Welcome to an adventure-seeker’s paradise nestled in the heart of the Andes – Baños de Agua Santa, Ecuador.
Read my blog to unveil a treasure trove of exhilarating experiences, from navigating white-water rapids and soaring through lush canyons on ziplines to exploring enchanting waterfalls along La Ruta de las Cascadas.
Having spent 3 weeks in Banos Ecuador, I discovered the adrenaline-fuelled activities, rich cultural experiences, and breathtaking landscapes that make Banos Ecuador a must-visit destination.
Get ready for a guide to the myriad of incredible things to do in Banos Ecuador – a vibrant town where every moment promises a new thrill for daring and non-adventurous travellers.
Adventurous Things to Do in Banos Ecuador
White Water Rafting
Banos, Ecuador, offers thrilling white-water rafting adventures amidst stunning natural scenery. The Pastaza River provides an adrenaline rush with its Class III and IV rapids, attracting both beginners and seasoned rafters. Guides lead through lush canyons, ensuring an exhilarating experience while showcasing the region’s breathtaking landscapes and diverse flora.
White Water Rafting in Banos Ecuador
Canyoning in Chamana
Chamana canyons are located a short ride away from Baños de Agua Santa, Ecuador, and are a prime destination for canyoning enthusiasts (and beginners). Exploring the intricate network of water-carved boulders, thrill-seekers navigate waterfalls and rocky terrain under the guidance of experienced instructors.
The cascades are fairly easy, and some have a riskier option. The final drop of 50 meters adds to the excitement though. It may be a challenge to some partakers but I took a gulp and jumped creating an unforgettable canyoning adventure close to this picturesque Andean town.
Canyoning in Banos
Ziplining at Puntzan Canopy
Puntzan Canopy in Banos, Ecuador, offers a heart-pounding ziplining experience amidst lush landscapes. Adventurers soar through the treetops, revelling in the thrill of multiple lines, including one of the longest zipline in South America, and the chance to take the lines upside down!
With panoramic views of the Tungurahua volcano and the Pastaza River, this ziplining adventure combines adrenaline rushes with breathtaking scenery, making it one of the best things to do in Banos Ecuador.
Ziplining in Banos Ecuador
In Banos, Ecuador, puenting, or bridge swinging, provides an exhilarating free fall experience. Daredevils leap from bridges over scenic gorges, attached to a bungee cord, for a heart-pounding adventure. The rushing Pastaza River and stunning Andean landscapes create a thrilling backdrop, making ‘puenting’ a daring and unforgettable activity in Banos.
Puenting in Banos Ecuador
Visit Pailon del Diablo
If you only see one waterfall in Banos, it should be Pailon del Diablo. The name translates to “Devil’s Cauldron” in English which is quite fitting for this powerful cascade which is approximately 80 meters (260 ft) tall, making it one of Ecuador’s most spectacular natural attractions.
Expect a tourist haven with souvenir shops and local places to eat. There is an entrance fee of $2 which goes towards the upkeep of the preserving this ecosystem.
There are two trails to choose from at Pailon del Diablo. The entrance to the right-hand side of Rio Verde is shorter and has an impressive viewing suspension bridge. The entrance to the left of the river will take you underneath the cascade.
Getting to Pailon de Diablo:
LOCAL BUS – ($0.50) from Banos bus station, and leave regularly.
TOURIST BUS ($3) but you need to endure incredibly loud music and lots of stops where you are encouraged to zipline or take part in activities.
Pailon del Diablo waterfall
Explore the Rutas de Cascadas
For the more adventurous travellers, you may want to explore the La Ruta de las Cascadas (The Waterfall Route) near Banos, Ecuador. The route leads you past a network of twelve waterfalls which includes Cascada Ulba & Silencio, Cascada Agoyan, the iconic Cascada Pailón del Diablo, and Manto de la Novia.
