Quito is the capital of Ecuador. It was founded in 1534 on the ruins of an ancient Inca city. Today, two million people live in Quito. It was the first city to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978 (along with Kraków in Poland).
Quito stretches across valleys between two mountain ranges which are part of the Andes. At an altitude of 2,850 m (9,350 feet), it is one of the world's highest capital cities. The altitude is high enough that most individuals will experience some degree of altitude sickness for the first few days, so plan accordingly.
Quito is roughly divided into three parts: the Old City at the center, with southern and northern districts to either side.
Quito's Old City is the largest in the Americas and was one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites, formally recognizing it as the largest and most intact colonial city center remaining in the Americas. It has undergone a restoration and revitalization program, mainly financed by the Inter-American Development Bank. It boasts no fewer than 40 churches and convents, 16 convents and monasteries. The convent, and church, of San Francisco was built in 1535 making it the oldest intact convent in South America.
Old town also includes 17 Squares, the most significant being Independence Plaza where the Presidential Palace, the Archbishop's Palace, a hotel used primarily by diplomats and the main municipal of Quito make up the four sides. Almost always music, performed by locals who use the Plaza as a gathering place in the evening, permeates the scene in spontaneous affairs, and can range from singing to guitar to singing. In some cases tips are appropriate but most are not looking for money. A beautiful place to spend a lazy afternoon. Significant police presence, including military and national police, keeps the square as one of the safest places in the city (due to the Presidential residence). Old Town has been called the 'Reliquary of the Americas' for the richness of its colonial- and independence-era architecture and heritage. It's a great quarter to wander, with several excellent museums and plenty of restaurants and terrace and courtyard cafes for a rest while sightseeing. With unique restaurants, incredible churches worth seeing regardless of your religious views, museums, shops and more this 500 year old colonial city center provides a unique experience.
Modern, northern Quito (just to the north of the old city and south of the old airport - now called Parque Bicentenario) is a larger place worth exploring, particularly the "La Mariscal" quarter, with plenty of museums, urban parks, restaurants, and nightlife. With the greatest concentration of tourist facilities, this is the place to be if you wear a backpack. Bars, restaurants, hostels and internet cafes abound, and young people from many countries tend to congregate there. Of particular note also, the new National Museum is here, a very well put-together history museum focused on Ecuador, especially the different native and Catholic colonial cultures. Simon Bolivar is a major presence, both in the museum and across the city. As Ecuador's most famed national hero, Simon Bolivar should never be slandered or debated with locals despite more controversial views of him outside Latin America.
The southern and northern (from Parque Bicentenario up) districts of the city are more working class and seldom visited by tourists. Be careful if traveling in these parts of the city, especially at night. Ask reliable locals about safety, including taxi drivers who will often tell you when you should lock your doors and roll up your windows. Many taxi drivers are using translation apps on their phones to try and speak with those from other countries (especially China and the USA). Using a voice translation app on your phone is a great way to engage and learn about your surroundings, and is appreciated - though be sure to try and greet and say goodbye in Spanish even if you mess up.
Be prepared to speak some basic Spanish in order to get along. Very few locals speak English except in the touristy areas of North Quito which includes "La Mariscal" quarter, where most tourist businesses are located. But Quito is an excellent city in which to learn Spanish before heading off to other places in South America. The Spanish spoken in Quito is very clear and it is spoken slowly as compared to coastal areas. There are many excellent Spanish schools, where you can have private or group lessons very economically. These schools will also arrange homestay accommodation which is convenient, inexpensive and a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the culture and try the local food.
Ecuador, especially the Sierra region that includes Quito, is culturally a very conservative society. This is reflected in manner of dress. People of all socio-economic backgrounds tend to dress up in Ecuador. For men, this means a pair of trousers and a button down shirt. For women, slacks or dresses are acceptable. Men and women seldom wear short pants in Quito, although casual clothes have become somewhat more accepted especially among the young and on very hot days. Some popular nightclubs and restaurants enforce a dress code. Lastly, remember that Quito is said to have "all four seasons in a day". Once the sun goes down it can get downright cold. Dressing in layers is a good idea.
The standard weather forecast just doesn't suit Quito.
Located on the equator, there is almost no variation in daily temperatures year-round. The altitude makes it cooler than one would expect when directly on the equator, providing a reliably comfortable temperature range daily. The altitude also means the city has very few insects, and most windows in hotels will lack screens for this reason. Air conditioners and heaters are virtually nonexistent because of the steady temperature that varies between the low 50s at night (Fahrenheit) to roughly 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.
There are two recognized seasons - dry and rainy. However, it often sprinkles and sometimes rains hard, even in the dry season. If you see rain forecast for every day of your visit, it doesn't usually mean a full day or rain, or even that it will rain in the part of the city you are visiting. If you do not want to get rained on, it is a good idea to carry an umbrella or poncho.
It's tropical location, altitude, and surrounding mountains make it a city of microclimates and intra-day variations. While small, the sudden changes can be jarring at first. With the city extending up the sides of some volcanos, most notably Pinchincha, the climate can feel different simply due to altitude.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
- Quito Visitors' Bureau, ☏ , , email@example.com. Has several information centres around the city. These include at the International Arrivals terminal at the airport; the small Parque Gabriela Mistral, on Reina Victoria in the Mariscal quarter; the Banco Central Museum in the Mariscal District; and finally, in the Old Town, on the ground floor of the Palacio Municipal on one side of Plaza Grande - their main centre. This includes helpful staff, lockers for leaving bags, maps, leaflets and books for sale, a store of Ecuadorian crafts. This offices offers subsidised guided tours, with various routes available. The Visitors' Bureau publishes a useful A3-size map with all the city's attractions. You can pick it up at their information offices. They also publish a number of pocket guides on various themes, including walking guides, a guide to the city's viewpoints, a guide to the Mariscal, routes north, south and northwest. Their website has an interactive map, listings of hotels and restaurants, videos, etc.
- Ministry of Tourism office, at Calle Briceño E1-24 y Guayaquil (near the Simón Bolívar ecovia stop), ☏ . caters to tourists.
- 1 Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO IATA Aeropuerto Internacional Mariscal Sucre) (is located on the Oyambaro plain near the town of Tababela, about 18 km (11 mi) east of Quito). Ecuador. There are (almost) daily flights serving Amsterdam, Atlanta, Houston, Madrid, Miami, New York, Caracas, Bogotá, Lima, Panama City, Guayaquil, Mexico City, Santiago de Chile. Airlines include KLM, United Airlines, Copa Airlines, Delta Air Lines, LATAM, Avianca Holdings (Alianza Summa), Iberia, Aeromexico, Air Europa, Air France, American Airlines Conviasa, Interjet, JetBlue, Plus Ultra Lineas Aereas, and Wingo. Some of these flights continue to or originate from Guayaquil. It has one of the longest runways in Latin America at 4,100 m long.
The airport is modern and well organised, with domestic and international sections all contained within the one terminal building. Checkin Zones A and B generally lead through to domestic, and zones C and D to international. All arrivals (domestic and international) are funnelled into the baggage claim and landside area and have to clear security before joining another flight.
There is a single large VIP lounge upstairs in the international area, airside. It has partnership agreements with some airlines, and paid admission. It has showers, and a rest area, choice of drinks and selection of food. There is a restaurant airside in each of the international and domestic segments, and a selection of shops. There is a TGI Fridays landside.
