Copan Ruinas is a small town in western Honduras near the Guatemala border. Best known for the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Maya city of Copan, this charming town is the undisputed cultural hub of Honduras. 

The ruins are impressive, but they’re not the only thing to do and see here! A quaint, rural area, there is so much on offer in Copan Ruinas and it is worthy of a visit on your trip to Honduras. 

See scarlet macaws, the national bird of Honduras, enjoy some tasty local chocolate and coffee, hike in the hills, soak in hot springs and even fly over the canopy on a zipline if you’re brave! 

This Copan Ruinas itinerary will tell you exactly how to spend 3 days (4 nights) here, to hit all the highlights. 

Day 1: Mayan Ruins and ChocolateExploring the Copan Ruins

Morning 

Kick off your first day in Copan Ruinas with the main event – the Maya city of Copan. 

A UNESCO World Heritage site, this well-preserved ancient city was once a thriving metropolis in the Maya kingdom, housing up to 20,000 people at its peak between AD 300 to AD 900. 

Copan differs from neighboring cities like Tikal and Palenque with its intricate carvings. The rock used to build the city was softer, and its residents were master artisans. They carved elaborate stelae and sculptures with natural, cultural and religious symbols. 

The ruins are less than a mile from the centre of town. If you’re up for an easy stroll, there is a well-made sidewalk. Otherwise, any tuk-tuk in town can drop you at the ruins for a few dollars. 

The ruins open daily from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm and tickets for foreign visitors are $20 USD. 

While it’s possible to walk around the site yourself, we highly recommend organizing a local guide at the site. Their knowledge and stories will bring the city to life, and give greater context to the structures you’re looking at and what life was like in Copan at its peak. 

Be sure to keep your eye out for scarlet macaws! They were an important symbol in Mayan culture, and you’ll see macaw carvings. Wild macaws have been released into the ancient city as part of a breeding program to increase the population. There are artificial nests in trees all over the site, and you’re sure to hear their loud squawks! Birds at Copan Ruins

You’ll want to spend at least 3 hours to see the best of the site. 

If you’re a big history buff, you can add on a visit to the Museo de Esculturas (Sculpture Museum) which is also on-site. For an additional $7 USD, you can see more examples of Copan’s most impressive sculptures and carvings that are protected inside. As well as an elaborate reconstruction of the Rosalila Temple, created based off archaeolgists findings. 

RELATED  17 Incredible Family Vacations

Afternoon

When you’re finished at the ancient city, wander back into town for lunch. If you’re looking for a cheap local option, Buena Baleadas is delicious! For lunch with a view, head to La Casa de Cafe, which has a lovely patio overlooking the mountains. 

The rest of the afternoon is slow-paced and relaxing. Make your way to El Lugar de Te y Chocolate (The Tea and Chocolate Place), a gorgeous cafe on the outskirts of town. Copan Ruinas-Honduras-Tea and Chocolate Place

It’s possible to walk there in around 15 minutes from town, but you’ll have to face a steep hill to get there! Pre-working off the chocolate perhaps? Otherwise, jump in a tuk-tuk. 

With a gorgeous wraparound balcony with forest views, hammocks, and comfy couches, bring a book and spend a few hours taking it easy and enjoying some sweet treats. 

You can try their organic chocolate in many forms – hot or cold chocolate drinks, different flavored chocolate bars, and freshly baked brownies! They also have a nice range of teas to choose from. 

EveningCopan Ruinas-Honduras-Parque Central

Evenings are pretty quiet in Copan Ruinas, but it’s worth sitting down for some people-watching at Parque Central. You can watch the sky light up at sunset and see the lights come on at the cathedral. 

Enjoy a nice meal for dinner and turn in early. Mary Restaurant is a great local option. If you want something more international, try Cafe ViaVia which has a few different Asian curries and noodles. 

 

Day 2: Macaws, Ziplining and Hot Springs 

Morning

If you don’t have breakfast included at your accommodation, enjoy a nice meal this morning at Cafe San Rafael. A completely unexpected establishment in this rural Honduran town, the cafe serves delicious breakfast options and excellent barista-made coffee. Copan Ruinas-Honduras-Cafe San Rafael

Then it’s time for the second thing Copan is famous for – macaws!

Hopefully, you saw some at the ancient city yesterday, but if you didn’t, today you’re guaranteed! Copan Ruinas-Honduras-Macaw Mountain

Macaw Mountain is a bird sanctuary that rescues, rehabilitates and releases a variety of birds, most commonly the scarlet macaws that Copan Ruinas is famous for. 

It’s a decent, uphill walk from town (1.5 mi) so you might like to take a tuk-tuk. The park is open daily from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm. Entry is 240 Lempira or $10 USD. 

The experience at the park is a self-guided walk passing their different aviaries. There is great information about the birds and breeding programs in Spanish and English. 

There is also an open-air interaction area, where you can see birds hanging outside their cage. You can’t touch or hold them, but it’s interesting to see them up close.

