7 Must-Do Activities in Copán, Honduras

Catherine A. Jones
 | October 11, 2023

Illustration By Nuestro Stories

The ancient Honduran city of Copán offers a blend of historical intrigue, cultural immersion, and natural beauty. “It’s one of the most mysterious and spectacular Mayan cities,” National Graphic says in a recent video.

At its height, from 250 to 900 AD, approximately 27,000 Maya lived in Copan, but it was soon forgotten and almost lost to history. Luckily the city was rediscovered by Spaniard Diego Garcia Del Palacio in the 16th Century. And its secrets are still being uncovered today.

So, it’s no wonder thousands fascinated by ancient civilizations or seeking a serene escape, travel to the ancient city every year.

“Copan Ruins is … an amazing community, full of culture and history,” YouTuber JacobysJourneys tells viewers in a travel video with over 27,000 views.

Here, we bring you 7 must-do activities in this captivating Honduran destination:

  1. Explore the Copán Archaeological Site: Embark on a journey through ancient Maya civilization by exploring the Copán Archaeological Site. With the help of a local tour guide, marvel and learn about the pyramids, intricately carved stelae and hieroglyphic staircases, including the iconic Hieroglyphic Stairway.

“At nearly 30 meters high and covered in around 2,000 glyphs, the etched pyramidal staircase is not only impressive due to its size and artistry. This collection of symbols offers a rare window into the rich history of the Copán Valley and the culture that ruled it for so many years,” the site Atlas Obscura explains.

  1. Visit the Copán Museum: Delve deeper into the history and artifacts of Copán at the Copán Museum. The museum houses a rich collection of sculptures, ceramics, and other archaeological finds from the site, offering valuable context to enhance your understanding of the Maya culture. It’s also a designated UNESCO World Heritage preservation site.

“The Sculpture Museum at Copána … is absolutely worth the US $7 entry fee to see nearly 60 exhibits with more than 3,000 pieces of sculpture plus six restored buildings and some of the most important stele from the adjacent archaeological site,” the Trans-Americas Journey website writes.

  1. Stroll through Downtown Copán Ruinas: Take a leisurely stroll through the picturesque town of Copán Ruinas. Explore cobblestone streets, visit local markets, and appreciate the charming atmosphere. Engage with locals, sample traditional Honduran cuisine, and immerse yourself in the town’s cultural richness.
  2. Stop and enjoy the sunflowers: Take a stroll at the nearby El Paseo de Las Girasoles (Sunflower Stroll/Park), where it’s said thousands of tourists and locals visit to find a variety of the sunflowers, avocado trees, and an orange orchard. An Instagram photo in front of the hundreds of blooming sunflowers has been a must since the outdoor oasis opened in 2020.

“Pretty cool sunflowers and wildflowers field,” a recent visitor wrote, adding: “ … There’s a cafeteria with big outdoor dining area and festive music. Great location to spend time with families.”

  1. Help Feathered Friends at Macaw Mountain Bird Park and Nature Reserve: For nature enthusiasts, and animal/bird rescuers, a visit to the Macaw Mountain Bird Park provides a unique experience. Encounter colorful macaws and other native bird species in a natural setting. The park also features lush gardens, walking trails, and a butterfly house.

Plus: “Birds are freed during the annual Festival de la Guacamaya,” Honduran YouTuber Kevin Mendoza explains.

  1. Relax at the Luna Jaguar Hot Springs: Unwind at the Luna Jaguar Hot Springs, located near Copán Ruinas. Enjoy the therapeutic benefits of natural hot springs surrounded by lush tropical scenery. It’s a perfect way to rejuvenate after a day of exploring the archaeological wonders.

“You really have to see it to believe it,” Mendoza says, recommending a horseback ride at the nearby retreat of Hacienda San Lucas. He says the views of the Rio Copan from Hacienda San Lucas are Instagram worthy, and featured his souvenir photos on his IG account @kevinmendozahn.

  1. Eat Pupusas and More: A popular downtown restaurant Comedor y Pupuseria: La Pintada, serves up pupusas, the delicious stuffed masa cakes that are a quintessential part of Western Honduran cuisine.

“Pupusas originated in El Salvador and western Honduras, and are extremely popular in Central and South America,” WorldVision.org explains in their piece In the Kitchen: Honduran pupusas. “They’re similar to Mexican gorditas and Venezuelan arepas.”

YouTuber Mendoza also recommends the San Rafael restaurant, where the gift shop sells Honduran coffee, “Mayan Harvest” chocolate, and dozens of hot sauces – all local culinary treasures.

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