Wondering where to visit Ecuador or Colombia for vacation? If so, this article is for you!

Ecuador is known for it’s charming old colonial towns, Amazonian rainforests, volcanoes, and the Galapagos Islands. Colombia is known for its rich cultural history, beautiful colonial cities, and picturesque Caribbean beaches.

But, which place is better for a vacation? I’ve visited each of these countries. Although they share similarities, there are key differences that set them apart.

I have put together this guide to help you decide which place is better for vacation. My guide will cover how they compare in terms of cost, climate, cuisine, tourist activities, and much more.

Ready to learn how Ecuador compares to Colombia? Let’s dive in!

ecuador vs colombia

A Quick Overview of Ecuador and Colombia





98,985 mi²

440,800 mi²


17.8 million (as of 2021)

51.52 million (as of 2021)

Tourist Attractions

  • Quito’s Historical Old Town
  • Galapagos Islands
  • Cotopaxi National Park
  • Otavalo Market
  • Cartagena’s Old Town
  •  Tayrona National Park
  • Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira
  •  Rosario Islands
  • Cuisine

    • Llapingachos (fried potato patties stuffed with cheese)
    • Cuy asado (roasted guinea pig)
  • Arepas (fried cornmeal patties)
  • Bandeja paisa (plate of chorizo, rice, beans, plantains, and meat)
  • Nightlife

    Lively (Beach bars, disco clubs, nightclubs, jazz cafes)

    Lively (nightclubs, disco clubs, rooftop bars, salsa clubs)


    The average daily cost to visit is around $63 per person

    The average daily cost to visit is around $43 per person

    Ecuador At A Glimpse

    Located at the top of South America on the equator, Ecuador’s a popular travel destination because of its impressive landscape. 

    Ecuador’s unique landscape consists of lakes, volcanoes, cloud forests, towering mountains,  Amazonian rainforests, and the iconic Galapagos Islands.

    ecuador city
    Quito, Ecuador
    (Image by: Mauricio Munoz)

    Whether you’re looking to walk through the charming old town of Quito, or snorkel with sea turtles at the Galapagos, Ecuador has something for you. 

    One of the most noteworthy attractions in Ecuador is the capital city of Quito. This charming old town city is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, and is one of the most culturally rich places in Ecuador. As you stroll through Quito, there are museums, historical landmarks, cute cafes, and many incredible restaurants. 

    Cuenca, Ecuador
    Cuenca, Ecuador
    (Image by: Juan Ordonez)

    Just a 2 hour drive away from Quito is the city of Cuenca, which is known for its beautiful colonial architecture, friendly locals, and traditional craft-making villages.

    If you’re looking to go kayaking, hiking, or whitewater rafting, Baños is the place to go.

    Baños is another popular city in Ecuador known for its scenic waterfalls, hot springs, rivers, and abundance of outdoor activities. It’s only a 3 hour drive away from the capital city Quito, and buses are widely available to get there. 

    Baños, Ecuador
    Baños, Ecuador
    (Image by: Robinson Recalde)

    Beyond the lovely cities in Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are a must visit place for anyone visiting Ecuador. The Galapagos Islands have 127 picturesque islands with volcanoes, rainforests, and pristine white sand beaches surrounded by exotic wildlife where you can go snorkeling. 

    Similar to Colombia, Ecuador has diverse and flavorful cuisine. Some of the most popular dishes in Ecuador include llapingachos (fried cheese and potato patties), roasted guinea pig (cuy), and bolon de verde (fried green plantains with cheese)

    Ecuador has an exciting nightlife, with an abundance of bars and clubs in nearly every city. Quito and Guayaquil are popular spots for nightlife, having discotecas (clubs), bars, live music venues, casinos, and restaurants. 

    Similar to Colombia, Ecuador has culturally-rich cities that often have festivals, parades, dance performances, and other festivities throughout the year. 

    Overall, Ecuador is an incredible place to visit if you enjoy exploring lovely cities and going on outdoor adventures. 

    Colombia At A Glimpse

    Located in between Ecuador and Panama, Colombia is a country known for its diverse landscape, exceptional national parks, historical landmarks, and stunning beaches.

    Whether you’re looking to tour a coffee farm or explore the historic walled city of Cartagena, Colombia has something for you. 

    Bogota, Colombia
    Bogota, Colombia
    (Image by: Ricardo Gomez)

    In the capital of Bogota, there are museums, impressive street art, botanical gardens, cultural sights, cathedrals, and more. Tourists often stay in Bogota for at least two nights to explore all it has to offer. 

    The next must visit city is Cartagena, where tourists often stay during their time in Colombia. The walled city of Cartagena has beautiful colonial buildings, museums, historical landmarks, and hotels.

