one week in ecuador

One Week in Ecuador: Ultimate 7 Day Itinerary

If you’re planning your next short getaway, Ecuador should be at the top of your list. No matter what type of traveler you or, or what budget you have, Ecuador has something for everyone. Seeing all you can of Ecuador in a week is a great option.

With one week in Ecuador, you can do adventure sports like rafting and bungee jumping, explore colonial cities, and visit the Amazon or the Galapagos.

While just 7 days in Ecuador won’t let you see the whole country, you’ll be able to scratch the surface and take in some of Ecuador’s bucket list destinations.

Keep reading for our ultimate itinerary for 1 week in Ecuador. With the help of this Ecuador itinerary, 1 week should be the perfect amount of time to have a fantastic travel introduction to this unforgettable country. Plus, you’ll learn how to customize this itinerary for 7 days in Ecuador to make it exactly the trip you’re hoping for.

quito travel guide

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One Week in Ecuador

Is One Week Enough for Ecuador?

One week in Ecuador will just allow you to scratch the surface of all that Ecuador has to offer. You’ll get to see some of the most remarkable destinations in Ecuador, but you won’t get to see it all.

Don’t let this deter you from visiting – even in just one week in Ecuador, you’re certain to have an unforgettable travel experience.

How Many Days Do You Need in Ecuador?

If you’re planning your Ecuador itinerary, I recommend spending at least 10 days in Ecuador – two full weeks if you can! – to truly get to know this country and its various regions.

With two full weeks in Ecuador, you can see all three of the mainland regions (Andes Mountains, the Amazon Rainforest, and the coast), plus the Galapagos Islands. Or, you can really dive deep in three of these four areas.

Read More: 10 Day in Ecuador: Ultimate Ecuador Itinerary

How Can I Spend a Week in Ecuador?

I recommend that travelers with one week in Ecuador base themselves in Quito and take a series of day trips or overnight trips to nearby spots – some of the best the country has to offer.

Jump ahead to day one of this one-week Ecuador itinerary to see my tips and recommendations about how to spend each day of your seven days in Ecuador!

Best Hotels & Hostels in Quito

Ecuador Itinerary 1 Week

With one week in Ecuador, you’ll be able to see the most and get to know the country best by choosing to base yourself in Quito. Located in the very center of the country, high in the Andes Mountains, you’ll be able to visit some of the most impressive sites in Ecuador with day trips or overnight trips.

Within a few hours of Quito, you can reach the Cloud Forest, the Amazon Rainforest, and the most impressive areas of the Andes Mountains. 

Here is my recommended itinerary for one week in Ecuador:

  • Day One: Quito
  • Day Two: Quito
  • Day Three: Cotopaxi
  • Day Four: Cotopaxi
  • Day Five: Otavalo
  • Day Six: Mindo
  • Day Seven: Mindo

Jump ahead to day one of this one-week Ecuador itinerary to see my tips and recommendations about how to spend each day of your seven days in Ecuador!

As an easy alternative to this itinerary, you can switch out a trip to Mindo – in the heart of Ecuador’s Cloud Forest – with a trip to Tena, one of the gateways to the Amazon Rainforest. When seeing Ecuador in a week, you’ll want to choose which “forest” experience is best for you, rather than visiting both.

Read More

Check out our ultimate guides to these spots to help you decide!

quito guide

Day One: Quito

The first day in Quito of your adventure to see Ecuador in a week should be spent by starting with a birds-eye view. Head first to the incredible TelefériQo cable car, and then further north just outside the city to the Equator line at Mitad del Mundo.

Finish the day exploring some of the newer and more modern sections of the city in the La Mariscal neighborhood.

Read More: 2 Days in Quito Itinerary


I always recommend that travelers start their day with the TelefériQo cable car. The main attraction here is the incredible view you’ll have over the city of Quito and the surrounding valleys, and Quito weather tends to be clearest and sunniest in the mornings. 

Plus, you’re most likely to avoid waiting in line for a ticket if you arrive close to when the cable car opens – 8:00 AM on Saturday and Sunday, or 9:30 AM on Monday through Friday.

Come prepared with a warm coat no matter what the weather is like in Quito – at the top of the cable car, you’ll be halfway up the Pichincha Volcano, much higher in elevation and exposed to a lot of wind!

Mitad del Mundo

If you’re traveling from the Historic Center up to the TelefériQo towards the north of Quito, then keep heading north next to visit Mitad del Mundo – the Equator! At Mitad del Mundo, you can either visit the monument to the Equator or the Inti Ñan Museum – or both!

