9 (Easy!) Day Trips from Quito: Ultimate Guide

Quito is one of South America’s great cities, and there are so many things to do in Quito that you won’t have trouble filling out an itinerary. However, there are also countless day trips from Quito Ecuador that should be on your travel radar as well. A trip to Quito isn’t complete without a day trip from Quito!

Some of Ecuador’s most incredible attractions make for the best day trips from Quito, including those you can visit on your own, and those best to save for inexpensive day tours from Quito.

After living in Quito for two years, we’ve tried all the Quito day trips & excursions you could think of – and we’re sharing all about them here. Keep reading for this ultimate guide to day trips from Quito. Plus, check out this opportunity to see two of Ecuador’s most stunning natural sites in one whirlwind day – both favorite Quito day trips.

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Day Trips from Quito

Located in the heights of the Andes Mountains in the middle of the country, Quito is close to everything, making it a great destination if you’re looking to explore Ecuador. There is plenty more to discover along the Andes Mountain chain, plus the nearby cloud forest to the east and Amazon to the west.

Within a few hours’ drive of Quito, you can find world-class bird watching and adventure sports in the cloud forest, the mountainous highlands, multiple volcanos, lakes, incredible viewpoints, hiking destinations, and more.

You can choose what is most interesting to you, and make it fit into almost any itinerary.

Read More About Quito Travel:

Some of the best day trips from Quito are to nearby destinations easily accessible with public transport that make for half-day excursions. Others are a bit farther and require private transport, and are even better with an overnight. Whether you prefer a hassle-free excursion or going local and taking public transport, you’ll have tons of options for your budget and schedule – prepare to be impressed!

otavalo day trip

1. Otavalo

The small, charming town of Otavalo is one of the most popular day trips from Quito! Just two hours north of Quito, Otavalo is best known for having South America’s largest artisan handicrafts market – truly a sight not to be missed!

Market days in Otavalo got their start with indigenous peoples prior to the arrival of the Incas, so there is some real history here. Saturdays are the biggest market days, and to a lesser extent, Wednesdays. Market stalls spill into the city streets these days, but the market is open on a smaller scale in the Plaza de Ponchos every day.

At the market, you’ll find all kinds of textiles, especially made from alpaca, like blankets, ponchos, and sweaters, as well as home goods, jewelry, leather goods, clothing, and souvenirs. You’ll also find sections selling fresh fruits and vegetables, prepared foods, and live animals – definitely an interesting sight!

After living in Quito for two years, I visited Otavalo on at least EIGHT weekend trips, and will still head back the next chance I get! The market is incredible, and there is so much to see and do here, even beyond the market.

Beyond just visiting the market, Otavalo boasts the nearby Laguna Cuicocha – a stunning volcanic crater lake with epic hikes – Cascada de Peguche (Peguche Waterfall), Lago San Pablo (San Pablo Lake), and more that are all worth seeing!

Read More: Visiting Otavalo and the Otavalo Market: Ultimate Guide

Otavalo Day Trip from Quito

There are three main ways to take an Otavalo day trip from Quito:

  • Take public transport – a greyhound-style bus from Quito to Otavalo
  • Schedule a group tour
  • Schedule a private tour

If you want to take public transportation, you can catch a bus from Quito’s Carcelén bus terminal for around $2 USD. Buses leave every 15-30 minutes, so you’ll have plenty of options. The trip takes about 2 hours.

If you’re planning on visiting on Saturday for the market, taking a tour from Quito is your best option. Public transport can be quite busy to and from Otavalo on market day and often sells out on the weekends on the way back from Otavalo. Plus, you’ll want to arrive early, as the market is best in the morning, making a hassle-free small-group excursion from Quito your best bet on a Saturday.

Small Group Otavalo Tour from Quito

There is a fantastic day tour of Otavalo and the surrounding areas is an extremely popular and inexpensive (less than $50!) option for an Otavalo day trip from Quito. We used this company and booked this tour once during a family friend’s visit to Ecuador for tours of Otavalo, an excellent experience!

