The most beautiful parks and gardens in Quito aren’t limited to just the most popular neighborhoods. No matter your home base in Ecuador‘s capital, including the historic center, there’s an outdoor space nearby. Here’s our pick of the best.
Parque Metropolitano Guangüiltagua
Located on a mountaintop overlooking the valley to the east of Quito, Parque Metropolitano Guangüilatagua is a popular destination for hiking, biking, picnicking, and all around relaxation. Despite its central location amid the hustle and bustle of the capital city, Guangüilatagua provides an escape for many urban residents. Keep your eyes open for the herd of roaming llamas.
Parque La Carolina
Parque La Carolina is a green oasis amid a sea of apartments and commercial buildings. Its expansive grounds include fields for sporting events, such as soccer and American football, as well as a running track, a walking trail, a lake with paddle boats, a botanical garden with an excellent collection of Ecuadorian orchids, a small indoor zoo of native reptiles and amphibians, a children’s science museum, and several outdoor locations for food and drink.
Most visitors to El Panecillo, a highlight destination for practically every tourist in town, limit their trip to the huge statue of the Virgin Mary and the view overlooking historic Quito. But turn around and walk past the vendors, and you’ll find that it also includes extensive grounds with views to the far south as well. It sometimes hosts a herd of small sheep and a local elderly shepherdess who likes to be paid for having her photo taken.
Parque El Ejido
Parque El Ejido is best known by international tourists for the pop-up art market that occurs every weekend, though an artisan’s market also holds court along one of the walkways. Known as the home of the oldest and tallest trees in the city, this park sees Quiteños flock to its open spaces for exercise, for entertainment, or just to play. A few vendors specialize in renting equipment such as child-sized bicycles and motorized toy cars. If you want to see how Quiteños spend their weekends, this is a great park to visit.
Parque Urbano Cumandá
Parque Urbano Cumandá is a recent addition to the list of city parks in Quito. This indoor facility lies in the heart of the historic district, providing healthy recreational options. Built in a modern design that includes outdoor murals and art displays, the park appeals to more than just the sport-inclined.
While a daytime visit to Parque Itchimbia is worthwhile, especially for groups looking to play games that require plenty of green space, it’s the hours after dark that attract the majority of visitors, as views of the historic district of Quito are spectacular from this height. Be aware that entering the gate at night means telling the guard that you are eating at the only restaurant on the grounds, Pims.
Parque Metropolitano del Sur
The largest park in Quito, Parque Metropolitano del Sur protects highly valuable green space while providing access to the outdoors to residents of South Quito. The extensive grounds include hiking and biking trails, playgrounds, a dog park, picnic areas and view points that provide excellent panoramas of the neighboring valley.
This little-known park is popular with local mountain biking clubs because of the ease of access to the trails. The shortest route is a 12-km (7.5-mile) trip recommended for beginners to the small town of Lloa. A second trail, recommended for experienced cyclists, is 22 km (13.7 miles) long and takes cyclists uphill to the Teleferico. The longest trail, meanwhile, is 44 km (27.4 miles) and leads to Atacazo. The trails are also suitable for hikers and long distance runners.