Destination guide: Quito, Ecuador
Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is in the Andes, about 2,800 meters above sea level. Walking through its streets, you can see the contrasts between its old buildings, which combine both contemporary and colonial elements. Quito’s inhabitants are very hospitable to tourists, making it the perfect destination for your vacation. Ask about our offers for tickets to Quito and fly with LAN Airlines.
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Quito - Things to do
Casa Museo Maria Augusta Urrutia
On Calle Garcia Moreno, just southwest of Calle Sucre, you’ll find the Casa Museo Maria Augusta Urrutia. Of Quito’s house museums, this is the one not to miss: it’s a splendidly preserved, 19th-century house, once the home of the city’s best-loved philanthropist, Maria Augusta Urrutia, and sprinkled with period furnishings, stained-glass windows, European artwork and a lush courtyard. Free guided tours are in Spanish and English.
Latitude: -0.2219254189775 / Longitude:-78.5138368606567
Telephone Number: +593 2 258 0107
Opening Hours: 10am-5.30pm Tue-Sun
Pricing: Admission $2
Address: García Moreno N2-60, Old Town
Extras: Near Sucre
If you follow Avenida 12 de Octubre up the hill from the Mariscal, you'll reach the Hotel Quito at the top. Behind the hotel, stairs lead steeply down the other side of the hill to the historic neighborhood of Guápulo. The views all the way down are magnificent. Ramshackle houses stand interspersed among colonial whitewashed homes with terra-cotta-tile roofs, and the odd bohemian cafe makes for a welcome break. At the bottom of the hill stands the neighborhood's centerpiece, the sanctuary of El Guápulo, a beautiful church built between 1644 and 1693. The best views of Guápulo are from the lookout behind the Hotel Quito, next to the statue of Francisco de Orellana ( M04DF; Calle Larrea near González Suárez).
Latitude: -0.2027531206910 / Longitude:-78.4781849384308
Sub-Type: Religious, Spiritual
Museo de Arte Colonial
One block to the northeast of Plaza Grande is the excellent Museo de Arte Colonial. In a restored 17th-century building, the museum houses what many consider to be Ecuador’s best collection of colonial art. On display are famous sculptures and paintings of the Quito School including the works of Miguel de Santiago, Manuel Chili (the indigenous artist known as Caspicara) and Bernardo de Legarda. The museum was closed indefinitely for restoration at time of research.
Latitude: -0.2177948475064 / Longitude:-78.5130858421326
Opening hour : 10:00-18:00 Tue-Fri, 10:00-14:00 Sat
Address: Mejía Oe6-132, cnr Cuenca
Telephone Number: +593 2 221 2297
Parque La Carolina
North of the Mariscal lies the giant Parque La Carolina. On weekends it fills with families who come to pedal paddleboats, play soccer and ride bikes. In 2005, Quito inaugurated a new addition: the Jardin Botánico. With more than 300 Ecuadorian plants and tree species and an outstanding orquideario (orchid greenhouse), it's well worth a look. The Museo de Ciencias Naturales, the country's best natural history museum, is next door.
Latitude: -0.1882478188173 / Longitude:-78.4852445125580
Address: Av de la República & Av Elfoy Alfaro
The small, ever-present hill to the south of the old town is called El Panecillo and is a major Quito landmark. It is topped by a huge statue of La Virgen de Quito (Virgin of Quito), with a crown of stars, eagle's wings and a chained dragon atop the world. From the summit, there are marvelous views of the whole city stretching out below, as well as of the surrounding volcanoes. The best time for volcano views (particularly in the rainy season) is early morning, before the clouds roll in. don't climb the stairs at the end of Calle García Moreno on the way to the statue. A taxi from the old town costs about around US$4, and you can hail one at the top for the trip back to town.
Address: Southern Quito
Cevichería y Marisquería 7 Mares
This is the place to go for cheap encebollado (a tasty seafood, onion and yucca soup). Bowls - served cafeteria-style - are only around US$2 and make an excellent lunch.
Latitude: -0.1984723413444 / Longitude:-78.4894394874573
Sub-Type: South American
Opening Hours: 07:45-17:30
Price range : Low
Address: La Niña 525, Colón
With 10 types of meat, three types of salad and an all-you-can-eat policy, how can you go wrong?
