Situated in a temperate valley surrounded by the spruce-lined Cordillera mountains sits the city of Tegucigalpa, known for down-to-earth charm, hidden parks, colonial-style buildings and creative communities. With El Salvador and Guatemala to the east and northeast, this capital city of Honduras is a great place to visit. Honduras’s roots are spread as deep and as wide as the dense tropical rainforest that grows within it. The state, colonised by the Spanish in the 16th century, is home to longstanding indigenous communities like the Lencas, the Mayans and the Sumo, with ruins dating back centuries; long before Columbus arrived.
Often travellers to Honduras overlook a stay its capital city, which is really a mistake. Tegucigalpa grew into a metropolis of more than one million residents but it managed to retain an old-world charm. The main plaza is still where everything happens. It’s where to go to visit interesting museums, colonial churches or just to people-watch.
This city has a climate and a culture that will endear itself to you the longer you linger.
Ecologists and archaeologists are teaming up to uncover the secrets of this enormous site. Their hope is to not only protect what is left of the ecosystem of La Mosquitia; a combination of rainforest, pine savannah and marshlands, but also to further understand the history of this area. Magic is being uncovered as we speak!
To discover Tegucigalpa, or “Teguz” as it’s known locally, fly into the Toncontín International Airport (TGU), known for its short runway and exciting take-offs and landings, due to the proximity of the surrounding mountains. The best way to travel from the airport to your hotel is by taxi. You can expect to pay between £1-£2 for this 10-20 minute ride.
Tegucigalpa is a wonderful place to explore. Here are a few of my recommendations for what to see and do:
- Plaza Morazán or “Parque Central”, named after the former president Francisco Morazán, is the hub and heart of Tegucigalpa. Visit the nearby Catedral de San Miguel to marvel at its ornate baroque stye including a gold and silver alter.
- Basilica de Suyapa is the most important church in Honduras, named after La Virgen de Suyapa, or the Virgin Mary, patron saint of Honduras.
- Walk through the Iglesia Los Dolores to marvel at its beautiful religious artwork.
- To understand the history, culture and national identity of Honduras, a visit to the Museo para la Identidad National is recommended. Housed in a tastefully renovated 19th century former Palace of Ministries, the museum also offers free tours in English, French and German.
- Parque Naciones Unidas El Picacho is a small hilltop park accessible from downtown via walking trails. Hike your way to the top for a view of the city. Once you reach the top stand at the foot of the 20-metre-tall statue of El Cristo del Picacho that is illuminated at night and watches over the city below.
- Stop by the Centro de la Cultura Garinagu de Honduras to view the wonderful handicrafts, clothing and tools traditional to the Garifuna people. Catch one of the regular dance troupes’ dynamic performances.
- Football fans will delight in a trip to the Estadio Nacional Tiburcio Carías Andino for a lively match.
Here’s a Pro-tip: Parque Nacional La Tigra is one of the most accessible national parks in the country and considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world. Just 12 miles (20km) north of the city, you can wander the orchid and fern-lined trails spotting ocelots and armadillos along the way.
If shopping is on your travel itinerary here are a few suggestions of where to visit:
There’s nothing like a tasty baleada!
- At the side of the Iglesia Los Dolores stands inside the food-centric covered market Mercado los Dolores, perfectly answering the question: “What should I eat next?”. Try a pupusa (cornmeal stuffed with cheese or refried beans) or a baleada (filled flour tortillas) at the popular Beleadas Dolores stall, running since 1980.
- Mercado Mayoreo is open on Fridays and Saturdays. Located near the Estadio Nacional, stop by a papusaria before wandering the stalls, filled with everything under the Honduras sun.
- Centro Comercial Novacentro is the newest and largest shopping complex in Teguz. Stop for a coffee at one of the many local shops to power up before.
Here’s a Pro-tip: The Galeano Café is a cool hipster shop serving coffee, crepes and smoothies downstairs on the terrace while having an eclectic independent clothing shop upstairs.
Honduran cuisine, a fusion of Mesoamerican cuisines, typically includes native-grown ingredients like corn, beans and plantain. Influenced by Spanish and African cuisines as well, there’s a plethora of good food available to try. Here are my favourite places to eat:
- Restaurant El Anafre, located in the central plaza area, is known for its signature dish: the Anafre – a Honduran dish of black beans, cream, and cheese served with tortilla chips.
- Open for 40 years El Patio is the city’s best-known Honduran restaurant, featuring traditional cuisine from across the country. Watch as they prepare your food over an open grill then bring it to you in traditional Honduran dress. Make sure to order the pinchos (Honduran kebabs) and a cold beer. Visit in the evening for opportunity to experience typical Honduran culture and live music.
- Located within the Intercontinental Hotel, Factory Steak & Lobster offers elegant dining and a wide range of dishes, specializing, as the same suggests, in steak and seafood, alongside attentive and personalised service.
Here’s another Pro-tip: For dinner with a view, La Cumbre is the place to head; it’s considered to be the city’s most romantic restaurant with a surprisingly German-influenced menu. If you’re looking for breathtaking views of the city with a side of schnitzel, make a reservation here.
Honduran culture embraces the arts, community, and a welcoming sense of hospitality. Here are some of my recommendations of where to head once the sun goes down:
- Café Paradiso is one of the hot spots for local creatives. This bohemian haven features art house films showings on Tuesday evenings and poetry readings on Thursday evenings.
- For those looking for a dance with Lady Luck, head for the Casino Royale, connected to the elegant Honduras Maya Hotel. Make sure to bring your passport and dress to impress, this is a place to see and be seen.
- Take in a play, concert or show at the Teatro Nacional Manuel Bonilla. Built in 1912 this national theatre hosts a wide range of performances from dance to symphony.
Once you’re ready to rest, here are a few great places I’d recommend to stay:
- Honduras Maya Hotel not only comes with a fantastic built-in night entertainment with the casino, but also boasts views of El Picacho Cristo, making it top of my recommendation list for a stay.
- Hotel Portal del Angel is where to stay to experience style and luxury. Designed with colonial elegance and modern conveniences the rooms are beautiful and comfortable. It is located in Colonia Palmira, with much of the city’s nightlife just around the corner.
- If you’re looking for the hidden gem in the city, Hotel Linda Vista is perfect! They don’t even have a sign posted. Located in the bustling Colonia Palmira, the tiled floors, classic Honduran artwork and soft décor will relax and delight you. This is an exclusive accommodation, with only 6 rooms.
Wherever you visit, you’ll find Tegucigalpa to be a warm and creative city filled with good food, interesting architecture and wonderful hidden parks to explore. Before you head off to explore the ancient ruins and rainforests of Honduras, enjoy a big gulp of Tegucigalpa!