Nestled between the Andes Mountains in the Chimborazo Province, find the special hamlet of Alausi Ecuador. Straddled alongside a scenic river valley, the town has been named one of Ecuador’s “pueblos magicos,” or magic villages, and that is sincerely what it is.
While Alausí is also an Ecuador canton, most people find themselves wandering the colorful and breathtaking village of the same name, Alausi. The town is commonly known as the starting point of the famed Ecuador attraction of the Devil’s Nose train. Nevertheless, spend some time here and see that it is in fact so much more.
Alausi Ecuador is a picturesque village with a rail station, a unique history, and has access to some of Ecuador’s most stunning and untouched hiking trails. Be mindful, Alausi sits at an elevation of almost 7,700 ft. While enjoying the mountain town you should, eat delicious food, relax in the beautiful green plazas, wander past an old bull ring, and enjoy one of the markets. One of the best things to do in Alausi, is to simply spend some quality time here.
Here’s some of the best things to in Alausi Ecuador and why you should add it to your Ecuador travel destinations.
Table of Contents
- How to Visit Alausi Ecuador & Why You Should
- Top Things to Do in Alausi Ecuador
- Places to Visit in Alausi Ecuador
- Things to Do in Alausi Ecuador | Day Trips & Adventures
- Where to Eat in Alausi
- Alausi Ecuador Hotels & Sleeping Options
- Alausi Ecuador | Worthwhile & Magical Ecuador Village You Need to Visit
How to Visit Alausi Ecuador & Why You Should
Being in the the Chimborazo Province, Alausi Ecuador sits between the two major cities of Quito and Cuenca. It can make the perfect pit-stop after a hike in the Cotopaxi region (like the Quilotoa Loop), or after exploring the adventure capital of Ecuador, Baños Agua Santa.
As the village is logistically closer to the popular colonial city of Cuenca, some chose to visit Alausi as a LONG day trip from Cuenca. Quite frankly, the village warrants more time than a rushed day trip. In my opinion, Alausi should be at least one full overnight, ideally on a Saturday.
Buses to Alausi Ecuador | North & South
Any bus that connects Quito to Cuenca will more than likely pass by the small village of Alausi. Regardless of direction, most buses will drop on the main highway, near the Mirador Champisti. From here, simply walk 10 minutes downhill into the heart of the village.
In Quito, catch buses to Alausi from the Terminal Terrestre Quitumbe.
🚌 Bus Logistics | Quito to Alausi Ecuador | Average Fare: $7 USD | Duration: 5.5 hours | Catch the buses here: Terminal Terrestre Quitumbe | Current Departure Schedule for Company Express Sucre: 7:30 9:30, 10:00, 13:30, 18:30
Those coming from the North from Latacunga or Baños will more than likely have to change buses in Riobamba.
🚌 Bus Logistics | Riobamba to Alausi Ecuador | Average Fare: $2.70 USD | Duration: 2 hours
There are direct buses from Cuenca Ecuador.
🚌 Bus Logistics | Cuenca to Alausi Ecuador | Average Fare: $6 USD | Duration: 4 hours | Multiple bus companies follow this route to Quito, but Patria Bus Company has departures from Cuenca’s Terminal Terrestre to Alausí directly | Current Departure Schedule: 4:15, 5:15, 9:40, 11:15, 14:00, 15:30, 17:30, 19:15
Top Things to Do in Alausi Ecuador
Welcome to Alausi! Now that you’ve made it to one of Ecuador’s most overlooked places to visit, here’s some top things to do here.
Experience the Devil’s Nose
The Nariz del Diablo Tren, or Devil’s Nose train, is one of Ecuador’s top attractions and the largest draw for tourists to visit Alausi. In 1872, the train line started construction, a grueling process that cut through the steep Andes Mountains, and which ultimately took over 30 years to complete. The building of the train route was considered miraculous, yet incredibly dangerous. Sadly, over 2,000 workers, mostly of Jamaican and Haitian descent, perished during the harsh construction conditions.
The presence of the train can be seen throughout Alausi. Visit the main train station in town, wander next to the rail tracks, or stroll past the mighty steel bridge that starts the train’s steep descent along the river valley.
