Is Ecuador Safe For Tourists?
Before we even get into the best things to do in Guayaquil we need to put your mind at ease.
Many travelers wonder a “is it safe to visit Ecuador?”.
It’s a good question to ask. After all, it’s a make or break question to whether or not you’ll plan a trip in the first place.
It doesn’t matter how many awesome thing to do in Guayaquil. If it isn’t safe, then you’re not going to go.
I’m pleased to report; overall Ecuador is safe! Most travelers roam around the country without incident. And the country requires no more street smarts than visiting any other country in the world.
But’s let’s dig deeper and go into more detail about “How dangerous is Guayaquil?” specifically.
Guayaquil’s the largest city in Ecuador. And like with any large city there are some bad apples. This makes Guayaquil’ a little more unsafe than other places to visit in Ecuador like Quito.
But overall Tourists are safe and treated with respect. Sure there are certain areas to avoid at night, and you should always keep a watchful eye on your valuables.
But this is true when traveling anywhere in the world.
So, in my experience, Guayaquil’s no more dangerous for travelers than any other city.
Why Visit Guayaquil
There’s no shortage of reasons to travel to this port city. I mean, this whole blog post focuses on all the things to do in Guayaquil.
So all you need to do is scroll below and you’ll see dozens of reasons to visit the city.
Another reason to visit Guayaquil soon is because the city’s also going through a major rebirth. And with it Guayaquil has become infused with a new and exciting wave of energy that has overtaken the city like a tsunami.
Guayaquil is thriving with culture, food, and entertainment. There’s no better time to visit the largest city in Ecuador than right now!
guayaquil vs quito
- Guayaquil is the largest city in Ecuador
- Guayaquil altitude is close to sea level.
- Guayaquil is a port city.
- Quito sits at an altitude of 2850 meters.
- Quito lies on the equator and is often hailed as the middle of the world.
- Quito is colder than Guayaquil. (but still hot)
Where is Guayaquil
When it comes to a country like Ecuador, location is everything. And choosing where you start your travels will affect your trip a lot!
Why? Because getting from A to B through all the mountainous terrain via bus and train is tricky at the best of times.
And traversing this type of terrain can cost more and take longer than you might think! Which limits the radius places you can travel to in a set amount of time.
So asking the question, “where is Guayaquil?” is a valid concern.
Guayaquil is the capital of the Guayas Province in the mid to southwestern part of the country. The city’s 152 miles south of the Equator. And the cities near the eponymously named Gulf of Guayaquil.
time in guayaquil
Guayaquil sits in the ECT (Ecuador Time) Time Zone. And they do not observe daylight savings time.
Weather in Guayaquil Ecuador
Before we dive into all the things to do in Guayaquil Ecuador let’s talk about the weather.
Guayaquil has a tropical climate. During the early part of the year (January – April) the city’s temperatures sit in the upper 80s °F (31 °C).
Actually, the temperature stays around 80s °F all year. And it rarely dips below 60s °F.
The Guayaquil elevation might surprise you! Ecuador has a lot of mountainous terrains. But not here.
This coastal city only has an elevation of less 13.2 feet or 0.33 meters.
Yep, there’s no need to worry about altitude sickness, because you won’t find it in Guayaquil.
Researching the weather in Guayaquil Ecuador is an important part of planning any trip.
Things to do in Guayaquil
Stroll Through Beautiful Malecón 2000
Look at any list of things to do in Guayaquil Ecuador on the internet and you’ll see Malecon 2000 at the top. (Don’t, really! Stay here and read my list, trust me, it’s the best one).
There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it! Malecón 2000 is the prime attraction in Guayaquil.
So what brings hordes of locals and travelers to this site?
Malecón 2000 – or in Spanish Malecón dos mil – is a watery promenade that stretches, for 2.5 kilometres, along the Guayaquil riverfront.
The scenic area’s bursting with tranquil gardens, picturesque views, the tallest building in Ecuador. As well as, statues, monuments, and various art.
