Planning a Trip
By Plane -- Although most international travelers fly into the larger and more modern San Pedro Sula Airport, Tegucigalpa's Tocontín International Airport (TGU; tel. 504/234-2402) does have a few international routes. American Airlines (tel. 504/220-7585), Continental Airlines (tel. 504/550-7124), and TACA (tel. 504/221-6495) all land here from North American destinations.
Regional airlines serving the capital are: Isleña Airlines (tel. 504/236-8778), Aerolíneas Sosa (tel. 504/443-2519; www.aerolineassosa.com), and Atlantic Airlines (tel. 504/440-2343). There are no direct flights to the Bay Islands or La Mosquitia, but there are easy connections in La Ceiba.
Tocontín has just one ATM, a craft shop, a call center, and a small cafe, but little else. The airport is 6km (4 miles) south of the center on the highway to Choluteca. A taxi to downtown will be about L190 to L230 ($10-$12/£5-£6). Alternatively, you can catch a northbound bus or collective taxi to the center of town for L20 ($1/50p) right outside the main airport gates -- just listen for the touts shouting "Te-goose."
By Bus -- Hedman Alas (13a Calle and Av. 11; tel. 504/237-7143) has luxury service four times a day to San Pedro Sula (4 hr. away; L535/$28/£14), where connections can then be made to Copán, Tela, or La Ceiba. Viana Clase de Oro (Blvd. FFAA at the ESSO station; tel. 504/225-6584; L600/$32/£16) has five first-class buses daily to San Pedro Sula that continue onto La Ceiba from 6:30am to 6pm.
Other options for getting to San Pedro include the operator Saenz (Centro Commercial Perisur; tel. 504/233-4229; L456/$24/£12), which has regular and first-class, nonstop service six times a day to the capital, along with El Rey Express (Banco Central; tel. 504/237-8561; www.reyexpress.net; L418/$22/£11), which stops in Comayagua as well as San Pedro. For La Ceiba (7 hr. away), try the operator Cristina (tel. 504/441-2028; L475/$25/£13), which has five daily departures between 5:30am and 3:30pm.
Travelers crossing the El Salvador and Nicaragua borders have several options. To get to El Amatillo (3 1/2 hr. away; L140/$7/£3.50), on the El Salvador border you have to catch one of the buses leaving from the Mercado Mayoreo, southwest of Comayagüela on the highway to Olancho. For the Nicaraguan border at El Paraiso (2 hr. away; L120/$6/£3) via Danli, try Discua Litena (Mercado Jacaleapa; tel. 504/230-0470), which leaves every hour from 6:30am to 7:30pm.
If you're traveling elsewhere in Central America, your best choice is Tica Bus (16a Calle and Av. 5; tel. 504/220-0579; www.ticabus.com), a company that has daily departures to San Salvador (6 1/2 hr. away; L950/$50/£25), Managua (7-8 hr. away; L1,045/$55/£28), and Guatemala City (14 hr. away; L1,140/$60/£30) and journeys as far as Mexico and Panama.
Tegus is one of the few colonial cities in Central America that does not follow a typical Spanish layout with a grid of streets surrounding a central square, mostly because of the uneven surface of the city. The colonial center of the city is more of a narrow strip on a central grid of about 7*20 blocks, and there are several squares -- the largest is Parque Morazán, or the Parque Central. The city's pedestrian-only street, Calle Peatonal, leads west from this square and other main streets and avenues run into or parallel to it. Most of the city's museums, churches, and artisan shops can be found within 6 blocks of Parque Central, too. The commercial center of the city and where you will find the best hotels, restaurants, and shops is Colonia Palmira, on the north side of the fast-food lined Boulevard Morazán. West of the Río Choluteca, a river that divides the city, and southwest of the center is the neighborhood of Comayagüela, where most of the city's bus terminals can be found; this is a poorer, less safe part of town.
On Foot -- Much of Tegucigalpa can be explored on foot. The colonial center and Colonia Palmira are all safe and secure during the day, though you should stick to taxi cabs during the night and never travel alone, just to be sure.
