3 Weeks in Ecuador Itinerary

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Ecuador is a country in South America bordered by the Pacific Ocean in the west, Colombia in the north, and Peru in the east and south. It is known for the Galapagos Islands, a world heritage site, and its well-preserved cathedrals and museums.

I understand that travellers easily overlook Ecuador because of its small size, but it has so much to offer; with various unique landscapes where you could hike to your heart’s content and experience diverse indigenous traditions, your trip here will surely be one you won’t forget.

This itinerary for 3 weeks in Ecuador will help you visualise what a trip there could look like, which cities to visit, how much to spend, where to stay, and many travel tips.


Before you hop on a plane or book a flight, there are a few things you should know about travelling to Ecuador. I have listed some basic but important travel tips below to help you decide if Ecuador is for you and when to go:

ALSO READ: 3 weeks in Peru and 3 weeks in Brazil itineraries

When is the best time to go to Ecuador

Ecuador’s diverse geography means that the best time to visit varies depending on where you want to go and what you want to do. To give you some ideas when deciding when to go:

  • Peak Season: June to September and late December to early January. This period offers the best weather in the Andes and is a popular time for both the Galápagos Islands and the Amazon, leading to higher prices and more crowded attractions.

  • Rainy Season: Varies by region. In the Sierra (Andes), it runs from December to May, characterized by afternoon showers. The Amazon experiences rain throughout the year but peaks from April to June. The Coastal region sees the most rain from January to April. Despite the rain, these periods can be excellent for green landscapes and fewer tourists.

  • Shoulder Season: April to May and October to November. These months can offer the best of both worlds, with fewer tourists and generally good weather, though there can be some variability. It’s a great time for those looking to avoid the crowds of peak season but still enjoy relatively stable weather conditions.

Given its location on the equator, temperatures in Ecuador remain relatively constant throughout the year, making it a year-round destination.

The average temperature is about 25°C to 31°C (77°F to 88°F) for the coastal areas, 7°C to 21°C (45°F to 70°F) in the highlands/mountains, 23°C to 26°C (73°F to 79°F) in the Amazon region, and 21°C to 30°C (70°F to 86°F) in the Galapagos Islands.

However, considering your interests, whether it’s hiking in the Andes, exploring the Amazon, relaxing on the beach, or visiting the Galápagos Islands, it’s best to plan according to the specific region’s best season.

Are 3 weeks enough for Ecuador

20 days in Ecuador is plenty of time. It’s a relatively small country, which means you can travel slower and visit more cities. On the other hand, it also depends if you plan to fly to the Galapagos Island, since that trip can easily eat up a day.

What to pack

Since Ecuador’s temperature varies depending on the location, it’s recommended to pack clothing that can easily adapt to various regions. In this situation, you want to bring clothes that you can layer rather than thick and heavy jackets.

Two things you must bring are bug repellent and good hiking or walking shoes. Check our what-to-pack list for a 3-week trip. We also have a summer packing list, winter packing list, spring packing list, and fall packing list.

How to get around

In Ecuador, buses are the most common and affordable way to travel long distances. For convenience and speed, domestic flights connect major cities and regions.

Taxis and ridesharing apps like Uber are available in major cities, offering a convenient option for shorter distances. Uber operates in several Ecuadorian cities, providing a familiar alternative for travellers.

For exploring locally, especially in smaller towns or rural areas, hiring a car or using local tuk-tuks and moto-taxis can offer a unique experience.

Renting a car in Ecuador is relatively common among tourists, but it requires cautious driving due to varying road conditions.

Language and currency

The official language of Ecuador is Spanish. Tourists can get by with English in major tourist areas and cities, but basic Spanish is helpful for navigating more remote areas and enhancing interactions with locals.

The official currency of Ecuador is the US dollar. While US dollars are widely accepted, paying in other major currencies is generally not possible.

Cash is preferred, especially in smaller towns and for local transactions. However, credit and debit cards are commonly accepted in larger cities, tourist areas, and at major hotels and restaurants. It’s advisable for tourists to carry both cash and cards to accommodate varying payment preferences.