Across the road from the terminal is an airport centre. There is a broader and cheaper selection of restaurants here, and a food court. There is some souvenir shopping and a handful of general shops, and shops where you can buy SIM cards from Claro and Tuenti (on the ground level). There is a layover lounge that's small and expensive (US$38), but has showers and some refreshments.
The whole terminal and adjacent airport centre has fast and free Wi-Fi.
There is a taxi kiosk to the left of the information desk on the arrival floor. Inside the terminal building, but landside after exiting baggage claim. Destinations are listed with fares. The kiosk can tell you which zone is for you hotel and the right fare for you. Fare should be between $25-35. The fare to the Centro Historico is $26 (Jan 2018), and you get a card that entitles you to a $29 fare back to the airport. You'll get a slip of paper, that you take to the rank controller, and you'll pay the taxi driver on arrival.
There is an airport express bus (look for the red signs on the ground floor or of the terminal) that will take you into the city for $8, or $14 return (Jan 2018).
There are some public transport buses, that connect to the bus terminals outside Quito.
The old "Terminal Terrestre," which was located in Cumandá (center of the city) has been replaced by two new terminals.
- Terminal Quitumbe (located in the far south of Quito), services all the buses that go to any destination south of Quito: Basically all of the coastal provinces, all of the Amazonian provinces, and all of the mountain region (sierra) provinces except two: Carchi and Imbabura (where Otavalo and other tourist attractions are located). This terminal can be reached by local buses (which often leave La Marin in Old Town) or by the Trolebus and Metro trolleys.
- For Carchi and Imbabura (where Otavalo and other tourist attractions are located) two you need to go to Terminal Carcelén (located in the far north of Quito). This terminal can be reached by local buses (which you can catch at La Marin in Old Town or El Ejido in New Town) or by Ecovia, Trolebus and Metro
- Some bus companies have their own terminals near La Mariscal. These include TransEsmeraldas (just past la Colon), Flota Imbabura (above El Ejido), and Reina del Camino (also above El Ejido). However, Reina del Camino buses are among the country's most dangerous, and are either too warm or too cold. A number of English tourists and many Ecuadorians have died in Reina bus crashes.
Complete bus schedules, as well as trains and domestic flights, are at EcuadorSchedules.com. Fares depend on where you're going. Long distance bus fares in Ecuador cost around $1 per hour, but generally the price is already established. So if for some reason, your bus trip takes double the time to get to your destination, for whatever reason (damaged road, too much traffic, etc.) you don't have to pay the extra hours.
Still, the same safeguards apply: as long as you hold on to your belongings and don't hang around there at odd hours, it is safe. People will probably shout at you asking where you are going. They either work for a bus company and want to get you to buy a ticket with that company or want to help you find the bus you are looking for in exchange for a tip. If you arrive with a lot of luggage it's best to avoid the public transportation system in Quito and take a taxi to your hotel. Ecuadorian long-distance buses will generally let passengers off anywhere along their route.
There are 3 independent systems of buses, that have enclosed stations - the stops are roadside platforms, covered with entrances where you pay your fare on the way in. There are a few transfer stations, buy most transfers involve exiting the station. They are very inexpensive ($0.25 for a single ride (Feb 2018)). These lines follow north-south-lines down through the heart of Quito, and they have stations close to La Mariscal where most hotels are located. There is no tradition of waiting for people to disembark before people board, so this may take some getting used to. The buses are among the cleanest of South America. P While the buses can be extremely crowded, pickpocketing is a rare occurrence and can be avoided with common sense.
- El Trole (green stations, buses of different colors) run from station La Y in the north to El Recreo in the south. In the Centro Historico, it has the closest stations to Plaza Grande. Many buses that run on the route are not trolley buses, but are diesel-fueled.
- Metrobus (Blue stations marked with a Q, buses of different colors) run from Universidad Central in America Avenue, next to Prensa Ave, and then to Diego de Vasquez Ave. until Carcelen last station, this is the best bus service for visitors who wants to visit the Mitad del Mundo Monument, because at Ofelia station the public service buses that go to Mitad del Mundo monument wait to make the transfer and carry visitors to Mitad del Mundo, $0.25 until Ofelia station, $0.35 to Mitad del Mundo Monument ($0.15 if you come from/go to the Metrobus).
- Ecovia (Red buses and stations marked with an e) run from Rio Coca Station (north) to La Marin Station inside the Quito historic downtown. Serves stations close to Casa de la Cultura and Estadio Olímpico and Quicentro mall. 25¢, change available at the stations.
The Quito Metro is scheduled to open in 2021, and will travel from Quitumbe bus terminal through the Centro Historico and La Mariscal to the old airport in 30 min. This will likely cause changes to the Trolebus, Metrobus and Ecovia services.
Taxis are generally an easy and cheap way to travel around Quito. In the main city areas you won't wait more than a few seconds for a taxi, and if they see you by the roadside they will flash their lights as they approach if they are available. However, Quito traffic can make them a slow way to travel at times.
A taxi ride costs a minimum of $1 during the day and a minimum of $2 at night. No more than $5 will usually get you to any of the main tourist sites.
Safety is a much discussed issue with Quito taxis, and the local authorities are trying their best to improve their reputation, by installing cameras and tracking in taxis. However, some care should be taken. Most hotels, restaurants and tourist establishments will call you a taxi that they have approved as safe and legitimate. You won't wait more than a minute or so. It is a standard service for tourists, and you won't get a second look for asking. If unsure about a taxi, call your hotel and they can generally have a safe taxi dispatched to your location. Easy Taxi is the most used app for taxis in Quito, and identifies the taxi you are using. Uber also operates in Quito.
If you decide to flag down taxis on the street, then only use official taxis (yellow with a number painted on the door). Make sure the driver turns on the taxi meter if you don't want to get ripped off and find another taxi if they claim it's broken (taxímetro). Some taxi drivers yamper with the meters to cause them to run faster than they should (e.g. when turning corners). If you observe this, tell the driver to stop, get out, and get another taxi. At night or if they refuse to use the meter, negotiate the price before getting in, or wait for the next.
Carry small denominations of money and have exact change for your taxi fare. If you do not have exact change, taxi drivers conveniently won't be able to make change for you and will try to convince you to make the change a tip instead. When taking a taxi be sure you are aware of the fastest route; if a driver is using the meter he may take the scenic route.
There have been instances of taxi drivers pulling weapons on tourists and steal their money, cameras, etc. Secuestro express (express kidnapping) is a crime that taxi drivers have committed. It may make you feel safer knowing that in most parts of Quito Marsical and Old Town during the day the taxi will rarely go much faster than walking pace, and would struggle to make a rapid getaway.
The railway station is at the south end of the old city, close to the El Trole route. The railway is very rundown and services are erratic. It's best to check with the Visitors' Bureau on the most recent timetable.
You can rent a car in Quito, but it's not recommended for getting around the city. It's not worth the effort with taxis so cheap. Renting a car is a possibility for exploring further afield, to the Cotopaxi or Otavalo or Papallacta areas, for instance, but is only recommended for those who speak a bit of Spanish and can handle the tension of Ecuador's 'lax' driving rules.
