Holidays in Guayaquil
The Pearl of the Pacific
Holidays in Guayaquil
The colonial towns of Ecuador's highlands seem like a different world to Guayaquil. Although one look at a map is enough to tell you that's it's actually firmly and squarely on the Pacific coast of Ecuador, Guayaquil is often referred to as "the last port on the Caribbean" and when you come here you'll understand exactly why.
Guayaquil has a humid, tropical atmosphere and a glance at the skyscrapers that line the lazy Guayas river is more likely to remind you of Miami than Quito or Cuenca. Quito may be the capital but Guayaquil is by far the biggest city in Ecuador - around 4 million people make their home in this boisterous, tropical city - the people of Guayaquil see them themselves as smarter and more hard-working than their cousins in the highlands. Much like with Barcelona and Madrid in Spain, people here feel that the government might be in Quito, but they're the ones who are getting things done...
Most of Guayaquil is a thoroughly modern city, with amenities like Ecuador's only IMAX cinema and the shiny new Malecon boardwalk alongside the lazy Guayas river. However, there are a more than a few reminders of the city's past, particularly in the Las Peñas neighbourhood, where little brightly-painted houses cling to the side of the Santa Ana hill.
Trips & Tours to Guayaquil
All of our Ecuador and Galapagos holidays are tailor-made, so any of the tours below can easily change to include tours of Guayaquil:
Where to Stay in Guayaquil
Most of the better hotels in Guayaquil are in the central business district, just to the west of the river Guayas and back from the Malecon boardwalk. You'll also find most of the city's better restaurants and shops here, so it's a natural place to base yourself on your holidays in Guayaquil. In the steamy atmosphere, an evening stroll along the Malecon is really refreshing and you'll find many Guayacos (people from Guayaquil) enjoying the cool breezes from the river here.
For something a little different, however, we also like staying in the Entre Rios district - so called because it lies on a headland between the Babahoyo and the Daule rivers (which merge to form the Guayas). This is a quieter district than the centre, and has some nice hotels in historic buildings rather than the modern buildings you find in the centre.
There are hotels right next to the airport but whether you stay in the Centre or in Entre Rios you're not more than a 20 minute drive away, so unless you are absolutely certain all you will want to do is sleep, we'd suggest staying elsewhere so that you have restaurants and other facilities on your doorstep.
What to See and Do in Guayaquil
It's fair to say that Guayaquil doesn't have the must-see sights of some other destinations in Ecuador. However, in recent years the city has really upped its game and spending a day here around a trip to the Galapagos is certainly no bad thing.
The historic Las Peñas district is arguably Guayaquil's stand-out tour, and the pretty painted houses which line the cobbled streets up Santa Ana hill are reminiscent of other port areas in South America like La Boca in Buenos Aires or the favelas in Rio. Today Las Peñas is an arty, bohemian area which is home to many artists and small galleries, as well as offering lots in the way of handicrafts and jewellery for sale. An afternoon spent here is definitely worth your time, if only for the views across Guayaquil and the river from the top of Santa Ana.
Back down by the river, the Malecon promenade was built for the millennium and a stroll here is a must if you're spending any time at all on holiday in Guayaquil. Ecuador's only IMAX cinema is here, along with a mini-boating lake and lots of cafes and restaurants, but more than anything it's a great place to just soak up the atmosphere and watch people going about their business. Just inland from the Malecon you can also find the Parque Seminario, where you can relax in the shade and feed the friendly iguanas...
Over in Entre Rios, the new Parque Historico is a strange mixture of wildlife park and historic buildings. Only recently completed, it's already becoming a firm favourite, so spending a few hours walking along the paths through the lush tropical forest environment and seeing macawsm, parrots, monkeys and iguanas is great fun. Best of all, it's free!
Flights To and From Guayaquil
As befits a port city, Guayaquil has always looked out to the world, and its international flight connections are excellent. As well as flights to most South American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru, it also offers international connections to Amsterdam, Madrid and Miami. There are no direct flights from the UK to Guayaquil, so you will need to change in one of the above.
Connections within Ecuador are also good, with regular flights to Quito and Cuenca, among other domestic destinations. Guayaquil is also the base for the majority of flights to flights to the Galapagos Islands with several daily flights to both Baltra and San Cristobal.
Roads and Railways
The roads around Guayaquil are among the best in Ecuador, with dual carriageway roads east along the Pacific coast to Salinas and west to Cuenca. Although the Pan-American Highway will take you north to Quito, it's a long (allow 7-8 hours) drive so we'd generally recommend a short and cheap internal flight instead.
Getting Around Within Guayaquil
Public transport within Guayaquil consists of a new rapid bus transit system caled the MetroVia, and a range of other bus services. Neither is likely to be particularly useful to tourists (although the Metrovia does connect the airport with the Centre) but taxis are plentiful and cheap, so are a good way of getting between, say, the Centre and Entre Rios.
Weather & Climate in Guayaquil
Guayaquil's climate is hot and steamy all year, but noticeably more humid in the rainy season (roughly from January to May). It's unlikely that the weather in Guayaquil will act as a major factor for determining when you plan your holiday in Ecuador but if you're planning to spend much time on holiday in Guayaquil, we'd recommend June or July as relatively cool, dry months to visit.
Tailor-made Tours of Guayaquil
All our holidays to Ecuador are 100% tailormade, so if you'd like to customise your tour itinerary to include a longer trip to Guayaquil, then get in touch and let us know - we'll be delighted to help you plan your perfect holiday in Guayaquil!
Did you know?
Guayaquil is the major gateway to the Galapagos Islands and increasingly handles a lot of international flights rather than Quito, so it can often be cheaper and easier to fly into Quito at the start of your holidays, but then out from Guayaquil.