Average travel cost for 3 weeks in Ecuador

Ecuador is easily one of the most affordable destinations in Latin America. With careful planning, you can pretty much stay under $1,000 if you don’t mind hostels. Here’s a little idea about the travel cost for 20 days in Ecuador:

  • Backpacker Budget: Approximately $600-$900. Staying in hostels, using public transportation, and eating local food.
  • Mid-Range Budget: Approximately $1,500-$3,000. Includes moderate hotels, some private transport, and dining in a mix of local and tourist restaurants.
  • Luxury Budget: Approximately $4,500-$9,000 or more. Staying in luxury hotels, private tours, fine dining, and possibly including Galápagos Islands cruises.

Costs vary by travel style, region visited, and activities. The Galápagos significantly increase expenses for mid-range and luxury budgets.


Ecuador is very welcoming when it comes to travel visas for foreign visitors. Almost every nationality can enter and travel around Ecuador without a visa except in some African, Gulf, and South Asian countries.

Travellers with passports from the US, Mexico, Europe, China, Australia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and some countries in Southeast Asia and Africa can enjoy a 180-day visa-free stay in Ecuador. At the same time, visitors from most South American nations can enter Ecuador with just their ID card.

Other travel tips


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


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Ecuador is perfect for people who are very fond of flowers, as it is the orchid capital of the world. It is also ideal for nature lovers because it has an area that is a part of the Amazon Rainforest. Aside from that, bird watchers will also have a great time here as more than 1,640 bird species are found here.

That’s why staying for 3 weeks in Ecuador is advisable because this country has so much to offer. If you think this is just a haven for nature lovers, another thing is coming, as history lovers and architectural buffs will also have something to see here.

People who love handcrafted goods will have something to take home, such as jewellery and woodcarvings, as they’re also famous for these.

You might also want to check out our 3 weeks in South America and 3 weeks in Colombia itineraries.

2 images - on the left is an egg that can stand on balance in Ciudad Mitad del Mundo. On the right is the two Basilica Towers in Quito

Quito for 5 days

Quito is Ecuador’s capital and is located in the valley on the eastern slopes of Pichincha, an active stratovolcano in the Andes. It is either the highest or second-highest capital city in the world.

It is Ecuador’s cultural and political centre, and the whole city is so well-preserved that it is also included as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is considered one of the most picturesque cities you will ever see.

It has a vibrant nightlife and many historical and natural sceneries you can see even through free walking tours. Don’t forget to try to make an egg stand at the must-see Middle of the World City.

Things to do in Quito

  • Ride Teleferico 
  • Hike Volcano Pichincha
  • Middle of the World City
  • Try out their delicacies, such as Locro de Papa and deep-fried guinea pig 
  • Have a stroll at the Old Town
  • Plaza de San Francisco
  • Parque Metropolitano
  • Day trip to Cotopaxi Volcano
  • Day trip to Laguna Quilotoa
  • Visit the actual equator at the Intinan Solar Museum

Accommodations in Quito

Ambato/Chimborazo for 4 days

Ambato is the capital city of the Tungarahua Province, located in the central Andean Valley of Ecuador and lying on the banks of the Ambato River. It is also known by other various names such as “City of Flowers and Fruits”, Garden of Ecuador”, and “The Land of the Three Juans”, as it was the birthplace of three notable Ecuadorians, all named Juan.

During your 20 days in Ecuador, staying in Ambato for at least 4 days is advisable as there are many new things to try out and see here. It has the perfect harmony of modern and traditional architecture; it is filled with beautiful plants and flowers, and it even has a carnival of flowers and fruits for those fond of attending festivals.

The distance between Quito and Ambato is 152.6 km, and the most recommended mode of transportation is to ride a bus, which has a travel time of more than 2 hours. It’s also the cheapest option. Other options include riding a taxi or driving.

Things to do in Ambato (day trip to Banos)

  • Hike Chimborazo
  • Cevallos Park
  • Casa de Montalvo
  • Museum of the Higher Technical Institute Bolivar
  • La Familia Park
  • La Providencia
  • Day trip to Banos
  • Atocha Parish 
  • Miraflores 

Accommodations in Ambato

Guayaquil for 5 days

Guayaquil is the largest city in Ecuador and the nation’s principal port and economic capital. It is an intriguing place as it is a city of contrast.

