This is one of our favorite capitals in all of South America! Quito is vibrant, fun, and has plenty to do. It is affordable, as well as centrally located with lots of cool spots to explore in and out of the city. Here is why we love this city, and some of the awesome things to do in Quito, Ecuador.
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Where is Quito?
Quito is the capital of Ecuador, and lies in the central north of the country. Situated on the lower slopes of the Pichincha Volcano, the city is 2,850 meters above sea level.
How Do You Get to Quito?
Quito is a pretty accessible country, and can easily be reached by many places around the Americas, by both flight and bus.
Where Do You Fly Into For Quito?
Quito has its own airport, knowns as Old Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO). It is situated 40 km northeast of the city, and has both domestically and international flights.
Cities that fly direct to Quito include Amsterdam, Atlanta, Balboa, Bogota, Buenos Aires, El Coca, Cuenca, Fort Lauderdale, Galapagos, Guayaquil, Houston, Lima, Loja, Madrid, Manta, Medellin, Mexico City, Miami, New York, Panama City, San Jose, Santa Rosa, Santo Domingo, and Sao Paulo.
Flight Tip: Using Skyscanner you can put from "your city" to "Ecuador". This way you can see which is the cheapest airport in the area to fly. Also, you can check the calendar to see which are the cheapest dates for reaching Bogota
Search for a flight to Quito or another Ecuadorian city:
Other Ways to Get to Quito
If you are already in Ecuador, or nearby in South America, you can easily get a bus to Quito, as there are many connections around the area.
Entry Requirements for Ecuador
Before booking your trip to Quito, you'll want to make sure you're aware of all of the requirements to visit Ecuador. Here is everything you need to know before going.
Visa Requirements for Ecuador
The majority of nationalities can visit Ecuador visa-free for a period of up to 90 days. Countries that do need a visa to visit Ecuador are Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Cameroon, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cuba, Eritrea, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Haiti, India, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Nepal, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Senegal, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Syria, and Venezuela.
Covid Entry Requirements for Ecuador
As of last year, Ecuador has lifted all restrictions due to Covid.
When traveling to a new country, there is a lot of adjust to! Here are a few things to know about traveling in Ecuador.
The official language in Ecuador is Spanish. Being that Quito is the capital, you wil find more English speakers than you will find in other parts of the country. However, it will definitely help you to learn the basics of Spanish while traveling in Ecuador.
The currency in Ecuador was once the sucre, but is now no longer in circulation. Ecuador now uses the US dollar as its official currency. Having so many markets, outdoor local street food, and street vendors, its always great to have cash on you.
Ecuador uses the same types of plugs as the United States- types A and B. The country operates on a 120 V supply voltage and 60 Hz. If you are from the US, there is no need to get any kind of adapter while traveling to Ecuador.
Many places in Ecuador do not have water suitable for drinking. However, the quality of water is definitely much better in Quito, and although not the purest, it is safe enough to drink without doing any real harm.
Is it Common to Tip in Ecuador?
Things to See in Quito, Ecuador
Quito is full of history, and has so many cool places to visit! Here are some of the best things to see in Quito, Ecuador.
1. El Panecillo
El Panecillo is a volcanic peak in the center of Quito, with a statue of the Virgin on top. This monument is one of the most iconic monuments of the Capital, and hosts some of the most stunning views of the city.
The entrance is free of charge, and can be reached by bus or Uber. There are also plenty of handicraft stalls at the top, so make sure to bring some cash.
2. Basilica del Voto Nacional
The Basilica del Voto Nacional is a Roman Catholic Church in the historic center of Quito. As the largest neo-Gothic basilica in the America's, it is definitely worth stopping by to check out its beautiful architecture, and the views from the top.
For just $2, you can pay to take the elevator, or climb the steep steps and ladders for some great views of the city.
3. Plaza de Independencia
Also known as Plaza Grande, this is the principal square of the historic center of Quito. This is where the government palace and center of the city's tourism lies. Here you can find several important structures, such as Archbishop's Palace, Municipal Palace, Hotel Plaza Grande, Carondelet Palace, and the Metropolitan Cathedral.
