Ecuador – itinerary suggestions

We have spent 6 weeks in Ecuador and loved every minute of it.

Not everyone has as much time as we did and therefore I have written this Ecuador Itinerary to help you decide where to spend your time to see the most of the country.
Luckily, Ecuador is one of the smaller countries in South America and truly has it all: the culture, the history, food, jungle, mountains, beaches and Galapagos.

Here it is:

Ecuador itinerary doors

Doors of colonial Quito

Quito 1 -3 days

Start with Free walking tour in the old town. We love doing it at the very beginning of the visit in every place that offers them as it gives us great ideas about cheap places where local go to eat and shop, teaches us about the history of the place and so much more. Capital of Ecuador is an Unesco site with its colonial old town, so simply walking around, tasting the street food and taking it easy is the best way to start your journey. Check out the video we have made to get a taste of the city.

1 day trip suggestions:

#Teleferico
#Mitad del Mundo

 

 

Otavalo 1-2 days

(can be skipped if short on time)

Only 100km, North of Quito is Otavalo famous for its Saturday markets. This is where you stock up on all the cool souvenirs, paintings, tapestries or buy a llama on the animal market. It is surrounded by volcanoes and the nature is just stunning.

1 day trip suggestions:

#Laguna Cuicocha - crater lake with 2 island inside. Beautiful 3-4 hour hike.
#Hacienda Pinsaqui - if Simon Bolivar used to sleep here, should be good enough for you too 😉 We didn’t budget for sleeping in haciendas on this trip, but coffee, cake and walk in the garden gave us the idea.

Mindo 2 days 

(can be skipped if short on time)

2 hours bus ride north-west of Quito is this magical cloudy forrest place full of waterfalls, butterflies, chocolate, zip lining, hippies and we’ve made a video to give you an idea of all the nature you get to see when you decide to get there.

 

Quilotoa loop 3-4 days

You like hiking? You will loooooove this trek. Challenging enough, rewarding even more. If this video doesn’t convince you to go then you don’t like nature or maybe you don’t have time. But I urge you to go and experience it.

I wrote up a whole post on the itinerary, budgeting and you can read up on all the info here.

Banos 2-3 days

Adventure capital of Ecuador, we stayed 5 days coz we enjoyed it so much. After the Quilotoa hike, there is nothing more rewarding then relaxing in one of the many thermal spas in and around Banos. Every day there is something different to do. Want to relax and take it easy? Get a massage in one of the many parlours, try different thermales every day or go on one of the many hikes surrounding the town.

Are you after some adrenaline? Take a swing at the most famous swing at Casa de Arbol, cycle downhill and visit 7 or so waterfalls on the famous Ruta de las Cascadas, go rafting or canyoning. Banos has it all + some gringos who like to party.

Cuenca 2-4 days

This is our love at first sight. Unesco colonial city with cobblestones streets, full of the best food we’ve eaten in Ecuador. We have tried the free walking tour here but unfortunately were really disappointed as the guide didn’t have the voice nor could speak English. We spoiled ourselves and ate Mexican, Spanish and Indian cuisines.

1 day trip suggestions:

#Ingapirca - largest Inca and Quechua ruins in Ecuador. Check out this short video we’ve made from the archeological site.
#Cajas National Park - less then 1 hour by bus from Cuenca, get your fix of nature.

Ecuador itinerary galapagos

Blue footed booby showing off its beauty

Montañita 2-4 days

(can be skipped if short on time)

Need some beach, surfing and party time? Then Montañita is your place. If you can come on weekend you won’t believe what is happening on the main streets of this little otherwise sleepy beach town. If you don’t feel like partying, stay in place like Kundalini hotel where you can truly relax and get away from the business of the town. We went in the low season and were able to negotiate a good price on the accommodation.

 

Galapagos 5-8 days (a must)

Paradise on Earth where animals have evolved without fear of humans. No other place like that exists on planet Earth. It’s pricey but we wrote a guide on how to score the best deal on your cruise and why we loved it so much.

 

 

 

 

This itinerary suggestion can be amended as needed.
The short version comes at 14 days exactly: Quito 1, Quilotoa 3, Banos 2, Cuenca 2, Galapagy 5 + 1 day buffer
The long version is entirely up to you.

Travel times to consider:

  • Within Quito it takes 1 hour to get to the right terminal from city or from one terminal to another.
  • Quito to Otavalo: 2 hours
  • Quito to Mindo: 2 hours
  • Otavalo to Latacunga: 5 hours (including 1 hour transition between terminals in Quito)
  • Latacunga to Banos: 2 hours
  • Banos to Cuenca: 6 hours
  • Cuenca to Guayaquil: 4 hours
  • Guayaquil to Montañita: 3.5 hours
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