Are you planning to travel to Ecuador? Most travelers head out to the famous Galapagos Islands, bypassing the capital city, Quito. Yet you will surely miss out on incredible experiences and things to do in Quito if you skip this gem of a city.
Quito, Ecuador, is rich in culture, history, and natural beauty. It is home to a large indigenous population and many colonial-era buildings. Unsurprisingly, Quito has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tourists can explore Quito’s city life, explore volcanoes, or ride a cable car to get breathtaking city views. Quito’s diversity makes it one of South America’s must-visit cities.
FAQs: Things To Do in Quito, Ecuador
What Is Quito Most Known For
Quito, declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978, is a remarkably well-preserved old town built on the foundations of an ancient Incan city. It was a fortified Inca settlement, an economic center, and a political hub with 16th- and 17th-century churches and other structures in a blend of European, Moorish, and indigenous architectural styles.
What Is The Best Month To Go to Quito, Ecuador?
The best time to travel to Quito, Ecuador, is from June through September to avoid the rainy season. These months are sunny and dry days in the capital, so you can better appreciate the marvelous views of the country’s mountains and volcanoes and stroll around to enjoy the city’s colonial architecture.
Is Ecuador Tourist-friendly?
Yes, Ecuador offers fun experiences and memorable activities for tourists of every stripe. The locals are known for their warmth and politeness. Generally, Ecuador is safe to visit, especially the city center and those areas recommended by the local authorities and experts.
This article will showcase the best things to do in Quito, Ecuador, to help you plan your best trip to this fantastic destination.
19 Things To Do in Quito Ecuador
Aside from its awe-inspiring landscapes and fascinating architecture, Quito has plenty of museums, galleries, and restaurants to keep visitors busy. So whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, the city has something to offer everyone.
Here are some of the best things to do in Quito, Ecuador, that you won’t want to miss:
1. Climb The Basílica Del Voto Nacional
Quito’s Basílica del Voto Nacional is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, and for a good reason. The cathedral was built in the late 19th century and is a beautiful example of neo-Gothic architecture.
It is the largest church in Ecuador, located on a hill in the center of Quito, overlooking stunning vistas. Visitors can climb to the top of the basilica for an even better view.
2. Visit The Museo Templo Del SOL Pintor Ortega Maila
This unique museum is dedicated to the life and work of Ecuadorian painter Ortega Maila and features an extensive collection of his paintings, drawings, and sketches. Visitors can see Ortega Maila’s personal belongings, including palette and brushes, and learn about his techniques and process.
The museum offers various programs and events, such as workshops, lectures, and public art projects.
3. Eat Your Way Around The City
If you’re a foodie, you’ll want to go gastronomy-tripping and eat around Quito. There’s so much deliciousness, from traditional Ecuadorian dishes to creative fusion cuisine. And of course, you can’t forget about the street food!
Try classic street foods like empanadas and unique food like a guinea pig (cuy). Then, for a sit-down meal, head to one of Quito’s many restaurants serving traditional Ecuadorian fares like ceviche, seco de chivo, and llapingachos.
If you’re looking for something a little different, plenty of restaurants serve fusion dishes that combine Ecuadorian ingredients and flavors with international influences.
4. Explore The Central Market
This vibrant marketplace is an ideal place to find fresh produce, handcrafted goods, and souvenirs. The central market is also a great way to taste the local culture. Stallholders are typically very friendly and more than happy to chat with visitors.
Many of the products on offer are grown or made locally, so you can be sure you’re getting the real deal. The central market is well-suited to roam and explore, so allow yourself plenty of time to check it out when you’re in Quito.
5. Walk Along Calle de la Ronda
Calle de la Ronda is one of Quito’s most historic and charming streets. It is a popular spot for Quiteños and tourists, a pedestrian-only street full of colorful buildings, cafes, and shops.
While strolling along this charming road, you’ll get a glimpse of Quito’s colonial past and cultural heritage and many opportunities to shop for artisan crafts or enjoy a delicious meal.
6. Ride The Teleferiqo
The Teleferiqo is a gondola lift system traveling up the side of Pichincha Volcano. The ride provides stunning views of the city below and is an exciting way to reach some of the area’s hiking trails.
The Teleferiqo first opened in 2005 and has become one of Quito’s most popular tourist attractions.
7. Attend a Film Festival at Casa de la Cultura
Ecuador’s capital, Quito, is home to a range of cultural attractions, one of which is the annual film festival at Casa de la Cultura. This event showcases the best of Ecuadorian cinema, with a selection of short and feature-length films screened over a week.
Attendees can also expect several special guests, including directors, producers, and actors. In addition, the festival is an excellent opportunity to learn more about Ecuadorian culture and to support local filmmakers.
8. Wander Around Plaza Grande
Plaza Grande is the city’s largest and most important public space and has been the site of many historical events in Ecuador.
Plaza Grande is also an exceptional place to people-watch or relax in one of the many cafes or restaurants that line the square. And if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the country’s national dance, the Sanjuanito.
9. Learn The Spanish Language
The city is home to many language schools that offer different approaches to teaching the language. Whether you want to learn in a traditional classroom setting or through a more hands-on approach, you’ll be able to find a school that suits your needs.
And because Quito is such a popular destination for Spanish learners, you’ll find other students who are at a similar level, and you’ll be able to practice your newly acquired language skills daily.
10. Check Out The Guayasamín Collection
Quito, Ecuador, is home to many museums, but one in particular houses a collection not to be missed. The Guayasamín Foundation and Museum contains the works of Oswaldo Guayasamín, a 20th-century Ecuadorian painter, sculptor, and colonial architect.
