What to do in Quito, Ecuador?
Maybe Quito is the most relaxed cities of South America we have seen. Its a nice place to stay with its charming old town, convenience of the new town, many places to eat and drink, great city views, surrounded by volcanoes. The capital of Ecuador has lots to do (and to relax) and while buying a motorbike we spend quite some time in the city. Here you’ll find our favorites.
Where to stay?
We stayed in L’auberge Inn hostel, between and in walking distance from the old and new parts of town. It very close to a major busstation and a perfect stay for a few days in de city. The reception staff speaks English and is very helpful, rooms for different budgets and our favorite: the buffet breakfast!
The old town is definitely worth a visit with its many churches, small streets, beautiful squares, local restaurants and drink a good coffee at San Mateo’s on Plaza de las Conceptas.
Wave at the president
Every Monday morning there is a formal changing of the Guard watched by the Ecuadorian President. If you are around on a Monday morning you can go to Plaza Grande in the old part of town around 11am. While we were there the happening included, of course, the guards and the president and many other official people. But the freely accessible square also attracts a variety of people and groups that are trying to attract the presidents and media attention. There were some protests going on, but everything was safe and easy going.
In the old town you will find the Basílica del Voto Nacional. For a small entrance fee you can go in and also climb up the towers. And with up, we mean really up. The staircases are challenging and windy. If you are scared of heights, you might not end up at the highest possible place you can climb to.
La Virgen del Panecillo
Although the Teleferico offers great views over the city, sometimes a lower viewpoint can be more photogenic. The virgen of Quito statue on ‘el Panecillo’ (you can see the hill from many points) is a perfect point for that. The hill right in the middle of the city gives you an allround view and many locals go up there. We are not sure if you can walk up, some say it is not safe. You can take a taxi and the city-view bus stops there as well.
New part of the town
There are some really good bus-lines that take you through the city for 0,25cents. You can get in and out wherever you want. Need to do some shopping? In the new part of town there is a big fancy shopping mall, called Quicentro and around there you find good coffee places and more expensive restaurants.
Teleferico de Quito
This cable car takes you up from 2850 meter up to 4100m. The easiest way to get there is to take a cheap Quito cab to the departure place and go up for an amazing view. The cable car is quite the attraction in it self, but the view on top (when you are not in the clouds) is beautiful. You can do a hike up to around 4600. We didn’t do it, but from people we met we heard that is quite a climb. So take water, food and good shoes and start on time.
Looking for a day trip out the city?
The Biking Dutchman is your guy! We went mountain-biking with them from the Cotapaxi. If you are lucky and the weather is good you have an amazing view over the volcano. The trip takes a day and they bring you up to 4600 from where you can cycle down. The ride isn’t very difficult, but can stop and go in the car at any time. We had lots of rain and didn’t see the volcano, but still had fun! It can be cold up there, so bring rain-gear, warm clothing, water, some extra food for energy and your camera of course.
Our favorites for eating & drinking
Places to eat and drink in Quito literally anywhere. If you are looking for a good burger and great atmosphere we recommend the Rebel Saloon, biker cafe in Ina Quito. They make good fresh food and has a friendly staff. Go for a local lunch to Mercado Central. In there are a lot of food stalls where they make all kinds of dishes (we took fish from the popular Las Corvinas de Don Jimmy) and juices. The lively area La Ronda in the old town is a nice place to check out for drinks and food, also a lot of locals hang out there. In the La Zona area you find a lot of hostels and places to eat. The La Ruta del Cafe has good coffee and an owner who is collecting old bikes and scooters.
We probably missing a lot of good places, so if you have any tips we would love to hear them from you!