Welcome to Ecuador, a country that is home to some of the most incredible natural beauty and exciting cultural experiences in South America.
From the stunning Galapagos Islands and the historic charm of Quito to trekking through the Andes Mountains and exploring the depths of the Amazon rainforest, Ecuador has something for everyone. In this blog, we will take you on a journey through the 21 best things to do in Ecuador and places to visit that will leave you mesmerized.
Whether you are looking for adventure, relaxation, or an immersive cultural experience, we’ve got you covered. Join us as we explore everything from Ecuador’s natural wonders to its delicious cuisine and vibrant markets. Get ready for an unforgettable trip to one of South America’s most enchanting destinations!
Unraveling Ecuador’s Treasures
Immerse yourself in Ecuador’s diverse landscapes and colonial architecture, exploring the UNESCO World Heritage site.
Experience the thrill of active volcanoes and cloud forests, while birdwatching and mountain biking offer an array of adventures. From the small-town charm to the unique species of birds, Ecuador’s treasures captivate visitors.
The country boasts the Cotopaxi volcano and the Quilotoa Loop, attracting adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers. The Ecuadorian Amazon, Santa Cruz Island, and the Mitad del Mundo add to the allure, making Ecuador a haven for exploration and travel inspiration.
1. Galapagos Islands
Embark on a wildlife adventure in the Galapagos Islands, home to unique marine iguanas and playful sea lions. Immerse yourself in a nature tour, encountering rare bird species and the enchanting pink river dolphins.
Dive into the crystal-clear waters, where a diverse marine life thrives, and explore the unspoiled beauty of the islands by foot.
Experience a trip of a lifetime in the Galapagos Islands, a true haven of biodiversity, offering an unforgettable journey through this natural wonderland. With this, a journey through the Islands is sure to leave you in awe of its remarkable natural treasures.
2. The Historic Charm of Quito
Immerse yourself in the captivating colonial architecture and rich indigenous heritage of Quito. Explore the stunning Basilica del Voto Nacional, an architectural marvel that offers panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains.
Wander through Quito’s historic center, where the colonial past comes to life amidst cobblestone streets and charming plazas.
Marvel at the unique cultural blend and historic significance of this capital city, which is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Discover the allure of Quito as it seamlessly combines modernity with its colonial legacy, creating an enticing blend of tradition and innovation.
3. Adventure Awaits at Cotopaxi Volcano
Embark on an exhilarating journey at Cotopaxi Volcano, where adventure knows no bounds. Feel the rush of mountain biking and horseback riding, immersing yourself in the natural gems of surroundings.
Explore the awe-inspiring landscapes and diverse wildlife that call Cotopaxi home. A day trip to this remarkable destination unveils the stunning crater and captivating nature that will leave you in awe.
Discover the wonders of nature and adventure at Cotopaxi, a true testament to the breathtaking experiences that Ecuador has to offer. With every twist and turn, Cotopaxi unleashes the spirit of exploration, promising an unforgettable encounter with the best of Ecuador’s natural marvels.
Discover the Ecuadorian Markets & Cuisine
Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the Otavalo Market, a paradise for shoppers seeking Ecuadorian craftsmanship. Indulge in the rich flavors of ceviche and traditional Ecuadorian cuisine, a delightful culinary experience.
Explore the local market scene and witness the bustling activity that highlights Ecuador’s cultural heritage. Additionally, discover the diverse and fresh seafood that contributes to the rich flavors of Ecuadorian cuisine.
The Ecuadorian markets offer a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and witness the best of Ecuadorian craftsmanship, making it an essential part of your journey through this diverse and culturally rich country.
4. The Vibrant Otavalo Market
Immerse yourself in the lively energy of Otavalo Market, where local indigenous people showcase their remarkable craftsmanship.
Delight in the diverse artisanal crafts and vibrant textiles on display, each telling a unique story of Ecuadorian heritage.
Explore the market’s stalls to discover local treasures and unique souvenirs while experiencing the rich cultural heritage of Otavalo. The bustling atmosphere and colorful ambiance make this market a must-visit destination.
Taste the Delicacies: Ceviche and More
Immerse yourself in the rich and diverse flavors of Ecuadorian gastronomy. Explore the local cuisine and indulge in the authentic flavors of Ecuador’s dishes.
