Stunning Maya ruins and a colonial town
Duration: at least four days
Budget: $ 35 per day
Stay: Hacienda San Lucas
In Copan, Honduras, you’ll find the remains of a once great Maya city. Although it’s not as well known as some other Maya ruins in Central America, it’s no less impressive. Ruinas de Copan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ruins are spectacularly well-preserved and offer a sneak peek into Maya culture and architecture.
When we visited the Maya ruins of Copan, we almost had the whole park to ourselves. Copan is not huge, but it radiates quietness. You’ll be able to spot colorful parrots and other birds. On top of that, the town of Copan is drop-dead charming! Copan offers plenty of things to do and will most likely make you want to stay much longer.
We were not ready yet to leave El Salvador and were not sure how to, either. Therefore, visiting Copan Ruinas was an unplanned and spontaneous decision. We saw several shuttle services in Santa Ana offering the ride for 20$ each. However, we enjoy slow traveling and the company of locals, so we decided to jump on several buses and travel to Copan via Guatemala. Copan, to us, seemed like a good and secure base to get to know Honduras, spend some time and soak in its charm, or even take some Spanish classes. As we walked around, we saw quite a lot of them, and the prices were very moderate.
Discover the Maya ruins
Maya ruins of Copan tell the stories of the formerly so prominent city and its inhabitants. To get an understanding, we urge you to take a private guide. The stories’ meanings of the hieroglyphics and sculptures are fascinating! The forest reclaimed the ancient city after its abandonment. Supposed “hills” are merely temples and buildings taken back by nature. Only parts of the old Maya site have been gently uncovered not to disturb wildlife.
Discover Copan's surrounding by foot or horseback
One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Copan is to go on a hike. There are plenty of trails to choose from, and each one offers stunning views. You might even spot some wildlife along the way! Hiking is a great way to explore the area.
The ruins are set against a backdrop of lush green hills, and the ride takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to take photos and soak up the atmosphere of this remarkable place. And best of all, you’ll get to trot past some of the most famous Maya ruins in the world without having to share them with hordes of other tourists.
Hang out in Copan's charming town
Thanks to moderate tourism, Copan is a small town that has profited immensely. Although Honduras was in an uproar during our visit, the situation was not tense in Copan. Every Honduran told us how upset and frustrated they were about current happenings. However, they told us how better the situation is for people who profit from tourism. We met many Hondurans from other parts of the country who came to Copan to find work. They and the locals alike emphasized how much they care for their city and how proud they are of its development.
Copan is a charming little town that has plenty to offer visitors. There are plenty of shops and restaurants to explore, and the city is full of friendly people. And if you’re looking for a place to relax, Copan has plenty of parks and coffee shops where you can sit back and enjoy the view. So whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, Copan is sure to have something for you!
Visit the hot springs near Copan
The hot springs near Copan are located in a beautiful setting, offering a great way to relax after a long day of exploring. In addition, the water is said to have healing properties so that you can soak away any aches and pains. And best of all, the hot springs are completely free!
Get ready to travel Nicaragua
The Maya civilization was one of the most advanced cultures in Mesoamerica. They were skilled farmers, architects, and astronomers. In addition, the Maya developed their hieroglyphic writing system and created beautiful works of art. Although the Maya civilization declined around 900 AD, their legacy lives on in the ruins of their cities and in the traditions of modern-day Maya people. If you’re interested in learning more about this fascinating culture, visiting Copan is a great place to start. You’ll be able to see firsthand some of the amazing achievements of the Maya people.
2,5 hours from Granada to León’s bus terminal.
Managua – León ( 1,5 hrs, $2.75)
León – Masaya ( 2,5 hrs, $3)
León – Chinandega (1,5 hrs, $1). We had to change Chinandega to go to Potosi.
From El Salvador to Copan
The journey from Santa Ana to Copan didn’t seem that long (the shuttle drivers suggested 5 hours). So we decided to go by bus. Let us tell you right away: the shuttle is still the “best” way to get there if you travel on time or within small budget.
There is no direct way by bus. You’ll have to enter and exit Guatemala in one day before continuing to Honduras. Be prepared to pay entrance and exit fees. If you decide to go by bus, remember that you’ll have to pay them in the respective currencies. Compared to other “Maya ruins” hotspots, Copan is affordable.
How to get to the ruins
The archeological site lies about 2 km outside the city center. You can either walk or take a moto-taxi. If you decide to visit Copan Ruinas in the afternoon, we recommend walking back to town. It takes you about 20 minutes. The sunset over Copan, Honduras, is amazing.
Safety in Copan:
Thanks to its moderate touristic development, Copán is much safer than anywhere else in Honduras.
Do not drink tap water in Honduras; bring your Lifestraw instead!
Biggest challenge for the responsible traveler
Trash: Often, you’ll find food vendors selling typical dishes on the go. It’s not just
delicious but cheap. To avoid plastic wrapping, choose to buy your food at the bus stations and have them put it in your collapsible container. Bring your Lifestraw Pro to avoid having to buy bottled water.
Packing List Central America
Central America is super diverse and offers plenty of things to do. Check out our packing list, get ready for an incredible adventure!
Eco-friendly stays in Copán
Hacienda San Lucas
Nestled in the hills of Western Honduras, Hotel Hacienda San Lucas is a 100-year-old family-owned hotel that was converted into an eco-resort. Partiallysituated on 300 acres from the pristine forest and partly built over what used to be Cueva family property. It also boasts some gorgeous architecture with a fascinating history behind each room’s bay window view towards Copan Valley.
Places to visit in Central America
Any local Tico (Costa Rican) will tell you that Montezuma, Costa Rica, is a must-visit destination to add to your itinerary. We agree with them! If you’re a person who loves the beach, natural beauty, and artsy towns, you’ll be in heaven here.
Most people who visit Costa Rica end up at places like Arenal, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio. Those places are stunning and absolutely should be visited! However, there’s an off-the-beaten-path that is one of Costa Rica’s best-kept secrets.
San Ignacio and its twin town Santa Elena form the heart of the “Cayo” district. While there is a comfortable touristic infrastructure, San Ignacio manages to maintain an authentic and vibrating charm. Contrary to the coastal part of Belize, Spanish is most widely spoken. San Ignacio is surrounded by lush vegetation, fast flowing rivers, Maya ruins, and caves. There are lots to do in this lively little town!