Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO
Main Square 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 Square. Following the Spanish urbanistic model inherited from the Spanish conquest, the main Plaza is square shaped and is delimited by the main Church, the Basílica Nuestra Señora del Rosario de Agua Santa (the virgin of the holy waters), considered the protector of the city. The square and the church itself are very cute and very important for the locals´life. A short visit to its interior is definitely worth it, especially to see the interior fountain from which natural underground water from the mountains run.
The construction of the basilica started in 1904 and took around 40 years. During the festivities of the Virgin in October, its statue is taken around the city in a big parade while locals celebrate with "Guarapo", a local alcoholic drink.
An interesting fact is that when the Tungurahua Volcano erupts, which happens from time to time), the Basilica serves as a shelter for locals.
Eat like a local at the market
The next stop will be a very interesting sensorial experience at the central market of Baños. Just a block away from the main square, you will find the market where locals do their groceries. It opens its doors as long as the sun shines, which in Ecuador is from 6 am to 6 pm year round. Here you can admire the colourful stands of fruits and vegetables, try some if you feel like! You can try to bargain like a local for some fruits for the way to your next stop or if you dare, try the fried fish or one of the local dishes. In fact, this is what many locals have for lunch and is considered the tastiest place to eat it.
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 really nested in between the mountains.
Try the local sweet
Probably you will see it since you put a step in the city: this stands of local sweets where artisans pull of a string of caramel over and over. The technique of doing "melcocha", the local sweet is a speciality here in Baños! It is transferred from generation to generation and preserved as a tradition and family business. As it is based on Panela (a kind of sugar from the sugar cane), it is more suitable for the sweet tooth, but you can´t leave Baños without trying this delicacy!
Relax in the natural hot springs
Baños, as its name suggests, is known for its baths of thermal water thanks to the intense irrigation of the area and the high volcanic activity underground. But don´t expect Roman baths, the ones here come directly from the volcanoes and are therefore full of minerals which give a green/yellow colour to the waters.
Next to the waterfall called "Cabellera de la Virgen" (hair of the virgin), is the popular La Virgen hot springs, our recommendation to end your stroll with a relaxing swim in the volcanic waters. A section of this hot springs has recently been renovated so make sure to go to the ones called "Recreativas". Ask the locals for the Termas de la Virgen Recreativas and they will be happy to show you the way!