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Why visit Quito
There’s a reason Quito is one of the top destinations in the country. The capital city of Ecuador is located in the middle of the Andes mountains and is surrounded by a few volcanoes! This beautiful city is perfect for everyone; it has so many activities to keep you busy, day and night. Here, you’ll learn more about how to easily navigate the city so you get the most out of your visit.
How to get to Quito
A popular destination in Ecuador, you’ll find several modes of transport that will get you to Quito.
From the Airport: If you’re arriving at Quito’s Mariscal Sucre Airport, located about 45 minutes from the city, you can take a bus or a taxi. From the airport there are two bus options, public bus and Aeroservicios. The public bus will take you to either the bus terminal in the north or the south, depending on where you want to go, and costs $2.00. The Aeroservicios will take you to the old airport, now the Parque Bicentenario, and costs $8.00. After you will need to take a taxi to your final destination.
If you want to take a taxi directly from the airport to your final destination, the cost will usually be $25. It is possible to also use the apps Uber and Cabify to get to the city.
Public transportation: If you’re traveling by bus from Guayaquil, you’ll need to leave from the Terminal Terrestre de Guayaquil, to get to Quito. This trip is about 9 hours and costs about $12 per person. Once in Quito you’ll need to take a taxi to your hotel/hostel/other location; if you’re staying in Quito’s Historic Center or Mariscal District, the bus terminal, Quitumbe, is a $10-20 taxi ride (depending on the time of day) or a $0.25 trip on the Trole (which we recommend only taking in the daytime).
Wanderbus Ecuador: For a trip as long as the Guayaquil to Quito route, an excellent alternative to public transportation is the Wanderbus.
A number of our Wanderbus passes take you to and from Quito and can connect you to the rest of the country, stopping at a few must-see destinations like Cotopaxi, Quilotoa, Baños, Cuenca, Guayaquil, Montañita, and so much more. If your travel plans aren’t set in stone, you should seriously consider this option. This way, the long, complicated journey will be broken up into more manageable chunks, giving you the chance to see the best of the Ecuadorian Andes, coast, and jungle and completely skip the inconvenience, discomfort, and boredom of traveling on regular buses.
Located in the Andes mountains at an elevation of 9,350 feet (2,850 meters), Quito was first inhabited around 12,300 years ago by the Quitu tribe. They traded with other nations in South America and Mesoamerica and remained in this area for 35 centuries. In 1462 the Incas arrived and conquered the Quitus, and Quito became the capital of the northern part of the Incan Empire. Soon after, due to instability within the Incan Empire, the Spanish were easily able to conquer the Incas and other tribes in this region.
In 1534 the Incan city of was officially destroyed and Quito, as we know it now, was taken over by the Spanish. During the time of colonization the indigenous people were exploited and discriminated against, which allowed the Spanish Empire to become more powerful. Then, on May 24th, 1822 the Spanish rule of Ecuador ended with the Battle of Pichincha. Since Ecuador’s independence, people from small communities have moved to the city, and currently Quito is the capital and the largest city in Ecuador.
Health and Safety
Before traveling to Ecuador, it is strongly recommended that you purchase travel insurance in case of any emergency, including health and loss of possessions. Quito is safe and fun if you take the right precautions, as you would anywhere you travel.
In the case of an emergency, you can reach an ambulance by dialing 911 or 102 (Quito Fire Department), 131 (Red Cross) or 101 (Police).
Hospitals in Quito
Since Quito is such a large city, there is no shortage of good hospitals and clinics that you can visit for anything you need.
Baca Ortiz (Children’s Hospital)
Av. Colón y Av. 6 de Diciembre
Av. Gran Colombia near National Congress Building center
Enrique Garces or Hospital del Sur
Chilibulo y Av. Enrique Garces
Maternidad Isidro Ayora
Av. Gran Colombia y Sodiro
Carlos Andrade Marín
18 de Septiembre y Bogota
Av. 10 de Agosto 3366
Av. América 2131
Av. Amazonas 482 y Gaspar de Villaroel
Av. 6 de Diciembre y Tomás de Berlanga
Av. América 3520 y Av. Atahualpa
Nova Clínica Santa Cecilia
Veintimilla 1394 y Av. 10 de Agosto
Av. 6 de Diciembre y Colón
Av. 6 de Diciembre 117 y Sodiro
Veintimilla E3-30 y Páez
Pharmacies in Quito
Pharmacies can be found all over Quito. The bigger chains include Fybeca, Sana Sana, and Cruz Azul. This link will indicate the pharmacies registered on Google Maps.
