There was no question that our trip to Ecuador had to include Baños – it’s a tourist town with major budget backpacker appeal. Full of cheap outdoor adventures and a tightly-packed town center, there was always something to see and do. Cheap food and lodging was in abundance (we stayed at Hostal Transilvania, private room with bath for $16). The nearest waterfall was just on the edge of town, and everyone was super friendly.
Baños is named for the waterfall that dominates the town, which is said to have been placed there by Mary to protect everyone from the nearby volcano (which is still active). They funnel the water from the falls into public baths that everyone is welcome to use.
The heart of town was packed full of shops, restaurants and nightclubs (this town is almost always bustling, with the exception of quiet mornings). Taffy pullers can be found on every corner, selling colorful sweets called melcocha.
A lot of what we did in Baños was eat. While there is plenty of Ecuadorian food available (especially for breakfast and anytime the central market is open), there’s also a lot of international options. Our favorite meal was breakfast at Cafe Ricooo Pan – every day in Ecuador starts with juice, and theirs was some of the best. So was the bread. And the pancakes. Really, everything was amazing.
Here are some more of the colorful establishments we visited:
We made friends with the Venezuelan owner of Arepas to Go who had just opened his shop a week before we arrived, and he was quick to hook us up with both good food and tips on his favorite tours. His first recommendation happened to be one of our first stops: La Casa Del Arbol, or the swing at the end of the world!
The whole thing feels like a tiny adorable amusement park. There’s the famous swing that you see in a million pictures, but there’s also other swings and balancing logs you can play around on, a small self-propelled zipline, and of course the treehouse you can climb up in for a stunning view.
Most of our time in town was split between eating, doing fairly extreme outdoor adventures (which we’ll devote a separate post to), and wandering around exploring the town. On one night we stumbled across the opening of Teatro Nicolás Fiallos, a new theater space in the heart of the town named after the 97-year-old Ecuadorian composer, who was in attendance. As a result, we got to hear some incredible music in his honor!
We spent almost a week in Baños, the longest we stayed anywhere in Ecuador. It felt immediately welcoming and we could have easily spent another week there. It’s a beautiful town with a unique history and so much to explore.