How to get from Cancun to Chichen Itza (and back)?
Chichen Itza is a large and extremely well-preserved complex of archaeological site that belonged to the Mayan civilization and date back to 500 AD. The whole complex is considered one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As one of the best representations of Mayan culture, millions visit Chichen Itza every year, making it among the top destinations in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
You can easily spend 4 or more hours exploring Chichen Itza. Some of the most famous sights include the impressive El Castillo (Temple of Kukulcan), the observatory and the open fields. The open fields are the area where the Mayans played a sacred ball game to honour the gods.
The entrance to Chichen Itza costs 525 MXN ($26) per person for foreigners. It opens at 08:00 and closes at 17:00. Entry to the site is allowed until 16:00.
TIP: Wear comfortable clothes and bring a lot of water and sunscreen. You will be in the open air and under the sun the whole day so it’s best to be prepared.
4 ways to get from Cancun to Chichen Itza (and back)
There are 4 ways to travel the 200km from Cancun to Chichen Itza: by bus (2.5 hours), by rental car, by day trip (12 hours), or by airplane tour (6.5 hours). Rates range from 50 MXN ($22) to 25,320 MXN ($1,250).
The only public transportation available between Cancun and Chichen Itza is a 2.5-hour bus. ADO offers one bus trip in the morning from Cancun to Chichen Itza and another bus in the afternoon for the opposite route from Chichen Itza to Cancun. A ticket costs 490 MXN ($24).
If you’re travelling with a rental car, then you shouldn’t have any problem as the roads from Cancun to Chichen Itza are paved and very safe. Driving gives you total flexibility too, you can take your sweet time and make as many stops as you want. Just keep in mind that there may be extra costs for fuel, toll and parking fees.
If you prefer your trip to be organized for you, then you can join one of the many day trips offered from Cancun to Chichen Itza. Prices for a day tour start from 630 MXN ($31). This already includes a visit to the Mayan ruins, as well as side trip to Ik Kil Cenote and Valladolid.
Looking for more luxury? You can visit Chichen Itza through an airplane tour with rates from25,320 MXN ($1,250). That’s already good for 2 persons. An airplane tour includes roundtrip plane transfers, a visit to the archaeological site, a side trip to Ik Kil, and buffet lunch.
Buses from Cancun to Chichen Itza depart from the ADO Bus Station located along Calle Pino, just within walking distance from many hotels in downtown Cancun. If you are coming from the hotel zone, you can get to the bus terminal by taxi or with the bus lines R-1, R-3 or R-38, which you can hail along Kukulkan Boulevard.
The company providing the service between Cancun and Chichen Itza is ADO, the largest bus company not just in the Yucatan Peninsula but the whole of Mexico. Buses come equipped with AC and reclining seats. Bus tickets cost 490 MXN ($24).
There’s only one departure every morning at 08:45 and you’ll reach the Mayan ruins around 11:00. The bus will drop you off at the parking lot next to the entrance to Chichen Itza. From here, you just have to walk to the entrance and purchase your tickets.
08:45 – 11:00
490 MXN ($24)
Seats are limited so we highly recommend booking your tickets online at least a day before via BookAway. While tickets are also available at the bus station, they are sure to sell out fast.
As you’ll only need about 4 hours to explore Chichen Itza, you’ll have no problem catching the only bus going back to Cancun. You only need to find the same bus stop by the parking lot where you were dropped off in the morning.
Bus departure is at 16:30, make sure you’re at the bus stop at least 20 minutes before. Same as the opposite route, bus tickets are priced at 490 MXN ($24).
08:45 – 11:00
490 MXN ($24)
Also here, it’s best to book your tickets online. With BookAway, you get 20% off when you purchase roundtrip tickets. That’s about $4!
To get to your accommodation you can use one of the taxis parked right outside the bus terminal. If you prefer public transport, lines R-1, R-3 and R-38 stop in front of the pharmacy next to the bus terminal and go all the way to the hotel zone.
Cancun to Chichen Itza by Car Rental
Duration: 2.5 hours Cost: 450 MXN ($22)
It is possible to rent a car and drive to Chichen Itza for as low as 450 MXN ($22).
Hiring a car is a great option if you are travelling with more people as you can split the cost. It also gives you the freedom to stay for as long as you want and even visit some cenotes like the nearby Ik Kil, which was considered a sacred cenote in Mayan culture.
Keep in mind though that there are always extra costs when renting a car – like insurance, toll fees, and parking dues.
The roads on this side of the Yucatan Peninsula are paved, safe and with clear signs to direct you to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. You are to take highway 180 – there’s a local road and a toll road. The local 180 is, of course, free, but much slower. We think it’s well worth taking toll 180 instead to save on both time and stress.
To get the best rental rates you can compare prices on SkyScanner.
Extra costs when renting a car from Cancun to Chichen Itza
With the toll 180 going to Chichen Itza, you’ll have to pay 2 tolls – the first one costs 328 MXN ($16) and the second 80 MXN ($4) for a total of 408 MXN ($20).
As for the parking fee, expect to pay around 35 MXN ($1.70), already valid for the whole day.
Cancun to Chichen Itza by Day Trip
Duration: 12 hours Cost: 945 MXN ($46)
Joining a guided tour is a hassle-free way to learn more about the ancient Mayan Civilization. Chichen Itza tours are plenty, and you’ll find a variety of choices in Cancun. Depending on the package you choose, day trips to Chichen Itza normally include all or some of the following:
A visit to the Mayan ruins
Side trip to the nearby cenote of Ik Kil
Different tours have different offerings, so make sure you choose the best one for your travel style and budget. Also, we recommend you book some days in advance as organized tours from Cancun to Chichen Itza are often fully booked.
There are a number of local agencies offering Chichen Itza tours in Cancun. But for guaranteed trusted operators that offer an amazing full day tour, we recommend booking one through GetYourGuide. Rates start from 630 MXN ($31) for a basic tour that will take you to the archaeological site of Chichen Itza, as well as Ik Kil, and Valladolid. Buffet lunch is also included!
Keep in mind that day trip rates normally do not include the entrance ticket to the Mayan ruins, which costs 525 MXN ($26). But you can pay this through your operator so that you can skip the ticket line at the entrance.
Taking a flight is definitely the most scenic way to get from Cancun to Chichen Itza. You’ll get a chance to see the Yucatan Peninsula in all its glory. It will be a great change of scenery from the amusement parks of Cancun, across the Mayan jungle, and finally the archaeological site of Chichen Itza. Probably the grandest display of Mayan culture you’ll ever see!
Rates for an airplane tour start from 25,320 MXN ($1,250) for 2 persons. Quite expensive, yes. But it won’t be just a flight, it will be a full day tour that includes the following:
Roundtrip transfers between Cancun and Chichen Itza