There are a few ways to explore the Ruta de las Cascadas which are by bike, ATV, jeep, or with a tour. The most sustainable way to travel is by bike, but it is worth pointing out that it is around 18km one way. So, you may need to either be selective with the number of stops, be a strong cyclist, or take a truck on the way back.
How to explore La Rutas de las Cascadas
BY BIKE: Look around Banos, there are plenty of rentals for $10 for the full day.
BY BIKE TOUR: See 7 waterfalls with lunch on a private bike tour
BY ATV: It depends on who you speak to so do look around for the best price but also, check the ATVs for safety aspects. Expect to pay $40-45 for 3 hours.
BY JEEP: If you have a group, another option is to hire a 4×4 jeep
Non-Adventurous Things To Do in Banos Ecuador
Visit Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Agua Santa
The Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Agua Santa in Baños, Ecuador, is a captivating religious landmark in the main plaza, known for its neo-Gothic architecture.
Pilgrims flock to pay homage to the Virgin of the Holy Water, believed to perform miracles. Several detailed religious artworks inside the church depict some of the miracles she is said to have performed.
Altar of the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Agua Santa
Visit Museo Fray Enrique Mideros
The Museo Fray Enrique Mideros in Baños, Ecuador, is housed in a former monastery with a baroque-style courtyard and central fountain. The museum showcases religious artifacts, historical exhibits, and contemporary art. There is a strange collection of taxidermy showcasing animals typically found in various regions of Ecuador.
The pre-Columbian rooms display a varied collection of sculptures, ceramic utensils and objects, that were made by artists from the cultures: Valdivia, Guangala, Chorrera, Manteña, Bahía, Machalilla, La Tolita and Jama Coaque.
For cultural enthusiasts wishing to take a break from the adventure activities in Banos, visiting Museo Fray Enrique Mideros is a great way to gain insights into Ecuador’s religious and artistic evolution. Worth a visit!
Museo Fray Enrique Mideros
Enjoy the local springs at Balneida al Salado
Balneario El Salado in Banos, Ecuador, is a renowned hot springs complex, that offers relaxation amidst stunning natural surroundings. Fed by thermal springs, the pools provide a soothing experience with mineral-rich waters.
Switch from hot to cold and tepid pools for the full experience. Be prepared, the hot pool is positively boiling but you would not know this by the look on everyone’s faces!
Visit Balneario El Salado
Entrance: It costs $4 to enter and it is mandatory to wear a swimming cap which you can buy at the shop outside.
Getting to Balneario el Salado: It is a 40-minute walk up the valley or a short taxi ride. It is probably better to get a taxi up and walk down as the reception is not great and not many taxis wait outside.
Location of Balneario el Salado >> CLICK GOOGLE MAPS
Balneario el Salado in Banos
Spend the day at Luna Volcan
Luna Volcán Spa is a serene escape nestled beneath the Tungurahua volcano. This wellness haven combines modern amenities with natural thermal baths, offering a rejuvenating experience.
After 2 months of travelling through Ecuador, I needed a day to kick back and relax. Chilling in the four hot volcanic pools and jacuzzi at Luna Volcán with mind-blowing mountainside views of Banos was the best travel tonic! I had the best day soaking in the healing mineral waters while surrounded by lush gardens in the heart of the Andes.
My recommendation is to stay around for the sunset and the nightfall over Banos, it’s a truly majestic mirador.
Have a chocolate massage
Banos Ecuador, beckons with a myriad of massage offerings, ranging from therapeutic to indulgent spa treatments.Time to soak up some mindfulness and ‘me-time’!
You will hear the ladies offer a ‘masaje’ and you can choose from the menu of ancient massage techniques, unique volcanic ash exfoliation, or rejuvenating facials.
I went for a deep tissue massage followed by hot chocolate therapy, where they applied hot chocolate, and wrapped me up to let the magic happen. Honestly, my skin has never felt softer. It was incredible to unwind, letting the healing hands and serene atmosphere melt away stress.
