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Things to do in
Otavalo

Our most recommended things to do in Otavalo

From Quito: Otavalo, Cotacachi & Cuicocha Full-Day Tour

1. From Quito: Otavalo, Cotacachi & Cuicocha Full-Day Tour

Escape the hustle and bustle of city life in Quito and discover the ease and beauty of the Ecuadorian countryside. Depart from Quito through the Pan-American North Highway via Cayambe. Passengers will have the opportunity to taste the delicious Bizcochos de Cayambe, a type of cracker or bread baked in a clay oven, greatly paired with local cheese or caramel sauce. Afterwards, make a brief stop at Miralago to admire a wonderful view of Lago San Pablo. The tour then continues to Otavalo where Otavaleños (natives) set up a market in which a bartering manner of shopping is taken place. The market hosts a variety of different handcrafted items. You may choose between staying in this area and enjoying more time at the market (a bus will pick you up at the end of the tour*), or you can continue the tour to visit Cotacachi and Cuicocha. If you continue the tour, journey to the town of Cotacachi, recognized for its leather clothing and crafts. On the way to Cotacachi, visit an Andean instrument workshop, "Ñanda Mañachi", located in the area of Peguche, to spend some special moments with the local people and understand the Andean culture. In Cotacachi you have enough time to visit the village and leather goods shops, as well as free time for lunch (not included). Later, visit the Ecological Reserve where the Cuicocha lagoon is located, inside the crater of the Cotacachi Volcano. This originated after a volcanic explosion thousands of years ago. And if the weather permits, it will be possible to make a walk by the lagoon with the chance to sail in the crater of the volcano in small boats (at an additional cost). *Bus will wait for 10 minutes in Otavalo to pick you up if you have chosen to stay there, and after that will return to Quito and your respective hotel or starting point.

Otavalo: Full day trip from Quito

2. Otavalo: Full day trip from Quito

Benefit from pick-up at your hotel in Quito, and then journey by private vehicle towards the lively indigenous bazaar of Otavalo Market. Make brief stops at the village of Guayabamba and get an amazing view of San Pablo Lake and the surrounding landscape. Try some of the local biscochos (cookies) typical of the region along the way. Visit a weaving workshop in Peguche to learn about the handmade artisanal products and clothes typical of the region. Get back on the road to arrive at Otavalo Market and join the locals who come to sell their wares at the most spectacular market in Latin America. Buy unique souvenirs or just watch the hustle and bustle of the market vendors. Make your way to the beautiful crater lake of Cuicocha at the foot of Cotacachi Volcano. Return to Quito at the end of a day full of activities and get dropped off at your hotel.

Otavalo and Imbabura Sightseeing Tour from Quito

3. Otavalo and Imbabura Sightseeing Tour from Quito

Depart Quito and journey towards the Guayllabamba valley to visit Cayambe town. Pass over the line of the equator and continue towards the largest indigenous market in South America. Shop for souvenir textiles and traditional crafts at the Mercado de Ponchos, where the locals sell tagua nut jewelry, fake shrunken heads, hand-painted trays, spices, spools of wool and other interesting items under mushroom-shaped umbrellas. Get back to nature at the Peguche waterfall, popular with the locals who go there to take a sacred bath on the eve of Inti Raymi. Continue towards to visit Ñanda Mañachi cultural house, here you will learn more about people from Otavalo.

