Get the full experience of exploring the Galápagos Islands on this compact six-day tour. Enjoy a dose of culture as you discover Quito and its history. Then it's off to the islands, where you'll start in San Cristóbal and visit its Interpretation Center. Linger on the beach and get close to marine life as you snorkel near Isla Española. Meet the giant tortoises at the Santa Cruz highlands to learn about these fascinating creatures. Fully enjoy the beach life on an uninhabited island with great views.


  • Explore Quito, one of the highest cities, on a guided city tour
  • Learn about the Galápagos Islands at its Interpretation Center
  • Linger on the beaches of Isla Español and observe sea lions
  • Mingle with giant tortoises in the Santa Cruz highlands 
  • Snorkel alongside sea turtles and whitetip sharks near secluded islands

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Quito, Quito City Tour Quito
Day 2 Fly to Isla San Cristóbal, Interpretation Center & Tijeretas Hill Isla San Cristóbal 
Day 3 Day Trip to Isla Española Isla San Cristóbal 
Day 4 Transfer to Isla Santa Cruz, Charles Darwin Station & Santa Cruz Highlands Isla Santa Cruz 
Day 5 Excursion to an Uninhabited Island Isla Santa Cruz
Day 6 Visit the Twin Craters of Los Gemelos, Transfer to Isla Baltra & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Quito, Quito City Tour

Quito's central Plaza de la Independencia or "Plaza Grande"

Welcome to Quito! At 9,350 feet (2,850 m) above sea level, Ecuador's capital is one of the highest cities in the world, with picturesque plazas and historic landmarks organized among soaring Andean peaks.

Upon arrival at the airport, meet your driver for a ride to Quito's downtown and your hotel, then set out to discover the city on a guided tour. Start in the UNESCO-listed historical center to admire the Baroque church of La Compañía de Jesús and the touring neo-Gothic La Basílica del Voto. Take a walk down La Ronda, one of the oldest streets in the city, then head to Panecillo Hill for skyline views. If you're feeling adventurous, end the day with a cable car ride up the nearby Pichincha volcano for dazzling views over the city from 12,942 feet (3,944 m).

Day 2: Fly to Isla San Cristóbal, Interpretation Center & Tijeretas Hill

Your Galápagos adventure starts on Isla San Cristóbal

Meet your driver at the hotel for a transfer to the airport to catch your flight to the Galápagos Islands. Upon arrival at Isla San Cristóbal's airport, a driver will take you to your hotel to get settled. Then it's time to meet your guide and start learning about the Galápagos and its conservation efforts by visiting the Interpretation Center.

Afterward, spend the afternoon observing some of the archipelagos' wildlife in its natural habitat with a hike along well-marked trails to Las Tijeretas Hill, named for tijeretas, the colorful frigatebirds that inhabit and nest in the area. If you're up for some adventure, join a snorkeling excursion, where you can mingle with sea lions, turtles, and colorful fish, or take a standup paddleboarding tour along the island's coastline. 

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Day 3: Day Trip to Isla Española

Snap a flock of waved albatrosses on Isla Española

Early in the morning, you'll set off from Isla Isla San Cristóbal on a two-hour boat ride to reach Isla Española. Upon arrival, follow a trail that leads to the island's interior, passing a colony of waved albatross. These are the largest birds in the Galápagos and endemic to the islands. Between April and December, you can also spot blue-footed and Nazca boobies. After enjoying lunch aboard the boat, swim and snorkel in a nearby bay with a sandy beach home to a colony of sea lions. After a day full of adventure and wildlife, return to Isla San Cristóbal.

Day 4: Transfer to Isla Santa Cruz, Charles Darwin Station & Santa Cruz Highlands

Visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station
Mingle with giant tortoises at Charles Darwin Research Station

Early this morning, you'll leave Isla San Cristóbal behind and take a speedboat to Isla Santa Cruz, which takes about two hours. Meet your guide at the dock in Puerto Ayora, the largest town in the Galápagos, and your base for the next few days. Puerto Ayora is the seat of the Charles Darwin Foundation and its research station, where you can observe giant tortoise and iguana species. Witness the tireless efforts of conservationists and learn how they are helping to repopulate the island with different tortoise species.

Next, travel with your guide into the Santa Cruz highlands, where you can observe giant tortoises in their natural habitat and explore the lava tunnels found throughout this lush volcanic landscape. After lunch, continue to a coffee farm near Puerto Ayora to sample some of the island's famed coffee. Not your average coffee plantation, this farm is part of a social responsibility program that grows coffee beans while contributing to the conservation of plants and soil. Meet the local growers and learn the process of gathering, drying, and peeling coffee, then pick up a bag as a taste of the Galápagos to take home with you.

Day 5: Excursion to an Uninhabited Island

Plaza Sur's distinctive rugged landscape is home to its own unique species

Of the many islands in the Galápagos, only four have permanent settlements. The others are wild, untouched, and prime habitats for their many endemic species, so visits are highly regulated by park authorities and limited to small groups. Santa Fé and Plaza Sur are home to endemic land iguanas, while Bartolomé is known for its beautiful lava flows. On Seymour Norte, distinctive frigatebirds and blue-footed boobies flourish. Each island is unique, offering spectacular scenery and opportunities to see rare wildlife.
Today's adventure takes you on a fantastic day trip to one of these uninhabited islands, traveling by yacht around the archipelago. When you reach the island, you'll drop anchor and follow trails on foot to discover its beauty and wildlife up close. After lunch on board the yacht, you'll have the opportunity to go snorkeling and explore the area further before sailing back to Santa Cruz.

Day 6: Visit the Twin Craters of Los Gemelos, Transfer to Isla Baltra & Depart

Twin craters in the highlands of Santa Cruz
Look for Darwin's finches as you stop to check out the twin craters of Los Gemelos en route to the airport

On your final morning, a driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the airport, stopping first for a visit to the Los Gemelos. Located opposite each other on both sides of the road leading from Puerto Ayora to Isla Baltra, these "twin craters" makes for a perfect stop on the way to the airport. The stunning natural formations were created by collapsing surface material in underground fissures and chambers, creating pockets of lush, protected ecosystems. Be on the lookout for Darwin's finches and many other species that call this biodiverse hotspot home as you enjoy the breathtaking views.

When the time comes, you'll continue your transfer to the Itabaca Channel, where you'll cross by ferry and continue to Baltra Airport for your departing flight. Safe travels!

More Great Galápagos Islands Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the Galápagos? Check out these other Galápagos itineraries, explore other ways to spend six days in the Galápagos, and discover the best time to visit the Galápagos.


Map of Island Life in the Galápagos: Quito, Isla San Cristóbal & Isla Santa Cruz - 6 Days
Map of Island Life in the Galápagos: Quito, Isla San Cristóbal & Isla Santa Cruz - 6 Days