- You can also get around by renting a bike at Yellow Bike or Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental. Quito offers a unique cycle path that goes around the northern part of the city, throughout Av. Amazonas to Parque La Carolina. If you rent a bike to travel around Quito be careful and use a helmet, it is a nice adventure and a cheap way to get around:
- Lizardo Garcia 512 y Almagro, La Mariscal
- Yellow Bike [dead link]
- Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental, Finlandia N35-06 y Suecia, Sector la Carolina. They offer a wide range of motorscooters and motorcycles and can fit them with a GPS. With a self-guided GPS tour, you can see all of the sights in the city at your own pace and see much more than with a car, bicycle or taxi. Each rider goes through a mini safety course on how to ride the scooter and all rentals include helmets.
- Riderly. They partner with a number of scooter and motorbikes rental businesses locally that meet a high standard of quality for the vehicles they rent. All riders and passengers are provided with safety gear, including a full face helmet.
- 1 Conjunto monumental San Francisco, Cuenca 477. The church dates to 1537 and was devoted to San Francis, since the Franciscan order was the first to settle in the area. Hence the city's official name: San Francisco de Quito. The church contains masterpieces of syncretic art, including the famous "Virgin of Quito" by Legarda. The sculpture represents a winged virgin stepping on the devil's head (in the form of a serpent) and is displayed in the main altar. The virgin would later be inaccurately replicated on top of Panecillo hill. The museum next door to the church is arranged through the monastic compound and includes access to the choir.
- 2 Plaza Grande. Main plaza of Quito with national significance that features the monument to the independence heroes of August 10, 1809.
- 3 Museo Nacional -- MuNa (formerly Museo del Banco Central), Av. Patria y Av. Seis de DiciembreEdificio de la Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana (in the Casa de la Cultura complex and adjacent to the Parque El Ejido. Casa de la Cultura station in Ecovía bus.), ☏ . Tuesday-Sunday 10ː00-17ː00, closed Monday. Perhaps Ecuador's most renowned museum with different rooms, devoted to pre-Columbian, Colonial and gold works of art, among other topics. Some of the famous pieces include whistle bottles shaped like animals, elaborate gold headdresses and re-created miniature scenes of life along the Amazon. The museum is well-organized, and it takes about 3–4 hours to see everything. Entrance $2. Guides who speak several different languages including English, French and Spanish are available for a small fee. Do not confuse this museum with the Banco Central which is a small exhibition downtown, across from La Compañía church. This exhibit usually shows currency or stamps. free.
- 4 Casa de la Cultura, De Diciembre 794 y Patria 6 (Casa de la Cultura station in Ecovía bus), ☏ . Shows a patchwork of local artists. Free entrance.
- 5 Museo de la Ciudad, Garcia Moreno street (in the Old Town, opposite the Carmen Alto monastery). A lovely museum with two floors encircling two quiet courtyards, the "Museo de la Ciudad" provides more of a social history of Ecuador than other museums in Quito. Re-enacted scenes from daily life of Ecuador's citizens through the years include a hearth scene from a 16th-century home, a battle scene against the Spanish, and illustrations of the building of Iglesia de San Francisco church.
- 6 Botanical Gardens (Jardin Botanico), Pasaje # 34 Interior Parque de Rumipamba E6-264 (on the south side of Parque La Carolina), ☏ . F-Su 10ː00-15ː00. It's a wonderful escape from the city, with all of Ecuador's ecosystems represented with a wide variety of flora. You can take a guided tour or just wander. The highlight for many people are the two glassed-in orchidariums. $10 for adults, $5 students.
- 7 Museo Etnohistorico de Artesanias del Ecuador Mindalae (Ethnohistoric Museum of Handicrafts of Ecuador Mindalae), Reina Victoria N26 – 166 y La Niña, ☏ . M-F 09:30–17:30; Sa 10:00–17:30. An extremely original project in the north part of the Mariscal District, this museum provides an 'ethno-historical' view of Ecuador's amazingly rich cultural diversity. You can find out about the country's different peoples, from the coast to the Andes to the Amazon, and their crafts in a specially-built and designed structure. The museum has a large fair-trade shop that sells handicrafts and natural products. $3.
- 8 Itchimbia cultural complex and park, Jose Maria Aguirre (to the east of the Old Town). M-F 05ː00-18ː00; Sa-Su 09ː00-15ː00. This hill provides stunning views of central and northern Quito, as well as the distant peak of Cayambe to the northeast. The hillside was made into a park and an impressive cultural centre established here in 2005. The centre holds temporary exhibitions. At the weekends, there are workshops and fun for children. Pim's restaurant is open at the complex. The complex closes at 18:00. Once it closes, you can head to the nearby Cafe Mosaico to watch the sunset until about 19:00. It's a great spot to watch the fading of the light on the mountainside with the floodlights of the Old Town's churches.
- 9 Museo Guayasamin and Capilla del Hombre (Guayasamin Museum and Chapel of Man), Mariano Calvache y Lorenzo Chávez, Bellavista, ☏ . M-F 09ː30-13ː00. This museum houses the collection of Ecuador's most renowned contemporary artists, Oswaldo Guayasamin. It has a fine collection of pre-Columbian, colonial and independence art, and houses many of the artist's works. The adjoining Chapel of Man was built posthumously to house some of Guayasamin's vast canvases on the condition of Latin American Man. Adults $8; students, seniors, people with disabilities $4; children under 12 free.
- 10 Calle de la Ronda. This street in the Old Town was restored by Municipality and FONSAL in 2007. It was transformed with the help and cooperation of the local residents. It's a romantic cobbled street just off the Plaza Santo Domingo (or it can be reached via Garcia Moreno by the City Museum). There are shops, patios, art galleries and modest cafe restaurants now, all run by residents. Cultural events are common at the weekends. It lacks the liveliness and buzz of the adjacent streets. Go in the late afternoon to find the most shops open and people wandering the laneway.
- 11 La Vírgen del Panecillo (Adjacent to the Old City). El Panecillo is a large hill on top of which is La Virgin del Panecillo, a large statue of the 'winged' Virgin Mary. She can be seen from most points in the city. Local legend has it that she is the only virgin in Quito. Never walk up the hill, always take a taxi or a bus as the walk up can be dangerous.
- 12 Museo Casa del Alabado (Casa del Alabado Museum), Cuenca N1-41, Bolívar, ☏ . Th-Su 09ː00-15ː00. The permanent collection is made up of pre-Columbian archaeological pieces, from most societies that once inhabited all regions of what is now Ecuador. The Alabado is organized thematically and not chronologically or geographically to allow visitors to generate their own visual and cultural connections about the pieces, in an innovative cultural framework. The works are displayed beautifully in a restored colonial building just off the Plaza San Francisco. Tours in Spanish, English or French every day, at 10:30, 12:00 and 15:30. Services for visitors with reduced mobility: ramps, lift, bathroom and wheelchair. Adults $6, children 4-12 $2, children up to 3 free.
