Our visit to the beautiful village of Banos was by far the highlight of our trip to Ecuador! Everyday was packed with fun as this town has endless outdoor activities to choose from. Get ready for hot springs in Banos Ecuador, waterfalls, biking, rafting, and even hiking to the famous swing at Casa del Arbol. Banos Ecuador is so amazing that you can stay for two days, or even weeks without running out of things to do! So join us as we take you through our experience in one of the most underrated places to visit in South America.
Ecuador Travel Inspiration
About Banos Ecuador
We expected it to be pretty mellow since it was offseason in Banos Ecuador. However, this “tourist town” was surprisingly filled with life. Banos ad an incredible main street with shops, restaurants, and candy stores.
Men could even be seen making homemade toffee right on the street! The town of Banos is the kind of place you can see yourself turning your quick visit into an extended vacation.
Banos is circled by the Andes mountains and the amazing Tungurahua Volcano. Lucky for us, the very active Tungurahua had just started smoking the day we pulled in! Immediately voicing our concern, the locals told us not to worry…
If it erupts “the lava usually flows in the other direction” a gentleman told us in his calming voice. Comforting I know. Banos Ecuador has something for everyone, but if you can only squeeze in a quick visit make sure to be ready to move.
Best Things to do in Banos Ecuador
Hike to Casa del Arbol
Casa del Arbol, also known as “the swing at the end of the world,” is what first comes to mind when most travelers think of Banos Ecuador. This popular attraction is an amazing tree house overlooking the Tungurahua volcano and the surrounding canyon.
Complete with two attached swings so you can sore over the edge, this playground isn’t for the faint of heart! Casa del Arbol is obviously one of the best things to do in Banos Ecuador, but what is rarely mentioned is the gorgeous hike to get there!
Starting off at 10am we were prepared with sandwiches, snacks, and water, ready for our first hike in South America. We had heard about people having problems with the altitude, but weren’t terribly concerned.
Before you know it (ten minutes in) we were panting, dragging our feet, and wishing we had taken the bus for $1 USD. Then right on que, twelve little girls go JOGGING up the mountain past us, pointing and laughing… It was just another day in gym class for them!
Returning to Banos From Casa Del Arbol
The initial pain and suffering was worth it as we were rewarded with sweeping views of Banos and the Andes mountains. All said and done it only took us about two hours to reach the top and Casa del Arbol! We swung on the famous swing and had a nice picnic. By the time we were ready to leave the clouds had moved just enough for us to get a beautiful view.
On the way down we took a different route. By different, we mean several wrong turns, and walking through deep mud. And by walking through deep mud, we mean slipping straight on our butts INTO the mud! We honestly still don’t know if we were on an actual trail, or inadvertently making our own.
The signs on the backside of the mountain are not very visible so be careful and start your day early. Plan at least 6 hours for the return trip! Also, make sure to get a map from the information center in town as there are several hiking routes depending on your fitness level.
At the end of the day we returned worn out, but feeling accomplished. We highly recommend this hike to anyone visiting Banos Ecuador. Are you not the hiking type? Well you don’t have to miss out. As we mentioned, there is a $1 bus that makes several trips a day to Casa del Arbol!
Banos Ecuador Waterfall Route
Thankfully we were able to make a quick recovery from our hike, get ready for more awesome things to do in Banos Ecuador. And yes, the Route de Cascades or “Route of Waterfalls” is as sweet as it sounds!
This epic 16 mile bike ride takes you through some of Ecuador’s biggest canyons and waterfalls. Now the best part of this bike ride you ask? It’s entirely downhill! Believe us, after hiking for hours the day before this was the best news imaginable.
Rent a bike for $6 USD from any of the dozens of rental shops in Banos, and head out for a day of adventure. This may go without saying, but make sure you grab a map and have them explain the Banos Ecuador waterfall route. Most importantly make sure you know where to stop! As we coasted down the Rio Verde, we viewed waterfall after waterfall with the plush green Andes as our backdrop.
Pailon del Diablo
They save the best for last on the Route de Cascades, with the massive Pailon del Diablo or the “Devils Cauldron.” Only a 20 minute hike from the road, this colossal beauty of nature sits nearly 300 feet high and towers over the river below.
Pay a small entry fee and you’ll even be able to get up close and personal (maybe a little too personal) as you crawl through a section of tunnels under the tremendous Banos Ecuador waterfall. Hope you’re ready for a cold shower! There are also plenty of wooden bridges you can cross to switch up your view and seriously become one with nature.
After Pailon del Diablo you are able to keep going, but be aware as the road turns slightly uphill. Biking uphill… Sounds like fun right? That’s about when we threw in the towel, but give us some credit.
We did that massive hike the day before! Keep a close eye out for the signs advertising a ride back into town. For just $2 USD a local will throw you and your bike in the back of their truck and take you all the way back to Banos Ecuador!
Banos Ecuador Hot Springs
The town is also known for thermal springs, and everyone kept telling us to visit them! Banos Ecuador hot springs?? You don’t have to tell us twice! Just a heads up, this is a very local establishment. Be prepared to pack like sardines into three tubs with others. The Banos Ecuador hot springs are also the hottest we’ve ever experienced.
The first floor tub is actually so scolding you’re only allowed five minutes at a time. I think we only made it three minutes before we hit the cold shower! If you’re used to soaking in thermals pools of Europe, you may not be impressed with the Banos Ecuador hot springs. Yet, we still thought it was worth the visit!
Banos Central Market
Yes, we are adding a food market to the top things to do in Banos Ecuador. Trust us when I say this will be one of the most authentic meals you get while traveling through the country. We can say full heartily that the best food in Banos is located in the central market…. But isn’t that always the case in Latin America?
Huge breakfasts and typical Ecuadorian lunches can be purchased from any of the stalls for around $3 USD. The women will try to get your attention, but less aggressively than other countries we’ve traveled in.
After a hearty meal grab a fresh juice, pick up your produce, and be on your way. This was our go to spot to eat during our stay in Banos Ecuador. If you want authentic food there’s no need to look anywhere else!
Banos Ecuador is truly a magical destination to visit, and the scenery will leave you in awe. So during your travels through Ecuador make sure to add this small adventure packed destination to your itinerary.
Have any questions about this blog, or want to share your own favorite things to do in Banos Ecuador? Leave us a comment below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Where To Stay In Banos Ecuador
Ultra Luxury (High End) – Samari Spa Resort – Relax in a beautiful colonial-style house that has sprawling gardens, a heated pool, and relaxing sauna. This upscale spa resort is unlike anything else you will find in Banos.
Fun Vacation (Mid Range) – Hosteria Finca Chamanapamba – Located a quick 5 minute taxi from the center of Banos, Hosteria Finca Chamanapamba is the complete nature stay you’re looking for. The property blends into it’s surroundings, offers unique architecture and even a nearby Banos Ecuador waterfall!
Hostel Life (Budget) – Hostal Chimenea – This is where we stayed when in Banos and really loved it. It had a prime location and is super inexpensive. While the room’s aren’t anything special the enclosed roof top is the the perfect place to hang out and relax after a long day!
For more places to stay in Banos Ecuador you can explore the latest prices here!*We receive a commission for purchases made through links in this post. This allows us to continue our travels and keep providing great content to our readers! Also, as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.