A few popular attractions along the way are the Moorish Tower (also known as a Public Clock), the La Rotunda, Malecón Gardens, and the Carlos Alberto Arroyo Del Rio Monument.
Many of the things to do in Guayaquil are within walking distance from Malecón 2000. Making it easy to take pit stops just off of the promenade and visit some of the city’s best restaurants, museums, and markets.
Malecón 2000 takes on a distinct atmosphere and ambiance depending on the day and time of day you visit. Weekdays mornings – when most locals are at work – the promenade all but deserted. However, the weekends are packed with families searching for a fun day along the water.
Malecon At Night
During the evenings you’ll find couples strolling along, enjoying the romantic atmosphere. And other travelers taking in the sites and enjoying the cool breeze.
This waterfront was once in tatters. But has been transformed into one of the most beautiful areas in the city.
And has been hailed as one of the most successful reconstruction projects on the continent.
This might not be the most adventurous thing to do. But taking time to stroll along the Malecón 2000 is essential on any visit to Guayaquil.
Wander the Neighborhood of Las Peñas
Ok, another popular Ecuador thing to do is visit Las Peñas.
Las Peñas is the oldest residential neighborhood in Ecuador. But you wouldn’t realize it from the vibrant houses that line the stony streets.
As you stroll the streets, you’ll see a rainbow of bright pinks, oceans, blues, electric greens, and other colorful houses.
The areas are a melting pot of tranquil and vibrant. Cafes and galleries. And the rare architectural style of the neighborhood makes it stand out from the rest of Guayaquil.
Of the new and old. It’s an area to interact, and talk with the locals, and get a glimpse of local life in Guayaquil.
Las Peñas has the largest amount of historical buildings in the city.
Perhaps the best street is Numa Pompilio Llona with encapsulates the pristine beauty of the area. And it’s full of quaint shops. The areas are also known for politicians.
Countless famous politicians and business figures have come from this area. Including 11 presidents.
Las Peñas arguably the most beautiful neighborhood in the entire city. It features the historic colonial architecture of the Guayaquil.
Las Peñas is located along the way up to Santa Ana Hill, which brings us to our next thing to do in Guayaquil…. Cerro Santa Ana.
Get A Sweeping View of Guayaquil from the Top of Cerro Santa Ana
As you make your way through the neighborhood of Las Peñas, you soon realize you’re climbing a hill! Good!
At the top of Santa Ana, there’s the lighthouse and the Plaza de Honores. You’ll hear some locals refer to it as “Loninchao”, which is what the first inhabitants of this area named the hill.
Get ready for a little exercise though, as they have to climb 444 steps through these colorful houses to reach the lighthouse. (A number is etched on each step, also tempting you with how much further you have left to go.)
Don’t worry there are locals selling water along the way. There are also places to rest.
From here you get 360-degree views of Guayaquil. The views from the top are stunning. Las Peñas also offers some of the best views of Guayaquil.
There are a few things to note about Santa Ana Hill.
I’ve never had a problem. But I have heard some reports that the area has an infamous reputation for pickpockets. So stay aware of your belongings.
The steps aren’t easy! However, along the way, there are bars and cafes where you can stop and rest.
Grab Photos at Iguana Park
I know, I had you at Iguana, right? Iguana Park is a verdant, tiny area located in downtown Guayaquil.
As the name suggests, countless Iguana’s call this park home. They hang from the trees, take in sun on the rocks, scurry across the park benches, and chill by the pond.
Perfect for close pictures of Iguanas! Or selfies; a little further away.
Pro tip: Iguana Park is referred to by many names. It’s officially known as Parque Seminario. But you’ll also hear Parque de las Iguanas, and of course Iguana Park.
Don’t worry! They are all referring to the same place.
Take a Spin on La Perla: The largest Ferris wheel in South America
London has the London Eye, Singapore has The Flyer, and Vegas has the High Roller.
These massive Ferris wheels have become icons of those famous cities.
