Must-see attractions in Ecuador

  • León Dormido

    Isla San Cristóbal (Chatham)

    About an hour’s boat ride northeast of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is León Dormido (Kicker Rock), so named because of its resemblance to a sleeping lion. León…

  • El Chato Tortoise Reserve

    Isla Santa Cruz (Indefatigable)

    South of Santa Rosa is El Chato Tortoise Reserve, where you can observe giant tortoises in the wild. When these virtually catatonic, prehistoric-looking…


    Puerto Ayora

    The first of its kind in the world, this museum uses augmented reality to showcase a permanent exhibition of 55 pre-Columbian artifacts. The ancient…

  • Volcán Alcedo

    The Galápagos Islands

    The summit of this volcano (1097m) is famous for its 7km-wide caldera and steaming fumaroles. Hundreds of giant tortoises can be seen here, especially…

  • Central nave and altar inside La Compania de Jesus (Church of the Society of Jesus).

    Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús


    Capped by green-and-gold domes, La Compañía de Jesús is Quito’s most ornate church and a standout among the baroque splendors of the Old Town. Free guided…

  • TelefériQo


    For spectacular views over Quito’s mountainous landscape, hop aboard this sky tram, one of the world's highest aerial lifts, that takes passengers on a 2…

  • Casa Museo Guayasamín


    In the former home of the legendary painter Oswaldo Guayasamín (1919–99), this wonderful museum houses the most complete collection of the artist's work…

  • Capilla del Hombre


    One of the most important works of art in South America, Ecuadorian artist Oswaldo Guayasamín’s Capilla del Hombre stands next to the Casa Museo…

  • Green sculptures, carved in cypress bushes, adorn the corridors of the Tulcán Cemetery.

    Cementerio de Tulcán

    Northern Highlands

    Who would have thought the coolest thing you may see in Ecuador would be a cemetery? A maze of cypress trees – sculpted into bulbous, pre-Columbian totems…

  • Medieval style castle known as the gateway to the city of Loja, Ecuador.

    Puerta de la Ciudad


    With perhaps more pomp and circumstance than you'll encounter anywhere else in Loja, the City Gate greets you into downtown from the northern corner. It's…

  • Reserva de Producción de Fauna Chimborazo

    Central Highlands

    Volcán Chimborazo and Volcán Carihuairazo are both within the Reserva de Producción de Fauna Chimborazo. It is called a ‘fauna-production reserve’ because…

  • Laguna Quilotoa

    The Quilotoa Loop

    About 14km north of Zumbahua, the famous volcanic-crater lake of Laguna Quilotoa is a gasp-inducing sight. A lookout on the precipitous crater rim offers…



    This excellent archaeological museum of Orellana region's cultural legacy is a must-visit in Coca. Housing exquisitely restored and diverse artifacts from…

  • Museo de la Música


    This fun museum located in an old school explores the lives of famous musicians who hailed from Loja (most peaking in success during the golden 1890–1940…

  • Quinta de Juan León Mera

    Central Highlands

    Several famous ambateños (people from Ambato) had quintas that survived the earthquake. They were once considered countryside homes, but today they are…

  • Palacio de Gobierno


    The low white building on the northwestern side of Plaza Grande is the seat of the Ecuadorian presidency. Visitors can enter by joining a free guided tour…

  • Museo de Arte Religioso


    Inside the beautifully restored 18th-century convent, Riobamba’s top museum houses one of the country’s finest collections of 17th- and 18th-century…

  • Museos Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana


    Newly reopened following a full-scale makeover, Museos Casa de la Cultura encompasses three museums in a single bright, modern space. The expansive Museo…

  • El Sagrario


    Standing across the park from the new cathedral, the whitewashed El Sagrario is also known as the 'old cathedral.' Construction began in 1557, the year…

  • Pailón del Diablo

    Central Highlands

    The Devil's Cauldron is a must-stop. There are two terrific trails from Río Verde that take you here. The first is accessed from below the soccer field,…

  • Museo Provincial Casa del Portal

    Central Highlands

    This majestic home was built in 1900 and now houses Ambato's best museum. There are tons of interesting historic photos on the 1st floor. Head up to the…

  • Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepción


    Also known as the ‘new cathedral,’ construction began on this vast cathedral only in 1885. Its giant domes of sky-blue Czech tile are visible from all…

  • Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Galapagos giant tortoise

    Charles Darwin Research Station

    Puerto Ayora

    Just northeast of Puerto Ayora is this iconic national-park site, where over 200 scientists and volunteers are involved with research and conservation…

  • A mother Galapagos Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus wollebaeki) has an intense argument with her pup. They are endemic to Ecuador. Puerto Egas, James Island, Galapagos, Ecuador.
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    Puerto Egas

    The Galápagos Islands

    Puerto Egas is one of the most popular sites in the Galápagos – a long, flat, black lava shoreline where eroded shapes form lava pools, caves and inlets…

  • Salinas, Ecuador - April 14, 2016: The lighthouse at La Chocolatera, the point of land that sticks furthest out into the Pacific Ocean from Ecuador. ; Shutterstock ID 436830718; your: Sloane Tucker; gl: 65050; netsuite: Online Editorial; full: POI

    La Chocolatera

    South Coast

    The westernmost point of Ecuador has three main attractions:La Fae Beach, with a boarded walkway where you can watch a seal colony;El Morro (or little…

  • Darwin's Lake in the Galapagos at Tegus Cove; Shutterstock ID 1082654849; your: Sloane Tucker; gl: 65050; netsuite: Online Editorial; full: POI

    Darwin Lake

    The Galápagos Islands

    A dry landing deposits you at the beginning of a 2km-long trail that brings you past this postcard-perfect saltwater lagoon. It has twice the salinity of…

  • Galapagos Marine Iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) on Cerro Brujo (Wizard's Hill) Beach, San Cristobal island, Galapagos national park, Ecuador.; Shutterstock ID 2238407885; your: Sloane Tucker; gl: 65050; netsuite: Online Editorial; full: POI

    Cerro Brujo

    Isla San Cristóbal (Chatham)

    Possibly one of the nicest beaches in the Galápagos, Cerro Brujo is a huge white expanse found on the west side of the island. The sand here feels like…

  • Tortuga Bay

    Puerto Ayora

    In terms of sheer white-sand beauty, this beach is the rival of any in South America. You’ll find it at the end of a 2.5km paved trail southwest of Puerto…

  • Volcán Wolf

    The Galápagos Islands

    Not only is Isla Isabela the largest Galápagos island, but its imposing skyline of grumbling volcanoes makes it the most striking. Volcán Wolf, at the…

  • Interpretation Center

    Isla San Cristóbal (Chatham)

    This modern and easily digestible center explains the history and significance of the Galápagos better than anywhere else in the country. Exhibits deal…

  • Rancho Primicias

    Isla Santa Cruz (Indefatigable)

    Next to El Chato is this private ranch, where there are dozens of giant tortoises, and you can wander around at will. The entrance is beyond Santa Rosa,…

  • Crater of Sierra Negra Volcano on Isabela Island.

    Volcán Sierra Negra

    The Galápagos Islands

    Northwest of the tiny settlement of Tomás de Berlanga lies the massive Volcán Sierra Negra (1490m), which last erupted in late 2005. An 8km trail leads…

  • Parque Nacional Machalilla

    Ruta Spondylus

    Preserving isolated beaches, coral formations, two offshore islands, tropical dry forest, coastal cloud forest, archaeological sites and 200 sq km of…

  • Mail box in Post Office Bay, Floreana Island, Galapagos.

    Post Office Bay

    The Galápagos Islands

    Most groups spend several perfunctory minutes on the north coast at Post Office Bay, where scraps of wood covered in graffiti surround a a few gone-to…

  • Podocarpus National Park

    Southern Highlands

    This national park fills in much of the triangle between Loja, Zamora and Vilcabamba, as well as a huge swath to the southeast. Because altitude ranges so…

  • Parque Nacional Cotopaxi

    Central Highlands

    The centerpiece of Ecuador's most popular national park is the snowcapped and downright picture-perfect Volcán Cotopaxi. At 5897m, it's Ecuador's second…

  • Fossilized trunks in the Petrified Forest of Puyango in southern Ecuador.

    El Bosque Petrificado Puyango

    South Coast

    A 4km boardwalk loop leads to the petrified forest (take the trail behind the toilet block; another dirt road to the left leads to private land). The dry…

  • Agua Blanca

    Ruta Spondylus

    A visit to this small indigenous community and its surrounding territory is a chance to escape tar-and-concrete modern Ecuador. You’ll find the turn-off,…

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