Across the border in Honduras, about five hours by road from Guatemala City, are the ruins of Copán, one of the most magnificent of all Maya sites. While its compact scale is not initially as impressive as Tikal or Mexico’s Chichén Itzá, it boasts an astonishing number of decorative carvings, stelae and altars, including a towering hieroglyphic stairway. Throw in a wonderful site museum and the delightful and friendly village of Copán Ruinas, where most people stay, and it’s easy to appreciate Copán’s appeal.
Delightfully located in a sweeping highland valley, the city-state of Copán was the southernmost centre of the Maya civilization. The Maya chose a beautiful site on the fertile banks of the Río Copán at a pleasingly temperate altitude of 600m. Today the countryside around Copán is glorious to look at, with green rolling hills of pastureland and tobacco and coffee farms interspersed with patches of pine forest. Though the archeological site is the main attraction, there’s plenty more to explore in the surrounding area, with hot springs, fincas and bird reserves close by.Read More
Getting to Copán is pretty straightforward from Guatemala. There are excellent transport links from Antigua and Guatemala City by direct daily shuttle and luxury buses, or you can also travel via Chiquimula, a longer but cheaper route. The Honduran currency is the Lempira; at the time of research the rate was US$1 = L19. Most nationalities (US, Canada, virtually all EU countries, Australia and New Zealand) qualify for a free thirty-day visa on arrival, and crossing the border is usually very straightforward. Note that the country code for Honduras is 504 and there are no area codes.