Honduras


Honduras destinations

about Welcome to Central America's bad boy: Honduras has for years been the regional cautionary tale about what goes wrong when corruption, drugs and poverty intersect. But this ever-plucky nation refuses to be pigeonholed and has been fighting back steadily against its dangerous international reputation. Murder rates – while still sky-high – are dropping, security is better than it has been for years and, despite some hiccups here and there, things are finally looking up for one of the region's least appreciated destinations.

White beaches fringed by the world's second-largest barrier reef, jungle-covered mountains cut by raftable white-water rivers and home to an astounding number of bird species, exquisite Maya ruins, colonial, cobblestone villages, fresh seafood grilled on the beach…Yes, all this is found in Honduras, a country often hurried through or avoided entirely due to its dangerous image.

After a decade in which the country spiraled into a whirlwind of terrible violence, Honduras has very definitely begun – with a few hiccups – the journey back from the abyss. While the challenges ahead are still significant and travel here still means bumpy roads with no seatbelts, things haven't looked this positive for years. It's important to take care in the cities and the country is certainly not for the fainthearted, but other than that, Honduras is back open for business and just waiting to be discovered.
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Ringed by forested hills in a highland valley, sprawling Tegucigalpa enjoys a relatively fresh, mild climate and a spectacular setting. It's a bustling and dynamic place, but one that many travelers minimize their time in or skip over entirely. This is a shame, as while Tegus (as all locals call it) is no beauty – streets are choked with traffic and its resultant pollution, and crime stats are high – it's a fascinating place, with some good museums, restaurants and the air of a place on the up. Keep your ear to the ground and you'll discover a dynamic young urban scene led by emerging artists, musicians, DJs and designers.

Sights

Downtown Tegus is the neglected heart of the nation, a cluster of once elegant but now faded streets where ropa americana (used clothing) outlets have replaced department stores. For a feel of the city, stroll the pedestrianized Calle Peatonal, visit a couple of the city's decent museums and grab a snack at the market.

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Sleeping

Downtown Tegucigalpa is generally quite safe during the day, although you should be on your guard at all times and always take taxis at night. Comayagüela is a much dodgier part of town: wandering around here, day or night, is not recommended. Colonia Palmira is the safest but pricier neighborhood, but still be on guard – again, taxis are the best option at any time.

Eating

There's a dearth of choice downtown, where fast-food joints rule. Colonia Palmira has an impressive selection of upscale, international offerings for a well-worth-it splurge.

Drinking & Nightlife

Colonia Palmira is your best bet for a night out, with several bars along Bulevar Morazán and Paseo de Republica de Argentina. However, as security issues have dogged the city in recent years, Tegus' nightlife generally starts directly after work and tends to wind down by midnight.

Entertainment

There's a small but vibrant arts-and-music scene in Tegucigalpa. Spanish speakers can check out www.agendartehonduras.com for a round-up of cultural events; also ask at your hostel for tips. The Museo para la Identidad Nacional frequently holds cultural events and exhibits.

Shopping

Honduran handicrafts are sold at small, rather dismal stores on Av Miguel de Cervantes, east of Plaza Morazán. Other than that there's little of interest for shoppers in Tegus, with most shops concentrated in various large malls around town.

Travel with Children

Like most of Latin America, Honduras is very open and welcoming of children. There’s no taboo about bringing children to restaurants or performances, and pregnant women are ushered to the front of the line in banks, government offices and many private businesses.

Travelers will be hard-pressed to find child-specific amenities like car seats, high chairs and bassinets, except perhaps in top-end hotels and resorts. Disposable diapers (nappies), wipes, formula and other basics, however, are available in most large supermarkets.

LGBT Travellers

Honduras is rather a contradictory place for gay people. While on the one hand same-sex marriage and adoption are both banned in the constitution, it is also illegal to discriminate against people on the grounds of their sexuality. Gay people are visible in society here, though open displays of affection between gay or lesbian couples are unusual, and even risky in some situations. Despite that, there are small yet active gay and lesbian communities in all major cities, though most socialization takes place online.

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La Ceiba is known as Honduras’ good-time town: 'Tegucigalpa thinks, San Pedro Sula works and La Ceiba parties,' so the saying goes. Certainly this port city's buzzing nightlife makes it a mecca for fiesta-hungry Hondurans, though nearly all the action is over the estuary in Barrio La Isla, the city’s zona viva (nightlife district). Elsewhere expect searing heat and punishing humidity (and take care after dark).

There's otherwise little of interest in Ceiba itself: local beaches are polluted and unsafe and the downtown has a crumbling, neglected air, although it's all lively and friendly. Despite this, most travelers will find themselves here at some point as Ceiba is the transportation hub for the Bay Islands, as well as a great base for exploring the Pico Bonito National Park, the idyllic Cayos Cochinos and the world-class white water on the Río Cangrejal.

Sights

There are minimal sights in Ceiba itself. But not far from the city boundaries you'll find spectacular rafting, wildlife reserves and national parks.

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Sleeping

Accommodations are fairly uninspiring in La Ceiba. Staying in the center is convenient, although it is eerily quiet at night (when you shouldn't walk the streets). There are far better options outside the city amid the tropical jungle by the Río Cangrejal.

Eating

There are some good eating options in La Ceiba, and you'll have the choice of great seafood pretty much everywhere you go. La Línea, a strip where La Ceiba's old railway runs on Av La República, is where you can find street food – including delicious baleadas (tortillas stuffed with refried beans and other fillings) – 24 hours a day.

Drinking & Nightlife

Most of La Ceiba’s nightlife centers on and around 1a Calle in Barrio La Isla, known as the zona viva. New places are opening up all the time.

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The business and industrial capital of Honduras, San Pedro generates almost two-thirds of the country’s GDP, with thousands employed in giant maquila (clothes-weaving) factories. It's wealthier and more sophisticated yet less interesting than Tegucigalpa. Despite its reputation for gang violence, tourists are rarely targeted and the town feels safer – whether it is or not – than the capital.

Indeed, the city is on an upswing, falling from the world's most violent city (outside of a war zone) in 2015 to number 26 in 2018. The city is doable for travelers for a day or two, but you should still be cautious, especially after dark.

Few linger, however: there are few sights, little cultural life, and the sultry climate can be oppressive. Since San Pedro's international airport is a main entry point and its bus station a crucial travel hub, you're very likely to pass through.

Sights

The heart of the city around the Parque Central is run-down but full of life.

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Sleeping

Aging budget hotels are mostly in the downtown area south of Parque Central, an area that's very dodgy after dark. Hostels and guesthouses tend to be in the more suburban areas of the city, and some way from downtown.

Eating

San Pedro Sula is no culinary capital and you'll find mostly fast food and basic Honduran fare. Upscale places, where you'll find a few decent international options, are mainly located on Circunvalación. There's also a whole bunch of cheap and cheerful comedores at Mercado Guimilito.

Drinking & Nightlife

The zona viva, which hugs the inside of the Circunvalación between 7a Calle SO and 11a Calle SO, is home to the main concentration of bars and clubs.

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