Tulum, Mexico is an incredible place for a beach getaway, perfectly mixing boho chic vibes with a bit of luxury. But if you’re looking to dive a bit deeper into Mexico’s culture and history, you’re luckily just a few short hours away from one of the most important cities in the ancient Mayan civilization, Chichen Itza. Here’s 10 of the best Chichen Itza tours from Tulum, so you can explore Mexico’s Wonder of the World for yourself!
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Chichen Itza is centrally located in the Yucatan Peninsula, renowned for its stunning beaches and dreamy destinations, like Tulum, Bacalar, Playa del Carmen, and Merida. However, this ancient city is nestled deep in the heart of the Yucatanian jungle and located at least a couple hours away from all of the most popular resort cities. For example, Chichen Itza is a two-hour drive from Tulum—one-way!
So unless you have a rental car during your visit, the easiest (and best!) way to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site is by going on a tour. Not only will you not have to worry about transportation, but you’ll also get a knowledgeable guide that’s brimming with fascinating factoids about the incredible Mayan civilization and get to explore some of the beautiful cenotes and towns outside of Tulum.
So with that, let’s talk Chichen Itza tours from Tulum!
Best Chichen Itza Tours from Tulum
Small group Chichen Itza tours from Tulum:
I love going on small group tours—they’re small enough that you can, you know, actually hear and interact with your guide and the other guests, but tend to be a bit more affordable than totally private tours.
- Chichen Itza, Cenote and Valladolid Small Group Tour: On this tour, you’ll be transported to the ancient city bright and early before the mass crowds arrive. Your knowledgeable guide will take you on a tour of the city, expertly sharing stories about the incredible ruins in front of you while thoughtfully playing hosts (like finding the best shaded spots to view the structures).
After Chichen Itza, you’ll head to the colorful colonial city of Valladolid to explore and enjoy an authentic and delicious lunch of Yucatanian dishes.
The last stop of the day is Cenote Xux Ha, a stunning underground pool, complete with dramatic stalactites and crystal clear water. This is one of my favorite aspects of this tour—this cenote is definitely off the beaten tourist path and there’s a decent chance your group will get it all to themselves!
Private Chichen Itza tours from Tulum:
Want something a bit more personal?
Whether you’re traveling as part of a big group, visiting with older or younger travelers, or just simply want to treat yourself, going on a private tour can make your trip to the ancient city that much more incredible. Not only will you get the one-on-one attention of your tour guide, you often get to customize the tour exactly how you’d want!
- VIP Chichen Itza & Coba Private Tour: If you’re a history buff, this is the tour for you! You’ll head not only to Mexico’s Wonder of the World, but also the Coba Ruins. The city was once as powerful as Chichen Itza, but it’s believed that an ongoing battle between the two cities eventually led to Coba’s downfall.
You’ll be picked up via private transport and whisked to Chichen Itza before the other giant tour groups arrive. Your guide will provide helpful context behind the Mayan ruins and you’ll also have plenty of time to explore the site on your own.
Next up is Cenote Chukum, a cenote that was recently opened near Valladolid. For years, this underground cenote was simply used as a well, as engineers couldn’t figure out how to safely get down to its deep pool. After heavily investing in the cenote’s infrastructure, though, you can now enjoy its cool waters for yourself. This is the perfect stop for adventure lovers, thanks to the cenote’s zipline and diving platforms that you can jump from (kids LOVE this place!).
You’ll end the day with a private tour of the Coba Ruins, which, similar to Chichen Itza, was home to 50,000 Mayans at its peak. But one of the main differences with the two sites is that you can actually climb on some of the ruins at Coba, including its 137-foot tall Nohoch Mul Pyramid, the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula. Live out your best Indiana Jones life, friend!
- Skip the Line Chichen Itza Private Tour with Sacred Cenote: If you’re not quite as enthusiastic about Mayan ruins, but instead want to have a sampler platter of different experiences on your excursion from Tulum, check out this tour.
It has a very similar itinerary to the one above, stopping at Chichen Itza and Cenote Chukum, but ends the day with exploring the vibrant pueblo magico of Valladolid (instead of the Coba ruins).