I recommend travelers visit the Inti Ñan Museum – this is the true site of the Equator (the massive stone monument was built before GPS determined the true location of the Equator, just a few meters off! ). The museum is super informative and fun, and you can try your hand at fun science “experiments” that only work on the Equator line.

Traveling to Mitad del Mundo is easy on public transport, though it takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour from most places in Central Quito or the Historic Center.

Take any public bus that heads to La Ofelia bus station, and then a bus to Mitad del Mundo from there. Get off once you see the massive stone monument on the left of the roundabout circle.

Many travelers choose to book and organized Mitad del Mundo excursion to get there quickly and easily, which I recommend if you only have a few days in Quito and want to take advantage of every minute!

Check out these Mitad del Mundo Excursions to visit with ease:

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.

mitad del mundo

La Mariscal

Next, explore the modern neighborhood of La Mariscal. This vibrant neighborhood located in central Quito is always busy, and has plenty of restaurants, bars, cafes, and great things to do.

First, head to La Casa de la Cultura, my number one museum recommendation in the city. You’ll find archeological discoveries from past civilizations and even a mummy. Admission is free, so even just popping in and checking out what interests you most is a recommendation for Quito visitors who just want to see one museum.

If you’re not a museum person, skip it and explore the Parque El Ejido, right across the street from the museum. Artists set up their creations to sell, and you’ll find vendors selling jewelry and delicious street food staples.

Favorites include fried street corn, fried plantains with cheese, cevichochos (ceviche but with white beans instead of seafood), and fresh fruit.

Just a few blocks north of the park is the Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal. Covering one entire city block, this partially covered market is home to vendors selling alpaca sweaters, textiles of every kind, handcrafted wood and leather products, souvenirs, jewelry, and pretty much every you can think of.

You can easily spend hours here exploring, bargaining, and spending way more than you expected – trust me, I’ve done it many times! If you’re heading to Otavalo, hold off on the purchases until you’re there, as prices tend to be a bit lower there, unless you find something you can’t pass up!

Finish the night at one of La Mariscal’s many restaurants or cafes – you’ll be overwhelmed with the options you’ll find here. These are my favorites:

  • El Árabe: Authentic Middle Eastern food and shawarma – one of my favorite spots in all of Quito!
  • Las Menestras de la Almagro: This is a total joint; here you’ll find giant portions of authentic Ecuadorian food. Cafeteria vibes, but everything is delicious and cheap!
  • Miskay: Fantastic, well-done classic Ecuadorian dishes. One of my favorite spots for a nice meal in La Mariscal.
  • Cosa Nostra Trattoria: Delicious Italian food, and the best wood-fired pizzas in Quito.

Where to Stay in Quito

Since you’ll only be in Quito for just a short time, I recommend choosing a hostel or hotel in Old Town Quito. Here you’ll be close to the greatest concentration of Quito’s attractions, plus lots of restaurants and things to do.

These are the best hotels and hostels in Quito (at every price point), which I always recommend to travelers. Check them out and choose from this list – they’re some of the city’s very best!

Read More: Ultimate Guide to Where to Stay in Quito

cotopaxi national park tour

Day Two: Quito

Spend your second day in Quito getting to know Old Town Quito and the surrounding markets and parks that make this neighborhood a thriving part of the city. Quito is home to Latin America’s largest and most well-preserved historic center, so you’re in for a treat.

Quito Historic Center

The Quito Historic Center is the number one attraction in all of Quito! As Latin America’s largest and most well-preserved historic center, this an incredible, bucket list destination. I always recommend visitors spend at least four hours or so exploring and visiting the major attractions in the Historic Center – there is a lot to see and experience here.

You’ll need this, my super-comprehensive guide Old Town Quito: Ultimate Guide to Quito’s Historic Center. I’ve written about every church, museum, and attraction in the neighborhood to help you narrow down what you want to see.

You can easily visit on your own and walk through the neighborhood, but if you’d rather visit with a guide, these are the excursions I recommend:

Make sure you visit these attractions – at the very least – as these are the best of the best in the Historic Center:

  • Basilica del Voto Nacional
  • Plaza Grande
  • Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús
  • Iglesia de San Francisco
  • La Ronda

Don’t limit yourself to these must-see attractions and think you’ve seen it all. Make sure to check out my Old Town Quito: Ultimate Guide to Quito’s Historic Center for even more about the other unmissable sites in this incredible neighborhood.