Quito: Otavalo Sightseeing and Handcrafts Market Day Tour

4. Quito: Otavalo Sightseeing and Handcrafts Market Day Tour

Otavalo is located in the Imbabura Province, 86 km north of Quito, this town is now one of the most important tourist destinations of Ecuador, surrounded by mountains, lakes, rivers, streams and springs, making this small town a paradise where tourists always return! The city of Otavalo is world-wide-known for the famous handicraft Indian market. Our departure is at 8:00 a.m., from your hotel in Quito, towards the colourful town of Otavalo and to the most famous Indian fair in South America! We take the Pan-American Highway, which takes you through spectacular mountain scenery, to enjoy spectacular views of people and communities, while conducting their activities and daily life! Our first stop is at the viewpoint of Pisque River, form where you'll see the majestic snow-capped volcanoes Cayambe (5.790 m - 18,996 ft) and Cotopaxi (5.890 m - 19,324 ft). Also, it will be possible to spot large plantations of roses, and very fertile farmlands. Before going to Otavalo, you will visit the popular viewpoint of San Pablo Lake, located at the foothills of Imbabura Volcano (4.630 m - 15,190 ft). You continue your journey and then you arrive to the Otavalo Indian Market or "Plaza de Ponchos", showing varied handmade indigenous crafts. There you'll have time off to hang around the market, and to make the best choices buying unique genuine souvenirs! After having lunch you'll visit Cotacachi village, well-known as the “music capital of Ecuador”, rich in the production of fine leather garments, which are displayed and sold in small shops along the center of the city. Before we return to Quito, you'll visit the stunning crater lake of Cuicocha, located in the Cotacachi volcano (4.944 m - 16,220 ft). Then we start our way back to Quito, where you'll arrive approximately at 5:00 p.m. End of this fantastic private adventure!

From Quito: Otavalo Indian Market and Rose Farm Shared Tour

5. From Quito: Otavalo Indian Market and Rose Farm Shared Tour

Depart from the meeting point in Quito and head towards the colorful town of Otavalo and the most famous Indian fair in South America. During the drive, get unforgettable views of peoples and communities, while conducting their activities and daily life. Stop at a rose plantation to learn all about the fifth main industry of Ecuador. Experience every step about the process of growing, harvesting, and exporting roses to all over the world. During your visit, admire and photograph the beautiful valleys and snow-capped mountains that are surrounding this worldwide-known region. Then, go to the viewpoint of the Laguna San Pablo, at the foothills of Imbabura volcano. Afterward, you'll arrive at the Otavalo Indian market or “Plaza de Ponchos” showing varied handmade indigenous crafts all through the main streets of the town. After lunch, explore Cotacachi village, rich in the production of fine leather garments, which are displayed and sold in small shops along the center of the city. Finish off with a drive uphill towards Cuicocha Lake, located inside the crater of Cotacachi volcano (16,200 feet), before traveling back to Quito in the evening.

Otavalo and Peguche Waterfall Tour

6. Otavalo and Peguche Waterfall Tour

Discover the vibrant tapestry of Ecuador's culture and nature with the Otavalo Market and Peguche Waterfall Tour. Otavalo Market, nestled in the heart of the Andes Mountains, is a treasure trove of indigenous artistry. Visitors can explore a kaleidoscope of textiles, handicrafts, and traditional Andean attire, making it an ideal destination for culture enthusiasts. Cultural Immersion: For a truly immersive experience, visitors can engage with the local Otavaleño people, who are known for their warm hospitality. Learning about their traditions, like weaving and music, adds depth to your visit. Markets Beyond Saturday: While the famous Saturday market is a must-visit, Otavalo's daily market scene is equally charming and less crowded. It's perfect for those who prefer a quieter shopping experience. Local Cuisine: Don't miss the opportunity to savor authentic Andean dishes like llapingachos (potato pancakes) or locro de papas (potato soup) at the market's food stalls. Peguche Waterfall: Charging Energy of the mountains Just a short drive from Otavalo, the Peguche Waterfall awaits nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. This breathtaking natural wonder is tucked away in the lush greenery of the Andean highlands. Cultural Significance: Peguche Waterfall holds cultural significance for the local indigenous community. It is believed to have healing properties, and during the annual Inti Raymi celebration, locals perform cleansing rituals at the waterfall.

