Quito is a vibrant city, which combines colonial and contemporary styles, it has impressive natural landscapes. What to do in Quito when you have an outstanding amount of activities? This is a frequent question for travelers when visiting the capital of Ecuador. For this reason and because we want to help you plan a schedule for when arriving in the city, in this article we recommend the 22 best activities to do in Quito.
Cover Photo by: Instagram @wanderlustwithlisa – Place: “Swing of the clouds” – TeleferiQo Cable Car, Quito
Weather in Quito
Quito’s altitude is of (2.850 meters) 9.3503 ft. above sea level and the temperature varies from (9 C to 19 C.) 48.2 F- 66.2 F. In this city you will find two seasons: The Rainy season (also known as winter) and The Dry season. The majority of the year we have a rainy season which goes from October to April. At this time of the year there will be frequent rain, sometimes you may get some hailstones. During the dry season from June to September the temperature is higher as the sun is out longer during the day.
How to get there?
The main entry gate to Quito is through the Mariscal Sucre International Airport, which is located in the Tababela sector, approximately (43 kilometers) 26.7 miles from the historical center of Quito. From the airport, you can get to Quito by public bus, taxi, Uber or Cabify or Aeroservicios. Here in this other article, we tell you in detail how to get form airport to Quito.
How many days are enough to visit Quito?
We recommend that you stay for at least 3 days. There is a vast list of activities that you can do during your visit. The city not only has the largest historical center in South America, but also a series of natural wonders and fantastic cuisine.
What are the best places to stay in Quito?
Quito offers many places to stay in. One of the favorite places is the Historical Center. It was declared in 1978 by UNESCO as a Cultural Heritage of Humanity site. In this place, which is considered the heart of the city, you can enjoy the unique colonial architecture of churches, theaters, monasteries, and convents. However, if you prefer a more modern area, you can opt for the part that goes from the park “La Carolina” to the park “El Ejido”, where you will be able to find a variety of options for hotels, bars & restaurants.
Is Quito safe?
Like any city in the world, Quito is not immune to insecurity, therefore there are certain areas you should avoid. Generally, it is a city that you can walk through calmly during the day. It is recommended to be more careful during the night time. When walking around the city it is recommended that one stay aware of what is happening around and to use common sense.
Visiting Quito’s Highlights
Quito has a series of touristic attractions that are worth visiting. If your stay is limited, we recommend you prioritize these activities and visit these destinations. We are sure that if you include these places in your itinerary, you will get a good idea of the city and of its cultural, architectural, artistic and landscape richness.
Quito City Tour
Touring the largest Historic Center in South America, on board the only double-decker tourist bus in the city, is an activity that you should do during your visit to Quito. Quito City Tour, from Quito Tour Bus, invites you to get to know the main attractions of the city from the Naciones Unidas Avenue, which is located in the financial center north of the city, crossing the largest Historic Center in South America, to the viewpoint of El Panecillo.
Quito Tour Bus operates under a system where you can get on and off the bus (Hop On – Hop Off), at our established stops with one-hour intervals. The complete route (without getting off the vehicle) lasts approximately three hours. Do not forget that one of our main stops is La Mariscal / Plaza Foch, considered the heart of the city’s nightlife.
Tour the unique Historic Center of the city, which has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Cultural site, and you can visit countless churches, chapels, convents, squares, museums, and historical monuments. Also, if you wish to get off the bus and explore these tourist attractions, your bus ticket can be used all day from 9 am to 4 pm. Be sure to visit the church of La Compañía de Jesús, the Basilica of the Voto Nacional, the Plaza de la Independencia and the church of San Francisco, as well as many other tourist attractions that make the Historic Center a must-see destination when you visit the city of Quito and Ecuador.
TelefériQo Cable Care
If what you are looking for is to marvel at the rich scenery of the Andean moorland as well as enjoy the view of the city of Quito surrounded by mountains, then you must visit the city’s cable car. This is considered one of the highest in the world since at the end of the rise you will reach a height of (3,945 meters) 12,942.913 feet.
If you decide to take the cable car, you can take several hikes, like to the famous “Guagua Pichincha” (4,784 masl) 15,696 feet and “Rucu Pichincha” (4,698 masl) 15,413 feet, volcanoes that are part of the Pichincha Massif and belongs to the Western Mountain Range of the Ecuadorian Andes. In fact, climbing to the top of the Rucu Pichincha is one of the most desirable hikes for tourists visiting the Ecuadorian capital. Do not forget that on the path to Ruco Pichincha you can find the “columpio de las nubes” (swing in the clouds), from where you will get beautiful pictures with the city in the background. And if you like extreme sports you can take your bike in the same cabin of the cable car and do a unique downhill experience on the route that will take you back to the city.
