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Things to do in Ecuador

Things to do in  Ecuador

Welcome to Ecuador

Ecuador, though one of the continent's smallest countries, is a microcosm of South America: Andean peaks, dense Amazon rain forest, sandy beaches, smoking volcanoes, big cities, and diverse wildlife showcase the region's allure. The jewels in Ecuador's urban crown are Quito, the capital, and Cuenca, about 285 miles (460 kilometers) apart and each home to their own colonial architecture, charming plazas, and outstanding food joints. In the former, ride the Teleferico (cable car) up a mountain to see the city from above and enjoy a hike or horseback tour at the top; meanwhile, in the latter, make the most of nearby small artisan villages such as Gualaceo and Chordeleg. The isolated and volcanic Galapagos Islands sit 885 miles (1423 kilometers) from shore, meaning multi-day island-hopping cruises are pretty much the only way to experience the archipelago's biodiversity. Back on the mainland, natural wonders range from the greenery of Mindo Nambillo Cloud Forest to the high mountain browns and whites of Cotopaxi National Park, both accessible on day-trips from Quito. Otavalo Market and The Middle of the World Monument (Mitad del Mundo) provide a cultural introduction the country. If you want to surf on the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, cosmopolitan Guayaquil serves as an excellent base, while the small town of Baños—named for its thermal hot springs—lures thrill-seekers looking to go white-water rafting, ziplining, or canyoning; and offers proximity to both Ecuador's Amazon rain forests and the snow-capped peaks of the Andes.

Top 15 attractions in Ecuador

Church of the Society of Jesus (Iglesia La Compañía de Jesús)

Church of the Society of Jesus (Iglesia La Compañía de Jesús)

Quito’s Jesuit Church of the Society of Jesus (Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús), often called La Compañía, is one of the most significant works of Spanish baroque architecture in South America. The incredibly ornate and beautiful church boasts gold leaf ornamentation, gilded ceilings, and religious paintings by artists of the Quito School.More
Cotopaxi National Park

Cotopaxi National Park

With sweeping plains, rocky mountain trails, and glassy lagoons, Ecuador’s largest and most-visited national park is a spectacular setting for an outdoor adventure. Located along the Pacific Ring of Fire, Cotopaxi National Park is most famous for the much-photographed Cotopaxi volcano, the highest active volcano in South America.More
Quilotoa Lagoon

Quilotoa Lagoon

Quilotoa Lagoon was formed when a now-extinct volcano collapsed and the resulting crater was filled with a startling emerald-green lake, the color resulting from volcanic minerals. Just south of Quito, the village and lagoon of Quilotoa have become a popular day-trip destination, affording spectacular views and photo opportunities.More
Middle of the World Monument (La Mitad del Mundo)

Middle of the World Monument (La Mitad del Mundo)

The Middle of the World Monument (La Mitad del Mundo) commemorates the site where the 18th-century French explorer Charles Marie de la Condamine once calculated the globe's equatorial line. A trapezoidal monument in the center of the park houses a viewing platform; a small museum on the equator pays tributes to local indigenous cultures.More
Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS)

Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS)

The Charles Darwin Research Station, located on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos, is a great way to take in some interesting facts about the wildlife of the archipelago in between relaxing on the beach and sipping a piña colada. The station offers information on local conservation, habitats, and other relevant statistics and is home to a tortoise breeding center.More
Quito Old Town

Quito Old Town

The historical heart of Ecuador’s capital, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Quito Old Town is the first port of call for most visitors to the city. Known for its cobblestone lanes, Spanish colonial architecture, and beautiful churches, it’s Quito’s most atmospheric district.More
León Dormido (Kicker Rock)

León Dormido (Kicker Rock)

Rising sharply off the coast of San Cristóbal island, this rock formation’s distinctive shape was formed when a lava cone split in two, forming a narrow channel in between. Also known as Kicker Rock, the site is a popular day trip for snorkelers and divers to see Galápagos and hammerhead sharks, turtles, rays, sea lions, and colorful reef fish.More
Casa del Arbol Swing

