How to Get to Galapagos: Prices, Airports, and Tips
Due to the archipelago’s distance from the mainland, visitors can only access the Galapagos Islands by plane. There are no boats, cargo ships, or cruises that offer service to Galapagos from Ecuador’s ports, nor are there bridges connecting the mainland to the Galapagos Islands for ground transport.
How much does it cost to fly to the Galapagos?
If you time it just right or are lucky enough to book your trip as part of a special offer, you might snag a deal with your airfare to the Galapagos. Nevertheless, average roundtrip prices tend to hover around USD 400 for flights originating out of Guayaquil and around USD 500 for flights out of Quito. Depending on when you book, costs can go above or below these prices by around USD 100. NOTE: For non-citizens and non-residents of Ecuador, published airfares may include an added supplement (tariff) of around USD 150. Most airlines, however, will list their airfares with this supplement already included, unless otherwise noted. BEWARE: See a price that looks incredibly cheap? Always be sure to double-check and make sure that said airfare includes checked baggage (oftentimes, they don’t)! When in doubt, be sure to check with your airline!
BE EXTRA AWARE: To fly to the Galapagos, you will be required (by immigration officials) to pay for the following two items. These mandatory fees must be paid in cash, so be extra sure to have these amounts handy before getting to the airport:
- INGALA Transit Control Card = USD 20.00 (travelers pay for this at the airport in Quito or Guayaquil).
- National Park Entrance Fee = USD 100.00 (travelers pay this entrance fee at the airport upon arriving in the Galapagos). This entrance fee helps finance conservation efforts throughout the entire archipelago. Residents and nationals of Ecuador pay a lower fee of USD 6.
Did you know?
Metropolitan Touring offers round-trip flights to the Galapagos? Ask our destination experts to add this to your tour! Worth noting is that this airfare includes airport assistance. You’ll be in the company of our dedicated staff from the moment you arrive at the airport until you go through security and head to your departure gate. Likewise, when you arrive at your destination, a member of our team will be there to assist you. Our team will even accompany you and facilitate the check-in process for your flight. Here’s a quick breakdown of additional services either available at very reasonable rates or included when you book with us:
- Airport Transfer: Shared or private service from Quito’s main hotels (Hilton Colón, JW Marriott, Casa Gangotena) or Guayaquil’s main hotels (Oro Verde Guayaquil, Wyndham Guayaquil, Hilton, UniPark, Courtyard) to their respective airports for your flight (departure and arrival).
- Cruise Departure Guarantee: We guarantee that your cruise will not depart until you have arrived in the archipelago.
- Priority Luggage: We guarantee that, when flying to Galapagos with us, your baggage will arrive in the islands with you. Why this guarantee? Because sometimes, airlines will remove luggage from the airplane due to weight limitations. The luggage of Metropolitan Touring’s guests has a special tag on it that guarantees it stays on the plane with you.
- Additional fees: By booking with us, you’ll also have the option to have your Galapagos National Park Feeand Transit Control Card paid for and taken care of, making that one less thing to worry about, and one less thing to have to wait in line for.
When do flights depart to Galapagos?
It is always important that you arrange your flight times conservatively and in accordance with your Galapagos cruise departure days. Flights to the Galapagos depart in the early part of the day, which is why we always recommend that our guests spend at least one night in Quito or Guayaquil before their flight to the Galapagos. Departure flight times tend to be as follows:
- From Quito: 6:45 a.m. – 9:37 a.m.
- From Guayaquil: 8:45 a.m. – 11:22 a.m.
There are two main airports in Ecuador to consider when you are flying to Galapagos, which we’ll focus on in the section below.
During a layover in Quito, Ecuador’s capital city, we always invite our guests to experience this fantastic UNESCO World Heritage Site from the comfort of our own Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel – situated right in the heart of Quito’s Old Town!
Which airport should I choose when flying to the Galapagos? Quito’s or Guayaquil’s?
There are two major international airports in Ecuador:
- José Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport (airport code: GYE) located in Guayaquil.
- Mariscal Sucre International Airport (airport code: UIO) in the capital city of Quito.
The second thing to remember is that there are two major national airports in the Galapagos:
- Seymour Airport (airport code: GPS) is the airport serving the island of Baltra(and connects to Santa Cruz Island via water taxi and then a bus or private transfer).
- San Cristóbal Airport (airport code: SCY) is the airport on the island of San Cristóbal.
NOTE: All of our Galapagos cruise itineraries start and end at Baltra Island. So be sure to book your roundtrip ticket to/from Baltra (GPS) when cruising the Galapagos with Metropolitan Touring.
And don’t forget about the additional airport fees!
Before flying to Galapagos, on the mainland airports, you will need to purchase your INGALA Transit Control Card (USD 20). Once you get to the Galapagos, you will need to pay the Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee which, depending on your age and nationality, can range from USD 6 to USD 100 (link to the official government website, available in Spanish) and must be paid in cash. Click on the following bit of text for more information on the Cost of Traveling to Galapagos.
NOTE: Metropolitan Touring can take care of all these fees when you purchase your Galapagos tour with us!
What are Ecuador’s international airports on the mainland like?
Guayaquil: José Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport (GYE)
Flight time to the archipelago from this airport: Approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes.
José Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport is the closest major airport to the Galapagos. If you hop on your plane from here, your flight will be a non-stop journey to the Enchanted Isles.
Quito: Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO)
Flight time to the archipelago from this airport: Approximately 2.5 hours (plus an additional layover in Guayaquil)
Mariscal Sucre International Airport was named the 2016 “World Travel Award Winner” for the third year in a row in the category of South America’s Leading Airport. This is a highly treasured award in the global community and is comparable to the Oscars for the movie industry.
There are numerous free services available at Mariscal Sucre International Airport, including free Wi-Fi, self-check-in, charging stations, several restaurants, VIP lounges, telephone information services, and even a small children’s area.
The VIP Lounges at the Mariscal Sucre Airport offers flyers a nice, quiet place to enjoy snacks, drinks, and several reading materials. Business centers and high-speed Wi-Fi is available too, should you feel the need to take care of anything online before heading off to the archipelago.
There are lots of things to keep you busy at the airport while you wait for your connecting flight to continue your Galapagos vacation. There’s an array of shops for you to peruse as well as several restaurants. The restaurants include both South American eateries as well as American franchises, including the only Outback Steakhouse in all of Ecuador!
With parents that worked for the U.S. Foreign Service up until he graduated from high school, Chris was raised to have the heart of a nomad throughout his life. He has resided in Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, Panama, and Ecuador throughout his years, and just recently spent the past four up in Canada finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy & English at the University of British Columbia. He is now devoted to writing about all things related to travel in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia.