Guayaquil, officially Santiago de Guayaquil, is the largest and the most populous city in Ecuador, as well as that nation’s main port. The city is the capital of the Ecuadorian province of Guayas and the seat of the namesake canton.
Guayaquil is located on the western bank of the Guayas River, which flows into the Pacific Ocean at the Gulf of Guayaquil. Because of its location, the city is the center of Ecuador’s fishing and manufacturing industries.
Guayaquil offers travelers a surprising number of sights and activities. It boasts museums, historic neighborhoods, sprawling parks and the renovated waterfront strip, Malecón 2000. While enjoying Guayaquil it is important to note that as with any large urban center, you must exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings. Be particularly careful at night, spend the extra change to get around safely in taxis.
- El Malecón 2000 – is the recontruction project of the Simóm Bolívar Pier, one of the most representative sites of Guayaquil city. The new pier which construction has already begun, will be one of the most important civic-touristic-commercial center of South America. It’s turning into the most complete and modern center of urban recreation of the country. With multiple green areas of entertainment and commercial service, it’s receiving a significant number of visitors everyday.
- El Palacio Municipal – sits in front of the Malecón and holds the political offices of city and provincial officials. A building of the neoclassical style, it is considered one of the most important architectural works in the country. Employees will enthusiastically answer questions about the building and are a good source of information regarding the city.
- Las Peñas Neighborhood – in the northeast corner of the city’s center, is home to many recognized artists. Many of the area’s 400-year-old houses have been converted into art galleries. A walk through this historic district gives one a glimpse into Guayaquil’s past.
- Mall del Sol – find plenty of shopping in this new mall, with most of its store names in English, it will feel eerily familiar to North American travelers.
- Mercado Artesanal – is the largest artisan market in the city. The market is housed in a 240-shop building that takes up the entire block of Baquerizo Avenue, between the streets Loja and Juan Montalvo. Its many vendors sell indigenous crafts, jewelry, paintings, and more!
- Parque Centenario – located on the street 9 de Octubre, between Lorenzo de Garaycoa and Quito, this is the largest park downtown, occupying four city blocks. It is a favored place to take refuge from the equatorial sun. Enjoy the shade offered by the large trees planted liberally over the expanses of walkways and lawns. A large statue of Liberty dominates the central area of the park.
- Parque Seminario – is not your typical city park. Seminario, located on 10 de Agosto Avenue and Chile, is home to dozens of Iguanas, some of which approach 5 feet in length. There seems to be hundreds of the monstrous, yet docile, reptiles lurking all over. Every afternoon, workers bring fruit and vegetable scraps to lure the Iguanas from the trees so that onlookers may watch them descend for a snack! A pond filled with colorful Japanese Talapia fish and the equestrian statue of Simón Bolívar located in the center of the park, are two more reasons to visit the park.
Alternatives, or compliments, to the typical club scene include cinemas, theater performances and quality national and international restaurants. Information on performances and events can be found in the various Guayaquilean newspapers. A few venues and regularly scheduled performances that you should check out:
- Teatro del Angel – offers live comedies on weekends. It’s located on Balsamos 620 and Ficus in the Urdesa neighborhood.
- Casa de Cultura – on 9 de Octubre just west of the Parque Centenario, regularly sponsors film festivals and gives specialized classes in the arts.
- Malecón Avenue – The new Pier, which construction has already begun, will be one of the most important civic-tourist-commercial sites from South America. With multiple green areas of entertainment and commercial service, it’s receiving a significant number of visitors everyday. All sectors have areas of general services, like restrooms, police departments, first aids and information stands.
- Urdesa and Alborada neighborhoods – north of the city’s center these two neighborhoods are known for being polished and preppy, specifically the street Victor Emilio Estrada in Urdesa and “Calle Principal” in Alborada. Both boast numerous restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars.
(please see our Ecuador’s Nightlife section to find out more places to go in Guayaquil)