Ecuador is a very diverse country with 4 completely different regions all containing worthwhile places to visit. If you’re thinking about taking an Ecuador vacation, you’re probably wondering what the best places to visit in Ecuador are.
To help you out with this and give you an idea of what to see in Ecuador we put together a list of the top 10 destinations. Ecuador has much more to offer than this top 10, but since you’re most likely limited on time it’s a great place to start and discover some of the best of Ecuador!
Quito is an exciting place if you’re in need a few fun things to do in Ecuador. Ecuador’s capital Quito is most likely the first place you will visit when you arrive. The city itself is amazing with its altitude of 2850m. But there’s much more…
Its historical centre is the best preserved of all of South-America and at night the lights of the houses on the hills are very charming. The city has many parks and museums to visit.
There’s plenty of nature too.
If you’re searching for a scenic lookout the Teleferico cable car will bring you up to Rucu Pichincha, a mountain with a great view over the city. Once you’re up there you have the opportunity to hike to the summit at 4.696m.
The opportunities are endless in Quito, and that’s why it’s a must on your trip to Ecuador.
Mindo, a beautiful destination in Ecuador, is a village located near the entrance of the rainforest at high altitude.
Its name translates to cloud-forest due to its high location. The surrounding forest of the village is full of clouds. This small but charming village is a great get-away from the busy city. It’s only about an hour from Quito.
The village is especially known for its great attractions and activities such as:
You can’t miss this destination on your trip to Ecuador. It’s not too touristy so you’ll experience Ecuador just as the locals do. While you’re there, look out for the toucans and hummingbirds that hang out near the village.
If you’re heading up north on your Ecuador visit, Otavalo is a great spot.
Otavalo is a city in the northern province of Imbabura. This city is mainly known because of its high number of indigenous inhabitants and the local artisan market. The indigenous Otavalo people are famous for weaving different types of textiles, which are sold at the market. While the market is open the whole week, it’s highlight is on Saturday.
You’ll find items like:
The Otavalo market is perfect for a day-trip however, there is much more to see around here. The beautiful town contains a livestock market, a wonderful church, and the Peguche waterfalls which are all worth a visit.
The Parque del Condor, a sanctuary for rescued birds, offers sights of beautiful birds native to Ecuador.
You might need to spend a few days to appreciate all that Otavalo has to offer.
The magnificent Cotopaxi volcano is one of the best places to visit in Ecuador.
With clear weather, the towering Cotopaxi volcano can be seen from Quito. This remarkable volcano with a perfect round snow-capped peak is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world.
How tall you ask?
Cotopaxi peak is 5.897m making it the second highest volcano in Ecuador. It’s highly popular among mountaineers. It’s relatively easy and non-technical climb makes it a great mountain for beginners with proper preparation and fitness.
The surrounding Cotopaxi national park is an excellent location for:
You can hike up until the refuge which is located at around 4800m.
Visiting or climbing Cotopaxi should definitely be on your list if you’re planning a vacation to Ecuador and the Galapagos.
A must-see destination in Ecuador, Quilotoa is an impressive beauty.
The Quilotoa lagoon is a massive lake in the crater of an old volcano. The crater is located at 3800m heights, making it a beautiful view over the Andean mountains and the emerald green coloured lake.
It’s a beautiful place to hike with a lot of wildlife surrounding the lake. The lake is home to various animals. Everything from foxes to cervicabra can be found here.
The most popular hikes include:
Located about three hours south of Quito, Baños is one of Ecuador’s most popular destinations.
Due to its natural beauty and incredible variety of activities, it’s a must-visit destination for many people. The most popular attractions include the stunning views from the ‘Pailon del Diablo’ waterfall and the famous ‘swing at the end of the world’.
It’s the perfect destination for thrill seekers and adventurists that are into zip-lining, bungee jumping, rafting, mountain biking, or canyoning. But also, for those who aren’t into those activities, there is plenty to do and see. Besides nature and activities, there’s also a very active night-life in Baños.
There’s something for everyone in Baños.
Literally translated to ‘’the devil’s nose’’, La Nariz del Diablo is a mountain that had to be overcome in order to build the trans-Andean railroad.
One of the most complex and unique railroads in the world.
A zigzag railroad was built to climb over 500m mountain in less than 12 km. The dangerous road includes steep ascents and descents. This impressive construction remains a very special piece of engineering to this day.
Cuenca, a top destination in Ecuador, is the country’s third biggest city.
It’s regarded as the most European city of the country due to its Spanish colonial architecture, giving the city a Spanish resemblance.
The city is located about 2500m above sea level and is UNESCO World Heritage due to its many historical buildings. The city is a popular destination for Expats and retirees.
But, it you’re looking for some nature…
The Cajas national park, located near the city, is a wonderful scenic spot. The park is home to plenty of lama’s and alpacas and a lake system of more than 200 glacial lakes.
The Ecuadorian Amazon is one of Ecuador’s four regions and is one of the top attractions in Ecuador.
Cuyabeno is located in the Amazon rainforest and is the second largest protected area/national park in Ecuador. It’s considered the best place to spot wildlife. The immense variety of wildlife include:
It’s almost certain that you’ll see some of these animals during a trip to the Cuyabeno reserve.
The most convenient way to get to Cuyabeno is by booking a tour to a lodge. You’ll enter the reserve by a motorised canoe that will bring you to a variety of lodges to be found here.
The wild Amazon jungle is an amazing place to visit, and the golden sunset above the big lake is something you won’t easily forget.
Without a doubt, the most famous and popular destination in Ecuador is the Galapagos Islands.
This remotely located volcanic archipelago is located about 1000 km off the countries coast and is one of the most magical places on earth. It’s one of the, if not the best wildlife spotting destination of the world.
Because of the millions of years of isolation from land, the animals that made it to the islands have evolved to adapt to the rough conditions of the Islands.
An enormous biodiversity with animals that cannot be found anywhere else. Animals ranging from marine iguanas to sea lions, blue-footed boobies, and the Galapagos Giant turtle can be found here.
The best part…
They don’t fear humans so tourists can experience wildlife from up close.
Each island has its own characteristics, not one is the same. The black lava stone in combination with crystal-clear waters and green vegetation are a goldmine for stunning pictures and will give you a once in a lifetime experience.
Want more information about The Galapagos Islands? Click here
If you’re looking to book a trip to Ecuador, we’d love to guide you trough your travels. Book one of a tour of Ecuador with one of the best travel agencies in Ecuador, Gulliver Expeditions.
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Gulliver Expeditions is a tour operator that offers unique Ecuador and Peru tours. Specialized in adventure travel such as climbing, mountain biking and horseback riding. We offer both pre-planned packages as well as tailor-made tours that can include the Amazon rainforest, once-in-a-lifetime Galapagos cruises and expeditions to Machu Picchu.