Uxmal (Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico): The Definitive guide + Tips

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How to visit Uxmal (Mérida) in 2024

Uxmal is a stunning archaeological site in Yucatan, in the Merida region.

It was a powerful Maya city that had a strong alliance with Chichén Itzá, but it only lasted from the 7th to the 10th centuries. You can admire the amazing architectural details that are still well preserved.

This handy guide to Uxmal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, will tell you everything you need to know about the highlights, how to get there by yourself or with a tour, and where to stay.

Best things to see and do in Uxmal

1. Discover Puuc architecture

Uxmal is my favorite Mayan site in terms of architecture.

It’s the best example of the Puuc style, which features long buildings decorated with carved stones.

“Puuc” also means some hills in the area that have fertile soil.

Because of this fertile soil, many cities were built in the region: there were 150 cities in total, and the main ones were Uxmal, Kabah, and Sayil, which had up to 500,000 people!

You can visit them by following the Puuc Route.

My advice
 The easiest way to visit the Puuc Route is by car.

But if you don’t have one, you can take a bus from Merida (only on Sundays) at 8am that stops at the 5 archaeological sites of the Puuc Route (Labna, Xlapak, Sayil, Kabah, and Uxmal).

You get about 30 minutes at each site, except Uxmal (2h). The bus comes back to Mérida at 4 pm. 

arquitectura uxmal
arquitectura uxmal
arquitectura estilo puuc
puuc style architecture

2. The Pyramid of the Magician

The Pyramid of the Magician is the first thing that catches your eye when you arrive at Uxmal.

It’s the main pyramid of Uxmal and one of the most important Maya structures, along with Chichén Itzá and Tikal in Guatemala. It stands 121 ft tall, 262 ft long, and 180 ft wide.

Unfortunately, you can’t climb it, but I bet the view would be awesome!

uxmal-mexico
The Pyramid of the Magician, Uxmal
pirámide adivino uxmal
pyramid of the magician in uxmal

3. The Great Pyramid

The Great Pyramid, a stunning structure in Uxmal, measures about 262 feet in length and 98 feet in height.

A temple crowns its summit: the Temple of the Guacamayas was named after the colorful macaws (guacamayas) that adorn its cornice and frets.

Watch out!
It’s a shame that you can’t climb the Great Pyramid in Uxmal anymore, but I can assure you that it was an amazing experience! 

 

great pyramid uxmal
The Great Pyramid, Uxmal
Gran Pirámide Uxmal
Climbing the Great Pyramid of Uxmal

4. The Governor’s Palace

The Governor’s Palace in Uxmal is a masterpiece of Mayan sculpture and architecture, with glyphs of Venus, masks of Chac and two-headed snakes. It is on a hill with three terraces and has a throne of a king with snakes and masks.

Important
Unfortunately, since 2020 access to the buildings of Uxmal is prevented, but the palace offered a spectacular view of the surroundings and a perfect place to photograph. 
Palacio del Gobernador Uxmal
Palacio del Gobernador Uxmal

5. The other important structures

Uxmal has many other important structures to see, such as the Quadrangle of the Birds, the Nunnery Quadrangle, the House of the Turtles, and the ball court.

Cuadrángulo de las Monjas uxmal
Cuadrángulo de las Monjas uxmal

uxmal en méxico

uxmal
Details of Uxmal
juego de pelota uxmal
ball game uxmal

6. The chocolate museum of Uxmal

If you love chocolate, you should visit the Choco-Story chocolate museum, which is right across from Uxmal.

You enter through a big house that looks like the old Uxmal hacienda, which used to be a major sugar plantation in the area.

The museum is more than just a building, it’s also a jungle garden that you can explore by following its paths.

Here you will see several small huts showing how cocoa is processed, as well as monkeys, jaguars, and rescued birds.

You can also watch a ceremony in honor of the god Chaac, and taste some traditional Mayan chocolate.

It’s a fun thing to do with kids in Mérida, but adults will enjoy it too.

Personally, this is one of my favorite places in the Mérida region because it’s so beautiful. And I always end up buying too much chocolate from their store! 😋

  • Admission 180 pesos, 110 pesos for seniors over 60, 80 pesos for children between 6 and 12, or free for children under 6
  • Free parking
  • Open from 9:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

If you want to make the most of your visit to Uxmal, you can also book a tour from Mérida that includes not only the archaeological site, but also the chocolate museum, lunch, and a cenote! Book it here:

museo chocolate uxmal
museo chocolate uxmal

7. Hacienda Uxmal Resort

If you want to stay near Uxmal, you should check out the Hacienda Uxmal, Plantation and Museum. It’s a historic hotel across from Uxmal, right next to the chocolate museum.

The hotel has hosted famous guests like Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Rainier of Monaco, and Jackie Kennedy.

