Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO
Main Plaza and Basilica
A stroll in Baños is totally worth it to admire its beauty, taste its flavours, see its colours and get immersed in the local cosmovision.
Here are our suggestions for a stroll of Baños as a local:
Start at the main plaza. Following the urban planning model adopted by the Spanish conquistadors, the main plaza is shaped like a square and is bordered by the main church, the "Basílica Nuestra Señora del Rosario de Agua Santa" ("Virgin of the Holy Water"), considered the protector of the city.
The plaza and the church itself are very pretty and important to the lives of the locals. A short visit inside the church is always worthwhile, especially to see the fountain inside, where natural mountain water flows from the underground.
Construction of the basilica began in 1904 and took about 40 years. During the festivities in honour of the Virgin in October, the statue is carried through the town in a big parade while the locals celebrate with "guarapo", fermented sugar cane juice.
An interesting fact is that the basilica serves as a shelter for the inhabitants when the volcano Tungurahua erupts (which happens from time to time).
Eat like a local at the market
Just one block from the main plaza, you will find the market where the locals do their shopping. It's open as long as the sun is shining, which in Ecuador is from 6am to 6pm all year round.
Here you can admire colourful stalls of fruit and vegetables and try many delicacies. You can try haggling for fruit like a local. Or try fried fish or one of the other delicious local dishes.
See Baños from the Virgin's point of view
Very close to the city centre you find this hill where a sanctuary for the virgin was built. If you want to admire a panoramic view of the city with little time or effort, this is the ideal point of view. It is not an intensive hike, and even if it counts 400 steps up, it can easily be done in approximately 30 minutes.
Locals believe the virgin protects the city from the eruptions of Tungurahua volcano. The view of the city from here is completely beautiful as it is oriented West-East towards the Amazon and allows you to admire how Baños is nested in between the mountains.
Try the local sweet "Melcocha"
You'll probably see them the first time you step into town: the stalls selling local sweets, where true artists are pulling a caramel string over and over again. The technique of making "Melcocha" is a speciality of Baños! It is passed down from generation to generation and preserved as a tradition in the families. The sweet is made on the basis of panela (a type of sugar cane). You can't leave Baños without trying this delicacy!
Relax in the natural hot springs
Baños de Agua Santa ("Baths of the Holy Water") is known for its thermal baths thanks to high volcanic activity and underground water veins. The water comes directly from the volcanic underground and is therefore rich in minerals, which give the water a green-yellow colour.
Right next to the waterfall "Cabellera de la Virgen" ("Hair of the Virgin") are the popular "Termas de la Virgen". The perfect way to end your walk with a relaxing bath in volcanic water. Ask the locals about the Termas de la Virgen and they will be happy to show you the way!