banos ecuador

Baños, Ecuador: A Local’s Guide for Travelers [2024]

Wedged between the Andes Mountain and the Amazon Rainforest, Baños de Agua Santa – commonly referred to simply as Baños – is a highlight for travelers to Ecuador. While Baños is an Ecuador backpacking hotspot, travelers of all kinds will fall in love with all it has to offer visitors, no matter the budget.

As expats living in nearby Quito, Ecuador, we came to love Baños as one of our favorite weekend escapes from the city. Read on for all of our local trips on visiting Baños, including the best things to do in Baños, where to stay, and the best places to eat in one of Ecuador’s most beloved destinations.

where to stay in banos ecuador

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Baños, Ecuador

Easily one of the most popular cities in Ecuador – and among the best cities in South America for travelers! – Baños, Ecuador is small but has so much to offer visitors.

Located in a unique spot between the Andes Mountains and the Amazon Rainforest, Baños has the best of both climates and topographies. Think lush forests, soaring mountains with rushing waterfalls, and a rumbling volcano heating thermal baths around this chill town.

There are so many incredible things to do in Baños that travelers could easily stick around for a week without getting bored. Baños is perhaps best known for its adrenaline-pumping adventure sports like paragliding, bungee jumping, canyoning, and white water rafting, all of which are generally quite affordable, even for those traveling on a budget.

Baños is also well known for (and named after!) its thermal hot springs, heated by nearby Tungurahua Volcano. Visit the affordable public hot springs or even a more upscale spa – Luna Volcán is the best! – to enjoy.

Overall, Baños has something for everyone – truly! – and should be among the top destinations you’re considering for your trip to Ecuador. The only reason I’d recommend skipping Baños on your Ecuador itinerary is if you’re headed to Mindo – it’s generally a better option for travelers looking for a day trip or overnight from Quito. You’ll find many of the same activities in Mindo that you’d find in Baños, and the trip is shorter.

Best Time To Visit Baños, Ecuador

The temperature in Baños holds steady year-round with pleasant, spring-like high 50s to low 60s Fahrenheit (~13 – 17 degrees Celsius), meaning that the best time to visit Baños is really anytime! Baños experiences a notable rainy season between November and April, though travelers should only expect a passing afternoon shower as a result.

The town tends to experience more travelers and slightly higher prices in the drier summer months from May through August, though Baños hardly ever feels overrun.

How Many Days Do You Need in Baños?

Most travelers will want to spend a few days in Baños. By spending two or three days in Baños, you’ll have the chance to enjoy some of the best things to do in Baños without feeling too rushed.

This doesn’t mean that a day trip from Quito isn’t a good option! Small-group excursions to Baños and private excursions to Baños are extremely popular day trips from Quito. Guided excursions from Quito have the benefit of transportation, which significantly cuts down on travel time and makes it easy to enjoy the town in a day.

banos ecuador

Baños, Ecuador Map

We’ve created this handy and interactive Baños map to accompany this article, highlighting all the spots that we mention throughout the article (plus a few extras). Click away to find where to stay in Baños, things to do in Baños, the best places we love to eat, and more. You can even download the map for your trip!

Best Things To Do in Baños, Ecuador

Despite the small size of the town of Baños, it is a challenge to get bored here. Visitors could easily hang around for a week or more and still find things to see and do in Baños and the surrounding areas to keep them busy.

We wrote an entire, lengthy guide on the best things to do in Baños, so make sure to check it out as you plan. However, these are a few of the highlights of a trip to Baños:

1. Swing on the Edge of the World at Casa del Árbol

You’ve likely seen the pictures of the Swing on the Edge of the World – it’s Instagram and TikTok famous, after all! The tiny treehouse perched on the hillside, with its swing over the edge of the mountainside and towards the valley below, is one of the most recognizable images of Baños.

Reaching Casa del Árbol is easy enough by catching a taxi in town; after climbing the hillside for about ten minutes, you’re there. After being securely strapped into the swing, you’ll have your own chance to feel like you’re flying over the heights of the Andes Mountains, and get your own Instagram-worthy picture to remember the experience.

2. Visit the Thermal Baths

Baños gets its name from the numerous natural hot springs – natural hot baths – that surround the city, heated by the powerful (and somewhat unpredictable!) Tungurahua Volcano that stands guard over town.

