How to Visit the Copan Ruins in Honduras
They may not be as grand or impressive as Tikal or Chichen Itza, but their appeal lies in both their authenticity and accessibility. Forget souvenir stalls, manicured grounds, and crowds of tourists- when you visit the Copan ruins you’ll feel like you’re discovering them all for yourself.
The Copan Ruins
Copan, once a centre of the Maya civilisation, is a collection of ruins in southwestern Honduras. The ruins include stepped pyramids, carvings, and sculptures. It is also home to the world’s longest hieroglyphic text, in the form of a staircase covered in carvings depicting the history of Copan.
I massively enjoyed our visit to the Copan ruins. The jungle surroundings and lack of other visitors made me feel like we were intrepidly discovering an ancient civilisation. We climbed up a couple of the stepped pyramids, which was a struggle, but worth it for the view of the ruins from the top. Just be sure you take note of the signs, as I ended up climbing one that was off-limits and getting told off by a security guard. Oops!
There are a few boards dotted around the ruins that give information in Spanish and English. Most of the sculptures and carvings are covered by tarps to protect them from the sunlight.
We bypassed the museum, and instead spent our time exploring the area around the ruins, spotting scarlet macaws and a rabbit-sized rodent we later learned was called a paca.
How to Visit the Copan Ruins
The ruins, Copán Ruinas in Spanish, lie just outside a town that is confusingly also named Copán Ruinas. The town is small but has a few accommodation options and plenty of places to eat. You can catch a bus here from San Pedro Sula or La Entrada in Honduras, and there are also buses here from Guatemala and El Salvador. The shuttles can be obscenely overpriced, but we were happy to take local chicken buses instead.
The ruins are just one kilometre from the town, and can easily be reached on foot. The entrance fee is a fairly steep $15, which can be paid in US dollars or Honduran lempiras. This fee includes entry to the ruins and the sepulturas, a graveyard located a few kilometres away. Entrance to the museum costs $7 extra, and you must pay a further $15 to walk through the tunnels under the ruins.
We stuck to just exploring the ruins. Some people say the sepulturas are amazing, others say they’re not worth the walk. The museum gets similar mixed reviews. Everyone seems to agree that the tunnels are not worth the extra expense.
Leave early to visit the Copan ruins (gates open at 8 am), as it gets unbelievably hot around midday!
After You Visit the Copan Ruins…
There are a few things to do around the town of Copan Ruinas, including horseback riding, and visiting a butterfly house. We chose to visit the amazing Macaw Mountain, which is an absolute must do!