With this day tour of Otavalo, you’ll have the option of transportation back to Quito, or sticking around in Otavalo and traveling on from there.

This tour of Otavalo has all transport and food included, plus get to see some of the other nearby sites, like Laguna Cuicocha and the Cotacachi leather craftsmen. Highly recommended if you’re considering a visit to Otavalo!

Private Otavalo Tour from Quito

Rebecca Adventure Travel is a fantastic, small travel company that offers private, personalized day tours from Quito to Otavalo. They also include visits to nearby spots like Laguna Cuicocha crater lake and Peguche Waterfall, and the guides are great.

Staying overnight in Otavalo?

Here are the best places to stay in Otavalo:

Best Hotels & Hostels in Quito

2. Cotopaxi

Easily one of the most stunning natural features in Ecuador, Cotopaxi Volcano is a snow-capped beauty rising out of the Andes just outside of the city of Quito. Its proximity to Quito makes it a perfect day trip from Quito and by far one of the most popular day trips for travelers.

Visits to Cotopaxi National Park usually include touring around the best parts of the park, like Lago Limpiopungo, and taking in the beautiful scenery and wildlife here. Plus, you can hike up to the Jose Rivas Refuge, just below the volcano’s glacier line, for incredible views.

Summiting Cotopaxi is much more challenging, involving full winter gear and crampons, plus an overnight at the refuge. If you’re interested, it is a truly unforgettable experience!

If you have a bit more time in your schedule, I recommend spending a night in Cotopaxi National Park at The Secret Garden Cotopaxi. This is probably my favorite hotel, anywhere.

Wedged between Cotopaxi and nearby Pasochoa, The Secret Garden has the most incredible views of the national park and the volcano, as well as incredible food, excellently organized excursions, and comfortable rooms. Plus, it is relatively inexpensive and even offers hostel-style dorm rooms for travelers on a budget.

If you can’t manage to find time in your itinerary for The Secret Garden, it is still well worth a visit to Cotopaxi with a Cotopaxi day trip from Quito! Keep reading for the best tour options.

Cotopaxi Day Trip from Quito

There are three main ways to take a Cotopaxi day trip from Quito:

  • Take public transport – a greyhound-style bus from Quito to Latacunga, getting off at the Cotopaxi National Park entrance. Read more about public transportation to Cotopaxi in our Quito to Cotopaxi Guide.
  • Schedule a group tour
  • Schedule a private tour

While you might save a little money taking public transportation, I generally recommend against it if you have just one day to visit. You can’t walk around the park – just walking from the bus stop to the entrance to the park takes over an hour! – so you’ll have to hire one of the local guides that wait at the bus stop anyways.

If you love adventure and want to take your trip to Cotopaxi to the next level, consider the Cotopaxi Hiking and Mountain Biking excursion, an incredibly popular activity that involves biking down the volcano!

Cotopaxi and Quilotoa

Looking to combine two distinct day trips in one? This Cotopaxi and Quilotoa tour takes you to both Cotopaxi and Quilotoa, arguably two of Ecuador’s most impressive natural destinations. These are two of Ecuador’s most stunning natural wonders, so this is a perfect excursion if you’re on a tight itinerary.

Small Group Cotopaxi Tour from Quito

Small group excursions to Cotopaxi from Quito are the best way to enjoy a Cotopaxi day trip from Quito. You’ll be able to explore the park with an experienced guide, hike to the refuge on the volcano, and all transportation and food is included.

This Cotopaxi day trip from Quito is with a really reliable company we’ve used in the past – they provide an unforgettable travel experience for your money.

Private Cotopaxi Tour from Quito

If you’re looking for more flexibility to design your own itinerary, consider a private tour of Cotopaxi from Quito. These tours include hiking in the National Park and the opportunity to climb to Cotopaxi’s refuge but can be personalized depending on your interest!