- 13 Mitad del Mundo (take a bus from Occidental or Av. America for $0.40 that has "Mitad del Mundo" clearly written large on the front. You can also take the Metrobus northbound to its last stop: La Ofelia, and then take a bus from there to the monument ($0.25 + $0.15); it takes at least 1 hour to get there by public transport. You can also go with a tour ($15) or hire a taxi driver by the hour; the hourly rate should be in the $12 or less range). Just outside of Quito is where the measurements were first made that proved that the shape of the Earth is in fact an oblate spheroid. Commemorating this is a large monument that straddles the equator called Mitad del Mundo or middle of the world. The entrance for the park is $5 (included entrance to small museums - Dec 2019). Visit here if you're interested in learning some alternative facts and seeing some kitsch. Because it's not on the equator itself, and it's not a serious cultural or educational experience. No, the water doesn't really go down the plughole the opposite way in the hemispheres, and if you want to take it seriously you won't enjoy your time here. For some of the attractions like the planetarium, the price is $7.50. You can also go to the Intiñan Solar Museum which is right next to the monument, on the other side of the north fence. The museum is actually on the equator. For $4 you can have a tour of this little museum.
- 14 Iglesia de la Compañia de Jesus (Church of the Jesuits) (In the Old City). This church is regarded by many as the most beautiful in the Americas. Partially destroyed by fire, it was restored with assistance from the Getty Foundation and other benefactors. Stunning.
- 15 Basílica del Voto Nacional (Basilica of the National Vow). Daily 09:00-17:00. Is said to be the largest Neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas. Construction began in 1892.
Other attractions if time allows
- 16 Yaku Water Museum, El Placer, ☏ . Tu-Sa 09:00-17:30, Su 09:00-16:30, M closed. A museum about water's role in science and society.
- 17 Zoológico de Quito, Urb, Huertos Familiares, ☏ . Tu-F 08:30-17:00, Sa-Su 09:30-17:00, M closed. See some representative Ecuadorian species here as well as other animals. $6 adults, $4 kids, $3 seniors.
- 18 Metropolitan Cultural Center, Gabriel García Moreno. Tu-Sa 09:00-17:30, Su 10:00-16:00, M closed. A historic building from 1622 that features temporary art exhibits. Also be sure to see Museo Alberto Mena Camaño, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and Palacio de Carondelet along the Plaza Grande for more important historical perspectives on Ecuador.
- 19 La Merced. Old convent from colonial period with lots of gold leaf inside.
- 20 Astronomical Observatory of Quito, Av Gran Colombia y 10 de Agosto (inside Park of the Alameda), ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. Planetarium and unique building offering views of Quito.
- 21 Contemporary Art Center of Quito, Montevideo y Luis Dávila (inside Antiguo Hospital Militar), ☏ . Th-Su 11:00-16:00. Modern art museum.
- 22 Museo Templo del Sol Pintor Cristobal Ortega Maila, ☏ . Daily 09:00-17:00. Indigenous attraction alongside the Puluahua Geobotanical Preserve (Crater).
- Explore the Old Town With its gorgeous mixture of colonial and republican/independence era architecture (late 1500s to 1800s), relaxing plazas and a stunning number of churches. If you happen to be there during Christmas or Easter, you'll be amazed at the number of events, masses, and processions that bring out the crowds. You'll find craft shops, cafes, restaurants and hotels across its grid of streets.
- A recommended walking tour that could enhance your vision of the Historic Center is as follows. Take the trolley (watch your belongings) south until "Cumanda" stop. Get down, you are on Maldonado street. There you will have an impressive view of what once was the "Jerusalem" ravine, which stands between Panecillo and the core. Walk north past the trolley stop and go down a narrow stairway that brings you to La Ronda street, of Pre-Columbian origins. Walk up picturesque La Ronda until you reach Av. 24 de Mayo. This boulevard was built on top of this section of Jerusalem ravine to connect the two sides of town. On Garcia Moreno Street turn north and you will arrive to the Museo de la Ciudad, which provides an easy and interactive history of Quito. Then walk on Garcia Moreno street until Sucre, which is a pedestrian street. La Compania is at the corner and if you go up Sucre street you will reach San Francisco. If you continue on Garcia Moreno you will reach the Main (independence) Square. If you go to San Francisco, then walk to La Merced and down to the Main Square. This itinerary follows a chronological and logical sequence of sites. Most people do it backwards, turning La Ronda and Museo de la Ciudad as distant points where you're usually worn out by the time you get there. In any event, the Historic Center is so vast that you need more than one visit to see it all. The recommended walk provides you with a good overview if you're short of time or want to see as much as possible on a first day.
- La Floresta is Quito's artsy neighborhood, and home to many of Quito's most beautiful murals. In La Floresta, you can find everything from 150-year-old colonial houses to creative relaxing cafe's. Also known for great restaurants and street food (Parque de las Comidas), La Floresta is worth a visit for people looking for Quito's hidden gems.
- Watch the old men play Ecuador's version of bocce at Parque El Ejido. You can also see some serious games of Ecua-volley, the local version of volleyball, on a Saturday or Sunday.
- Bicycle Ride: the Ciclopaseo takes place every Sunday. 30 km (20 miles) of roads running north-south through the city are completely closed to traffic. People cycle, run and blade the route. Up to 30,000 people take part. Several bike shops rent bikes for visitors to be able to take part.
- 1 TelefériQo, ☏ . M-F 10:00-17:15, Sa-Su 08:00-18:15. It's the world's second-highest cable car. It's on the eastern flanks of the Pichincha Volcano which overlooks the whole city. It hoists visitors up to an amazing 4,000 m (12,000 feet). On clear days, you can spot half-a-dozen volcanoes and see the entire city below. The 18-minute cable car trip costs $4 for locals, but $8.50 (Jan 2018) for foreigners ($6.50 for children and seniors, $9.80 for large dogs (!), and $4.90 for small dogs). There is also an express lane option for more money. Take a taxi to the base of the TelefériQo ($4-6 from La Mariscal) or ask your hotel about buses. Don't let the taxi driver make you pay for parking. They don't pay, so it is just a scam.
- 2 Hike Pichincha Volcano. You can hike from the upper TelefériQo station to the Guagua Pichincha Volcano, which is active. You should set out from the upper cable car station before 10:30. This is not an easy hike, and there have been reports of robberies. Do your research. Hiring a guide is recommended.
- Go Mountain Biking (Biking Dutchman mountain biking tours), Foch E4-283 (corner of Av. Amazonas in La Mariscal), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. There are many outfits offering one- to multi-day mountain biking trips to the surrounding volcanos, lakes, and valleys. Biking Dutchman is one of the oldest and most well-regarded.
- Green Horse Ranch. The Pululahua Crater is one of the most amazing places to ride, but chances are you will not find anything about it in your guide book. Astrid, the owner of the ranch who moved to Ecuador from Germany, will pick you up in Quito and bring you to the ranch (about 45-minute drive). Rides of various lengths are available and she has a wide variety of horses ready for novices and experts. She and her staff are incredibly friendly and everything is included in the price.
There are lots of artisans working on unique crafts in the capital. These include guitar-makers, candle makers, tanners and leather-workers, silversmiths, ceramicists and woodcarvers. You can find them at their workshops, published in a guide by the Visitors' Bureau.
There are also several fair-trade shops in Quito which promise to pay the craftspeople fairly for their products. The ones at the Tianguez (Plaza San Francisco), El Quinde (Plaza Grande), and Museo Mindalae are all very good.
There are many shopping malls in Quito such as Quicentro, Mall el Jardin, CCI, CC. El Bosque, Megamaxi, Ventura Mall, Ciudad Comercial el Recreo, San Luis, etc. and every street corner has several small "Mom and Pop" shops or stands where only a couple of items are for sale. If your shopping list is very long, you may spend all day looking around for the stores that have the items on your list.
