Baños de Agua Santa is located in the center of Ecuador in the province of Tungurahua in the Ecuadorian highlands. Baños is known as the “Door to the Amazon“, as it is the last city before entering the Ecuadorian Amazon or as “the capital of adventure sports in South America” for the amount of extreme sports that can be performed In this little town. Some of the extreme sports that can be done in Baños are visiting waterfalls, canopy, bungee jumping, rafting, zip line, hiking around the Tungurahua volcano, mountaineering, adventure cycling, kayaking, canyoning, paragliding or swinging on one of the most famous swings of the world. In Baños you can also enjoy the mineral-rich hot springs.
➳Where to sleep in Baños: Find the best hotels in Baños
From Baños de Agua Santa you can get daily tours, as well as one-week excursions to the rainforest and hot springs. The large mountainous area is ideal for visiting or practicing adventure sports, due to its natural beauty and waterfalls. We share the 5 best tourist places in Baños that you cannot miss.
When is the best time to visit Baños?
Baños has a beautiful climate year round, since it is located in a valley surrounded by high mountains and is at the foot of the Tungurahua volcano. The average temperature is about 18ºC – 22ºC, which is a warm but humid temperature. Keep in mind that it rains a lot in Baños all year. The best time to visit Baños is between the months of May to November.
In this practical travel guide to Baños we share the 8 best things to do in Baños, the capital of adventure in Ecuadorian.
8 Fun Things To Do In Baños Map:
How to get to Baños de Agua Santa?
You can reach Baños by public transport or private car. Baños does not have an airport, and the closest international airport is Quito, Mariscal Sucre, three hours away by private car. Other airports nearby are the Regional Chachoan of Ambato or the Cotopaxi International Airport.
- By car: Baños is located in the province of Tungurahua, 3 hours by car from Quito, 6 hours from Guayaquil or 7 hours by car from Cuenca.
- By public transport from Quito: From the Quitumbe Terrestrial terminal you can take a bus that leaves every 15 minutes to Baños. The travel time is about 3 hours and a half. We recommend using companies that travel directly to Baños such as Transportes Baños, Amazonas y Expreso Baños. The companies San Francisco, Flota Pelileo, Centinela del Oriente, Latinoamericana, Macas will leave you on the road. Be sure to call or go to the terminal to see the schedule and prices.
- By public transport from Cuenca: Cooperatives Sucre, Patria, Turismo Cuenca travel to the city of Ambato, and from there you can take another bus to Baños. Buses from Ambato leave every 15 minutes and take approximately one hour to reach Baños. The trip from Cuenca to Baños by bus can take almost 8 hours.
- By public transport from Guayaquil: The cooperatives that go directly from Guayaquil to Baños are Transportes Baños, San Francisco, Flota Pelileo y Riobamba. The direct trip usually takes between 5 hours and a half to 6 depending on the traffic and the speed of the bus. Another option is to travel to Ambato and from there take another bus to Baños.
What Activities are available to do Baños de Agua Santa?
Some of the extreme outdoor sports that you can experience in Baños de Agua Santa are Canyoning, rafting, cycling, rock climbing, paragliding, canopy, kayaking, bungee jumping, zip-lining, hiking, mountaineering, mountain biking.
What to Wear/Pack for Baños de Agua Santa?
A list of things to pack for your next trip to Baños de Agua Santa.
- Hat or cap
- A small wallet
- Mosquito repellent
- Comfortable shoes
- Poncho or waterproof jacket
- Cell phone and camera cover
- Bathing suit
- Athletic wear
- Lightweight Sweater
- Casual clothes for when you are relaxing
The 8 best activities to do in Baños, Ecuador:
1. La Casa del Árbol (The Swing at the End of the World)
The essential activity on your list of the best things to do in Baños is to ride the swing at the End of the World. You have surely seen this photo before, that of a swing over the abyss with the Tungurahua volcano in the background. It is undoubtedly one of the most instagrammable places in Ecuador.