Mercado Central

I love to recommend a visit to Mercado Central as a part of a visit to the Historic Center. Just a few blocks from the main part of the Historic Center, Mercado Central is a fantastic multi-story indoor market. You’ll find few tourists here, so it’s a great place to get a taste of local life.

You’ll find everything at this market – fresh fruit and vegetables, meats and fish, tons of fresh flowers, and much more. Take your time and explore; it’s truly a fascinating place. 

Check out the area with prepared foods and give some of Ecuador’s best local dishes a try – I especially recommend the roasted pig, called “hornado,” which usually comes with cheesy potato balls and salad. You’ll also find several stall selling fresh juices; this is the spot to try fresh passion fruit “maracuyá” juice, or the tart tree tomato “tomate de arból” juice.

Parque Itchimbia

After exploring the market, head up the hillside near the Historic Center to Parque Itchimbia – this park has a truly spectacular view over the entire city. One of my favorite parks in Quito, here you can enjoy people-watching, flying kites, taking your picture with the iconic Quito sign, and exploring walking paths and bike trails.

If you have time, head to the walking trails along the back side of the hill – the view of the valley on the other side of Quito is fantastic as well. 

Not only worth a visit for the view, you can also explore the Palacio de Cristal mixed-use space – this gorgeous building usually hosts art installations, concerts, and other events. Plus, the park is a frequent host to festivals, food truck roundups, and more.

Just adjacent to the entrance to the park, head to either Cafe Mosaico or Vista Hermosa for dinner. Perched on the hillside, and with dining rooms overlooking the spectacular view, eating here is an unforgettable experience.

Call ahead for a reservation if you want a table with a view – these ones are the most popular in the house!

Ecuador’s Craft Breweries

Within the past decade, craft breweries have exploded in popularity in Ecuador, and you can find several great options in Quito. My favorite is Bandido Brewing, one of the city’s first, located on the edge of the Historic Center. Founded by expats from the United States, this is an awesome place to end an evening.

Read More: Ultimate Guide to Where to Stay in Quito

cotopaxi volcano

Day Three: Cotopaxi

From Quito, I recommend travelers with 1 week in Ecuador head to Cotopaxi National Park, home to the impressive Cotopaxi Volcano. This is one of the most unique and beautiful areas of Ecuador, and well worth a visit.

To get to Cotopaxi, head to The Secret Garden Quito in the Historic Center of the city, where you’ll catch their daily shuttle to Cotopaxi National Park. This is by far the easiest way to get to the national park. 

The Secret Garden shuttle departs from their Quito location at 10:00 AM every day. It costs $10 USD per person and takes about an hour and a half to arrive at The Secret Garden Cotopaxi.

There is nowhere else in Cotopaxi National Park that I can recommend other than The Secret Garden Cotopaxi. This hotel is one of my favorite I’ve ever stayed in – anywhere! Set on a beautiful property within the park, this lodge-like hotel feels like a retreat.

The hotel organizes in-depth and engaging excursions throughout the park, including trips to Cotopaxi’s glacier line and trips to summit the volcano. Plus, they serve absolutely delicious food and have the most incredible grounds to explore.

You’ll never forget the front-row view you’ll have of the Cotopaxi Volcano when you wake up in the morning.

The Secret Garden Cotopaxi has both well-appointed private rooms and comfortable dorm room options, meaning it’s an option for travelers on any budget. 

On your first day at Cotopaxi National Park, get settled into your room and then head out on the hotel’s free daily waterfall hike. Don’t let the fact that it’s free scare you away – this is a fantastic hike to a beautiful waterfall and an area of the park you won’t see on any tour.

Plan on working with staff to book your excursion for your next day at Cotopaxi – they’ll have plenty of recommendations for you based on your activity level and how adventurous you’d like to get!

Read More: Quito to Cotopaxi Day Tours and Excursions

one week in ecuador

Day Four: Cotopaxi

Don’t forget to wake up early to watch the sunrise over Cotopaxi Volcano – it’s one you’ll never forget. Plus, the morning tends to be the clearest, least-cloudy part of the day, so you’ll have the best shot at getting a completely clear view of the volcano’s snow-capped cone.

On your second day at Cotopaxi National Park, you can enjoy whichever excursion you’ve organized in the park with the help of The Secret Garden staff.

