Quito

Quito, Ecuador: Our 2019 detailed guide from how to get there, where to stay, what to do and much much more!

Quito, Ecuador Brief Summary

  • Capital city of Ecuador.
  • It is the second-highest official capital city in the world.
  • It is the second most-populous city in Ecuador, with nearly 2 million people.
  • It has one of the best-preserved historic centers in the Americas

Quito Guide Contents:

  1. How To Get To Quito – Compare transportation options.
  2. Sightseeing & Tours In Quito– Most popular activities for travellers.
  3. Must See In Quito– The sights you cannot miss.
  4. Arts & Culture In Quito– The best museums and areas with cultural art.
  5. Nightlife In Quito – Good places to go for a drink.
  6. Quito Safety Tips – Safety issues to be aware of.
  7. Where To Stay In Quito – A few of the best photos of Quito.

Below, we have created our extensive guide to Quito based on our expert local knowledge and experience transporting countless people in Ecuador each year.

HOW TO GET TO QUITO

Most visitors to Quito will arrive either by air or by bus. Aeropuerto Internacional Mariscal Sucre in Quito is Ecuador’s busiest airport and an important regional transit hub. Unfortunately, the airport is located well outside of the city limits. Options to get from the airport to the city include an Airport Express bus, public buses or taxis.

For those planning to arrive to Quito by bus, it’s highly recommended to use Ecuador Hop buses if traveling from points further south in Ecuador or from Peru. Ecuador Hop’s unique hop on hop off style of service allows travelers to see the country’s best hidden gems with a totally flexible itinerary. Learn more about the different passes available here.

SIGHTSEEING AND TOURS IN QUITO

Cotopaxi National Park

COTOPAXI FULL DAY TOUR

Snow-capped Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world, is a popular destination for adventurers and climbers looking to add this iconic peak to their list of conquests. Those looking for something a little simpler can visit Cotopaxi National Park on a full day tour from Quito to enjoy an afternoon of hiking set amidst the lovely natural scenery of one of Ecuador’s most beautiful places.

MINDO CLOUD FOREST TOUR

Located just 8 hours from the city of Quito, the Mindo Cloud Forest is an incredible place to experience the natural wonders of Ecuador’s highland jungle. Here you can par
ticipate in thrilling outdoor activities such as zip-lining and river tubing or simply enjoy the natural scenery of one of Earth’s most biodiverse places through hiking or bird-watching excursions. One or two day trips to the Mindo Cloud Forest are common and easily arranged from Quito.

PAPALLACTA HOT SPRINGS

The most rejuvenating way to escape Quito is to plan a day of leisure at the Papallacta Hot Springs, located about 55 kilometers from the city in Ecuador’s highest-elevation settlement. These natural hot springs located on the outskirts of town are said to possess healing qualities, and the sublime scenery also contributes to the overall relaxing feel. Tours and hotels are easily arranged from Quito.

MUST SEE IN QUITO

QUITO TELEFERICO

Located on the eastern edge of the city, the Quito Teleferico (cable car or gondola) is a cheap and easy way to catch some stunning panoramic views of the city and the volcanoes that dominate the skyline. The cable car brings you up to the base of the nearby Pichincha Volcano, and from there you can stop to take in the views before embarking on a hike or horse ride to the summit. Make sure you dress in warm clothes, as the top can be very chilly!

MITAD DEL MUNDO

Though the equator passes through 13 countries in total, no country has a greater claim to being the true home of this hemispheric dividing line than the country that was named for it: Ecuador. Commemorate your trip to this special country by paying a visit to the monument of Mitad del Mundo, which means “Middle of the World” in Spanish. Trips to the Mitad del Mundo from Quito are common, and there is plenty to do once you get there– you can find restaurants, souvenir shops and even a museum nearby.

BASILICA OF THE NATIONAL VOW

This gorgeous neo-Gothic basilica was partially built by the Ecuadorian government in the late 1800s and early 1900s as a symbol of the nation’s devotion to the Sacred Heart, a widespread Roman Catholic ritual. The church remains technically unfinished to this day, and local legend holds that when it’s finally finished, it will signal the end of the world.

