Galapagos Islands Travel

Situated in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Ecuador, the Galápagos Islands are a genuine earthly paradise.

Welcome to the mesmerizing world of the Galápagos Islands, an exceptional part of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. These islands are renowned for their pristine landscapes, diverse wildlife, and marine life, and they have inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Get set for an unparalleled adventure that will reveal the islands’ outstanding beauty and leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.

Why travel to the Galapagos Islands?

Traveling to the Galápagos Islands offers a unique opportunity to experience nature in its purest form. Located in the Pacific Ocean, these islands are part of Ecuador. They are renowned for their exceptional wildlife, including giant tortoises, iguanas, and sea lions that inhabit sandy beaches. Bird enthusiasts can appreciate a diversity of species, making it a real paradise. Moreover, the Galapagos Islands provide some of the world’s best expedition cruise experiences. With pleasant weather all year round, they are an ideal destination at any time. These islands are a dream come true for those interested in biology and wildlife. They are also easily accessible with daily flights departing from mainland Ecuador.

Where are the Galapagos Islands located?

The Galápagos Islands, a captivating destination on our planet, are a part of Ecuador, nestled in the northwestern part of South America. This archipelago is a group of 19 major islands sprawled across a massive area of around 17,000 square miles (45,000 square kilometers) in the Pacific Ocean. The islands are approximately 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) west of the Ecuadorian coastline. A two- or three-hour flight from mainland Ecuador will transport you to the stunning Galapagos Islands.

Tip: Wait to book your flight until you know how you want to visit the Galapagos.

How do I get there?

Visiting the Galápagos Islands is a dream for many travelers, and getting there is easier than you might think. To travel to the archipelago, visitors must first fly to one of two major international airports on Ecuador’s mainlandQuito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport(UIO) or Guayaquil’s José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (GYE). These two award-winning facilities offer numerous daily domestic flights to the Galapagos Islands, the bulk of which depart from the mainland in the early part of the day. This is why you will need to spend at least one night in either Quito or Guayaquil on your way to the Islands. Flights to Galapagos arrive at either the Seymour Galapagos Ecological Airport (GPS) on the island of Baltra or the San Cristóbal Airport (SCY) on the island of San Cristóbal.

Map Of Flights And Distance To Galapagos Islands From Ecuador
Map Of Flights And Distance To Galapagos Islands From Ecuador

When is the best time to go to the Galapagos Islands?

Because the archipelago is located along the Equator, The Galapagos Islands are a year-round destination with no extreme weather patterns like hurricanes or monsoons. The best time to visit the Galapagos Islands may depend on your preference for one of the two seasons. The hot season runs from December through May and is characterized by an abundance of vegetation and intermittent refreshing rainfall, which helps to maintain the lush greenery of the islands. As ocean temperatures warm slightly throughout the season, and waters become a bit smoother for travel. The dry season runs from June through November and is characterized by less rainfall and cooler ocean temperatures. This latter aspect, a product of changes in a few converging currents around the Galapagos, is accompanied by upwellings that push nutrients closer to the surface, inviting even more excellent marine activity that can be enjoyed via snorkeling.


If you’re trying to determine the best time to visit the Galapagos, you may want to consider the Big15 list of iconic native and endemic species. Keep in mind that species breeding opportunities have less to do with seasons and more to do with ideal environmental conditions. So, you’ll likely observe young hatchlings and sea lion pups no matter when you visit. Also, park-approved activities can be enjoyed year-round and are a terrific and enjoyable way to observe the wildlife up close!

When Is The Best Time To Go To Galapagos For Birdwatching
Galapagos Islands Birdwatching

Land-based vs Sea-based

The Galapagos Islands are one of the most pristine destinations in the world. The main reason for this is that 97% of their total land area comprises the Galapagos National Park (GNP). The other 3% is designated for the human population. The GNP is the principal authority responsible for the well-being of the park and its delicate ecosystems. As such, every itinerary and site visit are approved in advance by the GNP. This means that all expedition vessels—whether operating a day-tour or a live-aboard—are subject to the parameters, schedules, and limitations established by the GNP.

