The capital of Ecuador is more than just a short stopover before heading to the Galapagos Islands. This old town is a UNESCO Heritage Site, and is also one of the most important historic areas in Latin America. Quito has parks, beautiful churches, museums, and, perhaps coolest of all, you can stand on the line between the world’s two hemispheres.
Enjoy unpolluted air and get an amazing view of the whole city by taking the cable car up to an altitude of 13,123 feet (4,000 meters) above sea level. If you can handle the altitude, you can hike up to the Pichincha volcano, but you will need a guide. You may be able to spot the curiquingue bird, which is famous for standing on one foot. If you’re lucky, you might see some rabbits, too.
Basilica del Voto Nacional is a Roman Catholic church and the largest neogothic basilica in the world. You can take some small steps up to the tower and get a photo of the beautiful rounded glass window and the view between the towers.
This is an unmissable place for a dinner or lunch in Quito. You will get the best views of the old town and El Panecillo, and it is also one of few cat- and dog-friendly restaurants in Quito. There are even meals available for your pets.
Have a Coffee at Isveglio
Want to know where to get the best coffee in Quito? Isveglio is the place to go. Here, you can drink coffee made by award-winning baristas using the coffee beans of your choice. Not everyone is aware that Ecuador has amazing coffee. Sadly, Ecuadorians tend to prefer instant coffee, and so Ecuadorian coffee is not as well known as that from Colombia. Isveglio is a hit with expats and travelers alike, and is also a barista academy.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Isveglio, Francisco Salazar E 10-37, Quito 170523, +593 26039590
This is almost a mandatory photo in Quito, and perfect for Instagram. Parque Itchimbia is also a great spot for views of the old town.
You don’t have to go all the way to Otavalo to buy cool textiles from the Otavalo people. Mercado Artesanal is a great alternative, and it is cheaper and less crowded than the popular Otavalo market.
Parque La Carolina is a great meeting point on Sundays, and is a favourite place of families and sports enthusiasts. You can go for a run at the running field, take a selfie with an abandoned plane, eat street food, or chill with the dogs in the dog park.
Mitad del Mundo is the equator monument in Ecuador; even though it is not completely accurate, it is meant to be the highest point on the equator in the world, and that in itself is pretty epic. It is also a great place to take photos. If you go there at the weekend you can also enjoy some traditional dance and other performances.
The owner of the museum claims that it is way more accurate than Mitad del Mundo. Either way, at Museo Solar Intiñán, you can balance an egg on a magnetic line to prove that you are on the equator. It is recommended that you get a guide; you will be able to learn about the physics relating to the equator, as well as ancient Ecuadorian culture and folklore.
On top of a hill, you can see the large monument of Virgen Panecillo, made out of volcanic stone. Whether you choose to walk up to El Panecillo or take a taxi, you will get an incredible view of Quito.
This is probably the most interesting place to observe people in Quito. There are always lots of people sitting around Plaza de la Independencia, and you can also see the president speak here every Monday at 11 a.m.
Stroll Around Calle La Ronda
Wander around Calle La Ronda to get a feel for the artistic 18th century in Quito. It is said to be one of the oldest streets in the city, and has been home to poets, artists, and musicians. La Ronda is very safe, even at night. You can find cute cafes and restaurants that put on traditional shows in the evenings.
This is widely thought to be the most beautiful church in Quito, and it took over 160 years to build. The church is made out of volcanic stone and has a very interesting history. It is one of the most significant works of Spanish baroque architecture in South America. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take photos inside the church.
Do a Free Walking Tour
You can get a guided tour of Quito’s historic places totally free, and it’s a great way to get insight into the city’s history. The tours last a couple of hours. Even though the tour is free, you are expected to tip the guide at the end.
On the street that leads to Mitad del Mundo, Manuel Cordova Galarza, you will see people waving flags outside restaurants. At these restaurants, you can taste a crispy cuy, or guinea pig. This is a traditional dish in Ecuador and in other countries in the Andes.
This park is the lungs of the city, and is a great place to come for some fresh air, beautiful trees, and views of the valley. Metropolitano is a huge park that is perfect for a day out if you just want to escape the bustle of city life and enjoy the best of nature.
The Mans Chapel is one of the most important works of art in South America. It is a tribute to humankind, dedicated to the hope for a better future for the poor and indigenous peoples that have experienced violence in the past. It is highly recommended that you get a guided tour to gain a deeper understanding of the masterpiece.
A few minutes from Mitad del Mundo is the Temple of the Sun, an interactive museum where you will get a demonstration of how the indigenous people used to make use of the sun. It is very close to the crater of Pululahua volcano. Don’t worry, though, the volcano is not active and people actually live right in the crater.
Every Sunday in Quito, a long stretch of road is closed to cars from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can rent skates, rollerblades, or bikes and enjoy the long car-free path that stretches from the north all the way to the south of Quito. The path starts at Parque Los Recuerdos, north of Quito, and ends at Parque Las Quardas, south of Quito.
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