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The capital city of Quito sits in a long and narrow basin flanked by surreal snow-capped volcanoes. In 1978 it was the first city to be named a UNESCO World Heritage listed site, which should give you an idea of the colonial grandeur to be found here. The historical center or ´old city´ is a maze of cobbled streets and 500 year old Spanish monuments, built on the ashes of an ancient Incan civilization.

Despite the recent completion of a massive decade-long restoration project that returned much of the historical center to its prior glory, the old city maintains its working class and indigenous feel, with the wafting smells of Andean food, the sounds of hollering street vendors and the sight of traditional garbed Indigenous folk going about their every life in the city. Across town in the ´new city´, multistoried hotels, government skyscrapers, international restaurants and ´Gringolandia´ show Ecuador´s cosmopolitan side.

At 2800 meters, Quito is the second highest Capital City in the world and travelers arriving from sea level should be prepared for a short acclimatization period. Quito is a great city to spend a few days exploring, but it is also the main Launchpad for all other Ecuadorian travel destinations, including the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon.

Main attractions

  • Compañía de Jesús church took 160 years to build and is usually considered Ecuador’s most beautiful building. The Jesuit church is a masterpiece of Baroque architecture and Quiteño-colonial art, impressively ornate with gold altars and gilded columns.
  • La Plaza de la Independencia, or Plaza Grande, is the heart of the old town and it´s as much a local hangout as it is a tourist hotspot. The Plaza has several attractions surrounding it, including a 19th century cathedral and the Presidential Palace.
  • The National Museum is considered the best in Ecuador, with 5 main sections including the archaeological exhibit and the room of gold.
  • Getting there

    The Mariscal Sucre International Airport is located just 8km from the city center, which daily flights land from dozens of worldwide destinations.

    Quito has two main bus terminals, Quitumbe located in the south and Carcelén in the north. Many bus companies have their own termianls near Mariscal, AKA Gringolandia.

    Best time to go

    Quito´s dry season is from May to November. Due to its altitude nights in Quito all throughout the year can be cold.

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