Indulge in the fresh and flavorful ceviche, a popular Ecuadorian seafood dish. Discover the culinary delights of Ecuador, from street food to local specialties. Savor the delectable and diverse flavors of traditional Ecuadorian cuisine.
Whether you’re in the Amazon basin or the cobblestone streets of Quito, there are ample opportunities to tantalize your taste buds with the best things that Ecuador has to offer.
From the mountain bike trails near the famous Cotopaxi volcano to the charming town of Puerto Lopez on the Ecuadorian coast, the country’s culinary scene offers a perfect blend of tradition and innovation.
Exploring the Depths of Ecuador
Embark on a journey to discover Ecuador’s diverse and breathtaking landscapes. Witness the captivating wildlife and natural wonders of the Galapagos Islands, a haven for ecological exploration. Immerse yourself in the rich history and colonial charm of Quito and Cuenca, adorned with cobblestone streets and architectural marvels.
Uncover the vibrant culture at the indigenous markets of Otavalo and Saquisilí, teeming with colorful textiles and authentic souvenirs. Trek through the awe-inspiring Andes Mountains, offering unparalleled views and exhilarating experiences for mountain biking enthusiasts.
Indulge in relaxation at the rejuvenating hot springs of Baños, nestled amidst picturesque scenery. Experience the unique traditions and biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest, an adventure filled with travel inspiration and unparalleled encounters with nature’s wonders.
5. The Amazon Jungle: A Different World
Nestled within the Ecuadorian Amazon is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth. Guided tours offer opportunities to explore the jungle’s flora and fauna, including unique experiences like kayaking, fishing, and bird-watching.
The jungle also provides cultural experiences through interactions with local indigenous communities, allowing visitors to learn about their traditional way of life. For adventure enthusiasts, the Amazon offers trekking and zip-lining amidst its lush greenery.
The Ecuadorian Amazon truly presents a different world, inviting travelers to immerse themselves in its natural wonders and vibrant biodiversity.
6. The Ingapirca Ruins: Echoes of the Past
Nestled in the Ecuadorian Andes, the Ingapirca Ruins are an ancient archaeological site that offers a glimpse into the rich history of the Inca civilization. The ruins showcase the impressive engineering and architectural skills of the Inca people, with the Temple of the Sun standing as a testament to their advanced knowledge of astronomy and construction.
Visitors can explore the cobblestone streets and marvel at the intricate stonework, providing a fascinating look into the past. The significance of the Inti Raymi festival, which celebrated the Inca sun god, still echoes through the ruins, offering a unique cultural experience.
The Ingapirca Ruins provide a compelling opportunity to immerse oneself in the history and heritage of Ecuador, making it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and those seeking travel inspiration.
Exciting Activities in Ecuador
Embark on thrilling mountain biking adventures across Ecuador’s diverse terrains, offering an adrenaline-pumping exploration of its natural beauty. Experience the excitement of riding the famous Devil’s Nose train, a renowned railway journey boasting breathtaking views and historical significance.
Take a day trip to Cotopaxi National Park, home to the highest active volcano, Cotopaxi, and indulge in the allure of its majestic landscapes.
Immerse yourself in the colonial architecture and historic center of Cuenca, a UNESCO World Heritage site, that provides a delightful blend of culture and history. Explore the best spots for birdwatching and nature enthusiasts in Ecuador, promising an escape into the country’s rich biodiversity.
7. Surfing in Montanita: Ride the Waves
The best things to do in Ecuador is ride the adrenaline-pumping waves in Montañita, known for its sea-level surfing experience.
Embrace the vibrant beach town atmosphere and engage in local culture. Unwind with mountain biking and horseback riding activities around Montañita. Savor the fresh seafood and local cuisine offered in the town’s restaurants.
As the day winds down, immerse yourself in the lively nightlife and beachfront bars that Montañita has to offer. In Montañita, the surfing adventures and vibrant beach town experience create an unforgettable blend of excitement and relaxation.
8. Hiking to Quilotoa Crater Lake
Embark on a journey to witness the natural wonder of Quilotoa’s turquoise crater lake, a renowned destination for day tours. Engage in exhilarating mountain biking and horseback riding experiences amidst the surrounding mountains and vibrant indigenous communities.
Uncover breathtaking photo opportunities and panoramic views of the stunning crater lake, perfect for capturing lasting memories.
