This post was last updated in January 2023 with information from travellers. We did this trip in April 2018, and not much has changed since then. The busses and colectivos still stop in the same places, and even prices remained mostly stable. Thank you to everyone who left comments with new information!

After nine days in Honduras, Copan was our last stop. We had a great day here, exploring the Mayan ruins and observing macaws and toucans on Macaw Mountain. But eventually, the time came for us to leave and that’s when it got complicated.

We knew that we wanted to go to El Salvador next. Ideally, we would make our way from Copan to Santa Ana, but we were also prepared to stop in San Salvador since we knew transport was going to be difficult. There are regular tourist shuttles between Copan Ruinas and El Salvador, but they only leave three times a week, get cancelled often, are expensive and, and that was the main reason we didn’t take one, didn’t leave on the day we wanted to cross the border. So we didn’t have a choice but to do it on our own.

Fortunately, when asking for transport to El Salvador, we came across Josue. Josue was originally from Tegucigalpa but had lived in Copan Ruinas for the past years. He asked if we wanted to go together and we agreed because he seemed to know what he was doing

Not everyone is lucky enough to meet a guy like Josue, so in case you want to make the journey on your own, I have put together this guide for you. This is how we went from Copan to Santa Ana and I hope it can be useful for you.

Step 1: Copan Ruinas to El Florido

The archaeological site in Copan

The easiest way to get from Copan to Santa Ana is to go via Guatemala. Yes, it involves another border crossing but the alternative is to go on a long trip through Honduras, starting by going northwards and risking getting stuck somewhere along the way. It’s different if you want to go to San Salvador, but to Santa Ana, you will need to go through Guatemala.

Your first step is to catch a bus or a tuk-tuk to the border post called ‘El Florido’. Make sure to leave early in the morning. Josue had arranged a tuk-tuk for us that left Copan at twenty past five. The ride took twenty minutes and we paid 100 lempiras each (so 300 in total).

There are also regular public buses. While our tuk-tuk was fighting its way up the mountain, with three people and three backpacks in the back, one of those buses passed us so I know for sure that they leave early in the morning as well.

As of January 2023, the colectivo that leaves from the square with the cemetery and hostel Yax kin costs 25 lempiras per person. Double-check where it leaves from, because someone reported that it leaves from outside Restaurant la Casa de Toto between the hours of 05:20 and 06:20.

Step 2: El Florido to Chiquimula

Before leaving Copan, make sure to visit Macaw Mountain

At the border, make sure to get your Honduras exit stamp and your Guatemala entry stamp. After you have completed border formalities, ask for buses to Chiquimula. You can also find money changers at the border who give decent rates for exchanging any lempiras you have left.

Buses in Guatemala aren’t very expensive, but it pays off to maybe exchange 10$ so you have a bit of local currency. Since I knew I was going to come back, I exchanged a bit more, just to be on the safe side.

As I already said, ask for a bus to Chiquimula and then tell the driver that you want to go to ‘La frontera con El Salvador’. That way, he will know where exactly to drop you off. If you have on your phone (which I highly recommend you to download), the place is called Vado Hondo.

We got off at the intersection the driver pointed out to us, crossed the road and started waiting for the bus to the border. Our bus from El Florido left at six in the morning, and it took us one hour and forty minutes.

The latest reports that we have (January 2023) mentioned that the cost is 20 Quetzales.

Step 3: Vado Hondo to Frontera Anguiatu

Minibus in Guatemala

Apparently, there are direct buses from the intersection where we stood to the border. Unfortunately, one of them passed us and didn’t stop for us.

When the next bus stopped, we told the driver we wanted to go to the border and he told us to hop on board and then change buses in Quezaltepeque. It was very easy. After thirty minutes, we stopped. The driver waved at us and directed us towards another bus. We could instantly jump in, we didn’t even have to carry our luggage as people were already taking care of transferring it from one vehicle to another. The moment we were on the bus, it took off.

When waiting in Vado Hondo, just stop every bus and tell the driver you want to go to ‘la frontera Anguiatu, el Salvador’. Don’t just say you want to go to ‘la frontera’ or you might find yourself going back to Honduras.

Altogether, it took us 1 hour and 35 minutes to get to the border and we arrived there at around twenty past nine. As of January 2023, the cost of this trip was 30 Quetzales.

Step 4: Anguiatu to Metapan

El Salvador has beautiful scenery

The border crossing was fast and efficient. We got stamped out of Guatemala and then had an official from El Salvador tell us that we didn’t need an entry stamp. Apparently, they only give out stamps at the airport, not at their land borders. It’s a shame because I really like collecting stamps in my passport.

After crossing the border and walking through a construction site for a bit, we found the bus stop. Here, you will need to take a bus to Metapan. This town is located close to the border, and colourful chicken buses leave regularly.

While our bus was already there, we still had to wait for around half an hour before it left. It took around 30 minutes and we arrived in Metapan shortly before eleven o’clock.

As of January 2023, the cost of this trip is 0,56 USD.

