Welcome to the middle of the world! The millenary and cosmopolitan city of Quito is the capital of Ecuador and the First Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Due to its geographical location, Quito is located at the centre of the Earth, seated high in the Andes, and by the Pichincha Volcano. At 2,850m elevation, Quito is also the highest capital city in the world.
Its historic centre is the largest and most well-preserved in America, with many beautiful churches, plazas and cultural areas. Quito won the World Travel Awards in 2013 as the Best Tourist Destination, and it was on the cover of the National Geographic Magazine as the Best of the World. Quito is also popular because of the variety of flowers on display, and the fact that they have the most beautiful roses in the world. This is the reason why dozens of hummingbirds live in this city. There are lots of great things to do in Quito such as visiting the Intiñan Museum or the beautiful Basilica del Voto Nacional. Below is our Quito travel guide with information on all the best things to do, places to go and what not to miss.
CLIMB TO VIRGEN DE LOURDES – Located at the highest point of the city, she has been watching how much Quito has grown with the passing of the years. Enjoy a nice panoramic view.
GO TO INTIÑAN MUSEUM – This museum has a lot of very interesting cultural pieces, and even a human head. Here you can stand on the equator line, the middle of the world!
VISIT THE BASILICA DEL VOTO NACIONAL – This beautiful colonial building has amazing architecture. You can climb the highest towers of the church - don’t worry because you can take the elevator, but just until a certain point - where you will cross the roof of this ancient church by a tiny wooden bridge. Keep walking two more floors and enjoy one of the best views of the city.
*** WHAT NOT TO MISS ***
Visit the Basilica Del Voto Nacional.
Go to the middle of the world at the Intiñan Museum.
Ecuador’s culinary scene and reputation is on the rise. It’s diverse and inexpensive, and core ingredients include potatoes, lentils, bananas, and rice, to name a few. Food here typically varies depending on the region: coastal areas produce ceviche and seafood, the mountainous regions specialise in meat, including cuy (guinea pig), and in the rainforest yucca (a root vegetable) and fruits are popular.
In Quitos, one good restaurant is Vista Hermosa (Mejia Oe4-45 y Garcia Moreno) located in the city centre. Come here for an incredible view over the city, and sample some of Ecuador’s finest and most typical gastronomy.
For a more local experience, go to Mercado Central (Av Pichincha), for stall after stall of some of Quito’s most traditional, and cheapest food. Explore this bustling market, stock up on groceries, and enjoy the large portions of fresh Ecuadorian cuisine.
A great option to start the night is to take the bus Casa 1028 (Santa María E4-96, 9 de Octubre y Francisco Pizarro), this is a restaurant on wheels. You will be driven around the nicest areas of the historic centre while you’re enjoying good food and drink, and learn all about the history of the city.
The area where the most popular bars and clubs are in Quito is around Plaza Foch, here the party starts on a Wednesday. A very popular bar is Azucar (Calle La Ronda) – here you can salsa to your heart’s content to live music, and the atmosphere is fantastic.
If you’re looking for something more bohemian, the bars in Guapulo and La Ronda area are the best option for you.
Quito has a subtropical highland climate and is divided into three areas; southern, central and northern. Whilst the south is the coolest place in town because it’s the highest point, the centre is hot and this is where you will get the highest temperatures. The north experiences temperate weather. Quito has two seasons, winter which experiences prolonged rain and a dry season, which are four months with the highest temperatures. Quito always has a temperate climate with temperatures ranging from 10 to 27 ° C.
Quitumbe is the name of the bus station in Quito and is where all the companies arrive into and depart from. The international airport is located just outside the city. There are different points from where you can arrive into Quito.
If you’re coming from Lima, Peru:
By plane it takes 2 hours and 30 minutes.
By bus it takes 1 day and 13 hours.
If you’re coming from Mancora, Peru:
By bus it takes 15 hours. The bus takes you to the immigration office and waits for you until you finish the visa process to get into the country.
If you’re coming from Guayaquil, Ecuador:
By plane it takes 55 minutes.
By bus it takes approximately 7 hours.
If you’re coming from Bogota, Colombia:
By plane it takes 1 hour and 40 minutes.
By bus it takes 26 hours.
If you’re coming from Ipiales, Colombia (at the border):
By bus it takes around 5 hours.
The best area to stay is in the neighbourhood of Mariscal Sucre where most of the attractions are located, like restaurants, cultural areas and clubs. There are many hostels and hotels that you can choose from.
One option is Hostel Revolution (Los Rios N13-11 y Julio Castro) which is cozy, is in a great location, and has lovely staff. Another good choice is The Secret Garden Quito (Calle Antepara E4-60 y Los Rios), which has a friendly atmosphere, and there’s a nice roof terrace where you can enjoy breakfast and take in the city views. The rooms are comfy and clean, and it’s just a short walk to the historic centre.
Due to its geographical position, the city of Quito receives extreme levels of solar radiation throughout the year, so use a lot of sunblock.
If you travel around Ecuador by bus, keep your valuables safe. The best way to do this is to keep a small bag on your lap, rather than by your feet.