Ecuador’s capital city in the clouds is a gateway to many things: to indigenous and colonial cultures, to the surrounding lakes and volcanoes, and to the more far-flung destinations of the Amazon and Galapagos. An intriguing mix of new and old, traditionally-dressed indigenous vendors mingle with smart, young locals around a city divided into a high-rise new town and beguiling historic centre.
There are dozens of cultural museums, gasp-worthy churches and quirky plazas to explore in the first ever UNESCO World Heritage Old Town, while the surrounding mountains make for great vantage points to take in the peachy sunsets of Latin America’s second highest capital. A burgeoning foodie scene and diverse nightlife makes this Ecuador’s coolest city.
What to do in Quito
- Visit the Casa del Alabado pre-Columbian art museum
- Drink with the locals in craft beer microbreweries
- Check out the gold-covered La Compañía church
- Admire the colonial skyline from the top of the Basilica del Voto Nacional
- Cleanse your energy with an Andean limpia ritual
Eating and drinking
Like any cosmopolitan capital, Quito has a sophisticated international foodie scene, with fashionable new Ecuadorian-fusion restaurant popping up all the time, especially in the trendy La Floresta neighbourhood. But the real fun begins when you explore the covered food markets, with rich roasted pork hornados, steaming lamb stews accompanied by tropical fruit juices and sweets in all shapes and sizes. Beer lovers will be barrelled over by the craft beer scene, check out Bandido Brewing located in a former Old Town chapel.
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.
Get a free walking tour
Experience the best of this vibrant and rich city has to offer by exploring the streets like a local