best things to do in banos

15 Best Things To Do in Baños: A Local’s Guide [2024]

Hiking, biking, parasailing, swimming, and soaring through the skies are just a few of the ultimate highlights of Baños, Ecuador. Don’t be fooled by the tiny size of this town hidden between the Andes Mountains and the Amazon Rainforest – there’s no way to get bored here.

We lived outside of Quito, Ecuador for two years and had the pleasure of doing pretty much all the best things to do in Baños, time and time again. Read on for our favorites, including the most popular activities and hidden attractions that make Baños one of the most appealing destinations in Ecuador for travelers of all types.

swing at the end of the world

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Things To Do in Baños, Ecuador

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

Perched above the town of Baños, the so-called Swing on the Edge of the World is one of the most recognizable images of Ecuador, having gone viral time and time again. The tiny treehouse known as Casa del Árbol clings to the hillside with a swing that seems to launch visitors over the perilous hillside below.

Visiting Casa del Árbol and riding the dramatic, if totally safe, swing at the edge of the world is a favorite activity for visitors and easily one of the best things to do in Baños, Ecuador.

Reaching Casa del Árbol is easy enough by catching a taxi from town, and winding up the mountainside for about ten minutes. All in all, it makes for an affordable and memorable way to spend an hour or two in Baños.

2. Visit the Thermal Baths

Baños, formally known as Baños de Agua Santa, takes its name from the numerous thermal baths that surround it, heated by the geothermal activity from the nearby Tungurahua volcano. Naturally, spending a relaxing afternoon soaking in the thermal waters is a must during your visit, and one of the best things to do in Baños.

There are a number of thermal baths near Baños to choose from. The Termas de la Virgen complex is the area’s least expensive thermal bath to visit, with a variety of different pools with thermal waters at different temperatures, and some are quite hot. The facilities are okay, though they can get a little dirty towards the middle and end of the day; try to visit early in the day or during a weekday when there are fewer visitors.

A slightly nicer thermal bath is El Refugio. This spot offers a more spa-like setting with mud baths, massages, and other spa treatments in addition to numerous pools of thermal waters.

luna volcan
Courtesy of Luna Volcan Spa & Hotel

3. Hit the Spa

If the standard thermal baths of Baños won’t cut it for you head straight to the Luna Volcán Hotel and Spa. A luxe spot that is the best place to stay in Baños, by far, this incredible hotel and spa complex also welcomes daytime visitors to its spa installation and thermal pools, which put the others in town to shame.

A day pass at Luna Volcán Hotel and Spa costs $20 for access the thermal pools and jacuzzis, as well as access to the bathrooms, locker room, and shower with all the related amenities thrown in. The pool’s stunning view over Baños is like none other, and is alone worth the price of admission.

Reviews and Bookings: Luna Volcán Hotel and Spa

4. Party the Night Away

If you’re backpacking Ecuador, Baños will be an obligatory stop on your itinerary – there’s no question about it. As one of the most popular destinations in Ecuador with backpackers, Baños has more than its fair share of bars and “clubs,” if you’d call them that, to choose from.

Leprechuan Bar has long been one of the best places to party in Baños, with a surprisingly massive space featuring multiple bars and party spaces. Things in Baños don’t close down until around 3 AM (keep this in mind when you decide where to stay in Baños if you’re not the party type!), so you’re in for a long night.

Read More: Backpacking Ecuador: An Ultimate Guide

pailon del diablo

5. Visit Pailón del Diablo

Baños is situated in a unique spot in the Andes where high altitude mountains transform into low-lying Amazon Rainforest, sending roaring rivers tumbling down into waterfalls. From smaller falls hidden in the forest to giant falls that tumble from great heights, the waterfalls of Baños are some of the area’s must-see sights.

The largest waterfall in Baños is the so-called Devil’s Cauldron, or, Pailón del Diablo. Tumbling dramatically into a tiny crevice below, its a spectacular, raging waterfall that is sure to impress.

Entrance to the area costs just a few dollars, and the waterfall is quite easily reached by a short hike in and out, including a pass over a well-built suspension bridge over the river. Bring a rain jacket if you can, as well as shoes with a good grip. While the hike isn’t too challenging, the ground can get wet with the mist of the waterfall, so you’ll want to come prepared.

6. Try White Water Rafting

While the nearby Amazon Rainforest gateway city of Tena, Ecuador is the best known city in Ecuador for white water rafting, Baños is another excellent spot for this adventurous activity. You’ll find a variety of white water rapids within a short drive of Baños, so everyone from beginners to more experienced rafters will enjoy the ride.

Most white water rafting excursions leave from Baños around 9:00 AM and last for a few hours. Try to book as far in advance as you can – many companies will offer discounts for advanced bookings, as it helps them plan their staffing and meet the minimum number of participants needed for the activity.

where to stay in banos ecuador

7. Bike the Ruta de las Cascadas

There are plenty of waterfalls to see and enjoy around Baños beyond just the famous Pailón del Diablo. An easy and exhilarating way to see some of the most beautiful falls around Baños is by renting a bike for a few hours and cycling the easy Ruta de las Cascadas, the waterfall route.-

Biking the Ruta de las Cascadas is the best way to explore the waterfalls of Baños. Though you’ll need to ride along a busy street for about half a mile before reaching the more scenic area on the way out of town, you’ll love the route along the river that takes you past them all.

