As a startup founder, university professor, and amateur photographer from Guayaquil, I often get to drive international visitors around town. I love foreigners smiling over sights in my beautiful hometown, so due to scarce online resources on what to do in town, I figured a succint post on the subject would be helpful.
What to do in Guayaquil?
For sightseeing, I would definitely recommend:
- Malecón 2000, Las Peñas Quarter, Puerto Santa Ana, and going up the ladders to El Faro.
- Quick detour to check out the Galapagos Tortoises at ESPOL Peñas Campus.
- Parque de Las Iguanas, Iglesia Merced in downtown Guayaquil. You can go to La Canoa for a typical guayaquilean meal.
- Presley Norton Museum, Firefighters Museum, Nahím Isaías Museum, MAAC Museum, the Pasillo and Folkloric Music Museum, and the City Municipality Museum.
- Plaza Lagos and restaurants at Via Samborondón for a fancier, relaxed night out. Feels like going to the Southern US state plazas.
- The Artisan's Market for nice+cheap souvenirs.
- Parque Histórico, a zoo + colonial guided tour in Vía a Samborondón. Free access.
- Santay Island, a one day walk/bike.
- The Morgan Ship, a two hour sail across the Guayas river. Best taken at 6pm, to catch the sunset.
- Mall del Sol, San Marino, Village Plaza, and others for mall rats and essentials shopping.
- Durán Train Station, a one day trip to Bucay. But if taking the train, the Nariz del Diablo and Ruta del Hielo packages are better options, taken from Quito or Riobamba.
What are must eats in Guayaquil?
- Encebollado, Cazuela, or Ecuadorian Ceviche. Found in La Canoa.
- Viagra. Found in El Gato Portovejense.
- Plantain based dishes. Found in El Patacón.
- Greasy, unhealthy others. Found in Cocolón.
- If you're up for the Bizarre Foods/No Reservations experience, you can go to the Caraguay Market with a local. This was Bourdain's favorite spot in Ecuador, although dodgy/nasty looking.
Where to stay at in Guayaquil?
If you're looking for a comfortable stay, The Hilton Colón and Sheraton are good options.
If you're looking for a more social/hostel kind of experience, El Manso and Iguanazú are really nice places to stay at. El Manso is in downtown Guayaquil, and Iguanazú is a bit far off in the Paraíso hill.
What cities are close to Guayaquil?
If you find some extra day or two, you should try going to Cuenca or Montañita. Each city is 3 hours away from Guayaquil, and both are worth the trip.
Ruta del Sol/Ruta de la Spondylus are beautiful for sightseeing, and Montañita's nightlife is unparalleled in Ecuador.
Try going on a weekday (Wednesday or Thursday) to Montañita, unless you'd prefer larger crowds.
Cuenca is close to Gualaceo (leather based goods), Chordeleg (hand made quiality jewelry), and the Ingapirca ruins (a beautiful Incan/Cañari ceremonial site).
If you plan on traveling to other cities, a good website to find a place to stay is the Friendly Hostels Community (fhc.com.ec) if you're into backpacking, or Trip Advisor for local hotels. AirBnB is becoming more popular in foreigner friendly cities like Cuenca.
Feel free to google map your itinerary beforehand, always best to be prepared.
What else is close to Guayaquil?
You'll need a local with a car for these activities:
- Puerto El Morro, a tour over the mangrove forest in the Guayas delta, accessible from Playas. It's a nice one day trip with a mild chance of meeting wild bottleneck dolphins. Bring a bottle of water or two with you for this one.
- Posorja and Puná Island, one hour away from Guayaquil, very similar flora/fauna as in El Morro, but sightseeing is prettier, there's an island with blue footed boobies worth the trip.
- Baños de San Vicente, if you like mud baths, these are known to be rich in minerals.
- Salinas, La Chocolatera
- Playas, Varadero
- Durán Train Station
If you're into surfing, there's a great spot near Playas called Engabao. It's a fishermen town, so no public access, unless a friend takes you. I'd bring a used surfboard and maybe give learning a try at the beach break, away from the point. Might be a cool one day trip. Also, great balsawood shapers live in Playas, and sell collector's boards for reasonable prices ($400-$600).
Where else to go in Ecuador?
Galapagos, Cuenca, Montañita, Baños, and some reserves such as Machalilla National Park and the Cuyabeno reserve are places I would recommend if you're into adventure tourism.
Traveling via bus can be uncomfortable, but it's definitely worth it.
EasyTaxi is a nice app to have in larger cities, as well as having a "TaxiAmigo" company number. Finally, please google Anthony Bourdain's and Andrew Zimmern's videos on Ecuador.
Hope this helps,
Here's some posts I've written elsewhere in both English and Spanish.
You can find my musings on Startup Nations, Matador Network, Medium, and Cowbird.
Thanks for stopping by!