Ecuador is a country that has everything, a country of four worlds in the middle of the world. Despite its limited territorial extension with other countries in the region, Ecuador has four natural regions: Coast, Sierra, Amazon, and Insular Region (the Galapagos archipelago), a fact that makes it a country where it is possible to discover different wonders within a short distance of each other. Because the country has many high-quality tourist destinations, and to help you decide what to visit during your stay there, we offer you a selection of what we consider to be the eleven best places to visit in Ecuador.
Cotopaxi volcano and Limpiopungo lagoon in the Cotopaxi National Park.
Cover photo by the Ministerio de Turismo del Ecuador.
Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is a city in the Andes that deserves to be visited if you pass through Ecuador. Its historic center, a site that has enormous cultural and architectural wealth from the colonial and republican eras, is the largest and best preserved in Latin America and where you will find yourself surrounded by incomparable squares, churches, and monasteries. The historic center is a living place where you can witness the daily dynamics of those who live there and all the historical treasures it has to show.
Outside of the colonial nuances of its historical center, Quito is a modern city that offers many places where you can enjoy a vast cultural offering, unparalleled gastronomy, and sparkling nightlife. The city presents many contrasts between historic and modern, so tourists have many places to choose from and find their favorite corners.
Quito’s landscape environment is one of its greatest treasures, as the city is surrounded by valleys and escorted by beautiful active volcanoes. The imposing mountain range of the Andes has a unique landscape in Quito, so those who visit the city can always enjoy a deep blue sky crowned with snow-capped peaks.
Likewise, the city has a privileged climate due to its proximity to the equator. It is unique because you can simultaneously set foot in the northern hemisphere in the Middle of the World City, the city’s tourist destination, and another in the southern hemisphere.
We are specialists in this tourist destination in Ecuador, and we have more than 13 years of experience serving tourists from all over the world, so we invite you to take the best tours of Quito. We put at your disposal the Quito City Tour, Mitad del Mundo Tour, Quito at Night, different variants of the Quito City Tour; and Quito Secret Tours (Domes of Santa Clara Tour, Domes of the Cathedral Tour, Basilica of the National Vow Tour and Santo Domingo Domes Tour).
Quito, furthermore, is the perfect place to establish a starting point to get to know Ecuador little by little. Hence, we invite you to visit our company’s destinations near the city. Check out our selection of day tours from Quito: Cotopaxi Tour, Quilotoa Tour, Baños Tour, Tour to Otavalo, Papallacta Tour, and Mindo Tour.
Since the city is strategically located, from there you can quickly go to the beaches of the Pacific coast, to the Andes with its Avenue of the Volcanoes to the Ecuadorian Amazon with its exuberant nature and extensive biodiversity, and to the Galapagos archipelago, with its impressive diversity. On this site, the renowned naturalist Charles Darwin formulated the theory of evolution. Learn everything about our variety of Tours in Ecuador.
Additionally, if you are wondering how to get from Quito airport to the city center and which are the best areas to stay in Quito?, in our notes, you will find all the information you require to help you plan your schedule when you arrive in the city, we tell you everything about what to do in Quito.
The province of Imbabura in Ecuador, located in the north of the country, in the inter-Andean geographic region, is one of the most desired destinations for tourists who arrive in the country. The province has many places worth visiting, and one of the most representatives is the city of Otavalo and its world-famous indigenous market.
Otavalo is an Andean valley that is characterized by being the home of the Kichwa nationality of the Otavalos, an indigenous population that has become famous for the dissemination of its ancient arts: weaving and music. And, precisely, they are the ones who have sponsored and maintained an iconic and colorful market over time, known as “La Plaza de Ponchos” or Mercado Centenario, considered the largest indigenous artisan market in South America. This place is where you can find all kinds of crafts, shawls, fabrics, jewelry, and even Panama hats, initially from Ecuador.
This market is located in the heart of Otavalo and is the largest craft fair in the country’s north. You can go every day, but its busiest and busiest days are usually on Saturdays.
