Located on the banks of the river Guayas, Guayaquil is one of the most popular destinations in Ecuador. With a spectacular promenade, numerous cocoa plantations and iguanas that seem to be everywhere, its charm and beauty attracts many visitors on their way to the Galapagos Islands. Whether you choose to enjoy the famous tourist attractions, visit museums or wander the streets to learn more about the local lifestyle, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable experience.
1. Spot iguanas in Seminario Park
Situated in the center of Guayaquil, Seminario Park, also known as Bolivar Park or the Iguana Park, was originally inaugurated in 1695 as the Plaza de Armas of the colonial city. Although not very large, the park is now home to dozens of iguanas, happy to welcome visitors. They can be seen all day lounging in the trees or wandering with a flok of pidgeons around an artificial lagoon set in front of the main monument, the statue of Simon Bolivar.
Tips&Tricks: If you want to feed the always hungry reptiles, visit the park in the afternoon when the local vendors gather around to sell fresh salad or fruits.
2. Take a walk along the scenic Malecon 2000
Malecon Rio Guayas or Malecon 2000 is the promenade area on the banks of the Guayas River, considered an important part of the city’s identity. Here you can find almost everything you expect from a tourist area: a mall, an amusement park, museums, souvenir shops, even green areas where you can feed birds. If you want to wander around, from here you can hop on a sightseeing bus or take a cruise on the river to see the city in a different view and admire from a distance its iconic monuments.
Tips&Tricks: High-value banknotes must be verified before being accepted in stores. Because you can often get lost in the language barrier with Ecuadorians, it is better to avoid this aspect in crowded areas. Change your money at the hotel in the smallest possible amounts, especially if you go to Galapagos. At a better rate, you can choose an nearby foreign exchange office or an ATM. Street money changers may not be legal, but if absolutely necessary, you can trust them with some small amounts of cash.
3. Enjoy a fun "From Bean to Bar" Ecuadorian Chocolate Workshop
Cocoa plantations have a very important role in Ecuador’s history and economy, making it the world’s largest exporter of quality cocoa. If you’re visiting Guayaquil only for a few days or a weekend, a cocoa plantation is a perfect place to explore the city’s surroundings. Learn about the whole process for chocolate making directly from the farm with an experienced chocolatier at Hacienda la Danesa, a family-owned working hacienda. Discover more…
Top Guided Tours and Activities (our favorite choices)
4. Visit Museo Miniatura Guayaquil en la Istoria (Miniature Museum: Guayaquil in History)
Inaugurated in 2006, Miniature Museum: Guayaquil in History presents an impressive exhibition of miniature clay sculptures that depict the history, culture and customs of Guayaquil, viewed from the perspective of time. It’s a unique project in the world that consist in 15 dioramas, which are recreating the significant moments since the city was a jungle, inhabited by the aboriginal population Huanvavilca, until the metropolis of today.
Tips&Tricks: The museum is located towards the end of the Malecon Rio Guayas promenade, and a full tour lasts about 40 minutes.
5. Climb the 444 stairs that go through the Barrio Las Peñas
A 400 year old historical symbol, Barrio las Peñas is the place where the city was born. Repeatedly destroyed by fires in colonial times, this first district of Guayaquil is part of Ecuador’s cultural heritage since 1982. Nowadays famous for its many colorful colonial houses, cozy coffee shops and art studios that rise up the Santa Ana Hill, the pitoresque old neighborhood offers spectacular views over the city and the Guayas River.
Tips&Tricks: You won’t find a better view at sunset.
Where to stay in Guayaquil (our favorite choices)
Tips&Tricks: Hotel Continental is an excellent choice for staying in Guayaquil. With a perfect location near the Iguana Park, the view over the iguanas and the Metropolitan Cathedral is spectacular.