The Best Markets in Quito, Ecuador

The markets of Ecuador are diverse, vibrant and full of bargains
The markets of Ecuador are diverse, vibrant and full of bargains | © imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Kristen Tideman
13 October 2021

Whether you’re after handcrafted souvenirs, jewelry, street food or fresh fruit and vegetables, you’ll find virtually everything you could want in Quito‘s markets. Even if you don’t intend to buy anything, just strolling through them is a great way to familiarize yourself with Ecuadorian culture and soak up the atmosphere of the city. Here’s our guide to the best markets in Quito.

On Culture Trip’s exclusive eight-day Ecuador adventure – led by our local insider – you can enjoy a guided walking tour of Quito’s historic center and take part in an Ecuadorian cooking masterclass.

Mariscal Artisanal Market

Market
Map View
Mariscal Artisanal Market (Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal), Quito, Ecuador, South America
© Matthew Williams-Ellis Travel Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

This lively market in Quito’s Mariscal district, just round the corner from the nightlife hub Plaza Foch, is one of the best places to go souvenir hunting in Ecuador. Alpaca blankets, pan flutes, Ecuadorian chocolate, paintings, woven bracelets, sun hats and leather bags are just a few of the products this market has to offer. The spectrum of vibrant colors and sheer volume of stalls can be almost dizzying in such a small area. You’re unlikely to leave empty-handed – so don’t be afraid to drive a hard bargain for a lower price than initially offered.

Tianguez

Restaurant, South American, $$$
Map View
Painting of Ecuadorian natives playing music, Tianguez Cultural Center, Plaza de San Francisco, Quito, Ecuador
© Kevin Oke / Alamy Stock Photo
For more distinctive products, take a trip to Tianguez, a museum-shop under the Church of San Francisco in the Old Town, dedicated to handcrafted goods. Although slightly more expensive than other markets, it promotes the work of small producers from across the country, and the artistry is highly original. With the Tianguez restaurant just outside, it’s a perfect stop on a tour through the historic center of Quito.

Market of Parque El Ejido

Market
Map View
Paintings for sale. Parque El Ejido, Quito New City, Ecuador.
© Jacqueline & Peter Scott / Alamy Stock Photo

Parque El Ejido, alongside Avenue Patria in Quito’s historic center, doesn’t quite have the quantity of goods offered in the Mariscal artisan market, but offers an eclectic mix of vibrant paintings and other artworks, many of which come from indigenous artists. Only open at weekends, this outdoor market lines the park’s footpath, and with live music playing, it’s worth visiting for the ambience alone – regardless of whether you intend to purchase anything.

Otavalo Market

Market
Map View
View of stalls in traditional craft market, Ecuador
© Stephen Tapply / Alamy Stock Photo

If you fancy venturing beyond Quito for a day trip, Otavalo – around a two-hour drive away – is home to one of the largest indigenous markets in South America, and undoubtedly the best-known in Ecuador. Known locally as Plaza de los Ponchos, it was designed and built by Dutch architect Tonny Zwollo in 1970. Here, you’ll find everything from woolen jumpers, blankets and leather goods to authentic Ecuadorian street food. Coffee shops and small restaurants are also dotted throughout the labyrinth of stalls, so you can easily wander for hours, taking in the colors, smells, tastes and sounds.

Mitad del Mundo Shops

Architectural Landmark
Map View
San Antonio de Pichincha, Pichincha, Ecuador - May 29, 2018: Aerial outdoor view of building inside of the Ciudad Mitad del Mundo turistic center near of the city of Quito
© Sunshine Pics / Alamy Stock Photo

You’ll come across plenty of stalls in the streets surrounding the Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World) monument, which is around 15mi (24km) north of the city center, and close to the equator. These feature a range of Ecuadorian craft works that rival those of Quito’s main artisan market, but it tends to be significantly less hectic than the markets of the inner city. Alpaca sweaters, hammocks and colorful blankets blow in the breeze, and you’ll find all kinds of tempting food products.

Iñaquito Market

Market, South American, Vegetarian, Street Food
Map View
Vegetable stand at Inaquito Market food court, Quito, Ecuador
HM451G Vegetable stand at Inaquito Market food court, Quito, Ecuador | © GFC Collection / Alamy Stock Photo

In lieu of trinkets, Iñaquito is a bustling market full of fresh fruit, vegetables and an abundance of aromatic herbs and spices of all shapes and colors. Starfruit, soursop and extremely spicy chili peppers are just some of the local products you can try here. While most items are inexpensive at first, be prepared to bargain with vendors who might overcharge – prices are not commonly listed on individual items.

These recommendations were updated on October 13, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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