The famous Baños Casa del Arbol Swing is a small tree on top of a hill with a large swing that has the best view of the Tungurahua volcano. When you swing, below you is a steep cliff and in front of you is the incredible Tungurahua volcano. Entrance to the treehouse is $1 USD.
You can go to the the Casa del Arbol by bike, taxi or tour. It is not advisable to walk, since it is quite far from the center of Baños. The taxi ride takes about 30 minutes and costs $10 round trip plus waiting time. By bus it can take you about 40 minutes and costs $1 USD. The bus departs from Monday to Saturday at 6:00 AM, 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM and returns at 8:00 AM, 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM.
No mater how you visit the Swing at the End of The World in Baños, Ecuador we recommended you take a tour of the tree house for no more than 10 dollars. You can request the reservation of the tour here.
➳ Tip: Try to go in the morning because afternoon the view of the Tungurahua volcano can be cloudy.
2. Explore the center of Baños de Ambato
Baños de Agua Santa is a small city with many recreational and outdoor activities both during the day and night. We recommend exploring the city and enjoying the atmosphere of Baños at any time of day. Make sure to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Agua Santa and the Museum of the Basilica of Agua Santa. The Basilica Nuestra Señora del Agua Santa is the main church located in the largest square in Baños. The interior of the church is covered with large murals depicting the miracles attributed to the Virgin Mary.
Take a photo of the town, the clock tower and the letters in Palomino Flores park. One of our favorite things to do in Baños is watch the hand making of melcocha, a typical sweet candy, not only in Baños but in almost the entire mountain range of Ecuador. It is a candy made from sugar cane, it is delicious and you can see people making fresh melcocha outside their stores. Sugarcane juice is also very good. Baños is a small city so we recommend just walking around the center and enjoying it a bit.
➳ Tip: Baños is a relatively safe city, so feel comfortable walking around Baños both during the day and night.
Next to the Termas de La Virgen is the La Cabellera de la Virgen waterfall. The good thing about this waterfall is that it is in the center of Baños and it is beautiful.
3. Walk the San Francisco Bridge and Bungee Jump in Baños
We made a small stop at the San Francisco Bridge where you have the option to do bungee jumping, one of the most famous activities in the city and without a doubt one of the best things to do in Baños.
In Baños there are two bridges that are enabled to do Bungee Jumping, one is the San Francisco bridge with 120m height and the other is the Río Blanco bridge with only 35 meters high.
➳ Tip: Before hiring a guide for bungee jumping, make sure the equipment is in optimal condition. There is not much control of equipment.
Another activity that can be done on the Pastaza River is rafting. Book your rafting tour here. The tour costs $ 35 USD and lasts 5 hours. The tour includes pick-up and drop-off to your hotel, a guide in Spanish, rafting equipment and lunch.
4. Go in chiva tour along the Ruta de las Cascadas
Our next stop was “The Route of the Cascades”, another of the great attraction to see in Baños. The Cascade Route runs for 18 km from Baños to Río Verde and is the number one reason why you should visit Baños. There are more than a dozen waterfalls to enjoy along this route.
You can rent a bicycle or go on “Chiva”, which is a rustic handmade bus used in Ecuador. You share with different people and listen to music, while enjoying the ride in this typical party bus.
You can ride a cable car at most of the waterfalls but we recommend doing it in La Tarabita. It consists of a hanging pulley trolly suspended by cables mounted on a slope or incline that takes you from one side to the other, it is a popular means of river crossing used in the Andean region. The cost of the cable car ranges between $1.50 to $2.50, depending on the waterfall. We did it at the El Manto de La Novia waterfall and had a fantastic time. You can get off the other side or just go round trip.
Our favorite waterfalls on the route are the Puerta del Cielo waterfall, Manto de la Novia waterfall, Agoyán waterfall, Guamal waterfall, San Pedro waterfall and of course the Pailón del Diablo. At Pailón del Diablo, you need at least 1 hour to go and really enjoy the hike. It is incredible how big the waterfall is, you can also reach the bottom and feel the tremendous force of the water. Without a doubt, Pailón del Diablo is the most spectacular waterfall to see in Baños.
