Copan was one of the great centers of the Mayan civilization. That was over 1000 years ago. Today, there’s a modern town, Copan Ruinas, located close to the ruins. The ruins are important and a major attraction among tourists coming to Honduras, although they are not as popular — or crowded — as Chichen Itza (Mexico).
How to get to
From anywhere in Honduras, you can get to Copan Ruinas by shuttle bus. There are also buses connecting Copan Ruinas to Antigua, Guatemala.
The closest airport is in the city of San Pedro Sula, RamÃ³n Villeda Morales International Airport (SAP). It mostly receives flights from other Caribbean countries , but there are some direct flights to the USA as well.
Flights and accommodation
Just like the rest of the Caribbean, the high season runs between December and March, but you can plan your vacation here anytime. Remember that accommodation and flights to Honduras tend to be more expensive during the high season and it’s ideal to book in advance.
Although the city is small, there are a lot of accommodation options for the visitors. You can choose among budget places to stay, mid-range hotels and high end hotels. You can easily get away with US$5.50 per night in a shared dorm if you travel during summer.
Things to do
The Copan Ruins are the highlight of the city. And they are easily accessed via a short walk out of town. Although the site is extensive, for some it might appear small (especially if they visited larger sites before). But, the site has a lot of Pre-Columbian sculptures. And it’s not crowded in the early morning even during the high season. Entrance is about US$20 (including the museum).
The ruins are best known for the carved stellae of ancient rulers and the well preserved hieryoglyphics. There’s also a Mayan museum on site , with a reconstructed temple.
Another 20 min walk from the site, you’ll find Las Sepulturas, an open section of the ruins which many people don’t visit. You can use the ticket purchased at the Copan ruins to visit this section, too. If you are a fan of the Mayan culture, you can easily spend up to full days visiting the ruins.
But Copan Ruinas has more to offer. Take a minibus to Agua Caliente, a natural hot spring located about 25 km outside the city proper. Or you can visit a birds sanctuary, complete with swimming hole. Alternatively, you can see the butterflies in a sanctuary located close to the town.
Zip lines and horseback riding are also popular activities in the area. The rides can take you to Los Sapos, which is a small ruin not part of the archeological site. Plus, it’s close to the river , where you can enjoy great swimming.
Photo by Adalberto.H.Vega