Several options exist for travelers needing to bed down, whether staying for one night or several, or even if needing a homebase for a longer stay of a few weeks or months.
The downtown area has a number of hotels and hostels, with wide variations in amenities, decor and prices. A few have their own restaurants, while others may offer only a simple breakfast.
The team at ‘Life in Loja’ is familiar with many of the possible stays and can offer advice to travelers based upon your needs.
Local Food & Drinks
Visitors to the province of Loja, Ecuador, will discover a treat in the small town of Landangui. Several restaurants here specialize in Sancocho de chancho, a simple pork bone soup. Usually only available on weekends (Friday-Sunday) for lunch, it is well worth the short drive south from Loja city.
The simple ingredients include cubed pork and bones, onions, salt, garlic, lots of cumin, and water. Simple, yes, but the pork has been spit-roasted for amazing flavor, and the bone broth is rich in nutrients.
The soup is served with a wedge of bitter orange for squeezing over top, plus a salsa made from tomate de arbol. All of the various flavors come together to make this a “must visit” place to go when in Loja.
International Food & Drinks
Loja offers a variety of cuisines besides the usual local foods. For any traveler or immigrant starting to feel homesick for the cuisine they left behind, there are a variety of restaurants likely to meet the craving.
Looking for a New York style pizza, a smokey BBQ pulled pork sandwich, an American cheeseburger, traditional Chinese takeout, an Italian pasta dish, juicy Indian shawarma meat, French-style crepes or some other worldly flavor? These and more can be had in Loja if one knows where to look. Additionally, microbreweries offer flavorful options from English-style stouts to pale ales.
Loja is famous for its coffee and many places serve a great cup. There is also an excellent teahouse for devotees of a milder infusion of caffeine. There are few international franchises in Loja but one that is here is KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken). The guides at ‘Life in Loja’ can recommend the best places (even where to get the best donuts) based upon your desires.
Throughout most of Ecuador a traveller will be hard-pressed to find a decent cup of coffee. Not so in Loja. While the rest of the country relies on freeze-dried instant, we have award-winning arabica beans grown right here in the province, and great baristas who know how to create works of art with their brews.
Some cafés specialize in roasting beans from their very own farms while others can serve up a variety of flavors harvested from throughout South America. Regardless of which shop you visit, the advice is to relax and savor the finished product. Don’t plan on getting a cup-to-go so you can rush off to your next adventure, but linger and enjoy the atmosphere.
One should note that many coffee shops close for lunch/siesta! Once you understand that you’ll be OK, just get your caffeine fix in the morning or later in the afternoon.
Arts & Entertainment
The Benjamin Carrion Mora National Theater and the Symphony Orchestra of Loja combine to make a winning night out for enjoying world-class music.
The theater was recently erected and features one of only two mechanized orchestra pits in South America. The stage has capacity for 150 musicians, and there is seating for 900 people in the audience. Seats are comfortable and the acoustics were so well done that there is not a bad seating area in the house.
The OSL consists of professional musicians who, even though currently without a dedicated conductor, rarely miss a note. Classical and contemporary pieces from around the world are standard fare, and almost every program will have at least one piece composed by an Ecuadorian.
Most performances are free, with seating available until capacity.
Location: Av. Salvador Bustamante Celi and Agustín Carrión
Places to visit
Here is one family vacation idea. Jipiro Recreational Park is a fun place to go for kids and adults (but especially kids). The park is dotted with smaller replicas of world architectural buildings for children to climb around in. A pond with paddle boats encircles an island of waterfowl. Horses graze when not being ridden. There is an area for camping, a ball field, a Flintstones-style train and a larger steam locomotive with Pullman cars – neither train moves but they are fun to climb on and get pictures taken. Oversize figures of llamas and people with a burro are also for picture posing. Kiosks disguised as grass huts offer up souvenir trinkets and snacks. There are short trails for walking or jogging. A skate park is found at one end. It just kind of has a little bit of everything needed to enjoy a time outside, including benches for the adults to sit on while the young ones race around.
Location: Av. Salvador Bustamante Celi entre Daniel Armijos y Francisco Lecaro, Loja