Honduras is often criminally overlooked by tourists to Central America in favour of its slightly flashier neighbours to the south. Yet its abundance of cultural experiences and its budget-friendly tourism atmosphere mean Honduras is also one of the best places for student travellers to visit any time of the year. Here is a quick guide to some of the best Honduras has to offer, from ancient Mayan ruins to cosmopolitan cities to beautiful beaches.
The most popular archaeological site in Honduras is the ruins of Copán, not far from Honduras’ border with Guatemala. That said, its tourist numbers pale in comparison with more famous sites such as Tikal over in the aforementioned Guatemala, but it’s as interesting as any Mayan ruin you will find in Central America. Touring the actual ruins costs only USD$15 per person, a pittance for several hours of exploration and cool photo opportunities. The neighbouring town of Copán Ruinas also serves as a great launchpad for further travel in the region. Check out the Museo Regional de Arqueología (USD$2.50), where you can see the perfectly preserved tomb of a female shaman, among other artifacts. Copán Ruinas is also full of cheap but excellent restaurants. Twisted Tanya’s, run by English-speaking owners, serves hearty “backpacker’s specials” for under USD$10 that will get you through the day. Once night sets on the town, head to the Via Via Cafe for cheap food and drinks, all under USD$5.
Adjacent to the largest lake in Honduras (Lago de Yojoa), the city of San Pedro Sula isn’t exactly a cultural smorgasbord, but it offers an authentic look into life in a mid-sized Central American city. If Copán failed to whet your appetite for antiquity, check out the Museo de Antropología e Historia, which traces the settlement of Honduras from pre-Columbian times to the present day. A mere USD$2 transports you into a world of ancient weaponry, intriguing native paintings, and beautiful ceramics. Not far away is the Mercado Guamilito, the largest market in the city. It’s a must for anyone with even a slight interest in shopping and souvenirs; if you’ve ever wanted to take home a hand-woven Honduran hammock, this is where you’ll find it. The Market also houses many stalls devoted to the cuisine of Honduras; look for the women selling their freshly made tortillas. For even more Honduran food, head to Comidas Casas Viejas, where waitresses in traditional Honduran dress will be happy to serve you specialties such as tripe soup and suckling pig amidst the sounds of a marimba band.
The capital cities of most Central American countries are often regarded by tourists as noisy, unpleasant stopovers. This is not the case with Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, where the nightlife is especially vibrant and fun. During the day, pass the time at the Museo de la Identidad Nacional and get a crash course in Honduran history for about USD$3. The exhibits do a great job of explaining (in Spanish) the region’s extensive history from Mayan times to the colonial period to its current position as a republic, and English-speaking tour guides are usually on hand to further clarify things. The museum also hosts various art exhibitions and has a room showing a 20-minute virtual tour of the ruins of Copán, for those tourists unable to visit the site itself. Afterwards, check out Duncan Maya, which at 115 years and running is one of Tegucigalpa’s oldest restaurants. This is definitely not a place for herbivores; the restaurant specializes in steak, pork chops, and various chicken dishes, for under USD$8. Finally, once you’ve eaten your fill, wander out into Tegucigalpa’s arts district and explore one of the many live music clubs that tempt your fancy. La Caramba plays an eclectic mix of live rock, jazz, and reggae on most nights. Alternatively, the nightclub Bamboo is a sexy place to party with Tegucigalpa’s rich and famous.
Finally, a great place to cap off your Honduran getaway is on the island of Roatan. The beach of Half Moon Bay is located next to a seaside village and is known for its spectacular views at sunset. Since the island is notably absent of the big luxury resorts dominating other Caribbean destinations like Jamaica and Saint Lucia, Roatan is refreshingly slow-paced and free of the St Bart’s crowd. There’s plenty to do during the day, such as scuba diving among the coral reefs or taking leisurely walks around the island. For cheap fast food, check out Creole’s Rotisserie Chicken, where they specialize in exactly that. A meal consisting of half a delicious chicken and two sides costs under USD$7.50; a whole chicken (for the starving) costs less than ten dollars. Finally, the Blue Marlin has a great waterfront terrace to listen to live music and enjoy a drink. It’s a picturesque place to toast your trip in Honduras with some good friends.
Check out StudentUniverse’s tours of Central America, including Honduras, here!