Sample Ecuador's natural and cultural wonders on this 10-day trip. Begin in the capital, Quito, where you'll tour UNESCO-listed landmarks and take a cooking class with a local chef before fly to the world-famous Galápagos Islands. Here you'll spot iconic wildlife, from giant tortoises to sharks and albatross, as you hop from Isla San Cristóbal to Santa Cruz. Enjoy snorkeling, hikes, and standup paddleboarding along the way, and finish by touring a traditional coffee plantation.


  • Tour Quito's UNESCO-listed historic center and take a local cooking class
  • Hike through uninhabited Galápagos islands to spot iconic wildlife
  • Visit the famous Charles Darwin Research Station
  • Take standup paddleboarding and snorkeling trips off remote islands
  • Tour a traditional coffee plantation on Isla Santa Cruz

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Quito, City Tour Quito
Day 2 Visit Mitad del Mundo & Quito Cooking Class Quito
Day 3 Fly to Isla San Cristóbal, Interpretation Center & Tijeretas Hill Isla San Cristóbal
Day 4 Visit Isla Lobos & Standup Paddleboard Tour Isla San Cristóbal
Day 5 Isla Española Day Trip Isla San Cristóbal
Day 6 Speedboat to Isla Santa Cruz, Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station Isla Santa Cruz
Day 7 Explore an Uninhabited Island Isla Santa Cruz
Day 8 Guided Hike to Tortuga Bay Isla Santa Cruz
Day 9 Visit Another Uninhabited Island Isla Santa Cruz
Day 10 Visit Organic Coffee Farm, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Quito, City Tour

Touchdown in Quito and explore the city

Welcome to Ecuador! Touchdown in Quito, where your diver will be waiting to take you to your hotel in the city center. Settle in and then head out to explore this vibrant capital, which is one of the highest in the world at 9,350 feet (2,850 m) above sea level and shadowed by the Andes mountains. 

Accompanied by a local guide, you'll discover Quito's blend of Inca and 17th-century colonial architecture as you discover its UNESCO-listed historic center. Visit landmarks like the Baroque La Compañía de Jesús, a church with a gold-covered interior, and the neo-Gothic La Basílica del Voto. You'll also take a walk down La Ronda, one of the oldest streets in the city, and then make your way to Panecillo Hill for skyline views at sunset.

Day 2: Visit Mitad del Mundo & Quito Cooking Class

Visit Mitad del Mundo, which was once thought to be the equator

Today you'll visit Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World), which marks the point where the Northern and Southern Hemispheres meet. Determined by a French expedition in 1736, it was later discovered that the equator line actually lies 656 feet (200 m) farther north. Nevertheless, tourists still flock to this monument, which features exhibition halls you can browse. You'll also get time to peruse the Inti Ñan Museum to learn about ancient Ecuadorian culture.

End the day with a Quito cooking class, where you'll learn to make classic Ecuadorian dishes. First, meet a local chef for a trip to a market for ingredients. Afterward, they'll teach you how to create typical meals such as locro de papa (potato stew), bolon de verde (plantain dumplings), and encocado de pescado (fish in coconut sauce). End by feasting on your creations.

Day 3: Fly to Isla San Cristóbal, Interpretation Center & Tijeretas Hill

Fly to Isla San Cristóbal and visit the Interpretation Center

Say goodbye to Quito today as you catch a flight to the Galápagos island of San Cristóbal. Start by visiting the Interpretation Center, where you'll learn about the fascinating history of the Galápagos Islands. Hear about the challenges facing the volcanic archipelago and how conservationists are trying to protect it. The natural history room has a presentation about the island's origins, while another exhibit details how humans discovered the islands.

Next, see some of the archipelago's wildlife in its natural habitat at Las Tijeretas Hill, named for the tijeretas (frigatebirds) that inhabit and nest in this area. If you visit the island between June and October, you may also see migrating whales traveling across the ocean. Finish the day with snorkeling to encounter colorful fish, sea lions, and sea turtles.

Plan your trip to Galapagos Islands
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 4: Visit Isla Lobos & Standup Paddleboard Tour

Watch the sea lions basking on Isla Lobos's beaches

Set out this morning to discover Isla Lobos, which is aptly named after the colonies of sea lions that you can see basking and playing on its rocky shoreline. Lobos also has a kaleidoscope of exotic birds, from pelicans to red-chested frigatebirds and yellow warblers. Hike around the island, stopping to look for animals; the waters here are glass-clear, meaning you can easily spot sea turtles, stingrays, and even whitetip sharks.

