These Are the Most Popular Tourist Attractions in Ecuador

Though many tourists travel in search of the road less traveled to “discover”, as if for the first time, a place they can’t find near home, there’s a definite advantage to heading for more popular destinations. 

For one, it’s more convenient. It’ll be relatively easy to get there and, once you do, competing hostels, restaurants and tour agencies will have reduced prices so that it’ll fit into your, potentially tight, budget. Since it’s a well known destination, you might meet some cool folks and find more things to do in Ecuador.Here are a few of the most popular destinations in Ecuador that are definitely worth your while and easy to visit. 

Places in Ecuador you should not miss

The Amazon rainforest: Much sooner than we like to imagine, we may not have an Amazon rainforest to visit. As the “Lungs of the Earth”, this incredible place is crucial to our survival, yet is being destroyed at unprecedented rates. 

While much of our day to day behavior could play a role in mitigating its destruction (conscious consumption and becoming vegetarian), visiting the Amazon as tourists can also encourage national governments to protect these areas, increase awareness and appreciation for this delicate ecosystem. In Ecuador, the Amazon is under threat due to oil and gas extraction, as well as deforestation, but the government also heavily on tourism to the region.

If you’re interested in visiting the Amazon while you’re in Ecuador, check out tours to Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve or Yasuní National Park.

The Galapagos Islands: Another must-see, the Galapagos are an icon of evolution and nature conservation, worldwide. Here, you’ll experience nature in a completely unique way, both on land and at sea.

Though the Islands are, by far, likely the most popular destination for tourists visiting Ecuador and may be popular with travelers during certain times of the year, it’s well worth it. Like the Amazon, this special place is experiencing the effects of global warming and much of its flora and fauna are at increasingly greater risk. Unlike the Amazon, the Ecuadorian government invests heavily in the protection of its Pacific archipelago.

The Ecuadorian cloud forest: Most people don’t realize it, but Ecuador has two sets of cloud forest and tropical lowland forests on each side of the Andes. Only a two-hour drive from Quito heading toward the coast, you can visit Mindo, a beautiful town nestled between lush hills and teeming with hummingbirds and butterflies.

A few hours south of Quito, you’ll find Baños, an adventure destination at the foot of the active Tungurahua volcano. Baños attracts travelers that enjoy outdoor activities like cycling, river rafting and kayaking. It’s also a great jumping off point if you’d like to explore the Amazon or continue south to Cuenca.

Andean mountains and culture: Upon arrival in Quito, you’ll likely spot one or two snow-capped mountains poking through the clouds. Most of these are impressive volcanoes, some dormant and many still active. 

If you enjoy trekking and cooler weather, plan on spending at least a couple days exploring some of the Ecuadorian Andes magnificent panoramas. Active volcanoes like Cotopaxi and Tungurahua are regularly climbed by tourists, and the Quilotoa Loops is a beautiful multi-day trek that takes you from Quilotoa Lake through picturesque Andean towns and landscapes.

Finally, before you head home, consider visiting the town of Otavalo on a Saturday, where you’ll find some of the country’s highest quality handicrafts at affordable prices.

Travel around Ecuador by bus, the best way to visit the country

Most of Ecuador’s top destinations can be reached by bus, except of course, the Galapagos Islands. In fact, traveling by bus through this country is arguably the best mode of transport. Most Ecuadorians rely heavily on buses within and between cities and since it’s used so frequently, it’s also very cheap, averaging at $1-2 per transit hour.

Every major city has a bus terminal with routes running to even the most remote corners of Ecuador. The only downside is that these bus terminals are often on the outskirts of town and buses leave either late at night or at dawn. When you visit a bus terminal, always be aware of your possessions!

If you prefer a safer, more convenient alternative to regular bus travel, the Wanderbus is a hop on, hop off service that spans the entire country. It’s an especially good option if you’re travelling across longer stretches, such as Guayaquil to Ecuador or up the country’s coast.

Based on this information, where would you want to travel on your Ecuador tour? This small, but diverse, country offers destinations and activities for all traveller types and budgets. You simply can’t be disappointed!

Victoria Brewood
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Hi I'm Victoria, a British girl from Manchester. After graduating from university I decided there was more to life than the hours between 9 and 5, so I packed my journalism degree into my suitcase to travel the world and find a way to make money at the same time. I now call London home, although I still travel whenever I can. I hope to inspire you to be your own boss, live life and see the world.

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