Quito, the capital city of Ecuador, is a destination that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. This city sits in the Andes Mountains at an altitude of 2,850 meters, making it the second highest capital city in the world. With its well-preserved colonial architecture, rich indigenous heritage, and stunning natural scenery, Quito is a must-visit destination for travelers from around the world. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about what to do in Quito and how to make the most of your time in this amazing city.
Now let’s see…
What to do in Quito, cultural attractions:
La Basílica del Voto Nacional: One of the Largest Neo-Gothic Basilicas in South America
La Basílica del Voto Nacional is one of the largest neo-Gothic basilicas in South America and is considered one of the most important historical landmarks in Quito. The basilica was built between 1892 and 1926 and is notable for its intricate carvings, stained glass windows, and elaborate towers. Visitors can climb to the top of the towers for panoramic views of the city, and also explore the interior of the basilica, which is adorned with beautiful frescoes and stained glass windows.
El Panecillo: A Hill with a Statue of the Virgin Mary
El Panecillo is a hill located in the center of Quito that is home to a statue of the Virgin Mary. The statue stands at over 33 meters tall and is visible from many parts of the city. Visitors can take a cable car to the top of the hill, where they can enjoy panoramic views of Quito and visit the statue of the Virgin Mary. The statue is considered a symbol of hope and peace and is a popular destination for both tourists and locals.
La Compañía de Jesús: A Baroque-Style Church
La Compañía de Jesús is a Baroque-style church located in the heart of Quito’s Old Town. The church was built in the late 16th century and is considered one of the finest examples of Spanish colonial architecture in South America. Visitors can admire the intricate carvings, gilded altars, and ornate frescoes that adorn the interior of the church, and also explore the surrounding courtyards and gardens.
El Palacio de Carondelet: The Presidential Palace
El Palacio de Carondelet is the presidential palace in Quito and is a symbol of the country’s political power. The palace is located in the heart of the city and is notable for its neoclassical style, which is a departure from the traditional colonial-style architecture that is found in many other parts of the city. Visitors can tour the interior of the palace, which is adorned with beautiful frescoes, paintings, and sculptures.
La Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana: A Cultural Center
La Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana is a cultural center in Quito that is dedicated to showcasing the best of Ecuador’s art, music, and cultural heritage. The center is located in the heart of the city and features a museum, theater, and art galleries, as well as a cafe and gift shop. Visitors can explore the various exhibitions, attend performances, and learn about the rich cultural heritage of Ecuador.
The Old Town (Centro Histórico): A UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Old Town of Quito is one of the most historic and culturally rich areas in the city. This UNESCO World Heritage site is known for its colonial-style architecture and cobblestone streets, which transport visitors back in time to a bygone era. The Old Town is also home to a wealth of cultural and historical attractions, including churches, museums, and other cultural institutions.
What to do in Quito, best museums:
Museum of the Central Bank of Ecuador
The Museum of the Central Bank of Ecuador, also known as the Central Bank Museum, is one of the most notable museums in the city. Housed in a beautiful colonial-style building, the museum offers visitors a comprehensive overview of Ecuador’s monetary history and economy. With exhibits covering everything from indigenous currency to modern-day banking, the museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in the country’s financial history.
Museum of the Nation
The Museum of the Nation is another notable museum in Quito that offers visitors a comprehensive overview of Ecuador’s history and culture. With exhibits covering everything from pre-Columbian civilizations to modern-day Ecuador, the museum is an excellent resource for anyone looking to learn more about the country’s rich heritage. Additionally, the museum is housed in a beautiful colonial-style building that adds to its overall appeal.
Museum of Modern Art
For those interested in contemporary art, the Museum of Modern Art in Quito is a must-visit. With a focus on Ecuadorian and Latin American artists, the museum showcases some of the best modern and contemporary works in the region. The museum’s collection includes a range of media, from paintings and sculptures to photography and installations. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or simply looking for something unique and cultural to do in Quito, the Museum of Modern Art is well worth a visit.
Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana
The Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana, also known as the Ecuadorian Cultural House, is another notable museum in Quito. This museum is dedicated to preserving and promoting the country’s cultural heritage, with a focus on indigenous art, music, and dance. The museum’s collection includes traditional clothing, musical instruments, and artifacts from Ecuador’s indigenous communities. The museum also hosts a variety of cultural events, such as concerts and performances, which are open to the public.
Museo de la Ciudad
The Museo de la Ciudad, or City Museum, is a unique museum in Quito that focuses on the city’s history and architecture. The museum’s collection includes artifacts, photographs, and historical maps that give visitors a comprehensive understanding of Quito’s rich heritage. In addition, the museum also showcases the city’s stunning colonial-style architecture, making it a must-visit for anyone interested in the city’s history and culture.
