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With abundant opportunities to discover fascinating World Heritage Sites, a holiday in Ecuador remains among the most culturally enriching travel experiences. Home to the world's highest active volcano, this little country packs a big punch when it comes to tourist activities. Some of the most popular things to do in Ecuador include visits to its astonishingly biodiverse wilderness areas, home to some 1,500 bird species, 840 species of amphibians and reptiles, and nearly 20,000 plant species. Of course, the highlight of many Ecuador vacations is bound to be the Galapagos Islands, made famous by naturalist Charles Darwin. Aside from the stunning nature, Ecuador also boasts many historic cities filled with photogenic colonial-era churches, mansions, and plazas. Our Ecuador trip planner combines visitor reviews with your personal interests to make an itinerary informed by experts, but tailored to suit your style.Read the Ecuador Holiday Planning Guide »
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©Charles Darwin Research Station, Puerto Ayora
©Iglesia de La Compania de Jesus, Quito
©Galapagos Beach at Tortuga Bay, Santa Cruz
©Las Grietas, Puerto Ayora
©El Cajas National Park, Cuenca
©Reserva El Chato, Puerto Ayora
©Cotopaxi National Park, Cotopaxi Province
©Sierra Negra, Isabela
©Basilica del Voto Nacional, Quito
©North Seymour Island, Baltra
©San Francisco Church (Iglesia de San Francisco), Quito
©Malecon 2000, Guayaquil
©Las Penas, Guayaquil
©Interpretation Center, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
©El Garrapatero, Puerto Ayora
©Inmaculada Concepción Cathedral, Cuenca
©La Ronda, Quito
©León Dormido, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
©Pailon del Diablo (Devil's Cauldron), Banos
©La Loberia, San Cristobal
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Top tours for Ecuador
Best things to do in Ecuador
Charles Darwin Research Station
Visit for: 3h
Iglesia de La Compania de Jesus
Visit for: 1h
Galapagos Beach at Tortuga Bay
Visit for: 3h
Visit for: 3h
El Cajas National Park
Visit for: 8h
Pailon del Diablo (Devil's Cauldron)
Visit for: 3h
Cotopaxi National Park
Visit for: 8h
Visit for: 6h
North Seymour Island
Visit for: 3h
Kid Friendly Attractions©©©
Reserva El Chato
Visit for: 3h
Visit for: 3h
Visit for: 3h
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
Visit for: 2h
Visit for: 1h 30min
Museo Templo del Sol Pintor Ortega Maila
Visit for: 30min
Recently planned trips to Ecuador
7 days in Tungurahua Province BY A USER FROM VIETNAM July, popular PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 41 days in South America BY A USER FROM COSTA RICA January, popular PREFERENCES: January ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 36 days in Ecuador BY A USER FROM BRAZIL June, popular PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 5 days in Puerto Villamil BY A USER FROM CANADA July, teens, outdoors, hidden gems PREFERENCES: July, teens, outdoors ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Medium 25 days in Quito & Colombia BY A USER FROM BRAZIL June, popular PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 60 days in South America BY A USER FROM COLOMBIA June, culture, outdoors, beaches, popular PREFERENCES: June, culture, outdoors, beaches ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 26 days in Ecuador & Bellingham BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, popular PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 23 days in Ecuador, Peru & Colombia BY A USER FROM CANADA November, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, popular PREFERENCES: November, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 24 days in Ecuador & Bellingham BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, popular PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in Quito BY A USER FROM ECUADOR July, popular PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 17 days in Ecuador BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM July, outdoors, beaches, fast-paced, popular PREFERENCES: July, outdoors, beaches ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Fast-paced 15 days in Ecuador BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM April, culture, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites, museums, shopping, popular PREFERENCES: April, culture, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites, museums, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium
Ecuador Holiday Planning GuideWith abundant opportunities to discover World Heritage Sites, a holiday in Ecuador remains among the most culturally enriching travel experiences. Home to the world's highest active volcano, this little country packs a big punch when it comes to tourist activities. Some of the most popular things to do in Ecuador include visits to its biodiverse wilderness areas, as the country is home to some 1,500 bird species, 840 species of amphibians and reptiles, and nearly 20,000 plant species. Of course, the highlight of many Ecuador vacations is a visit to the Galapagos Islands, made famous by naturalist Charles Darwin. Aside from nature, Ecuador also boasts many historic cities filled with photogenic colonial-era churches, mansions, and plazas.
