Planning a trip to Copan Ruins from Antigua? In this post, you will find everything you need to know about doing the overnight trip.
When I first arrived in Antigua I was told by so many people how they planned to stay a few days and then two years later they were still there. I planned to stay for 2 weeks, maybe 4 if I liked it. On my 7th week here I decided I needed to at least do a road trip somewhere as I was supposed to be ‘travelling’! So chatting to a few friends I decided to head from Antigua to Copán Ruins for the day!
Things you need to know
- Copán Ruins is in Honduras so if you are travelling from Guatemala you need to take your passport! They also have a different currency (more about that later).
- Compared to Antigua it’s really cheap!
- The bus journey should take around 8 hours but especially coming back through Guatemala City it can take a lot longer!
- It’s a lot hotter than Antigua so don’t forget to pack your shorts and sunscreen!
What is Copán Ruins and where is it?
Copán Ruins is one of the most important Mayan sites first excavated in the 19th Century. It is just 30 minutes from the Guatemalan border making it an excellent overnight trip from Antigua. The town of Copán Ruins itself is a small and quaint with cobbled streets and some of the friendliest people I’ve met in Central America. From the town itself it’s a nice 20-minute walk to the ruins or if you don’t fancy the walk there are plenty of Tuk Tuks around you can flag down.
How do you get there?
From Antigua, you can book a tourist shuttle with pretty much any company. I went with Planeta Mayan as they were the cheapest! We paid 120Q each way which was a lot lower than some of the others and also booked my own accommodation and didn’t book a tour of the ruins. If you have the budget and don’t fancy organising the whole thing yourself then you can get one of the tour companies to organise the whole thing for you.
Crossing the border from Guatemala into Honduras
You will need to get off the minibus and get your passport stamped on the Guatemalan side then walk across the border to Honduras. On the Honduras side, you go into (a much nicer) border control office where you need to pay $3 (or 30Q) and get an entry stamp. You hop back on the mini bus and off you go!
Coming back you will need to do the same, but you don’t have to pay on the way back.
Where to stay?
I stayed at Hotel & Hostal Berakah, it has a 9.6 rating on Booking.com for a reason! Being a budget traveller I opted to stay here because it was the cheapest place. That said it was also one of the nicest places I’ve stayed for such a low cost. Plus it’s really close to the road you need to follow to the ruins and the shuttle from Antigua dropped up off and picked us up right outside.
You will need a good 3 hours to wander around the actual ruins. There are three main parts and although it’s not as grand and popular as Tikal, Copán Ruins really is worth a visit.
I wish I could give you more information about the ruins themselves and the museums but because of my tight budget and inability to get money (see bellow) I didn’t get a guide or pay for the museum. This was more because when I bought my ticket nothing was explained to me by the ticket office. I therefore just booked a standard ticket that didn’t include a guide, access to the tunnels or the museum. This was a big fail on my part. So don’t be like me and ask for the full package when getting your ticket.
Even though I didn’t get to do everything I still had a great day.
Eat on the street! There is some great street food to be had and if you are on a budget I would highly recommend it. On the recommendation of a Mexican tucking into a taco, I decided to eat at El Chombo. If a Mexican tells you the tacos are good when you are in Honduras, you eat them haha. Plus as a veggie it’s not always easy to find good street food, you can’t go wrong with tacos and a local beer!
This was the biggest headache for me! Firstly I lost the $10 I had to pay for my friend and me to cross the border. Then when we arrived in Honduras we could not pay for the hotel by card. So off I went to find an ATM of which there are 3. None of which my bank card would work in. I had plenty of Guatemalan Quetzal but no dollars and you can’t exchange Quetzal in any of the banks, only dollars. By this point, I was starting to get pretty stressed. I ended up going into one of the banks and they let me withdraw some money with my bank card and passport. So my advice would be to take dollars with you! In Antigua, you can withdraw dollars from one of the cash machines by Parque central if you don’t already have any.
I actually spent very little mostly because of the cash situation!
Park Entrance $15
Dinner and a Beer $5
It’s a pretty long time to be in a mini bus for (8 hours there 9 back) but in my opinion, if you are hanging out in Antigua for a while it’s worth the stiff neck! Or if you are going to be passing through on your way from or to Guatemala it’s well worth a stop.