How to Get from Cancun to Chichen Itza: 6 Great Options

Are you wondering how to get from Cancun to Chichen Itza? If so, this post is for you!

Learn all the different ways to reach one of the new seven wonders of the world from Cancun, including by public transportation, private shuttle, group or private tour, and more.

Ancient temples, sacred cenotes, and masks carved from stone await visitors to Chichén Itzá. This Mayan city dates back to the pre-Columbian era and offers intriguing insights into the life, beliefs, sciences, and culture of bygone peoples.

The Maya of old were master astronomers, mathematicians, engineers, and artists. They also played interesting athletic games on the great ball court.

Chichen Itza – El Castillo

No trip to the Yucatán Peninsula would be complete without spending at least a few hours exploring this UNESCO world heritage site!

But how do you get there?

Let’s dive in!

In a rush? Check out the top-rated tour from Cancun to Chichen Itza!

Where is Chichen Itza Located?

Chichen Itza is located in the state of Yucatan in eastern Mexico. It is roughly halfway between Mérida, Yucatan, and Cancún, Quintana Roo. In general, it takes 2.5 to 3 hours to reach Chichen Itza from Cancun and the rest of the Riviera Maya.

How to get from Cancun to Chichen Itza

You can get from Cancun to Chichen Itza by tour, rental car, private transportation, and ADO bus. Keep reading to learn about each option in depth and choose the one that suits you best.

1. Cancun To Chichen Itza by Tour

One of the most popular ways to get to Cancun from Chichen Itza is to go on a day tour of the ancient Mayan city. Tour options can vary from large group tours with jam-packed itineraries to private customizable tours which give you the freedom to choose your own schedule.

Top Chichen Itza tours from Cancun

➡️ Chichen Itza, Cenote and Valladolid All-Inclusive Tour

  • 5 ⭐️ rating – over 10000 reviews
  • Duration: 12 hours

If you’re in the market for Chichen Itza tours from Cancun, this all-inclusive excursion to the ancient city could be a great choice.

See all the stops on this full-day tour, including visiting the Temple of Kukulkan at Chichen Itza, swimming in the cool waters of Saamal Cenote, and eating a mouth-watering Mexican buffet lunch. Next, you’ll visit Valladolid where you can learn some Spanish colonial history and wander scenic streets.

This tour includes hotel pickup and dropoff, transportation, a certified guide who speaks English and Spanish, entrance fees to the cenote, and a buffet meal. Beverages, the Chichen Itza entrance fee, lockers, life jackets, and tips are not included.

Tip: Don’t forget to pack your bathing suit and a water bottle!

What other clients say:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Excellent day trip

This is a long day trip of around twelve hours but well worth it. We had Osvaldo as our driver and Martin as our guide (Group 13) both were excellent. We started at Chichen Itza where Martin gave us a tour of the site with a lot on information about the history of the site and the Mayan people. We then visited Cenote with swimming and lunch. Then a short visit to Valladolid town square. Martin gave excellent information on the history and practical information for the day. Thoroughly recommend this tour.

Andrew_S, Jan 2023
Chichen Itza Temple detail

➡️ Chichen Itza English Tour, Buffet Lunch, Cenote,Tequila tasting & Valladolid

  • 4.5 stars rating – Over 6,310 Reviews – Badge of Excellence
  • Duration 12 hours

Another wonderful tour to Chichen Itza from Cancun is this tour of Chichen Itza, Valladolid, and a cenote. It includes a buffet lunch and tequila tasting. Oh yeah!

Start your day off with hotel pickup followed by comfortable transportation to Chichen Itza, the most important city of the Mayan culture. Once you’re there, you’ll see all the most interesting structures such as El Castillo, the Temple of the Warriors, and the Sacred Cenote.

By then, the weather will have warmed up and you’ll be ready for a refreshing swim at a cenote. Enjoy a yummy lunch, tequila tasting, and a quick stop in the colonial city of Valladolid.

Finish the day with transport back to your hotel. Talk about a wonderful day trip!

What other clients say:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Wonderful Experience

Wonderful experience for the family. We planned this trip over a year ago and knew that Chichen Itza must be a stop on our trip to Cancun. We were not disappointed.

