Once an overgrown, ruined pre-Colombian city in the heart of the Yucatán jungle, Chichén Itzá is now one of the most popular attractions in Mexico. Most visitors to the area make the trip to see this extraordinary UNESCO listed Mayan site, wherever they are staying on the peninsular. At around two hours from the more popular resorts, many prefer to take advantage of an organised tour to Chichén Itzá. With many to choose from, here I share tips for deciding which one is right for you.
The information on this page was last checked and/or updated on 12 January 2021.
A private tour group stands in the shade while listening to their guide in front of Temple of Kukulcán, named ‘El Castillo’ by the first Spanish to see the pyramid.
For many visitors to the Yucatán peninsular a guided tour to Chichén Itzá is very convenient. But it is not essential. You can make your own way there, by public or private transport. Also, there are hotels within walking distance of the site. And of course it is possible to buy tickets online, in advance. Visitors do not have to have a guide to explore the site. For those who do not want or require a tour, we provide more of this kind of information in our Guide to Visiting Chichén Itzá >>
This page provides suggestions and advice about tours to Chichén Itzá from the more popular towns and resorts on the Yucatan peninsular. Whether you are looking for a guided tour of the archaeological site from your resort, or a full day trip to Chichén Itzá and a few other attractions, here you will find a number of highly recommended options to consider. As well as a few pointers and tips on how to choose the best experience for you.
How to Find the Best Chichén Itzá Tour
Given the importance of this tourist attraction, and the numbers of people who visit each year, the number of different tours to choose from is high. And as with guided tours and day trips to all attractions, the price of the various options varies. Often by quite a bit. Not only are no two services identical, they are advertised across many platforms.
You would be right to feel somewhat overwhelmed.
It is important to note that the different operators include and exclude different things. For example, some include a pick up at your hotel, whereas others will only pick you up at a central location. On some day trips to Chichén Itzá, lunch is included. Some will include refreshments and drinking water to make their service look more attractive. Some also exclude certain things you would expect to be included. So a cheaper price can be misleading.
When choosing between different tours on offer, first take careful note of what is and what is not included and excluded. These should be explicitly listed on the platform you are using. If they are not, you are on the wrong platform. Then ask yourself whether the specified inclusions and exclusions meet your needs and requirements.
For day trips and guided tours to Chichén Itzá pay particular attention to the following:
1. To enter Chichén Itzá you will have to pay an entry fee and a local government tax. This is true whether you take a guided tour or make your own way there. When comparing the prices, note that not all operators include the tax in their fee. Some give you the option to pay the tax when making the booking. The reason for excluding the government tax is quite logical, if the operators include it in their price they have to pay tax on that. Check whether it is included or not, and budget and plan accordingly.
2. For some a trip to Chichén Itzá is a bucket list experience. And they want to make the most of that experience. Check that there is a ‘live’ tour guide as opposed to an audio guide (if that is important), and that you get to spend a decent amount of time at the site. On some it is just one stop in a longer itinerary.
3. Be aware that some of the more cheaper options are often nothing more than transport services from the various resorts on Mayan Riviera to the site of Chichén Itzá. Which is perfect if that is all you want.
A tour group takes shade in front of the imposing Temple of Kukulcán, one of the most well known Mayan pyramids in Mexico.
There really is no one size fits all. Everyone will have their own needs, levels of interest and budgets. Ensure the service you choose does what you want it to do by checking the inclusions and exclusions. Within reason of course. You probably will not find one that offers a helicopter ride from your villa to Chichén Itzá. Then again, if you are looking for that level of service you are probably not in need of this website :)
The suggestions I make here are based on researching the many options on the different, reputable platforms offering tours to Chichén Itzá. First, we choose GeyYourGuide for a number of reasons. Briefly, they require their vendors to be very clear about what is included and what is excluded. If for any reason, these are not met on the day, GetYourGuide has an exceptional Customer Service department: they are easy to contact, respond quickly and resolve the issue as fast. I speak from experience, because I have had to use this service twice in four years.
Another reason to promote GetYourGuide is that when you purchase their products, you are able to cancel up to 24 hours before the activity starts and still get a full refund, without paying more and no questions asked. In these times, that is a god safety net to have.
