First of all, let’s get one thing clear: it is safe to visit Honduras. You wont immediately be caught in the cross fire of gang violence the moment you cross the border. It is especially safe to visit Copán Ruinas in Honduras and I would highly recommend it if you are heading to Central America any time soon. Obviously, every country has its risks and Honduras is no exception- it has a terrible gang problem- but it is very rare for tourists to be victims of gang violence. You should exercise caution and common sense wherever you go whether its a first or third world country. Do your research about the towns and places before you visit and if you are still worried then use a reputable tour company to get around.
Anyway, now I’ve got that out of the way, lets talk about Copán!
Copán Ruinas, or simply just Copán, is the name of a town and Maya ruin site in Western Honduras. The Maya ruins are one of my favourites in all of Latin America because they are well preserved and in a stunning location full of Macaws (the parrots). To top it off, Copán doesn’t get anywhere near as busy as places like Chichen Itza. This makes it quiet and relaxing to visit.
Where is Copán?
Copán is in Western Honduras. Near the border with Guatemala. The ruin site is about a 20 minute walk from the main town of Copán. You can also hire Tuk Tuk style bikes to take you there for a reasonable price.
How much does it cost to visit Copán Ruins ?
The entrance fee is $15 US Dollars or its equivalent in the local currency (Lempiras). It costs more to have a guide but these prices will vary depending where you book.
A little about Copán
I’m not going to go into great detail about the history of Copán because this blog would turn into a history essay otherwise! Although, one thing you should know is that the Maya civilisation is a fascinating one and absolutely worth learning about- especially whilst you’re in Latin America. It’s worth getting a guide to explain things in more detail whilst you’re there. To refresh my memory I found this site very helpful too.
- Copán is an ancient Maya city. Most of the main buidlings you see are not people’s homes but temples, tombs and a central plaza used for ceromonial purposes. There is also a ball court where a pretty brutal ancient ball game would’ve been played on special occaisons.
- One of the highlights is the hieroglyphic stairway. There are about 1,260 hieroglyphic symbols carved into the stone steps that led up to one of the temples (see photo above).
- It was ruled by a dynasty of at least 16 kings between about AD 426 and 820. You can see depictions of these kings carved into some of the stones.
- The Maya had abandoned the city by 1200. It would not be discovered by Europeans until Spanish explorers came across it in the late 16th century.
- American travelers John Stephens and Frederick Catherwood rediscovered them in 1839 and in the 1930’s and 40’s the ruins were restored.
Pictures of Copán Ruins
Wandering around the main part of town won’t take you long. It’s a quiet and beautiful little place with cobbled streets and a mix of cafes and shops. You’ll see lots of locals sitting in the main square and no hoards of tourists. I was suprised to find a cheese shop/cafe there. It’s called Cafe San Rafael and you could get a cheese and cracker platter with your choice of different cheeses. It was a nice treat for a cheese lover like myself as I had been getting by on mostly American style cheese for the last month (sorry America, but your cheese cannot be classified as real cheese). We stayed in a hotel called, Calle Real. It was very basic but clean. It is also at the top of a steep hill so prepare for an intense leg workout if you do stay there.
Are you heading to Copán soon? I hope you’ve found my blog helpful. Let me know in the comments!