Top 10 Things to do in Baños, Ecuador

Tuesday, February 17

So by now i'm sure you're tired of me singing the praises of Baños, the tiny spa town nestled into the majestic mountains of central Ecuador. Kevin and I were there for 3 days, but honestly could have stayed a week without running out of things to do. The key factor that makes Baños so noteworthy is the varied activities it offers, from fast heart pumping adventure activities, to slow pace peaceful spa and resort stillness. There is truly something for everyone in this town! Not to mention, everything here is just so dang affordable! Almost all the activities ranged between $3-$25, so it certainly makes packing a lot in very affordable!!

Below are the 10 best ways to enjoy Baños:

1. Walk the City

The town of Baños is really quite charming. In the main square of the city sits a gorgeous gothic style cathedral, which is a place of pilgrimage for those who come to thank the Virgin for many miracles and to ask her blessing. Fanning out from the square are blocks of cute little shops, restaurants and markets. Kevin and I spent a few hours just wandering the town, ducking in and out of shops, and then finding a cafe to sip some tea and coffee and people watch. Make sure to try the local hand-pulled taffy, it's pretty amazing to watch them make it! For more Baños pictures, click here. 

2. Soak in a thermal Bath
Dotting the surrounding area are a variety of baths you can choose to soak in. These baths are heated by volcanic water that flows from the base of the looming Tungurahua Volcano. The most popular public baths are the La Piscina de la Virgen, as they sit inside the city at the base of a huge water fall. These baths are open most of the day and into the evening, and you will pay between $1-3 to use the pools. {to see more pictures of La Piscina de la Virgen, click here}. Two other public baths are just a bus ride from the city center.

Our favorite thermal baths were located at the resort Luna Runtun. For $20 a person, you could soak in one of 7 pools high up on a hillside overlooking all of Baños. You can see the pictures here. 

3. Ride the Swing at the End of the World
No trip to Baños is complete without having dangled your feet over the cliff of a massive canyon. For mere dollars, you can find yourself swinging into the mist at Casa de Arbol. From Baños, hitch a taxi ride up to Casa de Arbol and you can use their swings and mini-zip line. This heart racing activity will just wet your appetite for more! More pictures…see here. 

4. Bike down the mountain
Biking is quite popular around Baños because there is so much to see! We had a tour company drive us and our bikes up to Casa de Arbol. After we rode the swing, we hopped on our bikes and flew down the mountain. It was incredibly exhilarating and so nice to have the freedom to stop whenever we wanted to soak in the view! {and snap a few pictures!}. You can also ride your bikes along a road with multiple waterfalls. If you are into biking, this is a place that will reward you with stellar scenery to enjoy as you peddle!

5. Zip Line
Kevin and I have gone zip lining in numerous countries, so we we almost passed up the opportunity in Baños. But when we realized it was so cheap ($25), we jumped at the chance. And we are thanking our lucky stars we did! This was by FAR the best zip lining course i've ever ridden. Almost every line had literally breathtaking views over canyons and waterfalls and rivers. It was one of the most natural highs i've ever received from an activity. I couldn't stop smiling! To read more, click here. 

6. Bridge Swing
This was probably my absolute favorite activity in Baños, probably because it was the scariest and required some extra courage! For $15, Kevin and I suited up to jump on a bridge. Unlike bungy jumping where you are upside down, bridge swinging bungies at the waist, keeping you right side up to swing back and forth. It was unbelievably heart pounding, but oh so so much fun! Don't miss this!! And even if you are too scared to jump yourself, go watch other jump off the bridge! To see more, click here. 

7. Other Extreme Sports
While we didn't have enough time to pack everything in, I'd still recommend checking out other extreme sports that Banos offers. Other sports we wanted to try were white water rafting, paragliding, and horseback riding! Like I said…so much to do, so little time!! {as a side-note, I've heard some scary things about ATV's in Baños, so I wouldn't recommend those. My friend was hurt very badly in an ATV accident and spent the next week in a hospital in Quito…so beware of that activity}

8. Indulge in a Spa Treatment
I will gladly tell you I hit up the spa for an awesome massage! There are many spa's doting the town, and some are more legit than others. I chose to get my massage at the Yerba Linda spa and loved it. For $27 I got an hour, full body massage. There are different types of massages available, as well as full service facial treatments, manicure and pedicures. Everything is So cheap, so if you're looking for some relaxation after a hard day traveling, this would be the place!

9. Eat Yummy Food!
Kevin and I were so surprised at how many international restaurants filled this little town. My favorite restaurant, called Cafe Mariane, and was located in our hotel {Hotel El Jardin de Mariane} and served up beautiful french food. The ambiance was gorgeous, with a roaring fire place and european antiques and old maps lining the walls.  If you go there and are gluten and dairy free, I highly recommend the beef stew! There are also lots of food carts lining the main square with meals on the go. My favorite Ecuadorian meal was rice, beans, and fried plantain…yum! 

10. Relax! 
It goes without saying that you should relax, but with so many activities knocking on your door, it's easy to fill up a day real quick. Our hotel had hammocks, and each afternoon we'd spend an hour just sitting on the porch reading and admiring the view! Kevin would wake up early, make some coffee, and just sit on the porch. It really was a perfect place to unwind.

I really do hope you make it to Baños some day. If you're looking for a economical, adventurous trip, this is it! Easy to get to from Quito (3 hours by bus), and easy to get around, this would be a great place to bring a family of teenage thrill seekers! (or just thrill seekers in general!) If you have any more questions regarding Baños, feel free to send me an email!! Happy Tuesday!

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