• Lisa

Quito, Ecuador: City Guide

Updated: Jul 1

Quito, Ecuador is nestle in the Andes Mountains and surrounded by active volcanoes. The views and the culture will (literally) take your breath away.

Know Before You Go:

  • The altitude can really affect you! Drink lots of water and listen to your body – if you feel out of breath sit down and rest.

  • Everyone speaks Spanish … very few people speak English

  • Ecuador uses the American Dollar. They do however use their own coins interchangeably with American coins.

  • Stay Safe – Quito has a lot of petty theft and issues with fake taxis. Don’t venture out alone and take precaution while traveling.

  • The Quito Airport is about 40 minutes away from the city - plan to take the bus ($8) or taxi ($30).

What to Do:

Explore Old Town

Quito’s old town is a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site due to the colonial squares, cobblestone streets, and local charm. Spend time walking around Old Town to see the esuiste architecture and culture.

There is a great view of Quito and El Pancillo from Café Mosaico (located on Itchimbia Hill). If you're lucky, you'll catch the sunset from the top of the hill.

La Ronda is a great pedestrian street to stroll around, shop, and enjoy ethnic foods. Be sure to go later in the day as the street is quiet (most stores are closed) early in the morning.

TelefériQo Cable Car

Quito is right in the middle of a huge mountain range and the best way to get a view is to take the TeleferiQo up to the very top. The cable car is one of the longest sky trams in the world and takes about 10-15 minutes to get to the top. (It can get hot in the cable car so dress in layers).

When you reach the top, you’re blessed with the most incredible views of Quito, surrounding volcanos and mountains, and more. You can spend as much time at the top as you’d like but keep in mind it tends to be very cold since you’re a mere 4200 meters above sea level. Keeping that in mind, be sure to take it easy as the higher altitude could really affect you.

There are a few hiking options here for the fit folk but I just spent my time walking around and enjoying the different views. Be sure to check out the Swing in the Clouds! Lines can get long so I recommend getting there early and of course… go on a sunny day with no clouds for the best views.

Handicraft Market

Near downtown Quito, there is an adorable outside handicraft market filled with trinkets, souvenirs, and gifts. If you like to bargain, this is the place for you. Ecuador doesn’t have too many places to buy souvenirs so I suggest you get them while you can

Mitad del Mundo

This is a must see while in Ecuador – afterall, how often can you say you stood in two hemispheres at the same time! Mitad del Mundo is the landmark for the center of the earth where the northern hemisphere meets the southern hemisphere (well, almost. It’s actually 240 meters off from the true 0’0’0 equator line).

Basilica del Vota

This gothic cathedral commands your attention from the moment you see it. It’s the largest neo-gothic basilica in the Americas and is located right in the center of historical Quito. You can explore so many different areas of the church – climbing the bell towers, catwalk the rooftop, and walking through the 24 different chapels. The fee to climb to the top is only $2 and well worth it. It isn’t for the faint of heart though as the staircase descends at almost a 90 degree angle. My most favorite part of the church is the detail in the gargoyles – instead of the traditional ones, they’re all native Galapagos animals… you’ll see alligators, monkeys, birds, and so much more.

Fun fact: when this church began construction in 1882, the government gave the builders 12000 pesos – which is now only worth 5 American cents!

Compania de Jesus

This baroque church is Quito’s most ornate church and it’s easy to see why. The church is almost entirely decorated in gold. The church still has services and can even be rented out as a wedding venue – can you imagine!

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Click HERE for the Top 5 Destinations You Cannot Miss in Ecuador!

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