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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 10 attractions in Ecuador

#1
Mindo Butterfly Farm (Mariposas de Mindo)

Mindo Butterfly Farm (Mariposas de Mindo)

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At Mindo Butterfly Farm (Mariposas de Mindo)—tucked in the ethereal Ecuadorian cloud forest region—get up close and personal with more than 1,000 species of butterflies at all stages of the life cycle. Even travelers not crazy about butterflies will be charmed by the small koi pond, fluttering hummingbirds, and picturesque surroundings.More
#2
Casa del Arbol Swing

Casa del Arbol Swing

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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
#3
Cotopaxi National Park

Cotopaxi National Park

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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
#4
El Cajas National Park

El Cajas National Park

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With its rolling lakelands, ancient quinua woods and sprawling cloud forest set against a jagged skyline of rocky peaks, the El Cajas National Park is a natural playground for adventurous travelers. Famous for its array of native wildlife, the park plays host to white-tailed deer, pumas, tapirs, llamas, Andean gulls and Violet-tailed Metaltail, as well as rare species like Andean condor and cougar, and colorful flora like wild orchids and rare bromeliads.The 29,000-hectare reserve is dotted with some 230 lakes and a vast network of walking trails, making it a prime spot for hiking, fly-fishing, horseback riding and camping. Notable highlights include the Tres Cruces and Avilahuyco viewpoints, Lake Toreadora, the Taitachungo Lagoon and Lagartococha.More
#5
Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS)

Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS)

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A must-see while in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, the biological research station known as the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) is a great way to take in some interesting facts about the environment of the Galapagos many take for granted while relaxing on the beach and having a pina colada. On display, the center has available information on local conservation, habitats, and other interesting relevant statistics.Certainly the station's most impressive attraction is the tortoise breeding center, where you can see tortoises of all shapes and sizes, including the famous Lonesome George, at 90+ years old, and the last remaining member of the Pinta Island subspecies. Access to the tortoises is quite open and visitors can feel free to walk amongst them as well enjoy a last-minute photo-op.More
#6
Bartolomé Island (Isla Bartolomé)

Bartolomé Island (Isla Bartolomé)

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Bartolomé Island, located off the east shore of Sullivan Bay, is a small but beautiful spot most famous for its iconic Pinnacle Rock, which is arguably one of the most recognizable landmarks in the Galapagos. The staggering rock face is an eroded lava formation that was originally created by an underwater volcano.More
#7
Las Tintoreras

Las Tintoreras

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Las Tintoreras is a small group of islands where lava formations have created several different natural habitats, thus enabling a wide range of Galapagos wildlife to inhabit the area.There is a lagoon that reef sharks come to rest in, mangroves that make for marine iguana breeding grounds and a beach where sea lions and other marine life flourish. The turquoise waters of the bay lead to a shallow crevice, which at low tide makes it easy to spot wildlife even without getting in the water. While visitors are not allowed to swim in these waters, the nearby beach area grants the opportunity to see the sea life from below.Perhaps the most unique sight of Las Tintoreras are the Galapagos penguins. Whether it’s penguins and sea lions playing or marine iguanas perched on lava rock, Las Tintoreras is a unique spot to see much of the Galapagos wildlife in one place.More
#8
León Dormido (Kicker Rock)

León Dormido (Kicker Rock)

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The translation of León Dormido, a giant rock formation rising sharply out of the ocean, is 'sleeping lion.' The remains of a lava cone split into two parts, in English it is also known as 'Kicker Rock.' The formations have eroded due to hundreds of years of weather and sea and now tower 500 feet above the water below.Located off the coast of San Cristobal Island, boats that visit the rocks can navigate through the narrow channel between the two formations. Much marine wildlife does the same, and this is one of the most common places to see Galapagos sharks as well as turtles, rays and sea lions. It's an excellent spot for diving and snorkeling, as the mild current sweeping between the two rocks often means diverse groups of reef fish. Frigate birds are also common, and many other species can be seen above the water. Whether you conclude that the rocks resemble a lion or a boot, Leon Dormido is a Galapagos icon for a reason.More
#9
Quilotoa Lagoon

Quilotoa Lagoon

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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
#10
Quito Old Town

Quito Old Town

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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

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

Excursion day to Floreana island + Cave of Pirates + Punta Cormorant

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Excursion day to Floreana island + Cave of Pirates + Punta Cormorant

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Los Tuneles Snorkeling Day Tour

Los Tuneles Snorkeling Day Tour

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US$217.67
Full Day Isabela Island with Tintoreras Tour From Santa Cruz

