banos ecuador

Ultimate Travel Guide to Baños Ecuador

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 looking for natural beauty, adventure, and enough things to do to stay busy for weeks.

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.

In this ultimate guide to visiting Baños, Ecuador, we share all of the best things to do in Baños, plus where to stay, places to eat, and the travel tips you’ll need to enjoy your visit to this unforgettable town. Keep reading to start planning your trip to this must-visit spot.

where to stay in banos ecuador

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Baños Ecuador

Easily one of the most popular travel destinations in the country, Baños, Ecuador is a small town with 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.

Baños is perhaps best known for its adrenaline-pumping adventure sports like paragliding, bungee jumping, canyoning, and white water rafting. Travelers visit from around the country and the world to take part in these activities, which are generally quite affordable for international travelers, even those traveling on a budget.

Are adventure sports not your thing? There is still plenty to see and do in Baños, so don’t write it off your itinerary just yet. You can visit the thermal baths (or even a spa – Luna Volcán is the best!), take a day trip into the Amazon to spot unique flora and fauna, or take a bike ride (or travel by taxi or ATV!) to the countless waterfalls surrounding the town.

There are countless great restaurants in town, including plenty with vegetarian and vegan options, plus hostels, hotels, spas, and activities for travelers on every budget. Overall, Baños has something for everyone – truly! – and should be among the top destinations you’re considering for your trip to Ecuador.

Is Baños Ecuador Worth Visiting?

With so many things to do and activities to enjoy, Baños is well worth visiting! Easily accessible from most parts of the country, and with so much to offer travelers of all different budgets, it’s a great addition to an Ecuador itinerary for most travelers.

Is there anyone who is better off skipping a trip to Baños? Depending on how long you plan to spend in Ecuador and where else you plan to travel, I might recommend some alternative destinations.

For travelers looking for a day trip or overnight from Quito, Mindo (located in the stunning Cloud Forest northwest of Quito) is generally a better option. You’ll find many of the same activities in Mindo that you’d find in Baños, and the trip is shorter.

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 town’s most popular attractions without feeling too rushed, or that you have to pick and choose what to do.

This doesn’t mean that a day trip from Quito isn’t a good option! When choosing a guided excursion to Baños from Quito, you’ll have the benefit of transportation included, which cuts down on travel time significantly. Plus, guides will take you to the best spots for excellent activities in Baños. Small-group excursions to Baños and private excursions to Baños are extremely popular day trips from Quito.

How Do You Get to Baños Ecuador? 

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.

Quito to Baños Tour

You’ll find plenty of small group excursions to Baños and private excursions to Baños, which make it easy to visit 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)!

banos ecuador

Baños Ecuador Map

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

Things to Do in Baños Ecuador

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 – they’re 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. Visiting this spot – called Casa del Árbol – is a favorite activity for visitors to Baños.

Reaching Casa del Árbol is easy enough by catching a taxi in town, and in just a few minutes headed up the mountainside you’ll be there. On the hilltop, you’ll find the swing, where you’ll be secured and have your chance to feel like you’re flying off the mountainside. You’ll also find a Baños city name sign for photo opportunities. For the entrance cost of $1, you can’t beat it.

2. Visit the Thermal Baths

Baños is called Baños, of course, for its thermal baths, heated by the geothermal activity from the nearby Tungurahua volcano. So naturally, visiting the thermal baths is one of the highlights of visiting Baños for any visitor. You’ll find several options for visiting thermal baths around the city:

Termas de la Virgen

Termas de la Virgen is the least expensive thermal bath to visit, and it’s the most frequented by locals. They have 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, to best enjoy the spot without many other visitors.

El Refugio

If you’re looking to take full advantage of the healing thermal waters and make a full day out of enjoying them, head to El Refugio. This spot definitely offers a more spa-like setting, and you can take mud baths, get a massage, or receive other spa treatments in addition to enjoying the thermal waters.

Termas de Luna

Part of the Luna Volcán Hotel – a luxe spot for an unforgettable stay in Baños – the Termas de Luna is the place to go in Baños to treat yourself. The spa installation and thermal pools here are unreal and put the others in town to shame.

Access costs $20 for use of the thermal pools and jacuzzis, as well as access to the lovely bathrooms, locker room, and shower, with all the related amenities. The pools’ stunning view over Baños is like none other! Of course, it’s not going to work for everyone’s budget, but it’s an excellent experience and the best way to enjoy Baños’ thermal waters!

3. Visit the Waterfalls

Baños is known for having tons of waterfalls, making this spectacular corner of Ecuador a true treat for visitors. From smaller falls hidden in the forest to giant falls that tumble from heights, checking out the waterfalls in Baños is practically a mandatory part of any visitor’s itinerary.