And, Ecuador is no different with the La Peria (“the Pearl”). Without a doubt, this Ferris wheel is one of the most popular things to do in Guayaquil.
This Ferris wheel has only completed a handful of years ago (2015). And it towers at 187 feet tall (57 meters) making it the tallest Ferris wheel in South America.
La Perla’s great for all travelers whether you’re solo traveling, on your honeymoon, or traveling with a family.
The Pearl is also cheap (around $3) and treats visitors to epic views. Plus, it’s a nice break when strolling along the boardwalk.
The rotation takes 12 minutes giving you plenty of time to take in the views, snap some photos, and cool down in the air-conditioned gondolas! (That alone is worth $3 on a searing day in Ecuador.)
The La Perla is located along the scenic Malecón 2000.
Note: Prices go up on the weekends to around $5.
Dig into History At Guayaquil’s Museums
Guayaquil has some of the best museums in Ecuador. And they are easily one of the top attractions to see in Guayaquil.
The city offers a range of museums covering varying topics like science, culture, and history.
Museums are also a great way to escape the heat and enjoy some air conditioning.
Here are some of the most popular museos en Guayaquil (museums in Guayaquil).
The city museum that holds many of the most important archaeology treasures from the Colonial Period. The museum also holds many of the city’s religious artifacts. Museo Municipal also tells the historical tale of the fight for independence from Spain.
Museo Naval Contemporáneo
The navy museum. Dedicated to the military history of the Ecuadorian Navy.
Guayaquil is the business port of the country so there is a lot of watery history to digest here.
If you’re a history-addict (like myself) then this is a noteworthy attraction.
Museo Presley Norton
Museo Presley Norton is another great museum, perhaps my favorite in the city. The Museo Presley Norton has a vast collection of pre-Columbian artifacts.
Many of these relics are the remnants of the Valdivia culture, who once lived along the coast of Ecuador.
Those who want to dig deeper into the ancient history of the country, look at old relics, and trinkets and archaeology buffs will want to explore every inch on Museo Presley Norton.
The big collection of Valdivia artifacts is worth the visit.
Museo Miniatura Guayaquil
Guayaquil’s miniature museum features 14 dioramas that showcase in detail the history of Ecuador.
You’ll learn about the culture, plant life, and customs through this clay dioramas.
It’s a cool way to learn about the history of the country. Museo Miniatura Guayaquil located at the end of Malecón 2000
The Museum of Anthropology and Modern Art
The Museum of Anthropology and Modern Art or (Maac) showcases a massive collection of art. There’s everything from ancient pottery to temporary art. It’s a great showcase of how the culture has evolved since ancient times.
Appreciate the Jaw Dropping View of Catedral Metropolitana de Guayaquil
Walk just outside of the famous park Parque Seminario, and towards the Calle Chimborazo, to get an inspired view of the Catedral Metropolitana de Guayaquil.
The white Catedral Metropolitana de Guayaquil evokes a wondrous grandeur.
The city’s cathedral on this spot dates back to the colonization of the country. Sadly the older wooden cathedral burned down. So the Catedral Metropolitana de Guayaquil we see today was built in the 1920s-1930s.
The Catedral Metropolitana de Guayaquil is a trifecta of beauty, history, and art. And it doesn’t get better than that!
Board a Sunset Sail On The Henry Morgan’s Pirate Ship
Walking along the Malecón 2000 is a gateway to many of Guayaquil attractions. However, one of the best things to do in Guayaquil requires boarding a pirate ship and leaving the safety of the harbor.
This is an hour-long cruise that treats you to scenic watery views of the River Guayas. It’s a great palace in the way to take in a sunset from the water, have some drinks and snacks before heading to dinner. It’s a win, win, win. And a perfect evening activity for couples and families.
The ticket is a modest $7. But if you plan on drinking I suggest upgrading to the $15 ticket which gives you an open-bar for the hour-long cruise.