What to do in Quito, outdoor attractions:
Pichincha Volcano: a stratovolcano with scenic hiking trails
Pichincha Volcano is a stratovolcano located just outside of Quito. It offers scenic hiking trails for those who are looking for a challenging outdoor adventure. The most popular trail is the “Volcanoes Route,” which takes you to the summit of Rucu Pichincha, one of the two peaks of the volcano. The hike takes about 4-5 hours and is considered to be a strenuous hike. However, the views from the top are breathtaking, and well worth the effort.
Parque Metropolitano: a large park in the heart of Quito
Parque Metropolitano is a large park located in the heart of Quito. It offers a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and picnicking. The park has several hiking trails, including the “Metropolitano Trail,” which takes you to the summit of the park. From the top, you can enjoy panoramic views of the city and the surrounding mountains. The park also has several picnic areas, making it a great place to spend a relaxing afternoon with family or friends.
Parque La Carolina: a popular park for locals and tourists alike
Parque La Carolina is a popular park located in the northern part of Quito. It is a great place for locals and tourists alike to enjoy outdoor activities. The park has several walking paths, a large lake, and several picnic areas. It is also home to several events and festivals throughout the year, including the Ecuadorian International Book Fair and the Quito International Film Festival.
TelefériQo: a cable car that offers panoramic views of the city
TelefériQo is a cable car located in Quito that offers panoramic views of the city and the surrounding mountains. The cable car takes you from the center of Quito to the top of Cruz Loma, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the city. The ride takes about 20 minutes each way and is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of Quito.
Mitad del Mundo Museum: a museum dedicated to the equator line
Mitad del Mundo Museum is a museum located in Quito that is dedicated to the equator line. The museum is located on the exact spot where the equator line passes through Ecuador and offers a wide range of exhibits and activities related to the equator and its impact on the world. Visitors can learn about the history and science of the equator line, as well as participate in hands-on activities and demonstrations.
What to do in Quito, best day trips:
Mindo Cloud Forest
One of the most popular day trips from Quito is to the Mindo Cloud Forest. Located just two hours from the city, this lush and diverse ecosystem is a must-see for nature lovers. The cloud forest is known for its diverse birdlife, including the vibrant and rare hummingbirds, as well as its stunning orchids and bromeliads. You can also explore the forest through a variety of activities, including hiking, zip lining, and tubing.
The Equator Line
Another popular day trip from Quito is to the Equator Line, which is located just 45 minutes from the city. This unique location straddles the line between the northern and southern hemispheres, making it a fascinating place to visit. At the Equator Line, you can experience the coriolis effect, which demonstrates how water drains in different directions based on which hemisphere you are in. There are also several interesting museums and exhibits, including the Intiñan Solar Museum, which provides an interactive and educational experience for visitors.
Cotopaxi National Park
For those who are looking for adventure, a day trip to Cotopaxi National Park is a must. This park is located just an hour and a half from Quito and offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. The main attraction of the park is the majestic Cotopaxi volcano, which is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. For those who are feeling brave, you can even attempt to climb to the summit!
The Middle of the World City
The Middle of the World City is another interesting day trip from Quito. This city was built specifically to commemorate the location of the Equator Line and offers a unique blend of history and culture. Here, you can visit the Monument to the Equator, which is a large monument that marks the exact location of the line. You can also explore the various museums and cultural centers in the city, which showcase the rich history and traditions of Ecuador.
The Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve
For those who are interested in history and geology, a day trip to the Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve is a must. This unique reserve is located just a few hours from Quito and offers a unique glimpse into the geological history of the region. The main attraction of the reserve is the Pululahua Crater, which was formed by a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. Today, the crater is home to a lush and diverse ecosystem, including a variety of plant and animal species.
What to do in Quito, where to grab street food:
La Mariscal Neighborhood
Located in the heart of Quito, La Mariscal is one of the city’s most popular tourist areas and is known for its lively street food scene. This neighborhood is home to a variety of street vendors selling everything from empanadas and tamales to traditional Ecuadorian dishes such as locro de papas and ceviche. Visitors can find street food vendors on almost every corner, making it a great place to try a variety of different dishes.
One of the most popular street food stalls in La Mariscal is “El Chorizo”, which serves a variety of delicious grilled sausages. Another must-try is “La Parrillada”, a street vendor that specializes in grilled meats, including chicken, beef, and pork. If you’re looking for something sweet, be sure to try “Los Helados”, an ice cream stand that serves a variety of flavors made with locally-sourced ingredients.
Mercado Central, Quito’s central market, is another great place to try street food. With its bustling atmosphere and large selection of food stalls, Mercado Central is a great place to experience the local culture and sample a variety of different dishes. Visitors can find street vendors selling everything from roasted chicken and plantains to ceviche and locro de papas.
