Uxmal: a must-see Mayan site!
Located in the Mérida region , Uxmal is one of the most beautiful Mayan sites in Yucatan!
It was a city of major economic and political importance, benefiting from a strong alliance with Chichen Itza, but its existence was relatively short-lived (7th to 10th centuries).
It is amazing to be able to admire, even today, the architectural details that have been magnificently preserved.
Here is my practical guide to Uxmal, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site , with all the information on the best things to see, how to get there and where to stay during your visit.
What to do and see in Uxmal
1. Discover Puuc architecture
Uxmal is the Mayan site that impressed me the most architecturally.
It is the most representative city of the Puuc style which is characterized by elongated buildings, richly decorated with sculpted stones.
“Puuc” also designates a chain of hills in the region whose terrain is fertile thanks to its underground water tables.
It is thanks to this fertility of the soil that several cities have emerged in the region. It is estimated that there would have been 150 towns of which the main ones were Uxmal, Kabah and Sayil were home to up to 500,000 people!
They can be visited by following what is now called the “Ruta Puuc”.
Tips for your Uxmal itinerary:
If you want to visit the Puuc Route, it is best to do so by car.
Otherwise, on Sundays, a bus leaves Mérida at 8 am and goes through the 5 sites of the Puuc Route (Labna, Xlapak, Sayil, Kabah and Uxmal). Each stop lasts about 30 min, except Uxmal 2h. The bus returns at 4 p.m. to Mérida. The bus ticket costs 280 pesos.
2. The Pyramid of the Diviner
It is the Pyramid of the Diviner or Templo del Adivino which imposes itself in front of us as soon as we arrive in Uxmal.
From its height of 37m, 80m long and 55m wide, it represents one of the most important Mayan structures, with Chichen Itza and Tikal.
Unfortunately we can’t go up there for a few years.
3. The Great Pyramid
The Great Pyramid, another impressive structure in Uxmal, is around 80 meters in length and 30 meters in height.
A temple sits at its summit: the Temple of the Guacamayas takes its name from the colorful macaws (guacamayas) that adorn its cornice and friezes.
Tips for your Uxmal itinerary:
Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to climb the structure, but I can assure you that it was an incredible experience!
4. The Palace of the Governors
The Governor’s Palace at Uxmal is a masterpiece of Maya sculpture and architecture, with glyphs of Venus, Chac masks and two-headed serpents. It is located on a hill with three terraces and has a throne of a king with serpents and masks.
Tips for your Uxmal itinerary:
Unfortunately, since 2020 access to the buildings in Uxmal is prohibited, but the palace offered a spectacular view of the surroundings and a great place to photograph.
5. Other Structures to See
There are many other important structures in Uxmal, such as the Cuadrangulo de los pajaros (quadrilateral of the birds), the Cuadrangulo de las monjas (quadrilateral of the nuns), La Casa de Tortugas (the house of the Turtles) and the playground of Mayan ball that you should not miss during your visit to Uxmal.
6. Uxmal Chocolate Museum
If you have some time, I recommend visiting the Choco-Story chocolate museum which is located just opposite the site.
The entrance is through a large house reminiscent of the old Uxmal hacienda, an important sugar hacienda in the region.
The museum actually extends behind the building, in its garden which looks like a real jungle and which one discovers while walking through the paths.
Here, there are several explanatory huts on the cocoa process, but also monkeys, jaguars and surviving birds.
There’s even a ceremony in honor of the god Chaac, and a tasting of traditional Mayan chocolate.
It’s not a typical museum at all and that’s why it’s an ideal activity to do with children in Mérida, but even adults will be delighted.
Personally, it’s one of my favorite places in the Mérida region because the walk is really pleasant and each time I visit, I can’t help but bring back new palettes of chocolate from their shop!
- Admission 180 pesos, 110 pesos for 60+, 80 pesos for children between 6 and 12, or free for children under 6
- Free parking
If you want to make the most of your visit to Uxmal, you can also book an excursion from Mérida that not only includes the archaeological site, but also the chocolate museum, lunch and a cenote!