OTAVALO MARKETPLACE

This largest outdoor market in South America is a great place to pick up authentic handcrafted souvenirs at good prices. The town of Otavalo is located about 110 kilometers north of the city of Quito and is accessible by public bus, but the best way to experience the market is by taking a pre-planned tour with a guide who can escort you to some of the workshops where these artisanal goods are made.

ARTS & CULTURE IN QUITO

Arts & Culture in Quito:

MUSEO NACIONAL DEL BANCO CENTRAL:

This comprehensive museum covers the entire length of Ecuadorian history, from prehistoric to modern times. The Museo Nacional del Banco Central should be considered a must-see attraction for visitors who are interested in history, culture, or art.

MUSEO DE LA CIUDAD:

This interesting museum helps visitors learn the story of the city of Quito, from Pre-Columbian times to the modern day. The Museo de la Ciudad is particularly known for its beautiful visual displays as well as the architecture of the building itself, a gorgeously-restored colonial building in the historic center of Quito.

GUAYASAMÍN MUSEUM

This museum is located in the former home of Ecuadorian painter Oswaldo Guayasamín and showcases his life and works. Guayasamín was also a keen collector, so you’ll be able to see a number of beautiful pre-Columbian artifacts on display here as well.

NIGHTLIFE IN QUITO

Nightlife in Quito:

FINN McCOOLS:

This friendly and inviting Irish pub is home to all types of people: backpackers, expats, locals and more. Come here to enjoy a drink and some delicious pub food while you watch live sporting events or play billiards.

DIRTY SANCHEZ:

This hip little spot with a cheeky name in Quito’s Mariscal district is popular among travelers and the local expat community. The bar features well-crafted cocktails, reasonable prices, and occasional live music.

BANDIDO BREWING:

Craft beer fans will be excited to learn that Quito has its very own craft microbrewery: Bandido Brewing. Stop in here to enjoy delicious pizzas and burgers while sampling several different types of artisanal brews.

BUNGALO 6:

One of Quito’s most well-known discotecas, Bungalow 6 plays a mix of pop music, EDM and Latin dance music that is popular with both foreigners and locals alike. Discover why this is one of the city’s most popular places to party!

Souvenirs & Shopping in Quito:

MERCADO ARTESANAL LA MARISCAL:

This colorful marketplace is one of the best places in Quito to find handcrafted and artisanal goods, from alpaca sweaters and scarves to carved figurines–this place has everything. The Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal is the ideal place to go shopping for souvenirs and gifts.

FOLKLORE OLGA FISCH:

This store was founded by the late designer Olga Fisch, a Hungarian immigrant to Ecuador who worked with indigenous artists to blend traditional crafts with fine art concepts. Folklore Olga Fisch is an excellent place to visit for high-quality crafts and clothing.

Artesanos Don Bosco

QUICENTRO:

This upscale mall is a great place to shop for luxury goods or have a bite to eat in a nice part of Quito. Three stories tall and featuring a large variety of stores, there’s something at Quicentro for all types

QUITO SAFETY TIPS

  • Avoid using ATM machines at night if possible.
  • Only carry as much money as you’ll need for the next few days, never large sums of cash.
  • Be careful about hailing taxis from the street. Whenever possible, ask your hotel or hostel to order a trusted taxi service for you.
  • Try not to flash valuables like cell phones, watches, cash or credit cards in public.
  • Be aware of your surroundings after dark, especially around Quito’s Old Town area, which can be quite unsafe at night.
  • Carry a color copy of your passport instead of carrying the original document.
  • Be wary if you’re approached by a stranger offering you anything for free, as this can be part of a scam.
  • Don’t be distracted. Keep aware of your surroundings.

WHERE TO STAY IN QUITO

QUITO HISTORIC CENTER

Quito is home to the largest and best preserved colonial center in South America. Those who stay in Quito’s Historic Center will be very close to many of the city’s famous tourist attractions, as well as many of its best restaurants and bars.

LA MARISCAL

The district of La Mariscal is the most popular area of Quito with travelers, who take advantage of the area’s rich nightlife and stay at one of the many hotels and hostels located in the neighborhood.

LA FLORESTA

Quito’s bohemian district is another great option for travelers. Here is where you’ll find the best art galleries and indie theaters as well as some of the most delicious gourmet food and drink in the city.