Weekend guide to Baños, Ecuador

To round off an AWESOME couple of weeks in Ecuador, my 2016 trip ended on a high (literally – 6000 ft. above sea level) in the city of Baños.

Not only is the incredible scenery enough to warrant a visit, but the town is also known as the adventure capital of Ecuador, and the ‘Gateway to the Amazon’. In other words, maybe book a flight.


Did you know? Baños sits beneath the Tungurahua volcano – who’s ash explosions and lava flows can be seen from the city.


With only a couple of days to spare in this action-packed place, we used our time wisely and saw A LOT. This post is to help you do the same. 🙂

 

Getting there

My trip to Ecuador was organised with the company Volunteer Eco Students Abroad (VESA) (still not sponsored – still wish it was). This included travel around the country, so I simply boarded the coach from Misahualli, and 3 hours later I was in Baños.


To read about our adventures with VESA in the Amazon jungle, click here.


However, if you’re travelling solo, or – unlike me – are just organised enough to plan your own trip, there are many routes to Baños. For a reliable, cheap and scenic option – I recommend hopping on a bus.

Buses:

The bus station in Baños is within walking distance of most of the city.

  • From Quito: very frequent connections, the pick up point in Quito is usually Terrestre Quitumbe. Takes roughly 3.5 hours, $4.
  • From Guayaquil: frequent connections. Takes 6.5 hours, $10.

TOP TIP: for travel throughout the whole country, be wary of altitude sickness!

 

Accommodation

Baños is home to a whole pool of hostels and Airbnb‘s – so finding one that takes your fancy shouldn’t be hard. If you’re turning up mid-week then have a scout around, and if it’s the weekend just make sure you don’t arrive too late on Friday and there should still be plenty of places to crash!

We stayed at Hostel Backpackers Los Pinos, and I REALLY liked it:

PROS

  • Free breakfast
  • One free dinner included (Monday-Wednesday)
  • 10/10 COMMUNAL FACILITIES (Pool table, bar, movie rentals, social events etc)
  • Wifi
  • Hot showers
  • Hammocks
  • Food & drinks reasonable price

CONS

  • Wifi was a little slow
  • The hot water runs out 😦

Dorms are from $8 a night, you can book in advance directly, or through booking.com and hostelworld.com.

My room at Backpackers Hostel Los Pinos

Other accommodation options:

Round the corner from our hostel – Baños is home to plenty of street art

Food (& Drink)

I’ve already mentioned the hostels great food and drinks menu, and even buying groceries and cooking your own meals is a great option if you have the luxury of a kitchen! Alternatively, I’ve mentioned a couple of places below for when you’re wandering the streets of Baños on an empty stomach.

BREAKFAST

Although we didn’t end up eating here ourselves, we heard lots of good things about Cafe Good (lol). My friend and I walked in one morning after hearing it was a great place for breakfast, but the place was completely full! We left to find somewhere else as we were pretty hungry – and impatient. But if the crowds and reviews are anything to go off, the place should be called Cafe Really, Really Good. Prices from $5.50, opens 8am.

On my last morning in Baños, I grabbed a couple of pastries from one of the bakeries by the bridge, and oh WOW they were so good. I’ve had a quick scout on Google Maps and I think it is a place called Dulce-Cita Panaderia & Pasteleria on Pedro Vicente Maldonado. I know that’s not a lot to go off, but it’s just down from the bus station, and trust me – if you’re that side of town – sniff out those pastries. No more than $2.

LUNCH

One of the best meals we had in Baños was at a little Pizzeria that we stumbled upon one very hungry afternoon. I can’t remember the name ( 😦 ) but it’s on Vicente Rocafuerte overlooking the Palomino Flores park. Roughly $7 for a pizza and a drink.

The markets are also another great option for lunch – and for as little as $2(!!!).

 

Did you know? Guinea pigs are a delicacy in much of South America (RIP)

EVENING

Our favourite bar was hands down Leprechaun Bar (every city in the world has an Irish bar doesn’t it?). Although, we did spend every night in this place, making it hard for us to actually see if there was competition.

TOP TIP: get your local friends to buy your drinks because it’s likely to be more expensive for you! There are two prices – for locals and gringos.

Other food & drink options:

Things to do

Now onto the juicy section, where to start?

For a ‘city’ with a population of only 15,000, Baños has SO MUCH TO OFFER. It must be like a fairy wonderland for adrenaline junkies.

I’ve broken it down into only 10 activities – including some of my personal faves, and some we sadly didn’t have time to do. ( 😦 )

1) Take a dip in the thermal baths

2) Swing off the edge of the world at La Casa Del Arbol

3) Admire Nuestra Señora del Agua Santa

4) Jump off the San Francisco Bridge

5) Take a tour of the waterfalls

6) Rent quad bikes/dirt bikes/ATVs

7) Hike or take a bus up to the best view of the volcano

8) Grab a deserved post-jungle massage

9) Join a day/week trip into the Amazon Rainforest

10) Then there is also:

  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Rafting
  • Zip lining
  • Canyoning
  • Etc etc etc

WOW. Breathe.

 

Holly’s weekend of fun:

(My suggested itinerary)

FRIDAY

17:00 – arrive at Baños bus station

17:30 – walk across town and check into Hostel Backpackers Los Pinos

18:30 – explore the town including Central Park, San Francisco bridge and passing Nuestra Señora del Agua Santa

19:00 – dinner at La Cascada Brew Pub

20:30 – get to know your surroundings by quad bike!

SATURDAY

09:00 – breakfast at Hostel Backpackers Los Pinos

09:30 – meet bus outside hostel, trip up the mountain to view Tungurahua volcano

11:30 – test your guts swinging at La Casa Del Arbol

13:00 – hop off the bus near the centre and grab lunch at the markets (try some guinea pig!)

14:00 – afternoon activity! Go rafting, abseiling, zip lining, tour the nearby waterfalls or hike one of the many trails up to the Baños look out point

19:30 – dinner at Casa Hood

21:00 – head to Leprechaun’s for a night of drinking and dancing!

SUNDAY

10:00 – grab breakfast in town from the market or a bakery

10:30 – bridge jump!

13:00 – lunch at Cafe Good

15:30 – relax in the thermal baths or treat yourself to a massage

19:00 – dinner at pizzeria

20:00 – back to Hostel Backpackers Los Pinos for movie night in the common room

 

A few more pictures:

DONE.

Obviously there is so much more I could have mentioned, and I’m sure if you’ve been to Baños yourself you have a completely different set of recommendations – but nevertheless I hope this proves useful for at least someone.

 

But if you’re going to take anything from this – I would highly recommend visiting.

For my time in Ecuador, I also spent four days in the Amazon rainforest (that you can read about here) and a week volunteering with a local community – that you can read here!

 

Are you planning a trip to Ecuador? Did you find this post helpful?? 🤔💭

 

Watch my Ecuador after-movie below:

 

If you liked this post, please share it! It helps me a lot xox

 

Till next time ma dudes, Holly

 

PS Shoutout to Sarah, Ashlyn and Rachel for some of the pictures above – I think by the time we arrived in Baños, my SD cards were full whoops 🧡💛

 

If you’re not bored of me yet:

 

 

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