Top Things to do in Guayaquil

Guayaquil: Guayaquil is not only the beating commercial heart of Ecuador but a vibrant sprawling city, growing ever more confident. A half-dozen high-rises give it a big-city profile, and several hillsides are engulfed by colorful favelas, but it’s the Río Guayas’ malecón (the riverfront town square) that defines the city’s identity.

Guayaquil is a popular transit hub for travelers, as it’s home to Ecuador’s second busiest international airport, is the only connection to the Galapagos Islands, and has a major bus terminal for those traveling throughout Ecuador and into Peru. Therefore, Guayaquil is often a place that travelers stop into when taking a trip thru Ecuador.

Guayaquil Tourism

Banco De Guayaquil

That’s a big “yes,” of course. Guayaquil is most definitely worth visiting in our opinion. There’s actually a good number of really fun things to do in Guayaquil to keep curious travelers busy for a few days.

We’ll concede that there may be more worthwhile places to visit within Ecuador. After all, this is an amazing country that holds the Andes, the Amazon, the Galapagos, colonial cities, and great beaches. For anyone on extremely limited time, we could understand why bypassing Guayaquil could make sense. Yet those on a short Ecuador trip will be missing out on all the awesome things to do in Guayaquil.

For anyone transiting through the city, Guayaquil can definitely be well worth staying for a couple of days to discover all of the charms of Ecuador’s largest city.


Guayaquil is currently in the midst of a major resurgence. Many successful renewal projects have been implemented throughout the city, in addition to an assortment of new attractions. What once may have been considered a big grimy city, now boasts upscale dining districts and sparkling clean waterfront promenades. It’s a changed place!

In the past decade alone, Guayaquil has developed the creative architecture of Ecuador’s tallest building, erected the largest Ferris wheel in South America, opened up many trendy entertainment complexes, and introduced a handful of brand-new tourism initiatives such as a recently renovated train line to the countryside.

These efforts have all brought so many interesting things to do in Guayaquil in recent years.

Guayaquil is a city that is clearly modernizing and making a concerted effort to appeal to travelers.

Yet Guayaquil still manages to maintain historic charms too. Established in 1538, this port town is one of the oldest cities in Ecuador. Some of the colorful architecture from centuries past can still be seen today while wandering around the hot and steamy city streets.

Yet the warm climate can come as a pleasant break for anyone having come from the high Andes running through Ecuador’s midsection. And despite the toasty weather, thankfully most establishments throughout Guayaquil have great air-conditioning systems and aren’t afraid to use them!

The warm weather adds to Guayaquil’s tropical character just as much as the broad River Guayas scenically lining the city’s shore. It’s this position on the briskly flowing river that greatly contributes to the city’s uniqueness and even provides for a few things to do in Guayaquil.

Guayaquil Ecuador

Guayaquil Ecuador

We found that almost all the main things to do in Guayaquil are completely free, or very inexpensive. Guayaquil is a particularly budget-friendly city in South America and it’s easily possible to explore Guayaquil on a budget. Know that all of the recommendations throughout this Guayaquil travel guide come with prices listed that all budgets can afford.

We’ve crafted this informative article in an effort to show not only why Guayaquil may be worth the stop, but also to help make the most of a short visit when passing through the city. Guayaquil has something for everyone to do, whether you’re into nature, culture, history, food, family-friendly activities, or nightlife.

Before reading on for all the details on what to do, be sure to check out the video below. It puts to motion all of the highlights of the best things to do in Guayaquil to really give some idea of all of Guayaquil’s attractions are like.

Banco Guayaquil

Guayaquil was founded on July 25, 1538, with the name Muy Noble y Muy Leal Ciudad de Santiago de Guayaquil (Most Noble and Most Loyal City of Santiago of Guayaquil) by Spanish conqueror Francisco de Orellana. Even before it was founded by the Spaniards, it already existed as a native village.[citation needed]

In 1687, Guayaquil was attacked and looted by English and French pirates under the command of George d’Hout (English) and Picard and Groniet (French). Of more than 260 pirates, 35 died and 46 were wounded; 75 defenders of the city died and more than 100 were wounded.

In 1709, the English captains Woodes Rogers, Etienne Courtney, and William Dampier, along with a crew of 110, looted Guayaquil and demanded ransom; however, they suddenly departed without collecting the ransom after an epidemic of yellow fever broke out.

In colonial times Guayaquil was the chief Spanish shipyard in the Pacific, yet some navigators expressed that Valdivia had better conditions.

