Santa Rosa de Copán
If you liken Tegucigalpa to Washington, D.C., for its politics, San Pedro Sula to New York for its business, and La Ceiba to Miami for the parties, then Santa Rosa de Copán would be the Berkeley of Honduras, a small liberal town that makes a great stopping point for exploring the fascinating and beautiful western highlands and for crossing between Honduras and El Salvador or Guatemala.
Santa Rosa de Copán sits on a hilltop with a commanding view over the surrounding mountainous countryside—including the country’s highest peak, Cerro de las Minas in the Sierra de Celaque, to the east. Save for a local cigar factory, Santa Rosa doesn’t boast any specific tourist sights in itself, but visitors frequently find themselves staying longer than they planned in this overgrown colonial town of 28,000 people. The climate is pleasantly cool, accommodations and food are inexpensive, and the residents are happy to see outsiders enjoying their town.
Although technically only the capital of the Copán department, Santa Rosa functions as the unofficial capital for all of the western highlands. Almost all commerce in the region passes through Santa Rosa, and campesinos from rural areas often wander the city’s streets looking for merchandise or selling produce.
Santa Rosa takes pride in its colonial heritage, and the central section of the town is a protected area, with restrictions on building and renovations, to preserve the remaining colonial buildings.
Getting to Santa Rosa de Copán
Most visitors reach Santa Rosa de Copán by bus. The main bus terminal is located on the San Pedro Sula highway about one kilometer north of town. Taxis between the terminal and downtown cost US$0.80, although sometimes you take a scenic tour dropping off other passengers on the way into town.
Buses run between Santa Rosa and Gracias (10 buses daily, US$2.15, about 90 minutes), Nueva Ocotepeque (buses depart hourly, US$4), from San Pedro Sula Toritos y Copanecos has three direct buses daily (US$5.60, 2.5 hours) and several regular buses (US$3.70, four hours), Corquín (eight buses daily, US$2.25, one hour), and Belén Gualcho (two daily buses, US$2.50, about three hours).
If you have your own car, the highways between Santa Rosa and La Entrada (44 kilometers), San Pedro Sula (170 kilometers), Gracias (47 kilometers), and Nueva Ocotepeque (92 kilometers) are all paved and well maintained, although a good rainy season can make a liar out of anyone.
© Chris Humphrey and Amy E. Robertson from Moon Honduras, 5th Edition