Gorgeous Ecuador can be visited for almost any amount of time. If you have a month or longer, you can linger in colourful cities, hike volcanoes and get immersed in the wonderful nature Ecuador has to offer. After all, our Punta La Barca co-founder, Inge, came 7 years ago only to have a look , and has still not left this amazing country.
While we’re always an advocate for slow, immersive travel, we understand you’d like a quick look around. If you have 2 weeks in Ecuador, there is plenty you can see and do. We’re running through the best places to visit during your Ecuador itinerary including cities, beaches, nature and adventure.
Follow along for a handy Ecuador itinerary for 2 weeks. We hope it helps with your trip!
Days 1-3: Quito
You will likely begin your Ecuador itinerary in the capital. If you’re flying into Quito, you will land in Mariscal Sucre Airport. Quito is also fairly close to the Colombia border should you be arriving by land, a popular option for backpackers. To learn more about crossing the Colombia-Ecuador border, read this blog.
Begin your 2 weeks in Ecuador by exploring the highlights of Quito. The Old Town has been designated a UNESCO Heritage Site due to its well-preserved colonial buildings that have remained the same for centuries. Take the morning to wander the cobbled streets, discovering historical courtyards and stopping for a local lunch. Head to Mercado Central to try local delicacies such as llapingacho, cooked potato patties stuffed with cheese and other ingredients.
Other sites to see in Quito include the many churches and religious buildings. The most impressive is La Compania de Jesus, a 17th-century cathedral decorated with gold. Sadly you can’t take photos inside so you’ll just have to trust us when we say it’s gorgeous.
For your second day in Quito, take the teleferico to admire sweeping views from a volcano mountain. The teleferico is a cable car which runs up Pichincha Volcano, dropping visitors at the Cruz Loma lookout point. You can fit six people in each cable car and enjoy a smooth ride.
Views over Quito
You can admire the views down over Quito and the Andes mountains surrounding the city before coming back down or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can go for an amazing hike towards the top of the volcanos.
The teleferico is open from 9am to 8pm, seven days a week and takes roughly 18 minutes to complete the journey, costing $8.50 per person.
For your final day in Quito, there’s one very famous attraction to explore. You may have heard of Mitad del Mundo or, in English, the Middle of the World. This line represents the equator passing through Ecuador and the point where the Northern and Southern Hemispheres divide.
Standing with one foot in either hemisphere sounds like a good addition to your Ecuador itinerary, right? We think you should definitely check out the middle of the world but we have a local tip for you. The commercial Mitad del Mundo is very touristic with lots of shops, plus there’s rumours it isn’t the accurate equator point. If you go just 100 metres away, you will find a more local version of Mitad del Mundo which explains the indigenous history of Ecuador and lets you try out experiments at the real middle of the world point.
Days 4-5: Otavalo or Mindo
If you have more than 2 weeks in Ecuador, we would recommend checking out both Otavalo and Mindo. But if your itinerary for Ecuador allows for just two weeks, we’d say pick one or the other.
Otavalo: This town in the Andes highlands is known for its colourful local market, Plaza de Poncho. Here you can buy all kinds of textiles and crafts made by local artisans. If you’re hoping to pick up some souvenirs in Ecuador, this is a great place to haggle for bargains. From colourful rugs and cushions to Panama hats, woven bags and ponchos, you’ll need some serious space in your backpack for everything you want to buy. Other things to do in Otavalo include visiting Peguche Waterfall, hiking around Cuicocha Lake and meeting wild birds at Otavalo Condor Park.
Mindo: Another second stop for your Ecuador itinerary north of Quito is Mindo. Known as the ‘Town in the Clouds’, it’s a great place to escape the busy backpack route and experience Ecuador’s rich nature. It takes around 2 hours to drive from Quito to Mindo. When you arrive, you can stay in a local guesthouse or homestay and explore the surroundings.
One of the best things to do in Mindo is take the Four Waterfall hike between incredible cascades in the jungle. You can also enjoy bird watching and hope to spot hummingbirds, ride the Tarabita cable car and spot butterflies at Hosteria Mariposas de Mindo butterfly sanctuary. Whether you hike or relax amongst nature, there’s plenty to keep you busy for 2 days in Mindo.
Days 6-8: Baños
Known as Ecuador’s outdoor sport and adrenaline capital, you can’t miss Baños during your Ecuador itinerary. Baños town is small but don’t be disappointed: it’s really just a launching point for the nature surrounding it. You can organise tours to go white water rafting, rock climbing, zip wiring and more. If you’re a hiker, you can also head off independently on plenty of hikes.
Things to do in Baños
Pailon del Diablo, translating as Devil’s Cauldron, is an impressive 1,400-metre waterfall beside a giant flight of stairs that you can hike around. To escape the big crowds visiting the waterfall, turn around and hike along the River Rio Verde upstream from the waterfall. Follow the path for a kilometre and stop at a set of boulders where you can swim in crystal clear waters.
While in Banos, you can also hire a bike and chase waterfalls along Rio Pastaza. Keep an eye out for cars however, as there are only a few bike paths. For climbers, you can go hiking, rock climbing and abseiling at Rio Pastaza nearby wildlife sanctuary, San Martin. It is rock climbing on vulcanic rock for all levels, even beginners. There are plenty of guides and equipment hire stores in Baños.
We recommend spending 2-3 nights of this Ecuador itinerary in Baños. If you’re keen on even more adrenaline, pack in a few extra activities before leaving on day 8.
Days 8-9: Cuenca
This attractive colonial city in Southern Ecuador gives a great sense of comparison. It’s nowhere near as big and busy as Quito yet it will feel lively after the nature you’ve experienced in Mindo and Baños. The central square of Cuena is dominated by the gorgeous blue-doomed Catedral Nueva, while the rest of the small city lies alongside a pretty waterfront of the Tomebamba River. It’s an easy place to spend two days browsing Panama hats in the colourful market and eating local food in the sunny squares.
If you can’t get enough of nature though, you can head to El Cajas National Park in the Ecuadorian highlands as a day trip. Read this guide for everything to see and do in Cuenca.
Days 10-12: Montañita
Next in your Ecuador itinerary, head to Montañita beach town on the south coast of Ecuador. With a real boho feel, this is one of the best places in Ecuador for relaxing, catching some waves and enjoying an evening sundowner from one of the bars. There are plenty of places to hire surfboards and instructors whether you’re a beginner or more advanced. Montañita is also a good place to spot coastal birdlife and tuck into ceviche since you’re right beside the water.
Days 12-14: Santa Marianita (Punta La Barca)
For the perfect end of two weeks Ecuador, immerse into local life in this still off-the-beaten track fishing village. Enjoy shared meals, play football with the local guys, reflect on your experiences around a bonfire and try your hand at kitesurfing. And if you feel like you don’t want to leave, get inspired by the various digital nomads and slow travelers staying around. For more information about staying with us, check out our rooms and rates.