There are multiple thermal bath options near Baños to choose from, including affordable Termas de la Virgen or the slightly nicer El Refugio, which offers much more of a spa-like vibe and even offers spa services like massages.

For a next-level experience, get a day pass to the spa at Luna Volcán Hotel – for just $20, you’ll get access to pools, jacuzzis, and all the hotel’s incredible installations, which offer some of the most stunning vistas overlooking the town of Baños.

Read More: 10 Most Impressive Volcanoes in Ecuador

pailon del diablo

3. Visit the Waterfalls

Baños is surrounded by dozens of impressive waterfalls, the product of rivers descending from the high Andes mountains towards the lower altitudes of the lush, green Amazon. Whether you want to hike or bike to one or any of these impressive natural wonders, taking in waterfall views is one of the best things to do in Baños.

The largest waterfall in Baños, Pailón del Diablo – the Devil’s Cauldron – is a spectacular waterfall, tall and with tons of water, that is sure to impress you. A favorite way to see all the waterfalls in Baños is by renting a bike and heading out on the so-called Ruta de Las Cascadas – the waterfall route – that passes by some of the most dramatic waterfalls in the area.

Read More: 15 Best Things To Do in Baños

4. Try Canyoning

If you’re looking to get even more up close and personal with the waterfalls of Baños, you’ll want to try canyoning, one of the most popular adventure sports in Baños. This exhilarating activity involves repelling down a series of waterfalls and exploring the canyons and gorges in the forests near the city.

It sounds crazy – perhaps it is – but it’s an incredible thrill, and well-trained guides know exactly how to lead even the most nervous participant. Give it a try – it just may be one of the best things to do in Ecuador!

Reviews and Bookings: Canyoning Experience in Baños

Travel Essential

Don’t think about traveling without a good VPN (Virtual Private Network). Using a VPN while connecting to the internet is an easy way to keep your personal information safe from hackers and trackers. We’ve used NordVPN for years and couldn’t recommend it more – it’s a must for safety online, at home or abroad. 

Amazon Rainforest Brazil
Gustavo Frazao / Depositphotos

Day Trips from Baños, Ecuador

Where should you travel after exploring Baños? There are tons of places to consider. While most travelers opt to travel onward after visiting Baños rather than taking day trips from Baños, the town is perfectly located for exploring the rest of Ecuador.

The Amazon

One of the most popular day trips from Baños is to the Amazon Rainforest, which is just a short drive east of town. Options for activities like hiking, taking guided tours to spot wildlife, and especially white water rafting make it an attractive getaway destination.

These are some of the most popular Amazon Rainforest day trip from Baños that travelers can pre-book online:


Many travelers head from Baños to the dramatic volcanic crater lake of Quilotoa (traveling via Latacunga). If you haven’t considered visiting Quilotoa for its stunning vistas, add it to your itinerary! – it’s by far one of the most impressive sites in Ecuador.

Quilotoa is also the start of the 3-5 day Quilotoa Loop Trek, which has long been considered one of the best trekking routes in South America. Passing through tiny indigenous towns and along dramatic rivers and mountain passes, it’s not to be missed.

Read More: Quilotoa Ecuador Guide: Quilotoa Loop + Crater Hike

Travel Essential

Don’t head out on your adventure without comprehensive travel insurance! Good travel insurance may cover lost or stolen gear, medical emergencies, delayed or canceled flights, and more. Check out the policies available from SafetyWing or compare plans using Visitors Coverage.

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Where To Stay in Baños, Ecuador

When considering where to stay in Baños, you’ll have plenty of options. Baños is home to countless accommodation options – everything from the most basic backpacker hostels to lovely eco-lodges and spas with incredible views.

We have an entire detailed guide about the best areas and places to stay in Baños – make sure to check it out before booking your accommodations, but these are a few of our top recommendations to consider:

Erupción Art Hostel and Hotel ($)

If you’re looking for an excellent budget hostel in Baños, look no further than Erupción Art Hostel and Hotel. Located in the center of town, this affordable hotel and hostel is close to everything and has fantastic amenities like bike rentals, yoga classes, and plenty of organized group events. Dorm beds cost less than $10 per night.

