🐒 Answered: How Many Days in Galapagos is Enough?

How many days in Galapagos blog cover graphic.  Text overlaying an underwater image of a sea lion swimming upside down towards the camera.

Before you can even begin planning your holiday, it is important to decide how many days in Galapagos will be enough to see everything you want to see while there.

We spent two weeks exploring the Galapagos Islands in April 2023 on a self-guided visit. For us (Sophie, Adam, and his mother), this was the perfect amount of time!

For an international visit, we recommend a minimum of 5-7 days in the Galapagos islands, with 7-10 days being ideal if time and budget permits.

In this guide, we will explain the factors that need to be considered when budgeting your time for Galapagos. This includes considerations such as how to travel around the islands, daily costs, inter-island transport options, and more.

If you have any questions by the time you’re finished reading, let us know in the comments below, and we will email you personally to answer them!

πŸ—“οΈ How Many Days in Galapagos is Enough?

A young boy sitting alone on the beach at Playa Mann on San Cristobal island in Galapagos.

The most simplified answer is that you should allow at least 2-3 days per island you wish to see in Galapagos.

For international visitors, 7-10 days on the Galapagos is the perfect amount of time. This is sufficient to see all three major islands while allowing ample time for some incredible day tours.

With that said, as with most destinations, the longer you have, the better!

There is, of course, more nuance to answering this question, which will be covered in the remainder of this guide.

Is 3 Days in Galapagos Enough?

An underwater photograph in Galapagos showing a sea lion swimming towards the camera.

A long weekend to the Galapagos should only even be considered if you are already in Ecuador, or if it is part of a bigger tour that includes both the islands and the mainland.

While a long weekend is far from ideal, it is still enough time to get a feel for what makes the islands special and experience the best of Santa Cruz or San Cristobal Island.

We would never recommend an international traveler book only 3 days in Galapagos, but it is a reasonable option for those staying in or traveling through Quito, or if you are booking a “Best of Ecuador” type tour that takes you all around the country.

Is 5 Days in Galapagos Enough?

Photo of the stunning landscape and scenery of Bartolome Island on Day 5 in the Galapagos islands.

5 days in Galapagos is the absolute minimum amount of time you will want to allot for the region if you are traveling internationally.

The Galapagos islands are remote and require time and effort to reach. Once you have arrived, there are a plethora of different experiences you will want to have time for, from island hopping to snorkeling to wildlife watching and more.

If you have only 5 days for your trip, you can still stay overnight on two of the inhabited islands and even take a day trip to another, if you don’t mind a faster pace.


Is 7 Days in Galapagos Enough?

A giant Galapagos tortoise feeding on grass while Sophie holds a camera and poses at El Chato on Santa Cruz island.

7 days is a good amount of time to set aside for a vacation to the Galapagos so long as this also allows time for flights to and from mainland Ecuador.

A week in the Galapagos islands is enough time to see the two most popular islands (San Cristobal and Santa Cruz), spending 3-4 days on each, as well as 1-2 additional uninhabited islands nearby.

Because both of these islands have airports that service mainland Ecuador, you can and should visit both, using the inter-island ferry service from one to the other.

Visiting both Santa Cruz and San Cristobal will mean booking your flights to the Galapagos Islands as two separate one-way tickets rather than as a roundtrip, but it will not impact the price.


Is 10 Days in Galapagos Enough?

An over the shoulder view of Sophie snorkeling while photographing a pair of Galapagos penguins while at Bartolome Island.

10 days is the ideal amount of time to spend on the Galapagos. This allows ample time to see the three major islands of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, and Isabela, while also leaving time for popular day tours and/or trips to the smaller islands.

A 10-day visit to the Galapagos Islands can be done at a leisurely pace by splitting time evenly between San Cristobal and Santa Cruz, or at a slightly faster pace by including a visit to Isabela.

The easiest way to visit all three major islands, if desired, is to fly into San Cristobal, then fly to Isabela, then ferry to Santa Cruz, and fly out from the airport there.


πŸ—ΊοΈ Map of the Galapagos Islands

A color coded map of the Galapagos Islands showing inhabited islands and those accessible by day trip or cruise, plus ferry routes custom made by We Dream of Travel.

The map of the Galapagos Islands above shows the archipelago in its entirety.