    Cartagena, Colombia
    Cartagena, Colombia
    (Image by: Cristian Tarzi)

    Just 20 km off the coast of Cartagena are the Rosario Islands, an archipelago of 27 islands where you can go to snorkel in colorful barrier reefs. 

    Colombia is home to many picturesque Caribbean beaches, with the Rosario Islands and the La Guajira region having some of the most stunning beaches. The beaches around the La Guajira region have a laid-back vibe and are perfect for relaxing. 

    Cabo de la Vela, La Guajira, Colombia
    Cabo de la Vela, La Guajira, Colombia
    (Image by: Giannino Pareja)

    Colombia is surrounded by natural beauty, with national parks, rivers, cloud forests, coffee farms, and volcanoes. Tayrona national park is a popular national park that has over 100 different mammal species, tropical rainforests, and white sand beaches. 

    Other popular places to experience Colombia’s natural beauty include the Caño Cristales (5-colored river), Los Nevados National Park, Cocora Valley, and the El Totumu Mud Volcano.  

    Caño Cristales River
    Caño Cristales River
    (Image by: Roberto Shumski)

    Like Ecuador, Colombia has incredible cuisine, with popular staples being rice, beans, and plantains. One of the most common dishes is “bandeja paisa”, which is a plate of rice, red beans, Colombian sausage, ground beef, fried pork rinds, egg, plantains, and arepas. 

    Colombia is also known for its amazing coffee, and has 348,700 acres of land that make up Colombia’s coffee region. If you love coffee, you can tour a coffee farm in the small town of Salento, in Colombia’s coffee growing region. 

    medellin, colombia
    Medellin, Colombia
    (Image by: Joel Duncan)

    Similar to Ecuador, Colombia has an exciting nightlife. Major cities like Bogota, Medellin, and Cartagena are hotspots for partying. From energetic bars to salsa clubs in Cali (the salsa capital of the world), there’s something for everyone. 

    Colombia’s cities are culturally rich and festive, with many festivals being held throughout the year. Colombian’s largest cultural celebration every year is the Carnaval de Barranquilla, held 4 days before Ash Wednesday. This vibrant festival has parties, parades, live music, and traditional dancers. 

    Overall, Colombia is an excellent place to visit if you enjoy immersing yourself in culture, exploring lovely cities, and trying delicious cuisine and coffee.  

    Places To Visit in Ecuador

    From cute old cities to the Galapagos Islands, there’s endless places to visit while in Ecuador. If you plan on visiting Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are a must-visit destination. 

    The Galapagos Islands are known for their pristine white sand beaches, volcanoes, lava tunnels, abundance of wildlife, and the Charles Darwin Research center. The easiest way to get to the Galapagos Islands is to take a short flight from Guayaquil or Quito.

    Galapagos Islands
    Galapagos Islands
    (Image by: Amy Perez)

    I highly recommend you stay in the Galapagos Islands for 7 days to fully explore the island’s beauty. At the Galapagos islands, you can visit Tortuga Bay, and stop by the Charles Darwin research center.

    Tortuga bay is a beautiful white sand beach filled with iguanas, turtles, sea lions, and other fascinating wildlife. You can snorkel with sea turtles, or go on a dolphin and whale watching boat tour.

    Galapagos Turtles
    Galapagos Turtles
    (Image by: Deb Dowd)

    The Charles Darwin research center is on the same island as Tortuga Bay, and the admission is free. You can take a guided tour through the Charles Darwin Research center for $10 to see baby tortoises, giant tortoises, land iguanas, and interesting exhibits.

    If you prefer exploring cities, Ecuador has several tourist-friendly cities, including Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca, Baños, Otavalo, and more.

    Quito, Ecuador
    Quito, Ecuador
    (Image by: Kiyoshi)

    One of the most popular cities in Ecuador is Quito, the country’s capital and historic old city. It’s a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, and it has museums, churches, historic plazas, and charming old colonial buildings.

    You can ride the Teleférico cable car to get a breathtaking view of the city. While in Quito, you can stroll through the streets of old town, or go on a food tasting tour.

    Guayaquil, Ecuador
    Guayaquil, Ecuador
    (Image by: Kiyoshi)

    Guayaquil is Ecuador’s most populated city, and it has museums, national parks, shopping malls, historical landmarks, and the famous Iguana Park.

    Cuenca is Ecuador’s next most populated city, and it’s one of the most beautiful cities to explore. Cuenca has stunning architecture, delicious food, museums, botanical gardens, art galleries, and more.

    Cuenca, Ecuador
    Cuenca, Ecuador
    (Image by: Juan Ordonez)

     If you enjoy outdoor activities, head to the town of Baños in central Ecuador. It’s often thought of as the adventure capital of Ecuador, and has beautiful lakes, rivers, hot springs, and waterfalls. You can go kayaking, whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, ziplining, and more, if you’re up for an adventure. 

