23 Best Ecuador Attractions


Fan­tas­tic nat­ur­al land­scapes, beau­ti­ful colo­nial cities, the mag­i­cal Andes with majes­tic vol­ca­noes, the her­itage of the ancient Incas and the pic­turesque shores of the Ama­zon — all this is Ecuador.


Things to do in Ecuador

The small coun­try of South Amer­i­ca com­bines four nat­ur­al zones: the trop­ics, man­grove forests, moun­tains and plains — and all this in a rel­a­tive­ly small area. Here you can walk along the moun­tain paths in the Andes, swim in water­falls, watch ani­mals in the wild or the life of small local vil­lages. Trav­el­ers come here will­ing­ly to swim with dol­phins off the coast of the Gala­pa­gos Islands and see the jun­gle from a boat in the Ama­zon.

Ecuador is a par­adise for bird watch­ers. One sixth of all bird species on the plan­et live here: bright­ly col­ored hum­ming­birds, blue and red-foot­ed boo­bies, flight­less cor­morants and oth­er exot­ic birds.

Those wish­ing to get acquaint­ed with the indige­nous tribes, see and feel the life of the local peo­ples, the coun­try offers acquain­tance with the tribes of the natives, care­ful­ly guard­ing the tra­di­tion­al way of life.

Those who wish can live in a com­mu­ni­ty of Salasa­ki Indi­ans liv­ing at the foot of the Tun­gu­rahua vol­cano. The com­mu­ni­ty was brought to Ecuador by the Incas from Bolivia to guard the gates to the rain­for­est. Salasa­ki are excel­lent weavers who have pre­served their nation­al cos­tumes, tra­di­tions, orig­i­nal polit­i­cal and cul­tur­al orga­ni­za­tion.

Ecuador offers fear­less thrill-seek­ers climb­ing the ridges of high moun­tains and a trip along sheer cliffs on the Dev­il’s train. The route con­nects Quito, the cap­i­tal of the coun­try, with Guayaquil, the main port city of Ecuador. It allows you to enjoy the tran­quil­i­ty and beau­ty of the mag­nif­i­cent land­scapes of Ecuador.

Seclud­ed and calm beach­es pro­vide an unfor­get­table vaca­tion away from the hus­tle and bus­tle of cities. And if you want enter­tain­ment, you can vis­it one of the many beach par­ties. Surfers will love Ecuador, and dur­ing the sum­mer months, divers can spot hump­back whales that come close to shore to feed their young.

natural attractions

Volcano Cotopaxi

vulkan kotopaksi

The tallest active vol­cano in the world ris­es proud­ly in the Andes. Cotopaxi (mean­ing “neck of the moon”) ris­es to a height of 5,897 meters above sea lev­el. Its crater is over 700 meters wide. The first record­ed vol­canic erup­tion was in 1534, dur­ing the Span­ish con­quest. Then the vol­cano spewed ash, equal­ly fright­en­ing the con­quis­ta­dors and the local pop­u­la­tion. The last major erup­tion occurred in 1877.

Near Cotopaxi is the nation­al park of the same name. The eco­log­i­cal reserve of 36,000 hectares is cov­ered with typ­i­cal veg­e­ta­tion of the Andean waste­lands. There are lla­mas, deer, rab­bits, frogs and lizards. Birds include gulls, ducks, sev­er­al species of hum­ming­birds and, if you’re lucky, con­dors.

Galapagos Islands

gallapagoskie islands

The Gala­pa­gos Islands are famous for their rare and exot­ic nature. This is the only par­adise on the plan­et where ani­mals do not expe­ri­ence fear of humans. Giant tor­tois­es, marine igua­nas and Dar­win’s finch­es live here.

On the island of San Cristo­bal, the west­ern­most point of the Gala­pa­gos Islands, there is La Lobe­ria beach, where a large colony of sea lions lives. In coastal waters you can meet sharks, rays and dol­phins.

The island was cho­sen by surfers and divers — because of the good waves and the rich under­wa­ter world. It was in the Gala­pa­gos Islands that Charles Dar­win noticed the devel­op­ment of species and began to study evo­lu­tion.

Puyango Forest

les puango

The Puyan­go Pet­ri­fied For­est is a unique site of marine fos­sils and pet­ri­fied wood. The remains of liv­ing beings have been stored in the geo­log­i­cal lay­ers of the earth­’s crust for more than a hun­dred mil­lion years. This for­est is locat­ed in the south of the coun­try, in the provinces of El Oro and Loja, near the bor­der with Peru.

Once upon a time, there was a coast­line here. The ocean washed ashore marine ani­mals, shells and crabs, and fall­en trees were soaked in salt, lit­er­al­ly pre­served. In addi­tion, there were sev­er­al active vol­ca­noes on the coast, peri­od­i­cal­ly cov­er­ing the area with ash and sul­fur. As a result, organ­ics pet­ri­fied.

