Tegucigalpa is the capital and largest city in Honduras.
Tegucigalpa (Hondurans in general, and people familiar with the city, shorten it to "Tegus", while most locals actually use the full name...) is a great example of Central American urban sprawl gone amok, spread out across very hilly terrain.
Of course, the city, a 400 year-old mining center, has a depth that is there for those with time and nerve to find it. It has a plethora of interesting, if decaying, old colonial buildings, and many old stone streets winding intriguingly up steep hills to hidden parks, stone steps, and old houses.
The defining event in recent Honduran history, and that of Tegucigalpa also, is Hurricane Mitch, which devastated the country in 1998. Mitch reportedly set the country back 50 years. Tegus is still recovering from the massive flooding of the river, and equally massive landslides, both triggered by the rampant deforestation of the hills surrounding the city. Indeed, signs of whole colonias (neighbourhoods) having slid off steep hills are still evident. Workers continue to toil daily in the river, removing silt deposited by the flooding. Many or most people lost friends and relatives during the crisis.
There are a number of bus international bus lines running to Tegus from other Central American capitals. These offer first class, very comfortable service at a reasonable price. A trip from Managua, San Salvador, or Guatemala City would cost between 20-40 USD. Ticabus, is the most affordable and frequented by backpackers. Hedman Alas , Nicabus, and King Quality, are other first class, reliable bus companies. Of course, it is also possible to travel on less comfortable, less expensive lines, but this is difficult or impossible to plan from afar. Internal travel in Honduras is easy enough, and made more easy thanks to the excellent transportation guide published by the Honduran tourism magazine called Honduras Tips, and available online at their website. Travel from La Ceiba, on the north coast, Empresa de Bus Cristina provides good service, at around 10USD for the 7-8h trip.
95% of buses coming to Tegus arrive into Comayagüela, the sister city of Tegucigalpa. It is also reputedly one of the more dangerous parts of the city. If arriving to Comayagüela after dark, do not walk around looking for a place to stay. Even in the day, walking from bus stations in Comayagüela to a hotel or hostel any distance away would be a bit risky.
Airlines offering international service to Tegus include:
- Amercan Airlines (Miami and Dallas)
- Delta (Atlanta)
- United (Houston)
- Copa (San Jose, CR and Panama)
- Avianca (formerly TACA) (Miami, San Salvador, Guatemala, and San Jose, CR)
Tegus has a very nice, modern airport, though there are few budget flights to the city. Possibly less expensive is to fly to San Pedro Sula to the north and closer to the resorts on the Caribbean coast and take a bus from there to Tegucigalpa via Hedman Alas, Transportes Viana or any one of many other less expensive operators. Taxis from the airport to downtown may be negotiated to ~L100 as of June 2009.
The football (soccer) stadium is a great central point for learning your bearings map-wise of the city. Several of the larger roads meet in a round-about that uses the stadium as its hub.
As of June 2009, taxis (directos) will cost ~L80 for a 20 minute cross-town trip. Negotiating for the price (before getting in) is expected. Taxi drivers are a bit wild, so buckle up (oops, they don't have seatbelts). Prices increase with number of passengers and late at night. Don't be afraid to walk away from an expensive offer - taxis are everywhere and you'll likely win the negotiation by walking away.
Colectivos, like the city buses, run set routes from one point to another. If you see a long line of people weaving down a side walk, this is most likely a collectivo line. As of June 2009, colectivos cost L11/person.
As of April 2013, Buses were 11 Lempira ($0.50) but run set routes that most visitors won't know.
There are common bus stops throughout the town, but are unlabeled. Find a large group of people standing on the sidewalks for the largest selection of bus routes. To know the main destinations of the buses, look on the front of the bus above the windshield. Most buses operate to distinct neighborhoods and link to El Centro or the market in Comayaguela. In the market in Comayaguela you can also find many inter-city buses with various prices and various levels of comfort, ranging from the most common chicken-bus to double decker luxury buses.