    If you want to pick up handmade crafts, visit the Otavalo Market, South America’s largest street market. The market sells everything from handmade ponchos to jewelry and handbags. 

    Here are some of Ecuador’s top tourist activities.

    • Galápagos Islands
    • Quito’s historic old town
    • Chimborazo Volcano
    • Intiñan Site Museum
    • Laguna Quilotoa
    • Nambillo Waterfall Sanctuary
    • Cotopaxi National Park
    • Otavalo Market
    • Peguche Waterfall
    • The Equator line

    Places To Visit In Colombia

    Similar to Ecuador, Colombia is filled with natural beauty and lovely cities. One of the best places to stay while in Colombia is the walled city of Cartagena.

    Cartagena is a designated UNESCO world heritage site, and it has charming cobblestone streets, old colonial buildings, museums, cute cafes, churches, and historical cites. 

    Cartagena, Colombia
    Cartagena, Colombia
    (Image by: Leandro Loureiro)

    Cartagena is home to Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, a fortress built in 1536 sitting on a hill that overlooks the city. Admission to the fortress is only around $7 USD, and you can explore the castle’s fascinating underground tunnels. 

    Cartagena is also near the Rosario Islands, which are only a 45 minute boat ride from Cartagena’s coast. The islands have resorts, seafood restaurants, and picturesque white sand beaches where you can go snorkeling. 

    Rosario Islands
    Rosario Islands
    (Image by: Alan Bajura)

    Medellin is another popular city for tourists to visit, having museums, parks, plazas, and lively nightlife. However, Bogota is the best city to visit in terms of culture and cuisine.

    Medellin, Colombia
    Medellin, Colombia
    (Image by: Kobby Mendez)

    Bogota is the capital of Colombia and it’s known for its impressive street art, amazing coffee, museums, plazas, botanical gardens, and more. Bogota has bicycle tours, food-tasting tours, and walking tours if you’d like to explore the city fully. 

    Bogota, Colombia
    Bogota, Colombia
    (Image by: Santiago Boada)

    Another popular attraction in Colombia is the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira, which is just an hour drive from Bogota.

    The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira is a fascinating church carved out of salt located 600 feet underground. You can walk through tunnels within the church to see impressive ancient artifacts, sculptures, and wall carvings. 

    Caño Cristales is one of the most spectacular attractions in Colombia, often thought of as the world’s most beautiful river. To get to Caño Cristales, you’ll have to take a 1 hour flight from Bogota followed by a jeep ride, boat ride, and short hike.

    Flights to Caño Cristales are offered three times a week by Satena airlines. If you have the time, visiting this river is definitely worthwhile.

    And if you love coffee, head to the small town of Salento, to go on a coffee tour in Colombia’s central coffee growing region (Zona Cafeteria)!

    Here are some of the top tourist attractions in Colombia. 

    • Cartagena’s Old Town
    • Tayrona National Park
    • Rosario Islands
    • Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira
    • Caño Cristales
    • Castillo San Felipe de Barajas
    • Zona Cafetera (Coffee Region)
    • San Andres Island

    Which place is the best for a vacation?

    Ecuador and Colombia both have culturally rich cities, delicious cuisine, and stunning natural attractions. 

    If you want to stroll through Quito’s historic old town, see fascinating wildlife at the Galapagos Islands, and shop in South America’s largest market, Ecuador’s for you. 

    If you want to snorkel in the Rosario Islands, dance in the Salsa capital of the world, visit the world’s most beautiful river, or go on a coffee tour, Colombia’s for you. 

    That being said, both countries have the perfect blend of natural beauty and lovely cities. No matter which place you choose to visit, you’ll be left with memories to last a lifetime. 

    Ecuador vs Colombia: Overview


    Ecuador and Colombia both have tropical climates with warm weather year-round. Ecuador’s climate is hot and humid year round in the eastern portion, with average temperatures ranging from 68°F  to 91°F

    Colombia’s average temperature ranges from 67°F to 87°F throughout the year. 


    Ecuador and Colombia have many stunning Caribbean beaches. The best beaches in Ecuador are located in the Galapagos Islands, with Tortuga Bay being the most popular.

    Tortuga Bay Beach has turtles, iguanas, diverse wildlife, and colorful coral reefs. You can go snorkeling to see sea turtles, or take a boat tour to spot dolphins and whales.

    Additionally, the village of Montañita in Ecuador has several great beaches for surfing and swimming. 

    Colombia is also surrounded by beautiful beaches, but the best beaches are located on the Rosario Islands, and the La Guajira region on the Caribbean side. The Rosario Islands have picturesque white sand beaches with abundant coral reefs making them ideal for snorkeling.

    The La Guajira region has pristine beaches with soft sand, calm waters, and a laid-back atmosphere. 