Latitude: -0.2060468524015 / Longitude:-78.4915423393249
Telephone Number: +593 2 254 8012
Opening Hours: 13:00-15:00 & 18:00-22:00 Mon-Sat, 13:00-16:00 Sun
Pricing : High
Address: General Veintimilla 546, Mariscal Sucre
This Quichua coop serves up some delicious, healthy breakfasts and lunches, and stocks its famous chocolate bars. For lunch, try the guacamole sandwich and the grilled plantain with cheese.
Latitude: -0.2026780193086 / Longitude:-78.4927976131439
Opening Hours: 9am-5pm Mon-Fri, to 1pm Sun
Pricing : Breakfast/lunch $2/2.50
Address: Wilson E4-266 at JL Mera, Mariscal Sucre
Telephone Number: +593 2 223 6009
A good place to start the night off is this outdoor bar anchoring lively Reina Victoria. There’s great people-watching from the tables on the plaza (and numerous other eating/drinking spots nearby). It also roasts its own coffee.
Latitude: -0.2031286275975 / Longitude:-78.4908235073090
Opening Hours: 24 Hr.
Pricing : Low
Address: Cnr Reina Victoria & Foch
Telephone Number: +593 2 252 6957
The newest branch of Ananké brings Bohemian style to the Mariscal. In addition to the tasty wood-fired pizzas, Ananké hosts an excellent lineup of musical talent including jazz, salsa, ska, funk, cumbia and reggae. Even if there’s nothing on, the outdoor courtyard is an idyllic spot for an evening drink.
Latitude: -0.2015300409921 / Longitude:-78.4779274463654
Opening Hours: 18:00-late
Address: Cnr Almagro & Pinto
Ballet Folklórico Nacional Jacchigua
This folkloric ballet is as touristy as it is spectacular. It is presented daily at the Teatro Demetrio Agilera at the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana, and is quite a show. Contact any travel agency or upper-end hotel for tickets, or buy them at the door or online.
Latitude: -0.2103490872567 / Longitude:-78.4952545166015
Telephone Number: +593 2 295 2025
Pricing: Admission $25
Address: Cnr Avs Patria & 12 de Octubre
Folklore Olga Fisch
The store of legendary designer Olga Fisch (who died in 1991), this is the place to go for the very best and most expensive crafts in town. Fisch was a Hungarian artist who immigrated to Ecuador in 1939 and worked with indigenous artists melding traditional crafts with fine art - her unique designs are stunning.
Latitude: -0.2028174933041 / Longitude:-78.4845364093781
Sub-Type: Arts & Crafts
Address: Coló 260
Telephone Number: +593 2 254 1315
Homero Ortega P & Hijos
One of Ecuador’s biggest sellers of Ecuadorian straw hats (aka panama hats), offering a small but versatile selection of its famous Cuenca brand.
Latitude: -0.2081389617670 / Longitude:-78.4875726699829
Telephone Number: +593 2 295 3337
Opening Hours: 9.30am-6.30pm Mon-Fri, to 1.30pm Sat
Address: Benalcazar N2-52, La Floresta
Pop into this hipster boutique for a look at some eye-catching graphic T-shirts by local urban designer Cholo Machine.
Latitude: -0.2026136466949 / Longitude:-78.4924006462097
Telephone Number: +593 2 222 6407
Address: Wilson 712 at JL Mera, Mariscal Sucre
Festivals & Events
As throughout Ecuador, people celebrate New Year’s Eve by burning elaborate, life sized puppets in the streets at midnight, launching explosives into the sky and otherwise throwing general public safety to the wind. It’s a great time to be here. Carnaval, held the weekend before Ash Wednesday (a changing date in February), is celebrated by intense water fights - no one is spared (careful with your camera if it isn’t waterproof!).
Colorful religious processions are held during Semana Santa (Easter Week), the most spectacular being the procession of cucuruchos (penitents wearing purple robes and inverted cone masks) on Good Friday.
By far the biggest event of the year is the founding of Quito festival, held in early December.
