Home to almost 1,000 miles of coastline, as well as stunning mountains and tropical rainforests, this equatorial country really has something for everyone.
Not to be overshadowed by some of its bigger and more famous neighbours, this South American gem offers plenty to discover. Today, we are sharing the ten best places to visit in Ecuador.
Located in the northwest of the continent, Ecuador is named for the equator, which runs through the north of the country. Home to a diverse landscape encompassing the terrific Andes mountains, the Amazon basin, and the Galapagos Islands, there is always something new to discover.
WBL’S Top 5 Fun Facts about Ecuador
- Ecuador is the only country in the world named after a geographic feature. The equator passes through the country, and the word “Ecuador” actually means “equator” in Spanish.
- The summit of Mount Chimborazo, an inactive volcano in Ecuador, is the farthest point from the centre of the Earth due to the equatorial bulge.
- Ecuador is the world’s largest exporter of bananas, accounting for a significant portion of the country’s economy.
- Ecuador holds the title of the “Hummingbird Capital of the World” and is home to over 130 different species of these colourful and fascinating birds.
- Quito, Ecuador’s capital city, lies at an elevation of 9,350 feet and is the highest official capital city in the world.
10. Mindo – a must-visit for the eco-conscious traveller
Located in a valley between Ecuador’s fantastic cloud forests and Andean summits, Mindo is one of the best places to visit in Ecuador.
A favourite spot among eco-conscious travellers, Mindo is known for its diverse ecosystems, bamboo, timber homes and guesthouses, and the Mindo-Nambillo Ecological Reserve.
9. Guayaquil – the largest city in Ecuador
The city of Guayaquil is home to a fantastic 2.7 million people, making it the largest city in Ecuador.
Set on the banks of the Guayas River, this city was originally a Spanish settlement founded in 1538. This southern metropolis is distinctive today for its array of multicultural influences, colonial architecture, and lush gardens.
8. Mindo Cloudforest – a breathtaking experience
If the name of this magical region alone doesn’t convince you, then we don’t know what will.
As the name suggests, Mindo Cloudforest is a lush forest located high up in the clouds. A truly incredible sight to behold, this astonishing ecosystem is home to over 400 species of birds and over 1000 species of butterflies.
7. Canoa – for beautiful beach vibes
To experience one of the most beautiful beaches in Ecuador, you have to head to Canoa.
What was once a sleepy fishing village is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in the entire country.
Home to an incredible 17km (10.6 miles) golden sand beach backed by massive cliffs, this is the perfect spot to sit back, relax, and watch the waves roll in against the shore.
6. Cotopaxi National Park – delve into nature
If you want to delve deep into Ecuadorian nature, then you need to visit Cotopaxi National Park.
As one of the most famously beautiful places in the country, you can’t miss this spot while you’re here. This national park is to three volcanoes, one of which is among the highest active volcanoes in the world.
5. Otavalo – home to a colourful weekly market
If you want to dive into this South American country’s true life and culture, Otavalo is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Ecuador.
Located high in the Northern Sierra ranges, this brilliant city is home to a buzzing weekly market offering everything from alpaca wool to jewellery to exquisite textiles and more.
4. Banos – the Gateway to the Amazon
Located at the foot of the active Tungurahua volcano, Banos is a must-visit when travelling through Ecuador.
Home to hot springs that are fed thermal waters of the volcano, Banos is one of the most popular tourist cities in the whole country. Known as the ‘Gateway to the Amazon’, this city is also a popular departure spot for many jungle tours.
3. Cuenca – full of colonial charm
The capital of the Azuay province, Cuenca, is well-known for its colonial-style buildings and narrow cobbled streets.
This Spanish settlement was founded in 1557 and took its name from the Spanish city of the same name. The Ecuadorian city that we see today is oozing with history and charm on every street corner.
2. Quito – the capital of Ecuador
As the highest capital city in the world at 2,800 m (9,350 ft) above sea level, Quito is one of the most bucket list-worthy destinations in all of Ecuador.
1. Galapagos Islands – the inspiration for Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection
This tropical archipelago of 19 islands boasts an incredible array of unique wildlife. Unusual species you can find on the island include the Galapagos Penguin, giant tortoises, marine iguanas, and more.
The top islands to visit are Isabela Island, Bartolome Island, Floreana Island, and Santa Cruz Island. However, each island has its own unique flair that is more than worth discovering.
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Your questions answered about visiting Ecuador
If you still have questions about Ecuador, we’ve answered some of our readers’ most frequently asked questions about the topic in the section below!
Is Ecuador cheap for tourists?
Ecuador is generally cheaper to visit than other countries in South America, like Peru and Colombia, and is comparatively very cheap to travel to. However, if you intend to visit the Galapagos Islands, you may need to spend a larger sum on boat tours or chartering a boat.
What is the best time to visit Ecuador?
Generally, the best time to visit Ecuador is during the dry season, which runs from June to September, as well as from December to January.
What money do they use in Ecuador?
The official currency of Ecuador is the US Dollar. The country has special Ecuadorean-minted 5c, 10c, 25c and 50c coins.