The guides with this company are so accommodating and awesome at customizing the tour to suit your group’s needs, whether it’s finding a cool spot to sit in the shade for older travelers (it gets HOT at Chichen Itza, y’all!) or finding the best Instagram spots for your teenagers with short attention spans.
- VIP Chichen Itza Private Tour: On this tour, you’ll be picked up in your own luxury car and taken to Chichen Itza bright and early. You’ll have the flexibility of having your own private tour and peppering your enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide with as many questions about the ancient Mayan civilization as you have.
From here, you’ll head to Cenote Oxman, one of my favorite cenotes around Valladolid, with cool, turquoise water and dramatic vines hanging down from its rim.
The last stop of the tour is exploring the cobblestone streets of Valladolid and stopping at a local restaurant for some fresh and authentic Yucatanian food before heading back to Tulum for the day.
Group Chichen Itza Tours from Tulum:
Not about that bougie private tour life? If you’re traveling on a budget or just prefer to go as part of a larger group, there’s plenty of tour options for you to consider.
- Chichen Itza, Cenote and Valladolid All-Inclusive Tour: This tour is consistently highly rated, thanks to its enthusiastic guides and the clean and comfortable transportation. You’ll head first to Chichen Itza and receive a half-hour tour from your friendly guide, with time afterward for you to explore on your own.
Next, you’ll head to Cenote Saamal, one of the most stunning cenotes near Chichen Itza, with beautiful vines and a waterfall cascading from the rim. You’ll get a buffet lunch here—while buffets can be a bit hit or miss at tourist destinations, this one is actually surprisingly delicious!
You’ll end the tour with a stop in the center of Valladolid, to see its beautiful church, Iglesia De San Servacio, from the 1500s and peruse the charming shops and street vendors around its main square.
- Chichen Itza Tour, Buffet Lunch, Cenote, Tequila tasting & Valladolid: If you’re looking to do ALL OF THE THINGS on a tour, check out this one.
You’ll stop first for breakfast at a hotel, before making your way to Chichen Itza by mid-day, for a guided tour plus time to walk around by yourself.
Next up, you’ll then stop at Cenote Chichikan, a stunning sunken pool that’s off the beaten tourist path. There’s a good chance your group will have this cenote to yourselves! In addition to swimming in its cool waters, you’ll also have a tasty buffet lunch and the option to do a tequila tasting here!
Finally, you’ll end the day with a bit of time to explore Valladolid and its charming main square.
I love how many activities you can enjoy on this tour, but the one major drawback I’d flag is that you won’t get to Chichen Itza until around noon, when it’s at its busiest. Your schedule is a bit wonky (e.g., you won’t eat lunch until 3 pm or so), so I’d suggest bringing along some snacks and water to keep you energized as you explore all of the sites.
- Chichen Itza Early Access, Unexplored Yaxunah, Cenote & Buffet Lunch: If you’re a history buff but prefer a group tour to a private one, consider this tour option from Tulum. You’ll get to Chichen Itza way earlier than on most tour groups, so you’ll get to enjoy your guided tour in relative peace and quiet.
From here, you’ll head to Yaxunah, a tiny Mayan village that’s also home to ruins that are a whopping 500 years older than Chichen Itza! This stop is cool and SUPER unique as compared to most group tours—there’s a good chance you’ll not only be the only tour group there, but also the only tourists at all!
You’ll stop at a local hotel for lunch and end your day at Cenote Saamal. You can enjoy cooling off in the turquoise waters and even decide to do a tequila tasting here if you’re feeling a bit spicy!
- Chichen Itza, Cenote & Valladolid Tour: If you’re looking for an affordable tour, this one is a bit cheaper than the standard tour, but includes a lot of the same stops, including a tour with friendly and knowledgeable guides at Chichen Itza, a stop at Cenote Saamal, and exploring the colorful main square of Valladolid.
If you’re looking to learn a lot about the Mayans, one of my favorite things about this tour is how long the guided portion of the Chichen Itza stop is, clocking in around an hour and a half. While you’ll have a bit less time to explore on your own, this is a fantastic option for a traveler who really wants to dive deep into Mayan history and culture.
