Sprawling Tegucigalpa is made up of dozens of different neighborhoods. Those called barrios are usually older and more centrally located than the more upscale colonias. As long as you know which neighborhood you're headed to, getting to your destination won't be a problem. In theory, knowing that avenidas (avenues) run north–south and calles (streets) run east–west should make getting around much easier. In practice, Tegucigalpa's hills and ravines—scenic though they are—play havoc with anything resembling an orderly grid of streets. Several highwaylike boulevards—they're sometimes spelled bulevar—let you zip between sectors of the city. Few maps, however, have details like street names. Familiarize yourself instead with the city's landmarks, as locals will refer to these when giving directions.
Barrio El Centro. As in urban areas the world over, Tegucigalpa's downtown has seen development march out to the far reaches of the city. Most maps, ours included, place the center city at the very top, since development of economic and touristic note has expanded south. If you want to do sightseeing up big here, nearly everything you want to see—colonial-era churches and 19th-century villas—is concentrated in the city center and within walking distance of the Plaza Morazán, the pleasant central park, and the cathedral. Spanish colonial cities were laid out that way, and Tegucigalpa is no exception. Hatillo (where you'll find the exceptional La Cumbre restaurant) is a short taxi ride north of here.
Comayagüela. This sector southwest of the center city—you can see it across the Choluteca River from downtown—was a separate city until 1932 when it was incorporated into the capital. You might pass through here if you arrive or depart on an intercity bus or if you decide to brave the sprawling San Isidro market. Comayagüela is one of the capital's poorer areas and we don't recommend lingering here.
Colonia Palmira. Several countries, the United States included, base their embassies in this part of town, and embassies usually know the good neighborhoods. Tegucigalpa at its most pleasant lies in this sector just southeast of downtown. Boulevard Morazán is Palmira's main drag, but head just off Morazán and the streets turn leafy and quiet, and you'll find a nice collection of hotels and restaurants.
Southern Tegucigalpa. It's a catchall term for a sprawling collection of colonias to be sure. Hemmed in by mountains to the north, east, and west, Tegucigalpa's path of least resistance has been south, and here is where the city's economic development has occurred. At first glance, it seems a nondescript land of shopping malls, fast-food restaurants, and car dealerships. The big international hotel chains are here as are the international airport and a fun new children's museum.
Take It All In
If You Have 1 day: A day is what most visitors give Tegucigalpa, and it's ample time to explore the historic center of the city. Any visit to a Latin American city should start at its heart, its central plaza, the Plaza Morazán in the case of this city. Look inside the sumptuously restored cathedral on the eastern edge of the plaza. Walk a few blocks north to the Iglesia Los Dolores, admire its beautiful facade, and browse the artisan stalls in the plaza fronting the church. Take a taxi up to El Picacho, the mountain that overlooks the city. Head back down in the afternoon and learn everything you could want to know about Honduran history at the Museo para la Identidad Nacional.
If You Have 2 days: Two days let you explore the historic center of the city but give you more breathing room to linger over the sights and sample more restaurant and shopping options, especially in leafy Colonia Palmira to the east of downtown. Two of the capital's most impressive sites entail detours from the city center and can each take up a half day: the new Chiminike children's museum is fun for kids and adults of all ages, and the church and basilica in the suburb of Suyapa have been sites of pilgrimage for the faithful for over 250 years.
If You Have 3 days: Spend your first day in Tegucigalpa exploring the streets of the capital. The nearby villages of Santa Lucía and Valle de Ángeles, with their cobblestone streets, are a great place to stroll on your second day. Weekdays are pretty quiet in Valle and Santa Lucía; if your schedule permits it, come out here on the weekend when there's more going on. Get up early the next day so you have plenty of time to explore Parque Nacional La Tigra, a beautiful example of a tropical cloud forest.