Chris_J, Jan 2023

➡️ Chichen Itza Express

Duration: Approx 8 hours

Let’s face it, adding all those extra stops can get exhausting, especially when you have the heat and the crowds to contend with. That’s where the Chichen Itza Express tour comes in! On this simple and straightforward tour, you’ll be transported from your hotel directly to the capital of the Mayan world.

During the drive, you’ll learn lots of interesting facts about Chichen Itza and the people who lived there.

Spend two hours exploring the ruins, first with a tour guide and then on your own. Eat your included box lunch whenever you get hungry.

Once your time is finished, you’ll hop back into the air-conditioned vehicle for the return trip to your hotel. You should be back in Cancún by 3 pm with time to relax and recharge. This is one of the best top-rated Chichen Itza tours available

➡️ Private Chichen Itza Tour

Duration: 10 hours

If you would like to visit Chichen Itza and have complete freedom over your itinerary, this tour may be just the thing.

Start the day with an early pickup from your hotel so you can beat the crowds with an 8 am arrival, well before standard group tours start pouring in. (Of course, you can also choose to go later in the day if you hate mornings).

Explore the ruins at your leisure and at your own pace. You can choose when you want to leave and what you want to do next. Want to eat lunch at a specific restaurant? You can do that! Visit an off-the-beaten-track cenote? Head to Cenote Ik Kil like most tourists? It’s up to you!

This tour includes an English-speaking driver, private transportation in an air-conditioned vehicle, and a cooler with ice, water, and beer.

➡️ Luxury Private Chichen Itza Tour

Duration: 10 hours

If you want to travel to Chichen Itza in style, this Luxury Private Chichen Itza Tour from Cancun will do the job nicely. This tour is exactly like the private tour listed above, but with an added benefit: you’ll be transported in a comfy Suburban.

Suburbans may be gas-guzzlers, but man are they comfortable for long trips! Cushy seats, plenty of legroom, and great air conditioning await!

This private tour includes an English-speaking driver, water and beer, and a fully customizable itinerary. You have ten hours to spend as you will!

Pros and Cons of Chichen Itza tours from Cancun

Pros of Chichen Itza tours

The advantage of going on a Chichen Itza tour is that you don’t have to worry about transportation. Many tours include pickup and drop-off from the hotel zone, transportation in an air-conditioned vehicle, a guided tour of the ancient Mayan civilization, and extra stops. 

Another benefit of going on a tour is that the price often includes entrance fees, bottled water, a buffet lunch, and a bilingual guide. An organized tour is undoubtedly the most convenient option for getting from Cancun to Chichen Itza.

Cons of Chichen Itza tour

One of the cons of going on a tour is that most of them are not customizable, unless you go private, of course. That means that you are herded along from one activity to another on a strict schedule.

While you’ll get to see the main structures at Chichen Itza (such as the iconic pyramid of El Castillo), you won’t be able to explore the complex fully or travel around at your own pace.

Some travelers also find the jam-packed itinerary exhausting. Many tours to Chichen Itza last 12 hours. If you prefer to take your time doing things, you may be better off skipping a tour or going with a private customizable tour option.

Now that you know the pros and cons of these kinds of excursions, here are the five top tours to the archaeological site of Chichen Itza.

Chichen Itza observatorio
Chichen Itza Observatorio

2. Cancun to Chichen Itza by car rental

If you don’t like the idea of going on any of the available Chichen Itza tours from Cancun, you could choose to rent a car instead to visit the ancient ruins.

Although renting a car might sound scary or difficult to some travelers, it could be a great option. Read the pros and cons listed below to find out if a rental car would be a good choice for you.

Personally, this is my top favorite way to travel around Cancun and the entire Yucatan Peninsula, besides other parts of Mexico.

Pros and cons of a car rental

The main advantage of going to Chichen Itza by car rental is that you will have complete freedom over your time and itinerary.

It also gives you the freedom to spend several days in the region. If you are a history buff, you won’t be limited to a mere couple of hours at Chichen Itza.

