3 Weeks in Ecuador and Colombia Itinerary

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My three weeks in Colombia and Ecuador were indeed a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Are you up for it? Ecuador and Colombia are two nearby nations in South America sharing the same biodiversity and culture.

With the union of these two nations sharing a land border, I was able to discover a region of the world that tour companies frequently ignore.

If you plan a three-week trip to these beautiful countries, I have you covered. I’ll be sharing my itinerary and the experiences that took me around both nations. It allowed me to taste interesting dishes, fascinating cultures, landmarks, sceneries, and viewing possibilities, making them excellent locations for a three-week vacation.

Additionally, both nations provide a ton of shopping and adventure activities, so if you visit for 3 weeks in Ecuador and Colombia, you’ll always have something to do. You will also see a list of the activities and tours I booked, plus a list of recommendation for hotels.

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO ECUADOR AND COLOMBIA

Planning a 20-day trip in Colombia and Ecuador can be overwhelming. To help you kick start your trip arrangement, here are a few things that you should know if you’re heading to these two countries in one go.

4 images - downtown Bogota, downtown Quito, Guatape Rock, and Santa Ana Hill Guayaquil - 3 Weeks in Ecuador and Colombia Itinerary

When is the best time to go to

The dry season in Colombia lasts from December through March, the best outdoor activity period. Although temperatures tend to dip in the evening, the summertime (June to August) can be rather hot.

However, as temperature and precipitation can vary from one region of the country to another, it is advisable to check the weather forecasts before departing. Between October and May is the rainy season; therefore, it’s critical to be ready for sudden downpours.

Since December are both countries’ busiest travel months, you must book your hotels and flights in advance. Leaving it at the last minute means you might be paying the “peak rates”.

Are 3 weeks enough for Ecuador and Colombia

20 days can be tight for two countries, but since these places share a land border, it’s pretty easy to cover both locations in just 3 weeks. As long as you plan ahead of time how you want to reach Ecuador from Colombia, you should be able to make it work.

Stick to seeing 2-3 cities in each country to ensure you don’t cram too much and feel like everything is in a rush.

What to pack

The number one item to pack is bug repellent, especially if you plan to go hiking in the jungle or spend lots of time in nature. If you’re visiting churches, make sure you have modest clothing or a light scarf to go over your shoulders or be used as a skirt.

We have a general packing list for a 3-week trip or you can also check our 3-week summer packing list. There’s a free checklist on those articles that you can print.

How to get around

Several choices are available for a three-week trip to Ecuador and Colombia. The cheap bus is the most popular kind of public transportation, which can be found almost anywhere there is a road. Bus travel is typically the most affordable option.

However, it can be time-consuming and occasionally uncomfortable. The train network, in comparison, only serves a portion of the nation.

Those pressed for time may condense an all-day bus trip into a quick 30-minute flight, and if the sky is clear, they can take in stunning aerial views of volcanoes and tropical rainforests along the route. Numerous airlines provide flights between the two nations and across cities, which could be costlier but quicker and more convenient.

Also, a practical choice is to rent a car if you wish to travel quickly across the nation or to locations off the main path. You must be at least 21 years old (if you are under 25, additional fees may apply) and have a major credit/debit card to pay the deposit.

You only need your national license to rent a car. Reserve a car in advance through your local branch of a global rental firm for convenience, but it almost always turns out to be less expensive when you get there.

On average, a small hatchback will cost roughly $35 per day or $230 per week, and a larger vehicle will cost around $80 per day or $550 per week.

Language and currency

Spanish is the official language of both nations. However, you can get around with English in most tourist-friendly towns like Bogotá, Cartagena, and Quito.

It’s still advisable to learn some Spanish words to help you communicate with the locals and navigate. Plus, it shows respect for the country you’re visiting.

Colombia uses the Colombian Peso (COP) as its currency, while Ecuador uses the US Dollar (USD). Some establishments may take payment by card, but cash is still preferred in many areas. Use your bank card when possible, but always carry cash for emergencies.

Average travel cost for Ecuador and Colombia

In general, Colombia is more affordable than Ecuador, but if you don’t speak Spanish, you might end up with “tourist tax”. Plan to budget at least $50 a day. You will unlikely spend this much daily because you’ll probably be doing tours every day. But the accommodation alone can range between $20 to $35.

So around $1,200 is a good average budget for 3 weeks in Ecuador and Colombia. If you’re a backpacker, you can bring that down to $80 by staying in hostels and joining free walking tours. For those willing to splurge, $3,000 should be a comfortable budget.

Don’t forget that I didn’t account for flights from your home to your first destination and back. Travel insurance is also not calculated here, yet it’s highly recommended. I like using SafetyWing because it’s affordable if not used for US travel.

Visa

Both Colombia and Ecuador have some friendly visa policies for foreign visitors. If you hold a passport from another South America country, you might be able to enter these two destinations wit your just ID card.

