As far as crazy nightlife goes, Ecuador might be one of the furthest countries from what comes to mind. Sure, it’s no Brazil or Colombia but you would be surprised to learn that Ecuador does get pretty crazy once the sun goes down. From raucous beach towns to booming megaclubs, Ecuador has a variety of nightlife options. If you’re looking to have a little fun while traveling, these are the best party cities in Ecuador.
With Baños being the popular tourist destination that it is, nightlife will naturally follow. Baños is as much a destination for Ecuadorian travelers as it is for international tourists, providing a wide variety of nightlife options. The gringos will mostly stick to Leprechaun Bar but the bar street has everything from tequila bars to salsatecas and more. The drunk food scene in Baños is also top-notch. Just make sure you snag one of those kebabs before they shut down.
The only thing I didn’t like about Baños is how aggressively the police would shut everything down at 3 AM. I had a couple of friends get injured or even pepper sprayed by the police because they were slow to leave the bar. There’s a big police presence in Baños for some reason, although I never felt unsafe on my walks home.
Despite being the adventure capital of Ecuador, Baños is a very laid-back town. You can laze around all day recovering from the night before, go on a wild adventure in the afternoon, and then start the night all over again. Baños had me in a good rhythm as far as partying and traveling went.
The nightlife in Quito gets pretty crazy, especially at Plaza Fochs. I had a few great nights out in Quito, although I couldn’t tell you where. The only unfortunate part about Quito is that it has a pretty bad reputation for being a dangerous city. Plaza Fochs is undeniably the best area to go out in Quito but also among the most dangerous. I didn’t have any problems aside from the taxi driver giving me change in counterfeit bills. However, I definitely wouldn’t risk going it alone. Try to have a squad with you if you go out in Quito and definitely don’t walk anywhere sketchy at night.
Cuenca is one of the larger cities in Ecuador. It is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Naturally, it is going to have some pretty wild nightlife. Before I even got to Cuenca, I was told by a local that no one in Ecuador drinks like the Cuencans do.
Most travelers will be staying near the historic district of Cuenca. Luckily, there is a bustling bar and restaurant street nearby. Cuenca is a nice mix of a big city but with a walkable feel to it. And with the high altitudes, those cocktails hit a bit harder, hey?
This city right on the ocean is one of the fastest-growing destinations in Ecuador. Where else in Ecuador can you get both the city and the beach? From yacht parties to late nights at La Quadra, Manta offers quite a lot in terms of nightlife. It has among the best variety of nightlife that I’ve encountered in Ecuador. If you want something classy, maybe hit up Botelo’s for a fancy dinner, cocktails, and then live music and DJs spinning til about 3 AM before proceeding to Level to wrap up the night. Of course, there’s no shortage of cheaper establishments to dance the night away.
Another great thing about Manta is that it is a city that I felt extremely safe partying in. I didn’t dread figuring out how to get back to my place like I did in Quito or Guayaquil. Right now, Manta is at a perfect size where it has everything you could ask for from a big city while being small enough that you feel safe just walking around. It mixes the best of places like Quito and Montañita.
Guayaquil is Ecuador’s largest city and home to arguably the best nightlife in the country, depending on your taste. I’m not a big city nightlife kind of guy but on paper, Guayaquil definitely makes a strong case for being the best city to party in Ecuador. The most popular place to party in Guayaquil is Las Penas. Guayaquil gets pretty wild, so prepare for a good time.
When I arrived in Guayaquil, I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve heard from many people that Guayaquil is worth skipping but it is a beautiful city with a warm tropical climate and a lot of coastline.
Montañita is an entirely different animal altogether. This small beach town only has a population of about 4,500. During the day, it might be one of the sleepiest little towns I’ve ever seen. But once the sun goes down, the nightlife comes out in full force. There are an abundance of night clubs packed into the small but bustling downtown area of Montañita. However, it is inevitable that the party will spill out onto the beach.
Every day is the weekend in Montañita. And by that, I mean it’s either Friday or Sunday. You’re either partying until 7 in the morning or doing absolutely nothing all day. I somehow spent nearly two weeks in this city that offers nothing besides partying and surfing. I managed to get out and surf only once, too. So yeah, there was a lot of partying. I’ve also found the small surf towns to have the most unexpectedly wild parties. San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua, Weligama in Sri Lanka, Mancora in Peru… Add Montañita to that list. Compared to the rest of Ecuador, Montañita is next-level.
For a complete guide on partying in Montañita, check out my other post here.