Is Ecuador Expensive? Our Ultimate Spending Guide

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Is Ecuador expensive? In short, it can be. While the cost of living is relatively low, Ecuador is best accessed by plane rather than overland border crossings. For most travelers, flights will be the most expensive part of the trip – especially if you are flying from outside the US or South America.

Of course, once you arrive in Ecuador, you’ll find plenty of budget-friendly accommodation and reasonably priced food. In fact, the initial costs of booking a holiday to Ecuador are bound to be a lot higher than what you’ll spend while there. So, if you are booking expensive flights, keep in mind that the costs should balance out.

Luckily, you can bring all the costs down with a bit of planning. We’ve curated a spending guide for Ecuador so that you can arrive prepared and ready to keep your prices as low as possible.

How much does a holiday to Ecuador cost?

A hiker in Ecuador.
A hiker in Ecuador via Unsplash.

We estimate that a one-week holiday to Ecuador from Europe would cost approximately $1,900. This price would be based on flying to Quito and include airfare, seven nights in a central hotel, and enough space to purchase three to four major activities. Visiting the Cotopaxi National Park or taking a dip in the Termas de Papallacta Hot Springs are popular day trips for visitors to Quito.

Of course, there is always room to splurge. Ecuador has some stunning resorts and five-star properties if you want to splash out more on accommodation for your holiday. Similarly, be prepared to spend a little more on bucket list excursions like visiting the Amazon and a lot more for visiting more remote regions like the Galapagos.

A one-week holiday to Ecuador from the US will be slightly cheaper as you are paying for less flight time. We estimate that the equivalent one-week holiday would cost $1,400 when flying to Quito from a US city.

Is it expensive to get to Ecuador?

Inside a commercial airplane.
Inside an airplane cabin via Unsplash.

In general, getting to South American countries tends to be expensive due to an often lack of direct routes and the vastness of the continent. Traveling South America is very different from traveling in Europe! So, in comparison with the rest of the region, getting to Ecuador is not massively more expensive.

However, travelers from outside of the US and South America will still find flights to Ecuador pricey. You can expect return flights to start from around $700 when flying to Ecuador’s capital, Quito. However, these prices can rise rapidly depending on the season and how far in advance you book.

If you choose to fly to a different area in Ecuador, expect prices to rise rapidly again. For example, return flights to Baltra Island (an island in the Galapagos) cost an average of $1,750 when flying from Europe.

If you are planning a budget-friendly trip to Ecuador, carefully consider what region you would like to visit. And, if keeping to a budget is important, consider flying into Quito, traveling in off-peak or shoulder seasons, and booking flights at least three months in advance.

Is Ecuador expensive for food?

A plate of Ecuadorian food.
Ecuadorian food via Unsplash.

Is Ecuador expensive for food? No, so you can stick to a budget and still experience Ecuador’s delicious food culture.

While you can always find an upscale restaurant or café to splash out on, Ecuador is generally non-expensive when buying food. And, if you are happy eating street food or booking accommodation with a kitchen, you can expect your food budget to lower again.

To help you plan a food budget, we’ve compiled a comparison guide using data from Numbeo to show common food costs in Ecuador and other popular holiday destinations.

 Meal (inexpensive restaurant)Meal (expensive restaurant)Domestic beer (1.5 liter)Milk (1 liter)Cheese (1 kg)Bottle of wine (1 liter)
Ecuador ($)3.0030.002.001.004.798.00
Mexico ($)7.3329.331.861.065.829.78
Spain ($)11.5747.332.630.8310.605.26

Overall, Ecuador is much cheaper for food than other popular holiday destinations. We’d recommend choosing inexpensive restaurants or purchasing groceries rather than eating out every day if you want to be proactive in keeping costs low.

Are hotels in Ecuador expensive?

A hotel on a street corner in Ecuador.
A hotel in Ecuador via Unsplash.

Hotels in Ecuador are not usually expensive, and you can book highly rated stays for reasonable prices. However, whether Ecuador is expensive for accommodation does still depend on your preferences – will you book a five-star resort, a mid-range hotel, or are you happy in a hostel?

If a hostel sounds up your street, you can expect prices from around $10 per night in Quito. While, if you are staying outside of Quito, you can expect brilliant bed and breakfast deals – like $10 per night for a double room at The Flying Monkey.

