Ibarra has preserved much of its colonial architecture in its city center and its plazas are clean and picturesque. It is a good place for those going to Otavalo's markets to stay it, if you want to get away from the tourists yet still be a short bus ride from the market.
The city has a long and colorful history. Between 1510 and 1520 the Inca rebelled against the Spanish conquistadors. The Battle of Yahuarcocha took place near Ibarra. The town was officially founded in 1606. During Ecuador's War of Independence in the 19th century, Simon Bolivar led the attack in the Battle of Ibarra, which lasted more than a week. In 1868, earthquakes hit the town in the middle of the night, destroying most of the town and causing more than 13,000 deaths. The town was rebuilt, giving Ibarra the grounds for claiming to be the "youngest city in Ecuador".
It is 2.5 hours north of Quito on the Panamerican highway, and about 30 minutes by bus from Otavalo.
Ibarra has a modern bus station, although some buses that pass through the town don't go there. The bus from Quito costs $3 and takes 2.5 hr. To Tulcán costs $3.5 and takes 2.5 hr.
- 1 Ibarra bus terminal (Terminal Terrestre de Ibarra).
A taxi within the city costs $1.
- Tren de la Libertad, ☏ (in Ecuador). Th-Su and holidays 11:25 to 16:40 - passengers must arrive 30 min before departure time. Advance booking is recommended. A 2-hour train ride Ibarra – Salinas – Ibarra on a type of bus converted to run on the railway line. With seven tunnels and tall bridges across steep canyons, the la Libertad Train travels from Ibarra to Salinas. In Salinas you’ll discover colorful murals commemorating the history and culture of Afro-ecuadorian people. Bring a light jacket, walking shoes, hat, sunscreen (SPF 70 at least), sunglasses, camera, cash and insect repellant. Altitude ranges from 1,600 to 2,200 meters above sea level. The temperature ranges from 14° to 25°C. A guarded parking area is available at Ibarra Station. Ibarra is 126 km north from Quito - 2½-3 hour’s drive. In Otavalo there are paid parking lots nearby the railway station. Otavalo is 90 km north from Quito –a 2-2½ hours’ drive. Adult $30; child, senior or person with disabilities $21.
- Lago Yahuarcocha. A beautiful lake 3 km from Ibarra. It is possible to take boat trips, go fishing or paragliding. Has hotels and restaurants specialising in fish dishes. Also has a racetrack which hosts local car and bike racing.
- Valle del Chota. An area populated by African-Ecuadorian descendants. It is possible to visit typical villages and go fishing, rafting or kayaking.
- Otavalo. This town is famous for its market. It is 30 mins away by bus. Buses leave every 10 minutes and cost $0.41.
Downtown, relax at one of the two town squares, Parque Pedro Moncayo or Parque La Merced, fronting historic buildings and churches. Also you could see pre-Columbian archaeological items, colonial art, and historical exhibits or other displays depending on the curators' decisions at the Central Bank Museum about 2 blocks south of Parque Pedro Moncayo on Antonio Jose de Sucre.
- Paragliding. Fly Ecuador offers paragliding for $60 and rafting for $40. They are on Oviedo 3 blocks west of the tourist office.
- Chifa Ibarra, Av Rafael Sánchez 572, ☏ . Get all your fried and other style chifa treats here.
- Olor Cafe, Juan Jose Flores y Simon Bolivar (on the main square), ☏ . Great coffee, has a "CNN breakfast" for $4.50.
- Heladeria Rosalia Suarez, ☏ . More than a hundred years old, you can watch the workers making the ice cream manually.
- Hotel Plaza Victora, Bolivar 12-101 y Rafael Larrea, ☏ . A comfortable hotel in the city centre. Single/double with bathroom and TV $15/25$..
- 1 Finca Sommerwind, Autopista Yahuarcocha, km 8 Ibarra (GPS: N 00°22'51,0" W 78°05'22,1'), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Great place outside of town. Nice facilities, wonderful hot showers.