Fiestas de Quito
Quito’s biggest annual event commemorates the founding of the city by the Spanish on December 6. The festivities, however, start much earlier. In late November, Quito chooses a queen, and the evenings are dominated by colorful chivas (open-topped buses) maneuvering through the streets, packed with dancing revelers. On the week leading up to the big day, bullfights are held at the Plaza de Toros and flamenco dancing is staged throughout town as quiteños connect with their Spanish roots. Momentum builds as the day draws near, with nightly street parties erupting as DJs and popular local bands taking to open-air stages set up all over town. Quito comes to a near standstill on December 5, when everyone comes out to party.
Climbers can get a serious fix at the Rocódromo ([tel] 250-8463; Queseras del Medio s/n; admission $2; [hrs] 8am-8pm Mon-Fri, to 6pm Sat & Sun), a 25m-high climbing facility across from the Estadio Rumiñahui. There are more than a dozen routes (some as hard as class 5.12, or 7C on the French scale) on the three main walls, a four-face bouldering structure and a rock building. Shoes, ropes, harnesses, chalk bags and carabiners are all available for rental. If you rent equipment, the staff will belay you. The Rocódromo is walking distance from the Mariscal.
Montaña ([tel] 2238-954; firstname.lastname@example.org; Cordero E12-141 at Toledo; [hrs] 10am-10pm Mon-Wed, to midnight Thu & Fri, 3-10pm Sat) is a meeting place for climbers from Quito. Itimbers cans a useful source of nonbiased information (no oneimbers cans trying to sell anything but a cup of coffee) and a good place to meet local climbers. Trips are sometimes arranged and everyoneimbers cans included. The owner sets up slide shows or chats on weekend evenings.
Every other Sunday, the entire length of Avenida Amazonas and most of the old town closes to cars, as loads of pedalers take to the street for the bimonthly ciclopaseo. The entire ride (some 10km), which you can cycle part or all of, stretches from the airport, through the old town and into the southern reaches of Quito. Visit www.ciclopolis.ec for more info (in Spanish).
Local mountain-biking companies rent bikes and offer excellent tours including one-day rides through the p&aatilde;ramo (Andean grasslands) of Parque Nacional Cotopaxi, as well as down-hill descents, trips incorporating a stop at Papallacta hot springs, and two-day trips to Cotopaxi and Chimborazo and to Cotopaxi and Laguna Quilotoa. Single-day trips cost about $50, not including park-entrance fees. Compare prices and trips at the following operators: Biking Dutchman ([tel] 256-8323; www.bikingdutchman.com; Foch 714 at Mera) is Ecuador’s pioneer mountain-biking operator, has good bikes and guides and an outstanding reputation, while Arie’s Bike Company ([tel] 238-0802; www.ariesbikecompany.com) has received great reports from readers.
For high-quality parts and bikes by makers including KHS, Marin and Manitou, stop by Bike Stop ([tel] 225-5404; www.bikestopecuador.com, in Spanish; Av 6 de Diciembre N34-55 at Checoslovaquia; [hrs] 10am-7pm Mon-Fri, 9:30am-1:30pm Sat). It’s also a good source of information.
Quito’s new teleférico takes passengers up to Cruz Loma (4100m), from where you can hike to the top of jagged Rucu Pichincha (about 4680m). Beyond the rise of Cruz Loma, and past a barbed wire fence that no one seems to pay any attention to, trails lead to Rucu Pichincha it’s approximately three hours to the top, and some scrambling is required. Don’t attempt this hike if you’ve just arrived in Quito allow a couple of days to acclimatize.
Before the teleférico went in, climbing Rucu Pichincha was dangerous due to armed robberies. There have been attacks in recent years, and it’s well worth assessing the security situation from local authorities, including SAE, before heading out.
After a long day’s hike, La Cascada ([tel] 295-8200; Flores 41-47; admission $6; [hrs] 10am-8pm) may ease your weary limbs. The tiny bathhouse has a small pool, a sauna and a hot tub.
For Hatha yoga classes, stop by the friendly Krishna center ([tel] 296-6844; Esmeraldas 853; per class/month $5/40), with the excellent Govindas restaurant on-site. Classes are currently held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5 to 6pm. Inquire about yoga tours and holistic retreats.
Other excellent places to take a class:
Centro Alternativo de Arte Shakti (Rafael Larrea 1050 y Camino de Orellana; per class $5) Located in Guápulo, behind the Hotel Quito.
Yoga Studio Sadhana ([tel] 290-7606; Whymper 31-128 y Paul Rivet Quito; per class $15)