpent heads, representing Kukulcan. Every year on the same date, this is the protagonist of the equinox.

Caracol Observatory. It is one of the most spectacular buildings in Chichen Itza. This was a tower used by the Mayans to observe celestial phenomena. It is located above the jungle, as far as the eye can see, in a flat landscape without hills and elevation. It is called El Caracol (the snail) because it has a spiral staircase where you can climb to the top. Several inscriptions on the building confirm that it was a place to observe the sky and the stars.

Great Ball Game of Chichen Itza. This is the largest ball game in Mesoamerica, with more than 120 meters long, two long horizontal platforms, and an inscription describing the game. It is said that this structure had an astronomical function and made it possible to observe and measure phenomena such as solstices and equinoxes.

Great Main Walkway. It is a platform that levels the terrain, establishes spatial relationships between buildings, and brings harmony to the entire ceremonial center.

Sacred Cenote. It is an open-air cenote with a diameter of 60 meters and a height of about 15 meters deep, located north of the Pyramid of Kukulcan. It is said that it contains Mayan jewelry and other valuable items used in rituals, such as animal and human sacrifices. 

Archaeological Zone. This houses an archaeological museum and auditorium, with various audiovisual projections to help you learn and understand more about the city of Chichen Itza and the Maya world.

Kukulcan Nights

Kukulcan Nights uses projections and digital audio mixed with Mayan culture to provide a unique experience. This show lasts approximately 25 minutes and is a projection of the history of the Pyramid of Kukulcan with light audio, which will take you to relive the wonders of the ancient Mayan culture still alive in our time.

Equinox in Chichen Itza

Thousands of people arrive year after year in Chichen Itza to witness the equinox at El Castillo, also known as the Pyramid of Kukulcán, the protagonist of a magical and enchanting game of natural lights and shadows, where the sun bathes both hemispheres equally after 4:00 pm.

When the sunlight is projected onto the pyramids, it creates a spectacle of light and shadow between the pyramid's steps, grates, and pedestals. The light and shadow recreate the shape of a serpent's body, which descends until it completes the giant head on the pyramid's pedestal. This is Kukulcan, the feathered serpent, who descends to earth when the rains and the planting season approaches.

How much is the admission fee to Chichen Itza?

As one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza has admission fees to enter the archaeological site. Chichen Itza generally has two different fees for Mexicans and international visitors.

General Admission

  • Adults (13+) $613 MXN

  • Children $90 MXN

  • Mexican Citizens $272 MXN

  • Locals (Yucatecan ID) $90 MXN

*Admission is free on Sundays for Mexican citizens and foreigners with Mexican residency, ID required.

Kukulkan Nights

Tuesday to Saturday

  • General admission: $708 MXN


  • General admission: $450 MXN

  • Mexican citizens: $350 MXN

What is the schedule for Chichen Itza?

Chichen Itza is open Monday to Sunday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

*You should consider that the last entrance is at 4:00 PM.

How to get to Chichen Itza?

On the Valladolid-Cancun highway, Chichen Itza is located east of the Yucatan Peninsula, specifically 120 km from Merida, the state's capital.

There are several alternatives to get to Chichen Itza from Cancun International Airport or from your hotel in Cancun. One of the most economical if you have a limited budget is to take an ADO bus, which costs approximately $264 MXN (14 USD), and the trip can take up to 2 hours and 15 minutes.

On the other hand, we recommend a Cancun Airport Transfers service for a faster, more comfortable, and safer trip. With this service, it is possible to divide the fare between the number of companions you have on your trip so that the cost will be cheaper and you can save more than you expect.

Read 5 Reasons to Book Private Transportation from Cancun Airport

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