After visiting northern Peru, we decided to continue our trip and visit southern Ecuador. Although initially Ecuador was not on the itinerary of our trip around the world, we decided to extend our stay in South America for a couple more weeks to discover a part of Ecuador! Our first step was Guayaquil, dubbed “La Perla del Pacífico”. It is the first city of Ecuador and also its economic capital, as well as the most important port of western Latin America. Guayaquil is a modern and colonial city that knew how to conquer us!
How to get to Guayaquil
We arrived by bus from Trujillo (Peru) with Cruz del Sur company and it took us 20 hours!! Well yes, luckily it was a night bus so we were able to sleep to pass the time. We also lost an hour crossing the border of the two countries, since we can not say that they are very well organized … Bus tickets with breakfast and lunch included cost us 85 soles (about €24).
Where to sleep in Guayaquil
We chose the Rio Guayas hotel not far from downtown. Seen from outside is not very nice but the interior is spotless. We had a very spacious room with a bathroom (even a hot shower!) and to put the icing on the cake we had AC!! After the 20 hour bus ride from Peru, we assure you that it was great, and we actually got 10 hours of sleep that night!
The great advantage of the hotel apart from its price (€15 per night) is the staff! They were incredibly friendly, answered all our questions, told us the best spots to visit, where to eat, etc. They were adorable, we would go back to this hotel just for them!
Places to visit in Guayaquil
Built in the beginning as a market, the Crystal Palace is now a center for exhibitions and conventions of glass and iron which has hosted exhibitions by Picasso, Rembrandt, etc.
Malecon 2000 in Guayaquil
It is an unavoidable visit in the city and local people are very proud of it. It is a great river walk that houses numerous shops, restaurants, museums, parks, etc. The Malecon was one of the major renovation projects in South America. It is more than 2.5km in length and reaches the Santa Ana neighborhood. We walked it from top to bottom, it was very pleasant to walk among parks and games, monuments, shops and museums, time flies by!
Torre Morisca of Guayaquil
The Moorish Tower, or Clock Tower, is one of the symbols of the city. It is a 23-meter high tower constructed in the place where the city council used to be. To sum up a little of its history, the clock that is on top of the tower came from Europe thanks to the governor of Guayaquil and it was to be placed on the roof of the colonial town hall. Years later it was placed on this tower.
It is a free museum in the center of Guayaquil, where you can see a collection of pre-Columbian objects, ceramics, etc. It tells a lot of things about the city and the men who marked its history.
Plaza de la Administración (with the Government Palace)
It is the central square, and it’s called Administration Square because all around it there are different historical monuments of colonial architecture, which today belong to the administration. It deserves a visit!
Cathedral of Guayaquil
It is located in the heart of the city, right in front of the Seminario Park.
Also known as Bolivar Park or Iguanas Park. But why this name? Because the park is full of iguanas! We took a walk and the iguanas were there in the shade with the inevitable doves. It is possible to feed them. It was a very curious moment, but the truth is that Anaïs did not like the iguanas very much!
Barrio de Las Peñas
The Las Peñas neighborhood is perched on a hill and offers spectacular views of the city. The main interest of this neighborhood are its little colorful colonial houses on all the hills and its paved streets. It is a small neighborhood that seems to live apart from time. We climbed to the top, where there is a lighthouse and a chapel. The climb killed us because the “mere” 440 steps aren’t so easy to climb with the hot weather!! In the streets there are a lot of shops, artisans and painters.
Four free museums in Guayaquil
The Anthropological Museum, the Football Museum, the Beer Museum and the Museum of Music: these are the four museums we visited for free, all very close and on the Malecon. All were interesting, but we preferred the Music Museum, as we feel it is a very important part of the culture of the country.
Guayaquil Historical Park
The Parque Histórico is a park that offers a trip to the nineteenth century, especially with its reconstruction of houses of the time. We recommend it without hesitation, since it was our favorite activity in Guayaquil! Located outside the city center, it can be easily reached by bus or taxi. The visit of the Historic Park is made in three parts:
The “wild zone” that gives a vision of the ecosystem of the region, between the mangroves and the jungle. There we saw local animals such as macaws, tapirs, caimans…
The “architectural zone” where there are reconstructions of buildings of the time in wood. It’s really beautiful, it looks like we’re in another era! There are also several old trams and a great hotel. Behind the houses there is a very special church, which we found very beautiful.
The “tradition zone”, the last one, allows us to take a look at the way of life and the customs of the peasants. It focuses mainly on the cultivation of plants used by shamans and also the history of cocoa and coffee in Ecuador (we could even visit an old cacao farm!)
Where to eat in Guayaquil
- Sweet and coffee: a kind of Starbucks for coffee, chocolate or sweets! But be advised that the drinks are much sweeter than the ones we usually drink in Europe.
- El Tenedor de Oro on the Malecon: We went to have dinner there twice, it was good and cheap. Although we also recognize that it was the closest restaurant to our hotel. We liked their dishes, generally based on rice and lentils with an accompaniment of your choice.
- Sanguchería La Julia: a restaurant in the business center of Guayaquil, specialized in sandwiches and similar dishes. We liked it!
- Panaderia Adriana: a café where you can eat both sweet and salty. The price is more expensive than elsewhere but it is good. It is close to a shopping center next to the Historical Park of Guayaquil.
We really liked our first stage in Ecuador. The city of Guayaquil is really nice and there are lots of things to see and do. But what we liked the most was the warmth of the Ecuadorians, super friendly and welcoming!