• Altitude: 2225 meters
  • Inhabitants: 139.721
  • Region: North-Andes

Ibarra is the capital of the Imbabura province, one of the northern provinces of Ecuador, and is called the white city because of the white houses that can be found all around the city. The Imbabura Province is often referred to the province of the lakes because of the different lakes that can be found here like lake San Pablo and the lagoons Cuicocha, Yahuarcocha and Puruhanta. Ibarra is located at an altitude of 2225 meters above sea level and has a mild and pleasant dry climate. The last week of September Ibarra celebrates its annual holiday of the foundation in 1606.

Churches Ibarra has a number of churches that are interesting to visit. We recommend the following churches.

  • La Catedral. This cathedral is Address Pedro Mocayo Park.

  • Address Parque La Merced.

Centro cultural

The cultural center has an archeology museum with information in English. Besides the museum there is a local historical archive and library. It is also known as the Museo del Banco Central de Ecuador. Address Sucre and Oviedo. More info: http://www.touribarra.gob.ec/esp/index.php/centro-cultural-ministerio-de-cultura-del-ecuador

Laguna de Yahuarcocha

A beautiful lake that is located 3km outside of Ibarra. The name of the lake means ´lake of blood´ in the Kichwa language (yahuar = blood, cocha = lake) which refers to a bloody battle in 1486 between the Incas and the Caranquis people. The legend tells the story of how the battle left more than 30.000 people dead and their blood colored the lake, therefore naming it ´lake of blood´. Nowadays the lake is an interesting tourist attraction with possibilities to take boat rides, do hikes and visit several natural viewing points. There is also a racetrack that is used for international races and smaller competitions.

Tren de la libertad

From Ibarra you can take a train ride to Salinas and back. This full day tour takes you to the town of Salinas where you can visit the salt museum and a marmalade workshop. It´s also possible to take this train ride with an extension to Otavalo. More info: trenecuador.com/es/tren-de-la-libertad

Reserva ecológica El Ángel

The ecological reserve El Ángel is about 15.000 hectares large and is a great place for birdwatching. It is located about two hours from Ibarra. The park is famous for its forest of Frailejones, a typical plant of the Páramo surroundings of the Andes. You can find two lagoons in the park and a viewing point.

El Chota valley

The Chota valley is a valley near Ibarra that has a hot climate and desert landscapes. This is a big contrast with the surrounding area of the Andes mountains. The valley has a large population of Afro-Ecuadorians. The inhabitants cultivate tropical products like cassava, sugar cane and bananas. The Honko Monka Museum is a great museum to learn more about the history and culture of the tribes living in the valley.

Click on the following link for more activities and tours: Ibarra

Insiders´ tips

  • Discover Ibarra and its beautiful surroundings from above and book a parapent trip with Fly Ecuador. Address Luis F. Villamar 261 y Olmedo. More info: http://www.flyecuador.com.ec/

  • Visit `Grutas de la Paz´, a cave that has been converted into a chapel. Close by are thermal springs and waterfalls. ´Grutas de la Paz´ can be found about an hour north of Ibarra on the Panamericana. Check with your hacienda/hotel on the best way to get there.

  • Visit the village of San Antonio de Ibarra to see the wood carving galleries and workshops.

  • Visit the thermal springs of Chachimbiro, about 40 minutes from Ibarra.

  • Rent a bike from your hacienda and test your physical fitness in the surrounding hills. Many Ecuadorians and Colombians bike around these hills to prepare themselves for competitions.

Restaurant tips

The haciendas around Ibarra all have restaurants where great meals are served.

  • Café Arte. This cozy café often has international music on Fridays and Saturdays. Besides this they serve nachos, sandwiches, espressos and alcoholic beverages. Address Salinas 5-43 y Oviedo. More info: +593-6 -2950-806.

  • El Quinde Café. A great place for coffee and homemade snacks. Address Sucre y Flores (Parque Pedro Moncayo). More info: +593-9-59962868.

  • Heladería La Bermejita.

    This place has been making the ‘helado de paila’ -a unique ice-cream and sorbet-making technique- here for over a century. More info: +593-6-2958-626

Medical attention

  • Clínica Ibarra Address Av Heleodoro Ayala & Dr Jorge Davila Mesa. More info: +593-062-953-030