Ecuador is a country full of the “Wow Factors” before or after enjoying your trip at the Galapagos Islands, you have the chance to discover other interesting places for your true-life experiences!
Here some ideas for an unforgettable experience:

QUITO, the Modern and the Historical areas (Daily Operation)

Quito, the capital city of Ecuador is surrounded by volcanos and high hills which give to Quito a magical environment. With an altitude of 8,500ft, this city is the second highest capital in the world and the closest one to the equator. Its Historic Center was declared by the UNESCO as one of the World Cultural Heritage Sites. Quito has many touristic attractions that will make you fall in love with the city. For 4 consecutive years it was declared as a top destination of South America.

You will be able to visit the famous, traditional and breathtaking churches like the Basilica, The Cathedral, La Compañia, La Merced, Santo Domingo, and many more. While walking through street “La Ronda” you will have the opportunity to admire the colonial architecture, with buildings full of colors and beautiful flowers at the balconies. Such a romantic and exciting path. You can also be delighted with the unforgettable flavors of the traditional food such as “Empanadas de Viento”, “Empanadas de Morocho”, “Quesadillas”, and many others which you can accompany with a canelazo.

At “El Panecillo”, you can enjoy the views from the top of this small hill named like these because of its shape like a little bread. You will see thousands of lights as stars at the city.

THE MIDDLE OF THE WORLD AREA.

15 km at the north of the capital is located the Middle of the world Complex, one of the main attractions for visitors. In the monument, you can be at two hemispheres at the same time!

TELEFERICO OR CABLE CAR

A place where you can enjoy the sight of this beautiful city is the Quito Cable Car or known also as “El Teleferico” where you can travel through the clouds while you drive the gondola. You will appreciate the Andes mountain rage, a spectacular mirador.

MUSEUMS

You will also find many museums such as the City Museum, Convento San Francisco, Benalcazar House, Eloy Alfaro, Alberto Mena Camaaño, Ecuadorian Cultural House, etc. All of them, interesting places, where you can learn of our traditions and the interesting history.  

NOCTURNAL SITES

If you want to have a night to party and celebrate, you may go to Foch Square, the pulsating nightlife of Quito. You will find a variety of bars, restaurants and entertainment, where you can enjoy an exciting evening.

PLACES FOR CHARMING CRAFTS AND LOVELY PRESENTS

Situated in the Mariscal District, you will find the Craft Market, where you can see the work of artisans and enjoy their creativity. Artisans sell jewelry, clothes, tapestry, candies and toys; even you can find the classic paella ice cream. The market has over 100 little shops. The abundance of colors and unique stuff makes it difficult to leave “emptyhanded”. The sellers are open for bargains, so, do not be shy and “make a deal”.

During the weekends and if you are a painting lover or an artist, you should definitively visit the “El Ejido Park” where, since more than 30 years, independent artists expose their work and of course, if you like something, you can make a deal, otherwise just go and appreciate the creativity.  

There are many other artisanal shops at the downtown, where you can find a world of attractive handicrafts.

Recommendations

  • Wear warm clothes
  • The evil of height is not a story, do not make excessive efforts
  • Have a bottle of water nearby
  • Bring tons of sunscreen
  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Use official taxi service
  • Carry a camera

Indigenous Markets

OTAVALO INDIGENOUS MARKET.

This market is located a little over 100 kilometers from Quito. The city of Otavalo will certainly show you a lot of the culture of the indigenous population of Ecuador, here most of the civilians are indigenous.

This population is stands out for its traditional dressing and their creativity. The market is running almost every day. During the weekends, very early in the morning, you can also visit the “Animals Market”, do not miss this experience!

You will find textiles and leather products, ponchos, scarves, shirts, pants, espadrilles, backpacks and much more. Many of them based on a soft material, alpaca wool.

There are also artisan products such as jewelry, artisanship in mud, paintings, etc.

This is one of the biggest indigenous market all over the country. Remember that the sellers are willing to make discounts according to your offer.

The highlands

The following destinations contain very traditional and touristic places of the country and without a doubt, are inspired with the seeds of the ancestors.

