Our top things to do in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands can show you the possibilities as you choose active discovery over passive exploration when traveling to the country and its famous archipelago.
The mainland overflows with culture in and among historic towns and villages, where Ecuadorian heritage intertwines with daily life. The backdrops are breathtaking, featuring mountains veiled in greenery and emerald plains stretching as far as the eye can see. The diverse scenery of the Galapagos Islands gives rise to a different selection of wildlife that may be endemic to a single place on the entire archipelago.
From admiring the beautiful natural backdrops to cruising between the islands, our top experiences in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands reveal the highlights for your trip.
The wildlife and natural beauty of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands are the prime reasons for visiting, and wildlife viewing trips across the islands or into the Amazon can show you the endless charms of the wilderness and the creatures that call the mainland and islands home.
With the endless allure of delicate ecosystems, you can experience one of the world’s most unique destinations as you explore the best places to visit in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. The wide diversity of animals on every island allows you to see mating rituals, nesting, or offspring in any season for an unforgettable look into nature at its best.
Best Places for Wildlife: Española • Fernandina • Isabela Island • Floreana • Genovesa Island • Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve
You may not think of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands as places for enticing cuisine, but it is time on the islands combined with that in Quito, Ecuador’s capital city, that presents a brand new image of Ecuadorian gastronomy.
Tradition and contemporary perspective meet seasonal, local ingredients shaped by hyper-local ecosystems. This means you can find fresh seafood on the islands, great vegetarian options, and even Michelin-starred restaurants celebrating the extraordinary regional diversity of greater Ecuador on luxury Galapagos Islands tours.
Best Places for Food: Quito • Santa Cruz • San Cristobal • Puerto Ayora
The culture and history of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands are rooted in wildlife and the sea, but also connect to the inhabitants of the mainland and four islands to ensure the conditions around the delicate ecosystems remain immaculate.
From food that reflects the location of Quito to a history of buccaneers and penal colonies, there is a surprisingly rich cultural heritage around Ecuador and the islands that only adds to the allure of the wilderness landscape rising out of the crystal-clear Pacific. You can embrace it all on Galapagos Islands tours for seniors.
Best Places for Cultural Heritage: Santa Cruz • San Cristobal • Floreana • Isabela Island • Quito • Tena
The Galapagos Islands of Ecuador are an exceptional place to scuba dive or snorkel, with approximately 17 percent of the aquatic life endemic only to the archipelago. Luxury Galapagos Islands cruises offer the best opportunities for such activities, sharing unparalleled experiences in the water.
The clear and azure Pacific feels like it holds lavish mysteries and does give you an experience unlike anywhere else in the world. Whether you are looking for rare whales, hammerhead sharks, or Sally Lightfoot crabs, the marine life will delight every nature enthusiast.
Best Places for Snorkeling or Scuba Diving: Santa Cruz • Daphne Island • Wolf Island • Isabela Island • Bartolome Island
Diversity abounds in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands' natural scenery, with the landscape offering as much wonder and variation as the wildlife for cinematic photography and hiking tours during the best time to visit Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands for outdoor activities.
Rocky trails are as ubiquitous as the untouched beaches. Forests are as prickly as the cactus. You can find trails winding through lava fields, encounter lookouts with sweeping panoramas, negotiate seaside cliffs, or reach the Amazon Rainforest. Each element gives you an essential and original expression of the mainland and islands.
Best Places for Photography and Hiking: Santa Fe • San Cristobal • Santiago • Bartolome Island • Isabela Island • Parque Nacional Yasuní
The Galapagos Islands are an excellent place for kayakers of any skill level, making it a perfect experience to add to Galapagos cruises for seniors. The calm and clear waters give you a chance for close encounters with majestic marine life, with little resistance from the current.
The grand adventure of a kayak excursion in the Galapagos focuses on your proximity to the wildlife and perspective of the landscape so you can hear the sea lions, find the sea turtles, and edge the colonies of frigate birds.
Best Places for Kayaking: Darwin Bay • Los Lobos
Birdwatching nears the dramatic in the Galapagos Islands, drawing people from around the world throughout the year eager to see the winged creatures on Galapagos Islands vacations and tours.
Each island in each season can give you a different perspective on the life cycles of the native and migratory birds around the archipelago. From nesting to feeding, mating to the differences between land and sea birds, flamingos to mockingbirds, hawks to penguins, you will have an impressive glimpse into the unfettered habits of these beauties.
Best Places for Birdwatching: San Cristobal • Espanola • Fernandina • Santiago • Isabela Island • Mindo Cloud Forest
While the Galapagos Islands represent a different kind of tropical paradise, they remain a haven for witnessing the breathtaking connection between land, sea, and sea turtles when traveling around the islands.
The warm Pacific waters and pristine beaches provide the perfect ecosystem for nesting and hatching turtles around the archipelago, giving you an excellent opportunity to witness the endangered species venture out into and return from the wild waters.
Best Places for Viewing Sea Turtles: Isabela Island • Santa Cruz • Santiago • Baltra Island
Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands are pocket oases for wildlife, revealing the breathtaking spirit of nature. Whether you want a family-friendly discovery of the vibrant reefs and active sea lions or a thrilling couple’s excursion around secluded colonies of penguins, embrace the endlessly enduring destinations on Ecuador tours and Galapagos vacations.
For more ideas on how to plan your trip, as well as what to expect when experiencing the top things to do in Ecuador and the Galapagos, browse our Galapagos Islands and Ecuador travel guide.