If biking isn’t your thing, you can also rent ATVs for an even more thrilling journey. This is one of our favorite things to do in Baños, personally!

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8. Try Canyoning

To experience the waterfalls of Baños more up close and personal than you could possibly imagine, try canyoning. This exhilarating activity is one of the most popular things to do in Baños and involves repelling down a series of waterfalls and exploring the canyons and gorges in the forests near the city.

You don’t need to be experienced to enjoy canyoning, as guides take time teaching, demonstrating, and helping you along the way as you learn how to repel and move through the water. You just need to be ready for excitement!

Reviews and Bookings: Baños Canyoning Adventures With Certified Guides

ecuador amazon lodge

9. Take a Day Trip to the Amazon Rainforest

Baños sits on the edge of the Amazon Rainforest, so embarking on day trip from Baños to the Amazon is a highlight of an Ecuador itinerary for many travelers.

Amazon trips from Baños usually include an excellent mix of activities including jungle walks to learn about and see the biodiversity of Ecuador firsthand, visits to indigenous communities, typical Amazonian foods, refreshing river swims, and more. Here are two options we recommend:

While each itinerary is a bit different, the comprehensive tours from Imagine Ecuador in Puyo are some of the best you’ll find from Baños. Travelers can certainly organize their own trips to the Amazon – the Amazon gateway cities of Tena and Puyo are both quite close to Baños – though transporttion times on buses can make the round trip a challenge in one day.

baños things to do

10. Climb Tungurahua Volcano

Perched above the city of Baños, the impressive Tungurahua Volcano looms as easily one of the most breathtaking volcanoes in South America and among the most active volcanoes in Ecuador.

Tungurahua is a highly active volcano and frequently spits out smoke, gases, and even lava – depending on when you visit Baños, you might get lucky enough to see the caldera glowing at night from lava. Don’t worry – scientists and volcanists closely monitor the volcano, and have been since its latest eruption in 1999, and are well prepared in the off-chance of an emergency.

If you’d like to try climbing Tungurahua, you’ll need to look for a local guide and book while in town, though you’ll find plenty of local tour agencies that offer this unforgettable experience. Scientists and volcanists closely monitor the volcano and occasionally close off specific routes on and around the volcano based on changing conditions. ATV excursions on and around Tungurahua also allow for incredible views – and require much less effort!

Reviews and Bookings: Tungurahua Volcano Ascent With Guide

11. Go Ziplining Above Jungle Canopy

What could be better than sailing above the lush forests and raging rivers of Baños for a birds-eye view of this spectacular destination? Ziplining is easily one of the best things to do in Baños, as the nearby ziplining course is excellent. There are six ziplines that will take you throughout the forest on an extremely affordable by impressive ziplining excursion.

Headed to Mindo later on in your Ecuador itinerary? I personally enjoyed ziplining in Mindo better than I did in Baños, though both excursions are fantastic! Ziplining is one of the best things to do in Mindo, and a highlight of a trip to the cloud forest.

tungurahua volcano

12. Paraglide Over Baños

For the most impressive and unobstructed views of this picturesque destination, there’s simply nothing better than soaring through the air on a paragliding excursion over Baños. While paragliding excursions tend to be more expensive than most other adventurous sports in Baños, they’re truly unforgettable. Depending on when you visit, you may even be able to see Tungurahua Volcano smoking and sputtering away, up close and personal.

13. Go Bungee Jumping

One of the best things to do in Baños for the truly adventuous traveler is bungee jumping. From a bridge that crosses over a dramatic river along the Ruta de las Cascadas, daredevils take turns plunging below in what is known as “puenting” for the thrilling jump off the puente – or, bridge.

You couldn’t pay me enough to do this, but for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to plunge into the stunning canyon at the foot of waterfalls, Baños is the best place in Ecuador to give this a try – it’s one of the best things to do in Baños if you’re looking for a true thrill, that’s for sure!

Reviews and Bookings: Bungee Jumping Activity Near Baños

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cotopaxi volcano

14. Take a Day Trip to Cotopaxi Volcano

While the town of Baños sits in the shadow of Tungurahua Volcano, its close proximity to the snow-capped, almost perfectly conical stunner of Cotopaxi Volcano makes taking a day trip to Cotopaxi one of the best things to do in Baños.

It’s possible to visit Cotopaxi National Park on your own by taking public transportation, but we recommend booking a small group or private day trip – you’ll need transportation once you get to the entrance of the national park anyways! You’ll find options for day trips that focus exclusively on Cotopaxi or those that combine the visit with time at the dramatic Quilotoa Crater Lake, which is in our opinion the most impressive place in all of Ecuador.

Read More: Quilotoa Crater Lake: Ultimate Visitor’s Guide

15. Take a Day Trip to Chimborazo Volcano

If Cotopaxi isn’t quite up your alley, opt for one of the in increasingly popular day trips from Baños to Chimborazo. Towering above the dramatic landscape as the highest mountain in Ecuador, Chimborazo is a long-dormant volcano and one of the most dramatic peaks in the Andes.

Offering opportunities for hikes, biking, and jeep tours through stunning high-altitude landscapes in the shadow of this snow-capped stunner of a peak, this day trip from Baños is one of the best options for travelers looking for an exciting way to experience the Andes Mountains. Also increasingly popular is the bike tour through the national park, though we recommend having acclimated to the altitude first!

Reviews and Bookings: Chimborazo Volcano Bike Tour from Baños

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.