ATMs in Quito
You can take cash out of the ATMs located in Quito, all with large trusted banks in Ecuador, these are JEP, Banco Bolivariano, Banco Pichincha, and Banco Guayaquil, you can find the locations of each ATM here with Google Maps.
Always try to plan ahead so that you don’t need to visit the ATM very often, increasing chances of being targeted by thieves, and always avoid taking cash out in the evening.
Wifi in Quito
Wifi can be accessed in almost any restaurant or cafe you come across, so you don’t have to worry about staying in touch.
Things to do in Quito
Whatever you interests are, there are so many fun things to do in Quito, the secret is just knowing where to look! Below are a few good starting points to help you out!
If you want to look for things to do online, Facebook, Trip Advisor, and Google Reviews are all great places to search as well.
Quito Free Walking Tour
There are many options to take a free walking tour of Quito. The most popular location is the Quito Old Town, but you can find additional tours in La Floresta neighborhood and other places in the downtown areas.
Visit the City Museums
The Foundation “Museos de la Ciudad” are great places to wander around on a free day, some of these places have an entry fee, but it’s usually very minimal. Some of these museums are as follows:
- Museo del Carmen Alto – A former convent, this museum has a collection of religious art.
- Centro de Arte Contemporaneo– This cultural center in a former military hospital that has cultural events and exhibits.
- Museo Yaku Water Museum & Park – This museum focuses on raising awareness about water as a source of life.
- Museo Interactivo de Ciencia (MIC) – Interactive and educational center for everyone.
- Museo de la Ciudad – This is an interactive museum focusing on Ecuadorian history.
- Museo Oswaldo Guayasamin – Here you can visit the house and gallery of one of Ecuador’s most famous artists.
This church is located in the middle of Quito’s Old Town and is an incredible place to visit. You can walk around inside and outside, but the best thing to do is walk across covered roof and climb up to the top of the tower for an amazing view of the city.
Visit a City Park
The city parks in Quito are full of life, and if you just want to walk around and be in nature, this is a perfect activity for you. Some of our favorite parks include Parque La Carolina, Parque Metropolitano, Parque Guapulo, and Parque Bicentenario.
Take a Chocolate Tour
Ecuador is world famous for their chocolate and cacao beans, so why not plan your own chocolate tasting route. Here is a list of some places that you can visit:
- Pacari: This is one of Ecuador’s most famous organic chocolate brands, and they have so many favors!
- Kallari: Here in this cafe you will find amazing chocolate from the Amazon region.
- Chez Tiff: Here you can find lots of things made from chocolate, and maybe get a history lesson too!
- República del Cacao: Another well-known chocolatier here in Ecuador, you can try delicious dishes and take some chocolate home too!
- Hoja Verde / Café Vélez: This destination combines two Ecuadorian specialties, chocolate and coffee, and focuses on really connecting with local communities.
Ride the TeleferiQo
Hop in a cable car that will take you up the Pichincha Volcano to an altitude of about 4,000 meters (about 13,000 feet). From here you’ll get the most spectacular view of the city and you can even hike to the top of the volcano from here! Make sure to bring warm clothes, it can get chilly up there!
Visit the National Museum of the Ministry of Culture
This museum houses some of the country’s most valuable artifacts. Located between the Mariscal and the Old Town, a visit to this museum is an excellent option for those that want to delve deeper into Ecuador’s culture and history.
Keep sun cream and a rain jacket on you at all times: though often ideal, the weather in Quito can change by the hour. When it does rain it tends to do so in the afternoon, so lay off the craft beer (or, pro tip, drink an awful lot of sparkling water while you do so) at night and wake up early so you can enjoy the gloriously sunny mornings.
Getting around Quito
Navigating Quito is really easy if you know what to do! If you want to take the public bus you have the blue public buses, the Ecovia, Trole, or Metrobus, all only costing $0.25. They can take you from the north of the city to the south and you can always ask the bus driver if they stop near your location.
Another option is to take a taxi, which can be more convenient than taking a bus since you can always find one in the street! Here in Quito we also have the services of Uber and Cabify which are also safe and easy.
Planning your time in Quito
Planning your time in Quito depends entirely on what YOU like doing, but we’ve listed some of the highlights. We encourage you to take these and customize your itinerary based on the amount of time you have, personal preferences and your budget.
|DAY 1||Arrive in Quito and get ready for an adventure!. Take a free walking tour or hop on the double decker bus to see everything in the city||Pick a spot to have a nice dinner in the Old Town|
|DAY 2||Head up to the Teleferico to see the city from the top of the mountains||Wander around the Metropolitan Park|
|DAY 3||Spend the day visiting Museums!|
|DAY 4||Walk around the old town. Visit La Basilica and climb all the way up the tower||Visit La Ronda in the evening and get dinner on this street|
Where to stay in Quito
Airbnbs in Quito
Since Quito is such a large city, there are so many great options with AirBnb, which can also be nice if you want to have a kitchen and make your own food! Some more traveler-friendly neighborhoods are the Old Town, La Floresta, and La Mariscal.
