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I honestly never had Ecuador on my list of places I wanted to travel to until my best friend got accepted into the Peace Corps and was going to be shipped away from me for two years.
When your friends move to another country, you go visit! As soon as she moved, it automatically shot up to my number one place to visit.
After one day in Ecuador, I couldn’t believe it was never on my travel bucket list. The welcoming people, the colorful city, the scenic mountains and volcanoes, the delicious FOOD (food is always the most important thing to me when I travel haha). Oh, and everything was cheap! I instantly fell in love.
For this post, I’ll be writing about some of my favorite places in Quito, Mindo, and Baños, Ecuador.
Where we stayed: Boutiquito Design Hostel – Guapulo, Quito, Ecuador
When my best friend told us we would be staying in a hostel, I was honestly kind of scared. The only experience I’ve had with a hostel is the crazy movie, The Hostel. I can be quite the germaphobe so I was scared it would not live up to my cleanliness standards. Thank God I was wrong. This hostel was so cute! It had a plethora of different types of rooms, but we chose to have a private room – this included a queen size bed, a bunk bed, and an ensuite bathroom. The beds were so comfy and every morning we literally woke up in the clouds – the outside view of the valley was AMAZING! The bathrooms honestly weren’t the cleanest I’ve seen, but they sufficed lol.
I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, but every morning we would take a right out of our hostel onto the main road and walk about 3 minutes for breakfast. We had eggs, fresh bread, and fresh fruit juice for less than $5. There are plenty of other restaurants near the hostel you can explore too.
1. El Panecillo – Quito, Ecuador
Take a taxi to the top of this hill to witness a beautiful viewpoint of Quito and its surrounding volcanoes.
You can even ask the taxi to wait for you so they can take you back down. From what I remember, the taxi was no more than $5.
You’ll find the Virgin of Quito statue at the very top – she can be seen from any location in the city!
2. DON’T SKIP OUT ON LUNCH!
Lunch is the most important meal in Ecuador. Most restaurants have menus or pictures of their food outside so you can decide if you want to pop in. Lunch almost always consists of soup, some type of meat, side dishes of rice and/or beans, a small salad, and fresh fruit juice. So yummy! The MOST we ever had to pay for lunch was $3.50.
3. Fundación Guayasamín – Quito, Ecuador
We honestly popped into a lot of art museums/exhibits, but our absolute favorite was Fundación Guayasamín. This museum was actually home to the late artist, Oswald Guayasamín and it features a large selection of his artwork.
4. Museo de Sitio Intiñan (Intiñan Solar Museum) & Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World Monument)
These locations are within 5 minutes of each other.
Entrance to the Solar Museum was only $3 and we were able to have an English speaking tour guide. This tour was super neat because we got to witness different tests that showed how the physical forces work at the equator.
Also, bring your passport when you come here. You can get a stamp on your passport at the end just for visiting!!
Apparently, the painted line at Mitad del Mundo has been proven to be inaccurate, but it didn’t stop the large crowds. This place was packed with people straddling the line to get a memorable photo in both hemispheres.
5. El Monte Resort – Mindo, Ecuador AKA The Cloud Forest
I personally have never been here, but my sibling, was able to come here during his study abroad trip. This place has an organic farm & I hear the food is phenomenal. This place is also known for being a great place for bird watching and hiking.
Traveling to Baños
We took a bus from the Quitumbe Bus Terminal to Baños. Buses run about every 10-15 minutes so we just bought tickets from the station. Tickets were no more than $4 and the ride was about 3.5 hours. When we arrived in Baños, we hopped off the bus and walked around until we stumbled across a hostel. Make sure you ask to view the rooms before you commit to staying there. The first hostel we checked out was not clean so we left and stumbled across another which we loved! I am almost positive it was called Hostel Real and it was located directly across the street from Parque Central de Baños (Palomino Flores). This hostel was owned by a sweet little Ecuadorean family and the father of the family volunteered to take us on our own private tour around Baños for a small price. Our last night there we hopped on a party bus which took us to a strip of bars where we danced literally all night long.
6. The Swing at the End of the World – Baños, Ecuador
The swing hangs from a tree house called Casa del Arbol. Entrance to the swing was $1. Our tour guide was awesome because he somehow made it possible for us to skip the long line lol.
I’m afraid of heights so I almost didn’t get on, but it felt exhilarating once I finally decided to give it a go. The swing overlooks Mt. Tungurahua, a nearby active volcano. Although it was cloudy when we went, the view was still amazing.
7. Pailon Del Diablo – Baños, Ecuador
I can’t even begin to explain how beautiful this place was. You’ll have to see for yourself. You have the option to walk, bike, or even zip line to the beautiful waterfall. Hope you’re up for an adventure!
Ecuador was more than I could ever imagine. So blessed to have had the opportunity to visit such a beautiful country. I definitely plan to return back, especially to explore The Galápagos Islands and the Amazon jungle. I hope you enjoyed this post and have now added Ecuador to your travel bucket list!