There are many casual wear stores like MNG, Benetton, Lacoste, Guess, Fossil, Bohno, Diesel, NrgyBlast or Pura+. So if you need some items Quito is in fact a very good place to buy nice clothes at relatively low prices.
Ecuador's indigenous peoples include many highly skilled weavers. Almost everyone who goes to Ecuador sooner or later purchases a sweater, scarf or tapestry. In Quito vendors are found along the sidewalks of more touristy neighborhoods. You should also consider travelling directly to some of the artisan markets, such as the famous one in Otavalo. If you haven't got time for Otavalo, you can find virtually the same gear at the Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal on Jorge Washington and Juan Leon Mera in the Mariscal district. The Mariscal is replete with dozens of souvenir, craft and T-shirt stores which make shopping for a gift very easy.
- Zapytal, Foch E4-298 v Av Amazonas, ☏ . Hand-made shoes. A wide selection in stock plus made to measure if you have 8 days to spare. A selection of corresponding (spectator shoes), riding boots and women's shoes, $80.
- Guitarras Guacan, Chimborazo y Bahia, ☏ . Master Luthier Cesar Guacan's quaint guitar workshop at the base of the Virgin del Panecillo - great guitars for both professionals and budget-conscious.
- Hotel Mariot, Avenida Orellana 1172 Y Avenida Amazonas, ☏ . Art gallery and shops off the lobby. Hotel Mariot is one of the best hotels in Quito and is located in the bustling buzzy Mariscal district, this conference hotel is 2 km from the Centro de Exposiciones Quito and 4 km from Plaza de la Independencia.
- Galeria de Arte Creacion, Amaonas N24-03 y Wilson, ☏ . Art studio, located on Amazon and Wilson, very close to the Mariott and the Hilton. Lessons in art, painting and watercolor, oil painting, modern art classes, Monday to Saturday.
- Hotel Quito Art Gallery, Av. González Suárez N27 142, ☏ .
- Swiss Hotel, 1820, Torre Boreal, Avenue 12 De Octubre N24-739, ☏ . Art gallery and shopsoff the lobby. This upscale hotel is 3 km from Parque La Carolina and 4 km from Plaza de la Independencia square.
- El Jardin, Av. Amazonas N6-114 y República Esquina. Art galleries and shopping.
You name it, and it's available in Quito. Restaurants range from the basic places offering chicken and rice for $1.50 to international food with very expensive prices. The country benefits from all worlds, with a variety of dishes inspired by both coastal and Andean produce. Seafood and fish is fresh and delicious, while meats, particularly pork, are excellent. These combine with typical ingredients such as potatoes, plantains and all sorts of tropical and Andean fruits.
A good area to head to for eating out is the Plaza El Quinde (or Foch) which is in the Mariscal district at Foch y Reina Victoria. There are dozens of restaurants and eateries all around this area. La Floresta, up the hill from the Mariscal around 12 de Octubre, also has many fine restaurants. The La Floresta traffic circle turns into an evening market after 5PM and the most popular dish served is tripa mishqui (grilled beef or pork intestines).
Churrasco is a great Ecuadorian version of a Brazilian dish. Tallarin is a popular noodle dish mixed with chicken or beef.
Chinese restaurants are known as "Chifas" and are very abundant. Chaulafan is the local term for fried-rice, a very popular dish. Cebiche (also spelled ceviche) is a very popular dish in which clams or shrimp are marinated in a broth. Worth trying, but look for a well known restaurant with many locals to be sure you are getting fresh seafood.
When buying from lower-priced restaurants or shops, if you only have bills larger than a $5, it's a good idea to get them changed at a bank first.
- Pim's. An Ecuadorian franchise. 4 locations: Panecillo, Cumbaya, Itchimbia and Isabel La Catolica (next to the Swissotel).
- Restaurant Techo del Mundo (Restaurante El Techo del Mundo), Av. González Suárez N27 142 (In the 7th floor of Hotel Quito), ☏ . M-Sa 06:00-01:30, Su 06:00-00:00. Luxurious restaurant with a spectacular view located in the 5-star hotel “Hotel Quito”, international and Ecuadorian cuisine.
- La Concha de la Lora, Valladoli N24-438 y Cordero, +593 2-323-0117. Argentine restaurant.
- Cebiches de la Rumiñahui Ceviches are its specialty. Reasonable prices for excellent cebiche. Popular with locals. Juan León Mera N26-164 La Mariscal. Also in the food courts of "Quicentro Shopping" Mall, "San Marino Shopping" Mall and "El Recreo" Mall.
- El Maple, Joaquín Pinto E4-60, ☏ . Nice tempeh platter and hominy here at this vegetarian restaurant.
- Mongos, Calle, José Calama E5-10 (Calama y Juan Leon Mera), ☏ . A Mongolian Grill in the heart of trendy gringolandia new town. All you can eat buffets (vegetarian $3.99, with meats $5.99. Includes salad or soup entre, and one free drink. Great quality meat.
- Mulligan's, Calama E5-44 y Juan Leon Mera (La Mariscal), ☏ . Tu-Sa 12:30-24:00, Su 13:00-18:00. Need a break from all the new tastes, get a taste and comfort from home. This American style Sports Bar has great food and you can watch all your favorite sports on TV.
- Mea Culpa (Restaurant), Chile y Venezuela (Palacio Arzobispal) (Plaza Grande. Second floor.), ☏ , , email@example.com. M-F 12:00-24:00, 19:00-23:00. Sa Su closed. Among the best restaurants in town. Great service and food, taste the crepes de pangora (stone crab). Dishes are small, get an entry. Nice view of the plaza from some tables. Dress code: semi formal.
- Uncle Ho's, E8-40 Jose Calama y Diego de Almagro (2 Blocks from Plaza Foch), ☏ . M-Sa 12:00-23:00. Great fresh Asian food (Vietnamese & Thai) in funky surroundings with friendly service. Excellent martinis & drink specials. Prices - Appetizers $3–4, Mains $7–10. Tofu & veggie options, Local Ecuadorian specialities. $7-10.
- Achiote, Juan Rodriguez 282 y Reina Victoria (La Mariscal), ☏ . Traditional Ecuadorian cuisine with a gourmet twist!
There are several Ecuadorian brands of beer, but you generally won't find any variety in Quito. Usually you'll get a choice of just two. The most prevalent throughout the country is Pilsener, with Club being a little more expensive, but not wildly more flavourful. There are some micro-brews available, but it's still a fledgling industry in Quito.
There are also some alcoholic drinks which can only be found in Quito like Mistelas, etc.
- Sport Planet, Av. America y Naciones Unidas (on the 3rd floor of "Plaza de las Americas"), ☏ . It is the Ecuadorian version of Planet Hollywood. The night sky of northern Quito is incredible and the food is great.
- Turtle's Head, La Pinta N4-432, ☏ . An English pub style bar that often has live music in the later hours. They have their own brews along with other popular beers. They also have pool tables, foosball, darts etc. Turtle's Head is also open in the nearby valley of Cumbaya, located in the main plaza across from the church.
- Cherusker, Joaquin Pinto y Diego de Almagro (vis-a-vis to Finn McCools), ☏ . M-Th 15:30-23:30, F Sa 15:30-01:30. German-run brew-pub with excellent beer, from Hefeweizen (blond wheat beer) to Stout. Offers mostly German food, such as sausages, schnitzel, potato salad and tasty Hamburgers. Has live sports on a big screen (HD), a beautiful garden and foosball. Wednesday Reggae Night, Thursday Classic and modern Rock. Packed on Fridays.