    Best beaches in Ecuador

    • Los Frailes Beach
    • Tortuga Bay in Galapagos Islands
    • Montañita Beach
    • Salinas Beach
    • Playa Puerto Lopez

    Best beaches in Colombia

    • Playa Blanca
    • Tayrona National Natural Park beaches
    • San Andres Islands
    • Palomino Beach
    • Rosario Islands


    The official currency in Ecuador is the US dollar, whereas the official currency in Colombia is the peso. US dollars, Euros, and credit cards are widely accepted throughout Colombia, but you should convert to their currency for the majority of purchases. 


    Both Ecuador and Colombian food is diverse and uses staple ingredients like rice, beans, and plantains. One of the most common dishes in Colombia is “bandeja paisa”, a dish with rice, red beans, Colombian sausage, ground beef, fried pork rinds, egg, plantains, and an arepa. 

    Arepas in Medellin, Colombia
    Arepas in Medellin, Colombia
    (Image by: Alexandra Tran)

    One of Ecuador’s most popular dishes are “llapingachos”, which are fried tortillas made out of potatoes, cheese, and spices. Other common dishes include shrimp ceviche, roasted guinea pig (cuy), and bolon de verde (fried green plantains). 

    These are some of Ecuador’s most popular dishes. 

    • Bolones de Verde: Green plantain dumplings
    • Cuy asado: Roasted guinea pig
    • Ceviche: Raw seafood marinated in citrus juice
    • Encebollado de Pescado: Fish soup with onions and spices.
    • Llapingachos: Potato pancakes stuffed with cheese
    • Locro de Papa: Creamy cheesy potato soup

    These are some of the most common dishes in Colombia:

    • Bandeja Paisa: Plate of sausage, beef, rice, red beans, arepas, plantains, and fried eggs
    • Arepas: Cornmeal patties
    • Empanadas: Fried cheese or meat filled pastries 
    • Sancocho: Traditional meat and vegetable soup
    • Ajiaco: Chicken and potato soup
    • Bunuelos: Deep fried balls of cheese


    Both Ecuador and Colombia are relatively cheap destinations to travel to. Colombia is generally more affordable than Ecuador.

    The average daily price for one person to travel in Ecuador is $63, whereas the average daily price in Colombia is $43. The cheapest time to visit Colombia is from May to November.

    On the other hand, the cheapest time to visit Ecuador is from February to April, or in September, October, and November


    Both Ecuador and Colombia have lively nightlife. In Ecuador, the beach town of Montanita, Guayaquil, and Quito are hotspots for nightlife.

    There’s plenty of lively bars, dance clubs, and music venues. Colombia also has a vibrant nightlife, with cities like Cartagena, Bogota, and Medellin having plenty of lively nightclubs, and bars.

    If you want to salsa dance in the salsa dancing capital of the world, head to Tienda Vieja in Cali!


    The official language of Ecuador and Colombia is Spanish. It’s not as common for locals to speak English fluently in both countries, but English is commonly spoken at hotels and tourist locations. 

    When’s the best time to visit Ecuador?

    The best time to visit Ecuador is between June to September during their dry season. However, the cheapest time to visit Ecuador is from February to April, and September, October and November.

    Keep in mind that October through May is Ecuador’s rainy season, so the weather may not be as ideal. 

    When’s the best time to visit Colombia?

    The best time to visit Colombia is generally from December and March, which are the driest months. However, the cheapest months to visit are in May, and August to November


    Ecuador and Colombia are generally very safe for travelers, but you should exercise caution in non-tourist areas.  According to the US Department of State’s Travel Advisory, you should avoid certain areas in Ecuador due to crime.

    Colombia is also safe in tourist areas, but certain areas have an increased risk for crime, according to the US Department of State’s Travel Advisory. 

    Also read:


    How far is Ecuador from Colombia?

    Ecuador’s air distance from Colombia is 832 km. The distance from Ecuador to Colombia by car is 1,341.67 km, and the driving time is approximately 18 hours and 58 minutes

    How long does it take to get to Colombia from Ecuador?

    The flight from Bogota, Colombia to Quito, Ecuador is 1 hour and 24 minutes on average. 

    Why do the Colombia and Ecuador flags look similar?

    The Colombia and Ecuador flags are so similar because they formed a confederation in 1822 called “Gran Colombia”  when the countries gained independence.

    Although the confederation of Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela split up in 1830, the flag colors remain the same to signify independence. 

    Is Ecuador or Colombia better for families?

    There’s no shortage of kid-friendly tourist attractions in Ecuador and Colombia.

    In Ecuador, you can take kids horseback riding in Cotopaxi national park, see turtles and wildlife at Tortuga Bay in the Galapagos, or ride a cable car over the city of Quito.

    In Colombia, you can take kids to the Parque Explora interactive science museum, spot wildlife at the Tayrona national park, and visit the Cali Zoo. 

    In summary, both places are excellent for a family vacation.

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