- Parque La Leona, is an old neighbourhood in the center of Tegus, overlooking the central park. It is a bit of a labyrinth to make your way up the old steep windy streets to arrive at parque La Leona, but it is a nice park, with a beautiful view, and a relaxed atmosphere. If walking, if you start facing the front door of the basilica in the central park, head to your left, and just keep walking up hill, and you will almost certainly hit the park as long as you continue upwards. Or ask someone in the area. In the park there is a little store/restaurant that sells typical Honduran food and has a patio overhanging from the park, with a spectacular view of the city, the valley, and the hills.
- Parque el Picacho, is a park overlooking the city which takes its name from the huge statue of Jesus Christ, also called "Cristo el Picacho", which is visible from almost any point in the city. Free parking is available at the entrance of the park, and entrance to the park is a nominal fee (around 5 USD). The views from the park are gorgeous. The park is well maintained, clean, and seemingly not very busy (though likely busier on weekends). To get to the park if you don't have a car, you can take the rapidito bus that passes the park on the way to El Hatillo. The bus leaves from a few blocks north of the central park. If you walk to the end of the Calle Peotanal that begins in front of the basilica, and follow it to the end, through the black gates, past the Museo de Identidad Nacional, all the way to the Bonillo Theatre, take a left there on the far side of the theatre, walk up one block and the bus leaves on the right. Or just ask someone in this area. On the rapidito ask the fare-taker to tell you when to get off for Picacho (about a 5-10minute walk in to the park gate, then a further 15 to the big Jesus...). The bus ride takes around 15 to 20 minutes.
- National Zoo, on the same hill as the Picacho statue, with tropical animals such as monkeys, bright-colored parrots, and others. There is a separate entrance fee to enter the zoo. While not a horrible zoo, and worth seeing if you don't mind dropping a few dollars on the entrance fee, the zoo features mostly lethargic animals, the larger ones often noticeably insane as a result of their encagement. The zoo has a variety of monkeys, crocodiles, a jaguar, tapirs (anteaters), snakes, a collection of various raptors, and others.
- Museo para la Identidad Nacional (National Identity Museum), Barrio Abajo, Calle El Telegrafo (downtown), . A very well done museum of Honduran history and art in a beautiful old colonial building. There are rotating art exhibits and permanent ones on history of the country from pre-history through Spanish colonization to the modern era, plus a neat IMAX-style animated film about the Maya civilization, who thrived in the area for millenia. edit
- Museo Arqueologico (Archaeology Museum). edit
- La Tigra Tours, Colonia Palmira Avenida Juan Lindo No. 412, ☎ +50499729666, . 06:00. They will take you on their transport to San Juancito and from there you'll cross the national park hiking; they will be waiting for you at Jutiapa (the other side of La Tigra) 15.00 US$. edit
- Parque de la Paz, Just south of the Estadio Nacional. From the top you can see great panoramic views of Tegucigalpa, and the Peace Monument itself is also worth the trip up to see. However, see below for VERY important safety instructions. edit
- St. Michael's Cathedral, Los Dolores Church, and San Francisco Church. These are all old Catholic churches well worth visiting, and La Merced and the Basilica de Suyapa are really good, too. While not up to the level of a place like Cartagena, Colombia, such older churches are a nice surprise to the tourist who isn't aware that Tegucigalpa has older, Colonial-era attractions as well. edit
- Parque Nacional La Tigra, ☎ +50422369143, . La Tigra is a cloud forest park to the north–east of Tegus, and is accessible by bus from Tegus. There are several well-marked paths in the park (which you must stick to), and guides can be hired (though this is not required). The park has two visitors’ centres, one in the south–west (Jutiapa) and one in the north–east (El Rosario), about 10km apart. There is also a hotel at El Rosario, and camping is permitted for $5 at Jucuara. There is a large variety of flora and fauna, and while it’s hard to spot the animals, the birds are impossible to miss. $45. edit
- Movies The Mall-Multiplaza has a Cinemark theater on the third floor. Showtimes for popular movies frequently are half English with Spanish subtitles, and half dubbed in Spanish. For films and showtimes, select "Honduras - Multiplaza) from the dropdown on the right. As of 2009, tickets are L63/person.
