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As the second-smallest country in South America, Ecuador is often overlooked as a tourist destination - but is well recommended in its own right. Driving here is an absolute pleasure – its range is exquisite and offers fascinating insights into the different areas, and all within reasonably easy access; for example, a journey from the Amazon Basin across the glaciated Andean volcanoes can take only a day, and is likely to take in some of the sumptuous tropical rainforest and delightful Pacific coast for which Ecuador is famed. Ecuador also offers nature lovers the chance to really experience a taste of this unusual culture. From birds and insects, to plants and grasslands in the Andean area – the combination of unique biosphere and tremendous climate is fairly unusual and a boon for visitors.

The Northern Highlands, with their delightful windswept hills and villages, are an idyllic spot to pause and are home to some of the most significant of the Inca territory works. There are several markets in the area, including the Otavalo, which are a great reminder of the significance that this part still plays in the countrys’ wider history. Ibarra, a busy town, marks the beginning of the Ibarra–San Lorenzo route to the north coast. Further north you’ll find the lowland Afro-Ecuadorian communities of the Chota Valley, famous for their marimba beats and football players.

Many visitors here come with thrill seeking in mind. Mountaineering and trekking are highly recommended and some of the most beneficial ways to spend time here. Additionally, for those with a strong interest in the arts Ecuador's indigenous heritage of traditional costumes and highland markets is enchanting. Due to the colonial influences in the architecture, few cities top the beauty of Cuenca and Quito, both of which are Unesco World Heritage Sites. Similarly, Baños is well renowned for its natural scenic beauty and great nightlife.

Cities in Ecuador