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 baths 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 privileged climate, 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 I share the best things to do in Baños, the Ecuadorian capital of adventure.
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.
Top things to do in Baños:
La Casa del Árbol (Swing at the End of the World)
The essential activity on your list of the best things to do in Baños is to get on the swing of the End of the World. Surely you have seen this photo before, that of a swing in the abyss with a volcano in the background, as it is one of the best things to do in the world.
The famous Columpio de la Casa del Árbol de Baños is a small tree on top of a hill with a large swing that has the best view of the Tungurahua volcano. When you rock you are in the middle of the air on a cliff and in front of you is the incredible Tungurahua volcano. You can arrive either by bus, private car or walking. The walk is quite long but still worth it.
In any case, the most advisable option is that you take a tree house tour for no more than 10 dollars. You can request the tour reservation here.
➳ Tip: Try to go in the morning because already from 12 in the day you can cloud the view.
Walk around downtown Baños
When we return to the hotel, we leave our luggage and leave immediately to enjoy the city, a delicious dinner and the marshmallow. The latter is a typical sweet, not only in Baños but in almost all of Ecuador; It is a candy made from sugar cane, it is delicious and you can see people making marshmallow outside their stores. Sugarcane juice is also very good. Baños is a small city so we recommend simply walking through the center and enjoying it a bit.
➳ Tip: Baños is a relatively safe city, so feel calm walking through Baõs both day and night. Just be always careful and careful.
In the center of Baños you can visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Baños de Agua Santa, the Museum of the Basilica of Baños de Agua Santa, the building of the municipality with its clock tower and its iconic market.
Basilica Nuestra Señora del Agua Santa
After breakfast we visited the Basilica Nuestra Señora del Agua Santa, the main church in the largest square in Baños. The inside of the church is covered in massive murals of catholic miracles.
Walk the San Francisco Bridge and jump off a bridge in Baños (Bungee Jumping)
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.
Go in chiva to the Ruta de las Cascadas
Our next stop was “The Route of the Cascades”, another of the great attractions and essential to do in Baños. The route covers 18 km from Baños to Río Verde. The Cascade Route is the number one reason why you should visit Baños; There are more than dozens of waterfalls 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 canopy in most of the waterfalls but I recommend you do it in La Tarabita. It consists of a pulley suspended by cables mounted on a slope or inclination that takes you from one side to another, it is used in the Andean region.
Our favorite waterfalls on the route were the Mantle of the Bride, Agoyàn, Guamal, Puertas del Cielo, San Pedro and of course the Pailón del Diablo. For the latter, you need at least 1 hour to go and really enjoy the walk. It is amazing how big the waterfall is, you can also reach below and feel the force of the water. Without a doubt, it is the most spectacular waterfall of all and something obligatory 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. The last stop is the Pailón del Diablo; The only drawback of going in Chiva is that you only have 30 minutes to go to this waterfall. And to be honest it’s not enough time, but you can do it if you’re going to fast pace.
➳ Tip: If you have a private car, I recommend you do both. The goat is super fun because you go with music, but going in a private car gives you time to take more photos and go at your own pace.
Another way to enjoy the waterfall route and get to know the center of Baños de Agua Santa is with the waterfall route tour that you can book here. This tour costs $ 8.50 USD and lasts 5 hours.
Enjoy the Hot Springs
Its thermal water pools was the original reason that put Baños on the map as a national and international tourist destination. Natural pools with medicinal properties are everywhere, 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 4:00 AM to 5:00 PM and from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM. Admission is $ 2 USD per person.
Another of the spas located within the city are the Santa Clara Hot Springs and Balneario Las Peñas.
Day trip or more to the Ecuadorian Amazon
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.