Categories: Travel

Mayan Ruins Travel Guide • The World Travel Guy | Selfimprovementblogs


The ancient city of Copan was one of the most important centers for the Maya civilization in Central America, and today ‘Copan Ruinas’ is one of the best Mayan ruins you can see in Honduras!

Copan was home to the Mayans for almost 2,000 years, and it was only rediscovered in the 16th century. On a visit to Copan, you can see the intricate carvings, temples, and ruins surrounded by jungle, and there are even colorful parrots flying around in the trees!

The archaeological site of Copan Ruinas sits right next to a quaint but modern town of the same name, and you can go there on a day trip (or longer) from San Pedro Sula in Honduras, as well as from other places in Central America, including Guatemala or El Salvador.

This travel guide will explain how to get to Copan Ruinas by bus or driver, what to expect when touring the Mayan ruins, how to see the parrots, and everything else you need to know before you go!


Where Is Copan Ruinas Located?

Copan Ruinas is a town located in western Honduras, near the border of Guatemala. The Mayan ruins of the same name are located just outside of town.

The distance to Copan Ruinas from San Pedro Sula is only about 180 kilometers (110 miles) as the crow flies, but the drive takes close to 4 hours because of the winding, bumpy roads.

How To Get To Copan Ruinas Honduras

The best way to get to the town of Copan Ruinas is by car, bus, or tour.

Unfortunately, there’s no airport to fly directly to Copan Ruinas. The Honduran government built an airport there in 2015, but it was never opened.

The closest place you can fly in Honduras is San Pedro Sula (code: SAP), otherwise it’s also possible to visit Copan Ruinas overland from Guatemala or El Salvador. You can shop for flights in Central America on Skyscanner.

From Tegucigalpa or San Pedro Sula, you can take the Hedman Alas bus to Copan Ruinas. It’s non-stop and air-conditioned. Reviews are mixed about their service quality, so don’t expect luxury, but it’s the cheapest way to get to Copan Ruinas, and at least they seem to be safe.

You can buy bus tickets on the Hedman Alas website.

Copan Ruinas Honduras

The other option for getting to Copan Ruinas is to rent a car and drive yourself, or hire a private driver to take you there.

Trifinio Tours can provide one way transfers to the town of Copan Ruinas from San Pedro Sula, as well as some places in Guatemala or El Salvador, although their service is pretty pricey so it’s only a good value if you have a unique itinerary or if you plan to stay in the town for more than a day or two.

Last, but not least, a day tour package can be one of the easiest and most efficient ways to visit Copan Ruinas because it includes all of the transport and everything else you need to go see the ruins and then get back on your way. I’ll list some good tour options below.

Best Copan Ruinas Tours

Here are some good options if you want to visit Copan Ruinas with a tour:

We’ve used Viator and GetYourGuide for lots of tours and activities around the world, and they’re great. Highly recommended!

Copan Ruinas


How To Get To The Mayan Ruins At Copan

Once you arrive in the town of Copan Ruinas, it’s easy to get to the Mayan ruins. They’re just a short distance outside of town, approximately one kilometer from the Copan Ruinas town center.

You can walk to the ruins from town in about 15 minutes, or you can hire a tuk-tuk taxi to drop you off there for a couple US Dollars. I think the tuk-tuk is the best idea because it’s so cheap and easy.

If you booked a tour of Copan Ruinas, they’ll take you straight to the ruins so you can get started sightseeing right away.

Copan Mayan Ruins: What To Expect

The ruins of Copan are spread over a fairly large area, with temples, statues, staircases, tunnels, residential areas, a ball court, and even a cemetery.

You can see the main highlights of the park in about 2 hours or so, and the whole area is easily walkable. Most of the time, you’ll be walking on grass or flat rock. Just watch your step if you climb the stairs, because some of them are rough and uneven.

While other Mayan ruins like Tikal and Chichen Itza are mainly known for their impressive buildings, the Copan ruins are full of wonderful carvings and ancient hieroglyphics!