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Full Day Isabela Island with Tintoreras Tour From Santa Cruz

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Cuyabeno Tucan lodge

Cuyabeno Tucan lodge

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Private Full day Quito City Tour and Middle of the world visit

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Recent reviews from experiences in Ecuador

star-5
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.
star-5
Excellent day trip!
Dwayne_B, Jul 2021
Full-Day Ingapirca, Gualaceo & Chordeleg from Cuenca
We don't usually take guided tours, but this tour included two things we really wanted to visit: Ingapirca and the Casa de la Makana in Gualaceo.
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Excellent!
Steven_D, Jul 2021
Otavalo Tour from Quito Visiting Cayambe, Indigenous Market, Small groups
The pickup/drop off was on time, and we really got to see a lot of the Ecuadorian countryside we otherwise would have missed.
star-5
What a TREAT!
Candy_C, Jul 2021
Termas de Papallacta Hot Springs full day tour from Quito
Our tour guide Carlos was so friendly and very knowledgeable about all things Ecuador (from the volcanos, cities, history, food, flowers, waterfalls and other interesting stories).
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Great tour, but keep in mind if you are doing the tour solo and no one else signs up, it costs extra
Sherman_P, Jul 2021
Full Day Quito City Tour Including Teleférico and Mitad del Mundo
Got to see and learn a lot about Quito and Ecuador.
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Cotopaxi Volano
Lorriel3, May 2021
Full-Day Tour Cotopaxi National Park - All included from Quito
He was so knowledgeable about the volcano and the wildlife we got to see (llamas, foxes, beautiful birds, wild horses, etc).
star-5
Excellent Guide and Experience
Griselda_F, Mar 2021
Full Day Middle of the World, Cable Car and Quito City Shared Tour
He was very knowledgeable (about almost any topic you can think of), he was fluent in both English & Spanish, he made our experience that much more worth it that we booked a last minute tour the following day with him.
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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.
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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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Gabriel is the best!
Jklish49, Oct 2019
Cultural Tour Laguna Quilotoa: Hiking and Descent to the Lagoon all included
Also he spoke great English.
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Fantastic experience. I highly...
Tim H, Jul 2017
Full-Day Tour Cotopaxi National Park - All included from Quito
Daniel took us to Cotopaxi via back roads so we go to see local view.
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The Cloud Forest is beautiful from...
Laura G, Apr 2018
Mindo Day Tour including Chocolate Tasting, Hummingbirds, and Cloud Forest Hike
The Cloud Forest is beautiful from the hummingbirds to tasting organic rainforest coffee and street food - on the way there to a hike to a waterfall and gondola ride over the rainforest to an Ecuadorian lunch and tour of the cacao farm.
star-5
We thoroughly enjoyed the day with...
arw, Jun 2017
Private Full-Day Trip to Otavalo and Its Surroundings from Quito
He is a wealth of knowledge of all things Ecuadorean and gave us options of where we could go, how to barter and what to do/not do at the market.
star-5
Wonderful trip..our guide Natalia...
Albert P, Feb 2017
Private Tour: Middle of the World & Pululahua Crater. All entrances included!
our guide Natalia spoke perfect English..
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This was an amazing tour! I truly...
Grazia M., Aug 2016
Quilotoa Shared Day Trip from Quito
This was my first time in Ecuador and would definitely recommend this tour to visit a great place!
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Excellent tour...William our English...
Albert P, Feb 2017
Otavalo, Cotacachi and Cuicocha Tour With Optional Hotel Pick-Up - "Small Group"
William our English guide was very informed of the people's, cultures and area...
star-5
The trip was well organized, the...
Carlos T, Jan 2017
Full Day Quito City Tour Including Teleférico and Mitad del Mundo
He was intelligent well informed and spoke great English.
star-5
A great way to see Quito
Meera, Mar 2020
Quito Old Town Tour with Gondola Ride and Visit to the Equator
We wanted to see more of the city of Quito and fewer historic sights.
star-4
Fantastic volcano and birding experience
Beth_P, Mar 2020
Antisana Volcano Birding & Natural History Condor Tour PRIVATE, all included
Santiago's English was exceptional; the best guide we had on our 12-day trip through Ecuador.
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Ingapirca
Susan_D, Mar 2020
Full-Day Ingapirca Ruins and Gualaceo & Chordeleg Tour from Cuenca
Not only did he take us to the destinations of the tour, he also took us to things that we wanted to see along the way.

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