Are you looking for things to do in Guayaquil, Ecuador? There are tons of options to keep you entertained for days!
Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador, is often undervalued since it used to have the reputation of being a dangerous place.
Well, let me tell you that’s an old story!
Now, Guayaquil is a fun lively city with tons of things to do to keep you busy for days!
Where is Guayaquil located?
This Ecuadorian port city, the capital of Guayas province, is located on the west bank of the Guayas River, which flows towards the Pacific Ocean through the Gulf of Guayaquil. Its privileged location makes Guayaquil the perfect gateway to the Galapagos Islands and the other main touristic places in Ecuador as well.
So, should you stay a couple of days in Guayaquil to wander around? – Definitely!!! – You’ll be surprised at all the things to do in Guayaquil, Ecuador!
Best things to do in Guayaquil with kids
As with any other big city in South America, Guayaquil has many places and activities for you and your loved ones. Here is a selection of the best:
- Malecon 2000: Strolling along this boardwalk is a must. The Malecon 2000 offers a really nice walk with views of the Guayas River, passing beautiful gardens, shops, restaurants and playgrounds en route. Your kids will enjoy the small amusement park at the south end!
- Captain Morgan boat trip: You can take this inexpensive boat trip ($7,00 per pax) from the Malecon 2000. Make sure to take the 6 p.m. tour so that you and your family can enjoy the best views of the port while the sun sets!
- El Pantanal Zoo: This magical place (25 min. north of Guayaquil) started as a refuge for wounded and rescued animals. Its current residents include some rare species of animals such as a jaguar, an African lion, a zebra, a Bengal tiger, a puma, a spectacled bear, some Andean eagles, monkeys, and flamingos!
- Forestal Park: This park has many areas to enjoy, from playgrounds, gardens, an Arts & Crafts Square, and a lagoon for boat rides.
- Hacienda La Danesa: A 90-minute car ride will take you to this magnificent farmhouse where, besides the luxurious accommodation and gourmet food, you can enjoy horse riding, biking, or a nice walk through the local plantations. For the more adventurous, there is the chance to do tubing on a small river. You can also get involved in some farming practices such as milking the cows or making delicious chocolate bars.
Things to do in Guayaquil for solo travelers
In addition to the activities mentioned previously, there are some other sights and activities that are especially great if you’re travelling solo.
- Seminario Park: Better known as Iguana Park. Guess which animal is the main attraction here? Iguanas, of course! This city square, with its trees and grass, is completely taken over by these amazing animals who are quite accustomed to their human visitors.
- There are some interesting places to visit within and around the Malecón 2000 with views of the Guayas River. Look out for The Point, the highest building in Guayaquil with its unique modern architecture that gives it a twisted appearance. Walking along the Malecón, you will find La Rotonda, a monument depicting a historical meeting between Simón Bolivar and José de San Martín; the Moorish Tower with the city clock; La Perla, the Ecuadorian version of the London Eye; and the Museum of Anthropology and Contemporary Art (MAAC).
- Malecón El Salado: A bit less touristy than Malecón 2000, this pleasant wooden boardwalk gives you the chance to see Guayaquileños as they really are since it’s surrounded by working class neighborhoods.
- Santa Ana Hill: At the south end of Malecón 2000 you will find this pretty, colorful place. It’s home to the legendary Barrio Las Peñas, which claims to be the oldest neighborhood in Guayaquil. A regeneration program was initiated in 2002 to preserve the colonial architecture of its casitas (houses). What used to be a dangerous and ugly area has turned into a romantic and bohemian place to visit with lots of inviting cafes and bars with live music.
- The Metropolitan Cathedral of Guayaquil: Also known as the Cathedral of Saint Peter, this impressive neo-Gothic structure is located in the heart of Guayaquil. It’s not the original city cathedral, as the building has suffered a few fires during Guayaquil’s dramatic history.
- The Guayaquil Historical Park: This is the perfect place to get a glimpse of the flora and fauna, history and culture of Guayaquil and the coastal region. The park is made up of three areas: the Wildlife Area, the Traditions Area, and the Urban Architecture Area. The Wildlife Area is home to lots of native species that were rescued from traffickers. Cultural and artistic performances take place twice a day to show you the Guayaquileño traditions.
- Miniature Museum of Guayaquil: In 45 minutes this ambitious project takes you through the history and evolution of “La Perla del Pacífico” (as Ecuadorians call Guayaquil) using a series of beautifully created dioramas.
- The Botanical Garden: This magical garden sits upon a low hill in a residential area. Its main attractions are the iguanas – of course – and the impressive collection of orchids.
Things to do in Guayaquil with friends
As the largest city in Ecuador, Guayaquil offers several places to meet with friends.
Take note that FOOD may be the most common excuse for socializing in this metropolis. For the most Guayaquileño of culinary experiences, try the famous Cangrejada. This messy tradition reunites families and friends around a table for several hours on Sunday afternoons to enjoy tasty crabs cooked in beer and spices.
And since we are talking about food, don’t miss the chance to try the iconic encebollado, a yummy soup with fish, cassava and spices. You can only find this particular dish in little restaurants all over Guayaquil, it’s never prepared in a house by the family.
Cultural warning: Don’t you dare try Guayaquileño food without a Pilsener! This may not be the best beer you’ll ever try, but it’s the local brew!
Take a look at our passes for the coastal region and you’ll find Guayaquil in the itineraries! You will enjoy views of the banana and cacao plantations along the way.
If you are looking for a Cacao Farm experience among the things to do in Guayaquil, Ecuador, we have the Fregata Pass, Tucan Pass, Tangara Pass, Condor Pass, and our Wander Pass for you!
So, get your luggage ready and don’t forget the Pilsener!