Guayaquil is Ecuador’s largest city, before Quito, and it has approximately three and a half million inhabitants. The city is situated in the Guayas province, on the west side of the Guayas River, and it is not far from some of the buzzing coastal towns that tourists enjoy visiting. It is all too common for Guayaquil to be overlooked as a tourist destination, which is a shame, as there is quite a bit to see and do here. If your Ecuador trip is going to include some time in Guayaquil Ecuador, then this Guayaquil travel guide is for you. Here we will talk through the highlights of Guayaquil, when to visit and more, to help you make the most of your time there. In terms of how many days to spend in Guayaquil, one will generally be sufficient, and two at the most.
One of the main highlights of Guayaquil is the excellent view of the city that can be gained from the top of the Santa Ana Hill in the Las Penas neighborhood of Guayaquil.
Another very enjoyable highlight of any time spent in Guayaquil is the delicious food that can be experienced here. Guayaquil tends to have a reputation for innovation in its food, so there are some very interesting gastronomic tastes to try.
Guayaquil has a fair number of things to do, to keep the visitor occupied. The Malecon 2000 is one such activity. Here you can enjoy a very pleasant walk along the side of the Guayas River, and there are lovely places to eat and shop along the way. Another place for a good walk is through the streets of the Las Penas district. This was the first neighborhood that was built in Guayaquil, and it has pretty colonial architecture painted in a variety of bright colors. However, if you decide to do this walk, bear in mind you will have to walk 444 steps up the Santa Ana Hill. Another good place to head to is the Parque Seminario. This is a park where a number of iguanas reside – great for getting some excellent photographs of these fascinating creatures.
The weather in Guayaquil is typically muggy all year around. You can expect hot temperatures of between 69 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit. There is more rain in the earlier months of the year (January through March) and it can be overcast a lot at these times. Guayaquil has the clearest skies from June to September.
Given that Guayaquil is less visited by tourists than other locations in Ecuador, there is perhaps less of a “high season” here than in other places. That said, you are likely to find the city busier around the public holiday that celebrates the Independence of Guayaquil (see more details below).
Guayaquil Independence Day is celebrated on or around the 9 th of October each year. If the 9 th of October falls on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, then the public holiday to celebrate this day will be moved to the nearest weekend – you will need to confirm the date each year to be certain. During October this means that there can be cultural and artistic events around this city. On or around the actual day itself you may see street parties, and there are usually several parades.
As one of the most important commercial cities in Ecuador, getting to Guayaquil is very easy. It is possible to fly there from Quito in under an hour. Galapagos flights also typically go through Guayaquil, so you might find yourself there at the start or end of a Galapagos Islands cruise. It is also possible to take a bus to Guayaquil from Quito, and you can expect a journey time of approximately nine hours if you do this. Guayaquil can also be accessed from many other locations in Ecuador, such as Cuenca – from here it is 4-5 hours by bus. Finally, you could take private transportation such as hiring a car, or going on a tour that includes a visit to this city.
Bucay - Just a couple of hours from Guayaquil by car, Bucay is an excellent spot for exhilarating outdoor pursuits such as canyoning, rafting, biking and horseback riding.
Duran - Duran is a canton within the Guayaquil area. An interesting excursion that can be taken from Duran is to Isla Santay. It is possible to walk or bike over to the island from Duran. There is a crocodile station that is worth a visit here, and the island is home to a good deal of wildlife.
As one of the most important cities for commerce in Ecuador, Guayaquil has its fair share of very nice hotels to choose from. Hotel Oro Verde is centrally located and very luxurious, and the Sheraton is also a good option. Meanwhile, if you would like to enjoy riverfront views, the Wyndham may be a good bet.
As might be expected, given its very close proximity to the river, and the fact that the coast is nearby, fish and seafood are the best foodstuffs that you will have in Guayaquil. Encebollado is one option that you will probably come across quite a bit on the menus here. This is a soup, served hot which is made up of various items including cassava, online, cilantro and its main ingredient: fish. There are also other typical coastal dishes here such as encocado (fish in a coconut sauce) and ceviche – commonly of shrimp, but also served with other seafood types as well.
For shopping in Guayaquil, we suggest heading to the Malecon 2000, as there are some great opportunities here to pick up something special. Another important Insiders recommendation for Guayaquil is to be safe. Like any big city, Guayaquil has pickpockets, and petty theft can occur. Only carry with you exactly what you need for your outing, and leave everything else in the hotel safe. If Guayaquil is on your Ecuador bucket list of places to see, we are able to help. We can offer tours that take in Guayaquil, or we can arrange that your Galapagos flights end in Guayaquil, giving you time to explore this buzzing city. Contact us to find out more.