It has been color-coded to indicate the islands that are inhabited and can be stayed on, those accessible by day tour, and those that are accessible via cruise ship only.

In addition, ferry services and airports are indicated by the appropriate symbols.

As you decide how many days in Galapagos is enough for you, it is helpful to understand the layout of the islands, which islands you can stay on, and how each is accessible.

🏝️ How Many Days in Galapagos to See Every Island?

Palm trees line the sandy beach on Isabela island in the Galapagos on a blue sky day.

You would need at least two weeks while traveling constantly to see all of the 16-22 Galapagos Islands, but can see the three major inhabited islands of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, and Isabela in just 5-7 days.

Note that for actual sightseeing purposes, 3 days is the recommended minimum amount of time to truly see any one major island in the Galapagos.

All of the smaller islands can only be visited as part of a cruise or by day tour.

10 days in Galapagos is the ideal amount of time to explore the three major islands, though more time is never a bad thing.


πŸ›³οΈ How Many Days is Best for a Galapagos Cruise?

A Galapagos cruise ship sets out to see during a beautiful sunset off of Santa Cruz island.

A 7-10 day cruise is ideal as this allows you to visit many islands while still having time to snorkel, visit beaches, and stroll through some of the port towns.

Visiting Galapagos via cruise is the most time-efficient method of travel, as it eliminates multiple check-ins and can be in somewhat constant motion.


⭐️ Summary: How Many Days Do You Need for Galapagos?

A smiling Sophie in a swimsuit sits on a beach surrounded by sea lions on her first day in the Galapagos islands.

As mentioned, most people should allow at least 2-3 days for each individual major island they want to explore, plus 1 day for each uninhabited island they want to see via day tour.

That said, only you know the pace of travel that you find enjoyable and what activities are truly priorities.

Are you a list ticker who would rather see a little bit of every place, or the type who would rather see only one place in its entirety?

Is living out of a bag moving frequently acceptable, or are you the type to unpack everything and drop a proverbial anchor?

Understand that while the islands are all fairly small, there is not a lot of infrastructure. There is some room for self-exploration, but most of the top sights will require tours, which require time.


πŸ™‚ Our Experience Visiting the Galapagos in 2023

The We Dream of Travel team crouch behind a pair of blue footed boobies at Los Tuneles on Isabela Island in the Galapagos.
Our group watching a blue-footed booby mating dance in Galapagos.

The Galapagos Islands were the number one item on Sophie’s travel bucket list, but we weren’t sure we would ever have the opportunity to visit. We thought you needed to be rich enough for an expensive tour or some kind of scientist to be allowed in!

With some research, we realized anyone can and SHOULD visit the Galapagos Islands. You do not need a tour, guide, or any special qualifications at all!

We spent two full weeks on the Galapagos Islands. In that time, we stayed on all three major islands and visited six in total. We also captured more epic wildlife photos than we imagined possible.

Even my 70-year-old mother came along for the ride and enjoyed every second of it.

This was among the most unforgettable places we have ever been to in our decade+ of travel.

πŸ“š More Galapagos Islands Travel Guides

The two of us work very hard to create these free travel guides to help you plan your dream vacation. If you think we’ve done a good job and would like to say thanks, please consider clicking the donate button below πŸ™‚

Hopefully, this guide has answered all of your questions, now it’s time for the rest of your planning!

These guides will help you through the process step-by-step, providing insight on everything from finding flights to top activities and so much more.

Planning Guides

Local Guides

Things to Do Guides

πŸ’¬ Final Thoughts

A close up image of a Galapagos marine iguana sleeping on a walkway.

The two of us work very hard to create these free travel guides to help you plan your dream vacation. If you think we’ve done a good job and would like to say thanks, please consider clicking the donate button below πŸ™‚

We truly hope you have found this guide useful in deciding how many days in Galapagos is right for you.

Now we’d like to hear from YOU!

Was there any information that was confusing, missing, or inaccurate? Or perhaps it was everything you could ask for and more?

Help us to help future readers by providing your feedback in the comments below!

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Adam Marland is a professional travel blogger and landscape photographer from Oregon. After over a decade of experience as a freelance travel photographer, Adam found national acclaim when he became the National Park Foundation's β€œChief Exploration Officer” in 2021.

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