Staying overnight in Cotopaxi National Park?

Here are the best places to stay near Cotopaxi:

quilotoa ecuador

3. Quilotoa

Quilotoa is one of the most beautiful destinations in Ecuador, and truly an unforgettable trip. After living in Ecuador for two years and visiting Quilotoa at least five times, I still can’t wait until I have the chance to return.

Quilotoa crater lake is actually a volcano – the volcano rim collapsed in on itself centuries ago, leaving behind the stunning blue-green lake you see today. High in the mountains, Quilotoa and the surrounding mountains make up some of the most beautiful scenery in all of the Andes, and the 3-day Quilotoa Loop trek is one of South America’s best hikes.

Quilotoa is in an extremely isolated location high in the Andes, about 3 hours from Quito by car, or 4+ hours by bus. It is certainly a drive, but still well worth the visit even as a day trip from Quito.

Small group excursions or private excursions to Quilotoa from Quito are the best way to visit in just one day and allow you to enjoy your time at this unforgettable site, hiking, kayaking in the lake, or just taking in the view.

Read More: Quilotoa and the Quilotoa Loop Trek: Ultimate Guide

Quilotoa Day Trip from Quito

There are two ways to take a Quilotoa day trip from Quito:

It is practically impossible to visit Quilotoa from Quito and return to Quito in just one day using public transportation.

Getting to Quilotoa by bus involves taking a bus from Quito to Latacunga, then another bus from Latacunga to Quilotoa. Buses infrequently leave Quilotoa headed back to Latacunga, so it is practically impossible to make it in one day.

If you want to visit Quilotoa via public bus, plan on spending one night here – check out Hosteria Alpaka Quilotoa if you plan on staying! I stayed here several times and had a great experience. Alternatively, spend a night in Latacunga at Hostal Tiana.

If you’re looking for a Quilotoa day trip from Quito, choose a small group excursion or a private excursion if you’re looking for more flexibility. This is a great Quito day trip to choose – you’ll never forget this truly breathtakingly beautiful destination.

Quilotoa and Cotopaxi

Looking to combine the best day trips from Quito in one? The Quilotoa and Cotopaxi tour takes you to both of these incredible destinations. These are two of Ecuador’s most stunning natural wonders, so this is a perfect excursion if you’re on a tight itinerary.

Small Group Quilotoa Tour from Quito

A small group Quilotoa day trip is a great way to enjoy one of Ecuador’s most beautiful destinations in just one day. Just the drive alone is spectacular – this area has some of the most beautiful mountainous scenery in all of the Andes.

The Quilotoa day trip from Quito includes private transportation and a guide, as well as stop-offs along the way to appreciate the scenery at well-known lookouts and an excursion to indigenous communities’ handicraft workshops, as well as including lunch.

You’ll also have time to hike around part of the crater rim or into the volcanic crater – remember, you’re at a high elevation here, so take it easy on yourself!

Private Quilotoa Tour from Quito

Scheduling a private Quilotoa day trip from Quito is another great way to enjoy this destination at your own pace. The guides that lead this trip are truly fantastic, and scheduling a private tour means you can tailor the experience to exactly what you’re looking for.

The private tour from Quito also includes a visit to the nearby Sasquili market, which is a fantastic and super authentic market that not many travelers make it to.

Staying overnight in Quilotoa?

Here are the best places to stay in Quilotoa:

What To Pack for Ecuador

Check out our Ultimate Ecuador Packing List to help you pack for your trip – we’re sharing exactly what to bring to Ecuador and what we never travel without.

7 day itinerary ecuador

4. Mindo

Located about an hour and a half to the northwest of Quito, the small town of Mindo is located in the heart of Ecuador’s subtropical Cloud Forest habitat. This unique mix of mountains and jungle located between the Andes and the coast is the perfect place for a day trip from Quito.