Read our note about the Otavalo market: things you should know and what products you can buy; information that may be useful to you before visiting this site.
Additionally, you can review our note on what to do in Otavalo. This activities guide will allow you to get to know Otavalo and some of the most renowned tourist destinations in the province of Imbabura.
For its part, if you are wondering how to get to Otavalo from Quito, we tell you there are several ways to do it; however, the recommended way to reach this destination in Ecuador is through our Tour Otavalo. Enjoy this and other destinations in our company’s tourist province of Imbabura.
The Quilotoa Lagoon is one of the world’s most famous lagoons of volcanic origin, as it is considered a natural wonder of spectacular beauty for its blue-green waters. The Quilotoa volcano is home to this lagoon, the most magical tourist place in the Ecuadorian mountains, approximately three kilometers in diameter.
This iconic tourist destination in Ecuador is located southeast of Quito, inside the Los Ilinizas Ecological Reserve in the province of Cotopaxi, specifically in the Zumbahua parish in the Pujilí canton. In our blog, you can find out how to get to Quilotoa and everything about the things to do in Quilotoa.
The Quilotoa Lagoon is a perfect destination for those who love nature and like to hike in unique settings. When visiting it, you can appreciate the beauty of the natural complex from the viewpoints in the area and take walks around the lagoon or to its shores.
We invite you to discover this magical turquoise lagoon in the Quilotoa crater with us. Enjoy this destination in Ecuador and choose our Quilotoa Tour from Quito. We guarantee that it will be an unbeatable experience.
Just a couple of hours from the city of Quito, in the northwest of the province of Pichincha, through the current Mitad del Mundo-Calacalí-La Independencia road, it is possible to find an ideal destination in Ecuador for bird watching, butterflies, orchids and waterfalls, a site surrounded by beautiful landscapes and exuberant flora and fauna.
One of the most exciting things about Mindo is the cloud forest. The town of Mindo and its surroundings are located inside the Mindo Nambillo Protective Forest, recognized worldwide for being an ideal bird-watching site and a place with extraordinary biodiversity. In the Mindo area, you can meet species such as roosters of the rock, parrots, blackbirds, toucans, owls, wild ducks, and hummingbirds, among others.
In addition, Mindo is famous for being a destination where you can do adventure sports in its rivers, such as river rafting or rafting, known worldwide as rafting, or tubing in which buoys or tire tubes are used to float on the current of a river. There is also the possibility of carrying out other activities such as canopy, canyoning, hiking, tours of the butterfly gardens, and chocolate tours.
Discover this trendy destination among nature lovers in our company. We invite you to read about our Tour to Mindo from Quito.
Another of the best places to visit in Ecuador, and which is located just a couple of hours from the city of Quito, is the Cotopaxi National Park, a site that is home to the famous Cotopaxi volcano, an elevation of 5,897 meters (19347 feet), considered one of the highest active volcanoes in the world.
The volcano symbolizes the Ecuadorian national geography and is an ideal place to appreciate the scenic beauty of the Andes mountain range. In addition, it is the second-highest mountain in Ecuador and the northern Andes, only surpassed by the Chimborazo volcano.
The Cotopaxi National Park is a popular destination for tourists seeking mountaineering, as thousands of them seek to reach their desired summit. However, Cotopaxi National Park is also where you can go hiking or enjoy the impressive panoramas the park offers.
We tell you everything about this unmissable destination in Ecuador. Find out in our notes how to get to Cotopaxi and what to do in Cotopaxi, and know this unique destiny of Ecuador in our company. In our Cotopaxi Tour, you will visit the Cotopaxi National Park, the Limpiopungo Lagoon, and the Mariscal Sucre Interpretation Center. At the same time, you will take a walk to the José Rivas Refuge, located 4,864 meters (15958 feet) above sea level.
