20 Things to See and Do in Quito in 2018
Basilica del Voto Nacional | © Vibeke Johannessen / The Viking Abroad
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.
Take the Teleferiqo
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.
Quito Cable Car, Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador
Teleferiqo | © Vibeke Johannessen / The Viking Abroad
Walk up the Towers on Basílica del Voto Nacional
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.
Basilica del Voto Nacional, Quito
Basilica del Voto Nacional | © Vibeke Johannessen / The Viking Abroad
Party in Plaza Foch
Enjoy some cheap drinks with locals at backpackers’ favourite places in the clubs in Plaza Foch. It’s a safe place to party, and you can enjoy clubs playing everything from reggaeton to modern international music.
Plaza Foch, Quito
Plaza Foch | © Vibeke Johannessen / The Viking Abroad
Eat at Café Mosaico
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.
Cafe Mosaico, Manuel Samaniego N8-95 y Antepara, Itchimbía, Manuel Samaniego, +593 22542871
Mosaico | © Vibeke Johannessen / The Viking Abroad
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.
Isveglio | © Vibeke Johannessen/ The Viking Abroad
Take a Photo of the Quito Sign at Parque Itchimbia
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.
Parque Itchimbía, Quito
Parque Itchimbia | © Vibeke Johannessen / The Viking Abroad
Use Your Bargaining Skills at the Mercado Artesanal
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.
Mercado Artesanal, Quito, Ecuador
Mercado Artesanal | © Vibeke Johannessen / The Viking Abroad
Enjoy La Carolina Park with Locals on a Sunday Afternoon
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.
Parque La Carolina, Quito, Ecuador
Parque La Carolina | © Vibeke Johannessen / The Viking Abroad
Stand with One Foot in Each Hemisphere in Mitad del Mundo
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.
Mitad del Mundo, Quito, Ecuador
Mitad del Mundo | © Vibeke Johannessen / The Viking Abroad
Do the Same at Museo Solar Intiñán
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.
Museo Solar Intiñán, Quito, Ecuador
Sun Watch | © Vibeke Johannessen / The Viking Abroad
Get Close to El Panecillo
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.
El Panecillo, Quito, Ecuador
El Panecillo | © Vibeke Johannessen / The Viking Abroad
People-Watch at Plaza de la Independencia
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.
Plaza de la Independencia, Quito, Ecuador
Plaza de la Independencia | © Vibeke Johannessen / The Viking Abroad
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.
La Ronda | © Vibeke Johannessen/ The Viking Abroad
Check out the Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesus
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.
Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesus, Quito, Ecuador
Compañia de Jesus | © Vibeke Johannessen / The Viking Abroad
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.
Old town | © Vibeke Johannessen/ The Viking Abroad
Eat Guinea Pig
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.
Manuel Cordova Galarza, Quito
Walk in Parque Metropolitano
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.
Parque Metropolitano, Quito
Parque Metropolitano | © Vibeke Johannessen / The Viking Abroad
Visit Guayasamín’s Capilla del Hombre
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.
Capilla del Hombre, Quito
Check out the Museo Templo del Sol Pintor Ortega Maila
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.
Museo Templo del Sol Pintor Cristobal Ortega Maila, Quito
Pululahua | © Vibeke Johannessen / The Viking Abroad
Do the Ciclopaseo
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.
Parque Los Recuerdos, Quito