His pieces are often political, reflecting his time spent as a young boy in Guatemala during that country’s uprising and his later work as an ambulance driver. The museum is located in the historical center of Quito, near San Francisco Church, and contains three floors of Guayasamín’s art and rotating exhibitions.
11. Relax With The Locals at Parque la Carolina
Parque la Carolina is popular with Ecuadorians and visitors alike, and it’s easy to see why.
With plenty of space to roam, flowers blooming year-round, and a wide variety of birds and other animals to see, Parque la Carolina is a nature lover’s paradise.
You can also find several restaurants and cafes dotted around the park, perfect for grabbing a bite or a refreshing beverage in between exploring all the park has to offer.
12. Try Ecuadorian Food at Mercado Central
When it comes to Ecuadorian food, there’s no better place to start than Mercado Central in Quito. This dynamic market is full of fresh produce, seafood, and traditional Ecuadorian dishes. So whether you’re looking for a quick snack or a hearty meal, you’ll find plenty of delicious options at Mercado Central.
13. Visit Skull Donuts
This small-batch, gourmet donut shop sources its ingredients locally, which results in deliciousness you can’t find anywhere else. The shop offers unique flavors like chai tea, lavender-lemon, and good old-fashioned favorites like chocolate with sprinkles.
What’s more, Skull Donuts offers vegan and gluten-free options so everyone can enjoy their treats.
14. Do a Quito Craft Beer Pub Crawl
A pub crawl is a perfect way to explore the local craft beer scene and sample beers from different breweries. Many pub crawls also offer discounts on food and drinks, so you can save money while enjoying Quito’s nightlife.
And because Quito is such a large city, there’s sure to be a pub crawl that fits your taste and budget.
15. Party in Plaza Foch
If you’re looking for a lively night in Quito, head to Plaza Foch. This popular square is always buzzing with energy, and there are plenty of bars and clubs to choose from.
Whether you want to dance the night away or enjoy a few drinks with friends, you’ll find what you’re looking for in Plaza Foch. And if you get hungry, plenty of food vendors will keep you fuelled up for a fun night.
Just watch your belongings, as pickpocketers can be active in this area.
16. Fuya Fuya Hiking Day Trip
Fuya Fuya is a popular day hike from Quito, Ecuador. The trailhead is easily accessible by public transport, and you can complete the trek in a few hours.
The trail winds through the Mojanda volcanic crater lakes, offering stunning views of the Andes. Hikers may spot native wildlife along the way, such as llamas and birds. The final destination is Fuya Fuya peak, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
17. Visit The Mitad Del Mundo Monument
No trip to Quito, Ecuador, is complete without a visit to the Mitad del Mundo monument. This unique monument marks where the earth’s equator runs north of the city.
Visitors can stand with one foot in the Northern Hemisphere and one foot in the Southern Hemisphere or watch as water drained from a central bowl flows clockwise in one hemisphere and counterclockwise in the other. The equatorial monument also houses a small museum displaying Ecuadorian culture and history.
18. Head to El Coca
Puerto Francisco de Orellana, or El Coca, is located in the Amazon jungle on the east bank of the Napo River. El Coca is connected to Quito by a three-hour drive on the Pan-American Highway.
Despite its remote location, El Coca is a popular tourist destination due to its proximity to the Amazon rainforest and indigenous people communities. Visitors can take part in a jungle day tour, hiking, rafting, canoeing and kayaking excursions, birdwatching trips, or enjoy this incredible Amazonian cloud forest’s diverse flora and fauna.
19. Visit The Otavalo Market
Otavalo market is a veritable feast for the senses, with colorful displays of traditional crafts, textiles, and produce. The market is open every day, but Wednesday is the best day to go: it’s when the biggest selection of goods is readily available.
Haggling is expected, so be prepared with a good bargaining strategy. And remember to try some of the delicious local food!
Where To Stay In Quito, Ecuador?
If you’re looking for the best place to stay in Quito, Ecuador, there are plenty of hostels, hotels, and other accommodation options. Whether you’re on a budget, looking for something mid-range, or willing to splurge a bit, there’s always a dedicated spot for you.
Budget Options in Quito, Ecuador
Booking accommodations at the Escocie – Quito is a great idea for budget travelers. This quaint little hostel is located right in the heart of Quito’s Old Town, so you’ll be within walking distance of all the main attractions. Plus, it’s clean, comfortable, and has fantastic reviews from past guests.
For a single bed in a mixed dormitory, prices start at five dollars per day.
Mid-range Option in Quito, Ecuador
Chakana Hotel Boutique is suitable if you’re looking for something in the middle range with a single bed fetching US$60 per night.
This hotel is also located in Old Town Quito, so you’ll be close to all the action. But it’s more upscale than backpackers’ haven Escocie, with larger rooms and more amenities.
High-end Option in Quito, Ecuador
If you’re willing to splurge a bit, Hotel Casa Gangotena is a perfect choice. It’s located in a historic building in Old Town Quito. It’s elegant and beautiful, with top-notch service and amenities.
Room availability and rates depend on your travel dates. Still, expect to pay around $400 for a deluxe double room with an extra-large double bed, air conditioning, cable TV, and a private bathroom with a bathtub.
Warp Up: Things To Do in Quito, Ecuador
You are now armed with all the recommendations you need for an array of enjoyable experiences in Quito, Ecuador. Now its time to book your flights, pack your luggage, and go for an epic holiday in one of the most incredible South American cities.
Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, a nature tripper, or a wandering foodie, Quito can satisfy your wishes. It’s worth a visit!
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
Marjolein is the founder of Radical FIRE. She has a finance and economics background with a master’s in Finance. Radical FIRE is a personal finance blog that helps you live your dream life by making more money and investing. We want you to reach your financial goals and have fun while doing it!