Ecuador has many different landscapes, from the Amazon and the Pacific coast to the Andes and the many colonial cities – there is plenty to see on an Ecuador vacation. It is highly suggested that your itinerary include a bit of everything. Being such a small country, Ecuador’s many terrains are easy to explore without an extended timeframe. Some of our top recommended Ecuador destinations include Quito, Cuenca, and Banos!
2. Spend at least a week, preferably two
When planning your Ecuador travel itinerary be sure to allow yourself enough time to explore Ecuador without feeling rushed. Though you can see a significant amount of the country in a week, the best way to enjoy Ecuador’s beauty is by taking it slow. The ideal amount of time for your Ecuador travel is two weeks, ensuring you can spend some quality time in each of your destinations.
3. Learn some Spanish
True for any destination, it is always beneficial to learn a few key language phrases so you are able to communicate with the locals. Though most Ecuadorians speak at least a little English, it should not be expected, and carrying a pocket dictionary or a “cheat sheet” of Spanish phrases will be helpful! Not only will it make getting around easier, but the locals appreciate when travelers make the effort to speak their language.
4. Mingle with the locals
Knowing some Spanish is sure to help you integrate, but no matter what your language level is, make friends with the locals. The best way to get a true feel for a country is by talking to a taxi driver, a shop owner, or the person sitting next to you in a café, and often times you will hear something interesting. From learning about the country’s culture and customs to finding a few hidden gems, like the best restaurants or shops, you can only benefit from having a conversation with a local.
5. Utilize land transportation
A great way to see more of Ecuador is by taking buses or car transport throughout the country. Though flying is quicker, you often miss out on the beautiful scenery. Taking ground transportation allows you to pass through the many diverse landscapes of Ecuador. Even if you have a short timeframe, utilizing ground transportation at least once during your vacation allows you to enjoy more of Ecuador’s spectacular scenery.
6. Enjoy the food
Ecuador has delicious food, with a variety of dishes depending on the region. Some highly recommended dishes from our travel advisors include, Esmeraldas, empanadas, and Red Ceviche. Esmeraladas, which is seafood cooked in a coconut base, is a popular dish and is best when you’re in an area where seafood is fresh. Empanadas can be found on the street as well as in restaurants and are a great snack or starter; green plantain and shrimp empanadas are highly recommended, but other more traditional flavors are also delicious. If your Ecuador travel takes you to the coast, be sure to enjoy a plate of red ceviche. Red ceviche is similar to traditional ceviche but comes in a tomato sauce, putting a unique twist on a classic dish – it is a must try!
7. Explore on foot
The best way to get to know a city is to walk its streets. Taking a taxi may be faster but by walking you are sure to enjoy the city’s ambiance and admire its beauty. One of our travel advisors specifically recommends this for the city of Cuenca: “The charm of Cuenca is best experienced by walking around, enjoying the many little parks that are scattered throughout the city, as well as admiring the colonial architecture.” By walking around the city you may come upon little shops and cafes that you would have otherwise passed by, so set out for a stroll during your Ecuador travel.
Whether it be with a taxi driver or a merchant, negotiating is a must! Prices are often not set in stone so if you feel like the price should be lower, don’t be afraid to negotiate. Before taking a taxi ride ask someone at your hotel or a local what the price should be so you have a base for your negotiation. When it comes to shopping in the street markets, don’t be afraid to haggle for goods, because often times you will be able to get items for less than the original price stated.
9. Indulge in the Culture
Before arriving in Ecuador it is always a good idea to do a little research about the country’s culture. Understanding the customs and traditions of Ecuador will only enhance your experience. Also be sure to check for any festivals or events that may be going on during your travel. Participating or just observing one of the many festivals is a great way to experience firsthand the culture and traditions of Ecuador.
Travel planning can be a bit stressful, so upon arrival to Ecuador be sure to RELAX! Ecuador has so many great destinations, an immense culture, and some fantastic food. By scheduling time for leisure and relaxation you are sure to have the trip of a lifetime.