There are lots of reasons to visit Guayaquil instead of Quito, especially when you consider that this largest city in Ecuador has an international airport with direct flights to the Galapagos Islands. When compared side-by-side, several factors might sway you towards this port city full of its own unique culture, history and architecture.
If you love summer and thrive in subtropical temperatures, then you will love Guayaquil. The average high hovers between 85 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit year round. Humidity is worse January through May, but is rarely unbearable.
While the altitude in Quito is a grand 2850 meters (9,350 feet), Guayaquil lies close to sea level. No need to worry about altitude-related health problems or your ability to hike, bike, or even walk around the city.
Living in a port city requires a different approach to life than living in the high mountain capital city of Quito. Guayaquil comes to life in the cooler evenings when locals flock to outdoor plazas and the breezy Malecon 2000. School vacations are scheduled to escape the most extreme heat of summer – January through March – and Guayaquileños hit the beaches in droves.
Like many coastal cities with hot and humid days, Guayaquil comes to life at night. There are several neighborhoods where the nightlife is the main attraction with plenty of trendy bars, great restaurants, modern music and colorful people to keep it all exciting.
Ecuadorians flock to the coast to eat the delicious traditional foods found all along the famous Ruta del Sol. In Guayaquil, the specialty is crab and restaurants are full to the brim on Thursday and Friday nights and Sunday afternoons, as Guayaquileños gather with mallets in hand.
If you plan on visiting any beaches while in Ecuador, Guayaquil makes an excellent starting point. It lies just south of some of the most beautiful beaches on mainland Ecuador.
In order to visit the Galapagos Islands, you pretty much have to fly through Ecuador. With many direct flights from the United States, your route to the archipelago could be more direct through Guayaquil.