Immerse yourself in the local markets and indulge in the captivating indigenous craftwork, highly favored by tourists. Delight in the flavors of local delicacies and fresh lime juice while soaking in the spectacular scenery, creating an unforgettable experience at Quilotoa Crater Lake.
9. Ziplining through the Mindo Cloud Forest
Embark on an exhilarating canopy tour, soaring through the rich biodiversity of the Mindo Cloud Forest. Surround yourself with diverse bird species and passionate nature enthusiasts as you traverse the forest’s canopy trails.
Engage in guide-led nature walks and birdwatching, popular activities among ecotourists. Indulge in fresh, local cuisine and organic food offerings at the small-town restaurants in Mindo.
Immerse yourself in the local culture and the way of life of the indigenous people living in the cloud forest. Experience the thrill of ziplining while being surrounded by the stunning natural beauty of the Mindo Cloud Forest.
Immersing in Ecuador’s Natural Beauty
Immerse in Ecuador’s natural beauty by exploring Isla de la Plata’s marine iguanas and bird species, reminiscent of the Galapagos Islands.
Witness the grace of humpback whales and pink river dolphins, popular sea life species off the coast. Discover the best ways to engage with local culture and indigenous people’s way of life.
Take part in horseback riding and birdwatching, favored ecotourism activities in Ecuador. Delve into local guide-led day tours and nature walks, a popular choice among ecotourists seeking a deeper connection with the exquisite natural surroundings.
10. Wildlife Wonders at Isla de la Plata
Embark on a journey to Isla de la Plata, where you can immerse yourself in the surrounding marine life, including sea lions and guinea pig species.
Engage in birdwatching and revel in the clear day skies, a delight for nature enthusiasts. Join local guide-led day trips and nature walks, highly favored by ecotourists, and witness the breathtaking views of the island’s surrounding nature and mountainous landscapes.
Delve into the local indigenous people’s way of life and island culture, akin to the Galapagos Islands. Isla de la Plata offers an opportunity to explore the diverse wildlife and natural beauty, creating an unforgettable experience for adventure and nature lovers.
11. Walking Through Guayaquil’s Malecon 2000
Walking through Guayaquil’s Malecon 2000 offers an opportunity to experience the town’s historic center, and colonial architecture, and embrace local indigenous people’s way of life and island culture.
Engage in local guide-led day tours and birdwatching, popular among nature enthusiasts, and discover the best places for local seafood and fresh lime juice in Guayaquil’s small-town restaurants. Don’t miss the chance to explore the recent years of development surrounding Guayaquil’s small size.
Embrace the charm of the cobblestone streets and engage in local guide-led nature walks and birdwatching, which are popular ecotourism activities. The experience provides a deep understanding of local culture and offers travel inspiration for those seeking authenticity in their adventures.
12. Relaxation at Papallacta Hot Springs
Nestled in the serene natural surroundings, Papallacta Hot Springs offers a blissful escape to soothe your senses and unwind.
Surrounded by mountain biking trails, the hot springs provide the perfect setting for relaxation. Immerse yourself in the indigenous way of life and savor fresh seafood in this quaint town, popular among nature enthusiasts.
Don’t miss out on the local guide-led day tours, birdwatching, and invigorating nature walks, tailored to enthrall ecotourists. As recent years have seen development in the area, explore the rich indigenous culture and island life for a truly immersive experience.
Are You Ready to Explore Ecuador?
Ready to embark on an Ecuadorian adventure? Immerse yourself in the country’s rich ecotourism and nature reserves, surrounded by majestic mountains. Engage in popular activities like birdwatching and guided day trips. Embrace the local culture and indulge in fresh seafood. Explore the wonders of Ecuador with guided nature walks.
13. Explore the Parque Nacional Yasuní
Explore the Galapagos Islands to witness a unique wildlife experience while immersing in the historic city of Quito and its colonial architecture. Embark on a journey to hike the Andes Mountains, visit indigenous communities, and delve into the diverse flora and fauna of the Amazon Rainforest.
Don’t miss the chance to visit the Parque Nacional Yasuní, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve renowned for its biodiversity. Uncover the untouched beauty of nature and extraordinary wildlife in this ecotourism hotspot.
