How to Get to Galapagos: Prices, Airports and Tips
Due to the archipelago’s considerable 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.
All three airlines (LATAM, Avianca, Tame) that offer flights to the Galapagos depart from the country of Ecuador (and Ecuador only). Direct international flights to/from the Galapagos do not exist, so travelers must fly to Galapagos from the Ecuadorian cities of either Quito or Guayaquil. The same dynamic applies when flying back home: from Galapagos, you must fly into Quito or Guayaquil first, before catching your international flight.
How much does it cost to fly to Galapagos?
If you time it just right or are lucky enough to book your trip during a special offer, you might snag a deal with your Galapagos flight. Nevertheless, average roundtrip prices tend to hover around the $400 mark for flights out of Guayaquil and around $500 for flights out of Quito. Depending on when you book, prices can either go above or below the aforementioned prices by around $100. NOTE: For non-citizens and non-residents of Ecuador, published airfares have an added supplement of $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 (often times, they don’t)! If in doubt, be sure to ask your airline!
BE EXTRA AWARE: In order to fly to the Galapagos, you will be required (by immigration officials) to pay for the following two items. These obligatory fees must be paid for in cash, so be extra sure to have these amounts handy before getting to the airport:
- A $20 INGALA Transit Control Card (at the airport in Quito or Guayaquil).
- A $100 National Park Entrance Fee (at the airport in Galapagos). This entrance fee helps finance conservation efforts throughout the entire archipelago. Residents and nationals of Ecuador pay a lower fee of $6.
Did you know?
Metropolitan Touring offers round-trip flights to the Galapagos for a fixed rate of $498 for adults or $382 for kids (under the age of 12). Worth noting is that this airfare includes: airport transfer (from specific hotels in Quito and Guayaquil), airport assistance, baggage priority and Metropolitan Touring’s own personal guarantee that your cruise will not depart without you until you have arrived in the islands, safe and sound. Here’s a quick breakdown of said services, if you’re interested:
- Airport Transfer: Shared service from Quito’s main hotels (Hilton, 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).
- Airport Assistance: You’ll be in the company of our dedicated staff from the moment you leave your hotel up until you go through security at the airport. Throughout all this, they’ll assist you with checking in at an express counter (that’s exclusive to Metropolitan Touring!) as well as…
- Taking care of the additional fees: By booking with us, you’ll also have the option to have your Galapagos National Park Fee and 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.
- 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 actually 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.
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 morning, which is why we always recommend that our guests spend at least one night in Quito or Guayaquil before their flight to Galapagos. Departure flight times tend to be as follows:
- From Quito: 6:45 a.m. / 9:00 a.m.
- From Guayaquil: 8:20 a.m. / 10:40 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 also 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 Galapagos? Quito’s or Guayaquil’s?
There are two major international airports in Ecuador:
- José Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport (airport code: GYE) is located in Guayaquil.
- Mariscal Sucre International Airport (airport code: UIO) is 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.
FACT: All of our Galapagos cruise itineraries (except for Yacht Isabela II‘s – see below) 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. Remember, the ONLY exception applies to Yacht Isabella II’s:
- Northern Islands itinerary, which begins on San Cristobal (SCY) and ends at Baltra (GPS).
- Southern Islands itinerary, which starts on Baltra (GPS) and ends on San Cristobal (SCY).
And don’t forget about additional airport fees!
Before flying to Galapagos, on the mainland airports, you will need to purchase your Galapagos Transit Control Card ($20). Once you get to the Galapagos, you will need to pay the National Park Entrance Fee which, depending on your age and nationality, can range from $6 to $100, 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 for you 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 Galapagos. If you hop on your plane from here, your flight will be a non-stop journey to the Enchanted Isles.
This airport has received many awards, including an award for being one of the Best Airports in South America by Airports Council International. It’s not a surprise given its convenience: it’s open 24-hours a day and has nonstop flights that go to Europe and the U.S.A. There’s also a huge number of connections to several different countries in South America, which makes it a gateway to the continent.
One of the reasons people going to the Galapagos use José Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport is because of its proximity to the islands. There are also numerous things available at the airport that allow flyers to spend their time here comfortably. Waiting areas are available along with VIP lounges.
DID YOU KNOW? You can actually experience the best of both of these beautiful cities in Ecuador (in addition to the Galapagos Islands) when you book our Best Galapagos & Ecuador Deal!
Quito: Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO)
Flight time to the archipelago from this airport: Approximately 2.5 hours (plus 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, telephone information services, and even a small children’s area.
The VIP Lounge at the Mariscal Sucre Airport offers flyers a nice, quiet place to enjoy snacks, drinks and a number of 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.