In Mindo you can enjoy relaxing and taking in this warm jungle paradise, or take part in any of the area’s countless adventure activities. Here you’ll find beautiful and secluded waterfall hikes, incredible ziplining (the best in Ecuador!), river tubing, waterfall repelling (called canyoning), and more.

You can even tour the local artisanal chocolate makers’ factory and shop, enjoy world-class birdwatching (some of South America’s best!), or visit a butterfly sanctuary with countless species of butterflies. This and more, if you’re looking for a letter less “adventure” but just as much fun.

Honestly, Mindo is one of my favorite spots in Ecuador. After exploring the whole country I’d still come back to Mindo every single time. There’s enough to do here to warrant spending at least two days, but if you can only make it a day trip you’ll still have a blast.

Read More

Mindo Day Trip from Quito

There are three ways to take a Mindo day trip from Quito:

If you want to travel to Mindo independently, take a bus from Quito La Ofelia bus station in the north of the city – the bus company Flor del Valle has buses directly to Mindo about every hour starting at 8:00 am on weekdays and 7:40 am on weekends. The trip takes about 2 hours and costs $3.10 USD.

When traveling by bus, always make sure you secure your return ticket as soon as you arrive in Mindo – the last buses leaving Mindo in the late afternoon sell out fast!

If you only have one day to spend in Mindo, I recommend considering a shared group excursion to Mindo, or a private excursion if you’re looking for a more personalized experience.

There is simply SO MUCH TO DO in Mindo that saving on time by choosing an excursion will let you enjoy the town so much more. Make sure to check out our other Mindo articles to get a better idea of everything there is to do here:

Read More

Small Group Mindo Tour from Quito

Small group excursions as a Mindo day trip from Quito are one of the best options for visiting Mindo in just one day. Private transportation makes a big difference and saves you so much time getting here, meaning you can enjoy much more of what Mindo has to offer.

Friends used this tour company and took this Mindo day trip from Quito and had a great experience. Highly recommended to enjoy one day in Mindo!

Private Mindo Tour from Quito

If you’re looking for even more flexibility in a Mindo day trip from Quito, consider booking a private excursion to Mindo. You’ll be able to communicate with guides ahead of time about activity options and enjoy your trip to the fullest.

If you’re a birdwatcher, consider booking a private, specialized birdwatching excursion from Quito. Even in just one day, you’ll have a fantastic experience in the Cloud Forest.

Staying overnight in Mindo?

Here are the best places to stay in Mindo:

5. Mitad del Mundo

A visit to Mitad del Mundo – literally, “the middle of the world” and the Equator line – is a must for most visitors to Quito. Located about 20 – 40 minutes outside of central Quito, this is a quick and easy trip.

In all honesty, it isn’t even a true “day trip from Quito” as you can take in everything to see here in a few hours, and transportation is easy. If you don’t have time for a longer day trip, making sure to at least visit Mitad del Mundo is a great way to have a quick excursion from the city.

At Mitad del Mundo, there are a variety of things to see and do, but primarily you’ll have two options – visiting the monument to the Equator or visiting the Intiñan Museum, which is home to the true equator line.

Visit the Monument to the Equator

This large monument is on the site of what was believed to be the true Equator – until GPS proved scientists wrong in the 20th century.

Here you’ll be able to see the monument and a group of museums and displays around the monument about the special properties of the Equator, plus some souvenir shops and restaurants.

Visit the Intiñan Museum

Just a few minutes walk from the monument and on the site of the true equator line, the Intiñan Museum is where to go if you want to actually straddle the equator. You’ll also get to try some fun, campy “experiments” like balancing an egg on a nail, seeing how water flows differently on each side of the equator, and more.

The museum also has tons of info on Ecuadorian indigenous life, history, and culture. It’s not a stuffy museum at all, it’s quite interactive and a fun time for adults and kids alike.

I always recommend visitors head to the Intiñan Museum over the Monument to the Equator, as it is much more interesting and has more to offer, however a quick visit to both is fun as well. In total, expect to spend about an hour or an hour and a half at each site you choose to visit.

Mitad del Mundo Day Trip from Quito

There are four ways to take a Mitad del Mundo day trip from Quito:

  • Travel independently using public transportation
  • Travel independently in a taxi
  • Schedule a group tour
  • Schedule a private tour

Because Mitad del Mundo is just outside of Quito, it’s quite easy to visit on your own using either a taxi or taking public transportation. Taxis will cost about $15 from central Quito in each direction.

To travel using public transportation, take a public bus to La Ofelia bus station in the north of Quito – many buses travel here, so ask in your accommodation which is most convenient for you to take.

From there, take a bus to Mitad del Mundo and get off at the circular plaza once you see the monument to the equator. In total, it should take 45 minutes – 1 hour, but will only cost a few dollars.

Mitad del Mundo is even easier to visit as part of a day tour, whether you choose a private excursion or a small group excursion. Many tours of Quito offer a quick stop here, or you can choose a tour just of Mitad del Mundo.

Small Group Mitad del Mundo Tour from Quito

There are plenty of small group tours from Quito that visit Mitad del Mundo, and a lot to choose from.

  • If you’re looking for a tour with a focus on Mitad del Mundo with access to both sites, I recommend this half-day tour of Mitad del Mundo. You’ll also visit the lookout over Pululahua Volcanic Crater, just a stone’s throw from Mitad del Mundo, which is a nice plus!
  • If you’re looking to visit Mitad del Mundo as part of a tour of the rest of the city of Quito, I recommend this full-day tour of Quito, including the Historic Center, El Panecillo, and Mitad del Mindo. It is a great mix of the very best of Quito.

Private Mitad del Mundo Tour from Quito

For a private tour of Mitad del Mundo, this is a great, very inexpensive option – just $50 for a private tour and guide, including a visit to the TelefériQo as well!

If you’re looking for a private tour of Mitad del Mundo and some of Quito’s other best sites, this is one of the best private tours which I always recommend to visitors. It offers great flexibility and fantastic guides and will make your visit to Quito a special one.

6. Pululahua

Pululahua is a stunning natural destination, and at just a few miles outside of Quito, it also makes for a great day trip or half-day trip from the city. A dormant volcano, Pululahua is now considered a nature reserve and protected environment within Ecuador.

It is one of only two inhabited volcanic craters in the world and is home to a unique cloud forest ecosystem, similar to that found in Mindo. Popular activities here include horseback riding and discovering the unique flora and fauna of this cloud forest ecosystem, as well as taking in stunning views over the crater’s rim.

You can visit Pululahua independently or as part of a day trip to Mitad del Mundo. Located just a few miles from Mitad del Mundo, it’s an easy addition to your itinerary and many small group excursions include a visit here.

Pululahua Day Trip from Quito

There are four ways to take a Pululahua day trip from Quito:

  • Travel independently using public transportation
  • Travel independently in a taxi
  • Schedule a group tour
  • Schedule a private tour

To reach Pululahua by bus, travel as you would to Mitad del Mundo. Take one of the many bus lines in Quito that reaches La Ofelia bus terminal, then take the bus that travels to Mitad del Mundo from there.

From the Pululahua bus stop, you’ll need to walk about 20 minutes to reach the entrance to the park, which is why most visitors negotiate a taxi to the entrance of the park from Mitad del Mundo.

To travel to Pululahua by taxi, you can either negotiate a taxi from the center of Quito, or travel by bus to Mitad del Mundo and then negotiate a taxi from there. The first option will cost around $20-25, and the latter around $5.

Just a few miles from Mitad del Mundo, many small group excursions and private excursions of Mitad del Mundo include a stop off at the overlook into Pululahua’s crater. Alternatively, book a private excursion to spend more time exploring the crater itself, which is a fantastic and fascinating escape from Quito.