To be honest, though, upgrading to mid-range accommodation in Ecuador is probably worthwhile. For example, for only $60 a night, you could stay at an Executive Suite apartment near the center of Quito. There are plenty of mid-range accommodation options in the $30-80 per night bracket – so don’t just rush for a budget hotel.

Should you want to book your holiday at an ultra-luxurious hotel, expect to pay between $200 and 500 per night. The Hotel Casa Gangotena shows a twin room at $523 per night, while a twin room at Hotel Patio Andaluz costs $211 per night. It is worth shopping around and weighing up your options, as there can be a large variation between hotel prices of similar caliber.

So, is Ecuador expensive when booking accommodation? Not massively. There are lots of options for each budget category, so visitors should find it easy to stick to their preferred spending. And, in comparison to other popular destinations, Ecuador’s accommodation prices are low.

The cost of things to do in Ecuador

A boat on the Amazon river.
A boat on the Amazon via Unsplash.

When asking is Ecuador expensive, you undoubtedly have to consider the cost of activities when you arrive. After all, who wants to travel all the way to Ecuador only to find that you can’t afford all the best activities!

For many visitors, Ecuador is a gateway to the Amazon. Keep in mind that Amazon trips typically run from between three to five days, so you’ll need to carve out space in your itinerary if you want to visit the rainforest. These tours usually cost between $300 and $700, although they include accommodation, transport, food, and a range of activities like nocturnal rainforest walks, piranha fishing, and even white water rafting.

Suppose you have spotted things to do just a short distance away. In that case, day tours from major cities can be purchased for around $40-80 and save you the hassle of independent travel. A popular excursion from Quito is the Termas de Papallacta Hot Springs, which you can visit on a group tour for around $45. While if you want to visit the blue volcanic crater lake Quilotoa, you can also pick up a $59 group tour from Quito.

Museums and attractions that you find nearby will be reasonably priced at around $2-5 or, often, entirely free to enter. As a general rule, finding things to do in your local area will be extremely budget-friendly. Day trips will be mid-range, and bucket list multi-day trips can be expensive. The best way to keep your activity budget low is to prioritize and book in advance.

Money-saving tips for traveling to Ecuador

A jar of savings.
A savings jar via Unsplash.

So, now we’ve covered the individual aspects of whether Ecuador is expensive, here are some money-saving tips.

– Book in advance

Booking in advance is one of those pieces of advice that you hear all the time but somehow find yourself not doing every time. Flights and hotels are the most important things to book in advance, as prices go up closer to the time, and you can easily miss out on the best deals.

You don’t want to find yourself scrambling for accommodation last-minute that suits your budget! Or managing ridiculously timed layovers because you missed the opportunity to book a cheap, single-stop flight. In short, if it seems a good deal to you, it will seem a good deal to everyone else looking at it – don’t miss out.

– Choose accommodation with kitchen facilities

Eating out in Ecuador might be cheap, but even cheap meals can add up when you are buying them three times a day. You can save money by booking accommodation with kitchen facilities and cooking your own meals with cheap groceries.

Plus, it will make you appreciate eating out even more.

– If you aren’t 100% sure about going on a tour, wait and book it in-person

Not to contradict our earlier advice, but if you aren’t sure whether you’d like to go on a tour or not, WAIT. Tours are the only grey area when booking in advance.

Often, booking activities can be cheaper when you book in-person in Ecuador. However, you then run the risk of the tour being fully booked if you wait until you arrive. Because of this, we’d only recommend waiting until you arrive in Ecuador if it is an activity that you are unsure you want to attend.

The benefits? More time to think and decide – meaning no wasted money on a tour you are only partially interested in. And there is also more chance of getting the same tour cheaper since prices are often hiked up online, and you can haggle in person. Even if it is fully booked, chances are you won’t be that upset as you were never fully invested to start with.

– Travel off-season

Traveling off-season means cheaper hotels, tours, and even restaurant prices!

Travel to Ecuador between September and November or February to April to save money. September is usually the driest of these months, so visit then if you want to avoid as much rain as possible.

Is Ecuador expensive? Our conclusion

Ecuador may be expensive to get to, but it is a budget-friendly country to experience. With a bit of prioritizing and planning, you will have no trouble fitting Ecuador into your preferred budget – whatever that may be.

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Eibhlis Gale – Coleman is a freelance writer from the UK who is driven by a fierce love of adventure, unique cultural experiences, native animals, and good coffee. She is a passionate traveller and has explored Europe, Southeast Asia, North Africa, and Australia.