In the article titled “Quito: A Variety of Things to Do and See,” you will find a comprehensive guide to the top attractions and activities in Quito, Ecuador. From exploring the historic Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, to taking a cable car ride up a volcano for breathtaking views, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city. You can also visit the Mindo Cloud Forest for bird watching, experience standing on the equator at the Middle of the World monument, and admire the iconic winged Virgin Mary statue at El Panecillo. Whether you’re looking for adventure, culture, or relaxation, Quito has it all. So, get ready to discover the best things to do and see in this captivating destination!
Historic Old Town
Welcome to Quito, Ecuador! One of the best places to visit in the city is the historic Old Town. This area has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and is rich in history, culture, and architecture.
In the Old Town, you will find numerous landmarks that showcase the city’s past. From the City Museum to La Merced Basilica, there is plenty to explore. Take a stroll through the cobblestone streets and discover centuries-old churches, museums, and restaurants. The charming colonial buildings are a sight to behold, and you will no doubt be captivated by their beauty.
The best part about the Old Town is that everything is within walking distance. So, take your time to soak up the rich culture and history of Ecuador as you explore this area. And when you’re tired, find a cozy outdoor cafe, grab a cup of coffee, and enjoy the street musicians playing nearby.
Traditional Drinks and Local Delights
While in Quito, don’t miss the chance to try a traditional drink called canelaso. This popular beverage is enjoyed throughout the country and offers a unique taste experience. It is similar to a martini, but instead of gin, it is made with aguardiente, a sugar cane alcohol. The addition of fruit juice, cinnamon, and the herb naranjilla gives it a distinct flavor.
For the best canelaso in the city, head to La Ronda. This bustling street is filled with tables on second-level balconies, where you can enjoy your drink while taking in the beautiful views of the street. If you’re looking for a lively and festive atmosphere, visit La Ronda at night. The street comes alive with live music, dancing, and entertainment.
While exploring Quito, be sure to indulge in the local cuisine. There are many traditional dishes to try, such as ceviche, llapingachos (potato pancakes), and hornado (roast pork). And don’t forget to sample the delicious street food, like empanadas and salchipapas (fried sausages with French fries). The flavors and aromas of Ecuadorian cuisine will delight your taste buds, so be sure to come hungry and ready to indulge.
Scenic Cable Car Ride
For stunning views of the city, take a cable car ride up the Andean slopes to enjoy the beauty of the surrounding volcanoes. The Teleferico is one of the top tourist attractions in Quito and offers not only breathtaking views but also an exciting ride. The 18-minute ride takes passengers up to an altitude of about 4,000 meters, providing a unique perspective of the city.
We recommend going on a sunny morning to get a clear view and avoid the afternoon crowds. As you ascend, you’ll be amazed by the panoramic vistas of Quito’s landscape. Once you reach the top, take your time to soak in the natural beauty and take plenty of photos to capture the memory.
Mindo Cloud Forest
If you’re a nature lover, a visit to the Mindo Cloud Forest is a must. This biodiverse region is home to over 500 species of birds and offers a unique opportunity for bird watching. One bird in particular, the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, is famous for its vibrant red plumage and distinctive bobble-like head. You can join a birding tour with a local guide to get the best experience and spot other bird species like parrots, toucans, quetzals, and umbrella birds.
In addition to bird watching, the Mindo Cloud Forest is a haven for wildlife exploration. Take a hike through the dense vegetation and you may encounter colorful butterflies, playful monkeys, and even the elusive ocelot. The flora and fauna in this area are truly remarkable, and a visit here will leave you amazed at the wonders of nature.
Middle of the World
Get ready for a unique experience at the Middle of the World monument. Located near Quito, this monument marks the exact spot where the equator runs through the country. Stand with one foot in the northern hemisphere and the other in the southern hemisphere, and take a photo to capture this memorable moment.
The Middle of the World monument is surrounded by a park with green spaces, trees, and flowers. After visiting the monument, you can explore the nearby restaurants and shops that sell handicrafts and souvenirs. At night, the monument is illuminated with different colors, representing the Earth’s 24-hour cycle. It’s a fascinating place to visit and learn more about the world we live in.
