The 8 Best Chichen Itza Tours of 2019

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The Rundown

Best Overall: Buy Chichen Itza Tour with a Private Archaeologist Tickets with Viator "Hundreds of positive reviews, with most travelers praising the quality of the guides and the comfortable transportation."

Best Budget: Buy Ruins Tour, Swim, and Lunch Tickets with Viator "At $42 per person, it’s one of the cheapest full-day options on Viator."

Best Ek Balam Combo: Buy Ek Balam Tour Combo Tickets with Viator "If you’re keen on seeing more of the Yucatan’s Maya past, consider this 12-hour combo tour."

Best Coba Combo: Buy Coba Ruins Tour Combo Tickets with Viator "Discover famous sites like the cenote into which humans and gold were thrown as sacrifices to the Maya rain god."

Best Private Chichen Itza Tour: Buy Chichen Itza Private Day Trip Tickets with Viator "If a crowded tour bus doesn’t appeal to you, book this private Chichen Itza tour."

Best Private Combo Tour: Buy Private Ruins Tour and Swim Combo Tickets with Viator "Travel in style with a professional guide."

Best Overnight: Buy 2-Day Yucatan Overview Tour Tickets with Viator "This working plantation and hotel is decorated in Maya and colonial Spanish style, and is within walking distance of the Uxmal ruins."

Best Luxury: Buy Chichen Itza by Air Tickets with Viator "A memorable experience, giving you fantastic bird’s-eye views of the Caribbean and the Yucatan jungle."

01 of 08

Best Overall: Early Access to Chichen Itza with a Private Archaeologist

Chichen Itza

 Courtesy of Viator

This Viator Exclusive tour has hundreds of positive reviews, with most travelers praising the quality of the guides and its comfortable transportation. A full-day tour, this option includes early morning access to Chichen Itza, allowing you to skip the lines and beat the crowds. With fewer people around, it’s easy to step back in time and picture the ruins as they were in their ancient heyday. Your guide is also an expert archaeologist with in-depth knowledge of the settlement’s history and significance. 

In particular, you’ll learn about Maya mythology and worship practices, and how they're reflected in the architecture of Chichen Itza’s most famous monuments. Highlights include El Castillo, the Temple of the Jaguars, the Temple of the Warriors, and El Caracol. The tour price includes round-trip transportation from your Cancun hotel in an air-conditioned vehicle, all road tolls, and a boxed lunch. It excludes drinks, gratuities, the Chichen Itza state tax, and video camera fees. Although the bus carries up to 60 passengers, you will be divided into groups of 20 each led by a private guide.

02 of 08

Best Budget: Day Trip to Chichen Itza and Valladolid with Cenote Swim and Lunch

Cenote

 Courtesy of Viator

For something at the other end of the price spectrum, book this affordable Chichen Itza tour. At $42 per person, it’s one of the cheapest full-day options on Viator. The tour starts with a bus ride from the coast to the pre-Hispanic settlement, where you’ll spend approximately three hours admiring the ruins and listening to stories about their purpose and symbolism. Next, the tour continues on to Valladolid, a small city known for its incredible colonial architecture. A brief stop gives you enough time to take photos and soak up the atmosphere. 

All that exploring is hot and sweaty work, so you’ll be grateful for the third stop at Cenote XCajum, one of the deep, water-filled sinkholes. This cenote has steep circular cliffs and an open roof – and far fewer visitors than Ik Kil or Hubiku. The tour includes round-trip transportation from a pre-arranged meeting point in either Cancun or Playa del Carmen, a professional guide, and your ruins entrance fee. You’ll also be treated to a complimentary Mexican lunch. Gratuities, drinks, and the Chichen Itza state tax are all excluded. The commentary may be given in both Spanish and English.  

03 of 08

Best Ek Balam Combo: Chichen Itza, Ek Balam and Cenote Hubiku Tour from Playa del Carmen

Ek Balam

 Courtesy of Viator

If you’re keen on seeing more of the Yucatan’s Maya past than just Chichen Itza, consider this 12-hour combo tour. By visiting the ancient city of Ek Balam as well, this tour gives you the chance to compare Mexico’s most iconic archaeological site with the lush ruins of its less-crowded neighbor. You’ll visit Chichen Itza first, where your guide will introduce you to El Castillo, El Caracol, the ruined ball court, and more. Then, cool off with a quick swim at Cenote Hubiku pool, which is part of the peninsula’s incredible subterranean river system. 

The afternoon is spent at Ek Balam, where the most striking feature is the vast Acropolis pyramid. Visitors are allowed to climb the temple’s stepped façade (unlike at Chichen Itza), giving you the chance to discover painted frescoes, unusual carved figures, and an incredible, elevated perspective of the entire site. To appeal to your inner explorer, Ek Balam remains surrounded by dense jungle. The tour has space for a maximum of 15 guests and includes entrance fees, breakfast and lunch, bottled water, and hotel pick-up and drop-off from Playa del Carmen.

