Nestled within the picturesque landscape of Ecuador lies Loja, a city that has increasingly captured the attention of both tourists and long-term residents.
Having lived in Ecuador for several years, we finally made it to the city for a deeper exploration to discover why so many people recommended we spend time there.
In this article, we provide an overview of this beautiful Andes mountain city and cover both its strengths and its areas for potential improvement.
Advantages of Visiting or Moving to Loja, Ecuador
Here are the advantages we noticed that make Loja a compelling destination for both settling down and short-term exploration.
Our experience in Loja underscored its cost-effective nature. Specifically, our centrally located Airbnb and the day-to-day expenses like food and restaurants were similar to Cuenca.
For instance, a typical “almuerzo” or lunch special, encompassing a substantial soup, arroz con vegetales (rice with vegetables), potato, and tea, cost us just $3.25.
Additionally, our visit to the local mercado highlighted affordable prices reminiscent of Cuenca. We purchased several things like regional coffee and fresh produce for less than $8 in total.
Architectural and Natural Beauty
Loja boasts an elegant blend of natural and architectural sights. The streets, adorned with trees, also showcase diverse architectural styles from old colonial to 20s Art Deco and 60s boxy utilitarian.
Historical sites, such as Plaza de la Independencia San Sebastián, commemorate pivotal moments like Loja’s Independence Day in 1820.
The city offers an array of recreational spots. The iconic “la Puerta de la Ciudad” stands in proximity to the bustling mercado, while numerous parks pepper the urban landscape.
Noteworthy is the Parque Recreacional Jipiro, which offers serene nature trails and scaled-down versions of globally recognized structures like the Taj Mahal and The Eiffel Tower.
Loja prioritizes urban hygiene, with the ‘Green Team’ street cleaners ensuring streets and pathways remain pristine.
Buses are not allowed in “El Centro” or the historic center, which not only improves air quality but also reduces noise levels.
Loja exudes a family-friendly aura. From recreational areas like Pucará to schools catering to various age groups and prominent universities, it’s evident that families are a core consideration in city planning.
The city’s design inherently promotes walking, which might account for the general fitness enthusiasm among residents.
Additionally, amenities such as gyms, dance studios, and public outdoor exercise equipment are easily accessible.
Whether it’s boutique malls, organic stores, or fashion outlets, Loja provides an expansive shopping experience.
The pedestrian-friendly outdoor mall in El Centro is a popular place to shop and hang out.
The city is reputed for its healthcare facilities, with renowned institutions like Solca, specializing in oncology.
There is a public IESS hospital near the park in the center of town, as well as several other general clinics and hospitals located around the city.
Engaging with the locals was a heartening experience, marked by their genuine warmth and friendliness.
Downsides of Loja, Ecuador
No place is perfect and Loja has a few drawbacks that might cause some challenges.
At times, natural events like landslides can disrupt connectivity between Loja, Cuenca, and the nearest airport located 45 minutes west of the city in Catamayo.
Limited Options for Special Diets
Restaurants in Loja could benefit from a broader spectrum of dietary options. If you’re plant-based, vegetarian, or gluten-free, you might find it difficult to eat at most restaurants.
In the video, we talked about tap water not being potable. However, since posting this video, several viewers who live in Loja told us that the water is drinkable out of the tap in most parts of the city.
If you’re a tourist on a short visit or staying in an older building, you might want to err on the side of caution and drink bottled or filtered water.
It Can Be Rainy
During our week in Loja, it rained most days, and sometimes it was a hard rain. As a result, it’s lush and green, and you’re likely to see a rainbow or two.
Lack of English-Speakers
If your Spanish is rusty or non-existent, you may want to start studying or download a translation app because we met very few locals who spoke English during our time there. You’ll find a lot more English speakers in Cuenca.
Loja, with its myriad attractions and minor challenges, is a city that’s worth experiencing firsthand.
Whether you’re considering a short visit or a more extended stay, Loja has its unique charm, echoing the diverse beauty of Ecuador.
We still think Cuenca was the right choice for us, but life in Loja would have been amazing as well.
Watch Our Loja Ecuador Pros & Cons Video
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Hola todos! Welcome to my author bio page! Let's see. Where to begin... I grew up in the country on a lake outside a small Kansas farm town. As soon as I could, I got the hell outta there! Since then, I've lived and/or worked in Kansas City, Washington D.C., Denver, San Francisco, and Ecuador. I started and sold a dotcom, wrote a book about it, started a YouTube channel, and now I write a lot. Amelia and I have embraced the Unconventional Life and we want to help you do it, too!