# Tags
#Destinations #Ecuador #Quito #Travel Guide

Exploring Quito: A Guide to the Capital’s Historic Center and Beyond

Quito Travel Guide

Nestled high in the Andes, Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is a city rich in history, culture, and stunning natural beauty. With its well-preserved colonial architecture, vibrant local culture, and spectacular mountain vistas, Quito offers a unique blend of old-world charm and modern sophistication. This comprehensive travel guide will help you explore Quito’s historic center and discover the hidden gems that lie beyond it.

Getting to Quito

International Flights

Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) is Quito’s main airport, located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of the city center. It serves as a major hub for international flights from North America, Europe, and other parts of Latin America.

Visas and Entry Requirements

Many travelers, including those from the United States, Canada, and the European Union, do not require a visa for stays up to 90 days. However, always check the latest entry requirements before traveling, as regulations can change.

Getting Around

Public Transportation

Quito has an efficient public transportation system, including buses, trolleys, and the new Quito Metro, which makes it easy to navigate the city. The Metro is particularly useful for avoiding traffic congestion during peak hours.

Taxis and Ride-Sharing

Taxis are readily available and relatively inexpensive. It’s recommended to use authorized taxi services or ride-sharing apps like Uber and Cabify for safety and convenience.


The historic center of Quito, known as Centro Histórico, is best explored on foot. Many of the attractions are within walking distance of each other, and strolling through the cobblestone streets is a delightful experience.

Top Attractions in Quito’s Historic Center

Plaza Grande (Plaza de la Independencia)

Plaza Grande is the heart of Quito’s historic center. Surrounded by important buildings such as the Presidential Palace (Palacio de Carondelet), the Cathedral of Quito, and the Archbishop’s Palace, this bustling square is a great starting point for your exploration.

La Compañía de Jesús

One of the most beautiful churches in Latin America, La Compañía de Jesús is known for its stunning baroque architecture and elaborate interior, covered in gold leaf. It’s a must-visit for anyone interested in art and history.

San Francisco Church and Convent

The San Francisco Church, built in the 16th century, is one of Quito’s oldest and most significant religious sites. The adjacent convent houses a museum with a rich collection of colonial art and artifacts.

Basilica del Voto Nacional

This impressive neo-Gothic basilica is the largest church in Quito. Visitors can climb the towers for panoramic views of the city and the surrounding mountains. Don’t miss the quirky gargoyles, which are modeled after native Ecuadorian animals.

Museo de la Ciudad

Housed in a former hospital dating back to 1565, the Museo de la Ciudad offers a fascinating glimpse into Quito’s history, from pre-Columbian times to the present. The museum’s exhibits are well-curated and informative.

Calle La Ronda

Calle La Ronda is one of Quito’s oldest streets, recently revitalized and now a lively area with shops, cafes, and galleries. It’s a great place to experience Quito’s vibrant nightlife and enjoy traditional Ecuadorian food and music.

El Panecillo and La Virgen de Quito

El Panecillo is a hill located in the center of Quito, offering stunning views of the city. At the top, you’ll find the statue of La Virgen de Quito, a massive aluminum sculpture of the Virgin Mary. It’s a great spot for photos and a panoramic view of the city.

Beyond the Historic Center

Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World)

Located about 26 kilometers (16 miles) north of Quito, the Mitad del Mundo monument marks the equator. Visitors can straddle the line dividing the northern and southern hemispheres and explore the nearby Intiñan Museum, which offers interactive exhibits on the equator’s effects.

Teleférico de Quito

For breathtaking views of Quito and the surrounding Andes, take a ride on the Teleférico, one of the highest aerial lifts in the world. The cable car takes you up the slopes of the Pichincha Volcano to an altitude of over 4,000 meters (13,123 feet). At the top, you can hike, enjoy the scenery, and even go horseback riding.

Parque Metropolitano Guangüiltagua

This expansive park in northern Quito is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. It offers numerous hiking and biking trails, picnic areas, and stunning views of the city and surrounding mountains. It’s a great place to escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy some fresh air.

Parque La Carolina

Parque La Carolina is a large urban park located in the modern part of Quito. It features jogging and biking paths, sports fields, a skate park, and a beautiful lake where you can rent paddle boats. The park also hosts various events and festivals throughout the year.

La Mariscal

La Mariscal is a lively neighborhood known for its vibrant nightlife, diverse restaurants, and cultural attractions. Plaza Foch, the center of La Mariscal, is a popular spot for both locals and tourists to gather and enjoy the lively atmosphere.


Guápulo is a charming and bohemian neighborhood located on the eastern slopes of Quito. Known for its narrow streets, colonial architecture, and artistic vibe, Guápulo offers stunning views of the surrounding valleys. The Guápulo Church, dating back to the 17th century, is a highlight of the area.

Cultural Experiences

Traditional Ecuadorian Cuisine

Quito offers a diverse culinary scene with plenty of opportunities to sample traditional Ecuadorian dishes. Don’t miss:

  • Ceviche: A refreshing dish made with seafood, lime juice, and various seasonings.
  • Locro de Papa: A hearty potato soup with cheese and avocado.
  • Fritada: Fried pork served with hominy, potatoes, and corn.
  • Empanadas de Viento: Light, airy empanadas filled with cheese and topped with sugar.
  • Chocolate: Ecuador is known for its high-quality cacao. Visit local chocolatiers to taste and learn about the chocolate-making process.


Quito’s markets are vibrant places to experience local culture and find unique souvenirs. Visit the Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal for handicrafts, textiles, and jewelry, or explore the Mercado Central for fresh produce, spices, and traditional food stalls.

Festivals and Events

Quito hosts numerous festivals and cultural events throughout the year. The most notable is the Fiestas de Quito, celebrated in early December to commemorate the city’s founding. The festival features parades, concerts, bullfights, and various cultural activities.

Language and Culture Classes

Consider taking Spanish language classes or cultural workshops during your stay. Many schools and cultural centers in Quito offer courses that provide deeper insights into Ecuadorian culture, history, and traditions.

Practical Information

Safety Tips

While Quito is generally safe for tourists, it’s important to stay vigilant, especially in crowded areas and at night. Keep your belongings secure, avoid displaying valuables, and use reputable transportation services.

Best Time to Visit

Quito enjoys a relatively mild climate year-round, with temperatures averaging between 10-20°C (50-68°F). The best time to visit is during the dry season, from June to September, when there is less rain.


Quito offers a wide range of accommodation options, from budget hostels to luxury hotels. Popular areas to stay include the historic center, La Mariscal, and the modern northern districts. Each area has its own unique charm and offers easy access to different parts of the city.

Currency and Payment

The official currency of Ecuador is the US Dollar (USD). Credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, and shops, but it’s a good idea to carry some cash for smaller purchases and markets. ATMs are readily available throughout the city.


Quito is a city that enchants visitors with its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural surroundings. From the well-preserved colonial architecture of the historic center to the breathtaking views from El Panecillo and the diverse experiences beyond the city center, Quito offers something for every traveler. Use this guide to explore the top attractions and discover the hidden gems of Quito, ensuring a truly memorable and enriching visit to Ecuador’s captivating capital.

This article is provided by Jive Travel, your trusted source for travel guides, tips, and inspiration. Whether you’re a seasoned globetrotter or planning your first adventure, Jive Travel offers the insights you need to make your journeys unforgettable. Explore the world with confidence and discover new destinations with Jive Travel by your side.

Enjoy Your Time in Quito, Ecuador with These Awesome Deals

Jive Travel
Author: Jive Travel