Established in 1538, this is one of the oldest cities in Europe, yet it made a considerable effort to modernize some areas to preserve the place and appeal to tourists. It is also the only transport connection to the Galapagos Islands, so you might as well make the most out of it and explore the city.

The distance between Ambato and Guayaquil is 258.7 km. There are only 2 modes of transportation available: by bus and driving. I recommend driving as the travel time is less than 2 hours. The travel cost isn’t that expensive, estimated at $7-$11.

2 images - on the left is the snowcapped peak of Chimborazo Volcano. On the right is The Point Skyscraper in Guayaquil

Things to do in Guayaquil

  • Malecon 2000
  • La Perla
  • Las Penas
  • Cycle around Isla Santay
  • Guayas River Cruise
  • Museum of Anthropology and Contemporary Art
  • Row a boat around Estero Salado
  • Parque Bolivar

Accommodations in Guayaquil

Galapagos Islands for 5 days

Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands located around the equator, West of South America. These groups of islands are well-known to have fearless wildlife and are the source of Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Its giant tortoises have some of the most extended lifespans, reaching 150 years old.

Some people are hesitant to go here because of the cost. But you can still visit the islands even if you’re on a budget because there are many free activities. You wouldn’t be able to reach the islands without flying, and the main routes are from Guayaquil Airport to Seymour Airport or San Cristobal Airport, with less than an hour of travel duration.

Galapagos Islands is the perfect place to end your trip during your three weeks in Ecuador because aside from the otherworldly landscapes, there are species that can only be found here.

Almost 80% of land animals and 30% of plant species here are endemic. When going here, please note that you must return to the mainland to catch an international flight.

2 images - on the left are the sea lions on the beach in Galapagos Islands. On the right is the hilly mountains of Bartolome Island in the Galapagos

Things to do in the Galapagos Islands

  • Snorkelling
  • Birdwatching
  • Tortuga Bay
  • Charles Darwin Research Station
  • Los Tuneles
  • La Loberia
  • Rancho Primicias Galapagos Tortoise Ranch
  • Maprae Museum

Accommodations in the Galapagos Islands


3 images of food from Ecuador - on the left is encebollado or fish stew. in the middle is chicha, a drink. on the right is a plate of ceviche surrounded by tortillas - 3 Weeks in Ecuador Itinerary

Ecuadorian cuisine stands out in Latin America for its diverse use of fresh ingredients, reflecting the country’s vast geography from the Andes to the Amazon. It features hearty soups, unique seafood dishes, and plantain-based delights, offering a distinct flavour profile compared to its neighbours.

Here are some dishes to check out during your visit:

  • Ceviche de Camarón (Shrimp Ceviche)
  • Llapingachos (Stuffed Potato Patties)
  • Encebollado (Fish Stew)
  • Cuy Asado (Roasted Guinea Pig)
  • Seco de Pollo (Chicken Stew)
  • Hornado (Roasted Pork)
  • Fanesca (Easter Soup)
  • Bolón de Verde (Green Plantain Dumplings)
  • Chicha de Piña (Pineapple Ferment)
  • Canelazo (Spiced Cinnamon Rum Drink)
  • Morocho (Sweet Corn Drink)
  • Dulce de Higos (Candied Figs)
  • Helado de Paila (Traditional Ice Cream)
  • Espumillas (Guava Meringue Cream)


Due to its size, Ecuador is often skipped when travelling to South America, but this country has much to offer. There’s something for adventure seekers and nature lovers, as it’s filled with many landscapes and activities. It also has something for cultural and history buffs as they managed to preserve a considerable chunk of their establishments.

Here, you’ll see stunning mountains, majestic volcanoes, crystalline beaches with white sand, a part of the Amazon Rainforest, and the world-famous Galapagos Islands. With everything it offers, you’ll never run out of things to try out and places to visit during your 3 weeks in Ecuador.