For Colombia, tourists holding a passport from countries in the Caribbean/Central America, North America, Europe, the Philippines, Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia, Central Asia, and Morocco can enter and travel here for up to 90 days.

When it comes to Ecuador, it’s quite similar to Colombia with additional travellers with passports from many parts of Africa, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, China, Mongolia, and some countries in the Middle East can travel here for up to 180 days.

Other travel tips

You can bok your travel arrangements with the following services and websites. I personally use these sites because they’re flexible and shows wide-range of options depending on my budget.

PINNED MAP OF MUST-SEE PLACES IN ECUADOR AND COLOMBIA

Click the enlarge button on the top right corner. Credit: map data: Google

3 WEEKS IN ECUADOR AND COLOMBIA ITINERARY

The itinerary can start in Quito and finish in Cali or Cartagena. You can begin in Quito and devote the first three days to learning about the city and taking in the breathtaking architecture, delectable cuisine, and fascinating historical sites.

Then take a four-day trip by plane to Cartagena to take in the city’s spectacular coastlines, cobblestone streets, and vibrant architecture. After that, spend five days in Cali, wherein salsa dancing is nearly required. Finally, three days in energetic Bogota to cap my journey.

Alternatively, start in Cali, Colombia’s lively third-largest city, and travel from there to the breathtaking old town of Cartagena. Then, go from there to Quito, Ecuador’s vibrant capital.

And finally, travel to the great Amazon jungle and then to the gorgeous city of Cuenca for some culture and history.

With this route, you have the utmost freedom to discover splendour for three weeks in Colombia and Ecuador, starting in Quito and ending in Cali or Cartagena.

You can use this travel itinerary for Ecuador and Colombia as a starting travel plan, then modify it to suit your style or do the itinerary in reverse order.

Bogota for 3 days (Colombia)

Travelling to Bogota is the best way to begin a South American vacation. You could be wondering what to explore when you get to this city. Bogota, Colombia’s capital, has much to offer; you could easily spend days there taking in the colourful culture and visiting the city’s must-see attractions.

There are many places to see and activities, from the colonial La Candelaria district’s cobblestone lanes, home to many of the oldest buildings and libraries on the continent, to the contemporary galleries and vibrant nightlife of Zona Rosa.

The best feature of Bogota, though, is its world-class museums. Visit the Gold Museum to see some of the most priceless antiques in the nation, or visit the National Museum to see some fantastic Indigenous people of Colombian culture items.

Additionally, you may go on a fascinating tour of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s former residence, the House of the Flower.

>> TIP: We also have an itinerary for 3 weeks in Colombia and 3 weeks in Ecuador itinerary

Things to do in Bogota

Accommodations in Bogota

2 images - Los Martires in Bogota and Bogota City Centre

Medellin for 3 days

If you have 3 weeks in Ecuador and Colombia, you must visit the city of spring – Medellin. It is one of the best places to learn about Colombia’s more recent history, even if it doesn’t have a historic centre or classic tourist sites. It provides a fantastic view into Colombian society.

I was happy to see bustling cityscapes accustomed to warm weather, delicious coffee, thriving nightlife, and distinctive cultural celebrations through music and cuisine.

I travelled to Medellin from Bogota and spent three days exploring around. I rode the cable car up to Parque Arvi, a conservation area filled with lush trees and breathtaking vistas, visited nearby art galleries, and browsed the hip boutique shops in Centro.

I also saw the magnificent arboretum and traditional plazas with their cobbled streets and bouncy houses to taste the local culture. If you have extra time, you should book a day trip to Guatape, where you’ll find a massive rock to climb.

From Bogota to Medellin, direct buses operate daily. The fastest and most practical method to go to Medellin from Bogota is via plane. Even though there are only 145 miles between the two destinations, the flight takes 56 minutes.

Things to do in Medellin

Accommodations in Medellin

2 images - Medellin skyline and Guatape Rock

Cartagena for 3 days

Cartagena is a must-visit Colombia location if you really want to experience the Caribbean at a more affordable rate.

This breathtaking city, rich in history, culture, and natural beauty, is well-known for its exciting nightlife and upscale resorts – tourists like me enjoy its charming colonial architecture and old-world appeal.

San Felipe Castle is the most well-known landmark in Cartagena. It was constructed in 1657 to fend against pirates hoping to steal the silver and gold headed for Europe. Also, Access to the sun and sand is one of Cartagena’s key draws for tourists.

Lastly, consider a free walking tour to experience Cartagena’s Old City. I spent a few hours strolling through the city’s streets with a knowledgeable local guide, learning about its intriguing history.

Flying takes an hour and is the quickest way to travel from Medellin to Cartagena. Domestic non-stop flights such as Jose Maria Cordova Airport (MDE) and Enrique Olaya Herrera Airport are the two airports that serve Medellin (EOH). For direct flights to Cartagena, most flights leave from MDE in the nearby city of Rionegro.