Drink the best Hot Chocolate
So, if you’re not a fan of smothering your body in chocolate, you can’t fail to devour the best hot chocolate in Banos Ecuador. This was my best non-adventurous activity after flinging myself off a waterfall!
Upon entering Aromi Café in Banos the cravings will beat willpower in the ground, and you will find yourself with a fluffy hot chocolate paired with a truly delicious chocolate cake before you know it. Believe me, I had no regrets!
Hot Chocolate and Brownie in Aromi, Banos
Check the street art in Banos
Banos Ecuador has an eclectic mix of street art dotted around the city. Some have a happy vibe, and some lean towards the macabre. Murals showcase a blend of indigenous motifs, nature, and cultural expressions.
The contrast of illustrations of the Andean wildlife by Pailon del Diablo and a cute basset hound mural in the centre, an animal unrelated to Ecuador. Observe political statements, cartoon-style pictures to lifelike portraits from Jon Lozano and Climax106.
The collection of street murals around Banos is fascinating so keep your eyes peeled. Exploring the streets becomes a visual feast, where art becomes a dynamic part of Baños’ charming atmosphere.
Drink craft beer
Sip on innovative brews, from fruity ales to robust stouts, as you soak in Baños’ relaxed atmosphere, making it a refreshing stop for beer enthusiasts. The two main places to visit for artisanal beer are Soma Beer Garden and Cherusker Cervecería Artesanal Alemana, and thankfully, they are on the same street so you have no excuse to try both!
Soma Beer Garden serves a range of craft beer brewed locally by the owner. >> CLICK for Soma Beer Garden location
Cherusker Cervecería Artesanal Alemana is a microbrewery producing craft beers inspired by classic German and European styles. >> CLICK for Cherusker Cervecería location
Craft Beer in Soma Beer Garden
Eat local dishes in Banos Central Market
Indulge in the vibrant culinary scene at Baños Central Market, Ecuador. Sample local delights like llapingachos (potato patties), empanadas filled with cheese or meat, and delicious Ecuadorian soups. The market buzzes with authenticity, offering a feast for the senses, where flavours of traditional Ecuadorian cuisine come alive in every bite.
Baños Central Market also offers juice stalls, fruit stands, and dairy sellers making this a go-to for cheap ingredients for any traveller.
Shopping for souvenirs
In Baños Ecuador, vibrant shops and markets beckon with colourful textiles, artisanal crafts, and trinkets that reflect Ecuador’s rich culture. Make no mistake, the bulk of the shops carry similar ‘tourist’ stock such as bags, keyrings, magnets, and ceramics. But still, the folk back home will think it’s pretty.
There are souvenir shops practically on every street, as well as down the side of Central Market. You can haggle a little as they generally start on the higher side expecting you to try but remember to play fair though and remember it is their livelihood!
Shopping for souvenirs in Baños de Agua Santa
Swing at Casa de Arbol
Embark on an exhilarating adventure at Casa del Árbol in Baños, Ecuador, famous for its iconic treehouse with a swing at the edge of a cliff. With breathtaking views of Tungurahua Volcano, visitors can experience a thrilling ride suspended above the abyss.
I didn’t make it to the swing at Casa del Árbol as I read it was a little underwhelming and all about getting a shot for Instagram, and I’m more about the adventure.
How to Reach Casa de Arbol Banos?
Where is Casa de Arbol: Located 15km from Banos Ecuador >> CLICK GOOGLE MAPS
How to get to Casa de Arbol: You can reach by foot, taxi or local buses.
What is the entrance fee to Casa de Arbol: It costs $2 to take advantage of all the swings.
Visit Mirador Pastaza
Discover awe-inspiring vistas at Mirador Pastaza in Baños Ecuador. Perched on the edge of the Pastaza River Canyon, the viewpoint offers panoramic views of the surrounding lush landscapes. It’s a stunning place to sit, relax, and take in the breathtaking views in the heart of Ecuador.
