Honduras Attractions: Copan Ruinas

Surely Honduras is not on most travellers “must see” list. Considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world (although it feels surprisingly safe for travelers), it doesn’t really know mass tourism. Honduras attractions are many, although not as famous as those of other locations in Central America. This translates into very good deals, which makes it a great place to visit for backpackers on a budget.

While many backpackers go to Honduras to explore the beautiful caribbean coast and islands which are great for diving, Copan Ruinas is among the best tourist attractions in Honduras, and the place to go for anybody interested in ancient history and archeology. It is a pleasant, small and tranquil little town and possibly the most traveler-oriented in Honduras. I saw, once I was finally there, that this doesn’t mean being surrounded by hordes of tourists. The town is beautiful: cobblestone streets, white adobe buildings, colonial churches. On the plus sides, there are excellent (and never expensive) restaurants and bars, and the surroundings are adventure-inspiring. Finally, people are truly friendly and always willing to help out, if somewhat interesting to see: picture men with gaucho style clothing, cowboy hats and boots and jeans, just to have an idea of what to expect. The overall feeling is that of a welcoming place that make a visit completely worth it: in a nutshell, I could have adventure, sports, culture and relax.

Honduras Attractions

One of the main tourist attractions in Honduras remains the perfectly preserved ruins of Copan Ruinas, where one of the most prosperous Maya civilizations lived. If there is only one thing that your tight budget allows you to do in Copan Ruinas, this should be a visit to the archeological site, and here is why: this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it can be easily reached by walking the well signaled 1km footpath east of town. It costs 300 Lempiras to get in (roughly 15 dollars), but it is money well spent considering that the site is very well preserved, surrounded by the jungle where it is possible to go for a pleasant (long) walk, and that it is never crowded with tourists.

Tourist attractions in Honduras: Beautiful archeological site immersed in the jungle

Tourist attractions in Honduras: Beautiful archeological site immersed in the jungle

Macaw mountain and zip lining

Zip lining is probably out of the question for many, but I decided to do it, and it costed around 40 dollars for 10 zip lines that allowed me to fly from tree to tree. The ticket also includes a visit to the beautiful Macaw mountain, a nicely landscaped bird sanctuary and breeding centre about 3 km northeast of town, with lovely trails in the forest and plenty of rescued, abandoned and endangered birds. Some macaws are allowed out of the cages and they are very friendly and willing to pose for pictures!

Friendly macaw at the sanctuary

Friendly macaw at the sanctuary

Aguas Termales

About an hour drive from Copan Ruinas, this is a good place to relax. There are two sides: the less developed and much cheaper springs are on the side of the river; across from it, there is a spa which is more pricey.

How to get to Copan Ruinas (and away)

Copan Ruinas is close to the border with Guatemala and often reached by bus from Antigua. There are direct (luxury) buses that leave from Antigua with Hedman Alas, the trip lasts around 5 hours. I was willing to travel independently on chicken buses from Guatemala, so my last stop on the Guatemalan side was El Florido, from where I could cross the border and then get a minibus to Copan Ruinas.

From Copan Ruinas there are direct buses to El Salvador (El Tunco) and there used to be a shuttle to Nicaragua (Leon) with Gekko Explorers – the whole trip to Leon takes 18 hours and the bus was not the most comfortable I would have imagined for such a long trip, but it did its job. However, this service is no longer available. For those who are not in a rush to get away from Honduras, Tica bus is only slightly cheaper and connects San Pedro Sula to Managua (Nicaragua). It is necessary to reach San Pedro Sula, spend a night there and then connect the day after to Managua.

For more information on border crossing, read here.

Where to stay and eat:

Hotel Don Moises in Calle La Plaza is a family run hostel that has very good rooms at a reasonable price (and gives a discount for a booking of several nights – try to bargain the price). The family is really lovely and helpful.

For food, Café ViaVia is a good option with lots of choices which are very good deals, it serves HUGE breakfasts and is overall a nice place to hang out, as it has a nice courtyard and bar and a good terrace to look at passers-by. They also organise movie nights, concerts and dance nights. There is also a hotel in the rear and an agency that organises tours (such as adventure tours) and sells bus tickets at the front.

The most budget option may be one the many barbecues that at around 6 pm start serving food in the street. The smell is delicious and mouth watering!

I found the best homebrew beer in town at Sol de Copan, run by a very friendly German lad. They also serve very good German food (especially good for German travelers who may be a bit homesick!).

Have fun!


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  • Natasha Amar
    7 July 2015 at 14:14

    This is the first time I’ve read about Copan Ruinas or rather anything other than the beaches in Honduras. The zip-lining sounds like something I would enjoy. Great picture with the macaw!

    • Claudia Tavani
      7 July 2015 at 16:47

      Copan Ruinas is actually a really lovely place – I really can’t see why people won’t talk about it!!

  • Bruno B @ Geeky Explorer
    7 July 2015 at 15:12

    WOW that macaw looks huge!! I’m afraid of heights but I’d definitely do the zip lining with that scenery! 🙂

    • Claudia Tavani
      7 July 2015 at 16:48

      Insider’s tip: it’s really not that scary as it is not too fast!

  • Heather Cole
    7 July 2015 at 17:04

    I love reading about more off the trail places like this, it totally looks worth the effort involved getting there! We did a similar thing in Guatemala, visited the ruins at Tikal and then went zip lining through the forest…not convinced the health & safety was up to much but it was brilliant fun! Very jealous you got to see macaws though!

  • Kirstie
    8 July 2015 at 1:43

    I would LOVE to visit Honduras – actually, I’m just anxious to visit all of Central America! Zip lining there looks like so much fun!

  • Revati
    8 July 2015 at 8:36

    I had no idea there were ruins of any sort in the Honduras! And that macaw looks soo happy perched on your shoulders!

  • Matt Hilton
    9 July 2015 at 5:29

    Awesome blog! I wasn’t aware of any ruins in Honduras! Now it is certainly something i will look in to when i make it to that part of the world!

  • Scotty
    21 March 2018 at 5:04

    Went to the ruins today & saw my first macaws. Beautiful. Tomorrow I have to find out how to get to Nicaragua, I didn’t see any tour type companies or anything to make it easy in town today. Guess I’ll have to go to a bus station and struggle with my terrible Spanish. Wish I could find some specifics on the net.

    • Claudia Tavani
      21 March 2018 at 9:41

      Hi Scotty, when I visited there was a company that went all the way from Copan to Leon via Antigua Guatemala and El Tunco, in El Salvador. It is called Gecko. To be honest, I would not recommend it. The journey takes 18 hours or more, and while it is relatively easy, it is mighty uncomfortable. They have a shuttle with seats that won’t recline, with no leg room, and they pack it so much that there’s hardly any room to stretch at all. Even I was uncomfortable, and I am only 162 cm!! If I were you, I’d try to go from Copan to San Pedro Sula and then take a Ticabus from there.


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Who is Claudia?

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Hello, nice to meet you!

Hi, my name is Claudia. One day I packed my life and started traveling... except I packed too much. Follow me as I fill my life with dreams, drop the weight and inspire you to live your dreams. View and download my media kit here (updated December 2017). Learn more about me here...


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