Places to Visit in Ecuador
Regions of EcuadorGalapagos Islands: A trip to Galapagos Islands, which were made famous by the works of Charles Darwin, reveals flourishing landscape and undisturbed, endemic wildlife--the invaluable natural heritage of Ecuador.
Pichincha Province: The governing area of the ancient native empires, the Spanish colonial state, and the modern country of Ecuador, Pichincha Province offers you a glimpse into interlacing cultures and legacies of Incan and Spanish influences.
Manabi Province: Pristine, tranquil nature preserved in many national parks enchants visitors of Manabi Province. Calm, secluded beaches persuade tourists to include it in their Ecuador itinerary.
Cotopaxi Province: Land of mountains, volcanoes, and lagoons, Cotopaxi Province invites thrill-seekers into its wild heart. Whether you climb its peaks or gaze down to its lakes, Cotopaxi will sate your thirst for adventure.
Santa Elena Province: A family-friendly place with lots of beaches, snorkeling spots, and scenic coastal landscapes, Santa Elena Province offers numerous sightseeing options in quaint towns, so be ready to go exploring.
Cities in EcuadorQuito: A capital picturesquely set in the mountains, Quito still wears shapes and colors of the 17th century. Traditional healers and wool weavers walk among its squares with cathedrals and monuments of the colonial periods, making a visit to Quito the most popular Ecuador vacation.
Guayaquil: A sprawling port and major commercial center, Guayaquil is a city that fashions a modern look. Movie, theater, and art scenes are quickly developing, along with bustling nightlife, making this city an excellent addition to Ecuador tourism.
Puerto Ayora: Puerto Ayora serves as a standard city, with the exception of seeing creatures like sea lions, giant turtles, and iguanas strolling on its outskirts. It is the largest town in Galapagos, and serves as a gateway to the islands’ natural treasures.
Cuenca: Old-world charm defines Cuenca, where architectural details, like those of old Catholic churches set in cobblestone squares, meld the past with the present. Many cultures have left their traces here, and each part of Cuenca is eager to tell its story to tourists.
Banos: If outdoor experiences are top on your list of Ecuador vacation ideas, Banos is your place. Whether you prefer climbing, horseback riding, mountain biking, or some other activity, this city surrounded by mountains provides the setting for such adventures.
Popular Ecuador Tourist AttractionsIglesia de La Compania de Jesus: Characterized by stunning golden interior decoration and an elaborate symmetrical facade, this more-than-two-and-a-half-centuries-old Baroque Catholic church stands as one of the most popular Ecuador attractions.
Quito Old Town: A plethora of monuments, churches, and government buildings preserved in their numerous architectural styles make up this World Heritage Site’s Old Town core, making it a well-visited attraction.
Galapagos Beach at Tortuga Bay: Defined by thriving marine and coastal wildlife, relaxing spaces, and a pristine atmosphere, this famous beach draws travelers from around the world.
Malecon 2000: Loaded with monuments, gardens, and cafes right next to the river, this boardwalk bustles with people and provides plenty of green space and sightseeing opportunities along its pathway, creating one of the most popular waterfronts in Ecuador.
Basilica del Voto Nacional: The European, Neo-Gothic style of this prominent religious and historical landmark has an endemic twist--carvings of sharks, monkeys, and iguanas on the exterior add to the already imposing look of this cathedral.
Charles Darwin Research Station: This scientifically important conservation center leads major efforts in the environmental education about Galapagos wildlife, especially giant tortoises, that also find home and shelter here.
La Ronda: Hosting abundant quaint cafes, small gardens, and artisan shops, this cobblestoned pedestrian street provides glimpse of the city’s historical district and the area’s colonial Spanish-style architecture.
Parque de las Iguanas: Though it might appear intimidating because of its inhabitants, this small square is home to a significant population of iguanas--who pose for photos and charm tourists.
El Cajas National Park: This place of rugged peaks and glacial lakes is one of the most prominent Ecuador attractions for adventurers seeking near-surreal, tundra-like terrain, which provides a stunning backdrop for hikes and treks.
Mitad del Mundo: Visit this park for a chance to stand in both Hemispheres of the Earth in the same time and climb the tower to gaze upon the land from the center of the world.
