Sitting in the middle of Central America between Guatemala and Nicaragua, Honduras is often skipped over or avoided due to its dangerous reputation. But Honduras is a hidden gem, with a huge variety of activities on offer from cheap diving to historic sites. You could easily spend a couple of weeks here, and if you’re travelling around the region then you should definitely add it to your itinerary.
Read on to discover 10 of the top things to do when visiting Honduras.
1. Explore the Copan Ruins
Located in the mountains of western Honduras, the town of Copan is a logical first stop if you’re visiting Honduras as part of a larger Central America trip and therefore coming by bus from El Salvador or from Antigua, Guatemala.
Copan is not only a town but the name of the Mayan ruins located just 1km away. The ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are especially known for the huge number of amazingly detailed carvings preserved on the temples and throughout the ruins. These lend an insight into the ancient Maya civilization.
Visiting these ruins is one of the best things to do in Honduras, so plan to spend at least a few hours here exploring. The complex consists of several plazas and temples, including the famous Hieroglyphic Stairway which contains 63 steps entirely carved with hieroglyphics depicting the history of Copan.
2. Hike in Pico Bonito National Park
Pico Bonito National Park is a beautiful and pristine natural area lying close to La Ceiba, so if you’re coming from Utila or Roatan then it’s the perfect next stop on your Honduras itinerary.
Pico Bonito is the largest and most bio-diverse park in Honduras and contains a multitude of trails. One of the most popular is the El Mapache trail which leads to the El Bejuco waterfall. The trail is a large loop of approximately 4.5-miles and 2,280 feet of elevation gain. The trail starts at the visitor centre and begins with crossing a magnificent swing bridge over the Cangrejal River.
Another popular trek is the 3-hour trail leading to Cascada Zacate, known as the “noisy falls” as the water rushes quickly down them.
Whilst hiking make sure to keep your eye out for wildlife. Honduras is home to over 500 bird species with many of them being found right within this park, and Pico Bonito is known for being the toucan capital of the world.
3. Go White Water Rafting on the Cangrejal River
Pico Bonito National Park isn’t just known for its hiking. Throughout the lush forests that surround the rugged mountain slopes, rivers flow down towards the northern coastline. One of the main rivers is the Cangrejal River where the strong currents give way to the opportunity for some whitewater rafting.
Whilst the rafting isn’t super extreme with the rapids only being grade 3-4, it’s a fun activity to complete whilst in the area and perfect if you have no whitewater rafting experience. The scenery of the river surrounded by the lush jungle is beautiful, and as well as rafting the tours often include activities such as hiking along the river, climbing the massive boulders and cliff jumping from them. Even better, given the lack of tourists in the area you’re likely to have a private tour with the river and the guide all to yourself.
4. Learn to dive in Utila
Arriving in Utila you’ll immediately wonder why you were ever doubting a trip to Honduras. This small island really is its own little bubble compared to the rest of the country, with tons of local and foreign tourists, nice cafes and beachside dining spots. Life here is relaxed, and the vibe is more Caribbean than Latin American. Even the locals here largely speak English.
One of the main reasons why Utila is so popular is because it is known as one of the cheapest places in the world to get your PADI certification, and so of course the main thing to do here is dive. Dive schools are aplenty so whether you’ve never dived before, are looking to advance your skills, or just want to take some fun dives, you can do it here at a fraction of the price that you’ll find in other countries, including its neighbours Mexico and Belize.
If you’re not a diver then Utila is still a great spot to visit. Lounge by the sea, go snorkelling and take a trip to the chocolate factory which offers free tours and tastings plus delicious desserts and ice cream to buy.
If you like the sound of Utila but want a little more luxury, grab the ferry to the nearby island of Roatan. Catering to cruise ships, the island is known as attracting a slightly more upmarket crowd than the backpackers in Utila.
5. Visit the largest waterfall in Honduras
If you’re staying near Lake Yojoa then a great half-day trip is to Pulhapanzak Waterfall. At 43m high it’s the largest waterfall in Honduras and one of the most impressive in Central America. There’s a long walkway along the side of the waterfall where you can take photos, but don’t miss the short walk down to the small viewpoint right in front of the base of falls where you’ll get wet from the powerful spray.
