Spend a week in Ecuador exploring the country's diversity, from volcanoes to the rainforest. Each trip starts in Quito, with tours of the UNESCO-designated historic city and a visit to the equator site. From here, choose to stay on the mainland and explore the highlands, cloud forest, and national parks, or fly to the Galapagos for a quick highlights tour of the biodiverse archipelago.

Itinerary #1: Quito Adventure - Day Trips & Cotopaxi

Consider this trip plan if you're a first-time visitor and want to get a taste of it all without venturing too far. You'll stay each night in the capital city of Quito, heading out in the mornings for trips to see various local highlights: the Otavalo market, cloud forest, and Cotopaxi National Park. 

Quilotoa Lagoon
Quilotoa Lagoon
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival to Quito Quito
Day 2 Quito Historic Center, Panecillo Hill, & Middle of the World Tour Quito
Day 3 Mindo Cloud Forest & Otavalo Otavalo
Day 4 Cuicocha Lagoon Hike & Otavalo Market Quito
Day 5 Hike, Horseback, & Hacienda in Cotopaxi National Park Cotopaxi
Day 6 Zumbahua Market & Quilotoa Lagoon Hike Quito
Day 7 Sightseeing & Departure from Quito  

Start this trip with the quintessential historic Quito experience: a visit to the colonial city center, which dates back to the Spanish conquistadores of the 16th century. Tour old churches, like the Church of San Fransisco and La Compañia, then head to Panecillo Hill to see the statue of the Virgin Mary and take in views of the city and nearby volcanoes. In the afternoon, round out the cultural experience by visiting the Middle of the World site, which marks the equatorial line.

Spend the next few days exploring the surrounding countryside on day trips, returning to Quito at night to stay in your comfortable hotel. You'll visit the Mindo Cloud Forest—one of the world's most ecologically diverse regions, thanks to its unique climate—where you'll view wildlife, go ziplining, and learn to make chocolate. Stay the night in the mountain town of Otavalo, then hike near the Cuicocha Lagoon and visit the famous market, where local artisans and farmers come to trade and sell their wares. 

End the trip with an overnight trip to Cotopaxi National Park, which you'll explore on horseback before staying the night in a high-elevation hacienda (hut) with jaw-dropping views of the glaciated peaks. Check out another artisanal market to browse for gifts, then return to Quito for your flight home. Learn more

Itinerary #2: Best of Quito & Galapagos

Although Ecuador's mainland and Galapagos archipelago are separated by 600 miles of Pacific Ocean, daily flights from Quito make it easy to explore both in a short weeklong trip plan. You'll start in Quito to learn about the city's indigenous culture and visit colonial churches, then hop across the water to Puerto Ayora for four days exploring the islands. 

Frigate Bird on North Seymour Island
Frigate Bird on North Seymour Island
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival to Quito Quito
Day 2 Quito Historic Center, Panecillo Hill, & Middle of the World Tour Quito
Day 3 Flight to Santa Cruz Island, Highlands, & Charles Darwin Station Puerto Ayora
Day 4 Day Trip to an Unpopulated Island Puerto Ayora
Day 5 Free Morning & Afternoon Boat Tour Puerto Ayora
Day 6 Another Day, Another Uninhabited Island Puerto Ayora
Day 7 Transfer to Airport on Baltra Island  

Arrive in Quito, the country's capital, and spend the first day acclimating: the city sits at over 9,000 ft (2,740 m). Make sure you drink enough water and take lots of breaks as you walk around and explore the plazas and neighborhood cafes. You'll see the city's main attraction on your second day in the country: the colonial historic center, equator site where you can pose for photos with a foot on each hemisphere.

On your third day catch a short flight to Santa Cruz Island, the main research and traveler hub of the Galapagos. You'll stay in Puerto Ayora—a quiet beach town with plenty of coffee shops and easy access to the beach—as you explore the rocky archipelago on day trips. Visit a couple of uninhabited islands, learn about the giant tortoise breeding program, and snorkel in the clear Pacific water to see playful sea lions and a vibrant diversity of fish and other marine wildlife. Learn more

Plan your trip to Ecuador
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Itinerary #3: Amazon Adventure

Explore the lush Ecuadorian rainforest, learn about indigenous communities, and soak in the diversity of cultures on this two-in-one trip plan. With the bulk of your stay focused at a small eco-lodge in Yasuni National Park, you'll get to see a whole different side of Ecuador—one that's a bit more off the beaten path. 

Butterfly in Yasuni
Butterfly in Yasuni
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival to Quito Quito
Day 2 Quito Historic Center, Panecillo Hill, & Middle of the World Tour Quito
Day 3 Quito to Yacuma Ecolodge in Yasuni National Park Yasuni National Park
Day 4 Yacuma Ecolodge: Plant Hike, Bat Cave, & Gold Panning Yasuni National Park
Day 5 Yacuma Ecolodge: Kichwa Ceramics, Chocolate-Making, & Campfire Yasuni National Park
Day 6 Papallacta Hot Spring en Route to Quito Quito
Day 7 Depart from Quito  

Start this trip the way most trips to Ecuador start: in the capital city of Quito, which sits in the shadow of the Cotopaxi Volcano. Spend a few days in the urban landscape, visiting colonial churches, learning about the indigenous people of Ecuador, and taking in the historic nature of the UNESCO-designated city. 

