Built upon the foundations of an ancient Incan city, Quito is one of the world’s highest capital cities. If that doesn’t make you giddy, check out our top things to do when visiting this unique and fascinating city.
Hoping to visit Ecuador in the near future? Let Culture Trip be your guide and join our action-packed eight-day adventure – led by our Local Insider to ensure you get the fullest cultural understanding through intimate encounters.
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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.
Guarding the historic streets of Quito’s Old Town, The Virgin of El Panecillo is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. According to local legend, the large statue faces the north and blesses those living there, while her back is turned to the south, explaining the wealth disparity between the two parts of the city. The road to the statue winds around the hill of El Panecillo, which appropriately translates to “little bread roll”. You can even ascend the statue for an even better view of the city below.
Just a short drive north of Quito sits the equator line, for which Ecuador receives its name. Marked by a massive monument where French explorers initially calculated the equator to be, Mitad del Mundo (middle of the world) lets travelers be in two places at once. The monument is surrounded by an area known as the city of Mitad del Mundo. Here, you’ll find shops, restaurants and small museums which capture Ecuadorian culture perfectly. Keep your eyes peeled for handmade alpaca blankets (you won’t need to look far), freshly made Ecuadorian street food – including guinea pig – and traditional dance performances sporadically taking place in the streets.
A trip to Mitad del Mundo is included as part of Culture Trip’s eight-day adventure through Ecuador, led by our Local Insider to help you make the most of your experience.
One of the best ways to experience pure excitement in Quito is to watch a soccer game at the Atahualpa Stadium. Ecuadorians from near and far will travel to see their team play, and to say it can be intense might be an understatement. Like football fan culture across all of South America, fans will relentlessly chant team songs while standing and waving banners, on both sides of the stadium. When either team scores pandemonium ensues, so be careful not to spill your drink.
Looming over the city is the dormant volcano Pichincha, and you can get there via the TelefériQo skyrail to take in the epic views from the top. The rail ascends from Vulqano Park, a small amusement park on the side of the mountain, to a lookout area with spectacular views and a restaurant. You can go horseback riding here, but if you want to climb to the peak of Pichincha, take one of the hiking trails leading from the station. It’s definitely worth doing on a clear day.
At the center of Quito’s Old Town, this plaza is a constant hub of activity, often serving as a site for political activism or public opinion, but also buzzing with travelers from around the world. In the middle is a large monument installed in the late 19th-century in commemoration of Ecuador’s independence. The plaza is also the site of the assassination of Ecuadorian president Gabriel Garcia Moreno in 1875. Ecuador’s Presidential Palace overlooks the plaza and around the exterior are a variety of good restaurants as well as the extravagant Hotel Plaza Grande.
Tucked away from the hustle of Quito’s main valley, Guapulo offers an escape from the city crowds. Descend down the steep cobblestone path towards the eponymous church, and you’ll find examples of boho culture the area has become known for. Pizzeria Ananke, found at the base of the hill, for example, is adorned with arty posters – and happens to be a lovely spot to grab dinner with a view over the valley lit up at night. The ornate Church of Guapulo, or Sanctuary to the Virgin of Guapulo, is open to visitors every day except Sunday.
Looking for nightlife in Quito? Plaza Foch is the place. Surrounded by dozens of hostels and eateries, Foch caters to travelers in search of a lively stay. With clubs, hookah bars, and pubs open until the early hours, the party usually doesn’t die down until late. Visit during the day to explore the Artisan Market – it’s full of traditional crafts, Ecuadorian art and artisanal food that you can snack on or stock up on if you’re there to prepare for the Ecuadorian cooking class included in Culture Trip’s exclusive eight-day adventure in Ecuador.
Often compared to New York’s Central Park, Quito’s Carolina Park exemplifies the spirit of the city. During the weekend, it’s a hub of activity where hundreds of families gather to relax. Popular park activities include Ecuavoli (volleyball with three people per team and specific rules), paddle boating and, of course, lots of soccer. There’s also an exotic botanical garden, a reptile house, a skate park, a large airplane-turned-playground, a planetarium and a small museum to explore.
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I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
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