MAKE IT A VACATION!
If this is your first time visiting Ecuador, you'll be amazed by how diverse it is despite being a small country. Ecuador is divided into three continental regions—the Costa (coast), Sierra (mountains), and Oriente (east)—and one insular region, the Galápagos Islands. If plan on staying beyond our wedding, we put together a list of cities and towns we visited on our first trip together; we think you will love them as well. Take advantage of your time there and make it a memorable vacation!
Along with Quito, this will most likely be your point of entry into Ecuador. Guayaquil is a port city (great seafood) known as a gateway to Pacific beaches and the Galapagos Islands.
Constructed on the foundations of an ancient Incan city, it’s known for its well-preserved colonial center, rich with 16th- and 17th-century churches and other structures blending European, Moorish and indigenous styles.
Home to Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador. It is only the 39th highest peak in the Andes but its summit is the farthest point on the Earth's surface from the Earth's center given that it is located along the planet's equatorial bulge.. Like Everest, Chimborazo is also known for climbing; its climb demands skill and is often on black ice, so crampons and other high-tech climbing equipment are required.
Quilotoa is a water-filled crater lake and the most western volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes. Truly breathtaking views! We made the mistake to arrive close to nightfall so it got very dark and we had to climb back up by foot. Make this trip during the day and you will also be able to enjoy the local restaurants and shops adjacent to it.
The town is particularly well-known across Ecuador for its railway heritage. Here you can catch the train to La Nariz del Diablo (Devil's Nose). The journey is amazing, and the tracks an engineering masterpiece.
Chordeleg (Day Trip)
Makes for a good day trip from Cuenca. Chordeleg is famous in Ecuador (and around the world) for its handmade filigrana (filigree) silver jewelry.
Ingapirca (Day Trip)
Ingapirca is a town in Ecuador’s Cañar province. It’s known for the Ingapirca Ruins, an archaeological complex north of town with ancient Incan masonry. The ruins include the Temple of the Sun, a large oval construction once used for ritual and astronomical purposes. Just outside the ruins, the Museo Sitio de Ingapirca displays a skeleton, tools and other artifacts recovered from the area.
Gualaceo (Day Trip)
Small neighboring town about 30 minutes from Cuenca by car. The town currently holds the title of Cultural Heritage of the Nation.
Great place for local souvenirs. In Gualaceo, artisans still produce traditional products the original way. The tradition of weaving macanas (traditional hand-woven shawls) is passed on through families in the canton and tourists can learn more about this practice in the homes of artisans in and around Gualaceo. In the central plaza, one can buy products carved of wood or paja toquilla, the material the famous straw hat is made of.
Montañita is a village on Ecuador's Santa Elena Peninsula, known for its beaches with strong surf breaks and bohemian vibe. Lively bars, nightclubs and thatch-roofed restaurants line the streets. Come well rested, the parties go on all night so you won't be able to sleep.
Baños de Agua Santa
Baños de Agua Santa is a city in Ecuador’s Tungurahua province and a gateway to the nearby Amazon Basin. It’s known for access to trails on the active Tungurahua volcano just south, and for its mineral-rich hot springs. Take a trip to El Pailon del Diablo to experience a trail through dramatic waterfalls!
Puerto López is a small fishing village set in an arched bay on the Pacific coast. We stopped along here on our way to Montañita and Josephine had some of the best seafood ever!
Right outside of Puerto Lopez, Los Frailes Beach is considered the most beautiful beach in Continental Ecuador. Definitely make a trip if you happen to be in or near the Manabi province.
Although we haven't visited the Galapagos yet, we highly recommend a trip if you have time. It's considered one of the world's foremost destinations for wildlife-viewing.
The Amazon Rainforest Region
Exceptionally rich in biodiversity, the Ecuadorian Amazon offers unparalleled opportunities to experience the rainforest in its pristine state.