The Iximché Mayan Ruins in Guatemala

Everything you Need to Know Before You Go

The Iximche Mayan ruins in Guatemala are a must-visit destination and one of the most underrated things to do in Guatemala. These ancient ruins provide a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the Mayan civilization, surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty.

Guide for Visiting Iximche in Guatemala

Situated in the Western Highlands of Guatemala, the site includes several plazas, pyramids, and temples. It was a significant ceremonial and political center during the late Postclassic period of Mayan civilization. The ruins are worth exploring, including the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Cross, and the Palace of the Lords.

Although Iximche is a much smaller site than other Central American and Guatemalan Mayan ruins like Tikal, it is still unique and exciting, making it an excellent Guatemalan tourist attraction to include in your Guatemala itinerary. It’s often overlooked, but in my opinion, it’s one of those hidden gems in Guatemala that you must see. I love that it’s a small site that is easily accessible and located near everything, making it a great option if you’re short on time.

We usually make a stop here on our way to Panajachel in Lake Atitlán. It only takes a few hours to explore this Mayan archaeological site, and it’s conveniently located about halfway between Antigua and Atitlán.

Iximche is also an ideal destination to visit with kids. If you’re traveling to Guatemala with your little ones, Iximche is an excellent family activity. The site is easily accessible and has beautiful open areas that are well-maintained and perfect even for small children.

Visiting Iximche with children

The Meaning of Iximche in Mayan Language

IIximche derives its name from the K’iche’ Maya language, which means “maize tree” in English. The ancient Mayan people named the city after the abundance of maize found in the surrounding fertile land. During the late Postclassic period of Mayan civilization, Iximche was a significant political and ceremonial center, showcasing the importance of agriculture to the ancient Mayan culture.

The History of the Mayan Ruins of Iximche

Iximche dates back to the late Postclassic period of Mayan civilization, around the 15th century. It was likely founded by the Kaqchikel people, a subgroup of the Maya people, and served as a powerful political and ceremonial center, possibly the capital of the Kaqchikel kingdom.

During the 15th century, Iximche was ruled by several powerful leaders and was renowned for its impressive architecture, including various plazas, pyramids, and temples such as the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Cross, and the Palace of the Lords.

In 1524, the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the region, and Iximche was eventually abandoned. The site was forgotten for centuries until it was rediscovered and excavated in the 20th century. Today, the ruins of Iximche are considered valuable historical and archaeological sites and attract visitors from around the world.

Historians believe that Iximche was one of the last independent Maya city-states to fall to the Spanish conquistadors. It was the last capital of the Kaqchikel kingdom before its downfall.

Is it worth it to visit Iximche in Guatemala?

Where is Iximche ?

The Iximche Mayan ruins are located in Tecpan, just an hour’s drive from the city of Antigua and two hours from Guatemala City. Despite their proximity to popular tourist destinations such as Antigua Guatemala and Atitlán, many visitors don’t realize how close they are to this historical site.

What’s more, the Iximche ruins are conveniently situated just a few kilometers off the main road, making them easily accessible and well-maintained. Whether you’re traveling from Antigua to Atitlán or embarking on a day trip from Antigua Guatemala or Atitlán, a visit to Iximche is an excellent stop along the way.

How to Get to the Mayan Ruins of Iximche 

There are various ways to reach the Iximche Mayan ruins, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. One option is to rent a car or hire a driver, which offers the flexibility to explore the surrounding area at your own pace.

Another convenient way to visit the site is by taking a day trip tour from Antigua, Guatemala City, or even Atitlán. These tours typically include transportation, a knowledgeable guide, and entrance fees, providing an informative and hassle-free experience.

Visiting Iximché Mayan ruins in Guatemala

For budget-conscious travelers, taking a bus from Antigua or Guatemala City to Tecpan and then a taxi or Uber to the ruins is a more affordable option. However, this method requires more planning and may not be as comfortable as hiring a private driver or taking a tour.

Before embarking on your journey, be sure to check the schedules of transport and tour companies and keep an eye on the road conditions to avoid any unexpected disruptions to your trip.

Best Time to Visit Iximché

To have the most enjoyable experience, it is recommended to visit the Iximche ruins during the dry season, which runs from November to April. The site can become muddy and difficult to navigate during the rainy season. It is important to bring comfortable clothing and shoes, as well as a hat and sunscreen to protect against the sun’s rays. Be sure to check out our article about the best time to visit Guatemala for recommendations for every season.

Beyond the ruins themselves, the surrounding area offers a wealth of activities for visitors to enjoy. The town of Tecpan is renowned for its traditional textiles and handicrafts, while natural hot springs in the vicinity provide an ideal setting for relaxation after a day of exploring.

Best time to visit Iximche ruins in Guatemala

Iximché Ruins Entrance Price and Hours of Operation 

The Iximche archaeological park welcomes visitors every day of the week from 8 am to 4 pm. The admission fee is Q5 for Guatemalan citizens and Q50 (approximately $7 US) for foreign visitors. The park also offers free parking, restrooms, and picnic areas for visitors to enjoy.

