Day Trip to Uxmal and the Pyramid of the Magician

by Tsvete Popp
Uxmal, Yucatan

Welcome to Uxmal, Mexico

Discover the captivating allure of Uxmal and the Pyramid of the Magician in Mexico. Immerse yourself in the rich history and architectural marvels of this ancient Mayan city. Explore the intricately carved stone facades, climb the towering pyramid, and witness the breathtaking panoramic views. Experience the mystical ambience and archaeological wonders that make Uxmal a must-visit destination. Embark on a journey through time and unravel the secrets of the Mayan civilization. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Uxmal and be awe-struck by the awe-inspiring Pyramid of the Magician.

Uxmal, Yucatan

Where to Stay in Merida

As you would expect from a major travel destination, Mexico has no shortage of options when it comes to accommodation. As always, I’d suggest you stay somewhere central, to make accessing all the attractions as easy as possible.

Best Luxury Hotels in Merida, Mexico

  • Hotel Casa Azul: This boutique hotel offers a luxurious and intimate experience in the heart of Merida’s historic centre. With elegant colonial-style architecture, beautiful courtyards, and stylish rooms, Casa Azul exudes charm and sophistication. Guests can enjoy amenities like a rooftop pool, spa services, and a renowned restaurant serving exquisite Mexican cuisine.
  • Hacienda Misné: Nestled in a restored 19th-century hacienda, Hacienda Misné combines historical elegance with modern comforts. The spacious rooms feature traditional Mexican decor, and the lush gardens and swimming pool create a serene ambiance. The hotel also offers a spa, fitness center, and a gourmet restaurant serving regional specialties.
  • Rosas & Xocolate Boutique Hotel + Spa: This award-winning boutique hotel showcases a unique blend of contemporary design and traditional Mexican elements. The rooms are individually styled, and the hotel boasts a rooftop pool, a luxurious spa, and a renowned chocolate boutique. Its central location allows easy access to Merida’s main attractions.

Best Mid-Range Hotels in Merida, Mexico

  • Casa Lecanda Boutique Hotel: Located in the heart of Mérida’s historic center, Casa Lecanda is a charming boutique hotel housed in a beautifully restored 19th-century mansion. The rooms are elegantly furnished, blending contemporary style with traditional Mexican elements. The hotel offers a courtyard garden, a swimming pool, a spa, and a restaurant serving delectable Yucatecan cuisine. Its central location allows easy access to attractions, restaurants, and shops.
  • Hotel Hacienda Mérida: Set in a renovated 19th-century mansion, this boutique hotel exudes character and charm. The rooms feature a mix of colonial and contemporary design, offering comfort and style. The hotel boasts a tranquil courtyard with a swimming pool, a restaurant serving regional cuisine, and a bar. Its location in the historic center allows guests to explore Mérida’s cultural landmarks and vibrant atmosphere.
  • Hotel María del Carmen: Situated in the historic center of Mérida, this hotel offers well-appointed rooms at an affordable price. The rooms are cozy and feature traditional Mexican decor. The hotel provides a small outdoor pool, a courtyard garden, a restaurant serving local cuisine, and a bar. It’s conveniently located near popular landmarks, shops, and restaurants.

Best Hostels in Merida, Mexico

  • Nomadas Hostel: Known for its friendly atmosphere and social vibe, Nomadas Hostel offers budget-friendly accommodation in a beautiful colonial building. Guests can choose between dormitory rooms and private rooms, and common areas like the pool, garden, and communal kitchen are perfect for meeting fellow travelers. The hostel also organizes various activities and tours.
  • Hostal La Ermita: Situated in a charming historic building, Hostal La Ermita offers a cozy and affordable stay. The hostel provides both dormitory and private rooms, and guests can relax in the communal areas or enjoy the rooftop terrace with views of the city. The location is convenient, with several attractions and amenities nearby.
  • Hostal La Ermita: Located near the famous Paseo de Montejo, Hostal La Ermita offers affordable accommodation in a convenient location. The hostel provides dormitory rooms and private rooms, all with shared bathrooms. It features a communal kitchen, a courtyard garden, and a rooftop terrace with panoramic city views. The friendly staff is available to assist with travel arrangements and provide local recommendations.