Small Group Pululahua Tour from Quito

Most small group tours to Pululahua only include a visit to the viewpoint overlooking the crater, rather than visiting the inside of the crater. The group tours are usually focused on Mitad del Mundo and include the visit to the Pululahua overlook as a bonus.

Check out this small group tour to Mitad del Mundo and Pululahua if this sounds like something you’re interested in!

If you’re wanting to visit the inside of the crater and spend time here, consider visiting independently or booking a private tour to visit Pululahua more extensively.

Private Pululahua Tour from Quito

A private excursion to Pululahua from Quito is the best way to visit the crater and spend time exploring this unique destination. Check out this Pululahua day trip from Quito, which includes a guided tour of the Intiñan Museum and is one of the best ways to visit.

ecuador backpacking budget

7. Pasochoa

Located in Quito’s Valle de los Chillos and just across Cotopaxi National Park from Cotopaxi Volcano, Pasochoa is a long-extinct volcano that is a favorite hiking destination outside of Quito.

While many hikers use Pasochoa as a climb to acclimate to Ecuador’s altitude and practice for harder summits, like Cotopaxi and Chimborazo, don’t let that stop you from visiting Pasochoa if you’re more of a beginner. The hike is doable as long as you’re reasonably physically fit; though long it’s totally achievable for beginners.

Hiking the Pasochoa summit is a moderate hike of about 7 hours and 12km in length, with a clearly marked path. Even if you don’t want to make the push all the way to the summit, there are several trails along the mountain you can choose, marked well and identified at the trailhead.

You’ll see the gorgeous mountainous landscape on your hike, including Cotopaxi herself, and feel like you’re exploring Ecuador’s countryside as you pass near small farms and pastures. If you’re looking for the perfect hiking or trekking excursion outside of Quito, Pasochoa is a great option!

Read More: Sangolqui and the Valle de los Chillos: A Traveler’s Guide

Pasochoa Day Trip from Quito

There are three ways to take a Pasochoa day trip from Quito:

If you want to hike on your own, take a bus from the Playón de la Marin bus station near the Historic Center of Quito to the town of Amaguaña (about an hour to an hour and a half drive).

Get off in the main plaza and get one of the white and green pick-up trucks for hire to bring you to the start of the hike. You can coordinate with the driver to pick you up once you’re done, too.

While it is possible to get to Pasochoa and hike in one day without a guide, it would be a lot of bus travel and I doubt you’d have time to return to Quito before nightfall. If you only have one day set aside in your itinerary, I recommend scheduling a private trek with a guide from Quito.

If your itinerary allows for an overnight, I definitely recommend a stay at The Secret Garden Cotopaxi – they organize the best group treks up Pasochoa!

Small Group Pasochoa Tour from Quito

The easiest way to schedule a small group tour of Pasochoa is through the tour operators at The Secret Garden Cotopaxi – I’m not aware of other providers who organize regular small group trips to Pasochoa from Quito.

You’ll be able to catch the daily shuttle from The Secret Garden Quito hostel to The Secret Garden Cotopaxi for just $10, stay the night at the hotel and enjoy the free waterfall trek that day, and then summit Pasochoa the next morning.

The excursion usually costs about $30. In total, it is quite an affordable overnight and excursion – and a way to enjoy Cotopaxi National Park, too.

Private Pasochoa Tour from Quito

Trekking guides are available to lead private Pasochoa treks from Quito, which is the best way to visit and make the hike in just one day. They’ll organize all transportation to and from Quito, and food along the way.

Not only do these private Pasochoa guides facilitate all the details of your day, but they’ll help you choose the best way up the mountain for you, which gives you the best chance of summiting!

Staying overnight near Pasochoa?

Here are the best places to stay near Pasochoa:

rucu pichincha

8. Rucu Pichincha Volcano

Towering over the city of Quito, the Pichincha Volcano is one of the city’s most important landmarks and geographical features. The volcano has several peaks, including the Guagua Pichincha (which means baby Pichincha) peak and Rucu Pichincha (meaning old Pichincha – the older of the volcano’s peaks) peak.