By Taxi -- Taxis are cheap, plentiful, and far safer for getting between neighborhoods than walking or taking the city's public buses. Traveling within the center is usually less than L40 ($2/£1) via cab. You can also take colectivo taxis for about half the price.
By Bus -- Most city buses run from the south or west and journey through Comayagüela before heading north and east out of the city. You'll probably use the no. 21 Tiloarque-La Sosa bus, which has stops at the Mercado Mayoreo and throughout downtown, or the no. 32, which stops at the National University, the most. It'll cost only about L10 (50¢/25p) to get anywhere in town.
Although Tegucigalpa doesn't have a main bus terminal, most of the bus companies have terminals within a few blocks of each other in the Comayagüela section of town. Because this neighborhood isn't safe, use caution getting there and do not leave your baggage unattended. In fact, you might want to simply take cabs instead of busing it around town, because of safety issues.
By Car -- Tegucigalpa is right on one of the best highways in the country, CA 5, which ends 241km (150 miles) away in San Pedro Sula, passing Lago de Yojoa, Siguatepe, and Comayagua en route. CA 5 also heads south to Choluteca, where you can connect with CA 1, or the Pan-American Highway (Carretera Panamericana), which runs to El Salvador, Nicaragua, and beyond.
The CA 11-A road to Copán is a jaw-dropping route through the mountains, which is windy, mostly unpaved, and sometimes impassable due to rain. Many drivers prefer to head back toward San Pedro Sula and catch highway CA 4.
If you're heading to the north coast, you have two options: one is to go back to San Pedro Sula, and the other is an unpredictable route through the wild Olancho region that is prone to highway robberies and poor roads. Most choose the prior.
Car-rental agencies are located both at the airport and in town. Companies include Avis (Edificio Marinakys at Blvd. Suyapa; tel. 504/239-5712; www.avis.com), Payless (Edificio Saenz at Blvd. Europea; tel. 504/245-7054; www.paylesscarrental.net), and Hertz (Centro Comercio Villa Real; tel. 504/235-8582; www.hertz.com).
The Instituto Hondureño de Turismo (Av. Cruz and Calle Mexico; tel. 504/220-1600; www.letsgohonduras.com) has friendly English-speaking staff who can provide general information and give you a copy of their excellent bilingual guide, Honduras Tips. It's open Monday to Friday from 7:30am to 4:30pm
Fast Facts -- Most banks and ATMs are either downtown or along Boulevard Morazán, as well as the malls. BAC (Blvd. Morazán and Av. Cruz) exchanges traveler's checks and has a 24-hour ATM, as does Banco Atlántida on Parque Central. There's an official currency exchange booth at the airport; less official operations are on Calle Peatonal and in the Parque Morazán.
Honduras Medical Center (Av. Juan Lindo; tel. 504/216-1201), on of the country's top hospitals, is open 24 hours, as is Clinica Viera (across from the Alcadia; tel. 504/237-3156).
Hondutel, 1 block off Parque Central at Av. Colón and Calle El Telégrafo, offers international calls, although you can find cheap call service at any of the cybercafes in the colonial center.
Most hotels have some sort of laundry service, though independent operators will do it for far cheaper. One to try is Super Jet (Av. Juan Gutenberg before it turns into Av. La Paz), which has same-day service for L30 ($1.50/75p) per kilo.
The main police office is at 5a Av. and Avenida Lempira; police can be reached by dialing tel. 504/779-0476 or 199.
The downtown post office is at Avenida Barahona and Calle El Telégrafo. There is also a DHL (tel. 504/220-1800) and Mailboxes, Etc. (tel. 504/232-3184) on Boulevard Morazán.
Safety note: Tegucigalpa as a whole is not a safe city. Parts, such as the center of town and Boulevard Morazán, are fine for strolling during the day, but don't flash any valuables like jewelry, cameras, or iPods. In other areas, especially in Comayagüela and around the bus terminals, walk with extreme caution and try to avoid walking alone. At night, always take taxis wherever you go.