Five Fun Things to Do in Guayaquil, Ecuador
After a few days in Quito, we headed south to Guayaquil. It is Ecuador’s second largest city and where I spent a semester volunteering & studying in college. It is more of a commercial center than a tourist destination but it still has some sights worth seeing! Here are my top five picks of what to see and do in Guayaquil.
1. El Parque Seminario (aka Parque de las Iguanas)
This is honestly my favorite place to visit in all of Guayaquil. It’s this little park right downtown and from the outside, it looks like a pretty standard city park - about one block by one block, trees, grass, benches - but upon closer inspection you can see it is full of iguanas!! And I mean FULL. There are hundreds of iguanas - big ones, little ones, bright green ones, duller ones, ones with half tails and more! But you can’t just go and look at the iguanas - you NEED to either bring some food with you (they love bananas!) or buy some from vendors in the park. It’s fun to hang out and watch the iguanas and the people interacting with them. When Phil and I were there, there was a little boy who was super excited to see the iguanas but then SUPER TERRIFIED if they got to close to him. The fight between his curiosity about and fear of the iguanas was both adorable and hilarious to watch!
2. Malecón 2000
Malecón 2000 is a 1.5 mile boardwalk that runs along the Rio Guayas. Along the route you’ll find historical monuments, museums, gardens, fountains, shopping malls, restaurants, bars, food courts, and even the first IMAX theater in South America! Since Guayaquil is essentially always hot & humid, I suggest checking the boardwalk out either earlier in the morning or later in the evening when it’s a tiny bit cooler.
☞ For more on Ecuador, see: Our Time in Quito
3. Las Tres Canastas
It wouldn’t feel like Guayaquil to me without having at least one glass of delicious, fresh juice! Las Tres Canastas is a quick walk into the city from the boardwalk and they offer a huge array of fruit juices and batidos (kind of like a fruit milkshake but made with fresh fruit, sugar, ice & milk instead of ice cream) in addition to other breakfast/lunch snacks like empanadas and fruit & granola bowls. Even if you don’t hit this spot in particular, it’s definitely worth stopping at any one of many local places and ordering either a fresh juice or batido.
4. Las Peñas & Cerro Santa Ana
At the north end of the boardwalk, you’ll find the beautiful and colorful neighborhood of Las Peñas which sits at the foot of Cerro Santa Ana (cerro = hill). You can walk along Numa Pompilio Llona street and admire the colorful, restored colonial houses before making your way to the steps that lead to the top of Santa Ana (all 444 of them!). I would suggest going around sunset - it will be a bit cooler, you’ll end up with an amazing view at the top and you can stop for a cold beer or cocktail at one of the many bars that the line the steps on your way back down.
5. La Plaza Guayarte
La Plaza Guayarte is described as “a space for art, music and gastronomy.” It’s an open-air plaza that features works by more than 40 local artists. In addition to art, you’ll find more than two dozen small shops, bars and restaurants. You can even go there to get a tattoo! Phil and I heard about Guayarte from a friendly cashier at the mall and sadly didn’t have time to check it out. But from what I’ve researched, it looks like an amazing place to spend an evening (or just grab a drink) in Guayaquil!
Additionally, Phil and I took a side trip to La Garzota, the neighborhood where I lived with a family during my semester in Guayaquil. We walked around my old ‘hood and looked at the house where I lived from the street (my host family doesn’t live there anymore). It was really fun to experience the city with Phil and play tour guide for a little bit!