Copan Ruinas

The ball court at Copan


• Best Things To See At Copan Ruinas

  • Monument Plaza. This grassy open plaza is one of the first things you’ll see when you enter the archaeological park. It has a bunch of amazing Mayan statues spread out around the area, and a pyramid shaped platform you can climb for better views of Copan.
  • Ball Court. Mesoamericans loved their ball games, so naturally there’s a ball court at Copan. Later on, you can also see great views of the ball court from above at the acropolis. It’s one of the most iconic photos of Copan Ruinas.
  • Hieroglyphic Stairway. This stone staircase has 62 steps and 2,200 glyphs, making it the longest known hieroglyphic text of the Mayan civilization. The text is still being reconstructed today.
  • Acropolis. The acropolis was the heart of Copan. It’s divided into an east and west court with lots of stone carvings and statues. Some of these are not very obvious at first, so take your time or you might miss them!

Intricate statues at Copan Ruinas


• Parrots At Copan Ruinas

You can see lots of amazing red parrots at Copan Ruinas! These are scarlet macaws, the national bird of Honduras, and they like to hang out in the trees near the entrance of the archaeological park.

The birds are wild, so please remember not to touch or feed them. They have sharp beaks and I’m sure they could do some damage if they wanted. They also need a special diet to stay healthy like in the wild.

However, as long as you don’t bother them, the parrots at Copan Ruinas are very relaxed, and it’s easy to get up close to them and take some great pictures. They can be seen anywhere in the ruins, but near the entrance is generally the best place to spot them.

If you want to see even more parrots in Honduras, you can check out the Macaw Mountain Bird Park, which is just a short distance north of Copan Ruinas town.

You can see lots of parrots at Copan Ruinas

Scarlet macaw in the treetops


• Entrance Fees

  • Archaeological Site: $15 USD (370 Honduran lempira)
  • Tunnels (Optional): $15 USD
  • Museum (Optional): $7 USD
  • Guide (Optional): $30 – $40 USD per group

Nowadays, you can pay the Copan Ruinas entrance fee with cash or credit card. I used a foreign Visa credit card with no issues.

• Opening Hours

The Mayan ruins are open seven days a week, every day of the year, from 8 AM to 5 PM. This includes the museum and tunnels.

Jungle covered ruins


Best Time To Visit Copan Ruinas Honduras

Morning is the best time of day to visit Copan Ruinas because you can avoid the worst heat and crowds.

During the daytime, temperatures can reach 32° Celcius (90° Fahrenheit), so it’s much more pleasant to tour the ruins in the morning when it’s still relatively cool. When I started touring the ruins at about 9 AM, there were not too many tourists at all, but leaving later in the day was a very different story!

Any month is okay for visiting Copan Ruinas. The wet season in this part of Honduras runs from May to October, so you’re more likely to encounter rain in those months. However, it gives the ruins a nice green background of jungle foliage, so that’s a plus, especially if you plan to take pictures.

The dry season in Copan Ruinas runs from November to April, so these months have the best chance of nice, sunny weather. The temperatures are also a bit cooler and more manageable from November to January, with daytime highs of less than 26° Celcius (80° Fahrenheit).

Copan Ruinas


Is Copan Ruinas Safe?

Honduras doesn’t have a great reputation for safety, but the Copan Ruinas area is known as one of the safest parts of the mainland. That goes for the quaint little town of Copan Ruinas, as well as the actual Mayan ruins just outside of town.

People who go to Copan will tell you it’s a pretty safe place to visit, and I would have to agree based on my own experience as a solo traveler. I carried my Fuji camera and took lots of pictures at the Mayan ruins, but I kept it hidden discreetly in my bag when I was walking around town or at the ruins.

It’s true that Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world, but apparently the bulk of this is from drug gangs fighting each other, and other violence in the cities. Tourists are generally not the target. That doesn’t mean we’re immune to it, but the main place to be careful is in big cities like Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula.

Lots of international tourists come to Copan Ruinas every year, and I haven’t heard of any recent reports of crime, robberies, or violence toward tourists. I will update this travel guide if anything changes. Overall, I think it’s pretty safe.

If you want some extra peace of mind, you could also bring a hidden travel belt (like this one on Amazon) and put some of your valuables in it. That’s what I did with my phone, cash, and credit cards on my first visit to Honduras.



