Mexico is a country that is very rich in history, and there are so many landmarks still standing to tell the tale. The indigenous people of Mexico, between the Mayans, Olmecs, Aztecs and more, left behind some incredible architectural wonders. Many people don’t realize that the indigenous people in Mexico were some of the best pyramid builders in the world!
After visiting all of the best pyramids in Mexico, I can safely say that there are two that easily top the list. While places like Uxmal and Palenque are spectacular to visit, it really is hard to beat Chichen Itza and Teotihuacan. These two locations are much more than just pyramids; they are entire complexes of ancient worship.
What Is Teotihuacan?
Teotihuacan is the home of the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon, and it is one of the most famous tourist sites for those who want to learn about indigenous history. This complex is made up of two major pyramids as well as several other smaller structures all around them.
Teotihuacan is a beautiful place to visit, and the sheer size of the pyramids is so overwhelming. One thing that Teotihuacan offers that Chichen Itza does not is the ability to climb to the top of the Pyramids! While this was suspended during Covid, I know the intention is to reopen the paths to the top of the pyramids soon.
Teotihuacan is located about 45 minutes to an hour outside of Mexico City, which makes it extremely accessible. In fact, I ranked it as one of the top 5 day trips from Mexico City. Entrance is very cheap, and you have free reign around the park once you are inside.
The key advantages of Teotihuacan over Chichen Itza are convenience, price, and the ability to climb the pyramids. There are a few lunch spots right outside of the park, too, that offer a decent bite to eat before you head back to the city.
What Is Chichen Itza?
Chichen Itza is the other of the two biggest pyramid sites that I would highly recommend. Like Teotihuacan, Chichen Itza is much more than just a pyramid – it is an entire ancient city. Hundreds of years ago, Chichen Itza was a famous place of worship where people would make pilgrimages to do homage to their gods.
While you can’t climb to the top of any pyramids in Chichen Itza, you have the ability to explore a huge portion of the ancient city which is very well preserved and restored.
Chichen Itza is located in the state of Yucatan, which is on the northern-central part of the Yucatan Peninsula. While it is not directly outside of a particular city, it can be reached within just a couple hours from Merida, Cancun, and Tulum. Chichen Itza is much bigger than Teotihuacan, much busier than Teotihuacan, and much more expensive than Teotihuacan, but you get access to a lot more to see and do.
Which Is Better: Teotihuacan or Chichen Itza?
This one all depends on what you are looking for and what experience you want to have. Firstly, I will say that the overall experience is very comparable, and if you are already in a place that is closer to one, go to that one.
If you are planning a trip to Mexico City, do Teotihuacan. If you are going on a beach trip to Cancun, go to Chichen Itza.
I don’t think it is worth flying to the other place unless you also want to see the city or area nearby it.
Now, when it comes to which one is actually better, there are a couple of things to consider. Teotihuacan is cheaper, allows you to climb the pyramids, and is very accessible to Mexico City, but is a much smaller park than Chichen Itza. Chichen Itza is bigger, very expensive by Mexican standards, does not allow you to climb anything, and is a couple of hours away from the nearest major cities.
If you were to ask me, Chichen Itza is better. While Teotihuacan offers some great advantages, the size of Chichen Itza and the diverse buildings that are there make for a much more educational trip. Teotihuacan is strictly an ancient place of worship while Chichen Itza has a full city built around the places of ancient worship. If you want to learn more about their culture, Chichen Itza is the way to go. Still, you can’t go wrong with either place.
How Much Do Chichen Itza and Teotihuacan Cost?
I mentioned earlier that Teotihuacan is very cheap and Chichen Itza is very expensive. Now, just how wide is that price gap? As an American or European visitor, the price is still very affordable, but the price difference shows you just how popular Chichen Itza is, as they know they can make the price exorbitantly high by local standards.
Tips for Visiting Chichen Itza and Teotihuacan
While these two locations are hundreds of miles apart, there is some common advice that will help you to have a better experience in both places.
Hopefully this post gave you a little bit of clarity when it comes to visiting the best pyramids in Mexico. As I said, I have been to both places twice and have had an awesome experience each time. If there is anything else you want to know, please send a comment!