Loja is the capital of the Loja Province in Ecuador and has a rich tradition in the arts. For this reason it is known as the cultural and musical capital of Ecuador. The city also boasts two universities making it a vibrant and cosmopolitan place to visit.
Climate:Loja has a mild Andean climate with warm days and colder and wetter evenings. The average temperature is 16 °C and during June and July the trade winds arrive. Expect misty mornings due to its valley location.
Best Time to Travel-You can go to Loja at any time of the year, but it is advised to avoid the windy months of June and July as this can get uncomfortable when attempting to sightsee.
Transportes Loja operates throughout Ecuador and Loja is a mere 45 minutes from Malacatos and less than one hour from the Podocarpus National Park. Buses are cheaper coming San Luis and this is the best way to get into Loja.
Once in Loja, the best way to get around Loja is by taxi, there are plenty of them around. Otherwise, take a bus; they are regular, efficient and cheap.
What to see
There are lots of gorgeous churches and squares to admire all with arcades to protect you from the rain. Go on, have your breath taken away.
Jardín Botánico :
Opposite the University Park you will find the botanical garden which is open to the public and the oldest botanical garden (it opened in 1949). The garden boasts over 800 species of plant and it is a living laboratory which is used for scientific research as well as environmental education.
Door of the City Museum :
This museum attempts to recreate the history of the city and this is the main emphasis. However there are also showcasings of local painting, photography and sculpture making it an interesting experience. .
Madres Conceptas Museum:
This museum is housed in the second oldest monastery in the country, the Concepcionistas Monastery, which was built during the 16thCentury. The focus is on the religious history of the area and the building is breath taking.
Pio Jaramillo Alvarado Museum of Music of the Central Culture :
This museum was officially opened in 2004 and boasts permanent exhibits on lojano music and composers. There is also a concert hall, an area for short term exhibits, a cafeteria and a tiny music shop.
Parque Recreacional Jipiro :
This spot will make you feel like you have been shrunk down in size. Your kids will scurry over the little bridges, miniature skate park, small Kremlin and tiny animal enclosures. This is a great place to take the entire family and highly recommended.
Where To Be
Las Chavelas :
This bar is great fun and David and Doris make for charming and friendly hosts. It is the perfect to start your night off with by having a few drinks or to wind down in after a long day of sightseeing.
This tiny bar makes up might not be the biggest one in Loja but it sure is the most festive. There is a great atmosphere and the drinks are reasonably priced. Go there after Las Chavelas.
El Viejo Minero:
El Viejo’s is a no frills and easy going bar with a wonderful atmosphere which makes it the perfect place for a relaxed beer and light meal in a pub like environment. Great place to kick back and relax.
Where To Stay
There are a few good options when it comes to accommodation in Loja, so you don’t have to worry too much about finding accommodation.
This gorgeous hotel is a mid-range spot and a one of a kind historic boutique hotel near Central Park. Breakfast is included and there is a pool, spa and complimentary WiFi as well as a restuarnt and cafeteria.
Hostal Aguilera Internacional :
This budget option has furnished rooms at a reasonable rate which includes cable TV, internet and breakfast. There is off street parking, a restaurant, lounge and sauna for added convenience.
This great budget hotel is located in the town centre and is modern and clean. There are enormous rooms with two double beds, a private bathroom, cable TV and free Wifi and breakfast. Highly recommended.
What To Eat
Loja has an interesting selection of restaurants most of which are reasonably priced and as a student town you don’t have to look far for the nearest watering hole.
Roma Pizza :
Roma’s has some of the best Italian food in Loja. Their pizzas and pastas are all very good and their salads are amazing. The restaurant is open until late so it is a great option if you are hungry later on.
El Jugo Natural:
Having been in the juice business for over 30 years, they know their stuff. The menu focuses on organic juices, fruit shakes and salads making it a wonderful and healthy alternative to normal restaurant food.