One of the most recognizable landmarks in Quito is the largest winged Virgin Mary statue atop El Panecillo. Standing at 45 meters tall, this powerful religious sculpture offers breathtaking views of the city below. The best time to visit is in the early morning, before it gets too hot, to enjoy a more serene experience without crowds of tourists.
When you visit El Panecillo, be sure to bring your camera to capture the incredible views and take some selfies on the wings of the statue. Inside the structure, you’ll find a museum where you can learn about how the pieces were brought from France and the intricate process of building the statue. It’s a unique and spiritual experience that shouldn’t be missed.
Iconic Quito Sign at Ichimbia Park
For a fun and memorable photo opportunity, head to Ichimbia Park and snap a selfie with the iconic Quito sign. This sign has become one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city and is a favorite spot for visitors to capture the essence of Quito.
To reach the sign, you’ll need to climb the many flights of stairs on the eastern side of Quito’s Old Town. But the effort is worth it once you reach the top and see the breathtaking view of the city. Take your time to admire the landscape, soak in the atmosphere, and of course, snap that perfect selfie to share with your friends and family.
For adventure enthusiasts, a visit to Cotopaxi Volcano is a must. Located in the heart of the Andean mountains, Cotopaxi is the second highest peak in Ecuador and offers breathtaking views at every turn. Hiking up this majestic volcano is a challenging but rewarding experience. You’ll need some acclimatization and glacier hiking experience, but reaching the summit in just two days is an achievable goal for experienced hikers.
If you prefer a slightly less challenging option, you can take a smaller hike to the snow line and enjoy some hot cocoa at the Refugio. Another popular activity on Cotopaxi is biking downhill. The thrilling ride offers mesmerizing views and allows you to feel connected to the natural beauty of the surroundings. Keep an eye out for wild horses along the way, adding to the already breathtaking experience.
Street Art in La Floresta
If you’re a fan of art, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the street art scene in La Floresta. This neighborhood is known as an open-air museum, with an abundance of graffiti art, murals, and beautifully painted walls. The vibrant and eclectic mix of art will leave you in awe, as you wander through the streets and discover the hidden gems.
You can take a free walking tour led by a local street artist to learn more about the notable places and artists in the area. Alternatively, you can visit the artist workshops and markets to purchase unique pieces or simply appreciate the talent on display. La Floresta’s street art is not just something to look at but an important way for residents to express themselves and share their culture with others.
Basilica Del Voto Nacional
One of the most impressive architectural wonders in Quito is the Basilica Del Voto Nacional. As the largest neo-gothic church in the Americas, it is a sight to behold. The church’s interior is adorned with gold carvings, gold leaf displays, and golden columns that line the walls. It feels like stepping back in time to the 16th century.
Marvel at the breathtaking beauty as you explore the church’s interior. Don’t forget to visit the altar, which features a gold-leaved statue of Jesus Christ with painted scenes. After immersing yourself in the church’s splendor, make your way up to the rooftop for panoramic views of Quito. And if you’re feeling thirsty, the church even has a café that serves cheap beer, perfect for a refreshing break.
Quito, Ecuador offers a wealth of experiences for every traveler. From exploring the historic Old Town to indulging in traditional drinks and cuisine, there is something for everyone. Take a scenic cable car ride for stunning views of the city, visit the Mindo Cloud Forest for bird watching and wildlife exploration, and stand on the equator at the Middle of the World monument.
Don’t miss the chance to admire the largest winged Virgin Mary statue atop El Panecillo, take a selfie with the iconic Quito sign at Ichimbia Park, and embark on hiking or biking adventures at Cotopaxi Volcano. Marvel at the street art in La Floresta, visit the impressive Basilica Del Voto Nacional, and immerse yourself in the rich culture and history of Quito.
With so much to see and do, Quito is a destination that will captivate your senses and leave you with unforgettable memories. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to embark on an incredible journey in this beautiful city.