If you’re up for a thrill, right next door to Macaw Mountain is the Copan Canopy Tour, a set of 14 ziplines flying above the canopy. Get some epic aerial views of the forest and surrounding mountains, and look out for wild macaws that often hang around the sanctuary. 

RELATED  Comayagua park near Soto Cano

Although you can book the ziplining directly, the best way to organize today is to book a combined tour with Cafe ViaVia. For $45 USD, you’ll get transport to and from town, your canopy tour and entry to Macaw Mountain. 

Afternoon

Agua Termales Copan HondurasGrab a quick lunch in town, before heading off for your next activity – hot springs

The Luna Jaguar Spa is a set of natural mineral pools tucked away in the hills 1 hour from Copan Ruinas. The thermal waters are created by nearby volcanic activity, and there are more than 15 pools with different temperatures. 

There is also a spa on-site where you can pre-book additional services like massages and mud baths. 

Cafe ViaVia offers a package including your entry to the spa and return transport for $22 USD. They depart Copan at 1:00 pm and return at 6:00 pm. 

Evening

Today has been a big day, and those thermal waters will have you feeling relaxed and probably ready for bed! Enjoy a nice dinner, and if you’re a sweet tooth like me, pop into Don Churro for some tasty churros for dessert! 

Day 3: Hiking, Horseriding and CoffeeHorseback riding in Copan Honduras

Morning

You have two options to choose from this morning: hiking or horseback riding

Cafe ViaVia offers a selection of guided hikes into the mountains around the valley. They have a particularly interesting option, the Copan Cultural Hike, which takes you to an indigenous Maya village on the outskirts of town. You’ll learn about the history and culture of the area and community. 

If you’d prefer to give your legs a break, they also offer horseriding tours. Saddle up on a calm horse and explore the mountains around town with a local guide. You’ll stop for a rest in a neighboring Maya village, getting a glimpse into traditional life. 

 Cafe Via Via

Cafe Via Via

Afternoon

This afternoon, join a coffee tour! 

Honduras is Central America’s largest exporter of coffee, and they produce some delicious beans. The Copan Valley is a particularly fertile area and there are lots of plantations around here. 

Cafe Welchez, a cafe in town, offers tours of their farm, Finca San Isabel. You’ll get a hands-on insight into the entire coffee-making process. Cafe Welchez

Tour the farm and see how coffee starts as a plant. Progress through the picking, processing and roasting stages, with plenty of samples along the way, before enjoying lunch in their cafe. 

You can book tours on Cafe Welchez’s website, and it includes transport from town. 

Evening

Celebrate your final night in Copan Ruinas with a drink. If you’re a beer lover, head to Sol de Copan, a German microbrewery that feels pleasantly out of place in this small town! If you’re a wine lover, return to Cafe San Rafael. They have the biggest selection of wine in town, and they also offer a delicious cheese and charcuterie board so stay for dinner. 

RELATED  Utila Island, Honduras

How to get to Copan RuinasCopan Mayan Ruins in Copan, Honduras

Copan Ruinas is easily accessible from the city of San Pedro Sula. This hosts the largest international airport in the country, as well as the biggest bus terminal. 

Whether you’re just landing on a flight from outside Honduras, or coming from Lago de Yojoa or the Bay Islands, you’ll transit via San Pedro Sula. 

If you don’t plan to rent a car, which is helpful but not really necessary in Copan Ruinas, you’ve got two options to reach town. 

The best option is to take the Hedman Alas coach bus, which runs a direct service from San Pedro Sula to Copan Ruinas, however their operations are inconsistent. 

The cheaper, slower, and more local option is to take the Casasola Express colectivo van. Expect a cramped trip with frequent stops to squeeze in more passengers! 

Copan Ruinas is also accessible from Guatemala if you’re already traveling around the region. There are tourist shuttles from Antigua, that generally take 5 – 7 hours, and include assistance with the border crossing. 

Where to stay in Copan RuinasHotel Camino Maya–Copan, Honduras

There are some lovely accommodation options in Copan, that draw on the town’s colonial and rural charm. Think leafy garden areas, flower boxes on windows, and hammocks strung up on balconies to take in the views. 

Accommodation in Copan Ruinas, and the mainland of Honduras more broadly, is much cheaper than on the touristy islands like Roatan. 

Here are some top picks for your 4-night stay: 

Copan Ruinas itinerary: A wrap

Copan Ruinas is a gorgeous town in Honduras, full of history, culture, wildlife and nature. 

It’s a lovely change of pace from the busier and more touristy Bay Islands, and is a fantastic addition to any Honduras trip. 

The town is laidback and slow paced, and you could easily add a few more days here to relax and unwind if you’ve got the time. 

Guest Author: Sally from Sally Sees is passionate about all things Latin America. She has traveled extensively through Mexico and Central America, and her blog helps readers discover the magic of the region, inspiring and equipping them with the information they need to plan their own epic Latin American adventure. 

Read Next:

Hotel Camino Maya–Copan, Honduras

Top 18 Things to do in Roatan, Honduras