The UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Ecuador
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The UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Ecuador

3 min read

May 10, 2013


By Katherine Walker

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Visitors to Ecuador will find some truly unique UNESCO World Heritage Sites that should be included on any self-respecting traveler’s Ecuador tour itinerary. There are four UNESCO World Heritage Sites to visit in Ecuador, each with its own charms, so take a look at our UNESCO site summaries to find out more about these fascinating places.

City of Quito

UNESCO World Heritage Sites EcuadorThe capital city of Ecuador is a natural start for visitors to the country, but it is far more than just a layover on your way to other UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The historic city center is the best preserved of all South American cities, and you will find beautiful examples of the ‘Baroque school of Quito’, which fuses Spanish, Italian, Moorish, Flemish and indigenous styles of architecture. On an Ecuador tour, you can stroll the picturesque squares and duck into the beautifully ornate La Compañia church, or the tranquil and picturesque monasteries of San Francisco and Santo Domingo.

Historic Centre of Santa Ana de Los Ríos de Cuenca

UNESCO World Heritage Sites EcuadorEcuador’s third city makes it onto the UNESCO World Heritage list on account of its charming colonial architecture. Visitors to Ecuador know the city simply as ‘Cuenca’ and delight in its beautiful church and red-tiled roofs, not to mention enjoying its position in a valley surrounded by impressive Andean peaks. Many Ecuador tours rightly include a trip to Cuenca in order to experience a typical colonial town, which became a melting pot of local and immigrant populations.

Sangay National Park

Cubilin Village Sangay National Park EcuadorAway from Ecuador’s cities, the country also boasts some spectacular natural UNESCO World Heritage sites. Take Sangay National Park: a huge area of untouched wilderness in central Ecuador that hosts such diverse ecosystems as tropical rainforest and glaciers. You’ll be amazed by the perfectly conical, snow-capped peaks of Sangay National Park’s three volcanoes; one of Ecuador’s most enduring images. Visit the park for the majestic views, and to see the many rivers flowing toward the Amazon basin.

Galápagos Islands

UNESCO World Heritage Sites EcuadorThe most famous of all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ecuador is by far the Galápagos Islands. Brought to the spotlight by Charles Darwin, the Galápagos inspired his theory of evolution by natural selection. The group of 17 Islands is located in the Pacific Ocean, 1000km from the coast of Ecuador at the meeting of three ocean currents. The distance from the mainland and longtime isolation have made the Galápagos into a paradise of unspoiled beaches frequented by unique species. The best way to visit the islands is with a Galápagos Island cruise, where you can sleep on board a luxurious vessel by night, and get up close to the famous Iguanas, Darwin finches and Giant Tortoises by day.

Your own Ecuador Tour

You can easily combine a visit to all of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ecuador in one trip, plus add all the other highlights of this beautiful country to make your own, custom tour. At, we have lots of suggestions for what to see in Ecuador – browse our tour itineraries and see what takes your fancy!

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