4. San Francisco Church
The Church and Convent of St. Francis, also known as el San Francisco, is located in the La Plaza de San Francisco in the center of Quito. This 16th-century Roman Catholic Cathedral has beautiful architecture and interior design, as well as being surrounded by a grand square worth visiting.
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Things to Do in Quito, Ecuador
While there is so much to see, there is even more to do in this busy city! Here are our favorite things to do in Quito.
1. Visit the Middle of the World
Ecuador actually translates to "Equator", which is the line that runs through the middle of the world. Visiting the equator is a special experience, and definitely one to mark off the bucket list!
Mitad del Mundo is located at San Antonio parish of the canton of Quito, 26 km north of the center of city. However, did you know that this touristy place actually doesn't touch the equator? If you would like to actually visit where the equator is, there are a couple of places you can travel to.
The first option, is a museum, which is near Mitad del Mundo. From the most famous monument, you just need to head 5 miles up the road to Museo de Sitio Intinan. This museum is open from 9:30am to 5pm and admission is $4 for adults and $2 for children.
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Outside the city, you can also go to another monument located in Calacali, which is about an hour away by bus. The monument isn't anything to write home about, but the experience of being there is still something cool to tick off the list.
3. Ride the TeleferiQo
TelefériQo Cruz Loma, is a cable car that runs from the edge of the city center up the east side of Pichincha Volcano, and to the lookout point of Cruz Loma. It is one of the highest aerial lifts in the world, rising up to 3,945 meters above sea level. The TeleferiQo costs $8.50 for adults, and $6.50 for children, with spectacular views of the city.
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4. Check out the "Central Park" of Quito
Parque La Carolina is a 165.5-acre park in the center of the Quito, and known as the "New York Central Park" of Quito. There are an endless amount of things to do and see here including large green areas, a track, tennis courts, playgrounds, skateboard park, football field and more. Not only is this a great place to enjoy the outdoors, but there are special events.
Local Craft Fair
This was one of our favorite fairs that we have ever gone to, as they had truly unique stalls. The tables were full of organic, vegetarian, and sustainable products. We definitely give this a big green thumbs up!
Un Bosque de Luz
One of our favorite places to visit in Parque La Carolina was the botanical gardens. Each night they have a spectacular display of lights inside the gardens, making this place extra magical. The entrance is just $3.50 for adults and $2 for children.
Right in the park there are plenty of different ways to keep fit, but they go a step beyond by hosting all different types of classes at the botanical gardens. Take on acroyoga Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 6 pm, or Tai Chi classes Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 7 am.
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5. Stop by the Craft Fair at El Ejido
El Ejido Park is located along Avenue Patria in the Old Center of Quito. It is the third-largest park in the city, and you can find 1470 species of plants and trees, During weekends locals flock here for the great craft fair, where it is possible to buy artwork, jewelry, ponchos, sweaters, handicrafts and more.
6. Check out the Markets
There are some really great markets in Quito. Here are just a few to check out.
Iñaquito Market, located in North Quito is one of the city’s most colorful indoor markets and a great place to go and feel like a local. The market’s stalls are full of colorful exotic fruits and vegetables, spices, meats and fish.
Mercado Artenesal de Mariscal
This packed market is full of the best local souvenirs, including Alpaca blankets, Ecuadorian chocolate, woven blankets, bright paintings, and leather bags.
The market of Tianguez is located under the Cathedral of the Plaza San Francisco. From 9:30-6:30 here you can find fair trade goods and handmade crafts. There is also a cafe with authentic Ecuadorian cuisine.
7. Check out the Different Colorful Neighborhoods
La Floresta is the electric bohemian neighborhood of Quito. With its colorful galleries, cute cafes, pastry shops, and bright murals, its no wonder this is one of the best neighborhoods to grab a drink or go out to eat.
The hip area of Guapulo is a bohemian residential neighborhood situated high on a hill. With winding streets, colorful art, and a cute colonial church, this is a great place to take in the views at the top, and wander the streets all the way down to the bottom.