If you want to stay updated on any changes in admission rates or hours of operation, you can visit the official Guatemalan government website here. However, it is worth noting that the website is in Spanish.

Tips for Visiting the Iximche Ruins

The Iximche ruins in Guatemala are a must-see destination for history and archaeology enthusiasts. These ancient ruins offer a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the Mayan civilization. However, there are a few things to remember when planning your visit.

  • Timing is key. The best time to visit the Iximche ruins is during the dry season, from November to April, as the site can be pretty muddy during the rainy season.
  • Dress appropriately. Wear comfortable shoes and clothing, and bring a hat and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Take a guided tour. A guided tour is a great way to learn more about the history and culture of the site.
  • Bring a camera. The Iximche ruins offer many beautiful photo opportunities, so bring a camera to capture the memories.
  • Check the road conditions and the traffic before you go so you can plan your trip accordingly.
  • Look out for wildlife. Lush forests surround this Mayan site, and you can often find birds and other wildlife.
  • Stop for lunch nearby in Tecpan. The Iximche archaeological site is near a few excellent restaurants, so you can stop for lunch at Katok or Pueblo Real and try some delicious traditional Guatemalan food. There are also picnic areas in the park, so you can also take your own lunch and eat there.
  • Be respectful: When visiting, it’s possible that a ceremony may be taking place. Be respectful and keep your distance if you see a ceremony being held at the site.

tips for visiting the Iximche mayan ruins

Interesting Facts about Iximché

Here are some fascinating facts about the unique ruins of Iximche:

  1. Political and ceremonial hub: During the late Postclassic period of Mayan civilization, Iximche served as a powerful political and ceremonial hub. It was believed to be the capital of the Kaqchikel kingdom and was renowned for its complex social and political organization and impressive architecture.
  2. Last independent Mayan city-state: Iximche was one of the last Mayan city-states to remain independent before being conquered by the Spanish. It was the final capital of the Kaqchikel kingdom before its downfall.
  3. Unique architecture: The site features distinctive architecture, including a central plaza and various pyramids, such as the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Cross, and the Palace of the Lords. Additionally, the site boasts imposing defensive walls.
  4. Significant ceremonial center: Many religious and ritual activities occurred within the structures of Iximche, making it an important ceremonial center.
  5. Abandoned city: After the Spanish conquest, the city was abandoned by the end of the 16th century. It remained undiscovered until the 20th century when it was excavated. Iximche is one of the few Mayan sites that have not been fully excavated, lending it an air of mystery and preserving it without modern influences.
  6. UNESCO World Heritage Site: The Iximche ruins have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site and are a major tourist attraction in Guatemala’s Western Highlands.
  7. Sacred site: The Mayan people still consider the site to be sacred. Visitors should be mindful and keep their distance if a ceremony is taking place at the site.

What to See When Visiting this Mayan Ruin Site

If you’re planning a visit to the Iximche ruins in Tecpan, Guatemala, here are some of the top sights you won’t want to miss:

  • The central plaza: The heart of the site, this plaza is surrounded by some of the most important structures at Iximche, including the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Cross, and the Palace of the Lords.
  • The Temple of the Sun: This pyramid is one of the most significant structures on the site and provides a fantastic view of the entire complex. It’s believed to have been used for religious and ceremonial purposes.
  • The Temple of the Cross: This pyramid is notable for containing a carved stone cross, likely placed there by the Spanish conquistadors.
  • The Palace of the Lords: This impressive structure is thought to have been the home of Iximche’s ruling elite. It features intricate carvings and impressive stonework.
  • The defensive walls: Surrounding the site are imposing defensive walls, likely built to protect the city from attacks.
  • The ball court: This is where the Mayans played the Mesoamerican ballgame and is an interesting glimpse into their cultural and recreational activities.
  • The scenic surroundings: The Iximche ruins are located amidst beautiful natural scenery, with lush greenery and stunning vistas of the nearby mountain ranges.

If you’re looking for a unique and enriching travel experience, the Iximche Mayan ruins are a must-see destination. With its fascinating history, breathtaking natural beauty, and rich cultural offerings, it’s an excellent place to delve into the mysteries of Mayan civilization.


Born and raised in Guatemala Paula currently calls Florida home, where she lives with her husband, two teens and two Goldendoodles. Paula is passionate about travel and writing, and she is on a mission to inspire people to explore the hidden gems of Central America while dispelling myths and fears about the region's safety. You can catch her travel stories and recommendations on and She also loves to create personalize travel itineraries using her expertise about the area. With her deep connection to Central America's vibrant cultures and landscapes, Paula is your guide to discovering the beauty and culture of this enchanting part of the world. She loves crafting personalized travel itinerary for those seeking unforgettable journeys through Central America. And when she's not writing or planning incredible trips, Paula loves whipping up delicious Guatemalan dishes, kayaking and chasing sunsets at the beach.

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