7. Hacienda Uxmal Resort
Hacienda Uxmal, Plantation & Museum is a historic hotel located opposite Uxmal, right next to the Chocolate Museum.
The hotel has hosted big names such as Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Rainier of Monaco and Jackie Kennedy!
It is a hacienda-like complex with an outdoor swimming pool, a large garden with fruit trees and paths.
You can spend the night there because it is a very pleasant hotel with an exceptional welcome.
The rooms are all air-conditioned and comfortable, and you will find 2 restaurants on site that offer traditional Yucatan Mayan cuisine.
8. The Mayan Planetarium
The Mayan Planetarium in Uxmal is impossible to miss as it is practically located across the road, in the same entrance as the Chocolate Museum.
It presents a show that allows you to discover the Mayan cities of Uxmal, Chichen Itza, Tikal and Palenque, and to understand how the Mayans built the pyramids according to the stars.
It’s an interesting sight that offers a good place to enjoy a break in the air conditioning, which is greatly appreciated in the Yucatan!
- Show every hour, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- Entry 180 pesos
Visit Uxmal (prices and times)
Here is the practical information so you don’t miss anything during your visit to Uxmal
- The site is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Entrance fee to Uxmal: 531 pesos for foreigners, optional 1 hour guided tour (price per group: 800 pesos in Spanish, 950 pesos in English or French)
How to visit Uxmal?
There are 3 ways to get to Uxmal from Mérida : by car, by organized excursion or by public transport.
From Mérida, take federal road 261 towards Santa Elena (1h15). Parking costs 80 pesos.
By Public Transport
Option 1: the bus
To get to Uxmal by bus, you need to go to the TAME – Calle 69 terminal between Calle 68 and Calle 70.
There are buses at 6am, 9am and 2pm. The ticket costs around 100 pesos and the journey takes 1h30-2h. He will drop you on the road and you will have to walk about 400 meters to the site.
How to get back to Merida
To return, wait for the bus at the same place. He should arrive around 3-3:30 p.m.
If the bus doesn’t arrive (yes, it can!), you can take a colectivo to Muna, then another to Mérida. Sometimes there are also direct colectivos from Uxmal to Mérida.
Option 2 : bus + taxi
Another option would be to take a colectivo from Mérida to Muna, then a taxi (or another colectivo) from Muna to Uxmal.
With a Guided Tour
I did this as I didn’t have a car and I recommend it because it’s very convenient! It includes pick up from your hotel, guided tour of Uxmal (with free time) and Kabah.
The sun is 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!
Accommodation in Uxmal
The nearest town is Mérida, so I recommend spending the night there when visiting Uxmal.
If you know your travel dates, I advise you to book your hotel now because the best hotels fill up quickly:
- Nomadas: it is the largest hostel in Mérida, but above all the one with the friendliest atmosphere in the city. There is a swimming pool surrounded by hammocks and plants, courses (yoga, cooking, etc.) and all well located, in the center of Mérida. Bed in dormitory, from only 16 euros per night!
- El Gran Hotel: perfectly located in the center of Mérida, right next to the cathedral, this is a hotel with a certain charm, where time seems to have stood still with its colonial look and its pretty woodwork. There is a restaurant on site, the rooms are spacious and the wifi works well. Good value for money at only 54 euros a night!
- Hotel Hacienda Merida VIP: this small luxury hotel is the ideal place to spend a romantic stay in Mérida. Located in the heart of the historic center, it is an address that looks like a chic hacienda, illuminated by candlelight when night falls. Here you will find a nice swimming pool, very comfortable rooms, as well as an on-site restaurant and bar. From 150 euros per night
- Hotel Boutique Mérida Santiago: This is a small, cozy hotel with a colorful hacienda look, both modern and with a traditional Mexican touch. Swimming pool with deckchairs and parasols, a very good homemade breakfast, spacious rooms, this is the ideal hotel if you are looking for good comfort without falling into luxury. From 180 euros per night
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