While Quito  is Ecuador’s capital and cultural center, the largest city is actually Guayaquil . As the economic center, it used to have little to offer visitors, and the heat and smog were reasons enough to stay away, but the city is doing its best to leave behind its bad reputation, and after major redevelopment, Guayaquil is definitely worth a visit.
The long waterfront walkway malecón, in particular, is spectacular and leads up to the regenerated artistic district of Las Peñas, whose bars and cafés beckon visitors to linger. The steps lead up to a lighthouse with sweeping views over the city.
In the suburbs, the Parque Histórico merits a visit for its entertaining depictions of rural life and a wildlife section created out of natural mangroves. While Guayaquil swelters during the day, it’s even hotter at night, and the nightlife here is famously raucous.
Northwest of Guayaquil, the rest of the region is mainly about beaches. Locals and visitors flock here in the thousands to soak up the sun, and there are resorts to suit all tastes: Playas is the choice of simple folk, Salinas is a wannabe Miami Beach for the higher classes, and Montañita  is a hippie and surfing mecca where you can dance till dawn and almost forget which country you’re in.
South of Guayaquil is the area most frequently bypassed by visitors, where shrimp farms and banana plantations dominate the landscape. However, there are some beautiful spots, in particular the mangroves of Churute and the beach on Jambelí island. A couple of hours’ climb into the hills is the well-preserved colonial mining town of Zaruma , with a beautiful center surrounded by spectacular scenery. Closer to the border is the Bosque Petrificado de Puyango, the largest fossilized forest of its kind outside Arizona.