Quito is best known for its Unesco-listed historic center, but there are many neighborhoods worth exploring, each with a subculture and atmosphere of their own. Whether you’re looking for somewhere to eat, a place to stay or just a cool area to spend a few hours wandering, you won’t be short of options. Here’s our guide to the coolest neighborhoods in Ecuador’s capital city.
Interested in visiting Quito? It’s just one of several fantastic destinations featured on Culture Trip’s specially curated eight-day Ecuador adventure, led by our Local Insider.
La Floresta maintains a residential air despite being bordered by some of the busiest parts of the city. It’s a great area if you’re looking for delicious food – the streets near the Swissotel are packed with trendy restaurants, especially along Isabel la Católica. The main plaza of La Floresta fills each evening with food carts offering local specialties and is one of the best places to eat street food in Quito. Every Friday, there is a great farmer’s market on Galavis where you can buy fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fish.
On weekend mornings, the cafes and restaurants near Avenida de los Shyris are full of joggers stopping for brunch after running in the nearby Parque La Carolina. The neighborhood is characterized by tall, modern apartment buildings, and has an array of international restaurants. Try Dutch-owned Jürgen Café for breakfast and brunch, the Spanish-owned tapas restaurant La Tasca de Carlos, and the French bakery La Petite Patisserie.
La Mariscal is Quito’s most popular neighborhood with backpackers, thanks to its abundance of hostels and vibrant bar scene, especially on Thursday and Friday nights. The heart of La Mariscal is Plaza Foch, a quiet spot by day and a buzzing social hub by night. The neighborhood does have some lesser-known backstreets too, with excellent examples of historic Quiteño architecture in which a few boutique hotels have cropped up in recent years.
La Ronda is a small neighborhood within the historic center of Quito. It dates back all the way to Incan times, but experienced a major transformation under Spanish colonial rule. The long, winding main street is pedestrian-only and lined with restaurants, bars, craft shops and art galleries. It tends to be fairly quiet in the morning, but gradually the atmosphere warms up through the day. In the evening, you’ll hear salsa music pouring out of La Ronda’s taverns, and you can watch street performers carrying out all kinds of weird and wonderful routines.
Built on a steep hillside on the northeast side of Quito is the small neighborhood of Guápulo. Its main street, Camino de Orellana, is narrow and windy, not unlike Lombard Street in San Francisco, California, though much longer. It’s a difficult part of town to drive through, as traffic can back up during the hours of the infamous pico y placa (a driving restriction policy aimed to mitigate traffic congestion). It’s home to a small but beautiful church, the Iglesía de Guápulo, and retains much of the flavor of old Quito, with whitewashed walls and tiled roofs. Parque Guápulo, meanwhile, is a peaceful, leafy spot for a relaxing stroll.
Some consider Cumbayá a town in its own right, but technically it’s a neighborhood of Quito. If you leave the city center via the Guayasamin tunnel, you will soon find yourself in Cumbayá, which features two large, popular shopping malls, a hiking and biking trail, and a small plaza with a historic church and several superb restaurants. Due to its lower altitude, Cumbayá has a warm and dry microclimate, in contrast to other Quito neighborhoods. It also has a reputation as being a particularly wealthy neighborhood, and has a much more residential feel about it than those in the inner city.
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