Copan is an ancient Mayan site located in northern Honduras, close to the Guatemalan border. The archeological site was once one of the most southern cities in the Mayan empire and was occupied for more than 2,000 years. Much of the city has eroded away through the centuries, but visitors can still see parts of the once great city, and the stelae (stone carvings) for which this site is famous.
Learning from our Tikal experience, we made a point of getting up early to visit the ruins in Copan. Well it felt early anyway… is 8 am early? I suppose not…
The 15-minute walk from town to the site is super straightforward (just follow the road out of town) and we were thrilled when we showed up and there were NO tour buses in sight.
For two hours our only company were the groundskeepers, and we were able to explore in peace.
The site is very small compared to Tikal, and is overall less impressive, but the carvings are SO intricate and beautiful. It is truly astounding to see stone carved with so much detail survive though the centuries.
At $15 per person the entry fee is pretty high, but in a country that is struggling to draw tourists in the numbers that its neighbors are, its understandable why a higher price is needed to keep the ruins open to visitors.
You can pay an additional $15 to explore tunnels underneath the crumbling structures, but we opted not to since our budget was suffering at that point. Maybe next time.
The ruins themselves are definitely worth a visit, and as an added bonus you can visit with a local macaw population.
A couple hours was just the right amount of time to explore, but if you are really into Mayan culture I would recommend getting a guide. We did not and while I am really fine with that decision, it would have been cool to know what all the carvings meant. On the flipside you can make up your own tales, which is maybe more fun.
Dollars and Sense
Entrance to Copan Ruinas- $15/person