14. Hit the Highlands from Cuenca
Explore the Andean highlands from Cuenca, a captivating colonial city in Ecuador. Wander through the charming old town, with its cobblestone streets and historic architecture. The surrounding highlands offer abundant opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking, horseback riding, and immersing in indigenous village life.
Don’t miss the stunning Cajas National Park, the Inca ruins of Ingapirca, and the vibrant markets of Saquisilí and Otavalo.
While there, savor local delicacies such as cuy (guinea pig) and churrasco (grilled meat) to experience the authentic flavors of the region’s cuisine. Embrace the natural beauty and cultural richness of the Andean highlands from the enchanting base of Cuenca.
15. Discover Ecuador’s Ancient Inca Ruins
The best things to do in Ecuador boast significant Inca ruins, such as Ingapirca and Pumapungo, providing insight into the ancient civilization and their engineering prowess.
Visitors can delve into the ruins through guided tours or self-exploration. Ingapirca, the best-preserved Inca ruin, houses a unique sun temple.
Pumapungo, once a major Inca city, now features a museum exhibiting artifacts and Inca history. For history and culture enthusiasts, exploring these ancient ruins is a must-do activity, offering a deep connection to Ecuador’s rich heritage.
16. El Chorro de Girón Waterfall
Nestled in Ecuador’s lush tropical surroundings, El Chorro de Girón Waterfall is a sight to behold. Its breathtaking beauty and cascading waters attract visitors from far and wide.
The natural pools surrounding the waterfall offer a refreshing dip, inviting travelers to embrace tranquility and serenity.
Nature walks and birdwatching in the area provide a peaceful retreat, perfect for capturing stunning photographs of the verdant landscapes. As visitors marvel at this captivating natural wonder, they become immersed in the serene ambiance, making it a truly memorable experience.
17. Visit Nambillo Waterfall Sanctuary
Immerse yourself in the tranquil atmosphere of Nambillo Waterfall Sanctuary and wander through the lush cloud forest, encountering a rich diversity of flora and fauna.
As you explore, be serenaded by the soothing sounds of nature and witness unique bird species and indigenous wildlife thriving in their natural habitat.
This captivating sanctuary offers a serene space to connect with nature, rejuvenate your spirit, and capture moments of pure tranquility amidst Ecuador’s breathtaking landscapes.
18. Visit Pailón del Diablo Waterfall
Among Ecuador’s most popular waterfalls, immerse yourself in the natural splendor and unspoiled beauty of Pailón del Diablo. As you stand near the waterfall, feel the mist and power of the cascading waters while capturing memorable photos of the impressive natural wonder and surrounding scenery.
The enchanting atmosphere of the lush rainforest surrounding the waterfall invites you to revel in its beauty, offering a serene and captivating experience. Witness the awe-inspiring grandeur of Pailón del Diablo and be immersed in the unspoiled natural splendor.
19. Resort Beach Living in Ecuador
Indulge in the lavish tranquility of beachside accommodations nestled in Ecuador’s resort towns. Revel in the world-class amenities and exclusive services offered at beachfront resorts, ensuring a truly luxurious experience.
Immerse yourself in the idyllic coastal lifestyle, where pristine beaches beckon you to unwind and enjoy moments of pure relaxation.
Explore vibrant beach communities, where delectable local cuisine and fresh seafood tantalize your taste buds. Experience unparalleled rejuvenation amidst the coastal splendor of Ecuador, offering a perfect blend of leisure and luxury.
Relax among Ecuador’s Best Beaches
Ecuador presents an array of stunning beaches along the Pacific coast and the Galapagos Islands. Popular beach destinations include Montañita, Salinas, and Canoa, offering activities such as surfing, swimming, and sunbathing.
Consider embarking on a boat tour to explore the neighboring islands and wildlife, while indulging in delectable fresh seafood and cocktails available on the beaches. Ensure a memorable experience by packing sunscreen and beach essentials for a day of relaxation amidst the coastal beauty.
Hike to one of Ecuador’s Spectacular Crater Lakes
The best things to do in Ecuador boasts stunning and unique natural landscapes, including numerous breathtaking crater lakes waiting to be explored.
Popular among both tourists and locals, these hikes offer a chance to immerse oneself in the charm and beauty of Laguna Quilotoa and Laguna Cuicocha, with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and countryside. Proper hiking gear and ample water are essential for these adventures, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience.
