Guayaquil, the capital of Guayas is the largest and most populated city in Ecuador (with more than 2’644,800 inhabitants!). It is known as the “Pearl of the Pacific” because of its tropical climate, and its location on the Pacific Coast. Guayaquil also harbors the main port in Ecuador and is recognized for its economic importance to the country.
Do you know where the city gets its name? Guayaquil was named after an indigenous chief Guayas and his wife Quil, who lost their lives defending their territory and never considered surrendering to the Spaniards.
Nowadays Guayaquil is a very popular destination, known for being by the river, for its museums, monuments, parks and exhilarating nightlife. Guayaquil is also surrounded by various archaeological sites from ancient pre-hispanic cultures.
Here are some of the things you can’t miss when visiting Guayaquil:
A historic park in the heart of downtown! Here you can admire sculptures and enjoy green areas. It is also known as “Iguana park” or “Bolivar” Park, because you will find plenty iguanas and a statue of Simon Bolivar, El Libertador.
Where? Streets Chimborazo, Chile, Clemente and 10 de Agosto.
La Catedral is a neo-gothic cathedral built in on the site of the first church of the New City. In 1949 the central nave was inaugurated, followed by the two towers in 1956. This beautiful cathedral has a main altar made of marble from Cuenca, and stained windows that filter colors and light to create a marvelous effect.
Where? If you make your way to Seminario Park, don’t hesitate on taking a look at this beautiful monument, just outside the gates.
Presley Norton Museum
A display of archaeological pieces, chosen from Presley Norton’s collection of over 8,000 artifacts. Presley Norton was a passionate archaeology aficionado, who collected pieces belonging to the Formative (4,200 B.C.- 500 B.C.), Regional Development (500 B.C.- 500 A.D.), and Integration (500 A.D.- 1530 A.D.) periods in Ecuador. You will find pre-Columbian artifacts belonging to the Valdivia culture, settlers of the coast, who are said to have been very advanced for their time.
Where? Avenida 9 de Octubre and Carchi.
Open Tues-Fri: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm
This broadwalk is one of the most entertaining places to visit in Guayaquil! Locals and tourists walk along this 1 ½ mile waterfront full of entertainment, culture and nature! You will encounter monuments, fountains, gardens, museums, shopping malls, restaurants, bars, an Imax theater, docks and several viewpoints.
Where? From Cuenca Street to the South of the City all the way to Las Peñas in the North.
A picturesque neighborhood of historic and colorful houses and cobblestone streets. In Las Peñas you can visit 400 years old houses occupied by galleries and restaurants. Walk around las Peñas by day to appreciate this beautiful urban scenery and in the evening, observe as nightlife becomes alive. 444 stairs have been marked, that lead to the lighthouse, where a panoramic view of the city awaits.
Where? Numa Pompilio Llona, at the skirts of Santa Ana Hill, NE
Santa Ana Hill
Located on step 444, this hilltop has amazing views of the Guayas River and the city of Guayaquil. A charming church and a lighthouse overlook the city.
Malecon El Salado
El Salado offers a variety of restaurants, bars and galleries to choose from; all with a fantastic view of the city and estuary. Enjoy the outdoor plazas, water fountains, and gardens, where you can find live presentations and entertainment areas for children.
Where? Boulevard 9 de Octubre and Avenida Tungurahua.
Guayaquil Historical Park
Mangroves, freshwater and a tropical climate make this 19 acre park the perfect setting. In a single day visit you will observe fauna and flora of the region in the “wildlife zone,” and learn about Guayaquil’s history, cultural manifestations and rural life in the “traditions” zone. On top of that, the “urban-architectonic” zone holds original pieces from the city’s antique architecture destroyed by fires in in XIX century.
On Saturdays and Sundays the park becomes livilier, hosting festive cultural activities. Music, food, and dances add color and flavor to this cultural setting.
Where? It is located only 10 min from Guayaquil, across the Daule River next to Entre Rios Neighborhood.
Open Mon-Sun: 9 am – 4:30 pm
This garden is home to more than 700 plant species, cultivated in a way that resembles their natural habitat. Among these you can find more than 80 species of orchids, both native and introduced from other tropical countries. You can also visit a butterfly-breeding center and walk around the gardens where birds fly freely.
Where? Cerro Colorado, Northern Guayaquil, Ciudadela de las Orquídeas.
Admission fee: $3.00 adults, $1.50 students, children and senior citizens. Guide service: $10 for groups of up to 25 people.
Open every day: 8 am to 4 pm
Cerro Blanco Protected Forest
Cerro Blanco preserves one of the few remaining areas of dry tropical forests in Ecuador. This forest is home to jaguars, pumas, howler and capuchin monkeys, white-tailed deer, collared peccary, raccoons and more. It is also a great destination for birdwatchers, with more than 211 species of birds, including the Green Macaw (threatened species, also the symbol of this protected forest).
There are two seasons where you will encounter different settings. From January to May, the forest is green and the water abundant. From June to December, the dry season takes over and the colors of the leaves turn from green to brownish and red.
Where? Km 16 on the way from Guayaquil to Salinas.
Admission fee: $4 for adults, $3 for children, $2 for senior citizens. Camping: $4. (prior reservation required)
Open Mon-Sun: 8 am – 4 pm
800 meters away from Guayaquil, Santay Island is a recreational protected area. Its major attractions are the flora and fauna of this well preserved, ecological settlement. You will find mangroves, tropical birds, reptiles like the boa, and mammals such as the anteater. Ecological trails connect a cabin for lodging, a medical dispensary, a recycling center, a tourism office, a house for the park rangers and a tower with a great viewpoint.
Where? You can get here by water or land. If you choose to arrive in a boat, then it departs from the Yatch Club. If instead you are crossing the bridge, then head to El Oro Street.
Open from 6am to 5pm. The bridge is open from 6am to 9pm.