Visiting Coba in Yucatan, Mexico

Begin your search for the perfect accommodation now while the excitement is still fresh in your mind. Discover stylish and affordable options, and find the best accommodations at the lowest prices:

Explore a wide range of hotels in Mexico here (Booking.com)

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Discover affordable hostels in Mexico here (Hostelworld)

Easily compare prices and book hotels in Mexico here (Hotellook)

On our first day after arriving in Merida, we headed toward one of the most exciting historical sites of Yucatan – Uxmal and the Pyramid of the Magician. We started in the early morning at about 7:30 a.m, when the temperatures are still moderate and endurable. All in all, it took us about an hour out there and an hour back of actual driving from Merida, excluding the time for all the stops we made at some interesting places on our way back.

Uxmal, Yucatan

Uxmal, Yucatan

Uxmal, Yucatan

If you ever are lucky enough to find yourself on the Yucatan, Uxmal is one of the best preserved and most important archaeological sites you cannot miss while travelling around Merida. After all the archaeological sites, we got to see during our road trip through the Yucatan peninsula, I can already confirm – Uxmal is our favourite Mayan ruin!

Uxmal, Yucatan

Uxmal, Yucatan

Uxmal, Yucatan

Uxmal, Yucatan

The imposing Uxmal ruins should be a must-visit on every Yucatan travel itinerary. Why? There are many reasons for that, but the most important one is that Uxmal is off the beaten path, so you won’t be disturbed by thousands of other tourists, guides and groups here (like in Chechen Itza). The other reason – Uxmal was one of the largest cities in the Yucatan region which still has one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in Mexico and one of the most interesting circular-shaped pyramids that is unlike any other pyramid.

Uxmal, Yucatan

Uxmal, Yucatan

Uxmal, Yucatan

Uxmal, Yucatan

! Did you know that ...
Uxmal is pronounced “oosh-MAHL” and is said to be the most attractive of the archaeological sites.

Uxmal was an important city, probably built by the Mayans between 600AD to 1000AD but unlikely many other settlements in Yucatan, this was built in order to collect rainwater for its inhabitants due to the absence of rivers or cenotes. Therefore, you will be able to see many carvings of the rain god Chac throughout the whole complex as well as numerous cultures (cisterns) which served as water tanks.

During the 7th and 10th centuries, Uxmal was home to over 15 000 people. The last building constructed at the site was the Palace of the Governor which was likely finished in 987. Luckily enough the ancient Maya city was not destroyed by the Spanish Conquistadors during the 16th century. Some 4 centuries later, in the year of 1966, Uxmal was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Uxmal, Yucatan

Uxmal, Yucatan

Uxmal, Yucatan

Uxmal, Yucatan

! Did you know that ...

The name Uxmal comes from “Oxmal” which means “three times built” due to the fact that the Pyramid of the Magician, was built on top of four smaller pyramids, located underneath the larger pyramid we see today.

Uxmal, Yucatan

Uxmal, Yucatan

Uxmal, Yucatan Uxmal, Yucatan

Things to Know Before Visiting Uxmal

 

Getting to Uxmal by Car: Uxmal is located on the western side of the Yucatan peninsula, about an hour’s drive from Merida (80km), 237 km west of Valladolid (4-hour drive), 382 km west of Cancun ( 4 h 30 min hour drive), 338 km west of Tulum (4 h 20 min hours drive).

Opening Times: The ruins are open daily all year round from 8 am to 5 pm. I’d recommend arriving before opening so that you are among the first to enter as it is much quieter and cooler in the mornings. You may also avoid (if possible) visiting Uxmal on Sundays, as the admission is free for citizens and residents of Mexico – it will get much busier!

Entrance Fee: The price for visiting Uxmal is 234 MXN (about 11 €) and for parking, you have to pay 30 MXN (1.40 €).

