Though the fourth-smallest country in South America, Ecuador offers a diverse range of experiences, from surfing on stunning beaches to trekking through the Amazon jungle, hence it is a must-destination to visit. With natural wonders like the Galapagos, the Andes, and the Amazon Basin, wildlife watching and bucket-list adventures are plentiful. Ecuador’s cities and villages provide opportunities to enjoy live music, local cuisine, vibrant markets, historic architecture, and unique festivals. This enchanting country presents limitless possibilities for creating unforgettable memories.
Check out the list of 7 things to see in Ecuador for an enriching experience.
Encountering the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands is a dream come true for nature enthusiasts. This archipelago, renowned for its unparalleled biodiversity and unique wildlife, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can have unique interactions with animals, like body-surfing with sea lion pups, sunbathing with marine iguanas, and snorkeling with penguins, all on the equator.
Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station in Puerto Ayora, where baby tortoises await release into the wild. Each island and season offers distinct wildlife encounters, showcasing the archipelago’s influence on our understanding of evolution.
Exploring the Galapagos can be done via yacht, ferries, or small boat cruises, with stops at multiple islands daily, or through land-based day trips. For those with limited time, the Machalilla National Park offers similar experiences with blue-footed boobies, sea lions, and humpback whales along its beachside.
Quito, the capital of Ecuador, sits high in the Andes and boasts well-preserved colonial architecture, earning its status as the largest historic center in South America. As a UNESCO World Heritage site, the city proudly showcases numerous old churches, charming public squares, and world-class museums.
Among the notable attractions is the iconic San Francisco Church on Plaza San Francisco, featuring white-washed twin towers and an impressive Baroque interior. Other must-visit churches include La Compania de Jesus Church, acknowledged among UNESCO’s top 100 important buildings, and Basílica del Voto Nacional, dating back to the 1560s.
One of the top activities in Quito is exploring Plaza Grande, surrounded by significant landmarks like the cathedral, the Presidential Palace, and the Archbishop’s Palace. The city must top your list of things to see in Ecuador.
A must-have experience for everyone’s bucket list is a visit to the breathtaking La Nariz del Diablo (“The Devil’s Nose”). Located near the town of Alausí in the Andes mountains, this spectacular part of Ecuador is best explored aboard one of the country’s impeccably restored railways, whether you’re a train enthusiast or not.
The 12-kilometer round trip to Nariz del Diablo is a highlight of Ecuador’s railway network, offering incredible sightseeing opportunities. The train zigzags through switchbacks, ascending the near-vertical sides of the mountain to reach the viewing station at the top.
Amidst this unforgettable journey, you’ll have the chance to immerse yourself in the rich culture of the Andes. Don’t miss a visit to the Puñuna Condor Museum, showcasing exhibits and displays related to the area’s Indigenous people.
For a thrilling adventure, visit Cotopaxi National Park, home to the magnificent Cotopaxi Volcano, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. Hike through the park’s diverse ecosystems, including paramo grasslands and Andean forests, and marvel at the snow-capped peak of Cotopaxi. Outdoor enthusiasts can attempt to summit the volcano or explore the park’s hiking trails, mountain bike routes, and horseback riding paths. The park also offers opportunities for wildlife spotting, with chances to spot Andean condors, deer, and wild horses. This is one of the most beautiful things to see in Ecuador.
Nestled in a charming valley surrounded by mountains, you’ll find the picturesque town of Otavalo. Its major attraction is the impressive market, one of South America’s largest, drawing locals and tourists alike to purchase vibrant, locally crafted rugs, blankets, sweaters, bags, and other woolen products made by the Indigenous Otavalenos people.
Discover unique Tagua nut jewelry, leather goods, Indigenous costumes, and an array of intriguing food items. Notably, the locally produced spices add to the market’s allure.
If you visit in June, don’t miss the renowned Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun) music festival, featuring numerous local musicians showcasing their distinctive instruments and sounds.
The Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador is a captivating destination that offers a unique opportunity to explore one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth. Join a guided tour and venture into the heart of the dense jungle, where you’ll encounter an incredible array of wildlife, including vibrant bird species, playful monkeys, serene sloths, and even the elusive jaguar.
Beyond the natural wonders, the Amazon Rainforest provides a chance to learn about the rich cultures of indigenous communities. Discover their sustainable practices and traditional healing methods, gaining insight into their harmonious relationship with the environment.
To fully immerse in the rainforest experience, stay at an eco-lodge and be surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature. Engage in thrilling activities like canoeing along meandering rivers, trekking nature trails to uncover hidden gems, and embark on nocturnal jungle excursions to witness the mysterious creatures that come alive after dark.
Embarking on a journey along Ecuador’s Avenue of the Volcanoes is a captivating experience that takes you through the heart of the Andes Mountains. This scenic route winds its way between two parallel mountain ranges and offers awe-inspiring views of towering volcanoes, such as Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, and Tungurahua, standing majestically against the horizon.
As you travel along this picturesque road, you’ll be treated to breathtaking landscapes, with lush valleys and verdant slopes stretching as far as the eye can see. Along the way, you’ll encounter charming indigenous villages, where you can immerse yourself in the rich culture and traditions of the Andean communities.
For hiking enthusiasts, the Quilotoa Loop presents an exhilarating opportunity to venture off the beaten path. This multi-day trek takes you through remote and pristine landscapes, leading to the awe-inspiring Quilotoa crater lake. The turquoise waters of the crater lake are a sight to behold, offering a rewarding end to your trekking adventure.
Ecuador captivates visitors with its diverse array of Indigenous cultures, colonial architecture, scenic landscapes, and lush rainforests. Located on the west coast of South America, bordered by Colombia, Peru, and the Pacific Ocean, this beautiful country with nearly 18 million people attracts tourists from worldwide for its abundant attractions and unique charm. So whenever you decide to join this group of millions and plan to travel to Ecuador, reach out to our experts and they’ll be happy to help.
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