Reviews and Bookings: Erupción Art Hostel and Hotel

Selina Baños ($ – $$)

From the popular Selina collection of coworking and coliving spaces scattered around Latin America and beyond, Selina Baños is one of the best places to stay in Baños for both budget backpackers and travelers with slightly higher budgets looking for some nice amenities. Right across from the main plaza in Baños, Selina offers a great mix of affordable dorm rooms and beautiful private rooms, as well as numerous group excursions and activities that help guests get to know the area and each other.

Reviews and Bookings: Selina Baños

Spa Hosteria Miramelindo ($$)

If you’re looking for accommodations that make the most of the stunning natural beauty surrounding Baños, head to Spa Hosteria Miramelindo near Baños’ spectacular waterfalls. This small hotel feels like a unique lodge retreat deep in the forest, though it is close enough to the town of Baños for a quick cab ride. Each room has its own design and unique features, and the homemade, delicious food served at breakfast is unforgettable.

Reviews and Bookings: Spa Hosteria Miramelindo

Luna Volcán Hotel and Spa ($$$)

Luna Volcán Hotel and Spa is the best place to stay in Baños, hands down. Located on the hillside above the city, Luna Volcán boasts sweeping panoramic city and mountain views and has some incredible amenities that make it well worth its price tag. With an incredible pool and jacuzzi, luxurious rooms with private terraces, unforgettable spa treatments, and delicious food, it is hard to find anything wrong with this hotel.

Reviews and Bookings: Luna Volcán Hotel and Spa

things to do in banos

Where To Eat in Baños, Ecuador

You’ll have no trouble finding places to eat in Baños. The town is filled with a huge variety of places to eat, serving up giant portions of Ecuadorian food for cheap or more expensive spots catering to tourists and serving international food. These are some of our favorite spots in town:

Arepas To Go

This is the best of Baños street food – Arepas to Go offers cheap, filling, and delicious arepas with every kind of filling you can imagine. They also serve delicious empanadas and have great juices and other drinks. This is your place if you’re looking for a quick, delicious meal.

Cafe Hood

Located on a quiet street just a few blocks from the center of town, Cafe Hood is slightly hidden but with delicious food at great prices for those who stumble upon this place. You’ll find a great mix of vegetarian dishes alongside plenty of choices for carnivores as well. The bar seating on the patio out front is the place to be.

Sativa Studio Cafe

The fun and funky Sativa Studio Cafe located in central Baños is a must for vegans, vegetarians, or health-food junkies looking for fresh options – and excellent value – in Baños. The cafe is lovely, with giant murals and unique furnishings, and it’s a great place to meet fellow travelers.

Nunna Chill Garden

Craft beer is all the rage in Ecuador, and Nunna Chill Garden is the place to try it in Baños. This excellent beer garden and restaurant is a perfect break from some of Baños’ wilder backpacker bars and clubs. They frequently feature live music and have fun bar games like giant Jenga and a beer pong table on the patio.

Getting to Baños

Baños is located between the Andes Mountains and the Amazon Rainforest in the geographical center of Ecuador. This convenient location and the abundance of public and private transportation options to reach Baños means it is quite easy to get to Baños from almost anywhere in Ecuador.

The public bus terminal is located in the center of Baños, and regular buses come and go throughout the day. If you’re headed to Baños from Quito, you’ll catch a bus at the Quitumbe bus terminal in the south park of Quito; bus rides from Quito are about three and a half hours long.

Baños also has regular bus routes that connect it to cities in the Amazon, including Puyo and Tena.

Baños Excursions from Quito

You’ll find plenty of small group excursions to Baños and private excursions to Baños to choose from, which make it easy to visit Baños from Quito in just one day.

These excursions usually include a visit to Pailón del Diablo – easily the most impressive waterfall in Ecuador – as well as the Swing at the End of the World and Casa del Árbol, one of the most popular (and viral!) attractions in Baños.

The travel company Quito Tour Bus offers excellent small-group excursions that are relatively affordable and with excellent guides. The excursions also include a ride on the cable car that crosses the gorge near the Ruta de Las Cascadas (the Baños Waterfall route)!

carley rojas avila

Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.