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Tulum or Chichen Itza? How to Choose Between Two of Mexico’s Most Spectacular Ruins

TULUM VS CHICHEN ITZA

Tulum or Chichen Itza? How to Choose Between Two of Mexico’s Most Spectacular Ruins

You’ve decided to visit Mexico’s stunning Yucatan Peninsula and now face an enviable dilemma – should you explore the cliffside ruins of Tulum or the massive ancient city of Chichen Itza? Both offer a glimpse into the mysterious Mayan civilization that dominated the region over 1,000 years ago.

As you ponder this difficult choice between two of the most spectacular ruins in Mexico, consider what type of experience will thrill you the most. Either way, get ready for an adventure you’ll never forget! The Mayan ruins await your discovery.

Tulum or Chichen Itza: Which is better?

Comparing the Histories and Architectures of Tulum and Chichen Itza

If you’re trying to decide between visiting the spectacular Tulum ruins or the world-famous Chichen Itza on your trip to Mexico, we don’t blame you! Both are stunning ancient Maya sites with their own unique appeal. Here are some factors to consider:

Architecture

Chichen Itza is home to one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the magnificent step pyramid known as El Castillo – Kukulkan pyarmid. This intricate structure demonstrates the architectural and astronomical genius of the Maya. Tulum’s ruins are much smaller but feature dramatic sea cliffs and beach vistas.

Historical Significance

As a large Maya city from 600-1200 AD, Chichen Itza was an important center of trade and politics. Tulum was a walled city and major port between 1200 to 1521 AD. Visiting either site offers a glimpse into the fascinating Maya civilization.

With jaw-dropping ancient architecture, insights into Maya history, and natural scenery, you really can’t go wrong with either Tulum or Chichen Itza. Why not see them both? A visit to these world-class destinations will create lifelong memories.

tulum
View from Tulum ruins cliff
Chichen Itza main temple

The Practical Considerations: Location, Crowds, and Accessibility

If you’re torn between visiting the spectacular ruins of Tulum or Chichen Itza, let the practical details help make your choice!

Location

Chichen Itza is located in the heart of the Yucatan peninsula, about 2 hours from Tulum, 3h from Playa del Carmen or Cancun, and also 2 hours from Merida. The site is incredibly convenient to reach by car, with a route that is straightforward and simple to navigate. However, Wonder of the World means big crowds, especially in high season.

Tulum, on the other hand, is just 15 minutes from the town of Tulum on the coast, and one hour from Playa del Carmen, 2 hours from Cancun. Arrive early, around 8 am, to beat the worst of the crowds and enjoy the best views.

Crowds

Chichen Itza receives over 2 million visitors per year, so go early and be prepared for big crowds, especially around El Castillo. The smaller Tulum site has fewer visitors and a more relaxed vibe. Both can be done as day trips from Cancun or Playa del Carmen, or as an overnight stay.

Guided Tours

At Chichen Itza, guided tours typically last over 2 hours to explore the expansive site. Tulum’s guided tours usually wrap up in under an hour, given the smaller area. If you want an in-depth look at Mayan history, Chichen Itza may have the edge. For a quicker taste of the culture, Tulum can’t be beat.

Climate

Chichen Itza’s inland setting means hot weather most of the year, while sea breezes keep Tulum’s temperatures pleasantly moderate. So if beating the heat is a concern, coastal Tulum may be more comfortable, especially in the summer.

With stunning ruins, rich history, and natural beauty surrounding you, you really can’t go wrong with either site. But considering the location, accessibility, crowds, and climate can help determine whether Tulum or Chichen Itza is the perfect choice for your Yucatan adventure!

Tulum Mayan ruins aerial
tulum to chichen itza
Chichen Itza early morning

Tulum or Chichen Itza final choice?

So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, book your tickets, and get yourself to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula for an adventure you’ll never forget. Whether you choose the paradise beaches and ancient ruins of Tulum or the grandeur and scale of Chichen Itza, you can’t go wrong. Experience the magic of the Maya for yourself – climb the Castillo, swim in a cenote, witness a perfect sunset. 

The mysteries of this ancient civilization await you. Throw yourself into the adventure – you only live once, so make it a trip to remember!

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Mateo

Mateo

Meet Mateo: Your Tulum Insider Mateo, a passionate travel blogger, is your go-to source for all things Tulum. He uncovers the town's hidden gems and shares invaluable travel tips to make your Tulum experience extraordinary. Beyond his blog, Mateo collaborates with local experts to bring Tulum's culture and history to life. His passion for sustainable travel is evident, as he champions responsible tourism practices that protect the environment and support the local community. With Mateo as your guide, you'll unlock the secrets of Tulum and embark on a journey that transcends the ordinary and leaves you with memories to cherish for a lifetime.
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