Are you wondering how is Guayaquil for solo travelers? Guayaquil is the largest city in Ecuador (twice as large as Quito!) and is also a major port along the southern coast. It’s a gateway to Ecuadorian beaches in the provinces of Guayas, Santa Elena and Manabí, and a frequented layover for travelers going to the Galápagos Islands. Apart from that, though, it is also offers a rich culture and history and is becoming more of a destination for tourists.
In the following blog, we’ll go into whether Guayaquil is a good destination for solo travelers and provide a few things to do while there.
Is Guayaquil a good destination for solo travelers?
Yes and no. It really depends on you, as a traveler, and what you’re looking for. If you like large, chaotic cities, delicious food, exploring urban subcultures and visiting museums and historical sites, Guayaquil could very well be for you!
However, if you prefer nature and tranquility over urban living, Guayaquil might feel overwhelming.
That said, if you’re on your way to the Galápagos Islands and stop through Guayaquil (most flights depart from Guayaquil’s airport), you should take advantage of that stop and tour the city, if only to see a few key highlights.
Similarly, if you’re planning to head out to Salinas, Montañita, Olón or Ayampe, your pitstop through Guayaquil might be a good opportunity to eat some of the best crab soup in Ecuador!
One other factor to consider is that security is more of an issue in Guayaquil than in most places in Ecuador. However, it’s nothing unique to Guayaquil; most large urban centers deal with increased crime rates. In Guayaquil, more often than not, insecurity might just look like petty theft / stealing.
There are many ways you can mitigate security threats in a place like Guayaquil and this shouldn’t completely deter you from exploring the city for a day or two!
How to plan your solo trip to Guayaquil?
The key to planning a solo trip to a place like Guayaquil (or really any destination), is to plan ahead.
- Make sure you know how you’re getting from the bus terminal or airport to your apartment/Airbnb
- Buy a local SIM card before traveling, ideally with data, just in case you need to make an emergency phone number or send a message
- Don’t rely on your phone for everything. Have important information (e.g. hostel address, trusted taxi driver’s number) written down in a notebook in case your phone dies.
- Have an idea on prices for taxis and buses so you don’t get ripped off
- Avoid taking unmarked taxis or hopping on just any bus!
Note: Much of the hassle can be avoided if you travel with Wanderbus, especially any questions around security. Wanderbus will pick you up from specific locations at decent hours and, from there, you can continue along a route designed for travelers like yourself.
Best things to do in Guayaquil for solo travelers
As a solo traveler in Guayaquil, consider visiting some of the following places in town:
This is a memorable XIX century park and church in central Guayaquil that is literally teeming with green iguanas. I’m talking about the live animal, and many of them! This park is also a good pit stop if you need a moment to catch your breath and rehydrate – Guayaquil is hot and humid!
Eat delicious seafood
Guayaquil has gained nationwide recognition for its cuisine and, in particular, its crab dishes.
Make your way to the Malecón 2000, or Calle 9 or the Las Peñas neighborhood and you’ll have a number of restaurants to choose from.
You’re assured fresh crab, prawns and shrimp in local dishes like sopa de cangrejo (crab soup), arroz con cangrejo (crab and rice), cangrejo relleno (stuffed crab), ensalada de cangrejo (crab salad) and cangrejo al ajillo (crab in garlic sauce).
Explore Las Peñas and Cerro Santa Ana
If you prefer to explore a city on foot, head over to las Peñas, Guayaquil’s most colorful neighborhood located on a hill overlooking the city and coast. Las Peñas is also a great place to learn about and witness Guayaquil’s cultural history. If you can, try to hire a local guide for half a day that knows the history of the place. Though many tourists come here during the day, las Peñas is quite the nighttime destination as well, with numerous bars and clubs.
Feeling ambitious? From here, you can climb up Cerro Santa Ana’s 444 steps to catch an impressive view of Guayaquil and it’s 2.2. Million inhabitants!
Visit Malecón 2000
Malecón 2000 is a boardwalk along Guayaquil Río Guayas. It’s picturesque and stretches for 2.5 km (1.5 mi), following the river. The cool breeze attracts locals and visitors alike and makes it a nice spot to enjoy the sunset with a cold beer. It’s free to visit, but is only open from 6-10 pm on weekdays and 3-11 pm on weekends and holidays.
What to do next?
From Guayaquil, there are a bunch of beautiful destinations to explore for the solo traveler.
Explore the beaches
If you want to continue along the coast, you can grab a bus (or the Wanderbus!) north through Montañita and Puerto López, some of the best beaches in the country.
In Montañita you can get your surf on, learn Spanish, or just make new friends in this laid back beach party town.
In Puerto López, you can observe migrating humpback whales and explore Machalilla National Park and its beautiful Playa los Frailes and Isla de la Plata.
Cuenca is another main city in Ecuador and a beautiful one at that. The architecture and overall beauty of Cuenca makes you feel like you’re walking through a living museum. Located in the Andes, you’ll notice a drastic shift in temperature and altitude, compared to Guayaquil.
From Cuenca, you can explore El Cajas National Park and artisanal towns like Gualaceo and Chordeleg.
The Galápagos Islands
This is the next logical stopping point for most tourists in Guayaquil. From here, it’s only a 2 hour flight to the Galápagos Islands.
Wanderbus offers you a new way to travel. Our passes are designed by travel-loving Ecuadorians and take you to the best stops along your route. This doesn’t mean that they’re the most touristic stop. In fact, many travelers might not know to stop through these areas!
Also, traveling with Wanderbus ensures a few key things: your safety, flexibility, and many worthwhile activities to do at each stop. You can always decide to do your own thing and then hop back onto the Wanderbus vehicle.
Want to learn more? Shoot us a comment or email and we’ll be happy to elaborate!