From Quito: Otavalo, Plaza de Ponchos Market & Cotacachi

7. From Quito: Otavalo, Plaza de Ponchos Market & Cotacachi

Discover a wide array of local crafts on this day trip from Quito to the vibrant Plaza de Ponchos market in the city of Otavalo. Visit a fabric gallery at Casa Condor, an Andean Music House, and travel to Cotacachi to look for leather goods. Be picked up by your local guide at your accommodation in Quito. Relax on a scenic drive through the Guayllabamba countryside and stop to savor a custardy chirimoya fruit. Continue to the Andean highland city of Otavalo.  Head to the Plaza de Ponchos market where local crafts from northern Ecuador are sold. Peruse the colorful shops before continuing to the Casa Condor gallery for a demonstration on the traditional preparation and coloring of wool. Delight your ears at the Andean Music House where a musician will show you how Andean instruments are used in local performances. Drive to the charming town of Cotacachi to check out some fine leather products that the area is well-known for. Have the chance to stop to purchase a local lunch before returning to your accommodation in Quito.

Otavalo Market Tour, Peguche Waterfall and Cuicocha Lagoon

8. Otavalo Market Tour, Peguche Waterfall and Cuicocha Lagoon

On this Otavalo tour in Ecuador you will discover the cultural and natural beauty of this charming place. Starting in Quito, our first stop will be visiting Quitsato, the sundial where the equatorial line is marked. We will pass by the Cayambe sponge cake factory to try these delicious traditional snacks. The Mirador de Miralago, has views of the mountainous surroundings and the Cuicocha lagoon, the next destination is the famous Otavalo Market, one of the largest markets in South America, we will have some time to explore and shop here. The Peguche Waterfall is a beautiful waterfall surrounded by great nature to enjoy the tranquility of the environment. Finally, we will go to Cotacachi, known for its leather products and before returning to the city of Quito we will stop at Laguna de Cuicocha, to appreciate its unique natural beauty.

Otavalo Unveiled: A Day Journey Through Time and Tradition!

9. Otavalo Unveiled: A Day Journey Through Time and Tradition!

Embark on a journey from the bustling streets of Quito to the serene highlands of the Sierra, where the adventure begins with a scenic drive north, unveiling landscapes that are as rich in beauty as they are in history. First, marvel at the tranquil San Pablo Lake, a prelude to the vibrant tapestry of Otavalo's famous market, bustling with local handicrafts and alive with the legacy of the Quitu-Cara and other pre-Inca civilizations - our expert guide unveiling each layer of this cultural mosaic. Even though Saturday is the main market day, the heart of Otavalo beats strongly with artisanal splendor throughout the week. The journey weaves onwards to the enchanting Laguna Cuicocha, cradled in a volcanic crater and adorned with emerald islands. Next, immerse yourself in the charm of Cotacachi, a haven for exquisite leather craftsmanship. A delightful lunch in a local restaurant will tantalize your taste buds, setting the stage for a leisurely exploration of this town's artisanal treasures. As the day unwinds, we'll journey back to Quito, hearts and minds brimming with the unforgettable experiences of the day.

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What people are saying about Otavalo

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 39 reviews

Superb day trip! Guide, Javier, was excellent - friendly, knowledgeable, happy in his work, and also drove very safely. Transportation was in a comfortable car as we were just two customers, so it felt like a private tour. I was picked up and dropped off on time. We were able to have a little extra time at some locations if we wanted (for shopping!!). I would definitely recommend this day tour to others.

Day went really well. Our guide Andrea spoke both Spanish and English. She told us of the people of the region and their customs. She helped me interpret what the vendors in the Otovalo market were saying and I got my Alpaca blanket. Got back to Quito at a respectable time 6 pm.

Diego was a great tour guide! We got to see so many things and he explained everything and went above and beyond to give us the context and history and culture of Ecuador/the Andes. Also we hit a lot of traffic coming back to Quito but felt very safe with our driver.

Our guide was amazing. He was flexible. He was super knowledgeable about the rose plantation where we went and the workers. He catered the tour to us and even gave us extra time. We loved it and plan to come back.

Andres was a very informative and entertaining guide for our trip to the markets, the volcano, and the town.