- Chichen Itza Classic Tour: Another tour option with the classic stops—Chichen Itza, Cenote Saamal, and Valladolid. This is a good alternative to the tour above if you’d prefer to have a bit more time to explore Chichen Itza on your own, with an hour to mosey around, explore, and take photos of the sites at your leisure.
- Chichén Itzá Premier Tour with Hubiku Cenote & Valladolid: Wanna see all of the standard tour stops, but maybe see something a bit off-the-beaten path? If you might have noticed, a LOT of the tour groups stop at Cenote Saamal, which is stunningly beautiful, but can feel a bit touristy.
On this tour, you’ll first hit Chichen Itza with your knowledgeable guide. But once you’re ready to cool off for the day, you’ll head to a unique cenote, Hubiku Cenote, an underground pool with a small opening in its roof, with epic light rays beaming down and dramatic vines hanging to the water. This spot generally flies under the mass tourism radar, so you’ll be able to enjoy the water mostly to yourself. Afterwards, you’ll enjoy a buffet lunch and something else unique about this tour—an open bar (salud)!
You’ll end the day with a quick stop in Valladolid if you want to try one of the street vendors or pop into a shop for a quick souvenir, before heading back to Tulum.
Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting Chichen Itza
What is Chichen Itza?
If you’ve made it this far, I assume you have a pretty good idea what Chichen Itza is, but just in case, it’s an ancient Mayan city that was built sometime between 400-600 AD. Because of its location near cenotes, which provided precious drinking water, the city rose to prominence, with 50,000 inhabitants at its height.
It’s not clear what caused this mighty city to fall, although most historians postulate that the area experienced a catastrophic drought sometime between the 12th and 15th century. Eventually, its inhabitants left behind its buildings, leaving them to be overtaken by the jungle.
While locals knew of Chichen Itza’s existence, the city was largely forgotten about to the outside world until two explorers stumbled across it in 1841. They published their experience with the majestic ruins of this once mighty city, which sparked the wanderlust of adventure seekers around the world.
Ever since then, Chichen Itza has become a popular destination for travelers and history enthusiasts, earning the title of a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1988 and a new Wonder of the World in 2007.
Can you visit Chichen Itza by yourself?
Of course! You’ll just need a rental car and the four hour round trip drive time from Tulum to Chichen Itza and back again. In fact, my husband, Justin, and I have previously driven to Chichen Itza by ourselves and had a perfectly pleasant time navigating to and around the ruins by ourselves.
Of course, there’s definitely some benefits of going on one of the guided Chichen Itza tours as opposed to just heading there yourself.
- The most important benefit is that you’ll actually have the historical and cultural context to appreciate the buildings and monuments left behind by the Mayans. While this archeological site is certainly impressive to wander around, there’s only so much that you can get out of looking at a tower of stones if you’re visiting Chichen Itza by yourself, without knowing the story behind who put them there and why.
The ancient city is SO much more fascinating when you learn a bit more about the engineering and thought behind each of its structures. Like, for example, that the famous El Castillo pyramid has 91 steps on each of its sides (and one at the top) to total 365 for all of the days in the solar calendar—pretty wild, huh?
- You’ll have to drive yourself! While driving in the Yucatan is definitely manageable, some travelers may feel a bit uneasy doing so, due to slightly different traffic laws, dodgy police, and the possibility of running into ne’er-do-wells on the road. While I think all of these risks are WAY overblown by the media, there’s definitely perks to someone else worrying about the driving (like, for example, getting to take a luxurious car nap after your early morning wake up call).
- Chichen Itza is incredibly impressive but I’m going to let you in on a secret- the vendors are preeeeetty insistent here, constantly (and shamelessly) trying to get your attention.
If you’re with a tour guide, they’ll more or less leave you alone. If you’re by yourself, on the other hand, be prepared to be AGGRESSIVELY peddled tchotchkes and having the omnipresent jaguar whistle, which makes a sound akin to a dying cat, blown in your face. And yup, it’s just as annoying as it sounds!
- You’ll be supporting and getting to know a local, who not only knows tons of information about the Mayans, but what it’s like to live and work in the Yucatan. And that’s kind of the whole point of traveling, right?
I hope this gives you a few ideas of which Chichen Itza tours from Tulum you should check out. Do you have any questions about the tours above or visiting Chichen Itza? Let me know in the comments below.