- Zazu, Mariano Aguilera 331 & La Pradera, ☏ . Upscale restaurant well worth the visit. Urban chic meets Quito, and the result is a very comfortable setting with outstanding cuisine and top notch service. Great wine list too. Located near the JW Marriott.
- Finn Mc Cool's, Corner of Diego de Almagro y Joaquin Pinto, La Mariscal (1 block from Plaza Foch), ☏ . 11:00 - late. Cozy Irish pub with friendly atmosphere, loads of Live sports, free pool and foosball, draft beer and good pub food all day. Poker Monday, Table Quiz Tuesday and good craic every night of the week. Get in before 16:00 on Sundays!
- República del Cacao, Calle Reina Victoria, La, Mariscal Foch N 24-66, ☏ . A nice place to have a cup of delicious hot chocolate. They also offer coffee, cookies and souvenirs (e.g. chocolate and cool t-shirts).
La Mariscal offers tons of places for dancing or just drinks.
- 1 Xandu Bar Discoteca, Jose Calama y Diego de Almagro, ☏ . Nice drinks with varied and modern music.
- Varadero - Reina Victoria 1751 and La Pinta; Small, local and super sweaty, this bar-restaurant packs in the crowds for high-energy live Cuban music. Small cover to get in and drinks are moderately expensive.
- 2 Bungalow 6, Diego de Almagro N24-151 (across from Xandu). Place for "gringos" to mingle with the locals. It's an overall fun place to go - Wednesdays Ladies Night are the best day to go, definitely. LGBT friendly.
Outside of La Mariscal are other clubs that are more famous among locals.
- 3 Strawberry Fields Forever, Av Federico Gonzalez Suarez, ☏ . a unique Beatle Bar in the heart of La Mariscal/rock and roll and more.
Check out the Guapulo area of Quito, its a winding steep area with several great bars and cafés with a real bohemian feel. Just be careful if you go in after sundown, since this area is a bit dodgy.
There are many of hostels and hotels in town to accommodate all types of visitors. Most people stay in the new town, which is closer to the nightlife. For travellers with very early departures or very late arrivals from Mariscal Sucre International Airport, as well as those who are not staying in Quito but continuing elsewhere should consider looking at accommodations in Tababela or Puembo for the convenience of not needing to make the 25-km journey.
In the old town it's hard to tell the quality of a hotel from the outside. Many of the best hotels have only a innocuous entry to the street, with the luxury only evident as you enter.
- 1 Hostel Quito Backpacker, Oriente E3-108 &, Vicente León Esq (from "La Marin bus station walk up Pichincha ave. a few blocks to "Oriente"street 2 blocks and you'll see it on the corner), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: noon, check-out: 10:30. Historic building in the center of town. Friendly athmosphere, cultural events, rooftop terrace with beautiful view, free wifi, bar, food service, kitchen, hot water, laundry service, tours, warm, comfortable beds, clean private and shared rooms. $9.
- 2 Hostal Marsella, Ríos N-12-139 (2035) y Espinoza (Alameda), ☏ , email@example.com. Located between New and Old Quito, just up the hill from Parque Alameda. Plenty of clean rooms with sitting areas both inside and under a new glassed-in ceiling on the rooftop (with views of the Basilica and the Panacillo/Angel.) Hot water, free wi-fi internet in the common areas, laundry service, large breakfasts ($2–3). Door is locked 24/7 for security and the very friendly owners and staff are happy to help with directions, calling cabs, etc. Great spot away from (but within walking distance of) the much more touristy Mariscal Sucre. $24.
- 3 Hostal Backpackers Inn, Juan Rodríguez, Mariscal Foch E7-48 (in La Mariscal), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 24 hours. Centrally and very quietly located in the heart of La Mariscal District. The rooms and bathrooms are very clean. Good kitchen for joint use, free WiFi. Big, comfy common rooms filled with fun things and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Parking space available at no extra charge. From $6.50/dorm night.
- 4 Casa Helbling, General Veintimilla 531 y 6 de Diciembre, La Mariscal, ☏ , email@example.com. An old, but well preserved, large mansion where every room is different, but all are nice with a lot of light. Most are shared bathrooms. Full kitchen available for use; nice courtyards, roof decks, and outdoor speaces. Breakfast and laundry available. German and English spoken. Free wifi and a computer for use. Friendly, relaxed staff. Quiet and tranquil, perfect for those over 30 who want to be in La Mariscal but away from the crazy college crowd. $28 breakfast ~$5.
- 5 Aleida's Hostal, 559 Andalucía St, ☏ . Aleida's Hostal is a laid-back, family-run hotel a block away from La Floresta's big 5-star hotels. The building is a beautifully restored three story house built in the 1950s with friendly staff and a sunny courtyard in the front. Spanish and English are spoken and services include wireless internet, laundry, book exchange, and more. Breakfast included in the restaurant downstairs. $32.
- 6 La Casa Sol, Jose Calama 127 (La Mariscal neighborhood. Near Av 6 de diciembre), ☏ . Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. A colorful, homey hostel in the best part of the neighborhood, close to shopping, nightlife and entertainment. Great amenities: cafe and international library, and a beautiful antique house. Nice breakfast in a sunny restaurant. Walking distance to s 'Metro Bus' station. $50.
- El Cafecito Cafe & Hostel, Luis Cordero E6 43 (in La Mariscal), ☏ . Clean rooms, a popular cafe/restaurant and a tranquil shaded courtyard all housed in a beautifully decorated building in the Mariscal. The hostel has 6 rooms and dorm beds. $23.
- 7 La Casona de Mario, Andalucia 213 y Galicia, La Floresta, ☏ . Single double and triple room. All rooms have shared bathrooms and there is a set price of $10 per person per night.
- 8 Hostal El Centro Del Mundo, José Calama, E7-46, La, Mariscal Foch, ☏ . Has affordable rooms, a trilingual owner Pierre, and is a great spot for backpackers. Television room and free rum and coke nights three times a week. Food is also available. Showers aren't very hot though. $5.60.
- 9 Hostel Belmont Plaza, E3-78, José de Antepara, ☏ . Rooftop kitchen and terrace with great views over the city, TV room with DVDs and SNES, free use of washing machines, free internet, free tea/coffee/aromaticas all day, friendly family run place, 2 mins from Itchimbia park - more great views. $6 per person per night.
- 10 Springhills Quito Airport, 971 Alfonso Tobar y Tulio Garzon (8 minutes from the new Quito airport in Tababela.), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: noon. Suites near the airport complete with hot water, TV, Wi-fi, 24-hr staff and airport transfers, A/C, restaurant. From $49.
- 11 Hostal la Rabida, La Rabida 227 y Santa Maria, ☏ . There is also a very good restaurant on the premises. Friendly staff. Rates range from $46-70 a day.
