The Edzna Ruins in the Mexican state of Campeche may well be among the most impressive Mayan ruins in the country. That being said, they are frequently overlooked and seldom visited.
Why? The archaeological site is some 52km away from Campeche city, essentially in the middle of nowhere in the center of the state.
Public transport links here are limited, somewhat unreliable, and infrequent. Honestly, the site is simply not well advertised.
When most people travel to Mexico and think of Mayan ruins, the first place that pops into their minds is Chichen Itza. If they are exploring places in the Yucatan, they may also visit a few other renowned sites like Uxmal and Mayapan.
Besides that, other Mayan ruins fall by the wayside. It’s a shame but there are also some advantages to this for you as a traveler. It means that if you visit Edzna, particularly during the week, you will often find that you have the site virtually all to yourself.
Edzna Ruins Mexico
Edzna, also known as ¨House of the Itzas, was occupied as early as 700BC. It became a major commercial and political hub for the Maya and was eventually abandoned in 1500 AD.
Once upon a time, 25,000 people called Edzna home. Nobody knows precisely why the city was abandoned. However, the Spanish colonization and the destruction of anything related to the Ancient Mayan civilization may well have something to do with it…
The ancient city is believed to have covered a surface area of 25 square km. The Maya had built a very advanced network of canals and dams in order to distribute water. This can still be seen today and was very advanced for its time.
The ruins were not discovered until 1907, with excavations taking place as recently as the 1980s. The site is vast, with the more impressive structures centered around the great plaza of Edzna.
In particular, look out for the Great Pyramid and the Grand Acropolis. One particularly interesting building within the Edzna ruins complex is the ¨Temple of the Masks¨.
There are two incredibly well-preserved stucco masks housed within the temple. These are depictions of the god Kinich Ahau.
One mask portrays him as a young man, and the other as an old man. These masks were not found until 1988 and are in remarkably good condition considering the fragile materials used to make them.
Visiting the Edzna Ruins
As of March 2022, some parts of the Edzna ruins, like the Old Sorceress structure, are closed. This seems to be due to repair work.
Regardless, the site is still very worth visiting. Admission is 60 pesos ($3) per person. Most visitors are Mexican domestic tourists.
A sound and light show is hosted here Thursday through Sunday at 8 pm. The various temple structures are illuminated in vibrant colors as the story of the Ancient Maya who once lived here is told over loudspeakers.
However, the show is only in Spanish and there are no English translations. It costs 41 pesos per person to attend, circa $2.
Getting to the Edzna Ruins
The best way to get to the Edzna ruins is to drive from Campeche. The site is large and deserves a few hours of exploration.
Edzna is a very good half-day trip from the Campeche capital. The best way to reach the site is to rent a car and drive.
The Edzna ruins are 52km away from Campeche city and the drive takes approximately 45 minutes. Driving in Mexico is not as intimidating as it may sound and the roads between Campeche and Edzna archaeological zone are very good and well-maintained.
There is a shuttle bus that runs between Campeche and the Edzna ruins throughout the day. It supposedly departs every thirty minutes although there is no schedule published online.
The bus can be found on Calle Chihuahua in Campeche. It is red and white and displays the words ¨Colectivos del Valle de Edzna¨ on the side.
A one-way ticket can be purchased directly from the driver on board for just 45 pesos. You can double-check with the driver about the return schedule if you like.
When you head back to Campeche from the Edzna ruins, you will need to wait in the same place where the bus dropped you off. Do note that there is no wifi or phone signal in the area.
It can be unnerving to wait by the side of the road in a rural area for a bus not knowing its schedule, but services are relatively frequent. Sometimes the buses can be a little late on account of all the other stops they make along the way.
Take a Cab or Tour
Uber does not operate in Campeche. However, you may be able to find a driver using the local ride app called ¨Didi¨.
If you prefer to take a cab rather than the bus, you may be able to negotiate a tour rate with a local driver. They will take you to Edzna, wait while you explore the site, and then drive you back to Campeche.
Arguably your best option for doing this is to ask your hotel reception/concierge/Airbnb host to help you find a cab driver. It is generally better to try and do it through your accommodation in order to secure the best rates.
Unfortunately, taxi drivers are a breed unto themselves in a lot of places and Mexico is no different. If you try to grab a cab on the street, many may try to charge you an exorbitant rate and assume that you do not know the correct price of things here.
The Edzna ruins are pretty off the beaten path so you won’t see tour buses of tourists coming here. A lot of renowned aggregator platforms do not list Edzna tours. However, a few smaller local companies can offer you a tour of the site (in English or Spanish) with a local guide for a decent price.
Have you visited the Edzna ruins in Campeche? What did you think?
If you are traveling to Mexico for the first time, you may be interested in reviewing this list of Mexico travel tips to know before you go. Safe travels! Buen Viaje! xo