- Karaoke. There's a karaoke bar a few blocks west of Parque Central. There's no song list, so you just need to think of songs and hope they have them. They seem to have a good number of the more popular English karaoke songs (aka Beatles), otherwise you can sing Spanish songs. They also have cheap beer and they serve you small snacks (crackers with tuna on them) at no extra charge while you're sitting down. edit
- The Mall-Multiplaza is a two-story, top-of-the-line mall, just like you would find in any of the biggest cities in the United States. Overpriced and somewhat opulent, but a nice place.
- Cascadas Mall the newest mall in Tegus located close to the airport is very modern and has many US restaurants such as Applebees inside it. Nopt as popular as Multiplaza
- San Isidrio Market down by the river. You can walk around the 16-square blocks of true Honduran markets and see where the Hondurans who can't afford to shop at the mall go to buy their things. Women travelers will be more comfortable with a male companion. The market gets "earthier" the nearer the river you get. If a local warns you that you are heading into an unsafe area of the the market, thank them and backtrack. (See Stay Safe).
Tegus has an unhealthy variety of American food restaurants: McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Subway, etc. All follow "home office" food preparation procedures and travelers can eat at them without fear of getting sick. The food court of Multiplaza will do for on-the-go meals.
Tipping in Honduras is 10%. Tipping is not generally expected at smaller restaurants but always appreciated.
- El Cumbre The nicest restaurant in town ($20/person or so) on top of the "mountain" of "El Hatillio." The food is awesome as is the spectacular view of the city. Get there about 5:00PM to enjoy the daytime, sunset and evening views of Tegus all in one sitting. Bring a camera.
- La Milonga is an Argentinian restaurant in the part of town called La Palmira. It is a mid to up scale restaurant, where meals are 100-140 lempiras (5-8$) per person. They have a good menu full of healthy and delicious food, of which the tomato soup is particularly recommended. They also have a reasonably priced wine menu featuring Argentinian imports, and delicious L40 licuados.
- La Terraza de Don Pepe a well known eating establishment just off the central park, which serves typical Honduran food at better quality and slightly higher prices than your everyday Honduran comedor. Good for travellers looking to sample the local food while taking little risk of tainted food. The location, on the second story, overlooking the street below (hence the name of the restaurant) is nice. The entrance however is very hidden...But there is a sign. It is on the street to the east side of the park, one or two blocks to the north.
- Duncan Maya is located just off the park, on the same street as La Terasa, but a bit closer to the park. It is on street level. Duncan Maya is often open later than other places in the area and at a certain hour will be your only alternative to fast food places. That being said, the food is greasy and a bit over-priced. But, they do sometimes have live bands at night (very loud), and it's a must for the "local" experience. Their "bistec de caballo" (yes, horse steak) is excellent.
- Casa Maria, Col Castaño Sur Ave Ramon E Cruz #202 (From Banco Ficensa on Blvd Morazan, go a block and a half down the hill. It will be on your left.). Some of the the best food in the city, with a variety of international cuisine including French, Italian, and Nicaraguan. Prices are not too expensive with the average plate costing around $15-$20. Staff and the owners are friendly and speak excellent English. They have a good selection of wines. edit
- Asados El Gordo has a few locations throughout the city and one on the road to Santa Lucía. Some of the best "parrilladas" or meat fests in the city accomponied by traditional sides such as beans, platanos, avocado, cheese, mantequilla (crema), and the oh so necessary tortilla. Very moderately priced (last time I went we had a "parrillada para dos" which included grilled chicken, chorizo, grilled steak, two plates of the sides mentioned above, and two drinks for just around $20, no need to mention there was enough food leftover for another person to eat)
Friday and Saturday nights after nine may get a tiny bit dangerous as the alcohol content in the patrons goes up. In Honduras, empty beer bottles are left on the tables until the bill is paid, so you can get a very quick visual indication of where cooler heads will prevail and where tempers may rise just by looking.
Beers range in price from L12 to L30 depending on where you buy them. The cheapest way to go is to buy bottles from a store, however to do this, or at least to get the cheapest price, you need to have a supply of empties to exchange for new ones. You will have to pay more the first time to buy the bottles, but then you've got the cycle going...
Decent rum is incredibly inexpensive in supermarkets (think $6/bottle for what would be $25 elsewhere).
Honduras has four national beers, Salva Vida, Imperial, Port Royal, and Barena. They are all quite similar, all lagers. Port Royal is a bit skunkier, and Imperial may be a bit more flavorful.