Visitors are encouraged to embark on this invigorating journey, embracing Ecuador’s natural wonders and creating unforgettable memories amidst its picturesque crater lakes.
20. “Guinea Pig” Lake: Laguna Cuicocha
The best things to do in Ecuador is embark on a mesmerizing trek along the scenic trails surrounding Laguna Cuicocha, immersing yourself in the stunning beauty of this breathtaking natural wonder. Take in the panoramic views of the crater lake and its fascinating island formations, offering a picturesque sight that captures the essence of Ecuador’s natural splendor.
As you explore, discover the rich biodiversity of the lake’s ecosystem and the surrounding nature reserve, showcasing the diverse and unique flora and fauna of the region.
Immerse yourself in the indigenous legends and cultural significance of Laguna Cuicocha, gaining insight into the historical and symbolic importance of this captivating guinea pig-shaped lake. This picturesque destination promises an unforgettable experience, combining natural beauty with cultural heritage for a truly unique adventure.
21. La Compañía
The best things to do in Ecuador Nestled in Quito’s historic center, La Compañía stands as a masterpiece of Jesuit architecture.
The church, renowned for its opulent Baroque-style design and lavish embellishments, boasts an interior adorned with gold leaf, intricate frescoes, and captivating paintings. Constructed over a span of 1605 to 1765, La Compañía holds the distinction as one of South America’s most remarkable and significant churches.
Visitors are offered the chance to delve into its rich history and cultural importance through guided tours. The church’s ornate beauty and historical significance make it a must-visit attraction for enthusiasts of architectural marvels and religious history.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some must-see destinations in Ecuador?
The best things to do in Ecuador some must-see destinations in Ecuador include the breathtaking Galapagos Islands, known for their unique wildlife. Quito, the capital city, offers a historic center and stunning architecture. Baños de Agua Santa is a small town with adventure activities like rafting and hiking. The Amazon Rainforest offers diverse wildlife and indigenous communities to explore.
Are there any lesser-known activities or attractions worth exploring in Ecuador?
Yes, there are plenty of hidden gems in Ecuador waiting to be explored. Discover the mesmerizing Quilotoa Crater Lake or indulge in birdwatching in the enchanting Mindo Cloud Forest. Immerse yourself in the rich indigenous culture of Otavalo or unwind on the pristine beaches of Manabí.
Don’t miss out on visiting the remote town of Vilcabamba or embarking on a breathtaking hike to the stunning waterfalls of Baños de Agua Santa.
How can I plan a budget-friendly trip to Ecuador while still experiencing the best of what the country has to offer?
Consider traveling during the off-season for cheaper flights and accommodations. Save on transportation costs by using public transportation instead of renting a car. Opt for budget-friendly activities like hiking, exploring local markets, and visiting free museums or parks. Choose hostels or budget hotels over luxury resorts for affordable lodging options.
What are some cultural experiences or events that I should try to incorporate into my itinerary?
To truly immerse yourself in Ecuador’s vibrant culture, make sure to visit indigenous markets where you can experience local traditions and purchase unique handmade souvenirs.
Don’t miss the chance to attend a traditional dance or music performance, like the lively Inti Raymi celebration.
Exploring historical sites such as Ingapirca or the colonial city of Cuenca will also provide a deep cultural insight. And of course, indulge in the flavors of Ecuadorian cuisine, trying classics like ceviche, empanadas, and local soup.
The best things to do in Ecuador In conclusion, Ecuador offers a diverse range of experiences for travelers seeking adventure, history, nature, and culture. From the enchanting Galapagos Islands to the historic charm of Quito, there is something for everyone in this beautiful country.
Don’t miss the chance to explore the natural wonders of the Amazon jungle and the breathtaking beauty of the Cotopaxi Volcano. Indulge in the vibrant markets and delicious cuisine of Ecuador, and immerse yourself in the country’s rich history by visiting the Ingapirca Ruins.
For adrenaline junkies, surfing in Montanita and ziplining through the Mindo Cloud Forest are must-do activities. And finally, take time to relax and rejuvenate at the Papallacta Hot Springs. Get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the treasures of Ecuador.
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Ferona Jose is a passionate travel writer and blogger at Travelistia. She has traveled throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. Her writing focuses on cheap travel destinations, travel experiences, cultural insights, and travel hacks.