Time for Visiting: You can stay as long as you like, but I guess that 2 hours of stay would probably be the average.

Ideal Clothing & Footwear: This region of Yucatan is very hot and humid all year round, so dress for hot weather. If you are going to ascend the pyramids (I’m sure you will) it is good to wear comfortable and nonslippery shoes appropriate for climbing.

When is the Best Time of Year for Visiting Uxmal?: The best time of the day to visit Uxmal is in the early morning or in the late afternoon. We arrived at 8:30 and during the first hour, there were almost no people there and the temperature was about 22°. It was absolutely lovely having almost the entire ruins site to ourselves! The only way to avoid the crowds and beat the vendors is to arrive at the ruins as early as possible and close to their opening time of 8 am. Many of the tour buses make their way from places like Merida or Valladolid in the morning and arrive at Uxmal around 10 a.m. The busiest and the hottest time to visit Uxmal is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Uxmal, Yucatan

Uxmal, Yucatan

Uxmal, Yucatan

Uxmal, Yucatan

Why you should choose Uxmal over Chichen Itza?

My recommendation is, of course, to visit both archaeological sites. But there are some reasons why I prefer Uxmal over Chichen Itza. Uxmal has significantly fewer tourists than Chichen Itza, and you can pretty much have the ruins to yourself. In Uxmal, you are allowed to touch, climb, or go inside the pyramids (except to climb the Pyramid of Magician) – the views are brilliant and the experience is unforgettable!

Uxmal, Yucatan Uxmal, Yucatan Uxmal, Yucatan Uxmal, Yucatan

What You Actually See Inside Uxmal

 

Pyramid of the Magician

The pyramid of the Magician is 35 m tall which makes it 5 m taller than El Castillo in Chichen Itza! Unfortunately, it’s not possible to climb the 90 steps to the top of the pyramid. The pyramid is one of the best-preserved in Mexico and one of the most interesting circular-shaped pyramids that is unlike any other in Yucatan.

Governors Palace

The building of the Governor Palace, in my opinion, has the most beautiful mosaic decoration of all buildings in the complex. The facade is decorated with different mosaics carved in the shape of gods, birds, snakes, and flowers. The terrace offers also the best views over the Pyramid of the Magician.

Uxmal, Yucatan Uxmal, Yucatan Uxmal, Yucatan Uxmal, Yucatan

The Great Pyramid in Uxmal

The Great Pyramid is not as high as the Pyramid of the Magician, but you still can climb to the top in order to enjoy the views and get some stunning photos from above!

Ball Game Court in Uxmal

Maya played a ball game where the rubber ball (represented the sun) had to be put into a small stone circle perched very high on a wall, without using your hands or feet. The Mayan game is more than 3.500 years old, which makes it the very first organized game in the history of sports. This ball game ended in the sacrifice of one of the teams, but it is still not sure if the winning or the losing team was the sacrificed team. The Ball Court of Uxmal is smaller than the Ballcourt in Chichen Itza (Juego de Pelota).

Uxmal, Yucatan

Uxmal, Yucatan

Nunnery Quadrangle in Uxmal 

Researchers believed it to have been used for military purposes, perhaps as an academy or palatial complex. Here you can admire some beautiful decorations and carvings of gods and animals.

Uxmal, Yucatan

Uxmal, Yucatan

Uxmal, Yucatan

Lunch at Hacienda San Pedro Ochil

After visiting Uxmal, the best way to continue experiencing the uniqueness of Yucatan is to enjoy your lunch at Hacienda Ochil! Hacienda Ochil is only 30 minutes drive from Uxmal. This is one of the most beautiful haciendas we visited during our trip to Mexico! Here you can enjoy the delicious Yucatan food which is affordable and tasty! You can choose from many different dishes like salbutes, kibis, panuchos,  poc chuc, tacos, empanadas, and many others!

Hacienda Ochil, Uxmal

Planning a trip to Mexico?

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Enjoy the day!

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