This is important to remember and makes a big difference when planning your visit to the Enchanted Isles. You see, to venture into the Galapagos National Park, visitors must be accompanied by a Park-certified naturalist guide—someone with the training and wherewithal to keep both visitors and wildlife safe at all times.

Conversely, this means that to see the extraordinary wildlife and landscapes of the Galapagos Island, you really should visit the GNP. After all, the 3% of the archipelago designated for human residents does not offer visitors a true experience of this remarkable destination.

For more useful information, be sure to check out our Galapagos information page.

Finch Bay Hotel Sea Lion Kayaking
Kayaking Is Another Activity You Can Enjoy During Your Galapagos Trip.

Cruises to the Galapagos

Cruises to the Galapagos with Metropolitan Touring offers luxurious all-inclusive cruises featuring various multi-guided adventures. Their fleet comprises the five-star vessel Santa Cruz II and yachts La Pinta and Isabela II, all led by experienced crews and professional teams. We have curated, detailed, 2024-2025 itineraries catering to individuals, groups, and families with a range of Park-approved activities.

Best Hotels to stay

The Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel is an exceptional and luxurious hotel on the beachfront of Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island. It offers an unparalleled blend of seclusion and natural beauty that sets it apart from other hotels in the Galapagos. The hotel’s serene ambiance, modern swimming pool, and proximity to nature make it the perfect choice for a relaxed and upscale experience. The hotel offers guests a range of amenities, including an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center, a garden, and a shared lounge. Recognized as one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World, the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel is the ultimate destination for those seeking a comfortable and immersive stay in the Galapagos.

Where to eat

The Finch Bay Galapagos Restaurant is a culinary hotspot in the Galapagos, nestled within the award-winning Finch Bay Hotel. This culinary hotspot offers a unique taste of the archipelago’s local gastronomy, sourcing only the freshest and finest ingredients to prepare meals with love and creativity. The restaurant’s menu features fresh, native produce from the waters of the Galapagos, providing customers with a truly authentic experience. It’s no wonder customers have rated it 4.5 out of 5 on TripAdvisor, ranking it as one of the top restaurants in Puerto Ayora. The restaurant’s location amidst the unspoiled natural beauty of the Galapagos provides a holistic approach to well-being, making it more than just a place to eat. Come and experience the delicious food and serene atmosphere of the Finch Bay Galapagos Restaurant for yourself.

Finch Bay Restaurant Dinner Galapagos
Finch Bay Restaurant Dinner Galapagos

What to do in the Galapagos Islands

The best way to experience the Galápagos Islands is via Galápagos National Park-approved activities! These are offered as part of our land- and sea-based tours and accommodate various levels of ability from easy walks along pristine beaches to light sailing aboard glass bottom boats, from moderate paddling aboard sea kayaks to careful hiking along volcanic shorelines, and on to more demanding activities such as snorkeling and paddleboarding. Each activity is rewarding and designed to enrich your experience of the archipelago’s incredible wildlife!

Must-see Galapagos Islands species

It’s quite simple: The more iconic species you see on the Galapagos Islands, the more rewarding and memorable your experience will be! With the help of our knowledgeable Galapagos Expedition Leaders, Guides, and Biologists, and the feedback of our Guests, we present to you a list of the 15 most iconic species you will want to experience while exploring the Galapagos. Please have a look at some of them below!

  • Galapagos Giant Tortoise
  • Blue-footed Booby
  • Galapagos Albatross
  • Nazca Booby
  • Red-footed Booby
  • American Flamingo
  • Galapagos Frigatebird
  • Galapagos Fur Seal
  • Galapagos Penguin
  • Galapagos Sea Lion
  • Galapagos Hawk
  • Land Iguana
  • Galapagos Sea Lion
  • Marine Iguana
  • Santa Fe Land Iguana