You can end your journey here and return to Bogota to board a flight to Quito.

Things to do in Cartagena

Accommodations in Cartagena

2 images - Cartagena de Indias and Old Town Cartagena

Cali for 2 days

It’s no surprise that Cali is a well-liked tourist destination with its brilliant colours, welcoming locals, and plentiful things to see and do. After all, it is the salsa dance capital of the world.

This city has a thriving nightlife and numerous historic landmarks, including the well-known Cristo Rey statue and surrounding archaeological sites.

This statue stands guard over the city from the Cerro de las Tres Cruces and resembles Rio de Janeiro’s Cristo Redentor.

As you move through the city, you can stop by the Cali River’s banks and appreciate the colonial-era architecture of churches like Ermita and other national historic landmarks. Don’t forget to visit essential locations like the Zoológico de Cali and the Barrio Granada.

Partying is one of the best things to do in Cali, especially in the Juanchito neighbourhood, where numerous dance clubs and a distinctive vibe will have you on your feet.

How to cross the land border from Cali to Quito

Bus travel from Cali to Quito takes a bit over 15 hours, costing $60 to $90. Alternatively, you can fly, which takes 7hr and 42m and costs between $130 and $300.

The most popular route for foreign travellers is via the Rumichaca border crossing, which connects the towns of Ipiales on the Colombian side with Tulcan on the Ecuadorian side. Getting to Ipiales, a city barely a minute’s from the Rumichaca border, is the first step towards crossing the border.

Although there are shuttle buses that travel between the Ipiales bus station and the wall, I discovered that using a taxi would be safer, more pleasant, and within my price range as it only cost 8,000 COP.

Things to do in Cali

Accommodations in Cali

Iglesia La Ermita in Cali Colombia

Quito for 4 days

Ecuador’s capital city, Quito, is a must-see location because of its stunning old town in a colonial style, the height of the city, and the natural landscape treasures. It is also known as the centre of Earth.

Four days in Quito will allow you to explore the city’s magnificent architecture and hike across some spectacular scenery.

Quito is one of Ecuador’s crown jewels, as it was one of the first cities in the world to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also one of the best-preserved Old Towns in the Americas.

Visits to Quito are complete with exploring the city’s historic centre and everything it offers. Beautiful colonial structures, adorable cafes, eateries, and the presidential palace at Plaza Grande are found in the city’s historic district.

Try to go to Quilotoa Crater next. It is among the most incredible things to do in Quito, and there’s a tour you can book to make this trip easier. This enormous crater was once a volcano and is now home to a stunning blue lake.

The most famous monument in Ecuador is the Mitad del Mundo Monument, which marks the equator there. You can climb the trapezoid-shaped stone memorial here at the monument (for free) and obtain breathtaking views of the surrounding area in addition to standing in the middle of the earth.

Things to do in Quito

Accommodations in Quito

2 images - Garcia Moreno Street in Quito and Old Town Quito

Guayaquil for 4 days

It’s simple to travel directly from Quito to Guayaquil by bus or even by renting a car. The bus route takes about 5 hours, making it a convenient and affordable method to go to your following location.

Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city, is home to some of the city’s best eateries, bars, and stores. First, I visited Park Seminario, where there are about 100 iguanas that roam the park in anticipation of being fed, as it is one of the most incredible things to do.

Next, Las Penas’ vibrant area is interesting enough to explore. See the several art galleries along the route as you ascend the numbered stairs to the lighthouse at the top of the hill.

Seeing the church on Cerro Santa Ana Hill is a beautiful sight. However, the flashy blue and white lighthouse is the most engaging activity at the summit of the 444 stairs. Climb up for some breathtaking.

Things to do in Guayaquil

Accommodations in Guayaquil

2 images - Santa Ana Hill in Guayaquil and Santa Ana Lighthouse in Ecuador

SUMMARY OF 3 WEEKS IN ITINERARY

No matter where you begin your trip – in Bogota, Cali, or Cartagena – your three weeks in Colombia and Ecuador will undoubtedly be recollected.

Navigating through various places with a combination of Spanish and a few local languages will be fun and a fantastic chance to pick up a new language.

There are cultural experience scenes, breathtaking landscapes, and mouthwatering cuisine to savour, whether you go through the Ecuadorian Amazon or the Colombian Andes. Colombia and Ecuador are eager for you, so start packing and planning your vacation.

I hope this travel itinerary for 3 weeks in Ecuador and Colombia helped you visualise and plan your trip. Whether you want to cross the borders by land or air, both are possible depending on the comfort you’re looking for.

SAVE THIS TRAVEL ITINERARY ON YOUR PINTEREST:

Spend three weeks exploring Colombia and Ecuador: hike in the Andes, visit the Amazon rainforest, and see the historic cities of Quito and Cartagena. Enjoy diverse cultures, delicious food, and breathtaking landscapes on this adventure. via @threeweektraveller