Continue to explore the marine-rich waters of the Galápagos with a standup paddleboard tour of Isla San Cristóbal's rugged coastline. Accompanied by a guide, you'll paddle across crystal waters to secluded beaches, with possible wildlife sightings along the way; sea lions, rays, and turtles all inhabit the pristine waters around the island. There's time to sunbathe and swim before heading back to shore.

Day 5: Isla Española Day Trip

Look out for blue-footed boobies on Isla Española

Rise early for a two-hour boat trip to the stunning Isla Española. Set off on a hike through the island's lush interior, where you'll spot some of the most iconic wildlife in the Galápagos Islands. Pass a colony of waved albatross, the largest birds on the Galápagos, and look out for blue-footed and Nazca boobies, as well as Española iguanas and sea lion pups.

After your hike, return to the boat for lunch and then sail to a nearby sandy bay where a colony of barking sea lions live. Spend time swimming, snorkeling, and relaxing on the beach before sailing back to Isla San Cristóbal.

Day 6: Speedboat to Isla Santa Cruz, Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station

You'll be able to see giant tortoises in the wild and at the Charles Darwin Research Station

Start the day by taking a speedboat to Isla Santa Cruz, home to a dormant volcano that last erupted over 1.5 million years ago. Head to the island's main town of Puerto Ayora, where you'll tour the Charles Darwin Research Station to observe giant tortoises and iguanas, then watch scientists working on environmental projects.

Next, travel with a guide into the Santa Cruz highlands, where you'll see giant tortoises in the wild. Continue to some lava tunnels and Los Gemelos, twin craters formed by collapsed lava domes, where various bird species live, including the short-eared owl and Darwin's finches. Walk the rim of the craters, passing through scalesia forest, for spectacular views. Finish the trip with lunch on a highland farm en route to Puerto Ayora.

Day 7: Explore an Uninhabited Island

Walk through forests of cacti on Isla Plaza Sur

Today you'll explore one of the uninhabited islands in the Galápagos archipelago, which comprises 13 large islands and over 40 small islands and islets. Depending on the day, you'll sail out to either Santa Fé, Plaza Sur, Bartolomé, or Seymour Norte. Journey through their wild volcanic landscapes and encounter species found nowhere else.

Look out for marine iguanas on the crescent-shaped Plaza Sur, wander through a vast cactus forest and spot sea lions on Santa Fé, and find lava lizards on Seymour Norte. If you dock on Bartolomé, you'll hike among red craters surrounded by two volcanic cinder cones, glimpsing Galápagos penguins at Pinnacle Rock. You'll have a chance to rest on the beach and have lunch on the boat, returning to Puerto Ayora at the end of the day.

Day 8: Guided Hike to Tortuga Bay

Keep an eye out for the flamingoes around Tortuga Bay

Continue exploring Isla Santa Cruz today, heading to Tortuga Bay, which is loved for its soft coral sand and paradisiacal scenery. Take a hike through an opuntia cactus forest and then settle on the beach for a rest and a swim or snorkel. Pelicans and finches are local to the area, and you may spot flamingoes near the salt lagoon. The rest of the day is yours to spend as you please. Have a leisurely lunch, shop for souvenirs, or rent bikes to explore the highlands.

Day 9: Visit Another Uninhabited Island

Perhaps take a hike among the red craters of Isla Bartolomé

Relish another full day exploring the UNESCO-listed Galápagos Islands. Take a boat trip to a different uninhabited island, enjoying vast ocean views along the way. On land, your guide will take you on hikes, stopping to point out wildlife, from unusual birds to green sea turtles and seals. You'll also learn about the island's unique geology and have time to relax and take photos before returning to Puerto Ayora.

Day 10: Visit Organic Coffee Farm & Depart

Enjoy some Ecuadorian coffee before you catch your onward flight

Today your Galápagos adventure comes to an end. Before you leave, sample some of the region's famed coffee at a plantation near Puerto Ayora, which contributes to the conservation of plants and soil. Meet the plantation workers and learn about the entire process of gathering, drying, and preparing the coffee; you'll get to taste and buy some of the tasty brew to take away as a souvenir.

Afterward, you'll travel to Seymour Airport by car and ferry in time for your onward flight. Safe travels!

More Great Galápagos Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the Galápagos? Check out these other Galápagos itineraries, explore different ways to spend 10 days in the Galápagos, or discover the best time to visit the Galápagos.


Map of Nature & Culture in Quito & the Galápagos Islands - 10 Days
Map of Nature & Culture in Quito & the Galápagos Islands - 10 Days