• ~ mins read

Whether you’re looking to climb an active volcano in Cotopaxi, follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin in the Galapagos, or explore the colonial architecture of Cuenca, there are so many fun places to visit in Ecuador. Most of the country is known for its natural beauty, abundant wildlife, and outdoorsy nature. So, let’s dive in and find out more about tours in Ecuador in these amazing destinations!

  • Goranka
5 - Excellent
“Traveling in Covid times is definitely difficult. But, this trip made all the problem...” Read More
View Incredible Tours in Ecuador

1. Quito

One of the top places to visit in Ecuador is the Mitad del Mundo monument.
Mitad del Mundo is a monument that stands on the Ecuador, a line that divides the northern and southern hemispheres.

As the capital of Ecuador, there are so many places to visit in Quito. Whether you want to indulge in the markets and shops of New Town or visit the Middle of the World monument on the Equator, there’s a lot to love about this city.


  • For the best view of the city, ride the TelefériQo Cable Car, which offers unbeatable panoramic views.
  • If you love churches and architecture, carve out time to visit Basílica del Voto Nacional, which is the largest neo-Gothic basilica in both South and North America!

Good to know: According to modern GPS systems, the Middle of the World Monument is in the wrong place; it is actually 240 meters away from the original monument!

2. Cuenca

The Cathedral of Cuenca is one of the top places to visit in Ecuador.
A tour of Cuenca is incomplete without visiting the Gothic cathedral in the city.

Honestly, Cuenca is in my top three places to visit in Ecuador purely based on its architecture and culture. With predominantly colonial architecture and a culture that stretches long past the Spanish, including being home to a thriving indigenous community, you can learn a lot in Cuenca. Check out our art and architecture tours in Ecuador.


  • Find world-class churches at both the Catedral Nueva and the Catedral Vieja that hark back to the 16th century, each with impressive stained-glass windows and stunning architecture.
  • Learn about local culture thanks to the Pumapungo Museum, which specializes in indigenous culture, Incan artifacts, and beautiful local artwork. One of the best things? This museum is completely free to explore!

Good to know: Cuenca is UNESCO-recognized for its architecture, so make the most of it with a guided walking tour of the best architectural hotspots.

3. Cotopaxi

A view of Limpiopungo lagoon with Cotopaxi in the background.
The Cotopaxi hike is suitable for beginners as it requires no mountaineering experience.

Cotopaxi doesn’t just refer to the second-largest mountain volcano in Ecuador; it also refers to the surrounding area that’s full of amazing hikes, natural hotspots, and adventure! The most famous place to tour is Cotopaxi peak itself, which involves a grueling and technical two-day hike to the volcanic crater and back down again.


  • If you’re looking for less technical hikes or day trips, you can visit the stunning Laguna De Limpiopungo.
  • Take a few days to embark on the Quilotoa Loop; both it and the above are hugely popular places to visit in the Cotopaxi region.

Good to know: In order to climb Cotopaxi, you have to have an experienced guide as well as crampons and ice climbing tools, and know how to use them!

4. Galapagos Islands

Marine iguana with blue footed booby on Galapagos.
You can discover the unique flora and fauna of the Galapagos during an island-hopping tour.

We can’t talk about the top places to visit in Ecuador without mentioning a trip to the Galapagos Islands. This wildlife paradise island chain is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean but is still very much a part of Ecuador. Made famous by Charles Darwin’s expeditions, the islands are known for the Galapagos tortoise, penguins, whales, marine iguanas, and so much more.


  • Enjoy the volcanic wonder and sandy beaches of Isabela Island.
  • Check out the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island.
  • Hop on a boat trip around the different islands; the choice is yours!

Good to know: You cannot bring any fresh food or plant life with you to the Galapagos. Only bringing processed food is allowed if you’re taking snacks from the mainland. The Galapagos is a carefully maintained ecosystem and enforces this strongly!

5. Banos

A couple of tourists ziplining in Banos on a sunny day.
Banos is known as the adventure capital of Ecuador because of fun activities like ziplining, hiking, rafting, kayaking, and much more.