Hostels in Quito
There are many great vibrant hostels in Quito, you won’t have any trouble finding something you like! Most of the hostels are concentrated in the Old Town, La Floresta, and La Mariscal. Here we have a list to help you out:
In the Old Town:
Hotels in Quito
If you’re looking for a nicer place to stay, there are so many hotels in Quito that can be perfect for you. Here is a list of some hotels for you:
Ventanal de Bella Vista
Where to eat in Quito
Quito is a great place to find any food that you want, and bonus, since we can grow almost anything here, food is usually really cheap! Here it’s also very easy to find food if you have any dietary restrictions.
- La Piedra de Cantuña – Cafe lounge with burgers, pizza, fries… yum!
- Ari – Delicious Ecuadorian food
- La Exquisita – Popular local restaurant
- El Costeñito del Buen Sabor – Specializes in seafood
- Las Menestras de la Almagro – Large and filling lunch meals
- Las Corvinas de Don Jimmy – Mercado Central
Moderately Priced Foods:
- De La Llama – Ecuadorian and latin american food, and a great selection of seafood
- La Vecindad de Los Cuates – The best Mexican food here!
- Sher E Punjab Rincon de la India – if you’re craving some Indian food
- Miskay Restaurant – Classic and delicious Ecuadorian food
- Maki – A great fusion of Peruvian and Japanese cuisine
- Tandana – Delicious vegan food that everyone will love
- Vista Hermosa – The best rooftop view of Quito’s Old Town, and the Ecuadorian food here is so good!
Treat yo self:
- Zazu – Amazing Latin American food with a focus on seafood
- Carmine Gastronomia & Arte – Perfect if you’re craving a taste of the Mediterranean and Italy
- Restaurante El Ventanal – Along with the amazing Ecuadorian food this restaurant has amazing panoramic view of the whole city.
- Osaka – One of the best restaurants for Peruvian and seafood options.
When to Visit Quito
There’s really no wrong time to visit the capital city since it is right on the equator. The climate here is 15-22 C (60-70 F), and there is little to no humidity. However, during the rainy season and because of its elevation, Quito can get quite cold. Since buildings here aren’t made to withstand cold weather, it can feel quite chilly indoors as well.
With that in mind, try to visit Quito during its dry season, which is between June and September. Regardless, always bring a light sweater and rain protection with you since the weather in the Andes can shift quite suddenly.
Beyond Quito — Sites to Visit Nearby
Mitad Del Mundo
If you’ve always wanted to know what happens at the middle of the Earth this is a must-see place. Located about 45 minutes north of the center of Quito, here you can do lots of experiments and take so many pics for Instagram!
This museum is located right next to Mitad del Mundo, which makes it super easy to visit both in one day! This museum houses a lot of information about the indigenous people of Ecuador, and the solar system, and is located on the ACTUAL equator line.
Museo Templo Del Sol
A lesser known museum outside of Quito but is 100% worth it. Located about 50 minutes from the center of Quito, this Museum has amazing sculptures, beautiful art, indigenous artifacts, and of course the temple, and is super cheap, too, only $1!.
If you’re traveling from Quito to Baños, you’ll be dropping in elevation to 1,800 meters (6,000 ft) so prepare for warmer and more humid weather, though the evenings and mornings can get chilly, especially in the rainy season.
The climate in Baños is temperate and often tropical, but almost always pleasant throughout the year and sits in the low 20s (Celsius), or low 70s (Fahrenheit), though this will vary depending on whether it’s the rainy season.
In Baños, it rains between May and September and it pours in the months of June, July and August.
Quito Packing List
Your packing list may vary depending on the activities you decide to do and on the weather.
Apart from your regular packing items, you should include the following to your packing list:
- Comfortable shoes to walk, hike, climb
- Sandals to change into back at the hotel
- Waterproof jacket or umbrella
- Change of clothes for wet day trips
- Sun protection (hat, sunglasses, sunblock)
- Layers and warmer gear (fleece, windbreaker), especially if going to the mountains.
Optional: GoPro or other waterproof camera to capture your adventures!
Head south on the Wanderbus to the town of Baños for more adventure, and then to Cuenca to experience Ecuadorian culture. Or if you’re heading to the coast, you can visit Guayaquil and Montañita to experience some of the best beaches in South America!
Plan your Trip to Quito with Wanderbus – you won’t regret it!
Check out our passes here.