Most visitors opt to take a ride on the newly renovated rail cars to the Sibambe station, a 500 meter descent from Alausi. The ride is scenic and SLOW, since it switchbacks sharply along the mountainside. Upon arrival to the Sibambe station, have a rewarding and direct view of the Devil’s Nose.
It was common for traveler’s to take the thrilling ride on top of the train itself up until 2007 when two tourists were tragically killed. While most ride the Nariz del Diablo train, it’s also becoming increasingly popular to hike the Devil’s Nose.
💬 Real Talk | The Devil’s Nose Train has been suspended since 2020 due to Covid. The official website to purchase train tickets has been sold and it is unknown if or when the train ride will reopen.
Devil’s Nose Hike
From Alausi, take the breathtaking day hike to the Devil’s Nose. The trail offers incredible views of the river valley and a bird’s eye view of the inoperative tracks. The trail leads to Condor Puñuna, a mirador run by the Nizag community. The entrance fee is $2 and helps support the locals.
🥾 Hiking Guide | How to Hike the Devil’s Nose from Alausi Ecuador
On Saturdays, the Nizag community puts on a dance ceremony and offers local plates of traditional cuisine. From the mirador, walk along the ridge line of the actual Devil’s Nose.
There are many routes to hike the Devil’s Nose. To get an authentic sense of the community that operates the mirador, take the lovely trail through Nizag, which almost feels like traveling through time. From the village, hop on a frequently passing bus back to Alausi.
Mirador San Pedro de Alausi
One of the top things to do in Alausi is to visit one of the many miradors, or viewpoints. The most popular viewpoint can’t be missed. Look for the giant statue of Saint Peter watching over the village on the hillside. Climb the stairs to get incredible views of Alausi Ecuador. The stairs pass by small statues and offers plenty of green spaces, parks, and plazas to appreciate the views.
Wander the Colorful Streets
Alausi has a certain charm. It could be that it’s snuggled in the mountains that are oftentimes cozily covered with clouds most afternoons, or it could be bright pastel colored buildings. Meandering through the village is a delight.
Follow the train tracks through town, stroll past the clock tower, opt for a walk past the Old Bull Ring, or admire the garden spaces throughout town. Even if the train station is closed, it’s still worthwhile to walk by and take a peak at the refurbished train cars.
☛ Love little villages like this? | Check out my favorite South American villages of the Andes Mountains
Places to Visit in Alausi Ecuador
Besides the above top things to do in Alausi, here are some notable points of interest to see when visiting Alausi.
Daily Alausi Market
The main Alausi Market, or Mercado Central is worth a peek. The outside is beautiful and on the inside find fresh produce, meats, cheeses, flowers, and more. The top floor is dedicated to juices and traditional food with lots of places to sit.
Daily: 8:00 – 19:00
Parque 13 de Noviembre
Parque 13 de Noviembre is a lovely plaza to visit, especially in the early morning hours when the sun is rising coyly behind the mountains. There are lots of benches, a church, and is officially the principle plaza of Alausi Ecuador.
Bustling Sunday Market
On Sunday, the large and open Plaza Jesús Camañero turns into a lively hub and marketplace for the nearby villages. Eat typical food, stroll through the make-shift stands, and walk among locals. Find stalls where communities are selling everything from feed for livestock to traditional clothing.
Look for the men with altered bicycles, the transportation method of choice to haul weekly supplies to and from the market.
Visit the Puente Negro, or black bridge, which the Devil’s Nose train glides along to exit Alausi and enters the steep switchbacks through the Andes Mountains. The bridge was built in 1903 and is considered the longest bridge of the railway at 656 feet and is almost 215 ft. tall.
Local Artisan Shops
Make sure to explore around town and shop from the many artisan shops. Find everything from sweaters to wool caps and socks. The best souvenir to take home from Alaausi is one of the beautiful hand-stitched belts, which cost around $5.
Things to Do in Alausi Ecuador | Day Trips & Adventures
Alausi Ecuador has plenty of things to do in the village, but it’s also an untouched area to do some of Ecuador’s best hikes and explore untouched landscapes.
Hike the Ecuador Inca Trail
Alausi Ecuador is the ideal place to reach the incredible and untouched Ecuador Inca Trail. The trailhead officially starts from Achupallas, cuts through the Sangay National Park, and continues to the Ingapirca ruins, a fusion of both Inca and Cañari cultures. This intrepid adventure trek takes a total of three days, but is spectacular for those hikers looking to connect and explore an untouched region of the Andes Mountains.
