Set amid the lush hills of the Río Copán Valley, this pleasant town of cobblestone streets serves as the perfect gateway for exploring the nearby Copán Archaeological Site  and some natural attractions, which include hot springs, a bird park, and coffee farms. The range of accommodations and places to eat here is excellent.
The Copán Valley is also the site of tobacco plantations, some of which supply the well-known Flor de Copán factory in Santa Rosa de Copán, east of here. The hillsides surrounding the Copán Valley grow good-quality coffee and cardamom. If you’re visiting the ruins of Copán , try to spend at least one night in Copán Ruinas.
Minibuses to the El Florido border leave town from the corner next to the market about every half hour for the 20-minute, 12-kilometer trip. There are hourly onward buses from there to Chiquimula , taking about an hour. A much more comfortable and increasingly popular option is to book a shuttle bus. Monarcas Travel, in the Casa de Todo shop, runs two daily buses to Guatemala City  and Antigua  for $20 one-way.
Hedman-Alas (tel. 651-4037, www.hedmanalas.com ) operates a direct first-class bus to Guatemala City ($35, four hours) and Antigua ($41, five hours) from its terminal on the road south of town heading toward the river. There are also onward buses to Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula.
If driving a rental car to Copán from Guatemala, be aware that you’ll need written permission from your car-rental agency.