You can venture yourself through a relaxing and intriguing experience 67 km from Quito, at the famous “Termas de Papallacta” where you can do swimming, hiking, horseback riding and walking while you admire a great number of birds and plants. At the pools, you will have a completely natural experience while enjoying the thermal water and letting yourself have a time just for chill. Termas Papallacta owns Canyon Ranch a protected area, located at the entrance of Cayambe Coca Natural Reserve, the landscapes and the beautiful sights are definitively something you should not miss.

30 minutes away from Sangolqui, you will find the ecological refuge “El Molinuco” where you can swim at the waterfalls of “El Rio Pita” and enjoy the walks with the fresh air of the place. Here you have the opportunity of fishing “Trucha” a common specie that is eaten at the country. Riding horses, biking, hiking, are some of the activities this place also offers. In addition, better if you have children, the refugee has an ecological farm where you can interact with the animals.

The avenue of the Volcanos

The Ecuadorian Highlands are typically characterized by high elevation Paramo grasslands, temperate woodlands and drier inter-Andean valleys.

Not far from the city, you will find the beautiful highlands where landscapes are remarkable in the middle of a fusion of temperate woodlands, Paramo grasslands, Indian communities, ancient haciendas and more…..

Let yourself explore the wonders and get to know the avenue of the volcanos; you should notice that Ecuador is part of the 15 countries list, with more volcanoes all over the world.

Spend exciting experiences close to the volcanos of the Andes like the famous “Rucu Pichincha”, Atacazo, Pasochoa, Illinizas, Antisana, Cotopaxi, Corazón and Chimborazo, among others.

Known as the hardest train to build in the world, the Train of Ecuador with more than a century of history, connects the principal cities of the Sierra and the Coast. Nowadays the railway has a mostly touristic use. Some of the routes are very well known for its beauty and attraction: on the Southern Area, the train of the Volcanoes, The Devil´s nose portion and the train of the Ice. On the Northern area, the train of Freedom; and at the coastal area, the train of the Sweetness.

Cotopaxi, located at Latacunga province, is the highest active volcano of Ecuador with 5.897m of height. You can climb to the top of the Cotopaxi or maybe you just walk and admire the surroundings. In addition, you have the chance to enjoy the landscapes while riding a horse. You can take pictures showing this beautiful place. Cotopaxi is the home of many endangered species, such as the Condor. It has been declared as a National Park, due to its incomparable diversity. At Limpiopungo lake, at 3,892 m (12,769 ft) above sea level, one of the most visited places on the park, there is a nice trail that surrounds the lake. It is a great opportunity to watch the vegetation, beautiful birds like mountain ducks and Andean gulls and some mammals. Be sure to take your time to acclimatize to the oxygen levels.

3 hours away from Quito, the ecological reserve “Los Ilinizas” is located, very well known for being a volcano with two summits, the “Ilinizas Norte” and “Ilinizas Sur”.

 

Quilotoa crater is another main attraction on the highlands; its turquoise lagoon, located in the crater of this ancient volcano offers breathless views. The mountain and the lake are both called Quilotoa. Incredible shots can be taken from the mirador. Some intrepid adventures go down and then hike back up.

During these journeys, visitors will be also amazed by the culture and traditions of the locals.

Zumbahua Market

Its colorful market is held on Saturdays, spreading from the main square to the tiny streets in the surroundings; you can buy anything from wool, to livestock, ponchos, vegetables and much more. The friendly town is in the middle of velvet green hills, nearly perpendicular, where the community cultivate their products.

Guamote Market

It is a very quiet town. Every Thursday it gets crowded, with one of the most authentic markets of the country (which seems to octuple the population of the town). There are 3 different market squares: one for ponchos, hats and clothing. The next one for vegetables, potatoes and fruits; the last one for animals like sheeps, llamas, rabbits, pigs and cows, among others.

Baños

Baños is nestled in the middle of the Andes and the Amazon area, it has rushing rivers, volcanic thermal springs, waterfalls, and the most important, you will meet very friendly folks. You can practice different sports and at night you can enjoy exotic meals, discos and bars. Do not forget to simply rest with a glass of wine!

GUAYAQUIL

It is the largest city in Ecuador as well as the most habited and of course, it has many attractions. Declared, for two consecutive years, as South America’s Leading Business Travel Destination, it is also known as “the Pearl of the Pacific”.