After two days in Quito hit the road for the nearby Yasuni National Park, a vibrant and eco-diverse rainforest ecosystem with plenty of opportunities to see wildlife and learn about indigenous cultures. You'll be staying at an eco-lodge, which you'll reach with a trip down the river aboard a motorized canoe. The lodge's remoteness gives the property a feeling of being at one with the rainforest, with the sounds of howler monkeys and insects drifting in through your windows.

Spend four days here, exploring the waterways, learning to fish for piranha, panning for gold, and visiting the Bat Cave—an unexplored underground passage used by local Shamans for ceremonial purposes. You'll also visit the nearby Kichwa community, where you'll get a demonstration of ceramics making from the artisans themselves. On your way back to Quito, stop by the Papallacta Hot Springs to soak your muscles before heading to the airport for your flight home. Learn more

Itinerary #4: Hiking in the Andes

Ecuador sits along the chain of the Andes Mountains, which run for thousands of miles along the western spine of South America; you'll spend a week hiking here on this adventurous trip plan. Visit a mountain market, tour Quito, and trek on the well-known Cotopaxi Volcano (and lesser-known ones, like Ruco Pichincha and Pasochoa).

High-elevation refuge on Cotopaxi
High-elevation Refuge on Cotopaxi
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival to Quito & City Tour Quito
Day 2 Quito to Otavalo, Market Visit & Cuicocha Hike Otavalo
Day 3 Fuya Fuya Volcano Hike & Transfer to Quito Quito
Day 4 Hiking on Ruco Pichincha Volcano Quito
Day 5 Pasochoa Volcano Trek & Machachi Machachi
Day 6 Hike in Cotopaxi National Park Quito
Day 7 Depart from Quito  

Begin this week-long trekking trip plan in the city of Quito, where you'll visit main landmarks like the colonial Churches of San Fransisco and La Compañia. Make sure you drink a lot of water today, as the city sits above 9,000 ft (2,740 m) and it's easy to get dehydrated in the dry climate. On the second day, head to the mountains to visit the city of Otavalo, famous for its centuries-old artisan market where locals sell and trade wares and goods. It's a great place to browse for gifts before hiking around the crater lagoon of Cuicocha

Spend the next few days based in Quito, hiking the Fuya Fuya, Ruco Pichincha and Pasochoa Volcanoes. All three are home to a wide diversity of mountain wildlife, from endemic plants to the elusive Andean Condor. 

Wrap up the trip with an overnight in the town of Machachi at the base of the Cotopaxi Volcano before spending your last day in Ecuador exploring one of the country's most famous national parks. Learn more

Itinerary #5: Volcanoes of Ecuador

The Andes Mountains, which run north-south through Ecuador, create a high-elevation playground backdrop for this adventurous weeklong trip plan. You'll spend your time playing and exploring: from bartering at Otavalo's market to horseback riding in Cotopaxi National Park and trekking on the Chimborazo Volcano. 

Hacienda El Porvenir
Hacienda El Porvenir
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Quito Quito
Day 2 Otavalo Market - Cuicocha Lagoon Otavalo
Day 3 Explore Cotopaxi National Park Cotopaxi
Day 4 Trekking at Quilotoa Lagoon - Patate Patate
Day 5 Scenic Waterfalls Drive - Baños Hot Springs - Riobamba Riobamba
Day 6 Riobamba - Chimborazo - Guayaquil Guayaquil
Day 7 Departure via Quito  

Start your trip out in Quito, the urban heart of Ecuador, which sits in a landscape that's defined by a chain of striking volcanoes. On the second day, head to the mountains to the town of Otavalo, where you'll hike near the Cuicocha Crater Lagoon and visit the famed local market to browse for Andean crafts and wares. Spend the night in a high-elevation hacienda (guest house) before your adventure the next day: exploring Cotopaxi National Park. 

There are several ways to enjoy the park's landscape, from hiking and horseback riding to wildlife and bird viewing. Pick your favorite experience, then cozy up in a comfortable hacienda for a relaxed afternoon. The next day, head to Quilotoa Lagoon for a hike along the blue-green lagoon, then continue to Patate in the south. 

Spend your remaining few days exploring the Avenue of the Volcanoes, soaking in the Baños Hot Springs, and enjoying the views of the Chimborazo Volcano, whose summit is the furthest point from the earth's surface due to its location on the equatorial bulge. End your stay in Ecuador by enjoying the sea breeze in the coastal city of Guayaquil. Learn more

More Great 7-Day Ecuador Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your Ecuador trip? Check out these other 7-day Ecuador itineraries, with nature-focused itineraries, rainforest getaways, and best-of trips to hit the highlights. 

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


Map of 1 Week in Ecuador - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
Map of 1 Week in Ecuador - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
Written by Sonya Pevzner, updated Jan 13, 2023