You can hit off-the-beaten-track and less-touristy destinations, explore more in-depth, spend the night in Valladolid, and travel on quieter local roads if you choose. You can even find all the best cenotes.

The con of a car rental is that there are a few scams and pitfalls to be aware of before signing on the dotted line.

Although the roads to Chichen Itza from Cancun are in good shape, you’ll still need to drive in Mexico. Some travelers find that daunting, especially if they don’t speak the language.

Fortunately, all of these cons are manageable with the right information. Read on to find out everything you need to know to rent a car like a pro and drive in Mexico without incident.

colorful colonial town of Valladolid
Valladolid – Mexico

Car Rental to Chichen Itza costs

A car rental to Chichen Itza can cost anywhere from $30 to $70 per day. The total price will vary depending on how many days you rent the car, the time of year, how old you are, and the make and model of the car you rent.

In case you don’t have your favorite car rental company, recommend booking with Discover Cars because it allows you to compare different rates from many companies so that you can decide which one is best for you.

Also, Discover Cars has more than 80.000 Reviews on Trust Pilot with an average of 4.5/5 ⭐️

They also offer insurance, it’s cheaper than car rentals but, of course, it has its faults as well. Make sure you read their policy before purchasing it.

Car rental tips 

✔️ One of the most common problems people encounter when renting a car is hidden costs.

If you find what looks like a too-good-to-be-true daily rate, it IS too good-to be true. The price you see is likely the base rate minus mandatory liability insurance, taxes, etc.

✔️ Make sure you have enough of a credit limit on your credit cards in order to cover the security deposit.

✔️ Rent through Discover Cars to find the cheapest rates, and opt to pay a little more for full coverage insurance.

✔️ Take photos of the entire car–both inside and out–and make note of any damages, the fuel level, etc. Repeat the process when you return the car.

✔️ Re-fuel before returning the car to avoid extra charges.

Ik Kil Cenote
Ik Kil Cenote – Chichen Itza

Driving tips

 ► Drive Defensively – Expect the unexpected when driving in Mexico. Keep a careful eye on other drivers and don’t expect them to follow traffic laws. Be alert to obstacles in the road such as large speed bumps, deep potholes, animals, children, and vendors.

 ►Be wary of bus drivers and taxis – bus and taxi drivers tend to be the most aggressive of all the drivers on the road. Keep your cool and let them pass you.

 ► Avoid driving at night –Drunk driving, poor lighting, and cars without headlights are common at night. Most accidents occur after dark.

 ► Be prepared –Have a working cell phone with an off-line maps program enabled, extra cash for emergencies, and emergency phone numbers handy.

 ► Prevent theft –Pay to leave your car in a secure parking lot rather than in the street.

Mot Mot Birds in Chichen Itza
Mot Mot Birds at the Grand Cenote in Chichen Itza

3. From Cancun to Chichen Itza by private transportation

Another one of the best options for getting from Cancun to Chichén Itzá is by private transportation.

My favorite choice for a private transfer is Cancun Airport Transportation, which offers a wonderful trip to the most important city of the Mayan culture.

Much like an organized tour, this private option will give you access to an English-speaking driver and an air-conditioned vehicle during your journey to and from Chichen Itza.

You’ll also have the freedom to change the departure times and itinerary so you can get to the ruins first thing.

You can choose to add a trip to one or more of the natural sinkholes in the area and eat a delicious buffet lunch at a top-rated restaurant.

Pros of private transportation to Chichen Itza from Cancun

The pro of private transportation is that you won’t have to drive yourself or go through the hassle of renting a car. Your driver can fill you in on the rich history of the ruins, and facts about Mexico during the drive. You can also take pit stops whenever you wish.

This is probably the easiest way to get from Cancun to Chichen Itza! Save yourself the exhaustion of a long drive. Instead, you can enjoy the scenery or nap along the way!

Private transportation puts you in charge of the day, all the stops, and how long you spend at each beautiful place.

Cons of taking private transportation to Chichen Itza

The cons of taking private transportation are that it is one of the more expensive travel methods (though cheaper than the luxury option of traveling in a private plane!).