- 12 Travellers Inn (2800 meters), La Pinta E4-435 y Av. Amazonas, La Mariscal. (2 blocks south of the Marriott hotel), ☏ , info@TravellersEcuador.com. Check-in: 24 hr, check-out: 12:00. This is an old mansion from the beginnings of the 20th century, nicely decorated. It has a mini-bar, guest kitchen, travel agency inside and extremely friendly and helpful English speaking staff. It has yards all around the house and wireless Internet to all the building (2 computers with Internet connection as well). Included breakfast: coffee (real coffee), tea, milk, fresh juice, 3 types of fruits, bread, cheese, 2 eggs, butter, marmalade, etc. There is a laundry service, Spanish lessons, book exchange, free maps, bike rental, luggage storage, etc. A nice TV room with a huge collection of movies. There are rooms with shared bathroom from $11 per person, and rooms with private bathroom from $15 per person. $11-25.
- 13 JW Marriott Hotel Quito, Av. Orellana 1172 y Av. Amazonas, ☏ . Luxury hotel, offers spacious and luxurious rooms, along with first-class meeting facilities, an outdoor pool and garden, full-service spa and outstanding restaurants.
- 14 Hotel Quito, Av. González Suárez N27 142, ☏ . This hotel offers the following services: casino, restaurant, room service, Wifi, swimming pool, garden spa and fitness, business center, shops, parking, wet and dry cleaning, nanny service.
- 15 Swissotel Quito, 12 de Agosto y Luis Cordero, ☏ . Very nice luxury hotel near downtown Quito. Has a great Japanese Restaurant and Fondue.
Between the Old and New Town
- L'Auberge Inn, Av. Colombia 1138 y Yaguachi, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Nice place to make your base for your time in Quito. Clean but basic rooms, internet in-house and a big cheap breakfast. There is also a Swiss restaurant directly below.
- Chicago Hostel Inn, Los Rios # 1730 y Briceño, ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Near all major public transportation, inside a traditional neighborhood of Quito called San Blas. 8 minutes away to the Main Square in the Old Town and 20 minutes away to the night life (walking distances). Private rooms with private and shared bathrooms and besides a mixed dorm room ensuite, internet, Wifi, housekeeping everyday, mailbox service, an amazing view point of Quito from their covered top terrace, luggage storage, security lockers, exchange books, bar, breakfast served at the top terrace, Spanish classes).
Old Town is a good base for sightseers.
- Community Hostel (Four blocks from Plaza Grande.), N6-78 Pedro Fermin Cevallos and Olmedo, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. A hostel in the historic district of Quito's Old Town. With a friendly staff and very clean environment. Double $10 per person, Single $20.
- Hotel Huasi Continental (Close to the crossing of Flores and Sucre.), Calle Flores 308, ☏ , , email@example.com. Nice and clean hotel in the old town with helpful staff. Note that some of the rooms facing the street can be a bit noisy. Singles from $10.
- 16 Latinos Brothers, Esmeraldas E1-71 Pichincha. Hostel across the street from the historic center. Staff is super friendly and helpful. Facilities are basic but clean. $5.
- The Secret Garden, Calle Antepara E4-60 y Los Rios, San Blas, ☏ , . Offers a roof terrace with a great view and herbs grown by the volunteer staff. Moreover there is a wonderful view of the older section of Quito. Has a great in-house travel agency to help sort out Galapagos, Amazon, etc. There are fires nightly and the staff cooks three-course meals every night. The hostel also offers breakfast for $2.80.
- Hotel San Francisco de Quito, Sucre 217 y Guayaquil (walk north-east from Santo Domingo Trole station to Sucre, turn left, hotel is on your left; if you're taking a cab, walk to a nearby street; cabs in front of the hotel will refuse to use their meter), ☏ , . A lovely, comfortable, converted estate house offering excellent value. Price includes a basic breakfast, which can be upgraded for a price. Some rooms on the courtyard and street are a bit noisy. There are no windows in most rooms. The restaurant also serves excellent dinners, priced in line with other a-la-carte restaurants. singles/doubles $23/$42.
- There are several boutique hotels in the Old Town. These include the five-star Hotel Plaza Grande, Villa Colonna Quito, El Relicario del Carmen and the longest-established: Patio Andaluz.
As in every big city tourists should take special care in certain areas.
Do not travel up El Panecillo on foot; use a taxi even during the day. Not only is the neighborhood bad, but the road leading up the hill has very narrow sidewalks, and sometimes no sidewalks at all. This presents a risk of being, at best, overwhelmed with diesel fumes as buses chug by, at worst, getting run over.
It is probably best to avoid "Gringolandia" alone at night, as there is quite a bit of assault even during the day. Drunk foreigners are easy targets in this neighborhood full of bars and clubs, so stick with a group. This is not, however, a reason to miss out on all this lively area has to offer.
As the Old City becomes quite dead late at night, it is best to avoid walking around alone. However, the central squares of the Old Town are patrolled by police and well-lit, so it is fine for a stroll in a group at night. During the day, it is perfectly fine, bustling with locals, shopkeepers, hawkers and tourists, and well patrolled by police, especially at the main tourist attractions. Nevertheless, pickpocketing and pursesnatching can be a problem, so take normal precautions. The plaza and doors of the San Francisco church, and the main trolley station near Plaza Domingo are particularly notorious areas for this. Pickpocketing is done by highly skilled groups of 3 or 4 people. You are best off not bringing a wallet at all—just some bills split between various pockets. Also, watch out for the busses and trollies while in old town. On many streets, sidewalks can be very narrow, so it is best to pay attention at all times so you can flatten against the wall and cover your face (diesel fumes!) if you need to let one pass, especially when the sidewalk is crowded.
Mariscal Sucre and all parks among other areas can be unsafe at night so taxis are advised for even short distances. Keep your belongings as close and as secure as possible, and if you feel in danger, duck into a bar or shop, and then hail a taxi. Beware of credit card fraud, which is an increasingly serious problem in Quito as tourists are being targeted in the Mariscal area.
The area near Hospital Militar is quite dangerous, even in the late morning. The road "Solano" where Casa Bambu Hostel is situated is especially dangerous. Armed robberies have become more common. Men have been known to jump out of cars to target and physically threaten foreigners in order to steal their belongings. Although its views are amazing, exercise caution when walking to and from your accommodation. Taxis travel up and down this road frequently so if you can spare $1.50 to get into Mariscal Sucre, do so. Parks nearby are also dangerous. Perhaps walk around the parks instead of going through them.
The main bus station is an area known to target travelers (foreigners or locals alike). Watch your bags closely, before departure, during departure, even once on the bus. It is best not even to put your luggage in the overhead shelving or under your own seat, as you can be easily distracted and have all your key possessions stolen before realizing it. Watch your bags on top of, or under the bus, at every stop until you arrive at your destination. There are two important sorts of scams that you may encounter on buses:
One common one scam involves a thief impersonating bus staff (this can be easy because those of many companies have no uniforms) who will direct you to a seat and finding some excuse to ask you to put your bag in the overhead compartment or directly under your own seat where you cannot see it; an accomplice seated directly behind you will then slash open your bag and steal the belongings. Having the bag between your legs is not safe either as children are commonly used to climb down under the seat (from behind you), slash the bag, and remove belongings without you ever feeling a thing. Always have your bag on your lap.
Another scam will often have an accomplice who will provide a distraction such as pretending to sell sweets before spilling them all over you, giving their friend the chance to steal your belongings. This can't be emphasised enough: never let your belongings out of sight. If something suspicious is happening like this on a bus, just refuse to co-operate and hold your belongings close to you. Robberies of this kind are common, particularly on buses leaving Quito. It is worth considering paying $3 or $4 more for a trip on a more high-class bus as these often have additional security measures, which can prevent robberies of tourists and locals alike. On city buses, it is best not bring a backpack. If you absolutely have to bring one, wear it on your chest, not your back.