You can pleasantly walk at the foot of the river, taking pictures and feeling the fresh air, while enjoying the beauty of “Malecon 2000” or Malecon Simon Bolivar, which is made up with sculptures, gardens, playgrounds and monuments. A lot of its infrastructure commemorates the history of the city.

Few meters away from Malecon 2000, you can visit and get in love with “Las Peñas neighborhood”; this area is a cultural heritage and the most aged district of Guayaquil. Still remembered, as the founding place of the city, with its infrastructure, buildings, shops and colors, it will take you into a unique and unforgettable haul. Tourists climb 440 numbered steps; you literally will enjoy every single step you take. At the top, you will find a romantic tinny church and an incredible view of the entire city.

The Pearl, a new attraction, is at the Simon Bolivar Pier and offers impressive views of the city and its landscapes. With 57 meters of height, this is the first giant wheel of Ecuador and the higher of South America.

At the top of an elevation with 60 meters of height, you will find Santa Ana Hill, close to Las Peñas.  

At the center of the city, with a colonial atmosphere, is located one of the oldest parks of the city, “Seminario Park” home of a number of iguanas that is the reason of its popular name “The Iguanas Park”. In this small, well-decorated garden, you will have an intimate moment with the traditional iguanas of the city. Also, at the center of the town, you will find the Artisan Market specialized in jewelry, luggage, watchmaking, products in various materials and so on.

The San Francisco Square located at Ave. 9 de Octubre and Pedro Carbo, means a lot for the faithful citizens of Guayaquil. Here tourists enjoy taking pictures and watching the colonial architecture of the San Francisco Church, rebuilt many times, but keeps its wonderful substance.  

Driving more at the north of the city, the Historical Park is situated, a place where you can learn more about the golden age of Ecuador main port and admire the natural space of more than 50 species. It offers you an atmosphere for learning, exploring, getting in touch with the culture.

Recommendations:

  • Wear light clothing and a raincoat
  • Have a bottle of water nearby
  • Carry a camera
  • Carry repellent
  • Bring sunscreen
  • Carry your money, in small amounts, so the sellers can give you the change.
  • Use official taxi service
  • Wear comfortable shoes

CUENCA

Cuenca; located in the Andes and internationally known as the Green City or as the Antennas of Ecuador, is one of the most beautiful cities in the country. The valley where the city is located, has been formed by mountainous systems of exceptional characteristics and has four principal rivers: Machangara, Tomebamba, Tarqui and Yanuncay, which cross the city from west to east.

The UNESCO declared it as cultural heritage. The city is divided into two sectors: The North, antique and traditional Cuenca, and the South, the modern side of the city. On the Historic Center you will find many buildings of great beauty in the colonial or Republican style; beautiful churches, the archaeological area, the craft neighborhoods (of colonial origin) and the central markets.

You will be witness of an experience with explosion of colors, captivating species, and great aromas at the Square of the Flowers, located at the Historical Center. This place is part of the 10 most popular outdoors flowers markets all around the world.

Cajas National Park, 33km west from the city, this wonderful place full of landscapes, is located. Home of thousands of species of flora and fauna, this park will give you the opportunity to walk in the middle of natural paradise, full of endangered species. There are many lagoons formed by mountains, in total you will have a complex of more than 200 of them. It has many hiking trails in the middle of moors and Andean forests, natural viewpoints and camping areas, the landscape is more than enjoyable.

36 meters away from the city, another important touristic place of Cuenca is located, we are talking about the valley of Gualaceo. Here you can find some important areas like Chordeleg, SigSig and Gualaceo Town, with its different artisan skills, and you can easily visit one, two, or all three within a day.

Ingapirca Ruins are Ecuador’s most monumental Incan/Cañari ruins, located around two hours from Cuenca. It is very impressive to know how they built them with huge stone blocks, cut with impressive precision. There is a cozy museum where you will learn about the history of the Cañaris and the Incas, their traditions and customs.

Baños de Cuenca and Piedra del Agua Termal& Spa

This is an interesting place to relax and enjoy in a gorgeous natural environment. The Piedra del Agua thermal and spa site has hot and warm outdoor pools which come by the natural underground volcano.

Recommendations

  • Wear warm or waterproof clothes
  • The evil of height is not a story, do not make excessive efforts
  • Have a bottle of water nearby
  • Bring tons of sunscreen
  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Use official taxi service
  • Carry a camera