Located just 3 hours south of Quito is what some consider the adventure capital of Ecuador. Baños is a magical place sitting next to Volcan Tungurahua, encircled by thermal hot springs, and many waterfalls. This is a small town that is easy to fall in love with. What is the best way to see a new town for the first time? Hike to the Mirador de Baños to get stunning views of the town that you will be exploring during your stay.
This is a hike that can be combined with other areas of Baños for a truly spectacular experience. Along this trail, you will get to the popular fitness area, Sendero de la Virgen. After this, you can continue on and get to other viewpoints of Baños. This trail will eventually take you to see the famous swing at the end of the world.
In this guide, I will go over all the information you need to know on your day hike to the Mirador de Baños. If you’re looking for other popular activities in Baños then check out Cascada del Silencio and Pailón del Diablo.
What is Mirador de Baños?
There are multiple hikes located in Baños that you can take to get a great view of the town. This one is easily accessible as you will go straight from a street in Baños to immediately start the hike. In order to get to the first viewpoint, you will have to hike up multiple sets of stairs. These stairs have made this a very popular area for outdoor workouts and locals alike.
Once you reach the first Mirador de baños, you will be well rewarded. The viewpoints from this point alone at La Virgen are good enough to stop at. You also have the chance to continue on a trail that will lead you to some other attractions that Baños has to offer.
How to Get to Baños, Ecuador
Ecuador has a really good bus system. The most popular airport to fly to is the capital of Quito. After this most will fly into Cuenca or Guayaquil. Below I will go over the options and how to go about finding the bus to start your adventure in Baños.
Quito to Baños
This is the option that I took as I flew into Quito. It is quite easy to get from Quito to Baños by bus. Below will be a set of steps to take to get there.
- Take an uber or taxi to the bus Terminal Quitumbe (around $4-$5)
- This is only needed if you’re north of Quito where most hostels are. Quitumbe is more to the south of Quito.
- Once at the bus terminal, you will need to look for the yellow Baños office inside. This cost to Baños will be $5 and they run all day.
- This is around a 3 to 3 1/2 hour journey with only one stop in Ambato.
Cuenca to Baños
Cuenca is a favorite town of many travelers to Cuenca. Although much farther away from Baños than Quito, it is still a very easy journey.
- You will want to make your way to Terminal Terrestre in Cuenca.
- It is right next to the airport
- Look for the bus company Amazonas
- They have 3 buses a day and one of those runs at night leaving at 11 pm and getting to Baños at 6 am.
- The night bus will save you money on accommodation and costs between $7 and $11
Places to Stay in Baños, Ecuador
- Papachos Hostel: This is where I volunteered and I loved it. If you’re looking for a laidback vibe then this is the place. Located on the outskirts of town it is a quiet area for $7.50 a night.
- Great Hostels: The most popular sport in the town, the Great Hostels is perfect for socializing. The cost is amazing too. For $8 to $10 you get free breakfast and a place to sleep.
- Erupcion Art Hotel & Hostel: Considered to have one of the most iconic rooftops in all of Baños, this is a place not to miss. Great location as it is located in the square downtown for $9 to $10 a night.
Mirador de Baños Hike Details
- Distance: This hike is around .8 miles to la Virgen or 3 miles to the swing at the end of the world (out & back). This depends on if you take the easier route, take a car halfway up, or do the loop.
- Duration: It will take between 1 to 4 hours depending on how far you end up going.
- Difficulty: I’d rank this hike as moderate to difficult depending on your fitness level. The first part of the hike 500 is feet of straight incline along stairs until la Virgen.
- Incline: The elevation for this hike is around 500 feet to la Virgen and another almost 2000.
- Hiking Guide: A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public.
My Suggested Hiking Gear
Below is a list of some of my favorite hiking/travel gear I bring everywhere. Everything below is something I currently use and never leave my house without.
- KEEN Durand II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots: I finally upgraded my hiking boots in 2022 and these are fantastic. They have top-notch ankle support and are super durable.
- Petzl Tikka Headlamp: A headlamp for hiking is a must if you’re like me and love sunrise hikes. This is a great price for a quality headlamp and also has a good red light to not disturb others in the morning.
- Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks: I originally got these as a present but I had to buy more because these are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever tried on.
- Grayl GeoPress Water Filter Bottle: You will never have to rebuy plastic water bottles. This is the best water filtering device on the market. It is excellent for hikers and travelers alike.
My Experience Mirador de Baños (La Virgen to La Casa del Arbol)
If you stay at Papachos hostel, then the trailhead is right around the corner. Downloading maps.me is the best way to follow these trails and is available for download to use offline.
Getting to Sendero de la Virgen
Below I will post where the trailhead begins. These are a set of stairs that will take you to the first Mirador de Baños. This is where most people stop their journey as it is a very good workout just up to this point. The stairs will go straight up in some areas and it will seem daunting.
There have been some reviews on Alltrails where people don’t agree with its “easy” ranking because of how hard the stairs are. You’re able to take your time so I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
Great views throughout. Right past the statue of La Virgen you will find a trail that leads you up the mountain towards more viewpoints and The Swing at the End of the World (La Casa del Arbol).
Mirador del Volcan (Mirador de Ventanas)
I hung out at the Mirador de Baños at the La Virgen for a few minutes and then continued on my trek. Right around the corner, you will see a trail and a sign beside it. The sign will point you in two directions. Follow the trail that goes up the mountain towards Mirador de Ventanas.
This is a different Mirador de Baños where you will get to see the view of Volcan Tungurahua. This volcano sits at 5,023 meters.
This part of the hike is when it starts to really feel like a hike. You will be along a dirt trail the entire time and as long as you follow the path, you won’t get lost.
It gets pretty steep at some points but it is manageable.
This part of the Mirador de baños hike will take around another hour from La Virgen. There will be more areas that have a great viewpoint of Baños.
After about one hour you will go past some coffee bean fields and get to a sign that says “Mirador”. I walked into this field and didn’t see where another viewpoint was supposed to be but maybe you can.
Keep along this trail, keeping to the right of the house and you will hit a dirt road. Shortly after along this, you will get to the Mirador de Ventanas.
Swing at the End of the World (La Casa del Arbol)
One of the most popular things to do and go see is the famous ‘Swing at the End of the World’ or La Casa del Arbol. This is a very unique Mirador de Baños. Keep following your maps along this trail for another 30 minutes, maybe less. There isn’t much incline so it won’t be too difficult if you want to add this last part.
The cost is $1 to enter the treehouse park and go on the swing. This is a really big spot for those Instagram photographers out there.
I personally didn’t go because I didn’t bring any cash and wasn’t expecting to go this far. I heard it’s cool to see but nothing that you will be sad about if you missed out on.
Other Activities in Baños, Ecuador
Baños is considered the adventure capital of Ecuador. You will not find a shortage of different activities to do here. These include hiking, rafting, canyoning, and much more. Below are some of the best tours to do around this wonderful town.
Final Thoughts on the Mirador de Baños Hike
I’m super glad that I decided to hike this first when I get to Baños. It gives you great views of the town and is extremely easy to get to as well as follow. Mirador de Baños to La Virgen is very popular, so I would suggest that you go earlier in the day if you want to avoid crowds. The view of the Volcan Tungurahua will most likely be covered by clouds unless you are there early in the morning or before sunset. Overall I highly suggest doing this hike when getting to Baños!
Thank you for reading my guide on the Mirador de Baños hike in Ecuador. This town is amazing and I hope you find that out as well.