While the standard and three day trek ends at Ingapirca, bold hikers can hike all the way to Cusco Peru. Achupallas is the “official” starting point of the Great Inca Trail, an up and coming trek that takes 3-4 months to complete and follow the Old Inca Road system.
🥾 Detailed Ecuador Hiking Guide | Hike the Ecuador Inca Trail from Achupallas to Ingapirca
More Day Trips from Alausi Ecuador
From Alausi there are also popular day trips to nearby waterfalls and the peculiar Lagunas de Ozogoche. The lakes are a chain of lakes made famous for the cuvivíes birds that mysteriously die by the hundreds by flying into the icy lakes. This phenomenon is still unexplainable, but the locals honor the migratory birds with a festival in September and October.
Where to Eat in Alausi Ecuador
Alausi has heaps of small eateries that offer menu del dia, a set menu consisting of a starter, entree, and a beverage. The daily market and the pop-up eateries during the Alausi Sunday Market make excellent and budget friendly options for places to eat in Alausi. There is also tons of street food options available throughout the day.
For those looking for a sit-down meal, here are a few popular Alausi restaurants.
Delicias de Colombia
An awesome Alausi restaurant that boasts huge plates of typical plates of Colombian food. They offer a rotating daily menu and staple cuisine and its always busy. Open for breakfast and lunch and on the main road of the village.
Find them here: Av. 5 de Junio Alausí Ecuador
Benalcázar Bar & Restaurant
This little restaurant is a great option for a diverse menu. While they have typical Ecuadorian dishes on the menu, they also serve up sandwiches, burgers, and other American inspired fare. They offer a daily menu that usually is less than $3. Located right beneath the San Pedro de Alausi mirador
El Mesón del Tren
Arguably one of the most popular Alausi restaurants, El Meson del Tren is housed in a beautiful building and offers typical plates of food. This restaurant is catered more for visitors, so the prices are a little higher.
Find them here: Corner of Ricaurte & Eloy Alfaro Junto a la Estación del Tren | Facebook Page
Alausi Ecuador Hotels & Sleeping Options
There are a wide range of Alausi Ecuador hotels, hostels and guesthouses.
Alausi Community Hostel is an awesome lodging option with both shared and private rooms. The industrial kitchen is a dream and there are lots of open community spaces. Bonus, it’s super clean and they stow luggage for multi-day trekkers.
Alausi Community Hostel offers tours, day trip excursions, breakfast, and dinner. There is an all-day complimentary coffee and tea bar. The staff is so friendly and if the hostel sounds familiar, it’s because it’s operated by the superstar family (father and son duo) that run the popular Quito Community Hostel.
Killa Wasi, near the trailhead of the Devil’s Nose and a little outside of the village is worth a mention. They have lots of green space, budget rooms, and you can camp there.
Hostería La Quinta is a nice lodging option close to the Puente Negro.
Hotel Europa offers spacious rooms with a central courtyard and location with breakfast included.
Alausi Ecuador | Worthwhile & Magical Ecuador Village You Need to Visit
In short, Alausi Ecuador is a worthwhile magical village in Ecuador. The most popular attraction is the Devil’s Nose train ride, but service has been suspended since 2020.
While the main draw to the village remains closed, there are other ways to enjoy the Nariz del Diablo. Take the scenic half-day hike from Alausi and appreciate the Condor Puñuna viewpoint. From here it’s possible to hike along the Devil’s Nose ridge-line.
Besides the Devil’s Nose train or hike, a visit to Alausi warrants at least one night. Wander the colorful and charming streets, savor a viewpoint, enjoy one of the markets, and eat traditional food. There are plenty of things to do in Alausi village and day trips to explore.
It’s best to visit Alausi Ecuador on a Saturday to participate in the weekly ceremony at Condor Puñuna and then experience the authentic Alausi Sunday Market.
Alausi truly is a magical village that should not be missed on any Ecuador Itinerary.
Have you been to Alausi Ecuador? Did you experience the Devil’s Nose train or take the Nariz del Diablo hike? What did you think of this “pueblo magico” in Ecuador? Let me know in the comments below!
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