6. Baños de Agua Santa
Another of the places to visit in Ecuador that we want to tell you about is Baños de Agua Santa, one of the most complete tourist destinations in the country. Baños de Agua Santa is a small city between the central Andes and the Ecuadorian Amazon. It is located eight kilometers from the crater of the Tungurahua volcano, an active stratovolcano with a height of 5,020 meters (16469 feet) above sea level, considered one of the most active volcanoes in continental Ecuador.
This tourist destination is characterized by its thermal waters, rich in minerals, various waterfalls, sparkling nightlife, and the exuberant and majestic nature of its surroundings. It is the ideal place to practice extreme sports, hence its nickname as the capital of adventure in Ecuador. There, you can do canyoning, rafting, puenting, canopy, paragliding, hiking, and bridge jumping, among many other activities.
We suggest you read our note on how to get to Baños and what to do in Baños. In these, you will find all the information you need to enjoy the adventure capital of Ecuador fully. Likewise, we invite you to discover the main attractions in Baños de Agua Santa on comfortable and complete tours in which fun will be guaranteed. In our varied tours to Baños de Agua Santa, we offer you options of one or several days: Full Day Baños 1 day, Baños 2 days / 1 night, Baños 3 days / 2 nights.
Papallacta is a small town in the Quijos canton in the Napo province, located 67 kilometers east of the Ecuadorian capital. It has a cold Andean climate due to its altitude (3,300 m a.s.l.) and proximity to the snow-capped Antisana. It is the gateway to the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle, and it has become a famous destination in Ecuador due to the presence of hot springs with medicinal properties and the surrounding paramo landscapes.
That is, a short distance from Quito, it is possible to enjoy a total disconnection from life in the city because, in Papallacta, you can immerse and relax in hot springs, visit incredible spas, and be surrounded by a beautiful natural environment.
Papallacta is also a place where you can enjoy an interesting gastronomic proposal. You must eat fresh trout, chicken broth, broad beans, corn, and potato locro in the area.
Other attractions of Papallacta are the Antisana snow-capped mountain, the Papallacta lagoon, the cobbled path called “The Island”, and the sector’s lake system, made up of approximately 80 lagoons located in the Cayambe-Coca National Park.
Papallacta is another of the best places to visit in Ecuador, and we recommend you see it in our company. We take you to Papallacta on our Papallacta tour from Quito. Leave this trip in our hands, and you will relax like never before.
The Galapagos archipelago is one of the most important natural treasures in the world and is part of Ecuador. This ecological paradise, located 1000 kilometers from the country’s coast, is famous for its great variety of endemic species, which cannot be found anywhere else. Therefore, the Galapagos Islands are an ideal place to learn the secrets of evolution and appreciate nature in its pure state. It is a place you must visit in Ecuador and a destination that you must visit at least once in your life.
We offer you a series of notes about this unmissable destination in Ecuador. Know how to get to Galapagos and the best time to travel there. Also, find out about our selection of which ones we consider the 8 best islands to visit in the Galapagos and what things to do you can’t miss.
Get to know this unique natural destination of humanity in our company. In our Galapagos Tour – 6 days – 5 nights, you can visit the islands: Baltra, Santa Cruz, Isabela, Santa Fé or Pinzón. This tour offers an ideal adventure for travelers who like to know each place in depth.
Cuenca, officially Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca, capital of the province of Azuay, is a city located at 2,550 meters (8366 feet) above sea level in an inter-Andean valley in the Ecuadorian Sierra Austral. It presents a hydrographic system comprising four rivers: Tomebamba, Yanuncay, Machángara, and Tarqui.
The center of Cuenca and its historic areas were declared Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 1999. This historic center is an architectural complex with hundreds of heritage buildings, works of art, and archaeological remains, facts that make it a site. It is a mandatory visit if you are visiting the country.
The “historic center is unique; it is full of colonial elements such as the carved wooden and wrought iron balconies adorned with beautiful flowers, the stone cobblestones that make their way through its streets, and colonial architecture with European touches and native details, which make you fall in love. to all” (Ministerio de Turismo del Ecuador, Why is Cuenca a Cultural Heritage of Humanity?, 2019).