Casa del Arbol Swing

In the Ecuadorian wilderness just outside Baños, Casa del Arbol Swing is a seismic monitoring station that has capitalized on its perfect mountaintop location next to the Tungurahua Volcano by installing a treehouse with a rope swing. The Swing at the End of the World, as it’s often called, offers thrills with an unobstructed view of the volcano.More
Las Tintoreras

Las Tintoreras

Las Tintoreras is a small group of islets off the coast ofxa0 Isabela island where lava formations have created several different natural habitats, enabling a wide range of wildlife to thrive, including Galápagos penguins and white-tipped sharks wading in shallow crevices. Mangroves provide breeding grounds for marine iguanas while a small beach is taken over by sea lions.More
Mindo Cloud Forest

Mindo Cloud Forest

Stretching over 48,000 acres (19,200 hectares) and reaching heights of 15,700 feet (4,778 meters), the Mindo Cloud Forest—part of the Mindo-Nambillo Ecological Reserve—is one of the most biologically diverse forests in the world.More
Cotopaxi Volcano

Cotopaxi Volcano

The Cotopaxi Volcano, one of South America’s most famous peaks and Ecuador’s most active volcano, is perhaps the most recognizable landmark along Ecuador’s Avenue of the Volcanoes. On a clear day, you can see the snow-capped cone all the way from Quito, but a closer exploration requires a trip to Cotopaxi National Park.More
Basilica of the National Vow (La Basílica del Voto Nacional)

Basilica of the National Vow (La Basílica del Voto Nacional)

One of the largest neo-Gothic churches in the Americas, La Basílica del Voto Nacional is an unmistakable feature of the skyline. Perched on a hill, the 19th-century beauty has three towers, which may be climbed to enjoy a fantastic city panorama. Technically unfinished, local legend opines that when the completion of the basilica arrives, so will the end of the world.More
Sierra Negra Volcano

Sierra Negra Volcano

One of South America’s most active volcanoes, Sierra Negra on Isabela Island has a vast molten crater, which is the second largest caldera in the world. The huge shield volcano erupts about every 15 years, with the last eruption occurring in 2005. Since then several geological and thermal events have been visible to hikers.More
Independence Plaza (Plaza de la Independencia)

Independence Plaza (Plaza de la Independencia)

Flanked by several important buildings—the Archbishop’s Palace, City Hall, Government Palace, and the cathedral—Plaza de la Independencia (Plaza Grande to the locals) has been part of Quito’s streetscape since 16th century. What was once a central market and bullfighting arena is today a shady square.More
San Francisco Church (Iglesia de San Francisco)

San Francisco Church (Iglesia de San Francisco)

As Quito’s first church, construction of the Baroque-style San Francisco Church started in the 1530s, shortly after the Spaniards arrived, and lasted for over 100 years. Having sustained epic earthquakes, it’s in remarkably good shape and remains the largest, and arguably the loveliest, of the city’s original colonial structures. Franciscan fathers still live here and work on premises.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 1 Day in Quito

How to Spend 1 Day in Quito

How to Spend 2 Days in Quito

How to Spend 2 Days in Quito

Top activities in Ecuador

2 Full Days Exploring The Ecuadorian Amazon | Tour Start In Quito
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
Quito City Tour Double Decker Bus

Quito City Tour Double Decker Bus

4-Days Andes and Amazon Journey

4-Days Andes and Amazon Journey

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Recent reviews from experiences in Ecuador

