8 top places to visit in Ecuador

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Ecuador is a country that has it all. Despite its limited land expanse in relation to other countries in the region, Ecuador has 4 natural regions: Coast, Highlands, Amazon and the Island Region (the Galapagos Islands), which makes it a country where you can discover different treasures within short distances of each other. With the wish that you explore our country, we would like to tell you about the best places to visit in Ecuador.

Cover Photo: Cotopaxi Volcano
Cover by: Jaime Nolivos, Pixabay

Places to visit in Ecuador

We would like to share 8 of the top places to visit in Ecuador.

1.   The Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands, known worldwide as the “enchanted islands”, are a destination you should see at least once in your life. Home to many unique species in the world, the Galapagos Islands are home to an enormous biodiversity, which makes them an iconic site on the planet. In 1978, “UNESCO declared them a World Heritage Site, and in 1985 a Biosphere Reserve” (Galapagos Ecological Airport, 2020).

You can reach this paradisiacal place from the city of Quito or Guayaquil, and you can fly to any of the airports located on the islands of San Cristobal or Baltra.

A Galapagos tortoise
Photo: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

2.   The Ecuadorian Amazon

Another of Ecuador’s tourist destinations worth visiting is the Ecuadorian Amazon or the Ecuadorian East. This region includes the provinces of Sucumbios, Orellana, Napo, Pastaza, Morona Santiago and Zamora Chinchipe. The Amazon region is known for its exuberant vegetation, its diversity of flora and fauna, and for the cultural richness of the Amazonian people and nationalities that live there. In addition, the Amazon region is very famous for its excellent gastronomy. This is a region of the country that attracts thousands of tourists every year, who come with the intention of getting closer to nature and to the vast biodiversity it that it holds, and who seek to learn about the customs, traditions, rites and rituals of the indigenous people.

3.   Mitad del Mundo

Ecuador takes its name from the famous Equatorial Line, an imaginary line that divides the planet into the northern and southern hemispheres. The place where you can learn more about the particular phenomena that occurs in this part of the world is precisely in the Mitad del Mundo City, a tourist complex that houses the famous equatorial monument.

A fun, comfortable and safe way to arrive at this destination located north of the city of Quito, is through the Mitad del Mundo Tour. On this tour, you will visit the famous monument on the equatorial line within the Mitad del Mundo City Tourist Complex, with access to all its attractions, and the Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve where you can visit the viewpoint of the inhabited crater of an active volcano. In addition, you will have the opportunity to taste an ancestral drink derived from penco in the Agave Museum (Agave Spirit Ecuador).

Learn how to get to the Mitad del Mundo and discover what to do in Mitad del Mundo.

Ecuatorial Monument in the town of Mitad del Mundo
Photo by: William Méndez, Pixabay

4.   Cotopaxi

Another site that you must pay a visit to in Ecuador is the famous Cotopaxi National Park, which is located in the well-known ” Volcano Avenue”. The Cotopaxi volcano rises to 5,897 meters (19,347 feet), making it the second highest point in the country, and one of the highest active volcanoes in the world.

Visit Cotopaxi National Park, the perfect place to appreciate the beauty of the Andean landscape, in company of Quito Tour Bus. The Cotopaxi Tour is a one-day tour in which you will visit the Cotopaxi National Park, the Limpiopungo Lagoon and the Mariscal Sucre Interpretation Center, while you hike to the José Rivas Refuge, located at an altitude of 4,864 meters (15,958 feet).

Find out how to get to Cotopaxi and what to do in Cotopaxi.

Cotopaxi Volcano
Photo by: Tomás León, Pixabay

5.   Quilotoa

Quilotoa Lagoon is a perfect destination for those who love nature and like to hike in unique landscapes. The lagoon is located in the Ecuadorian Andes, more precisely, in the province of Cotopaxi; in this place you can appreciate the beauty of your natural environment from the viewpoints in the area, and walk around the lagoon or to its shores.

We recommend the Quilotoa Tour to reach this natural destination in Ecuador. This is a day tour in which you will visit the viewpoints of Shalalá and Quilotoa, walk to the lagoon, visit an artisan workshop in the community of Tigua and get to know the Toachi River canyon. Learn more about what to do in Quilotoa and discover how to get to Quilotoa by following our links.

Quilotoa Lagoon
Photo by: Sergio Gancino, Flickr

6.   Otavalo

The province of Imbabura in Ecuador, located in the mountains of the country, is one of the most popular destinations for tourists arriving in to Ecuador. Imbabura has many places worth visiting, and one of the most significant is the Otavalo market, known as “La Plaza de Ponchos” and is widely regarded as the largest indigenous craft market in South America. This market is located in the heart of Otavalo and is the largest handicraft fair in the north of the country. It can be visited every day but its busiest and most popular days are usually Saturdays. Read our article about the Otavalo market: things you should know and what products you can buy. Also, you can read our note about what to do in Otavalo.

Many people wonder how to get to Otavalo from Quito. There are several ways to do it, however, the recommended way to get to this destination in Ecuador is by taking the Otavalo Tour. On this one-day tour, you will visit: the Quitsato sundial, the San Pablo Lake lookout, the Otavalo Indian market, the Peguche waterfall and the Cuicocha lake.

Plaza de Ponchos
Photo by: Quito Tour Bus

7.   Baños de Agua Santa

Another one of the best places to visit in Ecuador is the city of Baños de Agua Santa, in the province of Tungurahua, in the Ecuadorian highlands. Baños de Agua Santa has a great natural wealth (waterfalls, thermal waters, etc.), a privileged climate and is known as the adventure capital of Ecuador, since it is an ideal destination for sports such as rafting, canyoning, bungee jumping, hiking, mountain biking, among others. Baños offers many activities for those who travel there, which is why we recommend reading about what to do in Baños

If you are wondering how to get to Baños, we recommend you take our Baños Tour. Find out more about the different tours we offer: 3 days 2 nights Cotopaxi and Baños, 3 days 2 nights Baños and 2 days 1 night Baños.

The city of Baños
Photo by: Eddyl, Creative Commons

8.   Quito

Quito, Ecuador’s capital, is a city in the Andes that is worth visiting if you are passing through Ecuador. Its Historical Center, one of the largest and best preserved in Latin America, is a place known for the beauty of its squares, churches and monasteries. The city also offers many places where you can enjoy a wide range of cultural activities, unbeatable cuisine and a vibrant nightlife.

We recommend that you visit the largest Historical Center in South America, a place that has a huge cultural and architectural wealth, on board the only double-decker tourist bus in the city. Quito City Tour, by Quito Tour Bus, takes you to the main attractions of the city from the United Nations Avenue, to the financial center in the north of the city, crossing the Historical Center to the El Panecillo viewpoint. Thanks to the Hop On – Hop Off system, you can get on and off the bus at our regular one-hour stops.

If you want to find out more about what to do in Quito and how to get from the Quito airport to the city centre, we recommend reading about this in our links.

Voto Nacional Basilica
Photo by: NRW/Germany, Pixabay

Quito Tour Bus offers you the opportunity to get to know and enjoy several of the best places to visit in Ecuador. In a comfortable, safe and fun environment you will be able to access these sites and will always be accompanied by our bilingual guides (Spanish – English).

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