What To Do in Guayaquil and How To Get There
The largest and most populous city in Ecuador, Guayaquil is best known by travelers as the gateway to the Galapagos. Whether you’re traveling through on your way to the islands or just visiting Guayaquil, make sure to allow at least a couple days to explore this city itself and the many attractions it has to offer- there is a lot to do in Guayaquil! The vibrant metropolis is becoming more popular than ever, with urban-renewal projects, a strong economy, growing arts and nightlife scene and a steady flow of travelers who are making a destination out of this former stop-over point.
Here are all the best things to do in the beautiful, riverfront city of Guayaquil- and most importantly, tips on where to stay and how to get there!
5 Things To Do in Guayaquil, Ecuador
1. Malecon 2000
Like many “malecons” in South America, walking along this riverfront path is the perfect thing to do when you first arrive in Guayaquil. With historic monuments, restaurants, gardens, outdoor concerts, a shopping mall and even an iMax theater, there’s a little something for every type of visitor.
2. Parque Historico Guayaquil
This unique park honors all of the things that represent Guayaquil’s history- past and present. Divided into three zones (wildlife, traditions and urban), you get a glimpse of how the different elements interact. In the wildlife zone you’ll see 45 species of birds, animals and reptiles in their natural habitat. In the urban architecture zone, you’ll find early 20th century relics and a restaurant. And lastly, in the traditions zone, you can learn about rural customs, crafts and architecture found in Guayaquil. If you want to get a glimpse of everything in one spot, this is the place to go!
3. Las Penas
Considered the best view in Guayaquil, Las Penas is a delightful attraction and often claimed as a visitor’s favorite thing to do in the city. However, there’s a catch: to witness the restored multicolored homes, 360 degree views of the city, and great bars and restaurants lining the path, you’re going to have to work for it. Reaching the top involves climbing 444 steps (each one numbered), and during the middle of the day this can be a challenge for some. But take your time, stop along the way, and you’ll be glad you didn’t miss this gem. Tourist police line the path in case you need anything, and the lighthouse at the top will offer a breathtaking view that makes it more than worth it.
4. Numa Pompilio Llona
Beginning at the northern end of the malecon, explore this historical little street along which you’ll see former presidents’ homes, art galleries and craft shops. Look for the subtle signs indicating which were the residences of past presidents, and admire the beautifully-preserved architecture along the cute windy road.
5. Parque Bolivar/ Parque Seminario
If you thought the Galapagos were the only place in Ecuador to see exotic animals, think again! Located in the heart of downtown Guayaquil, this park is home to many land iguanas- some over a meter in length. It’s quite an unexpected sight to see, and a favorite thing to do in the city for locals and visitors alike.
Where to Stay in Guayaquil
1. Hotel Oro Verde Guayaquil
Regarded as one of the best hotels in Guayaquil, this is a great place to stay whether you’re passing through or here to sightsee. Walking distance from many of the popular things to do listed above, travelers love it for the spacious rooms, attentive staff, top-quality service, delicious restaurant, breakfast buffet, swimming pool, and complimentary welcome cocktails.
2. Wyndham Guayaquil
Another beloved 5-star hotel, the Wyndham is one of the best hotels in Guayaquil known for supreme cleanliness, friendly service, great food, views, a pool, and a perfect location that is right on the gorgeous riverfront, yet still very close to the airport.
3. Holiday Inn Guayaquil Airport
Leagues ahead of your typical close-to-the-airport hotel, the Holiday Inn Guayaquil is a great value. For those travelers more focused on getting to their next destination, this is a great place to stay. Nice rooms, clean facilities, helpful staff and a rooftop pool all make it very popular- and guests continue to rave that despite being right next to the airport, you never hear a sound! The best hotel for stopovers.
4. Hilton Colon Guayaquil
A 5-star Hilton with all the amenities you expect of the chain, this is a reliable standard for those stopping over on their way to or from the Galapagos. Close to the airport, they offer a free shuttle service to get you to your flight. For those hoping to sightsee a lot in the city though, it’s further than other hotels- not the best area for walking around but perfect for getting to your flight on time.
5. Hotel Palace Guayaquil
A smaller building than the others, this hotel has had a special place in the city’s history since the late 1950’s and the management are proud to share it with you. With quick, attentive service and a willingness to help you with anything you need, this is a favorite hotel in the city. Just a few minutes from the Malecon, it has a wonderfully convenient location as well.
6. Unipark Hotel
Just fifteen minutes from the airport and a few blocks from the Malecon (beside the iguana-filled Parque Bolivar in fact) this classic hotel is a longstanding favorite. Clean, modern rooms in historic Guayaquil keep travelers coming back for what they call a “five star hotel at a four star price”. The competitive value of Unipark stands out, and it’s great for those staying in the city to sightsee or passing through on the way to the Galapagos. Make sure to check out the beloved breakfast buffet.
How to Get to Guayaquil, Ecuador
From South America
Flights from within South America are frequent, and you can catch flights from most capital and major cities throughout the day to Guayaquil. Flights from the Galapagos run more than 3 times per day on airlines such as TAM, Lan Ecuador, and Avianca.
From North America
You can fly directly to Guayaquil from major cities such as Houston, Miami, New York, Montreal or Toronto. During the low season, the prices can drop to as little as $350. Both American Airlines and Continental operate these routes.
Most flights coming through Europe will connect through the capital of Quito, and the only airlines currently flying directly there are Iberia (from Madrid), or KLM via Amsterdam or Paris. Airlines such as British Airways or LAN usually operate with changes in Miami or another South American capital city.
From Asia and Australasia
If you’re coming from New Zealand or Australia, your best bet will be traveling from Auckland or Sydney and connecting in Honolulu or Los Angeles, before a second connection in the USA.
Flights from Asia usually run on Air China, Japan Airlines, KLM, Lufthansa and American Airlines. Flights from Beijing tend to connect in Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles or Frankfurt, and Tokyo flights usually stop in Amsterdam, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston or Washington. All of these usually involve second stops in South or Central America.
Even if Guayaquil is just your stop on the way to your Galapagos Cruise, make sure to check out a couple of the things to see in the city that we listed above! With more things to do in Guayaquil than ever, a day or two rest before flying home can be the perfect chance to get a little dose of the culture. Feel free to contact us to see how you can incorporate a stay in Guayaquil into your Galapagos plans, need help on how to get there, or are ready to book somewhere to stay!