One of Ibarra's attractive plazas (city squares)
Traditional treats at a little shop in Ibarra
Ibarra architecture
Park square in Ibarra
Ibarra sweets - blackberry syrup and nut candy
View of Ibarra street

Ibarra is the provincial capital of Imbabura.

Ibarra - 
Ecuador Destinations
Ibarra is the capital city of the province of Imbabura, in the northern Sierra, though in practice it seems more of a sleepy little provincial town.  The city is attractive enough, with various charming old buildings and pretty parks, but there are few sites of interest to tourists and finding anything to eat after 6pm is nigh impossible.  Be prepared, and stock up on snacks for supper.
The city of Ibarra takes laid back to a new level.  At any given time, around half of the businesses in Ibarra appear to be closed, apart from the Tourist Information stand at the bus station, which seems to be closed on a permanent basis.  Even when actually open for business, shops in Ibarra tend to have limited stocks and not much choice.  For almost any kind of shopping, whether it be souvenirs, clothes or groceries, you are probably better off going to either Otavalo or Cayambe.  
Ibarra's one saving grace is the availability of wonderfully rich, European-style cakes at Pasteleria (patisserie) DeGloria, on Rocafuerte, between Pedro Moncayo and Velasco.  The cinnamon rolls are perhaps the best you will ever taste, and there is also a range of cheesecakes, brownies, flans and cakes to enjoy.       
Ibarra is a transport hub and can be a good place to break the journey from Colombia to Quito or vice versa.  Ibarra bus station (Terminal Terrestre Ibarra) is clean and efficient.  
It is not really worth going out of your way to visit Ibarra unless you have huge amounts of time in Ecuador.  However, if you've been on the road or in big, bustling cities for a while, Ibarra could be a relaxing place to spend a day or two just sitting in parks, admiring the attractive architecture, eating cake or the local blackberry syrup and catching up with yourself.  If you want good wine, you'll need to bring it with you. 
Ibarra hotels range from cheap hostels up to reasonably smart hotels.  Beware of hostels with cheap rates which then suddenly up them in the morning, claiming an extra fee because you did not check out before 7a.m., or other spurious excuses.  Hotel Plaza Victoria is clean and reliable with friendly, helpful staff, and good value at around $25 including breakfast on their rooftop terrace (a great location on any festival day, as parades tend to pass right along the street below).  In any hotel in Ibarra, it may be wise to ask for a room which doesn't face onto the street if you wanter a quieter night's sleep.
Leaving your luggage in an Ibarra hotel, you could make a day trip from here to Otavalo's famous market.  Another option is to hike to the top of Imbabura Volcano.  You'll need a guide - try a travel agency in Ibarra, or ask at Casa Aida in La Esperanza, a half hour journey from the city - expect to pay perhaps $25 for the guide and another few dollars for a camioneta to the start of the route.
Getting to Ibarra: Ibarra is about 2 and a half hours by bus from Quito (buses every 15 minutes or so) and around the same from Tulcan, on the way to the Colombian border.  Otavalo is around half an hour away on buses which leave every 10 minutes.  Buses from Ibarra on the very scenic route to Cayambe (around 2 and a half hours) pass through Zuleta (about an hour) - avoid this route in very wet weather as part of the road is quite rough and may become impassable.
Useful Spanish & other Vocabulary for visiting Ibarra, Ecuador:
Pasteleria: patisserie, cake shop
Ecuador Destinations: Ibarra
Ibarra Tourist Information.  Provincial Capital of Imbabura, Ibarra is attractive with a relaxed pace.
Website www.ecuadortravelsite.org, text and photos by Sarah Clifford.
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