Chichen Itza Vendors
Vendors in Chichen Itza

Take the ADO Bus to Chichen Itza

If you are on a budget or enjoy traveling local style, taking a public bus will get you to Chichén Itzá for the best price. I recommend traveling on an ADO bus.

ADO bus tickets are available online. You can choose which ADO bus station to leave from in Cancún, and travel backpacker style. 

Pros and cons of traveling by ADO buses

One of the main pros of traveling to Chichen Itza by bus is the price. This method can cost as little as 13 USD per person one way. The buses are safe, clean, reliable, and equipped with air-conditioning and bathrooms.

One of the cons is that the travel time will be longer. Because of the bus schedules, you won’t arrive at Chichen Itza until the afternoon. If you plan to return the same day, you won’t have much time to spend at the ruins. (Although spending the night nearby could be a nice option).

You will also need to factor in the extra costs of the entry fee and a local guide (if you choose to hire one) and hiring a guide on-site is more expensive than joining a guided tour with everything included.

Factor in plenty of time to check in at the bus station, as things can be a little bit disorganized.

Chichen Itza grand Cenote - Cancun to Chichen itza
Cancun to Chichen Itza

Cancun to Chichen Itza FAQ

Is it safe to go to Chichen Itza from Cancun?

It is considered relatively safe to go to the Chichen Itza ruins. Since they are one of Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations, security is usually quite good.

The local roads are usually in pretty good condition and are well-marked (especially if you take the toll roads). Toll roads are guarded by the federal police.

One thing to note once you reach “the heart of the Maya world” is that there are many many aggressive vendors on site. This can detract from your feelings of safety, but just be firm in your “no.”

Is visiting Chichen Itza worth it?

Yes! If you have any interest in Mayan history and culture, it is absolutely worth it to visit this famous archeological site.

Although you’ll have to contend with masses of people, sometimes aggressive vendors, and extreme heat, visiting Chichen Itza is an experience unlike any other.

If you find an expert and enthusiastic guide, the experience will be even more worth it. Some guides do an incredible job of explaining the history and beliefs of the ancients in an engaging manner.

This “city of the water sorcerers” covered 4 square miles, so there is plenty to discover and explore!

Chichen Itza Serpent
Chichen Itza Serpent

Can you go to Chichen Itza without a tour?

Absolutely! You can visit the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza without a tour. Some travelers prefer this method.

Although it requires a little more logistics on your end, the experience can end up being a lot more pleasant. You’ll have more freedom to decide how to spend your day.

First, choose your favorite method of getting from the Riviera Maya or Cancun to Chichen Itza on your own.

Pay your entrance fees online in advance so you don’t have to wait in line. Book a guide if you wish. Remember to pack sunscreen, plenty of water, snacks, and pesos.

Is Chichen Itza cash only?

Many blogs claim that the only way to pay at Chichen Itza is by cash. 

Technically, Chichen Itza is not cash only. However, there is no guarantee that you can pay the entrance fee with a foreign credit card. The card readers don’t always work, and the ATMs can be unreliable.

It is a good idea to go prepared to pay in cash if you need to. After all, you wouldn’t want to go all that way to see the Maya civilization of Chichen Itza and then have trouble getting in.

One of the best things to do is to pay for your entrance tickets online in advance.

How to get from Cancun to Chichen Itza: Final thoughts

As you can see, there are many great ways to visit the Chichen Itza ruins.

You can opt for one of the many excellent Chichen Itza tours from Cancun, rent a car, book private transportation, or travel by bus. All of these options have different advantages and disadvantages.

The important thing is that you are happy with your choice and have an awesome time at the ruins.

So what do you think? Which method will you choose to get from Cancun to Chichen Itza?

About the Author

Hey there! This is Isabella, the owner, and writer of this site. I have been living in Cancun for the past 12 years and although I have been roaming around Mexico, Cancun’s spectacular turquoise waters and pristine beach draw me back to this popular Mexican beach destination. That is why I decided to start this blog, to show you all the beauty you can find in Cancun and share helpful travel tips to help you plan a fabulous vacation in Cancun!

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