The local hootch, known as "guaro" presumably deriving from "aguardiente" (fire water), comes in two brands, Tatascan and Yuscaran. This is cheap, strong cane liquor, the choice selection of drunks in Honduras. At 40% alcohol, a litre of this stuff could run you as little as a dollar. Probably best to avoid... or a one time occasion.
Several cheap hotels can be found 15 minutes east of the center on Avenida Gutenberg. There are also many economical hotelitos and hospedajes (as well as some upmarket ones) around Inglesia Los Dolores, 5 calle and on Avenida Juan Pablo II.
- Clarion Hotel Real Tegucigalpa, Juan Manuel Galvez, 1521, ☎ +504 286 6000 (fax: +504 286 6001), . Clarion Hotel Real Tegucigalpa is located near the Cas Presidencial. In the vicinity of the hotel include cafes, bars and meeting rooms. It offers free shuttle service from the International Toncontín airport to hotel and vice versa. The 167 rooms for its guests by offering access to high speed Internet, fitness center and an outdoor pool surrounded by a spacious sundeck. Prices range between $100 - $350. edit
- Florencia Plaza, Boulevard Suyapa, Esquina opuesta a Banpais, atras de pricesmart, Tegucigalpa, ☎ +504 2229 6900 ([email protected]), . Hotel edit
- Granada 1, Barrio Guanacaste Tegucigalpa Francisco Morazan, 11101, ☎ +504 2237 2381. Hotel edit
- Hotel Reinieri, 10 Calle, 3ra y 4ta. Avenida No. 311 Comayaguela, ☎ +504 9580 4512. If you arrive at night all of the budget places close around 11pm. Taxi drivers will not tell you this because they want to make a double fare. This hotel stays open 24 hours and is the cheapest option. 450 lempira for a double room with bathroom, fan, TV, and drinking water. Reception is extremely friendly. Have a security guard 24/7. edit
- Palmira, 4 Calle, Tegucigalpa 11001, ☎ +504 9972 9666 ([email protected]), . Hostel is located in the best neighborhood of Tegucigalpa, in a safe embassy area, right across the street from the French Embassy and one block from the American Embassy. Within walking distance from restaurants, supermarkets, malls, banks and bus stations. edit
- Paseo Miramontes, . Hotel only 4 km from the International Airport and in the vicinity of shopping malls, government offices, banks and the vibrant sector of the city, HPM provides personalized quality service at an excellent price. edit
- Real InterContinental Tegucipalga, Av. Roble, frente a Mall Multiplaza, ☎ +504 2902700 (fax: +504 2312828), . checkin: 01232010; checkout: 01282010. The Real InterContinental Tegucipalga offers visitors to the capital 157 rooms, 7 suites, rooms and executive floors for guests who are the hotel for business. Also a restaurant, gym, pool, spa, among other services. Nicer than the nearby Marriott, but the Marriott has a coffee shop and a sports bar, which the Intercon doesn't. Intercon has a kind of weird lounge, but a really nice outdoor pool with lots of places to sit. (The pool isn't very private, however.) Across from the nice Multiplaza Mall, which is a good resource if you need snacks, bottled water, booze or want to do some shopping. Prices range between $100 - $600. (,5 days) edit
The most important rule for street safety in Tegucigalpa is to never walk anywhere after dark. Are there areas of the city that are safe to walk in after dark? Yes. As an (assumedly) short-term traveler, do you know what they are? No.
In general, no one in Honduras will intervene during a crime. They do not want to get involved and reap the anger of the perpetrator. They will look the other way and walk right on by. Take special care at night. It is common for a foreigner to be robbed on the streets of Tegucigalpa at night. Thieves will stake out areas near tourist hotels, especially the Hotel Maya.
Cars are commonly broken into in broad daylight and the thieves don't even bother wearing masks. If you are driving, it is always worth it to pay to park in a guarded lot.
Follow these general guidelines:
- Keep to the main parts of the city and don't be tempted to go to places that you are not sure of.
- Keep to the main roads and avoid short cuts down back alleys etc.
- Never walk at night in the center of the city even for a short distance - always take a taxi.
