A beautiful evening in the Chichen Itza archaeological zone

Chichen Itzá is an easy drive of only about two-and-a-half hours from Cancun, which is one of Mexico’s primary tourist destinations. That proximity contributes to Chichen Itza being the second-most visited of Mexico’s archaeological sites. Last year, about 2.6 million tourists from all over the world visited Chichen Itza. That’s an average of about 7,000 visitors per day.

So you’re most likely going to be visiting Chichen Itza with other people, maybe a lot of other people. Make the most of your visit by going where and when the crowds aren’t.

If you can drive yourself there, you can definitely avoid much of the daily crowding by being there either before or after the busloads of tourists come in from Cancun and Merida (a city of about 800,000 that’s an hour-and-a-half away).

Because almost all of those buses are going to be there in the middle of the day, you can try to get there before them and beat the crowds into the site. Or you can wait until after lunch and go after the tourists head back to their respective starting points.

I did that and wound up being there when there were only about 30 or 40 other people around. AND I got to watch the sun set on El Castillo.

The Mayan observatory at Chichen Itza.
The sun sets behind El Castillo at Chichen Itza.
The Edificio de las Monjas (The Nunnery) at Chichen Itza.
The stairs of El Castillo.
The Tomb of the High Priest (Tumba del Gran Sacerdote) at Chichen Itza.
The sun sets on El Castillo at Chichen Itza on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.