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Dubbed one of the New Seven Wonders of World in 2007 — along with the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, and the Colosseum — this UNESCO World Heritage Site is by far Yucatán’s best-known archaeological site.

The sacred city of Chichén Itzá was a center of pilgrimage for the ancient Maya for more than 1,000 years. From its earliest stone temples and palaces, built in the Puuc Maya style in the seventh century AD, to the mix of Tolec and Mayan-style masterpieces, built during the city’s height between 900 and 1200, the fabled ruins of Chichén Itzá give visitors a feel for Maya civilization.

Marvel at the massive Mesoamerican step-pyramid El Castillo and take in the sheer scale of the ancient city as you walk among the Templo De Los Guerreros (the Temple of the Warriors), the Caracol (the observatory), the Juego De Pelota (main ball court) and the site’s many other masterworks of Maya civilization. It is an experience visitors are sure not to forget.

Getting there:

  • By car: Chichén Itzá is located 75 miles from Mérida, about a 1-1/2 hour drive east on Highway 180.
  • By tour bus: Tours originating from Mérida are available for purchase online and from local travel agents.
  • By public bus: Luxury buses run from CAME, Mérida’s first-class bus terminal, nearly every hour.

Admission:
220 pesos (about $12 USD). Personal guides are available for hire onsite for 750 pesos (about $40 USD).

Hours:
Open 365 days a year from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and again at 7:00 p.m. (fall and winter) and 8:00 p.m. (spring and summer) for its spectacular light and sound show, called Noches de Kukulkán.

Tips:

  • Protect your skin. Wear sunscreen and a hat, especially if you arrive midmorning or later.
  • Arrange for a guided tour. Your guide will make Maya history come alive and help you deal with the many vendors on site.
  • Make a day of it. After exploring the pyramids, cool off in the waters of Cenote Ik kil, only 1 1/2 miles away. Then return to Chichén Itzá in the evening for the magical light and sound show.
  • Stay the night. Pamper yourself at Mayaland Hotel & Bungalows, located steps away from Chichén Itzá , and arrive at its gates at 8 a.m. rested and ready to beat both the crowds and the heat.

* Admission price and times subject to change. Check with the local tourism office prior to visiting.

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