Favorite options include hiking to the volcano’s glacier line, biking down the side of the volcano on a mountain bike, or more relaxing excursions like exploring the park and hiking around the Laguna de Limoncocha. 

In the late afternoon, you can take the daily shuttle from The Secret Garden Cotopaxi back to Quito and spend the night here, so you’re ready to head on to Otavalo the next morning.

You can also organize transportation directly to Otavalo, cutting down travel time for yourself the next morning. Staff at the secret garden can organize private transport for you to Otavalo (or just a private car to Quito if you don’t want to take the shuttle).

Where to Stay in Otavalo

7 days in ecuador

Day Five: Otavalo

On your fifth day in Ecuador, wake up bright and early to head to Otavalo from Quito (or enjoy Otavalo if you traveled here last night). Either way, try to arrive as early as possible in Otavalo, as the Otavalo Market opens bright and early. 

Travel Tip: Otavalo’s market day is Saturday, so if you can arrange to visit on Saturday, absolutely do it! If it just won’t work in your itinerary, the market is open from morning to late afternoon every day, so don’t worry!

With just one week in Ecuador, you may want to make your trip to Otavalo a day trip, rather than an overnight. This would certainly make the next day much easier travel-wise!

If so, I highly recommend booking this much-loved Otavalo excursion from Quito. Or, choose a private tour to Otavalo if you’d rather have a more personalized excursion.

As soon as you arrive in Otavalo, head to the center of the Otavalo market in the Plaza de Ponchos. Otavalo is a relatively small town, so this bustling spot is unmissable. You could easily spend hours in the market wandering from stall to stall and checking out all the amazing products for sale.

Read More: Ultimate Guide to Otavalo and the Otavalo Market

Once you’ve had your fill in the market, you can visit some of the beautiful natural wonders surrounding Otavalo, like Lago de San Pablo (San Pablo Lake), la Cascada de Peguche (Peguche Waterfall) or the most impressive, Laguna de Cuicocha (Cuicocha Lake). 

Laguna de Cuicocha is actually a volcanic crater lake. Here you can hike a portion of the rim – or all the way around the rim, if you have a few hours. I’d recommend just taking a relaxing boat tour of the lake – passengers’ boats leave from the dock every half an hour.

Where to Stay in Otavalo

mindo ecuador

Day Six: Mindo

Wake up bright and early to head to your next destination of Mindo, in the heart of Ecuador’s cloud forest. With just seven days in Ecuador, you won’t really have enough time to make a substantial visit to the Amazon, but a visit to the Cloud Forest is similar in many ways.

  • If you’re traveling from Otavalo, you’ll need to take a bus from Otavalo to Quito, then Quito to Mindo. Even with private transport, you’ll have to pass through the north of Quito on the drive.
  • If you’re traveling from Quito, buses to Mindo depart from the La Ofelia bus terminal and leave frequently throughout the day. Buses take about two hours, and private transport is slightly less.

Once you arrive in Mindo, get settled into your hotel before heading out on one of the awesome activities in Mindo that will allow you to get up close and personal with Ecuador’s Cloud Forest.

My favorite place to stay in Mindo is Casa de Cecilia for budget travelers – I’ve stayed here more times than I can count. If you’re looking for slightly nicer accommodations or luxury, check out Casa Divina Eco Lodge, or the Kapari Natural Lodge and Spa.

There are so many things to do and see in Mindo for every type of traveler. Check out my guide to the Best Things to Do in Mindo for even more ideas, but here are some of the best activities in town:

Read More: The Best Things to Do in Mindo and The Ultimate Travel Guide to Mindo.

Where to Stay in Mindo


Day Seven: Mindo

Start your last morning in Ecuador at El Quetzal. Not only is this Mindo’s own artisan chocolate factory, but they’re also home to the best breakfast in town, and some of the best coffee. There is nothing like enjoying a slow breakfast on their covered terrace.

If you’re up for an unhealthy breakfast, try their fudgy brownies made with El Quetzal’s own local chocolate – you can’t leave Mindo without sampling one! 

Use your last morning in Ecuador to enjoy any of the remaining activities you’d like to fit into your time in Mindo. If you’re short on time, this might be the perfect time for the Mariposario butterfly refuge or the chocolate tour at El Quetzal.

If you’re planning on departing Mindo by bus, make sure you purchase your departure bus ticket as soon as you arrive in town – buses to Quito can sell out, especially on the weekend days, so purchasing in advance is your best bet.

Best Hotels & Hostels in Quito

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.