In this guide we will share you a list of the best 13 places to visit in Ecuador. After living in Ecuador my entire life and visiting 20 out of 24 provinces, I have selected my favorite cities in the country.
Ecuador is a gorgeous country with a lot to offer its visitors. Everywhere you visit you will find a diversity of customs, biodiversity, language and food. Ecuador is divided in four regions, with a population of almost 16 million people.
Jazmin is a native and took us to travel around Ecuador. We visited the Galapagos, the highland, the coastal region and the Amazon Rainforest. Many people ask us where they should go in Ecuador. Well, we decided to write a list of places you must visit in Ecuador, as well as what to do in each place.
13 Best places to visit Ecuador:
1. Isabella, Galapagos Islands
Things to do in Isabela Island:
The first thing we recommend you visit is the Tunnels (Los tuneles). You can swim with turtles, sharks (yes, sharks), different fishes, blue footed bobbies, maybe iguanas and penguins. Another tour we recommend doing is Las Tintoreras, where you will see iguanas and sharks. The Crianza Arnaldo Tupiza center is a nice place where you can go and see the galapagos turtles.
➳ Read More: 8 day Itinerary to the Galapagos Island
➳ Find all: Hotels in Isabela
2. Cuenca, Azuay
Things to visit in Cuenca:
The new cathedral is our favorite. You should just walk the entire city center, which is full of history and great for photos. Have a picnic at the Tomebamba River and take a walk along it. While in Cuenca please try the Tutto Freddo’s Ice cream, it is the best in the city! You can visit Cajas National Park, which is also on this list, it is a beautiful park where you can hike.
➳ Find all: Hotels in Cuenca
3. Quito, Pichincha
Things to visit in Quito:
The first thing to do in Quito is to walk Downtown Quito. It is full of art and history. My favorite place is the Carondelet Palace, where the president works and lives. Also, visit la Mitad del Mundo, where there is a monument along the equator, yet the real one is in nearby town, Calacali. If you have time visit the TeleferiQo where you get a breathtaking view of the city.
➳ Read More: Ultimate Guide of things to do and see in Quito
➳ Find all: Hotels in Quito
4. Baños, Tungurahua
Things to visit in Baños de Agua Santa:
The best part of Baños is the Waterfall route, you take a chiva and it drives past all the beautiful waterfalls. The last stop is the Pailon del Diablo, which is the greatest waterfall of all in Baños. Other activities are the Swing at the End of the World, where you can swing at the edge of a cliff, with the Tungurahua Volcano in the background. You can go tubing, hiking, camping, rafting and many other outdoor activities.
You can also book a tour to the rainforest, as Baños is the door to the rainforest so you can be in the Amazon within minutes.
➳ Read More: Things to visit in Baños de Agua Santa
➳ Find all: Hotels in Baños
5. Cotopaxi Volcano, Cotopaxi
Things to visit in Cotopaxi:
Hiking at Cotopaxi is the main attraction, you can also summit the peak but you need a special gear and training for that. There is horseback riding and mountain bike paths.
6. Quilotoa lake, Cotopaxi
Things to visit:
The Quilotoa loop is one of the hardest hikes we have done because of its elevation gain and it gets really hot really quick. It is nice to walk down to the lake or just to hike around it and snap some photos. The turquoise water will take your breath away! Oh, you can also get a donkey ride both ways if you do not feel like walking.
➳ Read More: A complete guide to visit Quilotoa Lake
7. Nariz del Diablo Train Ride
Things to do in La Nariz del Diablo:
Take one of the scariest train rides of your life. Take the train along Nariz del Diablo, that climbs more than 500 meters in less than 12 km with steep ascents and descents, with breathtaking views of the valley just inches away. Get your tickets online for the coolest train experience ever.
8. Canoa, Manabi
Things to do in Canoa:
Canoa has a long white sand beach for tourists to enjoy. It is surrounded with vegetation and big waves, which make it a big destination for surfers around the world. It is our favorite beach spot in all of Ecuador!
➳ Read More: What you need to do before doing the Spondylus Route
9. Mindo, Pichincha
Things to visit in Mindo:
Mindo is my favorite place because you can interact with hummingbirds. Mindo offers a butterfly pavilion, where you can be surrounded with butterflies, while learning more about the beautiful creatures. Mindo has many outdoors activities as waterfalls, hiking and extreme outdoors sports.
➳ Read More: What to do and see in Mindo
➳ Find all: Hotels in Mindo
10. Otavalo, Imbabura
Things to do in Otavalo:
Otavalo Market (Mercado de Otavalo ) is a great place to buy souvenirs, clothing and handcrafts. The Cascadas de Peguche are located right on the edge of town. The calm Laguna de San Pablo is also located right outside of Otavalo, but on the other side of the city from Las Cascadas de Peguche.
➳ Read More: Ultimate Guide to visit Otavalo
➳ Find all: Hotels in Otavalo
11. Cajas National Park, Azuay
Things to do in Cajas National Park:
Enjoy the beauty of the 28,000 hectares, with more than 200 lakes and a variety of trails. If you are lucky you might spot some wild llamas.
12. Mojana Lake/ Cuicocha, Imbabura
Things to do in Mojana Lake:
You can drive straight to the rim of the crater for an amazing overlook suitable to people of all ages and abilities. For those looking for more, there is also a five hour hike around the rim of the volcanic crater.
Things to do in Tena:
Go kayaking or rafting along some of the best and most beautiful rapids Ecuador has to offer. Take a guided tour into the depths of the Amazon rainforest to experience a natural paradise, second to none.
➳ Find all: Hotels in Tena
Friday 16th of September 2016
All the places listed by you are unique and exotic. They have an aura of their own. But for me on the top of the list would be the intriguing and beautiful Galpagos islands.
Adam, Bite of Iceland
Thursday 15th of September 2016
I love scenic train journeys. So far the best I've done were in India, Sri Lanka and Norway. I know where to go next time :) The one in Ecuador looks breathtaking! You've prepared a great list.
Thursday 15th of September 2016
So much to explore in Ecuador. The Baños, Tungurahua and the Catopaxi Volcano would be my top picks.
Tuesday 13th of September 2016
The lakes look beautiful. You have provided a good looking list of places. I haven't been there yet but I hear that a lot of foreigners like to retire there.
Travel To Blank
Tuesday 13th of September 2016
Yes, it is a very beautiful and affordable country for foreigners to retire!
Monday 12th of September 2016
Wow, those are lots of things to do . I am keen on that train ride and the whole kayaking/ rafting experience. A lovely post with lots of tips. Hope to make it here some day.