Top Islands in Galapagos

The archipelago covers an area of about 3,040 square miles (7,900 square kilometers). To put it into perspective, that’s almost the same size as the state of Mississippi or the country of GreeceGiven its size, the Galapagos has a lot of sea and ground to cover. Navigation can take up to 18 hours! This is why Expedition Vessels typically travel to a new island at night, allowing you to make the most of your day at each visitor site. It’s also why our itineraries are divided into different archipelago regionsIn no particular order, these are the Top 7 Islands we recommend visiting:

National Park Fees and Prices

When planning your trip to the islands, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of your budget and travel preferences. To help you make informed decisions, we’ve provided estimated costs for travel in 2024. Please note that these prices may vary depending on your itinerary, but you can trust that we’ve done our research to provide you with accurate information. (*Conditions apply)

  • Expedition Vessels: Approx. USD 5,400 per guest.
  • Expedition Hotels: Approx. USD 3,500 per guest.
  • National Park Entrance Fee (Mandatory): USD 100 for adults and USD 50 for children under the age of 12.
  • Transit Control Fees (Mandatory): USD 20 per person
Note: This change will be effective in August at USD 200, so please remember this when planning your trip to Galapagos. 

In the Galápagos, getting what you pay for is a general rule of thumb. One important thing is to prioritize quality and safety for your Galapagos trip over what might look like a great deal, as prices that are “too good to be true” are, more often than not, exactly that!

Galapagos Packing List

Please ensure that you pack intelligently when visiting the Galapagos. Here are the essentials you need for your trip:

  1. Clothing: Pack lightweight, breathable clothing that can be layered. Include a mix of short-sleeved and long-sleeved shirts for sun protection.
  2. Footwear: Comfortable walking shoes and water shoes or sandals for beach activities are necessary.
  3. Wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses: These are essential for protecting your face, eyes, ears, and neck from the bright sun.
  4. Swimwear: Remember your swimsuit for snorkeling and beach days. A rash guard or UV protective shirt can also be helpful.
  5. Sunscreen and insect Repellent: The sun can be intense in the Galapagos, so pack a high-SPF sunscreen. Also, an insect repellent can be handy for evenings.
  6. Binoculars and Camera: You’ll want these for wildlife watching. Suppose you have a waterproof camera or a waterproof case for your phone; that’s even better.
  7. Rain Jacket/Poncho: Weather can be unpredictable, so having something waterproof is suitable.
  8. Travel Medication: This includes seasickness tablets if you’re prone to it on boat rides.


Wide brimmed hat with strap*

Keep your hat from flying away and protect your ears and neck.

Cotton T-shirt

Stay fresh during all activities.

Expedition shirt

Roll sleeves up and down to keep a comfortable body temperature.

Convertible cargo pants

Remove the lower part of your pants when it gets too warm.

Water shoes with non-slip soles

Walk safely on all types of terrain.


Small back-pack

Don't forget your sunblock, sunglasses, camera, and reusable water bottle.

Water bottle (provided on board)

We provide you with a reusable water bottle. Stay hydrated!

Ziploc-style bags for medications

We have a doctor on board 24/7, however, bring any prescriptions or medications you may need.

Dry bag

Keep your valuable items dry at all times.

Waterproof See-through Phone Pouch

Get ready to take pictures above and below water while protecting your phone!

Galapagos Frequently Asked Questions

Traveling to the Galapagos Islands is a once-in-a-lifetime trip that requires careful planning. We have compiled a selection of the questions we get asked the most regarding the Galapagos and visiting the National Park and Marine Reserve. Read our answers below!
Why should I visit the Galapagos Islands?

For consecutive decades the Galapagos Islands — a National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site — have consistently ranked as one of the world’s top destinations to visit. And it’s no small wonder: the islands are home to jaw-droppingly unique wildlife, some of which can’t be found anywhere else on our planet! These special creatures also display the remarkable characteristic of being wholly unfazed by the presence of humans.

Not to mention, the Galapagos are home to islands that are so young that they’re still forming! The lack of a human presence, too, has allowed the uninhabited islands in the National Park to remain in near-pristine condition. Visiting any of them on an Expedition Vessel or on a Galapagos tour gives explorers the chance to witness something that gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “a land before time.”