While it is possible to hike both peaks, the Rucu Pichincha hike has gotten much more popular in recent years after the TelefériQo cable car was opened, as the top of the TelefériQo is the best place to start the hike.

Overall this hike is considered moderate to challenging. Both the extreme altitude – 15,413 ft (4,698 meters) at the summit of the peak – and sections of scrambling with a lot of exposure add to the difficulty.

It is a popular hike that climbers use when arriving in Ecuador to acclimatize before hiking more challenging peaks, like Cotopaxi or Chimborazo. However, it’s certainly not as challenging as these peaks, and more doable for hikers of all skill levels.

Make sure to check out the All Trails: Rucu Pichincha Volcano hiking guide for the details of the hike if you’re interested! However, be aware that the website maps the distance from the bottom of the mountain, not the top of the TelefériQo.

Rucu Pichincha Day Trip from Quito

There are three ways to take a Rucu Pichincha day trip from Quito:

Because the hike starts at the top of the TelefériQo, it’s easy for hikers to get here independently and complete the trek on their own, making this the perfect hike for you if you would like to go without a guide.

However, it is probably a good idea to secure a guide if you can. There are some challenging sections with scrambling required, and the guide can show you the best route for your level of preparation.

Small Group Rucu Pichincha Tour from Quito

This small group guided trek is a great, inexpensive option if you’re looking for a guide for this hike. The guides have hiked this trail many times and can point out interesting details and facts along the way, and help you stay on course.

Private Rucu Pichincha Tour from Quito

A flexible, private guided trek of the Rucu Pichincha Volcano is another option worth considering. You’ll have much more freedom to enjoy the hike at your own pace. Plus, it isn’t much more expensive than a small group tour.

Best Hotels & Hostels in Quito


9. Papallacta Hot Springs

If you’re looking to relax and rest during the perfect escape from the city, a Papallacta day trip from Quito may be exactly what you need. Located about 1.5 hours east of Quito, Papallacta is home to natural thermal springs, heated by Ecuador’s Route of the Volcanoes.

Visitors can enjoy access to these lovely hot springs for just $9, which includes a variety of hot springs and pools, plus a recreation complex and restaurants serving delicious food. While the waters from the hot springs here have been channeled into pools – they’re not among the natural rocks of the mountains as they once were – the experience and mountain views are impressive.

If you’re looking to truly unwind and pamper yourself, you can spend a little more ($23 USD) and enjoy the more exclusive thermal pools and spa services within the Termas de Papallacta Hotel & Spa.

No matter what you choose, Papallacta is a fantastic getaway from Quito, too overlooked by most travelers! Consider this your perfect Quito day trip.

Papallacta Day Trip from Quito

There are two ways to take a Papallacta day trip from Quito:

If you want to travel to Papallacta independently, you’ll start by taking a bus from Quitumbe bus station in the south of Quito. You can choose a bus that goes directly to Papallacta on the Baños Cooperativa bus line or any bus headed to Baeza or Tena – you’ll just need to let the bus driver know to drop you off at Papallacta.

Tickets cost about $2 USD and the trip is about 2 hours. From the entrance to Papallacta, you can take a five- to ten-minute cab ride up the hill to the entrance of the thermal springs.

Because Papallacta isn’t one of the most popular day trips from Quito (though that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great one!) you won’t find many small group tours. However, private trips are quite affordable (less than $50 USD), and a fantastic option if you’re looking for a Quito day trip on a budget.

Private Papallacta Tour from Quito

Scheduling a private visit to Papallacta from Quito is the most comfortable way to travel and makes for quite an affordable day trip from Quito.

This private Papallacta excursion is an excellent option for visiting the thermal springs – just bear in mind that your entrance ticket is not included in the price.

You can select whether you want to visit the public thermal springs or the fancier thermal springs and spa once you arrive.

Staying overnight in Papallacta?

Here are the best places to stay in Papallacta:

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.