city travel south america

51 fun + unique things to do in Ecuador | Ecuador

View of Quito from Secret Garden Hostel

Ecuador will seduce you more than you think. It seems the tiny country has it all with 15,413 ft volcanoes leering out across entire regions, colorful street art decorating every wall, endemic species just waiting to be seen, deliciously cheap street food, and natural beauty unmatched. The three weeks we had planned on spending weren’t nearly enough, so we ended up spending seven uncovering unique things to do in Ecuador.

Tourists fly straight through on an express trail to the Galapagos, but give Ecuador the time it deserves, and you’ll find some things that can’t be experienced anywhere else in South America. Check out some of our Ecuador highlights that you won’t find in your guidebook:

51 fun + unique things to do in Ecuador

very Ecuador experiences

1. Climb the bell towers at Basílica del Voto Nacional (Quito)
Taking in the view from La Basilica del Voto Nacional
2. See the city on two wheels for the bi-weekly Ciclovia (Quito)
3. Cheer on Nacional at a club soccer game (Quito)
4. Check out the street art decorating just about every wall (Anywhere)Graffiti in Ecuador - Otavalo Street Art
5. Explore the local (and made in China) handicrafts at the sprawling Otavalo Market (Otavalo)
6. Laze for the day in one of Quito’s urban parks (Quito)
7. Ride horses in the foothills of Cotopaxi (Cotopaxi)
Horseback Riding in Cotopaxi, Ecuador
8. Work on your Spanish (Montañita)
9. Learn to milk a cow and experience local life on an indigenous farmstay (Cotocachi)
10. Stay in the machai rooms of Hacienda el Porvenir for a unique sleeping experience (Cotopaxi)
Machai Rooms in Hacienda el Porvenir11. Learn about ayahuasca and becoming the trees with a local shaman (The Amazon)
12. Skip Mitad del Mundo, even after everyone tells you to do it (Quito)
13. Check out Chimborazo — the world’s highest point above earth’s center (The Andes)
14. Experiment with all the local fruits (Anywhere)
Fruits at Mercado Central
15. Chill out on one of the city’s many rooftop terraces to take in the view (Quito)

eating Ecuador

16. Join the locals for lunch with very cheap merienda (Quito)
17. Grub on all the local specialties at Mercado Central (Quito)
Llapingacho at Mercado Central in Quito
18. Eat the best street food in Ecuador (Otovalo / Everywhere)
19. Dine on ceviche fresh out of the sea (Montañita)
Things to do in Montañita - Ceviche in Ecuador
20. Play roulette with the many delicious [or at least delicious looking] desserts of Ecuador (Anywhere)

drinking Ecuador

21. Hit the clubs in La Mariscal for a very local night out (Quito)
22. Order a $3 passion fruit mojito in Cocktail Alley (Montañita)
Cocktail Alley in Montañita, Ecuador
23. Grab an ever-elusive IPA at Bandito’s Brewery (Quito)
24. Stay up all night at Lost Beach Night Club (Montañita)
25. Drink a strong order of canelazo — a sweet little cocktail of aguardiente, naranjilla, and cinnamon (Quito)

getting outside in Ecuador

26. Climb past the TeleferiQo to summit Rucu Pichincha (Quito)
The Summit of Rucu Pichincha
27. Hike around the rim of the massive crater lake, Laguna de Cuicocha (Cotocachi)
28. Watch the whales migrate off the coast (Puerto Lopez)
29. Gear up for a two day hike to the summit of Cotopaxi (Cotopaxi)
30. Go mountain biking on a downhill-only trail (Baños)
31. Rent a board and experience the surf on the Ecudorian Coast (Montañita)
Surfing in Montañita Ecuador
32. Save loads of money by taking a last minute cruise around the Galápagos Islands (Galapagos)
33. Or, venture to the Galápagos on a land based tour for more wildlife than you’ve ever seen before (Galapagos)
34. There will be boobies! Check out the budget Galápagos alternative if money is still too tight for a Galapagos trip (Isla de la Plata)
Galapagos Alternative - Blue Footed Boobies on Isla de La Plata
34. Ride class 5 Rapids down the Rio Pastaza (Baños)
36. Become a modern day Snow White with hundreds of butterfly species (Mindo)
37. Go the long way to Laguna de Quilotoa on the Quilotoa Loop Trek (Quilotoa)
Laguna Quilotoa
38. Swim with the pirañas (The Amazon)
39. Seek out monkeys, dolphins, and anacondas by canoe (The Amazon)
Ecuador Amazon - Samona Lodge Amazon Tour Group40. Set up camp along the river and check out the stars (The Amazon)
41. Find a parrot clay lick to observe one of the world’s greatest natural phenomenon (The Amazon)