Historically and scientifically speaking, the Galapagos Islands also served as a profound source of inspiration for Charles Darwin’s groundbreaking theory of evolution.
This is but a brief summary of why travelers are tempted to come and witness the treasure-trove of wonders that await in the Galapagos, both historical and natural!

Based on guest feedback and our 70 years of experience, we’ve narrowed it down to a recommended minimum stay of 5 days. Don’t forget that merely flying to and out of the Galapagos can burn up an entire day or more, so be sure to add that to our recommendation, too!

Also, the longer you choose to stay, the better your chances of getting to see more wildlife and the more time you’ll have to experience the outlying islands aboard an expedition vessel or via a day tour.

The best part? All of our itineraries are optimized to give our guests the greatest exposure to the islands and wildlife of the Galapagos.

The Galapagos Islands are not the cheapest destination to travel to by any means, but worth noting is that this is primarily due to how isolated and relatively uninhabited the islands are. In general, the islands tend to be much more expensive to visit than mainland Ecuador due to the logistical costs of maintaining and providing for the relatively small populations of communities that exist there, along with the vessels that offer tours around the archipelago and the hotels that operate on certain islands. Getting food and other essential items to the archipelago, for instance, is quite expensive and time-consuming as many of these need to be brought in from the mainland.

Not to mention, nearly all of the islands themselves belong to the Galapagos National Park, which relies on park entrance fees to fund their conservation and protection efforts that, in turn, help safeguard this remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Other required costs, like needing to fly in from the mainland (avg. approx. cost of USD 400 roundtrip), add to the necessary budget to experience the Galapagos.

In the case of the price tag on select Galapagos cruises and expedition hotels, logistics, staffing, equipment, and specialized training all amount to providing explorers with the best-in-class experience possible, no expense spared.

The number of visitors allowed to enter and explore the archipelago is diligently regulated by the Galapagos National Park and its Governing Council. For travelers interested in going into the National Park, naturalist guides are an obligatory feature and will need to accompany you at all times. These guides offer an insightful and passionate tour of the islands, as they fill visitors in on the rules and conservation efforts that are in place, along with facts about the gorgeous wildlife and scenery that the archipelago is home to.

The notable impact that humans have on the Galapagos environment is a particular point of focus, as the Ecuadorian government and Galapagos tour operators make it a vital point to lower their environmental influence as much as possible. In fact, the very entrance fee visitors pay goes into financing the preservation of Galapagos species, environments, and research projects.
And did you know? Metropolitan Touring is carbon neutral! As part of our sustainability efforts, we also aim to keep social responsibility at the forefront of our operations. Your visit and tour with us helps Galapagos communities develop their tourism economy. Nearly all of our staff that works in the Galapagos are actually from the islands themselves! And you’ll get to see just how proud and environmentally-aware they are about getting to call this place their home.
Always be sure to book your tour with a social and environmentally friendly tourism company like Metropolitan Touring!

The Galapagos National Park Rules exist as part of the ongoing conservation efforts to preserve the archipelago as much as possible and not disturb the species that have made it their home.  

  1. Drones and flash photography are not allowed
  2. Use only authorized tour operators and/or boats.
  3. Do not vandalize and/or introduce any foreign elements into the ecosystem.
  4. Visitors must explore the National Park with an authorized Naturalist Guide.
  5. Do not feed the wildlife.
  6. Dispose of all trash and/or recyclable waste in designated containers.
  7. Do not purchase products or souvenirs made from banned flora and/or fauna.
  8. Fishing is only allowed on boats authorized by the National Park.
  9. Do not remove any elements from the ecosystem.
  10. Camping is only allowed in designated areas with prior authorization.
  11. Smoking, drinking, and fires are strictly prohibited.
  12. Keep a distance of at least 6 feet (2 meters) from all wildlife.
  13. Motorized, aquatic recreational vehicles are not permitted.
  14. Always stay within the marked trails.  


Failure to comply with any of these will result in sanctions, so always keep them in mind!

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Galapagos Penguin