Quito

Our first stop in Ecuador was Quito. Despite being a big city, this place has managed to keep its authentic charm, with its market stands, artisan shops, shamans, and small concrete houses mixed up with modern and tall buildings. Moreover, Quito is located mountains of the Andes, at 2,850m of altitude, which gives you a spectacular view from almost everywhere in the city.

There are plenty of things to do in the city and also a few interesting day trips you can do when you are based here. In this post, I will talk about what you can do in Quito, but if you are looking for information a bout day trips, keep an eye out, as a new post about it will be out soon!

Things to see and do in Quito:

  • Take a free walking tour
  • Visit Mercado Central and have the best fruit juice ever
  • Walk along the Equator Line and visit the Museum
  • Climb the Basilica del Voto Nacional all the way to the top
  • Eat chocolate in La Ronda

We loved almost all the walking tour we went on while travelling, but the one in Quito was one of the best in South America. On the tour we learnt about the history of the city but we also saw the main plazas and the Old Town. The Old Town is a Unesco World Heritage Site, filled with colonial monuments, museums and amazing architecture.

One of my favourite things to do in Quito was walking through Mercado Central, the city’s main market. Among the fruit and flowers stalls you can also see street artists perform. We enjoyed trying lots of different fruit that we had never tried before and I got the best juice ever!

Although it is a very touristy thing to do, if you are in Quito you have to go an see the Equator Line. But be careful! The “official” Equator Line, called Mitad del Mundo, isn’t the real thing. The mistake was realised later, after the GPS was invented and the huge Equator Monument was already built. So if you want to visit the real one, you should go to the Intiñan museum, which is about five minutes away.

Getting there: To get there by public transport, there should be a direct bus from Avenida Amazonas, but nobody seems to find it. Instead, you can go to Ofelia station and get a bus to the monument itself for $0.25 and then change for the bus to Mitad del Mundo for $0.15. From here, you only need to walk 10 minutes to get to the Intiñan Museum and the entrance fee is $4.
If you have the budget and don’t want to do this alone, you can get an organised tour with Community Adventure Ecuador for $10.
Don’t forget to bring your passport, as you can get a cool stamp!

The Basicilica del Voto Nacional is a massive Gothic church located on a hill in the Old Town and its Quito’s biggest church. There are a lot of elements that make this church so interesting. For example, instead of the traditional gargoyles, you will see turtles and iguanas figures from the church’s side. Moreover, you can climb its towers, if you have the nerve, to enjoy a very nice view of the city. However, top go all the way to the top, you need to cross a not so stable wooden plank inside the main roof and climb a very steep ladder to the top. You can visit this place every day from 9:30am to 5:30pm for only $1.

Finally, visit La Ronda to enjoy the heritage from the Spanish era, colourful buildings, traditional food, artisan markets and chocolate. Go to Chez Tiff, to have some of the best chocolate ever. One of their most famous praline is the dark chocolate ball with passion fruit!

Other bits and pieces

Where to stay: We stayed in a hostel called La Auberge Inn and we loved it. It is a very relaxed place, which serves food until late, but also has a kitchen, and is very close to all the main attractions. If you are looking for a place where you can party, we spent a couple of nights in the Secret Garden Hostel: this hostel organises a lot of events and parties on its rooftop and the view from here is incredible.

Where to eat: In Quito we tried a lot of street food and fruit from markets and small family owned restaurant. If you are looking for something to treat yourself too, but want to stay within your budget, Cafe San Blas amazing focaccias, sandwiches and pizzas.

Jumping over bonfires in Quito’s streets is a New Year’s tradition, which represents leaving all the bad things from the old year behind.

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