So confident of their services, GetYourGuide is one of Archaeology Travel’s preferred partners. One of the benefits of this relationship is we get a commission when you purchase one of their products, but at no extra cost to you. And more importantly, this does not influence why I endorse GetYourGuide. We recommend their products because it is a reputable and safe platform to use. We are able to fund this website and our unbiased reviews through commissions for products we use ourselves. Read more in our Code of Ethics >>.
Sunrise at Chichén Itzá, an unforgettable experience.
Chichén Itzá Sunrise Tour
Of all the tours on offer the one I feel offers the best value for money and experience is a sunrise tour of Chichén Itzá. This is available to tourists staying in Cancún, with specified pick ups at a number of hotels in the city. Pick up is early, so that you can see the sunrise at Chichén Itzá, with the added benefit of not having to share the site with the crowds that come around midday.
This is a 10-hour tour, that includes a specialist, professional guide. Not only will your guide give you a thorough tour of the site, you will also get a good understanding of the significance of the monuments. Also included is lunch. Note, the local tax is not included. But looking at the reviews, this is a highly rated experience. More details and book online >>
A small group tour stand at the small temple known from the first Spanish visitors as ‘La Iglesia’. The temple is part of the Las Monjas complex and is known for the many carvings of masks.
Chichén Itzá Tours from Cancun and Riviera Maya
The most popular destination on the Yucatan peninsular is the Riviera Maya. That line of towns and resorts on the northeast coast of the peninsular that runs from Cancun through Playa del Carmen to Tulum.
The following are small group tours:
Chichén Itzá Tour From Cancun or Riviera Maya >>
The tours suggest above have central pick up points. For a pick up at your hotel, you will pay a bit more, such as with the following option:
For a more private experience, with your own expert guide and travelling within your group, I recommend the following:
Chichén Itzá Tours from Mérida
Mérida is the largest and the capital city of Mexico’s Yucatán State. With its own international airport and many cultural sites, this is a popular destination for visitors to the area. For those interested in Mayan culture and history, past and present, you will certainly want to include the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya de Mérida in your itinerary.
Chichén Itzá is about an hour and a half away from Mérida. If you do not have your own transport or just prefer the convenience of an organised tour, there is a 9-hour trip that offers a good tour of the site, with a stop at the Ik Kil Cenote and lunch. More Details and Book Online >>.
For a bit more money, an extra hour but less time at the site, there is the option to see Chichén Itzá and take a local cooking class. More Details and Book Online >>
Chichén Itzá with a Cenote and Valladolid
Swimming in the Ik Kil cenote. This was a sacred sinkhole for the Mayans, and remains of their structures can still be seen today.
One of the most popular day trips to Chichén Itzá includes a visit to the Ik Kil Cenote and the nearby town of Valladolid. Given the peninsula’s geology, there are many cenotes, or sinkholes, in the area. And these were sacred for Mayan communities. There are some within the Archaeological Zone of Chichén Itzá. The Ik Kil Cenote was used for human sacrifices to the Mayan rain god. Today tourists like to go swimming in the cenote.
Valladolid is a nearby town with a long colonial history. Visitors come to admire the colonial-era architecture, in particular the ruins of the Convent of San Bernardino de Siena built in the 1550s by Franciscan missionaries. On this day trip, you get to experience two very different periods of the region’s past – the Mayans and the early Spanish.
This 12-hour day trip to Chichén Itzá, Valladolid and Ik Kil can be taken from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Rivera Maya, and downtown Tulum >>
Chichén Itzá with More Mayan Sites: Coba and Tulum
It used to be possible to climb the 130 steps to the top of the pyramid at Coba, but this was stopped in 2020.
There are many Mayan archaeological sites on the Yucatán Peninsula. Those with more than a passing interest in Mayan history might want to see another site or two without necessarily taking a multi-day tour of the area. Coba is a popular add-on to Chichén Itzá tours.
The pre-Colombian centre of Coba was also an important one. It was at the centre of the largest network of stone causeways in the Mayan world. The site has not been cleared as much as Chichén Itzá has, but it is still possible to see quite a bit of the pre-Hispanic settlement, including a pyramid and a typical Mayan ball court.
A typical Mayan ball court at Coba. Note the circular goals on either side.