Aug 10, 2015|
Last updated on December 23rd, 2020 at 04:31 pm
The Best Things to Do in Quito
There are plenty of things to do in Quito, a well preserved colonial city in South America. Quito was the first city in the world to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The pulse of Quito’s rich history radiates through the cobblestone streets and colorful architecture. Statues of the idyllic Latin American liberation leaders are featured throughout the city.
However, knowledge of Quito’s past isn’t a prerequisite for appreciating the lively city today. Ecuador is becoming a haven for retirees and ex-pats. If you’re thinking about discovering the country for yourself, no trip to Ecuador would be complete without enjoying the activities and things to do in Quito.
1. Visit Virgin Mary Statue
Start your trip with a visit to the nearby El Panecilio neighborhood to see the hilltop Virgin Mary statue. This is a 45-meter tall aluminum statue that is visible throughout the city. Here you can enjoy panoramic views of Quito along with mountains and volcanoes.
2. Take a trip to La Compañía de Jesús Church
After seeing the Virgin Mary statue, pay your respects with a trip to La Compañía de Jesús Church. This is an 18th Century baroque-style church adorned with gold-plated walls and impressive artwork. The San Francisco church overlooks a public square where vendors sell ice cream and other snacks.
Next to the church is the Casa Gangotena, the city’s most luxurious hotel. Here, guests enjoy excellent terrace views of the city. It also boasts convenient access to Quito’s most famous landmarks and pedestrian-friendly streets. Visit this church on our Colonial Quito Ecuador Tour
3. Explore La Ronda Street in Downtown Quito
One of the best things to do in Quito is to experience its lively culture. Stroll through La Ronda Street in downtown Quito and find tourists and locals alike in the streets. There is a wide variety of bars and restaurants offering up local dishes like locro, a warm potato, cheddar, and avocado soup. You can also find delicious ceviche, a fish and tomato soup served cold and fresh. On the weekend, music continues well into the night in this bustling neighborhood.
To avoid the crowds completely, stroll through La Ronda during the day. Make sure you buy fresh, artisanal chocolate truffles at Chez Tiff, an award-winning chocolatier. Here you can also watch the chef, originally from Switzerland, masterfully whirl the Ecuadorian cacaos into truffles, bars, and other chocolate treats.
4. Take a Train Ride to Cotopaxi National Park
Ecuador’s famous landmarks, Cotopaxi National Park and the Middle of the World Monument, are popular day trips from Quito. Take a scenic train ride aboard the Train del Ecuador, for a trip to Cotopaxi National Park. This includes scenic views and breakfast. You can see Cotopaxi on our Luxury Ecuador Train Tour.
Hotels in Cotopaxi
For a night in Cotopaxi, stay at La Hacienda Porvenir, a family-owned lodge inside Cotopaxi National Park. The serene landscape features panoramic views of the volcanoes, the Andes, and miles of beautiful farmland. From the hotel, take an overnight trek through Cotopaxi National Park. Go horseback riding, zip-lining, or try out the lodge’s canopy course with views of the famous active volcano. The Middle of the World monument is an hour away from the city.
5. Straddle the Equator at the Middle of the World
In 2005 it was discovered that the massive, concrete monument was actually built one hundred meters away from the actual equator. So make sure you also visit the Mitad del Mundo. Mitad del Mundo is a private museum only several minutes from the government-built museum. Mitad del Mundo is more offbeat than its predecessor. This museum is complete with two llamas, an exhibit paying homage to the head-shrinking tradition of an Amazonian Indian tribe, and experiments that verify its equator-straddling location.
6. Take the Devil’s Nose Train to Cuenca
After your time in Quito, take the Devil’s Nose Train from Quito to Cuenca. Enjoy a scenic trip through the Avenue of the Volcanoes and Ecuador’s gorgeous countryside. Then continue on to Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil, with views of the Pacific Ocean. From Guayaquil, catch a plane to the Galapagos Islands and enjoy a cruise, or settle into an island lodge on the beach.
7. Add-on a Trip to the Ecuador Amazon Rainforest
If you’re interested in an Amazon experience, take a short flight from Quito to Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park, where Eucador lodges like the Kichwa Sun Lodge or Napo National Park are nestled inside the incredible rainforest. You can also check out our Ecuador Amazon Cruises.
Ecuador is a small country that is full of possibilities, so make your trip to Ecuador your own! Take a look at our Ecuador Tours for additional travel ideas. If you’d like help designing a custom trip with our own recommendations, either fill out the form below or contact us directly at (800) 747-4540.