On October 9, 1820, almost without bloodshed, a group of civilians, supported by soldiers from the “Granaderos de Reserva”, a battalion quartered in Guayaquil, overwhelmed the resistance of the Royalist guards and arrested the Spanish authorities. Guayaquil declared independence from Spain, becoming Provincia Libre de Guayaquil, and José Joaquín de Olmedo was named Jefe Civil (Civilian Chief) of Guayaquil.

On July 26, 1822, José de San Martín and Simón Bolívar held a meeting in Guayaquil to plan the future of independent South America.

In 1829, the city was invaded by the Peruvian Army, which occupied it for seven months.

In 1860, the city was the site of the Battle of Guayaquil, the last of a series of military conflicts between the forces of the Provisional Government, led by Gabriel García Moreno and General Juan José Flores, and the forces of the Supreme Chief of Guayas, General Guillermo Franco, whose government was recognized as possessing sovereignty over the Ecuadorian territory by Peruvian president Ramón Castilla.

Guayaquil Airport

If you were to do only one thing in Guayaquil, our suggestion is to take a leisurely stroll along the Malecón 2000. This pleasant 2.5-kilometer riverfront promenade that not only takes in excellent views of the River Guayas, but it winds its way through gardens, monuments, museums, restaurants, and shopping complexes.

While in Guayaquil, you’ll hear the boardwalk referred to as Malecón dos mil, which translates to Malecón two-thousand, the year that the new waterfront stretch was opened.

The Malecón 2000 is often touted as one of the most successful revitalization projects in South America. What was once a dilapidated riverfront only a few decades prior, is now a thriving waterfront that’s filled with attractions and things to do.

The Malecón 2000 takes on different personalities depending on when visited. During a weekday it’s possible to enjoy the sprawling promenade almost entirely to yourself. Yet on a pleasant weekend afternoon, expect to find thousands of local families gathering for a day of fun on the river. It’s a nice scene to soak in and great people watching.

There’s really a lot do along the Malecón 2000 for both locals and visitors alike. In fact, many of the subsequent recommendations of things to do in Guayaquil can be found right along this malecón.

Here are just a few points of interest to look out for during a stroll down Guayaquil’s beautiful riverfront

Universidad De Guayaquil

Guayaquileños’ main sources of income are: formal and informal trade, business, agriculture and aquaculture. Most commerce consists of small and medium businesses, adding an important informal economy occupation that gives thousands of guayaquileños employment.

The Port of Guayaquil is Ecuador’s most important commercial port; most international import and export merchandise passes through the Gulf of Guayaquil. As the largest city in the country, most industries are located either in the city or its peripheral areas.

Ongoing projects seek urban regeneration as a principal objective of the growth of the city’s commercial districts, as the increase of capital produces income. These projects in the city driven by the recent mayors have achieved this goal after investing large sums of money. The current municipal administration aims to convert Guayaquil into a place for first-class international tourism and multinational businesses.

Guayaquil’s current mayor is Cynthia Viteri, the first female mayor ever elected. previous mayor, Jaime Nebot supported her. He began a campaign of construction projects for the city in the early 2000s to attract tourism, that included the “urban regeneration” plan which reconstructed the city’s main tourist streets’ sidewalks and upgraded the city’s chaotic transit system with multiple infrastructure projects (speedways, bridges, overhead passages, tunnels, etc.).

In August 2006, the city’s first rapid transit bus system, Metro via, opened to provide quicker, high-capacity service. One of the main projects was called Malecón 2000 [maleˈkon doz ˈmil], the renovation of the waterfront promenade (malecón) along the Guayas River. Another project was the creation of the Nuevo Parque Histórico, a park in a housing development area that is called Entre Ríos because it lies between the Daule and Babahoyo Rivers (which merge to form the Guayas River), in a mangrove wetland area. The park cost the city about 7 million dollars.

Is Guayaquil safe?

Crime: Travelers should know that Guayaquil is not considered a “safe city”. This is also true for many cities in Ecuador. Visitors should take specific precautions to protect themselves from harm.

Is Guayaquil worth visiting?

Is Guayaquil worth visiting? That’s a big “yes,” of course. Guayaquil is most definitely worth visiting in our opinion. There’s actually a good number of really fun things to do in Guayaquil to keep curious travelers busy for a few days.

What is Guayaquil known for?

Guayaquil, also known as “the Pearl of the Pacific”, is Ecuador’s most important coastal city. With more than 3 million inhabitants, it also happens to be Ecuador’s most populated city. It’s vibrant, hectic, hot, humid, tropical and its people are known for their warmth, expressiveness, and extroversion.