Planning a Ecuador Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in Ecuador with KidsWith some careful management of your itinerary, your holiday in Ecuador can be rich in experience for each member of your family, as Ecuador has plenty of child-friendly activities, especially in Galapagos Islands where interesting wildlife sparks curiosity, at beaches of Manabi Province and Santa Elena Province. Families will also find plenty of outdoor activities and wildlife reserves at Pichincha Province, Cotopaxi Province, and Napo Province. The climate is mild and pleasant, and attractions are easily accessible thanks to good infrastructure and quality transportation, making a trip to Ecuador fun and enjoyable for kids.
Things to Do in Ecuador with KidsThings to do in Ecuador with children are numerous. Explore unspoiled nature with exotic marine animals at Las Loberias, visit Charles Darwin Research Station to pet a giant turtle, and watch iguanas play atGalapagos Beach at Tortuga Bay. Grab your snorkeling gear and dive into schools of colorful fishes on Playa de los Frailes, introduce your young ones to the culture of colonial people at Parque Historico Guayaquil, and observe traditional native dances, festivals, and artsMuseo Templo del Sol Pintor Ortega Maila. Let your kids observe water art and play with giant bubbles at Yaku Water Park Museum, take a family tour of numerous animal species roaming in large enclosures at Amaru Zoologica, or opt for a more conventional zoo experience at El Pantanal.
Tips for a Family Vacation in EcuadorAlthough the climate of Ecuador is mild, bear in mind that temperature varies with altitude, so high places may be quite cold for young children. Mind the altitude sickness, too. If traveling with kids, beaches are often a good bet, as they are one of the most popular attractions of Ecuador for families. Pack your sunscreen--sunburns are a common problem for tourists. For fun and budget-friendly accommodations, consider haciendas, which are often turned into guesthouses and frequently act as attractions themselves, with activities like llama feeding and horseback riding, for example. Because Ecuador is a popular destination, try to book your accommodation in advance.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Ecuador
Cuisine of EcuadorEcuadorian cuisine is diverse and often underestimated. Split into highland, coastal, and Amazonian variants, it is rich in carbohydrates (usually pork, beef, and chicken) served with staples like corn, rice, and potatoes. Try cuy--roasted guinea pig--a traditional dish that predates the Incas and was eaten by the locals on special occasions, especially in Cuenca. Grilled choclo (corn) and potatoes are popular street food, and llapingachos--mashed potato and cheese balls served with avocado or meat--gets promoted widely in the cities as Ecuador’s most famous dish. As in other South American cultures, soups have an important role in lunch courses; try potato-based Locro Soup. Street vendors sell good, low-cost food, but be careful about hygiene. The general rule is to buy where locals frequently shop.
Shopping in EcuadorEcuador offers numerous shopping options, from conventional malls to traditional artisan and craft shops of indigenous cultures. If shopping stands as one of the reasons of your visit, then Quito should be among the top destinations on your Ecuador itinerary. Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal acts as a test to your bargaining skills, and offers souvenirs, leatherworks, and clothes made by the locals. Most of the revenue that comes from art and crafts as part of Olga Fisch Folklore goes to preserving local folk traditions and artists, while providing tourists with beautiful pieces like weaved shigras and carved wooden tiles. Mercado Artesanal El Aborigen stands as another traditional market, while more commercial shopping ideas get realized in malls like those in Ambato, Cuenca, and Guayaquil. Quaint market towns Otavalo and modern plazas like Plaza Lagos cater to different tastes, but every shopping urge can be sated in Ecuador.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Ecuador
Interesting Facts About Ecuador● In 2008, Ecuador officially gave nature constitutional rights”‘to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles,” and became the first country to officially recognize the rights of nature.
● Ecuador is the closest country to the sun and space in general (via the highest peak of Mount Chimborazo, which is also a point of Earth that is farthest from its core) because of the location on the equatorial bulge.
● Ecuador contains the most biodiversity per square kilometer of any other country.
● Ecuador is the only existing country in the world that carries a name after a geographical feature. The name, República del Ecuador, means “The Republic of the Equator” in English.
● The world’s first and second World Heritage Sites are both in Ecuador. At the first UNESCO conference in 1978, 32 sites were initially chosen. Each World Heritage Site has a number – site #1 is the Galapagos Islands and #2 is the capital city, Quito.