Step 5: Metapan to Santa Ana

After stumbling off our bus in Metapan (I had just fallen asleep and was not fully awake yet), we only had to wait for two minutes for the bus to Santa Ana to show up.

The bus leaves in the same place where you just arrived. Don’t pay attention to what’s written on the outside of the buses, it usually isn’t true. Instead, ask around so people can point you to the right bus.

This last leg of our journey took us about an hour and a half and we arrived in Santa Ana at half past twelve.

As of January 2023, the cost of this trip is 0,80 USD.

Volcan Santa Ana

Total cost

Going by public transport was much cheaper than taking a tourist shuttle.

Here is the cost in total (January 2023)

  • 25 to 100 lempiras (4,06$)
  • 50 Quetzales (6,37$)
  • 1,35 USD

In total, that makes 11,78$. A tourist shuttle will set you back between 30 – 40$, and it only leaves every other day.

Yes, you might have to change buses often, but it was all fast and efficient, and I was surprised by how quickly we arrived.

While in Santa Ana, one of the best things to do is hike the nearby volcano. And yes, you can also get there by public transport. It’s a really cool experience, and you can learn more about it in our guide to hiking Volcan Santa Ana.

Also, if you decide to make this trip by public transport, please leave me a comment to let us know how it went. We update this post regularly with new information, to help out fellow travellers.

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Ilona is a world traveller passionate about sharing her experiences and giving advice to fellow travellers. Having visited over 70 countries, she is always excited about her next trip.


    • Iloenchen Reply

      It was. It was a very interesting trip. And surprisingly fast.

  1. Thanks for this post. Just did this route (20 June 2018) and found your description helpful. We didn’t leave CR until 8am and arrived Santa Ana at 16:15. We took the micro from Copan Ruins to the border (20L). These buses leave every 20 minutes and SHOULD take 20 minutes but there are currently major roadwork in Honduras with slow traffic flow. At the El Salvador border there is extensive construction work underway so we needed to walk to the top of the hill where the bus was parked. It’s probably 1km and quite steep so hard work with baggage and in the heat of the day.

    • Ilona Reply

      I’m very glad you found this post helpful! Thank you for the updates on the construction sites. When we went, there was already a construction site at the border with El Salvador, but it wasn’t as huge as you described it now. Let us hope they’re done soon so it will get easier to take the onward bus connection.

  2. Great post! Many thanks- this is EXACTLY what I needed to know- only the opposite way!
    Hope it works exactly same.
    all the best luck in your travels!

    • Iloenchen Reply

      I’m glad I could help you. I hope it works out for you and you get to Honduras as quickly as possible. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Firstly: great post and thanks so much!! Without the post, it would be a hard time finding this quick and cheap route!

    Today I did the route, and maybe the following information can help people who want to do the same? Because I didn’t took a TukTuk to El Florido, I took the bus and this is what I found out:

    The first bus leaves at 05:20 – after that, every 20 minutes. From 05:20 till 06:20 it leaves from a different place than MapsMe will indicate you. It leaves close to the park, on the corner of Calle 18 Conejo where MapsMe will indicate “Restaurante La Casa de Todo”. I was there around 05:00 and there was a guy standing there, who was a ‘helper’ of one of the drivers. He told me these things, otherwise I would have walked towards the MapsMe location without a bus coming. If he’s not there, walk one more block down the road (away from the park) – it’s possible that I made a mistake in remembering the exact corner but I’m almost sure this was the location. There should be at least someone around that time, you can always just ask “Frontera?”. After 06:20, it leaves from the location which is stated on MapsMe. Maybe the times also change then, I don’t know this so maybe ask at your hostel?

    The rest was literally as the post describes it, even the prices were exactly the same and it was a huge help to arrive in Santa Ana!

    Thank you :)

    • Iloenchen Reply

      Thank you so much for leaving a comment! It’s great to know that you used this guide and that you found it helpful. Also, thank you very much for the information on where the bus leaves. I’ll make sure to update this post so people know.

  4. Hi there!
    Thanks for this post, it helped a lot! We did it today 18th of October 2019, and it’s still pretty accurate.
    – We took a collectivo from Copán (on the square with the cemetery and hostel Yax kin) for El Florido, la frontera. 20 lempira per person.
    – Bus from El Florido to Vado Hondo, 20 quetzales per person
    – Bus from Vado Hondo to Anguiatu, 15 quetzales per person
    – Bus from Anguiatu to Metapán, 55 cents per person
    – Bus from Metapán to Santa Ana, 90 cents per person.
    Just as you said, frontiers went smoothly and the only waiting time we had was about 15-20’ in Vado Hondo. Leaving Copán around 8:30 we arrived in Santa Ana around 15:00.
    Cheers, and thanks again for the info!

  5. Jonny Blue Reply

    I took this trip today, and can confirm that it remains much as described. I would advise getting the collectivo instead of a tuktuk to the border to save some much-needed dosh! They leave every twenty minutes on the hour from next to the cemetery and cost 25L. It’s worth noting that another poster reported that between the hours of 05:20 and 06:20, they leave from outside Restaurant la Casa de Toto instead, though I can’t confirm this.

