7 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Honduras

Jul 22, 2021

Its proximity to the US makes it possible to visit Central America quickly and cheaply, so Honduras is a relatively common stop for visitors en route to other parts of the region. But it is also a country with great culture and history, with a fascinating culture of its own, giving it many outstanding tourist attractions.

Honduras is the second smallest country in Central America, but it's more densely populated than many places in the US. Agriculture is key to the local economy and is a big part of Honduran culture and history. You can spend time at coffee farms and all-inclusive resorts, riding horses and swimming in lakes, and enjoying the hot springs and beautiful beaches.

The country offers diverse activities for tourists, from wildlife viewing in the mountains to river trips along the many waterfalls. Hiking, spelunking, cave exploring, and even bird watching are all high on the list of the best things to do in Honduras. From the forested Maya Mountains to the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, Honduras has it all.

Travelers to Honduras should check out our guide to the top attractions in Honduras for more suggestions about what to do in the country.

San Pedro Sula

Photo of San Pedro Sula
San Pedro Sula: en.wikipedia.org

For tourists, Honduras is the last place in Latin America that you'd expect to find ruins from antiquity. But that is the main reason to visit the country of 300,000: it is home to extraordinary archaeological ruins in the north-central region of the country. In Puerto Cortes, these include a circular grand public plaza in front of a mammoth pyramidal monument, an extraordinary fort built on a hilltop on the site of ancient Tihama, and the oldest monuments from La Mesa in the Petén region. This site was the largest city of the Maya, home of the rulers of the Tikal civilization, some 2,000 years ago, and was abandoned in the early 1600s. It is now a national park, which is still a work in progress. The authorities want to do more than just renovate it, but to restore and protect the incredible cultural heritage here. The vast market of San Pedro Sula is by far the biggest in Central America and has a lot to offer, not just for visitors but for the locals as well. The market is a conglomeration of food stalls, with arts, crafts, clothing, electronics and more. Many of the sellers are local, with tables and window displays where you can haggle for deals.

Tegucigalpa

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Tegucigalpa: en.wikipedia.org

Honduras is considered by many to be Central America's best-kept secret. To westerners, it may seem to lack charm, and the image of its infamous slums known as las zonas rojas is one of a modern, poorly managed country. In truth, much has been achieved in recent years, while las zonas rojas are being demolished at a staggering rate. The Honduran landscape of cloud forests, rivers, mountains, and beaches is untamed beauty, with the mangrove-lined rivers in the Caribbean basin, where you can paddle by bamboo raft and fish with fly-fishing rods. If you can only visit one Central American country, it should be Honduras. It offers the chance to enjoy a taste of both coasts, to see rich and varied landscapes, and a taste of the contemporary, as well as of the traditional Honduran lifestyle.

La Ceiba

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La Ceiba: en.wikipedia.org

La Ceiba is the capital of a small, sleepy country of tropical pine forests and thick swamps, flat grasslands, small rivers and little islands along the Caribbean coast. In former times this was the Pearl of the Americas, the term often attributed to the city and province for the beautiful coral seashells found on the white sandy beaches that can be found from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. The mangrove wetlands that cover more than half of the coastal area offer a great haven to the animals and people who like to hunt the giant turtles, enormous pike and wide array of marine life. Although the La Ceiba tourism industry is still in its infancy, the city does attract many tourists and its atmosphere is very much a backpacker favorite. The coastal fishing villages, the largest and oldest in Central America, have preserved their cultural heritage and offer a very pleasant atmosphere to travelers.

Choluteca

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Choluteca, Choluteca: en.wikipedia.org

Choluteca is the most important city of the northern department of Honduras. It lies a few miles off the road between the Caribbean coast and the lowlands along the Silla River. Choluteca's economy is driven by an important ceramics industry, which puts this otherwise sleepy and sleepy little town into one hell of a party for four-and-a-half days every December. With numerous hotels and restaurants, the city is the jumping-off point for the “Cultura Cocolo” (Holiday of Culture), which is held during that time and is still on the international calendar. This period was officially established in the town in 1994 to promote the culture of its natives and is celebrated each year with folk dancing and plenty of other festivities. The city itself has very little to offer in terms of sightseeing, but if you're heading out to the country, Choluteca is a great stopover on the way.

Copan Ruins

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Copán Ruinas: en.wikipedia.org

Copan Ruins lie 30 km west of Copan, about halfway between the Honduras capital of Tegucigalpa and the coast. The well-kept Copan Archaeological Zone consists of two main sites: El Bosque, the central one, and the much older Palacio. Guided tours through the two ruins depart every half hour from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. from a small visitor's center, and generally take in the Palacio, which holds perhaps the largest set of Copan sculpture, including the elaborate jade-masked faces of the disc-bearing effigy figures. After exiting the Palacio, you'll pass small temples and a giant amphitheater. For a very different view of Copan's ruins, walk down a path that heads north out of the parking lot. Here, you'll come to a series of small megalithic structures.

Santa Rosa de Copán

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Santa Rosa de Copán: en.wikipedia.org

Santa Rosa de Copán has long been a popular day trip from Tegucigalpa and it's easy to spend a couple of days here exploring the tropical nature, villages, and colonial churches of the area. There are well-maintained dirt roads linking a number of the towns and villages, making this a popular weekend excursion for Hondurans. A small national park, Bosawás, protects the site and the town is a good place to stop overnight. The colonial town of Santa Rosa de Copán is its largest settlement. For many, the most impressive part of the site is the enormous, ornate Iglesia de San Salvador, erected in 1680. Others like the smaller, more atmospheric El Castillo church.

Guanaja

Photo of Guanaja
Guanaja: en.wikipedia.org

Situated at the extreme southern end of Honduras, Guanaja is the largest of the country's nine islands. More than 2,000 miles from the nearest landmass, the interior is dominated by steep, forested volcanic mountains that are seldom climbed due to the lack of safe roads. The uninhabited western side is rich in wildlife including iguanas, howler monkeys, spectacled guans, and the protected scarlet macaw. Guanaja is situated within the boundaries of the tropical Mosquito Coast of Central America. For this reason, the beaches and the nearby Bahia de Perlas are lined with sandbars and shallow lagoons. As a result of the high salt content in the waters, the coastline is also lined with a dense canopy of mangroves. The island's five principal towns – Barra de Cabras, Peremux, Cabras, Guanaja, and Heredia – have white-sand beaches, but the beaches of Cabras and Peremux are particularly inviting. The island is most often reached via one of its fishing ports. The island's capital, Heredia, is reached by ferry from Puerto Cortes in Guatemala, which itself is served by regular connections to San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba in Honduras.