La Mitad del Mundo “The Middle of the World”
This famous equatorial monument is located in the city of Quito, where you can put each of your feet in both hemispheres at the same time. The Middle of the World City is home to the famous Equatorial Monument and a series of museums where you can soak up information about the equator and the phenomena that only occur there.
If you want to visit the famous “Mitad del Mundo” (The Middle of the World) City and live a series of experiences on the Equinoctial Line, as well as visiting the “Pululahua” Geobotanical Reserve scenic spot, where you can see the inhabited crater of an active volcano, we recommend that you opt for the Tour Mitad del Mundo, a safe, fun and easy way to reach and enjoy this unique destination.
Located in the Historic Center of Quito, El Panecillo is an iconic site of the city, where the impressive statue of Our Lady of Quito is also known as the Virgin of Legarda. You can enjoy one of the most privileged views of the city in the viewpoint, located inside the statue.
El Panecillo is approximately 3,000 meters (9842 ft) above sea level, which is why we recommend accessing the site by vehicle. You can also get on board the only double-decker tourist bus in the city through Quito City Tour, it will take you there as this is one of its mandatory stops.
La Capilla del Hombre
La Capilla del Hombre (The Chapel of Men) is a cultural center built by the initiative of the famous Ecuadorian painter Oswaldo Guayasamín. This museum, declared by UNESCO as “Priority project for culture” as well as “Cultural Heritage of the Ecuadorian State” by the National Congress, is a wonderful space where you can enjoy the most iconic works of the artist. In addition, in the same complex of the Capilla del Hombre, you can find the “Museo Casa-Taller Guayasamín” (Guayasamin Home-Workshop Museum) that will allow you to get closer to the intimate life of the painter.
In this cultural center, you can also enjoy temporary exhibitions and an internal architecture that will lead you to want to know much more about this painter and his work.
Visiting Hidden Places in Quito
Quito, like any other city, has several sites that, despite not being advertised so much, deserve to be visited. Although these places are many more than those that we present here, we leave you with a few ideas so you can start your journey.
Botanical Garden of Quito
The Botanical Garden of Quito is a space dedicated to environmental education and the conservation of floristic resources in the inter-Andean region of Ecuador. Here it is possible to find an enormous variety of plants, a sample of the enormous biodiversity that the country possesses. In the Botanical Garden one can find orchids, the first Japanese garden in Quito, recreations of the country’s own ecosystems, among other things.
The Botanical Garden of Quito is located in the interior of La Carolina Park next to Los Shyris Avenue and Rumipamba Road, and can be visited from Monday to Friday from 8 am to 4:45 pm, and on weekends or bank holidays from 9 am to 4:45 pm.
Visiting city markets are always a good way to get to know and mingle with the people to delve into the city. Quito has countless markets that you can visit, there you can enjoy the vibrant colors of an infinite number of fruits and vegetables that will leave you breathless. You can enjoy the typical dishes offered there and you can see the work of artisans. Among the most prominent markets are La Mariscal Artisan Market (sale of handcrafted items from all over the country), Iñaquito Market (unparalleled gastronomy, do not miss their famous baking), Tianguez (market, coffee, and restaurant), Central Market (unique cuisine), among others.
The Florida Site Museum
The Florida Site Museum is a perfect place to learn about the history of the Quitu People, their funerary architecture and their recovered cultural materials. It is a museum that deserves to be visited as you can learn about the indigenous worldview, graves, and ways in which they were buried in the past. The museum is located on Antonio Costas and César Villacrés Street (in the San Vicente neighborhood of La Florida), north of Quito. It’s opening hours are from Wednesday to Sunday from 09:00 am to 5:00 pm.
“Huecas” Cuisine in the historic center of Quito
Quito offers a wide variety of cuisine diversity, which you can enjoy in its wide range of restaurants, bars, markets, and, of course, in its traditional ‘huecas’. The “Huecas” are family-type businesses, which generally work in small places or gaps, where you eat delicious food at moderate prices. If you are going to visit the Historic Center of Quito, we recommend you go to one of its traditional huecas, where you can enjoy the flavors of Ecuadorian cuisine. Here is a list of some of the most popular “huecas” in the Historic Center of Quito.
- Drink a ‘canelazo’ (cinnamon slap) in La Ronda
- Eat a ‘guatita’ between Benalcázar and Sucre streets
- Eat a ‘mote’ in San Juan
- Eat ‘corvinas’ from La Gloria at the Central Market
- Try out the traditional Black ‘quiteños’
- Eat a ‘sándwich’ at the Plaza Grande
- Try some light meals at the Cruz Verde
We recommend you read the most famous “huecas” in the historical center of Quito and thus learn where to find them and what their specialty is.