One of the most popular street food stalls in Mercado Central is “La Esquina del Ceviche”, which serves some of the freshest and most flavorful ceviche in Quito. Another must-try is “El Churrasco”, a street vendor that specializes in grilled meats, including chicken, beef, and pork. If you’re looking for something sweet, be sure to try “Los Dulces”, a street vendor that sells a variety of traditional Ecuadorian sweets and desserts.
Parque El Ejido
Parque El Ejido is a large park located in the heart of Quito and is a popular gathering place for locals. The park is surrounded by street food vendors selling a variety of different dishes, including traditional Ecuadorian foods such as locro de papas and ceviche. Visitors can also find street vendors selling empanadas, tamales, and grilled meats.
One of the most popular street food stalls in Parque El Ejido is “La Parrilla”, which specializes in grilled meats and serves some of the best chicken and beef in Quito. Another must-try is “El Ceviche”, a street vendor that serves some of the freshest and most flavorful ceviche in the city. If you’re looking for something sweet, be sure to try “Los Helados Artesanales”, a street vendor that sells handcrafted ice cream in a variety of flavors made with locally-sourced ingredients.
Where to eat in Quito:
Casa Gangotena is a luxurious hotel located in the heart of Quito’s historic center. The hotel’s restaurant, named after the hotel, is one of the finest dining experiences in Quito. The menu is centered around traditional Ecuadorian cuisine, with a focus on locally sourced ingredients and traditional recipes. The dishes are beautifully presented and the ambiance is elegant and sophisticated.
La Marmita is a beloved local restaurant in Quito, known for its traditional Ecuadorian cuisine and charming atmosphere. The menu is inspired by the country’s rich cultural heritage and features dishes such as ceviche, locro de papas, and ají de gallina. The restaurant is popular among locals and tourists alike, and the friendly staff will make you feel right at home.
El Pobre Diablo
El Pobre Diablo is a chic, contemporary restaurant in Quito that offers a fusion of Ecuadorian and international cuisine. The menu features a range of dishes, from grilled meats and fresh seafood to unique vegetarian options. The restaurant has a relaxed and sophisticated atmosphere, making it a perfect place for a romantic evening out or a night with friends.
La Belle Époque
La Belle Époque is a French-style bistro located in the heart of Quito. The menu features classic French dishes such as escargots, bouillabaisse, and crème brûlée, all made with the finest ingredients and prepared to perfection. The atmosphere is intimate and elegant, and the service is top-notch. Whether you’re a fan of French cuisine or just looking for a special dining experience, La Belle Époque is the perfect choice.
Zazu is a popular restaurant in Quito that offers a range of international cuisine, including Italian, Mediterranean, and Asian flavors. The menu is constantly changing, with new dishes and seasonal specials being added regularly. The restaurant has a lively and energetic atmosphere, making it a great choice for a night out with friends.
Where to stay in Quito, the best hotels:
Hilton Colon Quito
The Hilton Colon Quito is a luxurious hotel located in the heart of the city, just steps away from some of the most popular attractions and landmarks in Quito. With its spacious rooms, elegant décor, and extensive list of amenities, this hotel is the perfect choice for travelers looking for a high-end experience.
The Hilton Colon Quito offers a range of room options, from standard rooms to suites, each with comfortable beds, modern furnishings, and breathtaking views of the city. Additionally, the hotel features a large outdoor pool, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and a fine dining restaurant, making it an ideal choice for those looking to relax and recharge during their stay.
JW Marriott Hotel Quito
The JW Marriott Hotel Quito is a luxurious hotel located in the upscale La Floresta neighborhood of Quito. With its contemporary design, spacious rooms, and extensive list of amenities, this hotel is the perfect choice for travelers looking for a top-notch experience in Quito.
The JW Marriott Hotel Quito features a range of room options, from standard rooms to suites, each with comfortable beds, modern furnishings, and breathtaking views of the city. Additionally, the hotel features a large outdoor pool, a well-equipped fitness center, and a fine dining restaurant, making it an ideal choice for those looking to relax and recharge during their stay.
Hotel Patio Andaluz
The Hotel Patio Andaluz is a charming and stylish hotel located in the heart of the historic center of Quito. With its beautifully restored colonial architecture, charming courtyard, and elegant rooms, this hotel is the perfect choice for those looking for a unique and authentic Quito experience.
The Hotel Patio Andaluz offers a range of rooms, each featuring traditional colonial décor, comfortable beds, and private bathrooms. The hotel also offers a range of amenities, including a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the city, a restaurant serving traditional Ecuadorian cuisine, and a cozy lounge area for guests to relax in.
There is no end to the things you can do in Quito
Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, there is no shortage of things to do in Quito. With its rich history, diverse culture, and breathtaking landscapes, this city is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in experiencing the best of South America. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Quito today!
We hope that you enjoy your stay in Quito, Ecuador and that the list of hotels will help you have many wonderful stays. Your Trip Planner sets the pace in providing quality information for you on your trip!
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