Explore the Cultural at Parque Histórico Guayaquil
Guayaquil Historical Park is broken up into three different sections: Traditions Zone, the Urban Architectural Zone, and the Wildlife Zone.
To be honest, I’ve struggled with putting Guayaquil Historical Park on the list of things to do in Guayaquil.
Well, I don’t like to promote or support attractions that include animals in captivity, unless they are endangered. And without getting too “political” I would suggest skipping over the Wildlife Zone.
Other than the outdoor bird zoo. Here you will find macaws, and parrots always hanging out in the trees.
And because there are no barriers you can get up close and get some great photos.
The Urban Architectural Zone which showcases life in Guayaquil from the 19 and 20 centuries.
This is the time period where the famous cocoa boom brought about flourishing construction and business to Ecuador.
Of course, the highlight is the traditions zone, which takes you on a journey through the people in Ecuador.
Explore the everted bamboo homes, lifted off the ground to protect from animals and heavy rain.
You’ll also learn about the wealth of traditions of the country from the local inhabitants, city dwellers, and farmers. It’s a great way to learn about the history of the city.
The Parque Histórico Guayaquil is one of the most popular things to do in the city if you are traveling with kids.
Take a Photo with Juan Pueblo
Let me come clean right away. Juan Pueblo isn’t some grandiose site that will take your breath away. It isn’t an attraction bathed in history. And it isn’t the best thing to do in Guayaquil for those craving adventures.
However, for those who want to dive into the culture of Guayaquil then this is a noteworthy site worth a quick picture stop.
Juan Pueblo is a popular cartoon character from the column Kaleidoscope. The character represents the everyday man and worker in Guayaquil. And has become a massive icon of the city.
Today, in many ways, Juan Pueblo represents the new Guayaquil.
In 2011, they decided to make a bronze sculpture of Juan Pueblo. The statue depicts him sitting on a bench. Juan Pueblo’s located near the Moorish Tower in the Civic Center.
Take in the Nature of Isla Santay
Isla Santay takes you out of the hustle and bustle. Away from the daily grind, traffic, and crowds. And gets you into Ecuador’s mangroves, wetlands, and landscape.
Santay Island sits in the middle of the river, just outside the city. And while the island sits between Guayaquil and the city of Duran it’s far removed from a busy city-style atmosphere. In fact, the local community on the island sits at around 200 people.
One of the newest attractions is a crocodile station, at the Eco Village, which features 10, six-meter long crocodiles.
Another prominent attraction to Isla Santay is the wide array of wildlife. Over 85 different species of birds live on the island. There are mammals like anteaters and raccoons. Over a dozen different reptiles like an iguana.
This large island is a perfect escape from the city, and great for a day outdoors. You can rent bikes and explore them via wooden bridges and paths.
Venture into the waterways on a kayak. They are hiking along the raised trails and through the lush mangrove forest.
Inside the small eco-village, there is even a small museum that introduces you to the nature and wildlife of the island.
Entry to this island is free! But even better, Isla Santay is connected to Guayaquil by a bridge from the mainland. You can also take the “Palmeras de Santay” boat from Simon Bolivar pier.
Spend a Day with Bottlenose Dolphin’s
Just over an hour outside of Guayaquil lies an area of Ecuador famed for its playful local inhabitants, the bottlenose dolphins. These dolphins live in the nearby Puerto El Morro.
The best way to see these beautiful creatures is via a tour from Guayaquil. The tours cover all transportation, sightseeing, and boats.
On these 5 hour excursions you’ll get up close to the wildlife, more than just the Dolphins, you’ll see a variety of native plants and birds like Pelicans.
Sightseeing wild dolphins are always one of my top things to do, wherever we are in the world.
Spend a Day Whale Watching on the Coast
Another outstanding thing to do in Guayaquil is to take a tour to Isla de La Plata for a little Whale Watching.
Again the best way to experience this adventure is on a guided tour. As the guides will know where to find the whales, and they will have everything arranged for you. And while every tour is different most marine sightings are off the coast of Puerto Lopez, around the Machalilla National Park.
