The ruins of Copán are 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 Copánwas 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.