It’s a hacienda-style complex with an outdoor pool, a large garden with fruit trees, and trails.

Some tours to Uxmal include access to its pool so you can cool off after your visit, but if you have time, I suggest you spend a night there. It’s a very nice place with excellent service.

The rooms are air-conditioned, comfortable, and they have 2 restaurants that serve traditional Yucatecan Mayan food.

hacienda uxmal hotel
hacienda uxmal hotel

8. The Mayan Planetarium

Uxmal’s Mayan Planetarium is right on the road, at the same entrance as the Chocolate Museum.

It shows a presentation about the Mayan cities of Uxmal, Chichen Itza, Tikal, and Palenque, and the importance of certain stars in the design of the pyramids.

It’s a very interesting presentation that also gives you a chance to enjoy air conditioning, something you’ll really appreciate in Yucatán! 😉

planetario uxmal
Uxmal’s planetarium. Photo from website

Practical information to visit Uxmal

Here are some tips to help you make the most of your visit to Uxmal:

  • Open from 8 am to 5 pm
  • The entrance fee is 531 pesos for foreigners
  • If you want to hire a guide at Uxmal (optional), it will cost 700 pesos in Spanish or 800 pesos in English or French

How to visit Uxmal from Mérida

You have 3 ways to get to Uxmal from Mérida: by car, with an organized tour, or by public transportation.

By car

From Mérida, take Federal Highway 261 towards Santa Elena (1h15). Parking is 80 pesos.

Renting a car is for sure the best way to explore Yucatan and make the most of your stay!

To rent a car, personally, I always use Booking.com Cars, for a few reasons:

  • You can easily compare the rental cars prices between all the agencies: for sure the easiest way to find the best rate!
  • Cancellation is often offered free of charge: no need to worry if you change your mind
  • Booking Cars offers full insurance coverage at a lower price than the rental companies, so it’s an instant saving with no effort

Simply click on the green button to find your rental car at the best price:

By public transportation

Option 1: the bus

To get to Uxmal by bus, you need to go to the TAME terminal – Calle 69 between Calle 68 and Calle 70.

There are buses at 6am, 9am, and 2pm. The ticket costs around 100 pesos and the trip takes 1h30-2h. The bus will drop you off on the road and you have to walk about a quarter mile to the site.

How to get back to Mérida
To get back, wait for the bus at the same spot. It should come around 3pm-3:30pm.

If the bus doesn’t show up (yes, it can happen!), you can take a colectivo to Muna, and then another one to Mérida. Sometimes, there are also direct colectivos from Uxmal to Mérida. 

Option 2: colectivo + taxi

Another option would be to take a colectivo from Mérida to Muna, and then a taxi (or another colectivo) from Muna to Uxmal.

With a tour

this is what I did because I didn’t have a car and I recommend it because it’s very convenient. It includes pick up at your hotel, guided tour of Uxmal (with free time) and Kabah.

Book the tour to Uxmal and Kabah here:

What to bring?

The sun is very strong in Uxmal and it is humid. Remember to bring a hat or cap, sunscreen and plenty of water. Mosquito repellent will also be useful.

Where to stay when visiting Uxmal?

The closest city is Mérida, so I recommend that you sleep there to visit Uxmal.

  • Nomadas: the best hostel in Merida with a very nice atmosphere, located in the center of Merida. It has a swimming pool surrounded by hammocks and plants, possibility of classes (yoga, cooking classes, etc.). Starting at only 18$usd per night!
  • El Gran Hotel: ideally located in the very center of Merida, right next to the cathedral. It is a very charming hotel, where time seems to have stopped with its colonial look and beautiful woodwork. There’s a restaurant, the rooms are spacious and the wifi works well. Good value for money, starting at only 59$usd per night!
  • Hotel Hacienda Merida VIP: this small, luxurious hotel is the ideal place to spend a few romantic days in Merida. Located in the historic center, it is an elegant hacienda-style building, illuminated by candlelight at nightfall. Here you will find a charming swimming pool, comfortable rooms, a restaurant, and a bar. Starting at 165 $usd per night
  • Hotel Boutique Mérida Santiago: this is a small, comfortable hotel with a colorful hacienda look, modern and with a traditional Mexican touch. There’s a swimming pool with sun loungers and umbrellas. With excellent homemade breakfasts and spacious rooms, it is the ideal hotel if you are looking for comfort without falling into luxury. Starting at 197 $usd per night

How to find your airline tickets at the best price?

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visit uxmal mexico
visit uxmal mexico
Anonymous

I have created this blog to give you all my best tips to plan your next trip to Mexico, regardless of your budget. I share detailed itineraries, advice about places to visit as well as recommendations for transportation, hotels and restaurants. I hope I will also help you to discover amazing off the beaten path destinations in Mexico!

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