Most tours include a few hours to walk around Isla de la Palta and take in all the beauty. There’s also awesome swimming and snorkeling spots that let you experience all the wondrous, and colorful wildlife. Along with turtles and birds like blue-footed bobbies.
For those who want a day away from the city then this is a fantastic option. The downside is that Isla De La Plata lies hours away from the city, so this makes for a long, yet unforgettable day in Ecuador.
This could also work well as a day trip, or weekend getaway from Guayaquil.
Visit the Parque del Centenario
Another must-see park, and a top attraction in Guayaquil is Parque Centenario. This is the central park of the city. And home to Ecuador’s “Statue of Liberty” – trust me you’ll know it when you see it.
Parque Centenario is basically the central park of Guayaquil. And is filled with monuments, nature, and some wildlife. The park is perfect for having a lazy afternoon taking in some nature and history of the city.
I should mention – though I’ve not been there myself – that at night the park has a reputation of being unsafe. So it’s best visited during the day when safety isn’t an issue.
See the light of Iglesia San Francisco at Day & Night
When checking off your list of things to do in Guayaquil’s downtown, you have to pay a visit to Iglesia San Francisco – or Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles. (Talk about a mouthful.)
The history of the church dates back to the start of the 18th century. And to this day the church holds a prominent place of importance in Guayaquil.
The colorful exterior hosts a pale yellow, and dark blue. The nave is expansive, and their chapel holds a great imposing altar and alluring beauty that should be seen.
In fact, the interior of the church is divided into three different naves. Parts of the interior are covered in gold leaf, and important works of arts.
A distinctive feature of the church is the tower that holds an important and sometimes tragic history of the city.
A spectacular time to visit this famous Guayaquil attraction is at night when the Iglesia San Francisco is lit up. The colors change each minute only adding to the charm of this catholic church.
The history, location, and architecture make this one of the top-visited churches in Guayaquil. It’s worth visiting, and also a good location to snap some photos.
Shop Till you Drop on Avenida 9 de Octubre
Shoppers start your engines! And head to the commercial center of the city. The Avenida 9 de Octubre or Nine of October Avenue is named after the revolution of October 9th in 1820.
Along this corridor, you’ll find the tallest buildings in the entire country, as well as large shops and stores.
And because Avenida 9 de Octubre checks multiple boxes, like historic, souvenirs, and culture it is one site in Guayaquil you should visit.
Gaze in awe at the wild Torre The Point
The Torre The Point is the tallest building in Ecuador. It’s also an architectural wonder. You can’t miss this building that takes up the area north of Malecón 2000, along the Guayas River.
Torre The Point is very much a symbol of the growth and contented prosperity of Guayaquil. The building itself is a wonder. Corners of this strange building are cut in a circular fashion. Giving the building the illusion that it’s twisting into the sky over 136 meters high. The swirling shape represents that of a whirlpool.
I’ve seen a lot of buildings in some of the most beautiful cities in the world. But, I’ve never seen a twisting buildings like Torre The Point.
Enjoy the Tropical Forest of Cerro Blanco
Cerro Blanco is another great site in Guayaquil. This dry, tropical forest is famed for the wildlife. Notable the howler and capuchin monkeys that have set up their homes in this area. Other wildlife includes Jaguars, white-tailed deer, and pumas. This protected forest also has over 211 species of birds, most famously Green Macaws.
This is one of the last dry tropical forests in Ecuador and lies around 30 minutes outside of Guayaquil. Because there are some dangerous creatures a guided hike might be your best option.
The park has two distinct seasons. For the first half of the year, the park is lush and green. But the latter half of the park takes a more dry, reddish, brown aura.
See a Show at GUAYARTE
GUAYARTE is often referred to as the “new ‘’ tourism spot in Guayaquil. Although, timing is important.
At GUAYARTE food, art, and music come together.