04 of 08

Best Coba Combo: Chichen Itza, Cenote Ik Kil and Coba Ruins Tour from Cancun

Coba Ruins

 Courtesy of Viator

Alternatively, this tour takes you to Chichen Itza and the Coba ruins. Chichen Itza is the first stop, where you will discover famous sites like El Castillo, the ball court, and the cenote into which humans and gold were thrown as sacrifices to the Maya rain god. Your local guide will also tell you these legends and more along the way. Afterwards, continue to Cenote Ik Kil, a particularly beautiful sinkhole with creeping greenery and deep waters that's been used several times as a site for the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. 

The afternoon is spent at the ruined Maya city of Coba. Here, the most famous attraction is Nohoch Mul pyramid, which at 137 feet is the highest pyramid on the Yucatan Peninsula. Visitors are still permitted to climb the structure, affording spectacular views from the top of Coba and its twin lagoons. Also of interest are the city’s numerous carved stelae, or stone slabs, which give an incredible insight into the ceremonies and historical events of its past residents. In between adventures, enjoy a light breakfast and lunch. Plus, hotel pick-up and drop-off are also included. 

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05 of 08

Best Private Chichen Itza Tour: Chichen Itza Private Day Trip from Cancun

Chichen Itza

Courtesy of Viator 

If the idea of traveling on a crowded tour bus doesn’t appeal to you, consider booking this private Chichen Itza tour instead. Because you (and your group) are the only participants, you can decide when you want to leave and return to Cancun. When you’re at the site, you'll have as much time as you want to explore El Castillo, the ball court, the temples, and the Sacred Cenote — all at your own pace. You can focus on the things that excite you most and skim over any aspects that don’t interest you as much. 

The tour includes private transportation with a professional driver and hotel pick-up and drop-off from your address in Cancun. Reviewers praise the drivers for their friendliness and excellent local knowledge. Once you get to Chichen Itza, you can explore independently or opt to hire a guide for an additional cost. If you pack a swimsuit and a towel, you can stop off at a cenote for a cooling swim. Bring your own lunch with you, or choose to upgrade to include lunch and/or drinks at a local restaurant.

06 of 08

Best Private Combo Tour: Private Chichen Itza, Coba Ruins and Cenote Swim Tour from Cancun

Cenote

 Courtesy of Viator

This private, full-day tour is a great option for those who want to explore beyond Chichen Itza. You will travel in style in an air-conditioned Toyota minivan, with a professional guide to provide background information about the sights you'll see along the way. The first stop is Coba, where you’ll have the chance to climb Nohuch Mul temple and wander through the encroaching jungle, keeping an eye out for tropical birds and animals as you go. Next, your driver will take you to Cenote Ik Kil to swim in deep waters illuminated by light spilling down through the open cavern roof.

The afternoon is devoted to exploring the temples, pyramids, and public spaces of Chichen Itza. As you gaze in wonder at sights like El Castillo, your guide will explain the Maya way of life and their elaborate mythology. On the way back to Cancun, there will be an opportunity to stop at a traditional agave distillery for a quick tequila tasting. In addition to round-trip transportation from your Cancun hotel, the tour includes bottled water and a Mexican lunch buffet. It excludes other drinks and gratuities, however.

07 of 08

Best Overnight: 2-Day Yucatan Overview Tour Including Chichen Itza and Uxmal

Uxmal

Courtesy of Viator 

If you’ve got more than a day to spare, this tour is a wonderful way to extend your time in the Maya heartland. On the first day, you’ll be driven straight to Chichen Itza for a guided tour of the site’s famous landmarks before getting free time to explore at your own pace. The afternoon is spent at nearby Mayaland Resort, where you’ll enjoy complimentary use of all facilities including the sparkling swimming pools and beautiful botanical gardens. After soaking up the sunshine, the tour continues on to Uxmal, another ancient Maya city and UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

You’ll arrive in the late afternoon, in time for check-in at luxurious Hacienda Uxmal. This working plantation and hotel is decorated in traditional Maya and colonial Spanish style and is located within walking distance of the Uxmal ruins. Sign up for the evening light show, or wait until the next morning to explore on a guided tour of monuments like the Governor’s Palace and the Pyramid of the Magician. The tour includes round-trip transportation from Cancun, a professional guide, meals as described by the itinerary, and one night’s accommodation.

Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best hotels in Cancún.

08 of 08

Best Luxury: Chichen Itza by Air

Chichen Itza

Getty Images

Those with cash to spare can avoid spending several hours traveling on a bus with this luxurious aerial tour. By flying to Chichen Itza from Cozumel, the journey from the coast is cut down to 35 minutes, making it possible to complete the entire tour in just half a day. You’ll be collected from your Cozumel cruise port, resort, or vacation rental and transferred to Cozumel International Airport where a private Cessna airplane awaits. The flight is a memorable experience, giving you fantastic bird’s-eye views of the Caribbean and the Yucatan jungle. 

When you land at Chichen Itza, a certified guide will be waiting to take you on a tour of the ruins. You should beat the bus tours and the midday heat by quite some time, giving you the chance to explore while the site is both uncrowded and cool. The tour includes round-trip flights, ground transportation in an air-conditioned vehicle, Cozumel pick-up and drop-off, the Chichen Itza entrance fee, and a private guide. It’s weather dependent, but in the event of a cancellation, you can reschedule or receive a full refund.

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