Quito La Ronda
This is the cutest most colorful area of Quito, and an Instagrammer's dream. This is one of the oldest streets in Quito, and located right in the historic center.
8. Go Out for the Night in Foch
Plaza Foch is a great place full of bars, restaurants, and bars. This is the perfect spot for bar hopping and enjoying a night out in Quito. As a plus, this colorful plaza has some great market stalls during the day time.
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Best Things to Do in Quito: Day Trips From the City
While the city has so much to offer, the outskirts have some pretty gorgeous nature. Here are some of the best things to do outside of Quito.
1. Cotopaxi Volcano
Located 2 hours from Quito, is one of the most popular places in Ecuador, as well as in all of South America. This active stratovolcano in the Andes Mountains is the second largest volcano in the country, and definitely worth the trip.
The park has plenty of trails and treks, and takes about 7-8 hours to climb up, and 2-3 hours to descend. Make sure you are acclimated to the altitude, as it is almost 6,000 meters above sea level, making it a pretty intense hike.
2. Quilotoa Crater Lake
Quilotoa Crater Lake has the most turquoise lagoon you will ever see. The 3 kilometer wide caldera is in the most western volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes, and is located 3 hours from the capital.
Located just an hour outside of Quito, lies a town in the Andean highlands, called Otavalo. This town has an awesome market, two great waterfalls, and trees in the shape of dinosaurs. With all it has to offer, it makes the perfect place to escape from the bustling city to enjoy some nature and real culture.
4. Mindo Cloud Forest
Mindo Cloud Forest is known for its beautiful species of birds, waterfalls, butterfly farm, and hiking trails. Just two hours from Quito, you can grab a bus from La Ofelia station to Mindo Town.
Food & Drinks in Quito
Cuisine is an important part of visiting anywhere! Ecuador has so many delicious options, and it is so affordable! Here are some things you need to try while in Quito.
Llapingachos are fried potato pancakes that are served with a peanut sauce. The potato patties are stuffed with cheese and cooked on a hot griddle until crispy brown.
Churrasco is the Ecuadorian version of steak & eggs- grilled steak topped with a fried egg, crispy steak fries, and green chili sauce.
This traditional food is a fish stew served with pickled onion and boiled cassava, which makes for a great hearty starter for lunch.
Hornado is a slow roasted pork dish. With tender meat, crispy skin, and a side of potatoes, this is a great dish to get in the stalls of one of the many markets in Quito.
This quick snack is sold all over the streets. For as low as 50 cents, you can get a bag of these thinly sliced and fried plantains.
Chicharonnes are made from pork rinds or pork belly, and fried crispy, making a salty snack, and sometimes even a dish.
These baked corn kernels are another great snack to purchase on the streets while walking around and enjoying the city.
This isn't a food, but actually a restaurant near Parque Carolina. Jurgen was hands down our favorite place to eat in Ecuador. Specializing in freshly baked breads and fine breakfast foods, this is a must visit. Although not really local cuisine, this place will make you feel like you are in a European cafe, with the freshest baked goods.
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Weather in Quito
You may think that because Quito is located right on the equator that is must be extremely hot. While this is true for most places located along the equator, Quito is a bit different. Because Quito is surrounded by mountains, it is much cooler than the rest of Ecuador.
While temperatures are very nice during the day, it can cool off quite a bit at night. It can also be pretty cloudy and rain often here. We suggest bringing a light sweater and an umbrella while visiting Quito.
Is it Safe to Travel to Quito?
Like most large cities in South America, crime can be pretty common. We don't want to say this to scare anyone, but to keep people prepared, because if you aren't careful, you can end up like us, with a stolen drone and camera.
When walking around at night, make sure that you are with other people, and when it comes to belongings, make sure that you have things secure, and your eyes on things at all times. This isn't to say that you should avoid Quito, or South America, but just to be extra cautious. Unfortunately Quito is not the safest city, and petty theft is quite common.
As the capital of Ecuador, this was one of our favorite cities in South America. Quito is a beautiful mix of history, culture, and nature. We suggest spending a few days here, to get the most out of the city, and a few days to explore some of the great landscapes that surround the city,
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