Whilst you can’t swim under the waterfall itself, there are swimming areas in the shallow water above the falls and you’ll find loads of locals chilling here with beers and a picnic, especially at weekends.
For a unique view of the waterfall and an adrenaline rush, zipline across the top of it. There’s also the option to take a tour of the caves behind the waterfall, though be prepared to get very wet!
6. Explore Lake Yojoa
Unlike other lakes in Central America, Lake Yojoa in Honduras is totally undeveloped and not lined with hotels or restaurants or even really accessible by foot. The only real way to get a feel of the lake is therefore to get on the water.
In several spots around Lake Yojoa, mainly along the river in the town of Los Naranjos you’ll find whole rows of kayak shops. Kayaks cost 100 lempiras (~4USD) per person for the whole day, giving you total freedom to explore the natural beauty of the lake as you please.
If you want to see the lake from a different perspective try some of the hikes in the surrounding area. If you want something easy, visit Los Naranjos Eco-park and walk along their kilometre-long boardwalk that brings you through the wetlands of Lake Yojoa. If you prefer your hikes to be more challenging than Honduras’ second highest peak, Montaña de Santa Bárbara (2744m), can be seen from Lake Yojoa and can be climbed with a local guide. It takes approximately 3.5 hours each way and definitely isn’t for the fainthearted, but you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of the lake and the experience of walking through the primany cloud forest.
Finally, Cerro Azul Meambar National Park is close to Lake Yojoa and has plenty of well-marked trails that bring you through the tropical forest.
7. Stay in a Craft Brewery
If you like to stay in interesting or unique accommodation options when you travel then how about staying in a craft brewery? You can do just that in the tiny town of Los Naranjos right by Lake Yojoa, home to D&D’s Craft Brewery.
Situated in the lush jungle, the setting is natural with basic rooms but great common spaces around the bar and restaurant. Gather around their bonfire, play cards beneath the fairy lights, and, of course, sample the beers that are brewed onsite.
D&D offer beer flights of six of their craft beers together with homemade pizzas and other great food options. They also have great tours on offer around the Lake and surrounding areas.
8. Visit Comayagua
Comayagua is a quiet colonial town located right in the middle of the route between Lake Yojoa and Tegucigalpa.
An important religious and political centre of Honduras for over 300 years, it has the strongest colonial history in the country. This can be seen in the architecture of the palaces, ancient churches, and colonial plazas in the historic city center. It’s a charming town often overlooked by foreign tourists, but it’s a great spot to visit and a safer alternative to the busier Tegucigalpa (mentioned further down).
Head to Avenida 2 for a ton of cafes, bars and restaurants, all with alfresco seating lining the pavement.
9. Eat Baleadas
Baleadas are the national dish of Honduras and you can’t visit the country without trying them. It is essentially a thick, homemade flour tortilla that is grilled before fillings are added on top and it is served folded in half. The traditional or “sencilla” version is filled with beans, cream and cheese, but you can choose to add plenty of other things such as chicken, meat, eggs, avocado, etc.
You’ll find baleadas everywhere, from restaurants to street food stands, however only in the morning and evening, so don’t plan on eating Baleadas for lunch.
10. Marvel at views over Tegucigalpa
Tegucigalpa has a bad reputation as being a dangerous city, and whilst you should indeed exercise caution when visiting here, it’s still worth a day on your Honduras itinerary.
Visit the city centre which has some nice colonial buildings and is home to the impressive Cathedral of San Miguel. The Cathedral sits on the edge of the main plaza which is a great spot to people watch and see local Honduran life.
However, the best thing to do in the city is to head up to the Christo statue. Standing tall at 4,353 feet above sea level, it can be seen from all over the city, especially at night time. Hike or take an Uber to the top of the hill where you’ll not only find top views over the whole of the city and the surrounding mountains.
Honduras may be one of the least-visited countries in Central America, but that’s all the more reason to visit. Enjoy the white sand beaches rolling into the world’ second-largest barrier reef, jungle-covered mountains, fun nature activities and ancient Mayan ruins. Honduras has so much to offer and truly is a hidden gem. Make sure that you try some of these top Honduras things to do during your trip.
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