Plans to come with your partner to Quito
There is nothing better than sharing this time with the person you love. Though traveling may imply that you will spend a lot of energy, you can always make time to have a romantic activity or getaway with your partner. If on your journey you find yourself in the capital of Ecuador, and you are looking for a romantic activity, you can find a few options.
- Kiss in both hemispheres at the Mitad del Mundo
- Dine at the Pim’s in El Panecillo
- Take an evening stroll in the city center
- Hang a lock at the scenic viewpoint el Mirador de Guápulo
- Share an “espumilla”
If you are interested in having a romantic getaway in the capital, read places to visit as a couple in Quito.
What to do in Quito with children?
Family vacations should become unforgettable experiences for the whole family. The interests of both parents and children should not clash, hence it is important to select sites that are of interest to children and that fosters a good time for parents as well. If you are in the city of Quito with your children, do not forget to do some of these entertaining activities.
- Visit the cities museums
- Visit the city’s zoo
- Ride on the double-decker bus
- Visit the extreme adventure park in Nayon Valley
If you would like more information regarding what to do with children in Quito, we recommend you can read our article things to do in quito with kids.
What to do in Quito at night?
Although at night the temperature can drop considerably in the Ecuadorian capital, do not forget to tour the city. So, if you bundle up, you can tour the illuminated historic center, a light show that deserves to be seen, or you can go to other parts of the city such as La Mariscal, La Floresta or Guápulo.
Tour Quito at Night
A great option for the evenings is to visit the Historic Center of Quito aboard the city’s only double-decker tourist bus. This is a highly recommended option because, during the night, the facades of churches, buildings and illuminated squares give an unsurpassed beauty to the Historic Center. Reason why, we recommend Quito At Night, a tour of the illuminated historic center, which has a one-hour stop at the traditional street La Ronda, a street full of bars and restaurants which has been the birthplace of painters, poets, writers and bohemians. In La Ronda you can enjoy a series of gastronomic delights that are typical of Ecuador, and the famous “canelazo”, a traditional drink of the Sierra made of cinnamon and sugar, which can also contain orange juice, and to which they add “puntas” (aguardiente). In the restaurants and bars of La Ronda, you can enjoy live and contemporary music, especially during the weekends.
Places to Dine
As you visit the Street of Isabel La Católica, in the north of Quito, you can find a series of bars and restaurants for all tastes. There you will find national and international food. And, if you feel more intrepid, nearby, in the neighborhood of La Vicentina, you can find the famous “Parque de las Tripas” (park of the guts) where the famous “Mishqui” gut is prepared, a delicious dish made with pork intestines. To the northwest of La Vicentina, you can visit in turn the famous La Floresta neighborhood, where there are several coffee shops, restaurants, bars, independent movie theaters, and so on.
The heart of Quito’s nightlife lies in the La Mariscal district, where you can find a wide range of bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. Do not forget to enjoy a delicious cocktail or a craft beer. If you are in the La Mariscal sector, be sure to visit Borja Yerovi Square, located on Carrión Avenue and 9 de Octubre street, a must-see corner where several muralists shaped the identity of the city in the houses and walls of this place, which have given it its charm and color.
Another great option is Guápulo, a very colorful and bohemian neighborhood, where it also offers a wide range of cafes, bars, and restaurants. Regardless of the place you choose in Guápulo, you will enjoy a beautiful view of the valley.
Things to do in the Historical Center of Quito
You cannot just visit the outskirts of the historical center of Quito you must go into the colonial core which is the best preserved in Latin America. Visit the Church of the Compañia de Jesus (Jesus’ Company) (known for its baroque architecture and internal ornamentation, completely covered with gold foil), the church and convent of San Francisco, the Basilica of Voto Nacional (a neo-Gothic style church), the Plaza de la Independencia or Plaza Grande (where you can find the Carondelet Palace – Presidential Palace) and the Primada Cathedral of Quito (one of the oldest churches in South America).
We invite you to read more about the places that you must visit and see in the Historic center of Quito, a historical national jewel.
When traveling to Ecuador don’t miss out on visiting the incomparable Historic Center of Quito and its attractions as you ride in the Quito Tour Bus, the only double-decker tourist bus in the city. Its Hop On-Hop Off system will allow you to get on and off at main stops established with intervals of one hour. That way, you can reach the most important tourist attractions in the north and center of the city in a simple and safe way. You can use your ticket throughout the day from 8 am to 4 pm. During the tour, you will be accompanied by a bilingual operator (English – Spanish) who will provide you with all the information you need so that your visit to the Historic Center of Quito will be simply an unforgettable experience.