Honduras is slowly beginning to shed its negative violent reputation and is becoming a hotspot for backpackers who are looking to get off the beaten path in Central America. Tremendous wildlife, Mayan Ruins, and vast national parks attract people to Honduras. Moreover, the country has made a name for itself with its dive spots Utila and Roatan. It’s one of the cheaper destinations in Central America and, though often skipped by most travelers, I think it offers the best value in the region. (Note: While there is still some violence in the country and I wouldn’t advise going out in the capital alone at night, once you get out of the cities, it’s a much more peaceful place, especially in the touristy / backpacker areas of the country!)
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Honduras
1. Copán Ruins
3. Lago de Yojoa
4. Pico Bonito National Park
Other Things to See and Do
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1. Mercado Guamilito
Located in San Pedro Sula, this huge traditional market is an excellent place to buy handicrafts from Honduras. The food here is amazing, and locals say it is one of the best places to eat a baleada (wheat flour tortilla with cheese, cream, and fried beans – a Honduran specialty).
2. Visit Utila
If you can’t decide where to go diving in Honduras, consider going to Utila, the smallest of the Bay Islands. Prices are pretty much the same as in Roatán but accommodation is cheaper, the locals are friendlier, and the nightlife is better.
3. Parque Nacional Jeannette Kawas
White sandy beaches and fabulous snorkeling in the coral reefs meet howler monkeys in the nearby forest. There are also hundreds of species of birds and monkeys around Laguna de los Micos. Entry is 120 HNL per person.
4. Ride a zip line
There are plenty of places to ride around the country, including the highest canopy in the country which is located in Gracias. Experience zipping through the lush forests of Honduras, high above the treetops! Prices vary but expect to pay between 500-1,000 HNL per person.
5. Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve
This heavily-forested area contains Mayan ruins, over 2000 indigenous people, pumas, jaguars, giant ant-eaters, and even sloths. It’s pretty badass. Admission is by donation.
6. Valle de Angeles
This colonial town is said to offer the best handicrafts in Honduras, and it’s particularly known for its wood crafts. Head to the Centro de Artesanians to purchase everything from pottery and cigars to tapestries, hammocks, and rum.
7. Carnaval de La Ceiba
For two weeks in May, the streets of La Cieba are transformed into party central. Bars and clubs are filled to capacity for the entire week before the main event, “La Feria de San Isidro” (the parade), which takes place along Avenida San Isidro. This is the biggest carnival in Central America with approximately half a million visitors each year.
8. Parque Nacional Cusuco
This cloud forest is nestled into the Meredon mountain range and can be somewhat difficult to access. There is an abundance of wildlife here and an excellent visitors’ center. There are five different hiking trails to choose from. April-June is the best time to see parrots, toucans, and the quetzals. Admission is 160 HNL per person.
9. Roatan Butterfly Garden
This 1,000 square foot enclosure is home to over 30 species of moths and butterflies, as well as a large collection of orchids, birds, and tropical plants. It is best to visit during the heat of the day or early morning when the butterflies are most active. Admission is 170 HNL for adults and 120 HNL for kids.
10. Hacienda El Jaral
Kind of like a cheap Disneyland, this resort is host to a hotel, a waterpark, a food court, a mini-mall, and a movie theater. It is located in the Copan Ruins and is home to one of the only Hollywood film theaters in the region.
11. Lancetilla Botanical Garden
This is the world’s second largest tropical garden. It has the largest collection of exotic plants in Latin America, making this an interesting place to explore. Admission is 100 HNL per person.
12. Hide away on Cayos Cochinos
These two islands are a great spot to escape from the tourist crowds and enjoy the best that the coast has to offer. There are good opportunities for fishing, snorkeling, and diving here, and it is a lovely spot for a romantic getaway.
Food – A meal will be around 65 HNL at cheap local place. Restaurants cost slightly more at 130 HNL. For a nicer meal at a mid-range restaurant, expect to pay closer to 300 HNL. Fast food will be around 140 HNL, while beer at the bar can be as low as 40 HNL. If you plan on buying your own food and cooking your own meals, expect to pay between 500-800 HNL.
Transportation – There are plenty of taxis in Honduras, but they don’t use meters, so agree on a price before you get in. Expect to pay around 60 HNL for a short ride in a taxi with A/C, and perhaps a little less if the taxi does not have air conditioning. A cross-city taxi ride can cost upwards of 200 HNL. The national bus system is inexpensive. Generally, for every hour you travel, it’s 50 HNL. There are also colectivos (taxis with a specific route) available, which generally charge between 15-25 HNL, depending on the length of your ride.
Activities – Diving is likely to be your biggest expense in Honduras with most operators charging 765 HNL per dive. Entrance fees into the national parks are relatively low at 65 HNL. The Copán Ruins can get expensive if you factor in entrance fee (220 HNL), entrance to the tunnels (240 HNL) and a guided tour (525 HNL). Canopy tours (zip lining) usually costs between 500-1,000 HNL per person.
Suggested daily budget
600-800 HNL / $20-35 USD (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating out a little, cooking most of your meals, and using local transportation. Using the budget tips below, you can always lower this number. However, if you stay in fancier accommodation, eat out more often, or spend more time in the expensive coastal cites, expect this to be higher! Additionally, like elsewhere in the region, the US dollar widely accepted and ATMs often give them out too.)
Money Saving Tips
- Read your bill – Many restaurants will add an obligatory tip to your bill. Make sure you read the bill to avoid tipping twice (if your bill says “servicio” then you have been charged a tip).
- Get dive certified – Utila is one of the cheapest places in the world to get your PADI certification. If you aren’t certified, this is the place to do it!
- Pay cash – Credit card processing fees will often be passed along to the customer. This could mean you will pay an extra 2-4% on your purchase. Avoid this extra fee by paying with cash when you can.
- Eat in Comayaguela when in Tegucigalpa – Cheap restaurants, markets, and lodgings can be found in this district of the capital city, Tegucigalpa.
My Must Have Guides For Traveling to Honduras
How to Get Free Flights
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Conquering Mountains: The Guide to Solo Female Travel
Kristin Addis writes the solo female travel column for this website and her detailed guide addresses all the concerns women have about traveling and gives the specific advice and tips you need to conquer the world and stay safe.
How to Teach English Overseas
This book will teach you everything you need to know about landing your dream job and features interviews with dozens of teachers, recruiters, detailed information on the top teaching destinations, sample resumes, advice on nailing your interview, and much more.
How to Travel the World on $50 a Day
My New York Times best-selling paperback guide to world travel will teach how to master the art of travel so that, no matter how long you want to travel for, you’ll save money, get off the beaten path, and have a more local, richer travel experience.
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Photo credits: 5, 6