There are two stages for shows, a pop up theater, and sports bars.
There are also a handful of nearby restaurants to choose from.
To be honest this area’s best to visit when there is an event or concert going on. However, even if nothing is going on, the art, and food around the area can be a big draw. And it’s a great place to stop at night when it is lit up.
Experience The Theater at TEATRO SANCHEZ AGUILA
This beautiful theatre is one of the best, yet most unknown things to do in Guayaquil. The building style is inspired by the traditional housing style in Ecuador. The theaters a great evening out in the city and has drawn international stars like John Malkovich.
The main purpose of the theater is education. Their slogan is “To Educate is to Liberate.”
Shows are spread throughout the year, so if your timing its a great evening option.
Over Indulge in Traditional Food
You can’t visit a city without dipping your toes into the mouth-watering local cuisine. Guayaquil is a gastronomy city. It’s known for its rich cuisine and traditional dishes. Crab and ceviches site at the forefront of local dishes.
Of course, chocolate, and coffee are other things in which to overindulge while visiting Ecuador.
Other Traditional Cuisine
Patacón con Queso – a green plantain cooked in oil twice. It has a crisp outside, and a soft inside. Of course, the dish includes Queso, so expect some cheese.
Encocado – Are one of my favorite dishes in the country. Encocado are stews made with meat (shrimp, chicken, or fish). They are also served with first plantain chips known as patacones.
Tigrillo – a breakfast food made from green plantains, eggs, and cheese.
Choclo – Dry corn, roasted as a snack.
Cuy (Guinea Pig) – Fried Guinea Pig
Visit the Local Markets
I personally think that local markets are a fun, and sometimes daring way to get involved in the culture. Guayaquil is the largest city in Ecuador so it should come as no surprise that the city’s teeming with markets.
And because it has a thriving port, expect a lot of seafood like crab and ceviche as well.
What’s awesome is that many of these make you stray far away from the local tourist trail. In fact, many of these markets hardly ever see tourists.
Let’s take a look at some of the markets that Guayaquil
Probably the most visited market by tourists is Mercado Caraguay. So let’s get it out of the way first.
Mercado Caraguay is known for its seafood stalls, especially crab. The market has over 700 vendors that sell everything you could imagine.
But the market isn’t just for shopping for local goods. It’s also a good area of the city to try Guayaquil seafood dishes.
There are small vendors where you can find locals chowing down on local dishes. Why not grab a seat and join in the fun!
For something more touristy head to River Market. These markets resemble a gastronomy market you would find when Europe. There are a diverse amount of restaurants, cafes, and places to escape the heat of the day.
Mercado Sauces 9
Mercado Sauces 9 is similar, but around half the size of Mercado Caraguay. However, it has some of the best seafood and ceviche in Guayaquil.
Mercado Central, designed by the architect Luigi Fratta from Italy might remind you of food markets in Europe. And Italy knows how to do Markets. (in fact, one of the best things to do in Florence is to visit the markets.)
This market differs from the ones we’ve talked about because it offers a wider variety. Here you can find more than just seafood. You can find trinkets, souvenirs, or friend guinea pigs. There are some great local dishes that you should try!
Mercado Artesanal Guayaquil
Ok, by now you are saying “Enough, with the markets!” But one last one we need to touch on is Mercado Artesanal Guayaquil.
This market is more of a small artist market. It’s great for souvenir shopping, chocolate, Panama Hats, and colorful paintings. This is a more touristy market catered for gift shopping.
Visit Every monumentos de guayaquil
One of our last things to do in Guayaquil entails visiting all the monuments in the city. We have touched on some of these already, but the entire city is filled with stunning and detailed monuments. Also known as the monumentos de guayaquil
Here are some of the most popular monumentos de guayaquil.
- Moorish Clock Tower
- La Rotonda
- Escultura del Mono Machin
- Monumento al Sagrado Corazon de Jesus
- Monumento a Guayas y Quil
- Escultura Ana Vi
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