Banos is the adventure capital of Ecuador and a must-visit for anyone who considers themselves to be outdoorsy or a daredevil. Whether you love high-octane adventure activities or just spending time in the great outdoors, there are plenty of places to visit in Banos.


  • Visiting the Swing at the End of the World to get your adrenaline going is one of the top adventure tours in Ecuador.
  • Try your hand at canyoning down waterfalls, whitewater rafting down the Rio Pastaza, or canopy ziplining in any of the adventure parks.
  • Check out any day hikes around the area; Banos is located in the foothills of the Andes, and there are plenty of trails.

Good to know: As Banos is an outdoorsy city, make sure you pack plenty of waterproof coats, boots, and warmer items. Even in the dry season, with the amount of watersports in the area, you need to be prepared!

6. Guayaquil

A stone paved street with colorful buildings in Guayaquil.
On top of being a culture hub, Guayaquil also serves as the gateway to the Galapagos Islands.

Most people visit Guayaquil as a jumping-off point for the Galapagos Islands, but this port city is much more than just a gateway destination. If you’re looking for a chilled-out couple of days in a city that has tons of amenities, then there are plenty of places to visit in Guayaquil.


  • Wander the waterfront promenade called Malecon 2000, which’s full of great shops and bars.
  • Try your hand at surfing at one of the local surf schools.
  • Check out great parks like Parque Seminario for a relaxing day out!
  • Carve out time to visit the colorful Las Penas neighborhood in the north of Guayaquil, known for its bright facades, painted stairways, and bustling local vibes! it's also home to the 444 steps to Cerro Santa Ana.

Good to know: There are some great things to do in Guayaquil, but just enough for a few days' visit; we don’t recommend longer itineraries.

7. Tena

A view of Rio Napo and the tropical rainforest in Ecuadorian Amazon.
A boat tour in Rio Napo can be very rewarding as it is located in one of the most biodiverse places in the world.

Tena is the main starting point for boat trips and tours to Ecuadorian Amazon which have you explore the rainforest or jungle regions. The main hub of Tena’s tourism is located along Malecon Escenico de Tena or the waterfront promenade area. Make sure you visit when it’s all lit up at night.


  • The main places to visit in Tena are the rivers heading into the Amazon, like Rio Jatunyacu or Rio Napo. Try a kayaking, rafting, or other jungle tour to experience the region's wildlife.
  • Visit the Amazoonico Animal Rescue Centre to see how conservation is working in the area.

Good to know: Even in the peak season of June to September, heavy rains can show up so pack accordingly. Also, remember that more wildlife comes out in the cooler and wetter weather!

8. Salinas

The dock overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Salinas.
The coastal city of Salinas is amazing for a beach holiday in Ecuador.

If you’re looking for calming beach tours in Ecuador that also feature beautiful nature reserves, you need to head to Salinas. Located on a peninsula in the Santa Elena province, you can find top-tier beaches, including some of the best surf breaks in Ecuador.


  • La Loberia is a nature reserve that used to be a naval base and now helps improve wildlife numbers in the area.
  • For chilled-out vibes, sit back and relax on the soft sands of Playa del Mar Bravo.

Good to know: Salinas is fast becoming an expat hub thanks to the great weather, beaches, and whale-watching opportunities; visit soon as it is set to become more popular and expensive in coming years.

If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Ecuador, include these 8 destinations on your itinerary. Experience the snowy peaks of Cotopaxi, surf up a storm in Salinas, and enjoy the culture and the hustle and bustle of Quito. With so many top places to visit in Ecuador, the hardest part is narrowing them down into just one vacation! Check out our guide on the things to do in Ecuador to help you plan your trip.

Published by Tim Green, updated on January 12, 2024
Plan a trip to EcuadorWe offer different tour types. You can also chat with a local travel specialist if you want a customized tour to Ecuador.
  • Marion Passier
    Marion PassierTravel Expert in Ecuador
  • Elisabeth Gschösser
    Elisabeth GschösserTravel Expert in Ecuador
  • Alejandro Jacome
    Alejandro JacomeTravel Expert in Ecuador & Colombia
Our travel experts are recommended by:
  • BBC
  • Independent
  • Lonely Planet
0 COMMENTSWe welcome your questions or comments to this article. Our travel experts will respond within 48 hours.