The pressed remains of wood turned into stones under the influ­ence of time, although some of them still look like branch­es and trunks. The 2,658-hectare reserve has been declared a cul­tur­al her­itage of Ecuador — it is the only area of ​​its kind in the world.

Ecuadorian Amazon


This is the name of the Ama­zon Riv­er and every­thing sur­round­ing its ter­ri­to­ry with­in the coun­try. The riv­er is home to huge otters, man­a­tees, tur­tles and pink dol­phins, which are endan­gered mam­mals. On the banks of the riv­er you can see mon­keys jump­ing on tree branch­es, sloths and a huge num­ber of bright trop­i­cal birds.

More than a hun­dred abo­rig­i­nal tribes live in the Ama­zon, who have nev­er seen the mir­a­cles of progress, but have retained their orig­i­nal cul­ture. You can trav­el through the Ama­zon on a motor canoe.

Volcano Chimborazo

vulcan chimbrasso

The vol­cano is locat­ed in Cen­tral Ecuador, 150 kilo­me­ters south­west of Quito. The majes­tic peak, cov­ered with eter­nal glac­i­ers, ris­es 6,310 meters above the sur­round­ing high­lands. Chimb­o­ra­zo did not erupt for a long time. The vol­cano is depict­ed on the coat of arms of Ecuador, as it is con­sid­ered a sacred moun­tain, the patroness of the Andean peo­ples.


Yasuni National Park

nac park yasuni

The Yasuni Nature Reserve is a 4‑hour dri­ve from the cap­i­tal of Ecuador, Quito. Kilo­me­ters of dense primeval forests are inhab­it­ed by exot­ic plants, ani­mals and insects. The largest nation­al park in the coun­try is rec­og­nized by UNESCO as a bios­phere reserve.

The reserve is pro­tect­ed by inter­na­tion­al law, as this is the only way to pre­serve the diver­si­ty of bio­log­i­cal species that exist on the ter­ri­to­ry of Ecuador. A vis­it to the park will bring a lot of impres­sions, because many insects and ani­mals inhab­it­ing Yasuni live only here.

Chimborazo Reserve

sapovednik chamboraso

At the foot of the vol­cano of the same name is a pro­tect­ed ecosys­tem cre­at­ed to pre­serve the habi­tat of Andean camels: vicuñas, lla­mas, gua­na­cos and alpacas.

In 1960, due to uncon­trolled poach­ing since the Span­ish con­quest, only about 6,000 vicu­nas remained in the wild. Today, their pop­u­la­tion num­bers 125 thou­sand indi­vid­u­als, but these ani­mals are still endan­gered, so they live in the reserve.

Sumaco National Park

nac park sumako

Suma­co Vol­cano is locat­ed away from oth­er vol­ca­noes in Ecuador, in the heart of the wild jun­gle. The nation­al park around it offers an amaz­ing vari­ety of wildlife. 522 species of birds, sev­er­al species of mon­keys, sloths and a spec­ta­cled bear live here.

The reserve has hik­ing trails for observ­ing ani­mals and birds, and adven­tur­ers can try to reach the top of the vol­cano and admire the fan­tas­tic view from the moun­tain.

andean paramo

andskoe paramo

Paramo is a char­ac­ter­is­tic for­ma­tion of the trop­i­cal Andes, locat­ed between the upper line of the for­est (about 3500 meters in height) and the per­ma­nent snow line (5000 meters). The ecosys­tem con­sists of glacial val­leys and plains with occa­sion­al patch­es of for­est, lakes, peat bogs and wet mead­ows. It stretch­es along hills, val­leys and the ancient vol­ca­noes of Chimb­o­ra­zo and Car­i­huaira­zo.

Paramo is a vari­ety of mam­mals and birds, as well as a mul­ti-col­ored flo­ra: spongy veg­e­ta­tion, bromeli­ads, moss­es and trees such as puma maquis, polyleps and gynox­is. Deer, rab­bits, wolves and a huge num­ber of birds live here — from the small­est hum­ming­bird to the majes­tic con­dor, the largest fly­ing bird in the world.

Reserve Podocarpus

sapovednik podokarpus

This beau­ti­ful place is locat­ed in South­ern Ecuador between the provinces of Loja and Zamo­ra Chinchipe. Here, tourists are offered to appre­ci­ate the incred­i­ble diver­si­ty of flo­ra and fau­na, hik­ing along for­est paths, swim­ming in water­falls and, of course, tak­ing beau­ti­ful pho­tos.

The park is named after the podocar­pus trees that form small forests. Among them grow some of the most beau­ti­ful flow­ers on the plan­et — labios de rum­bera orchids, paint­ed in bright col­ors.