In this high-quality tourist destination, you must necessarily visit the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (New Cathedral), the Sagrario Church (Old Cathedral), the Abdón Calderón Park, the Plaza de las Flores, the famous 10 de Agosto market and the Municipal Craft Center.
If you visit Ecuador, you must visit the country’s most important pre-Columbian archaeological site, Ecuador’s best-preserved Inca architectural complex. This site is called the Ingapirca Archaeological Complex. It is located in the southern Andes of Ecuador, specifically in the province of Cañar, 42 km from Azogues, the capital of Cañar, or 90 km from the city of Cuenca, the capital of Azuay. Ingapirca is located 3,160 meters (10367 feet) above sea level within a unique natural landscape and is considered one of Ecuador’s best places to visit.
This archaeological complex was a concentration site for the Cañari culture, native to Ecuador, and the Inca culture. During the Inca conquest, it functioned as a religious, political, scientific, military, and administrative center. That is, the importance of Ingapirca lies in the fact that it is a symbol of Inca dominion before the Spanish conquest of America.
The Ingapirca Archaeological Complex has an extension of four hectares [and] is an obligatory step for all those who want to know the Qhapaq Ñan – Andean Road System, since this site, in addition to concentrating the Cañari culture (500 AD) was an important ceremonial area, which united various cultures through the Tahuantinsuyo and became, like Machu Picchu in Cuzco (Peru), symbols of the power of the Inca civilization” (National Institute of Cultural Heritage, Ingapirca Archaeological Complex, s/f).
We invite you to visit our company’s most important pre-Columbian archaeological site in Ecuador. In our Ingapirca tour from Cuenca, you can get to know the Ingapirca Archaeological Complex and other essential destinations in the province of Cañar.
Another of Ecuador’s best places to visit is the Ecuadorian Amazon or eastern Ecuador. This region includes the provinces of Sucumbíos, Orellana, Napo, Pastaza, Morona Santiago, and Zamora Chinchipe. The Amazon region is known for its exuberant vegetation, floristic and faunal diversity, and the cultural richness of the Amazonian peoples and nationalities. Furthermore, the Amazon region is very famous for its excellent gastronomy. This region of the country attracts thousands of tourists yearly who come to get closer to nature and the enormous biodiversity it houses and seek to learn about the indigenous people’s customs, traditions, rites, and rituals.
A site that we recommend visiting in the Ecuadorian Amazon is the Cuyabeno Fauna Production Reserve, located in the provinces of Orellana and Sucumbíos. It is “a protected area named after the Cuyabeno River, which in its middle course overflows, creating a complex of 14 lagoons and forming the largest wetland in the Ecuadorian Amazon” (Ministry of the Environment, National System of Protected Areas of Ecuador, Cuyabeno Fauna Production Reserve, 2015).
These “forests inundated are the territory of dolphins, manatees, caimans, anacondas and otters, and of the water guarango, the reserve’s most singular tree [..]. The reserve is also considered one of Ecuadorian Amazon’s most culturally diverse protected areas. There are indigenous communities of Siona, Secoya, Cofán, Kichwa, and Shuar” (Ministry of the Environment, National System of Protected Areas of Ecuador, Cuyabeno Fauna Production Reserve, 2015).
We invite you to explore this destination in the Ecuadorian jungle, where you will enjoy impressive landscapes, forests, lagoons, flora, and fauna. Learn everything about our Cuyabeno Multi-Day Tour.
These are the eleven best places to visit in Ecuador. However, the country has much more to offer regarding natural beauty, cultural experiences, and outdoor adventures. Having different geographical regions, the country has excellent landscapes, wealth, and rich culture and always has something to offer, whether you are interested in history, nature, adventure, or culture. We are sure you will find something that makes you fall in love with this small but incredible country.
Now that you know the best places to visit in Ecuador, we recommend you see them in our company. Our years of experience in tourism, especially in tourist transportation, guarantee our clients an unbeatable experience. Know everything our tours offer, and decide which region of the country you will head to next.