    The buses from the El Salvador border leave roughly every hour, on the hour, as far as I understand it. A rather doddery old driver combined with my imperfect Spanish and unshakeable English accent (it’s worth looking up the pronunciation of Metapán, by the way) caused the only confusion of my journey at this point. Arriving just before 1PM, I gathered that the near-empty bus parked a couple of hundred yards from the border was not leaving for another hour. Upon returning a couple of minutes after 1PM, I discovered to my upmost consternation that this bus had left. Very annoying, but the mistake ultimately lies with this prat right here, and in the grand scheme of things, sod’s law could have been a lot crueller to me on what is a fairly convoluted route.

    To add insult to injury, however, the following bus didn’t then leave until a good fifteen minutes past 2PM, and was promptly filled with a number of rather large ladies, one of whom seemed to take a fancy to me. Needless to say that I quickly busied myself with the writing of this comment lest I draw unwanted attention to myself. Squashed in, warm cheek to sweaty jowl, this was not the time for a weary traveller to be adding the language of love to his list of multilingual failings.

    In summary, I caught the 8.20AM collectivo from Copan, crossed into El Salvador at 1PM, and arrived in Santa Ana at 4.30PM for a combined journey length of 8 hours. An hour or more could have been knocked off this total if it weren’t for the missed bus at the border.

    Also, it’s worth noting that the fares have changed slightly. Here are the updated prices:

    Copan Ruinas to El Florido: 25L
    El Florido to Chiquimula : 20Q
    Chiquimula to Anguiatu :30Q
    Anguiatu to Metapan: 0.55USD
    Metapan to Santa Ana: 0.80USD

    Happy travelling!

    • Ilona Reply

      Thank you so much for the detailed information! This is super helpful, we will update the blog post with the new information.

    • Ilona Reply

      Thank you so much for letting us know, Joris! We’re happy to hear that it still works and hope you enjoy your time in El Salvador. :)

  6. We did the route today and everything is still the same.
    The prices are the same as described in Jonny’s comment, except from Anguiatu to Metapan, they have increased the fare to 0.56 USD 😄

    • Ilona Reply

      Thank you so much for the information! We will update the blog post.

  7. Jeanine Janowski Reply

    We did the trip on 31/8/23. Everything was the same as Jonny described. But the Anguiatu to Metapan increased to 0.56
    Copan Ruinas to El Florido in collectivo: 25L
    El Florido to Chiquimula : 20Q
    Chiquimula to Anguiatu :30Q
    Anguiatu to Metapan: 0.56USD
    Metapan to Santa Ana: 0.80USD

    We left Copan Ruinas at 10am. We arrived in Santa Ana at 5:30pm. It took 7.5 hours in total.

  8. Hello!
    I did the trip today. I will give some updates. First the buses and prices, and then the story.

    Copan Ruinas – El Florido: 25 Lempiras
    El Florido – Vado Hondo: 25 Quetzales
    Vado Hondo – Quezaltepeque: 15 Quetzales
    Quezaltepeque – Anguiatú: 20 Quetzales
    Anguiartú – Metapán: 0,56 USD
    Metapán – Santa Ana: 0,8 USD

    I left my little hotel in Copan Ruinas at 06:20. Was going to walk to the colectivo station by the cemetery when two older men said the colectivo was going to pass just where we were. They were right. Around 15-20 minutes of waiting time before it filled up. Reached the border at 07.06. Border crossing super smooth.
    Changed money to quetzales. Hopped on a bus, it went only to Jocotan where I had to change bus at the same place I was thrown off the bus. And I had bought the ticket from a specific company, so I had to wait for that company again.
    Got off in Vado Hondo. A bus for Quetzaltepeque stops and say I can take a bus to there and then change to the border. I do that. Reach Quezaltepeque, the bus to the border arrives 15 min later at the same place as where I left the other bus.
    Reach the border, very smooth crossing and Salvadoran guards were very chatty in a good way.
    Bus to Metapán was waiting after the border.
    Changing buses in Metapán was the most confusing, people said “otro lado” when I wondered where the bus where, I thought they meant other way of the building but it was the other side of the street. But I found the bus in the end.

    All in all, quite simple, if you have done the home work about the trip, know a little bit of Spanish and are ready to change buses 7 times.
    I don’t know the end cost but you see it in the break down. I think this alternative is better than the shuttle actually.

    I arrived at 13.30 to Santa Ana, by th way.

    • Hi all!
      Thanks for the info! If it hadn’t been for this blog post, I would have wasted 50$ on a shuttle. Even didn’t provide a decent alternative by public buses, so I’m very thankful that you did!

      Just finished the trip. Everything went very smoothly as described with little to no waiting times for busses or at immigration control. Short roundup of all infos as per 23rd Feb 2024:

      Departure Copán Ruinas at 7:30am
      Arrival in Santa Ana at 2:15pm

      Copan Ruinas – El Florido: 25 L
      El Florido – Chiquimula: 20 Q
      Chiquimula – Anguiatu: 50 Q
      Anguiatu – Metapan: 0.56 USD
      Metapan – Santa Ana: 0.80 USD

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