Reserve Cayapas Matai

sapovednik kayapas

Giant man­groves with an area of ​​49,000 hectares are locat­ed in the very north-west of Ecuador, near the bor­der with Colom­bia. The park is home to 26 For­est Indi­an com­mu­ni­ties who belong to a minor­i­ty Afro-Ecuado­ri­an group.

In the man­grove reserve, there are areas that are con­stant­ly flood­ed, which makes the ecosys­tem very inter­est­ing. In this amaz­ing place you can meet water opos­sums, jaguars, dol­phins and otters.

The man­grove con­ser­va­tion pol­i­cy, launched in 1995, enables Ecuador to con­serve endemics — ani­mals that live only here. These include blue crab, whose meat is con­sid­ered a del­i­ca­cy. And in the reserve there are many fruit trees, beau­ti­ful plants and birds.

Sangai National Park

nac park sangai

The park has an extinct vol­cano Altar­naya Gora with a height of 5139 meters, and two active ones: Tun­gu­rahua with a height of 5016 meters and San­gay with a height of 5230 meters. The nation­al park itself is a UNESCO World Her­itage Site.

San­gai has lakes, rivers, swamps and rain­forests with estab­lished hik­ing trails. Tapirs, cougars, guinea pigs and Andean fox­es live in the moun­tains. In the foothills — spec­ta­cled bears, jaguars, ocelots, white-tailed deer, pudu and giant otters. Also in the park there are 10 species of endem­ic birds and 15 species with a lim­it­ed range of dis­tri­b­u­tion.

City attractions

Hill of El Panecillo and Virgin Mary

holm el panasimo

The most pic­turesque view of Quito opens from the obser­va­tion deck at the foot of the stat­ue of the Vir­gin Mary on the hill of El Panecil­lo. Vis­i­tors can enjoy mag­nif­i­cent views of the cen­tral and south­ern parts of the city from here. Look­ing towards the colo­nial cen­ter, one can appre­ci­ate the col­or­ful domes of sev­er­al colo­nial church­es, as well as the red­dish-brown tiled roofs.

The top of the El Panecil­lo hill is locat­ed at an alti­tude of 3000 meters above sea lev­el. Pre­vi­ous­ly, a mil­i­tary fort was locat­ed here to pro­tect the city. On a clear day, tourists can see sev­er­al snow-cov­ered vol­ca­noes in the dis­tance.

Statue of the Virgin

statue bogorodici

In addi­tion to amaz­ing views, vis­i­tors can appre­ci­ate the stat­ue of the Vir­gin, locat­ed on the hill of El Panecil­lo. It is con­sid­ered an archi­tec­tur­al and artis­tic mas­ter­piece and is a mosa­ic of sev­en thou­sand met­al pieces. This is an exact copy of the stat­ue of Bernar­do de Legard, kept in the altar of the church of San Fran­cis­co. The Moth­er of God stands on a ball with a snake chained to her feet.

Inside the mon­u­ment, on the way to the obser­va­tion deck, which is locat­ed about 11 meters above the base of the stat­ue, there is a small muse­um. It tells the sto­ry of El Panecil­lo and details how the Vir­gin Mary was built. There is a cafe and a hand­i­craft shop on the ter­ri­to­ry of the muse­um.

Cities of Quito and Cuenca

town kita

The colo­nial cities of Quito and Cuen­ca abound with col­or­ful colo­nial archi­tec­ture. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, they were one of the first ten sites inscribed on the UNESCO World Her­itage List in 1978.

Vis­i­tors can walk along the beau­ti­ful cob­bled alleys, peo­ple-watch in the squares and in the park, and vis­it the quaint local church­es. It is worth tak­ing a cou­ple of days to explore the cities of Quito and Cuen­ca.

Alameda Park

park alamedo

Alame­da was found­ed on March 8, 1596, mak­ing it the old­est park in Quito. It is a pop­u­lar place for a qui­et and relax­ing hol­i­day. There is a small lagoon where you can ride a boat and feed the birds, the El Churo obser­va­tion deck and many mon­u­ments. One of them is a mon­u­ment to Pres­i­dent Eloy Alfaro, the man who approved the law to respect indige­nous and for­est dwellers.


Basilica del Voto Nacional

basilica del voto

The Basil­i­ca del Voto Nacional is the largest neo-goth­ic church in Amer­i­ca. Accord­ing to local leg­end, the end of the world will come if the con­struc­tion of this basil­i­ca is ever offi­cial­ly com­plet­ed. In fact, “only” 105 years passed from the emer­gence of the idea to the open­ing of the church. And 1988 was not the end of the world.