Ecuador events + festivals

42. Head to the cemetery with a glass of colada morada for Día de los Santos (The Andes)
43. Take to the streets for the parades and theater of the International Festival of Performing Arts (Loja)
44. Experience the Spanish-style bullfights of Foundation of Quito Day (Quito)
45. Get sprayed with milk at the Mama Negra festival (Latacunga)

keeping Ecuador weird / just because

45. Take an overnight bus ride and get patted down by the narco police (Anywhere)
46. Look like an idiot on a Chiva (party bus) waterfall tour (Baños)
47. Hop in the bed of a camioneta for a truly exhilarating travel experience (Anywhere)
Collectivo from Quilotoa to Latacunga
48. Navigate your way to Peru or Colombia by bus (to Peru or to Colombia)
49. Stay high and experience full on altitude sickness (Anywhere)
50. Have a taste of your first house pet with a plate of cuy (guinea pig) (Andes)
51. Befriend the street dogs and take them on as trail guides (Quilotoa)

Find this post helpful? Plan your trip by clicking the links below. You’ll help support our blog at no cost to you!

Booking.com | Momondo | Viator | Lonely Planet

Going backpacking in South America? Explore more unique experiences here.

like it? pin it!

Ecuador seems to have it all. High altitude hikes, cheap street food, adventures and unique things to do around Ecuador!

Looking for more details on all the fun + unique things to do in Ecuador? Check out all the links within the post for resources on planning your trip.

You Might Also Like

  • 40 Cheapest Countries to Travel to on $30 a Day or Less - Eternal Arrival
    December 31, 2016 at 12:21 am

    […] By Taylor and Daniel of Travel Outlandish While many people skip out on Ecuador for lack of a Galapagos budget, those who take the time to explore the mainland are in for a time. With a jungle full of wildlife, a coastline blessed with perfect waves, modern cities, and culturally rich mountain towns, it seems there’s something perfect for any type of traveler.So what makes Ecuador so affordable? A backpacker can get by on just $20/day without cutting too many corners! With dorm rooms costing as little as $5 and private rooms starting at $12, it’s easy to stay as long as you want in the smaller towns, and easy enough to navigate the cities. Menu del dia — the set lunch menu — will only run you $2-$3, and beer is even cheaper at $1 per big bottle. While the busses aren’t the comfiest we’ve ever used, tickets come in cheap at about $1-2 per hour of travel. Adventures are easy to find with lots of free treks, cheap bike rentals, and full day trips starting at $20. Even the most costly of endeavors (like a trip to the Amazon) can be had for as little as $60/day. If you’re looking for amazing nature and an altogether wonderful place to travel in South America, be sure to take the time to experience all the unique things to do in Ecuador! […]

  • 40 Cheapest Countries to Travel to on $30 a Day or Less - Eternal Arrival
    December 31, 2016 at 12:24 am

    […] While many people skip out on Ecuador for lack of a Galapagos budget, those who take the time to explore the mainland are in for a time. With a jungle full of wildlife, a coastline blessed with perfect waves, modern cities, and culturally rich mountain towns, it seems there’s something perfect for any type of traveler.So what makes Ecuador so affordable? A backpacker can get by on just $20/day without cutting too many corners! With dorm rooms costing as little as $5 and private rooms starting at $12, it’s easy to stay as long as you want in the smaller towns, and easy enough to navigate the cities. Menu del dia — the set lunch menu — will only run you $2-$3, and beer is even cheaper at $1 per big bottle. While the busses aren’t the comfiest we’ve ever used, tickets come in cheap at about $1-2 per hour of travel. Adventures are easy to find with lots of free treks, cheap bike rentals, and full day trips starting at $20. Even the most costly of endeavors (like a trip to the Amazon) can be had for as little as $60/day. If you’re looking for amazing nature and an altogether wonderful place to travel in South America, be sure to take the time to experience all the unique things to do in Ecuador! […]

  • Ecuador Backpacking Route: How to do Nine Days for under $400
    January 8, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    […] {Read More: 51 Unique things to do in Ecuador} […]

  • Climbing an Urban Volcano: The Rucu Pichincha Hike - Travel Outlandish
    January 26, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    […] 51 fun + unique things to do in Ecuador […]