Paul Schicke
Written by Paul Schicke Senior Expedition Designer

Updated: November 28, 2023
Published: May 12, 2023

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Galapagos Land Iguana

A life-changing journey to the Galapagos Islands is on every adventure-seeker’s bucket list—but how much time should you spend exploring the archipelago? Specifically, how many days do you need in the Galapagos to get the most out of your trip? And what itinerary is best?

Our Galapagos travel gurus are here to share how long the ideal trip should be and the trip itinerary that makes the most sense for that amount of time. Let’s start planning!

Galapagos Trip Length: 3, 4, 5, 7 & 14-Night Cruises

When Galapagos cruises first launched in the 1980s, the 7-night/8-day cruise was the standard length simply because there was only one flight a week to the islands. Today, this itinerary length continues to be the most popular one, although several cruise companies do offer shorter and even longer cruises.

Shorter cruises from 3 to 5 nights are generally meant for the more budget-conscious and time-pressed traveler. These are generally offered by the lower-end ships and they are often less adventurous, staying close to port around the central islands and visiting a disproportionate number of the inhabited islands.

Galapagos Sea Lion with Evolution Yacht

The longer cruises of 7 and 14 nights are for those who want to see it all and aren’t limited by budget or time restrictions. On a standard 7 night cruise, travelers generally have enough time to explore about half of the Galapagos archipelago and see most of the iconic wildlife that the Islands are famous for.

Of course, for those who crave more time amid jaw-dropping nature and ample opportunities to see the unique Galapagos wildlife and marine life, a full 14-night/15-day cruise means you’ll see all there is to see in the gorgeous Islands.

How Many Days Do You Need in Galapagos for a Meaningful Experience?

For most travelers, visiting the Galapagos and following in the footsteps of Darwin is a once in a lifetime trip. The amount of time you decide to dedicate really depends on the vacation time you have available, your budget, and, of course, your passion for exploring the Islands!

If you’ve been dreaming about adventuring through the Galapagos all your life, and you have the budget and the time, then the full 15-day itinerary guarantees that you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see magnificent wildlife, wander through dreamlike landscapes, and connect with like-minded explorers throughout your journey.

Dolphin watching in the Galapagos Islands

However, the truth is, the majority of travelers have neither the 15 days nor the budget for such a long journey. If this applies to you and your family, then our travel experts recommend the 7-night/8 day cruise. It’s a well-designed trip length that offers travelers a good opportunity to explore the diversity of stunning landscapes and animals throughout the Galapagos without sacrificing any precious time on the Islands.

What About the Specific Trip Itinerary and Visitor Sites?

Predictably, not all 7 night/8 day journeys are created equal. Some itinerary designs are much stronger than others because they maximize encounters with animal species and take travelers to multiple and more varied destinations. After all, travelers visit the Galapagos to catch glimpses of colorful marine life, beautiful animals, and unbelievable landscapes—a well-curated itinerary means you’ll see and do as much as possible, while still leaving plenty of space to rest and reflect on your adventure.

The strength of a Galapagos cruise itinerary comes down to the experience that the cruise company has in the Galapagos: local companies with true expertise will have substantially more knowledge of the individual visitor sites. Over the years, these seasoned companies have curated and refined wide-ranging itineraries that introduce travelers to rich, satisfying variety of animals, sites, and landscapes.

Man on beach with Galapagos Sea Lion

One word of caution: if travelers are pressed for time or resources and find themselves booking a shorter cruise (for example, one that’s just 4 or 5 days long), it’s important to keep in mind that the first and last days of any cruise are generally travel days. Therefore, in practical terms, what’s optimistically billed as a "5-day" cruise turns out to be a mere 3 full cruising days. That’s simply not enough time to see the stunning variety of the Galapagos Islands as they are meant to be seen.

A Transformative Journey Beings Here

So, how many days do you need in Galapagos? In the end, considering the fixed costs of making it all the way to the Islands in the first place in terms of both time and resources, the travel experts at Quasar strongly advise booking at least a 7-night/8-day cruise to have a rich, meaningful journey.

For a truly unforgettable experience, however, dedicating 14 nights and 15 days to adventure through the Galapagos will make all the difference to the memories you make—and share. If you’re ready for a life-changing journey, explore Quasar’s Galapagos luxury cruises today.

galapagos kayaking next to a flightless cormorant
Paul Schicke
By Paul Schicke
Senior Expedition Designer

Hello! My name is Paul. I am a photographer, traveler, teacher and writer. I have extensive experience in travel to Galapagos, Peru, Patagonia and the western seaboard of South America specializing in ways travelers can experience these once-in-a-life destinations like locals on the road. Lover of wine, chocolate, travel, coffee, and helping others plan vacations of a lifetime!

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