If you decide to go in Chiva as we did, it will take you to practically all the waterfalls on this route with the last stop at the Pailón del Diablo waterfall. The only downside of going in Chiva is that you only have 30 minutes to go to this waterfall, which requires a fast pace.
➳ Tip: If you have your own car, we recommend to do the route of the waterfalls twice. In a chiva is super fun with music and lively atmosphere, while going on your own gives you more time to take photos and enjoy each waterfall. The entrance to Pailón del diablo costs $2 to see it from above and $2 to clime doen to the botem.
Another way to enjoy the waterfall route and get to know the center of Baños de Agua Santa is with a waterfall route tour that you can book here. This tour costs $ 8.50 USD and lasts 5 hours.
If you want to rent a bike for the day it will cost between $8 to $10 depending on where you rent it, while a mini Kart car costs $10 an hour.
5. Enjoy the Hot Springs in Baños
Baños originally found its fame due to the abundance of natural pools and hot springs with medicinal properties both outside and inside the city.
The most famous spa is the “Termas de la Virgen”, which is located near the “Cabellera de la Virgen” waterfalls, right in the center of Baños. The hot springs are open Monday through Sunday from 4AM to 5PM and from 6PM to 10PM. Admission is $2 USD per person.
Some other hot springs in Baños to check out are the Santa Clara Hot Springs and Balneario Las Peñas.
We visited the pools at Luna Volcán and fell in love with the best panoramic views of Baños. Without staying at the hotel the entrance is $20 per person and you have access to the pools for 3 hours. They have a restaurant and a hotel but the truth is that it is expensive.
6. Adventurous Day Trip to the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest
Baños is less than an hour drive to the city of Puyo, where you can experience the Amazon Rainforest, one of the greatest wonders of Ecuador and the world. There are various Amazon tours that leave daily from Puyo, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding one that meets your comfort level and desired activities.
Keep in mind that the tours usually differentiate between visiting the “primary” jungle that refers to the virgin forest and in “secondary” jungle that is a more superficial and less authentic tour, but still gives you an idea of what you would experience in the primary jungle.
➳ Read more: The best things to do in Puyo on a 1-day excursion
7. The Hand of Pachamama monument
La Mano de la Pachamama is one of our favorite viewpoints in Baños. This viewpoint is a work of art with a platform that resembles a hand, painted in a very special way that gives recognition to the nature surrounding Baños. La Mano de la Pachamama is located within the complex “The Flight of the Condor” in the Runtún sector, 7 km from the center of the city of Baños.
In this same complex you can do other extreme activities such as getting on a swing in the same style as the Casa del Arbol along with walking across a suspension bridge with incredible views over Baños and the Tungurahua volcano. The entrance to the Hand of the Pachamama is $5 USD per person.
8. Parque Nacional Sangay
The Sangay National Park is the third largest protected area in Ecuador and was declared a Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The most famous attractions of the park are the Laguna el Altar, the Laguna Negra, the Laguna de Culebrillas, the Loma del Tigrillo and the Sangay volcano itself.
Day trip from Banos to the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest
Baños is less than an hour driving from Puyo, so we recommend you not to miss one of Ecuador’s greatest wonders, its Amazon rainforest. There are several tours that depart daily from Baños, so look for the one you like best and fit your budget and preferences.
Keep in mind that the tours usually differ in “primary” jungle that refers to the virgin forest and in “secondary” jungle that is a more superficial and less authentic tour, but that still gives you an idea of what you can See in the primary jungle.
➳ Read more: The best things to do in Puyo on a 1-day excursion
Baños is the entrance to the Ecuadorian rainforest, la Amazonia. From the city you can get daily tours as well as week long tours into the rainforest and nearby hot springs.