Amazing rock carvings at Copan Ruinas Honduras

Why you should spend a few days in Copán Ruinas

There’s not so much to see in Copán, and there are daytrips from Guatemala to see the ruins, but I think the town is worth a couple of days. We spent a few days in Copán and also saw the bird park Macaw Mountain, and had plenty of people-watching opportunities on the main square.

We arrived in Copán, Honduras, after a long day of travel from El Salvador, spending most of the day getting in and out of minibuses and crossing the border at El Poy and Nuevo Ocotepeque. We were dropped at the edge of town and walked through the center, looking for a place to stay for a few days. There’s not so much to see in Copán, and there are daytrips from Guatemala to see the ruins, but I think the town is worth a couple of days.

The center of Copan Ruinas Honduras

Where to stay in Copán

Copán Ruinas town is definitely on the tourist trail, and there are so many hotels and hostels to choose between. We stayed at the hostel Iguana Azul, in a private room with plenty of shared bathrooms and showers out back. We didn’t book ahead and were lucky to get their last available room, so I would definitely recommend making a reservation if you know in advance that you are going.

The hostel is run by the same people as the fancier Casa de Café next door, which looked fantastic with its garden and lovely restaurant. We had breakfast there in the mornings, which was a little bit pricey, but it was enough food to last us until dinner. The breakfast menu honestly was a struggle, so much eggs and bread and fruit.

Visiting Copán Ruinas and Las Sepulturas

I’ve always loved those places where people spend the night only to see the one same attraction, like Agra in India, or Aguas Calientes in Peru. Although the ruins in Copán are neither as impressive nor as well-visited as the Taj Mahal and Machu Picchu, the town still had the same sort of vibe. Everyone had either been to the ruins, or were going there in the morning.

View over one temple in Copan Ruinas Honduras

We went our first morning, which is recommended as the temperatures can get quite high in the day. If you arrive when they open around 8 am, you’ll also see the macaws near the entrance being fed. The entrance fee is 15 USD, which is quite a lot of money in Honduras, but also includes the lesser visited but highly recommended site Las Sepulturas nearby.

The main site is located about 1-2 kilometers outside of town, and there’s a really nice walking path going there. There are also plenty of mototaxis willing to take you there if you don’t want to walk. To get to Las Sepulturas, just continue down the same road a bit further and you’ll see it.

View from a temple at Copan Ruinas Honduras

The main site at Copán Ruinas is a quite large area, with plenty of temples and statues. It’s definitely more impressive than the site Tazuamal that I’d visited in El Salvador, but not as big as Palenque or Tikal. There are so many sculptures and carvings, which I really liked about this site.

We strolled and climbed around the ruins for a few hours, reading about all of them in our guidebook. Some people had guides, but we weren’t super interested in the details, we mostly wanted to see everything. The area wasn’t very crowded, at times it was even possible to take pictures with no people in them.

Horses by the road on the way to Las Sepulturas Copan Ruinas Honduras

After we were done with the main site, we continued walking to Las Sepulturas. I would highly recommend visiting this site as well unless you’re really stressed to leave town. There were no other people there, only one young man who was trying to do that trick of starting to walk next to you dropping pieces of info until you realize that you have a guide and will now have to pay. We kindly informed him that we didn’t need a guide and he took off immediately, leaving us to explore the site on our own. These ruins are smaller and more overgrown, but much less polished up for tourists.

Visiting Macaw Mountain, the bird park

On the following day, our main activity was a visit to the bird park Macaw Mountain. The macaw is the national bird of Honduras, and this park is a sanctuary where rescued or injured birds are rehabilitated before being released into the wild if at all possible.

Bird at Macaw mountain parque de aves in Copan Ruinas Honduras

The entrance fee of 10 USD goes toward the care for the birds and includes a guide. We had heard it was possible to swim at the park, but we didn’t see a place for that when we were there. Perhaps it was temporarily closed.

mountain parque de aves

The park itself was really lovely, and there are walking paths through the forest where you can walk around looking at the birds. It’s really relaxing, not noisy and busy like some other bird parks. There’s a small restaurants and gift shop on site if you need it. We took a mototaxi from town for 20 lempiras per person and walked back. It’s not far, maybe 2 kilometers or just over, so you could definitely walk both ways if you want to.

Where to eat in Copán

I’ve already recommended Casa de Café, which was an absolutely amazing place, and very vegetarian friendly. It’s a little bit pricey, but still excellent value for money.

Another place we went to was the gringo restaurant at the hostel Vía Vía. There were a lot of street dogs in the restaurant, which we thought was awesome but I can see how not everyone would agree. After roughing it for a while in El Salvador, we really appreciated some burgers and beers.

Our last night in Copán, we went to Jim’s Pizza, a place that came highly recommended, run by an American who’s lived in Honduras for a  long time. The place is nothing fancy, but the pizza was excellent and the service friendly, and they will also show sports games when something’s on.

Taxis waiting at the parque central in Copan Ruinas Honduras

Getting to and away from Copán

We came from El Salvador, traveling for most of the day to get to Copán. It was still easy enough, but if you want to break the journey we heard good things about Santa Rosa de Copán. Leaving Copán, we were going to Lago de Yojoa. The first step of that journey was to take a bus to the infamous San Pedro Sula, which left in the morning from the edge of town. We took the bus at 7, which I think was the last direct service, and when we got there fifteen minutes before departure we got the last seats. This is not recommended, as I ended up sitting in the front with my back to the window and zero legroom, so I’d say definitely get there a half hour before departure.

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