- Be particularly wary of people hanging around outside hotels; it is a favorite place to catch tourists and mug them.
- Ignore the street children and people coming up to you in the streets with hard luck tales. Street children can become violent and the latter may be part of an elaborate scam or they might just simply be pick pockets. The best thing to do is just to walk on and ignore them.
- Do not carry large sums of money when shopping and do not wear expensive jewelry.
- Do not accept food and drink from strangers; visitors have known to be drugged and then robbed.
- If you must carry large sums of money or valuable possessions, carry two wallets: Keep one hidden with most of your money in it. The other should be in the most common place, your back pocket. Keep US$5-10 in the wallet, and a few stray lempiras. The lempiras can go to beggars (they tend to be persistent), and the dollars to appease any possible robbers. Typically US$5-10 is viewed as a days salary in Honduras, and just may be enough to appease a robber without sacrificing your larger stash. Use caution, as there is no such thing as a predictable thief in Honduras.
- If you shop at the Mercado San Isidro in Comayagüela, don't go after dark and don't carry a lot of valuables with you. Even in the daytime there are pickpockets and "grab-and-run" thieves in the market. And definitely don't walk around in Comayagüela itself (apart from the market area) at ANY time, day or night.
- It IS possible to go to Parque de la Paz and take panoramic pictures from the top as well as a picture of the monument itself. However, you must be very careful. Do not ever walk up the hill by yourself or even in a small group. Have a reliable taxi or tourist guide drive you up and make sure not to wander around too much when you're at the summit. It ought to go without saying that this is only possible in the daytime.
- At the airport beware of anyone offering to help you with your bags. Two men will stand at the departure terminal with a luggage cart, sometimes they already have your luggage on the cart. They will take your luggage to the ticket counter and then to the finance office where you receive your tax refund. Afterwards they pull you to the side and demand $10 each for their "assistance." If you have some left over Lempira that you don't want to exchange you can always hand it over to them and they will go away.
- Greece, Boulevard Marazan, Col. Palmira Casa 2018, ☎ +504 234-1415 (fax: +504 234-1922). edit
- United States, Avenida La Paz, ☎ +504 2236-9320 (, fax: +504 2236-9037). edit
- Valle de Angeles (Valley of the Angels) A small tourist town is 25 miles away from Tegus and is a great place to do all of your tourist shopping (a little cheaper than airport prices) and the home of the best restaurant in all of Honduras - "La Casa de mi Abuela" (My Grandmother's House). Generally slow service (nothing new in Honduras) but so very, very worth it. Definitely get an order of the anafres (tortilla chips in bean and and cheese sauce). Valle is perfectly safe to walk around, in contrast to Tegus. A ‘rapido’ bus runs from the petrol station in the centre of Tegucigalpa to the car park in Valle, costing 23L one-way as of September 2013, and taking around 45 minutes.
- Santa Lucia, a smaller town on the way to Valle de Angeles, it's less touristy and calmer, but with a nice view, cute little church and a few shops.
- Comayagua A safe, colonial town a few hours out from Tegus. It’s a good place to see old architecture and churches, and to learn about the history of government in Honduras. An ‘executivo’ bus runs (Transporte V Estrellas, [email protected], 2263-8124 (Tegus), 2772-3791 (Comayagua)) runs between the first basement level in City Mall, Tegus (under Nichita’s shop) to the Metroplaza in Comayagua. Hours (Monday–Saturday): 06:00, 07:30, 09:00, 10:30, 12:00, 13:30, 15:00, 17:00. Hours (Sundays): 07:30, 09:00, 10:30, 12:00, 13:30, 15:00, 16:00, 17:00.
- San Pedro Sula
- Copán Ruinas - A small town named after the nearby ruins of an ancient Mayan city.
- Nicaragua - There are direct buses to Managua with connections to go further south. There are public buses to Paraiso (83 lempira) at 7am and noon. From Paraiso you can get a chicken bus to Los Manos (17 lempira) and walk across the border to Nicaragua. On the Nicaraguan side there are chicken buses to Ocotal bus station with connections there to Managua, Esteli (30 cordoba), Somoto, and more.
- El Salvador - Direct buses are available to go to San Salvador.
- TicaBus - has departures to San Salvador and Managua.
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