Mirador del Pastaza Banos
Enjoy Fiestas Octubrinas
If you are in Baños at the end of September, visitors can catch the opening processions for Fiesta Octubrinas. Baños is a lively place to be in October as local (and international) tourists descend upon the town!
Fiesta Octubrinas is a religious festival that pays homage to the Virgin of the Rosary of Agua Santa, who reminds them of the constant fight that existed between Protestants and Catholics in days gone by. It is believed that the Virgin of the Rosary is a symbol of strength that protects Baños from all dangers, including the Tungurahua volcano.
The neighbourhoods and parishes of Baños celebrate with various activities such as the preparation of chicha, the giving of flowers and candles, popular games, processions, and masses.
Handy Resources to Plan your Baños trip
Where to stay in Baños
Baños de Agua Santa has a great selection of budget hostels for backpackers and mid-to-high-end hotels. All accommodations were either stayed in by myself or recommended by fellow travellers.
($) HOSTAL D’MATHIAS – Popular with backpackers on a budget. Offers dorms, private and family rooms. Top-reviewed accommodation has a kitchen and shared space and offers discounted tours. >> CHECK PRICES ON BOOKING.COM & HOSTELWORLD
($) SELINA BAÑOS – Perfect for digital nomads with speedy WiFi. Offers single, double, and triple rooms. Ideally located by the main plaza with a good-sized kitchen and bar restaurant on the rooftop. >> CHECK PRICES ON BOOKING.COM & HOSTELWORLD
($) EL JARDÍN ESCONDIDO PARTY HOSTEL – Centrally located behind Soma Beer Garden with bar and restaurant on site. Offers single, double, triple and quad rooms. >> CHECK PRICES ON BOOKING.COM & HOSTELWORLD
($$) 593 HOTEL BOUTIQUE BAÑOS – This 4-star hotel has a garden, a shared lounge, a terrace, and a restaurant. Ideally located by the main plaza with a good-sized kitchen and bar restaurant on the rooftop. >> CHECK PRICES ON BOOKING.COM
($$$) LUNA VOLCÁN, ADVENTURE SPA – Luxury hotel features 4-star accommodation with a garden, bar and restaurant. The hotel has a hot tub, outdoor pool and terrace overlooking the mountains. >> CHECK PRICES ON BOOKING.COM
How to reach Baños
BY BUS: The bus is the cheapest option for getting to Baños. There are direct services from all main places such as Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca, Riobamba and Puyo.
BY PRIVATE CAR: If you have a group or want to travel in a little more comfort, check the prices for private drivers or shuttles from various locations.
Is Baños Ecuador safe?
I felt safe in Baños Ecuador wandering around both in the day and at night. I heard stories about theft on buses, but either way, take the usual precautions against pickpockets and avoid getting too drunk if you’re on your own. Ensure you get the right travel insurance to suit your needs. Check out these tried-and-tested options to help your trip go without any issues.
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FAQs Visiting Baños
Is Baños Ecuador worth visiting?
Baños, Ecuador, is a captivating destination nestled in the Andes. Baños de Agua Santa has so much to see and do! Its breathtaking scenery, thermal baths, adventure sports, cascading waterfalls, and vibrant culture make it worth visiting. The fact that it is a popular destination for Ecuadorians shows that Baños Ecuador is worth visiting!
Why is Baños famous?
Baños Ecuador, is renowned for its thermal baths sourced from volcanic springs, offering relaxation. Its fame also stems from adventurous outdoor activities and the scenic backdrop of Tungurahua volcano.
When is the best time to visit Baños?
The best time to visit Baños, Ecuador, is during the dry season from June to September. This period offers pleasant weather for outdoor activities and exploration. However, Baños’ mild climate makes it a year-round destination.
Weekends and public holidays can be busy as Banos is a go-to for locals in their free time.
How long to spend in Baños?
A recommended duration for visiting Baños, Ecuador, is a minimum of 3 to 4 days to cover the highlights. If you travelling slow and can afford to spend longer in Baños, you won’t be bored. There are enough activities in Baños to keep you busy.
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