For a relatively small country, there are endless things to do in Ecuador. Whether you’re looking to get outside or learn a little more about the culture, there’s a perfect spot for you here.
Below, we’ve listed the top things to do in Ecuador. Keep reading to find out more about this top destination country.
Top 10 Things to do In Ecuador
Everybody vacations differently. That’s why we’ve broken down this top 10 list into outdoor activities, cultural activities, and can’t miss opportunities.
No matter how you travel, these places to visit in Ecuador will satisfy all your wanderlust.
When strapping on a backpack and your best pair of hiking shoes sounds like your idea of a great getaway, these outdoor activities are must do’s in Ecuador.
1. Galapagos Islands
If you’re traveling to Ecuador, you can’t miss the Galapagos National Park. At this World Heritage Site, you can take guided tours with an authorized guide who tells you everything you need to know about the park. But you can also camp in some designated areas and show yourself around.
Visiting the Galapagos National Park means following the strict rules and guidelines. You’re expected to contribute to preserving this unique landscape and ecosystem full of rare and iconic wildlife.
Beyond hiking the paths of the park, you can also visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. This non-profit is a hub for 100+ volunteers and researchers. Get some insight into the research they’re doing around conservation, sustainability, and invasive species.
2. Yasuni National Park
Trekkers, backpackers, and ecotourists shouldn’t miss Yasuni National Park on their visit to Ecuador. Located within the Amazon rainforest, this 982,000-hectare park is the largest protected area in Ecuador’s mainland.
The park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with a rich and diverse population of both flora and fauna. Three large rivers run through the park, creating important ecosystems.
There’s over 500 species of birds and 173 species of mammals within the park. That makes for some great wildlife sightseeing. But the Park also boasts the largest diversity of tree species in the world.
Located in a volcanic crater at the bottom of Cotacachi Volcano, this giant lake is 3 km wide. Hire a boat to experience the lake itself or take a challenging hike up to the rim of the 10,000-foot volcano.
On the way back from the lake, you can visit the Quitsato Monument. It’s a massive sundial located on the equator. It’s free to visit and you watch the volcano from afar.
4. Banos de Agua Santa Hot Springs
Whether you want to adventure or relax, the region around Banos de Agua will have what you’re looking for. From here, you can hike volcanoes, whitewater raft, and climb waterfalls.
Or, you can just go for a soak the natural hot springs and thermal pools. These mineral-rich pools, located in Piscina El Salado and La Piscina de La Virgen, are great after a day of adventure or as a whole-day activity.
If your idea of a good time is learning more about the place you’re visiting, then these museums and cultural activities are right up your alley.
5. Carondelet Palace
A 300-year-old marvel of architecture is located in the Plaza de Independencia, downtown Quito. This plaza is known for cobblestone streets and other Spanish influences.
The palace itself serves as the center of government activity for the country as well as the home of the President. Be sure to check out the mural by local artist Oswaldo Guaysamin inside the palace depicting the Amazon River.
6. Museum of Aboriginal Culture
Ecuador is home to over 1 million indigenous inhabitants. Of the 14 indigenous nationalities, 11 are represented in this museum. You’ll find over 5,000 artifacts including paintings, carvings, and sculptures.
The museum honors and celebrates Ecuador’s indigenous populations. Full of history and tradition, this museum can be explored solo or with a guide speaking either Spanish or English.
7. Explore Otavalo Market
If you haven’t experienced a market in Latin America, this market is the one to check out. Tucked into the Andes, this traditional market is located in a friendly town. Visit on a Sunday when people from villages nearby come to trade everything from fruits and veggies to farm animals.
These family-friendly experiences are the must-do tourist attractions when traveling to Ecuador.
8. Mitad del Mundo
You can’t visit the country named after the equator and not visit the equator. In the Ciudad Mitad del Mundo, you’ll find the monument marking the middle of the world.
Stand on the yellow line that’s actually 250 meters away from where the actual equator lies. This is your opportunity to stand in the North and South hemisphere at the same time.
There are also 2 museums to visit while you’re here. The Solar Museum as well as the Etnografico, which tells a story of the indigenous people of Ecuador.
9. Guayllabamba Zoo
Ecuador only makes up 0.2% of the land in the world. Yet it holds 5% of its reptile species, 8% of mammal species, 8% of amphibian species, and 16% of the bird species.
You can see a great deal of that diversity at the Guayllabamba Zoo. With a big focus on conservation and education, the zoo houses bears, monkeys, sloths, and jaguars. But it also has iconic wildlife, such as the Galapagos tortoise and the Andean condor.
These ruins are left behind from the community built between the Incas and Canari people. The site of two temples, this archaeological site provides insight into the Incan culture and daily life. The site continues to reveal new insight on a consistent basis.
More Travel Guides
With a rich history of indigenous cultures as well as some of the world’s most visible biodiversity, the things to do in Ecuador offer something for every kind of traveler.
Hikers can enjoy the outdoors in the Galapagos Islands or in the Andes. Archeological enthusiasts can get outdoors to explore the Ingapirca or head inside to museums housing thousands of artifacts. But everyone has to visit the center of the world to straddle the Northern and Southern hemispheres.