In the inte­ri­or of the church, two small­er ones adjoin the cen­tral nave — with a dome and stained-glass win­dows. Around are 24 small chapels, each of which is ded­i­cat­ed to one of the provinces of Ecuador. The crypt and pan­theon also adjoin the basil­i­ca. Out­side, there are a num­ber of stone stat­ues of ani­mals endem­ic to Ecuador, includ­ing igua­nas, tur­tles, armadil­los, and con­dors.

Cathedral of Nueva, Cuenca

sobor nueva

The new cathe­dral is named after the Immac­u­late Con­cep­tion. Con­struc­tion work began in 1885 and last­ed almost a cen­tu­ry. This build­ing com­bines many archi­tec­tur­al styles, but Romanesque Revival pre­vails.

The cathe­dral is topped by three gigan­tic domes cov­ered with strik­ing blue and white glazed tiles from for­mer Czecho­slo­va­kia. A stair­case of 160 steps leads to the top, climb­ing which you can get to the obser­va­tion deck and admire the panora­ma of the city of Quito. Oppo­site is anoth­er old cathe­dral, which now hous­es a muse­um.

Palace of Carondelet

dvorec carondelet

In Quito, brim­ming with archi­tec­tur­al mas­ter­pieces, Caron­delet Palace stands out as one of the finest his­tor­i­cal sites. By vis­it­ing it, tourists will learn about the pres­i­den­tial his­to­ry of the coun­try, will be able to wan­der around the rooms, take pic­tures of the works of famous artists and watch the solemn chang­ing of the guard.

The front rooms and recep­tion rooms of the palace are dec­o­rat­ed with antique fur­ni­ture. There are expo­si­tions of antiques and gifts to the pres­i­dent, as well as works by famous Ecuado­ri­an artists. Most notable is the fres­co by Oswal­do Guayasamin, which depicts the nav­i­ga­tion of the Ama­zon Riv­er by Fran­cis­co de Orel­lana in 1542.

The palace was built over 300 years ago and is the offi­cial res­i­dence of the Pres­i­dent and Gov­ern­ment of Ecuador. The build­ing has a white­washed neo­clas­si­cal façade, a colon­nade and a large bal­cony. Near­by is an ele­gant flower court­yard with a foun­tain and a two-lev­el arcade. The Pres­i­den­tial Bal­cony offers stun­ning views of the Plaza Grande.

Historical sights and museums

Capilla del Ombre Museum

musei kapilia

The idea of ​​cre­at­ing a muse­um of man belongs to the Ecuado­ri­an artist Oswal­do Guayasamin. He ini­ti­at­ed the con­struc­tion of a space ded­i­cat­ed to the His­pan­ic liv­ing in con­di­tions of injus­tice and dis­crim­i­na­tion.

The muse­um com­bines archi­tec­ture, paint­ings, murals, sculp­tures, out­door areas, and they all send a mes­sage of com­mit­ment to human rights, peace and sol­i­dar­i­ty. In the cen­ter of the struc­ture is an eter­nal flame. The muse­um does not leave any­one indif­fer­ent — the expo­si­tions so sub­tly con­vey all the pain and hope­less­ness of the oppressed peo­ples of Latin Amer­i­ca.



The ruins of the majes­tic build­ing of the Inca civ­i­liza­tion are locat­ed in the province of Cañar, 60 kilo­me­ters from the city of Cuen­ca. Ingapir­ka has an area of ​​4 hectares, so it takes more than two hours to inspect the struc­ture. The fortress was an impor­tant reli­gious, polit­i­cal, sci­en­tif­ic, mil­i­tary and admin­is­tra­tive cen­ter dur­ing the exis­tence of the Inca civ­i­liza­tion.

Astronomical observatory in Quito


In 1873, the con­struc­tion of an astro­nom­i­cal obser­va­to­ry began in Alame­da Park, which man­aged to with­stand the test of time, remain­ing in its orig­i­nal state. Today it is the old­est astro­nom­i­cal obser­va­to­ry in South Amer­i­ca. Its equip­ment has sur­vived to this day, and in the last cen­tu­ry it was sup­ple­ment­ed with mod­ern tele­scopes.

The build­ing with arched door­ways and large arched win­dows is sur­round­ed by a well-kept gar­den and includes not only a medieval obser­va­to­ry, but also a muse­um where vis­i­tors are told about the stars and the his­to­ry of their study by the peo­ples of Ecuador.



Civ­i­liza­tions liv­ing in Ecuador before the Incas were already aware of the con­stel­la­tions and the pow­er of the equa­tor when they built their pyra­mid. There is a mon­u­ment in the north of Quito that com­mem­o­rates the French mis­sion to deter­mine the exact lines of the equa­tor. And at the near­by Intig­nan Muse­um, guests can learn a lot about this imag­i­nary line.


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