This whirlwind trip takes you to many of Ecuador's top highlights in a single week. Stroll the colonial streets of Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and stand on the equator at Mitad del Mundo. Then it's off to the Galapagos Islands for four days of hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, wildlife viewing, and relaxing on the beach. From snow-capped peaks to deep waters filled with sea turtles and penguins, this diverse itinerary has something for everyone.


  • Stroll through Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Stand on both hemispheres at the same time at the Middle of the World
  • See giant Galapagos Tortoises in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island
  • Snorkel through clear waters and relax on pristine beaches
  • Visit two uninhabited islands and see endemic species

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Quito & Get Oriented Quito
Day 2 Take a City Tour & Visit Mitad del Mundo  Quito
Day 3 Fly to Santa Cruz Island & Tour Charles Darwin Station Puerto Ayora
Day 4 Day Trip to an Uninhabited Island Puerto Ayora
Day 5 Go on a Boat Tour Around the Islands Puerto Ayora
Day 6 Discover More Wildlife While Island-Hopping  Puerto Ayora
Day 7 Depart Baltra Island - End of Trip  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Quito & Get Oriented

View of Quito and the Cotopaxi Volcano
View of Quito and the Cotopaxi Volcano

Welcome to Ecuador! The entire city of Quito is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Standing at an altitude of 9,350 feet (2,850 meters), it welcomes visitors with its picturesque plazas situated between mountain peaks. The city has an abundance of marketplaces, shamanistic healers, and fourth-generation hat makers, as well as a vibrant and sophisticated culinary and nightlife scene. Spend your first day in the country exploring the capital and sampling Ecuadorian cuisine, then get some rest before the tour continues.

Day 2: Take a City Tour & Visit Mitad del Mundo 

The site of Mitad del Mundo in Ecuador

Today, after breakfast, your guide will take you on a walking tour through the colonial center of Quito. You will visit the Plaza Grande and the beautiful churches La Compañía and La Basílica. Walk down the oldest street of Quito, La Ronda. Afterward, you will visit the equatorial monument Mitad del Mundo, where French scientists determined the position of the equator's line many years ago. Stop for dinner in a traditional restaurant, then stay overnight at your hotel in Quito.

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Day 3: Fly to Santa Cruz Island & Tour Charles Darwin Station

Giant Galapagos Tortoise
Getting up close with a giant Galapagos tortoise

In the morning you will be taken to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos Islands. You'll start the adventure on Santa Cruz Island. Enjoy lunch at a local farm in the highlands, followed by the observation of giant turtles in the wild. Then continue to the port in Puerto Ayora to check into your hotel. In the afternoon, visit the Charles Darwin Station, where scientists from all over the world meet and work together. Environmental projects include water analysis, protection of endemic wildlife, analysis of the effects of tourism on nature, and other pressing issues. Visit the turtle rearing station to see where animals are raised before being released into the wild. Make sure to look around for the land iguanas who live around the station. 

Day 4: Day Trip to an Uninhabited Island

Marine iguanas sunbathing on the shore
Marine iguanas sunbathing on the shore

Today, you'll travel by yacht to an uninhabited island near Santa Cruz. Depending on the weather, scheduling, and permissions granted by the national park, you'll visit one of the following islands: Santa Fé, South Plazas, Bartolomé, or North Seymour.

Each island is unique, offering spectacular scenery and opportunities to see rare wildlife. Santa Fé and South Plazas are home to endemic land iguanas, while Bartolomé is known for its beautiful lava flows. On North Seymour, look for frigate birds, land iguanas, and blue-footed boobies. In the evening, return to Puerto Ayora to enjoy some free time. 

Day 5: Go on a Boat Tour Around the Islands

A school of tropical fish in the Galapagos

Your morning today is free. Spend some time on the beach, go for a walk, or enjoy the sounds of nature as you find the perfect spot to sit and read. In the afternoon, head out on the water on a tour of the bay. Onboard a small boat, you'll visit the coves and beaches of Santa Cruz Island. Swim with playful sea lion cubs, go snorkeling to see the extraordinary diversity of sea life, or sunbathe on the beach. In the late afternoon, return to Puerto Ayora, where you will spend the night.

Day 6: Discover More Wildlife While Island-Hopping 

Sally Lightfoot crabs
Sally Lightfoot crabs in the Galapagos

Another day, another boat trip to an uninhabited island. Once again, you'll get incredible opportunities to see endemic wildlife in its natural habitat and protected lands.  The boat trip itself is also a pleasure, as you'll magnificent seascapes along the way. Later, enjoy your evening in the laid-back town of Puerto Ayora. Do some souvenir shopping and go for a seafood dinner in a family-run restaurant to finish the last full day of the trip.

Day 7: Depart Baltra Island - End of Trip

Beautiful sunset in the Galapagos
A beautiful sunset in the Galapagos

Enjoy one last breakfast in Puerto Ayora before transferring to the Itabaca Channel, which you will cross by ferry to make the connection to the airport terminal. Check in for your flight back to the mainland. Safe travels!

More Great Galapagos Islands Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the Galapagos? Check out these other 7-day Galapagos Islands itineraries, with island-hopping cruises, land-based trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 

Or, describe your ideal trip and we will connect you with a local specialist to make it happen.


Map of Best of Ecuador: Quito & the Galapagos Islands - 7 Days
Map of Best of Ecuador: Quito & the Galapagos Islands - 7 Days
Written by Linda Schulz Old, updated Sep 30, 2021

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