Banos (or Baños Ecuador as per the correct spelling) is definitely Ecuador’s adventure capital. With death defying activities on offer for cheap, cheap prices most travellers head here for the thrill of the extreme. But this little town surrounded by waterfalls deep in the centre of a valley has so much more to offer. From epic waterfalls to ‘the swing at the end of the world’ and next-level canyoning, Here are the top 10 things to do in Banos Ecuador before you leave.
1. Hire A bike and visit the devils cauldron waterfall
This is definitely one of the best things to do in Banos Ecuador. The Devil’s Cauldron Waterfall ( or el Pailon Del Diablo in Spanish) is incredibly beautiful and one of the most amazing waterfalls I’ve even seen. You can spend two to three hours exploring the entire park scrambling under the waterfall for a fantastic view from the base. And climbing to the top to watch it’s almighty power from the upper view points.
HOW TO GET THERE: We hired bikes for $5 for the day from the centre of town. Then we cycled to the bus station and hopped on the next bus to Puyo for $2USD. The Devil’s Cauldron is about an hour out of town on the way to Puyo, so just ask the driver to let you off at ‘la entrada a Pailon Del Diablo’. Once you’ve finished exploring the waterfall you can follow the Routa De Cascadas all the way back to Banos (about a 3 hour ride).
COST: The whole day’s excursion should cost you about $7 USD. Plus whatever you have for lunch.
2. Rest those weary muscles at the Piscina El Salado hot springs
You can’t go to Banos – famously named for it’s hot springs – without visiting one. Right? The Piscina El Salado hot springs are one of the number one things to do in Banos Ecuador and are the perfect place to treat your sore muscles after a day on the bike. The best time to go is at 7pm once the pools have been cleaned for the day and the locals head home for dinner.
HOW TO GET THERE: The pools are a 25 minute easy walk to from any of the central hotels in Banos Ecuador. Just head to the west side of town, where you’ll find Avenida El Saldo. Walk along it for about 10 minutes and you’ll find the entrance to the pools.
COST: Entry is $3 USD during the day and $4 USD at night.
3. Swing at the end of the world at casa del arbol
‘The swing at the end of the world’ is one of the top things to do in Banos Ecuador. And if you have friends visiting Ecuador the photos are probably clogging up your Instagram feed as we speak. Apart from a place to take stunning photos it’s actually a really fun way to spend a few hours. Plus the views over active volcano Tungurahua are incredible! Casa del Arbol is surrounded by a cute little adventure park with more swings, flying foxes and a couple of cute cows. I’d definitely recommend taking the journey here, even if you’re adverse to overly touristy things. Something about the view over the active volcano.
HOW TO GET THERE: Take the bus from the corner of Rocafuerte st & Pastaza st for $1 USD. It leaves every day at 11am and will then wait for you at the top. Departing Casa del Arbol at 1pm back to town. The journey takes about an hour and a half each way. The other option is a 6 hour round trip difficult hike.
COST: The bus will set you back $1 USD each way. And entry is $1 USD.
4. try hot chocolate with cheese
Arome Cafe and Chocolate is a quaint little cafe serving up some of the best hot chocolate I’ve had on my travels. Now it sounds odd but in Ecuador hot chocolate with cheese is a delicacy and you can’t leave without tasting. Arome is the perfect place to do this. While you’re there you should also try the chilli hot chocolate. It’s absolutely delicious!
HOW TO GET THERE: Cafe Arome is in the centre of town on Calle Oriente. And really close to all of the major hotels and hostels.
COST: $3 USD
5. Hike to Bella vista or el virgin
There are many amazing hikes all around Banos. The most popular being Bella Vista and El Virgin. Mirador Virgin is a simple 45 minute steep hike and really great for sunset. While El Virgin is a little more difficult. The 645 steep stairs will take you about 4 hours round trip. So it’s advised to be back in town before dark.
HOW TO GET THERE: All of the hikes are really well sign posted from the centre of town. Just ask your hostel to point you in the right direction.
6. Eat at the market
Like any good South American town the market at banos is a must-visit. With cute little old ladies running the stalls and inviting visitors to enter, this market has its own charm. The must-try here is llapachingo. Rice, avocado, pickled vegetables, chorizo and home-made potato dumplings. Delicious!
HOW TO GET THERE: The market is in the centre town. So a five minute walk from any of the central hotels.
COST: $2.50 USD for a two-course lunch including juice.
7. try the local lollies
There are a huge amount of artisanal lollie shops in Banos. All hand-making their own range of sweet, sticky taffy. Walk along the streets and you can’t miss them. You also can’t leave town without trying these sickly sweet treats.
HOW TO GET THERE: Walk along the centre of town and you can’t miss them.
COST: About $1 USD for a rather large packet.
8. sip coffee at honey
Wherever I am I always try and find a good cafe to sit for a few hours and write at. Honey was that cafe in Banos Ecuador. With delicious breakfast options, cakes and coffee it’s the perfect place to unwind and spend and afternoon.
HOW TO GET THERE: Honey is located on the corner of Pedro Vicente Maldonado st and Ambato st next to the Theater of the city of Baños de Agua Santa
COST: Breakfast starts at about $6 USD. While a cup of coffee will set you back $2+.
9. Get your adrenaline going
As I mentioned Banos is the adventure capital of Ecuador. And with activities like white water rafting and canyoning costing only around $25 USD for a half day if you a thrill seeker this is definitely one of the things to do in Banos Ecuador.
HOW TO GET THERE: Head to any of the tourism offices on the main street and negotiate your price.
10. take a trip to the ecuadorian amazon
Ok, while technically it’s not actually the Amazon the Cuyabeno reserve where most Banos Ecuador trips leave from is absolutely sensational with just as many amazing animals like: sloths; pink dolphins; moneys; tarantulas and anacondas. This would be high up on my list of things to do in Banos Ecuador.
DAILY BUDGET: without activities you’ll need AROUND $20USD PER DAY.
GETTING IN AND AWAY: Banos is really easy to reach by local buses. Just head to the bus station in the morning of your trip and reserve your spot. I visited banos ecuador from Cuenca. But you can also head here from quito, guayaquil, quilatoa or cotopaxi.
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