Other Tips For Copan Ruinas Honduras

  • Where To Stay: There are plenty of safe and comfortable hotels in Copan Ruinas town. I stayed at Hotel La Escalinata, which has a friendly owner, free breakfast, and jungle views from the terrace. Two other good options are Hostel Iguana Azul or Terramaya Boutique Hotel.
  • Where To Eat: There are lots of good restaurants to choose from in Copan town. My favorite was Los Asados near the town center — great food and huge portions! I got mixed meat with chicken, beef, and sausages, plus a side of plantains and refried beans. Some other good places to eat are Sol de Copán, Cafe Via Via, and Mayan Harvest cafe.
  • What To Wear: Dress for the tropics! Temperatures can be hot and humid here in the daytime, so you’ll want to have lightweight summer clothing. I wore shorts and flip flops. Just remember to dress modestly since Copan is an important place for the locals.
  • Currency: Some places accept credit cards, including the Mayan ruins, where you can use your card to pay the entrance fee. However, a lot of places in town are cash only, including many of the hotels and restaurants. Bring some cash in case you need it. You can pay in Honduran lempira or US dollars.
  • Bathrooms: There are public toilets at the entrance to the Copan archaeological park, but no bathrooms once you get to the ruins, so you’ll want to take care of business before you start touring the ruins.
  • Snacks & Drinks: There are little shops at the entrance of the park where you can buy snacks and drinks. I got some bottled water here after a long day of touring the ruins.
  • Cell Service: There is cell service at the Copan park if you need to make a phone call or send a text message. This is handy if you’re expecting a driver to pick you up after touring the ruins.
  • Drones: They don’t allow drones at the Mayan ruins. They’re pretty strict about this, so I wouldn’t recommend bringing a drone at all.
  • Bug Spray: I didn’t notice any bugs or mosquitoes at Copan during the dry season, but it’s still a good idea to apply bug spray just in case. This is especially true if you visit near the wet season, when there are likely to be more bugs.
  • Wildlife: Obviously there are the parrots (scarlet macaws) at Copan Ruinas, and you can see many other kinds of colorful birds in the treetops as well. If you’re lucky, you might also see monkeys or other animals in the area.

Hieroglyphic stairway


Is Copan Ruinas Worth It?

I enjoyed Copan Ruinas even though the drive was a bit long and tedious. I probably wouldn’t rank these Mayan ruins up there with something really epic like Tikal Guatemala, but I’ve already seen Tikal before, and this was something new.

One of the good things about the somewhat remote location is that it has kept it from getting too touristy or crowded. Sure, there are plenty of comfortable hotels and restaurants, but the whole area is still quaint and it feels like you’re off the beaten path, which I liked.

Overall, if you enjoy archaeological sites, culture, history, and wildlife, then I think Copan Ruinas is definitely worth a visit!

More Central America Travel Tips

Thanks for looking! I hope you enjoyed this guide for the Mayan ruins of Copan Ruinas in Honduras.

Don’t forget to check out my other travel blog posts for Central America and South America before you go!

Happy travels!


Published by

Recent Posts

The 9 Weirdest Modern Day Men’s Fashion Trends | Selfimprovementblogs

Trends are essential. They keep fashion moving forwards. Without them, we’d all just be stuck…

9 hours ago

Sweet and Spicy Instant Pot Chicken Breast · i am a food blog | Selfimprovementblogs

Super juicy, sweet and spicy Instant Pot chicken breast is a dinner life saver; they’re…

11 hours ago

CODE41 NB24 Stratom Watch Review: 2023 Expert Verdict | Selfimprovementblogs

Say the word “chronograph” and the image that comes to mind is probably something with…

1 day ago

How to Navigate a Breakup | Selfimprovementblogs

How to Navigate a Breakup | A Relationship Therapist’s Story and Tips on How to…

2 days ago

Men’s Wardrobe Basics That You Should Spend Good Money On | Selfimprovementblogs

There’s an ad for a T-shirt company right now that asks “Can a T-shirt really…

2 days ago

The Best Risotto with mushrooms and eggs and parm · i am a food blog | Selfimprovementblogs

The coziest risotto recipe topped with an egg and plenty of parm! Super creamy, super…

3 days ago