Finally, several neighborhoods located to the very north and south of the city are infamous among locals for having gang/delinquent trouble. "La Bota" to the north is specially notorious as it even locals try to avoid passing through it as much as possible.
Wearing "gringo" clothes (fishing vests, travellers' pants, bright colored t-shirts, dirty sandals) will make you a target. Ecuadorians in Quito generally dress conservatively; a pair of nice black pants or dark jeans and a non-descript white/off-white t-shirt will make you look a business person who knows his way around and not just another tourist posing as a Haight-Ashbury hippie.
Travellers in Quito are likely to be approached at some point or another by con artists or persons with "sob stories". Ignore such persons and be wary of anyone asking for money under any pretext, including children begging. If you feel charitable, Ecuador has lots of legitimate charities you can support.
Avoid associating at all with the drug trade in Ecuador. Ecuador has strict laws against possession, transportation and use of illegal drugs and foreigners caught transporting drugs at the airports have been sentenced to long prison terms. Unfortunately, any foreigner with an "alternative" or "hippie" appearance (such as men with long hair) may be assumed by some Ecuadorians to be looking for drugs. If you are approached about drugs in any context, it is safe to assume the person approaching you is up to no good.
One exception is use of entheogens by indigenous people. Interest in ayahuasca is prompting increasing numbers of Americans and Europeans to travel to South America in order to partake in traditional ceremonies, and Ecuador is one such place. It is advisable to plan such a trip with a reliable guide before you travel there.
All Ecuadorian citizens and visitors are required to carry ID at all times. If your stay in Ecuador is for a few months or longer, sooner or later, you will encounter a roadside police check and be requested to show ID. You can show your passport; however, carrying your passport around all the time is not advised due to the risk of loss or theft. A better option is to have a copy of your passport certified by your embassy and carry that. Students and long-term residents will be issued an Ecuadorian "censo" card that can also be carried in place of a passport for ID purposes.
If you are the victim of a crime it is suggested you report it to the Ecuadorian National Police (by law, you must report within 72 hours of the incident), as well as to your home country embassy and to the South American Explorers Club.
- Visitor Safety Service offices. Their job is to help with filling out forms, embassies and passports, etc. They have two vehicles for further assistance. Some staff speak English or other languages:
- (Corner of Roca y Reina Victoria, Edif. Relaciones Exteriores (Pasaportes)), ☏ firstname.lastname@example.org. 24 hours, 7 days a week. Be prepared to offer English lessons as a "bribe." ,
- (Historic Centre. Plaza Grande (north side of the square on calle Chile, between Venezuela and García Moreno), Edif. Casa de los Alcaldes.), ☏ . 24 hours, 7 days a week. This office is known for its slow responses to crimes that are taking place; it is not uncommon to see locals yelling at these officers for not doing their jobs.
Most Trolebus stations provide free WiFi.
- SIM cards at the airport. Expect to be greeted in the arrivals area by someone selling cards for Movistar - $65 for a month of unlimited calling, texting and Internet. There is also a lighter package for $55. In the Airport Center just across the road, there is a shop selling SIM cards for Claro. The Tuenti kiosk will sell you a $25 SIM with 30 days of service, 4 GB of data, 75 minutes of calling, and 60 text messages.
Embassies and Consulates
- Brazil, Av. Amazonas 1429 y Av. Col, ☏ , , , email@example.com.
- China, Ave Atahualpa 349 and Ave Amazonas, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Egypt, Avenida Tarqui E 4-56 Y 6 de Diciembre, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com.
- Greece, Urb. Chiriboga 10ma transversal No. 109, entre Av. San Luis y Av. Del Progresso San Rafael, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Japan, Ave Amazonas N39-123 and Calle Arizaga, Edf. Amazonas Plaza, Piso 11, ☏ , fax: .
- Romania, Esteban de la Rosa N45-176 y Marco Jofre Union Nacional, CP 170510, ☏ , email@example.com. Honorary Consulate (Does not provide consular services. Instead, Romanian citizens in need of assistance should contact the embassy in Lima, Peru or the embassy of another European Union member state.)
- United States of America, Ave Avigiras E12-170 y Ave. Eloy Alfaro (next to SOLCA), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quito is surrounded by a variety of places that could interest all kinds of tourists. A couple of hours on a bus ride is all it takes to reach them:
To the north, all tourists should visit the province of Imbabura, which has beautiful lakes such as Yaguarcocha and San Pablo. Hikers and mountain climbers can also ask for adventures in Cayambe National Park, home of the 3rd largest volcano in Ecuador. It's inactive. Otavalo is a town with an Indian market that is famous worldwide for the quality and variety of products on sale. Don't forget to haggle for your preferred price!
To the northwest of Quito lies the region of Mindo, a subtropical rainforest paradise, full of rivers, majestic waterfalls, unique wildlife and more. The region is home to a variety of animal wildlife sanctuaries, and is famous locally and internationally because of its beauty. At a slightly higher altitude to Mindo is the Cloudforest. The variety of plants, birds and butterflies is wonderful. The guides carry good quality binoculars to help you spot some of the many varieties of birds. After each guided walk you can return to the lodge for meals. Near the main buildings there are many hummingbird feeders which attract many of the energetic and luminous birds. Accommodation is simple but very clean and pleasant with balconies from which you get beautiful views into the forest. You can visit the butterfly and hummingbird farm too for $3. The staff will show you around and explain to you in Spanish the life cycle of the butterflies (very worthwhile!) Landslides are known to occur on the roads to and from Mindo. Traffic can be held up for hours if this occurs. Trout (trucha in Spanish) is a specialty of Mindo and a dish of this should cost around $6. To get to Mindo from Quito, catch a taxi to Ofelia bus station ($5-6) and at the North bus terminal buy a ticket to Mindo for $2.50. The frequency of these buses differs between weekdays and weekends and travel guide times may be out of date. The earliest bus on a weekday is at 08:00 (April 2010). The bus trip is around 2 hours in length.
To the east, lies Papallacta which is a thermal water resort town. If you're into spas and relaxation, dipping into one of the natural hotwater pools for a couple of hours is a no brainer. The trucha (trout) dishes that are served here are also exquisite (~$5). Take a taxi to Cumbaya bus station (from Mariscal Sucre it should cost about ~$8) and from there you can catch a bus ($2.50) to Papallacta. Just ask the buses that stop if they are going there. The bus will drop you in the centre of the town or on the main highway just a few minutes walk from the town (be sure to remind the driver to let you out!). You can get on the back of a Ute by hailing it (with wooden seats) for about 50¢ per person to get to the hot springs. Entry into the hot springs is about $7. Be careful with your belongings here. You can hire lockers (50¢ per locker plus a $5 deposit) but staff advise that you leave your expensive valuables behind the counter. The choice is up to you.
By train - There are trains to Latacunga from Thursdays to Sundays leaving at 08:00. The train makes a stop for breakfast and at Cotopaxi National Park. It arrives in Latacunga at 12:00 and heads back to Quito at 14:00, arriving there at 18:00. The price is $10 for the return trip. You can use it as an excursion from Quito or get off at Latacunga and travel on from there by bus.