Pailón del Diablo

The largest waterfall in Baños, Pailón del Diablo – or, the Devil’s Cauldron – is a spectacular waterfall, tall and with tons of water, that is sure to impress you. Entrance to the area is 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 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.

Ruta de Las Cascadas

A favorite way to see all the waterfalls in Baños is by renting a bike, and the Ruta de Las Cascadas is the best route for it. While you’ll have to navigate a busy road for the first part on the way out of town, once you approach the waterfalls the route is much more scenic, and you’ll enjoy getting the best views across the river of each waterfall.

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4. White Water Rafting

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

Most white water rafting excursions leave 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 there is usually a minimum number of participants needed for the activity.

5. Bungee Jumping

Called “puenting” for the thrilling jump off the “puente” – or, bridge – along the waterfall route outside of town, bungee jumping in Baños is one of the city’s most popular adventure sports. 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.

6. Bike Around Baños

An easy and exhilarating way to see the sights in Baños is by renting a bike for a few hours – or even a whole day – and exploring the incredible routes around the city. This is the best way to explore the waterfalls, as there are scenic routes along the mountainside and along the river that take you past them all.

While you’ll find routes of various levels of difficulty, the popular waterfall route – Ruta de Las Cascadas – is quite easy even for beginners, 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.

If biking isn’t your thing, you can also rent ATVs for an even more thrilling journey.

pailon del diablo

7. 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 activities in Baños, and involves repelling down a series of waterfalls, exploring the canyons and gorges in the forests near the city.

You don’t need to be experienced to enjoy the activity, as guides take time teaching, demonstrating, and helping you along the way as you learn how to repell and move through the water. You just need to be ready for excitement! It’s an unforgettable activity that you’ll hear fellow travelers in Baños raving about.

8. Ziplining

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 a favorite activity in Baños, and the nearby ziplining course is excellent. There are six ziplines that will take you throughout the forest, and prices are extremely affordable for such an excellent ziplining excursion.

Headed to Mindo later on in your Ecuador itinerary? I personally enjoyed the 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.

9. Day Trip to the Amazon Rainforest

Baños sits on the edge of the Amazon Rainforest, so a day trip to the Amazon is a highlight for many travelers. You’ll find organized excursions into the Amazon that leave from Baños frequently, and are quite comprehensive.

Amazon trips from Baños usually include an excellent mix of activities including a jungle walk where you’ll learn about and see the biodiversity of Ecuador first hand, visit an indigenous community, try Amazonian foods, swim in the river, and more. 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.

While you can certainly organize your own trip to the Amazon – the Amazon gateway cities of Tena and Puyo are both quite close to Baños – it would be challenging to organize on your own if you just have one day, and especially if you’re taking public buses. To get a full day in the Amazon, choose a day trip from Baños, or plan on spending at least one night in Tena or Puyo.

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10. Climb Tungurahua

Perched above the city of Baños is the impressive Tungurahua volcano, easily one of the most breathtaking volcanoes in South America. Tungurahua is a highly active volcano and frequently spits out smoke, gases, and even lava; depending on when you visit Baños, you might get luck enough to see the caldera glowing at night from lava.

Don’t worry about its activity – 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. Not interested in hiking? Look for ATV excursions on and around Tungurahua for incredible views and less effort.

11. Paraglide Over Baños

Baños is surrounded by stunning, lush mountains, waterfalls, and forests, so can you imagine taking in the views from the air? Paragliding excursions over Baños are truly unforgettable and a great way to spend part of the day while visiting. You can expect stunning views of the entire area, though the most impressive views are of the Tungurahua volcano – depending on when you visit, you may be able to see it smoking and sputtering away.

things to do in banos ecuador

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. Basic dorm room stays start around $10, while luxury lodges cost $200+ per night.

These are some of the best places to stay in Baños, Ecuador. We’ve added options at all price ranges for every traveler.

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, close to everything, and with fantastic amenities like bike rentals, yoga classes, plenty of organized group events, and an excellent rooftop bar with a gorgeous view, this is the place to be. Dorm beds cost less than $10 per night.

Selina Baños ($ – $$)

Selina Baños is a favorite spot in town, right across from the main plaza in Baños, and offers a great mix of affordable dorm rooms and beautiful private rooms. Selina also prides itself on being a haven for long-term travelers, so you’ll find co-working space and tons of organized events to help you meet fellow travelers.

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, located 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.

Luna Volcán Hotel and Spa ($$$)

Located on the hillside above Baños, Luna Volcán is home to the most beautiful views in this lush corner of Ecuador and an easy choice for the best place to stay in Baños. With an incredible pool and jacuzzi with soaring mountain views, luxurious rooms with private terraces, unforgettable spa treatments, and delicious foods, it is hard to find something wrong with this hotel. Prices are a little high for a small city in Ecuador, but well worth it for this memorable stay.

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 range 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.