Excellent service
Jeff_W, Jun. 2022
Private Transfers to and from Quito Airport
I requested English option - this was perfect and she was able to tell me about Quito and Ecuador.
A great way to experience Quito in a day
Ann_W, Jun. 2022
Full Day Middle of the World, Cable Car and Quito City Shared Tour
The tour covered exactly what was stated and was a great way to see Quito in a day.
Kaj_K, Jun. 2022
Private Guayaquil City Tour Including the Light House of Cerro Santa Ana
Extensive tour to see all top sights on Guayaquil.
Excellent tour that I...
David_A, May 2022
3-Day Andes Adventure Visiting Cotopaxi, Quilotoa and Baños
Excellent tour that I would highly recommend, the only way to see some of the remote parts of Ecuador.
Mindo Valley Tour
Michele_T, Mar. 2022
Mindo Cloud Forest Private Day Tour
He adjusted activities to our abilities.
Must do Tour
Brian_A, Feb. 2022
Cotopaxi & Quilotoa With Optional Hotel Pick-Up & Drop-Off - "Small Group"
This is a perfect way to see two of Ecuador's top attractions.
Otavalo and other wonderful little towns
Patricia_T, Jun. 2022
Otavalo Market (PRIVATE Day Trip)
Seeing other parts of Ecuador outside of Quito was fun and allowed us to see the more relaxed areas.
A Fun Day
Eric_S, May 2022
Mindo Cloud Forest Private Day Tour
We tried to be quick as we wanted to allow time to see the chocolate factory.
Awesome Tour!
Lucas_H, Apr. 2022
Day off in Quito? Lets go to Otavalo indigenous artisan market!
Our group was my girlfriend (Spanish only), my parents (English only), and myself (bi-lingual) and he made sure that we all participated in the conversation and had fun.
An amazing day trip in Ecuadorian nature!
Vamsi_D, Mar. 2022
Full-Day Quilotoa Lake Hiking Tour from Quito
I cannot recommend this trip enough for anyone looking to see some of the natural beauty of Ecuador, but who either cannot or does not want to do a several days trip.
Good experience to see a lot of things in one day
Shannon_A, Mar. 2022
Baños full day tour from Quito including all entrances and activities
This is a great experience if you are looking to see a LOT of things in one day.
The most knowledgeable guide and informative tour EVER!!
Amy_Z, Feb. 2022
Full-Day Devil's Nose Hike and Ingapirca Ruins Tour from Cuenca
His English was so good that there was not a single language barrier.
See a lot in a short amount of time!
Victoria_W, Feb. 2022
Tour Cotopaxi & Quilotoa All in One - 1 Day
Overall, the only think I would change is having been able to see the Cotopaxi Volcano, but I chose to come to Ecuador during the winter months and fully recognize that no one can control Mother Nature when it comes to the clouds and the rains!
Amazing Tour!
Tzvi_R, Jan. 2022
Cotopaxi Full-Day from Quito including entrances
Our guide was very helpful with activities to do in Ecuador during our long ride to the volcano.
A 2 day master class in Ecuador!
Deb_M, Jan. 2022
2-Day Private Tour to Otavalo Market, Cuicocha Lake, Peguche and Condor´s Park
There was no topic Diego couldn’t discuss proficiently in English!
Maren_H, Oct. 2021
Explore the Ecuadorian Andes & Amazon in 6 Days | From Quito
All the activities and there were many allowed us to leave Ecuador with a appreciation of both jungle and the highlands.
Driver was very helpful...
Kelly_M, Aug. 2021
Quito Airport Arrival Transfer to Hotel
We spoke a simple English and Spanish conversation and he told us more about Quito and Ecuador
Great trip for nature and adventure
Ekta_C, Apr. 2021
Baños and Upper Amazon Day Trip
We also did zip lining, waterfalls and zero G swing.
Great private tour in Banos with Pedro!
Jean_C, Dec. 2020
Baños Tour from Quito - 1 Day- Private Tour
We had a comfortable ride from our hotel in Quito to Banos with amazing stops of the waterfalls, Casa del arbol, and Pailon del Diablo.
Full day bath
Arthur_G, Feb. 2020
Full Day Baths
He was super nice, very knowledgeable and communicated with us in English very well (we know very little Spanish).
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