The most immediately apparent merit of this muggy port town is its spectacular setting. The eye-catching cones of Gunung Meja (661m) and Gunung Iya (637m) loom over the city and the nearby black-sand and cobblestone coastline. The views get even better just northeast of Ende as the road to Kelimutu rises along a ridge opposite misty peaks, overlooking a roaring river and gushing with ribbons of waterfalls in the wet season. Throw in the jade rice terraces and you have some of Flores’ most jaw-dropping scenery.
But Ende itself is worth more than a pause at its traffic circles, offering a compact and atmospheric centre and an intriguing grittiness. Plus, its central airport is a useful hub for connections to Labuanbajo, Kupang (West Timor) and Tambolaka (Sumba).