The capital of Ecuador is not only at 2850m the highest capital in South America but also has a wonderfully old town area with loads of buildings from the colonial age. The city was captured by the Incas a short period before the Spanish arrive in the 15th century and built parts of their town on top of existing infrastructure. The layout of the city is very much defined by the high surrounding Andes mountains, which makes it rather long and thin compared to other cities with over 2 million inhabitants.
Centro historico Quito
The historic center of the city is very easy to walk by foot and offers a typical colonial style impressions with loads of churches – more than in most other city in South America.
Plaza grande is the main square and a meeting point for older people. On the 4 sides of the square there are important political and religious buildings: also the presidents residency where you can watch every Thursday afternoon the change of the guards.
Plaza San Francisco is another big square that was built on top of Inca infrastructure.
Iglesia la Compania is a very impressive church, both from the outside and the inside. The building process lasted 150 years and if you take a look inside you will probably get an idea why that: almost everything is covered in gold.
Catedral Metropolitana de Quito is church complex you can find at the plaza grande.
Calle La Ronda is a very narrow road at the end of the historic center area and a very popular place to go out at night. It was a former area with ugly sides as sex workers, but really transformed over the years.
Centro commercial is the main market of the city and a great location to get some fresh fruits or delicious food. I can highly recommend you the place Jimmy’s which served me excellent fish for even more excellent price.
The teleferico is the local cable car line that will bring you up to 4000m above see level to enjoy some nice hike in the surrounding mountains. The ticket costs 9$ and it is very advised to go up already in the morning – the line starts operating at 09:00. The around 15min ride up is really spectacular, comparable with the view at Medellin. At the top station there you can find some small restaurants, a little church, a swing for influencer style pictures and of course the starting point for further hikes.
Myself didn’t had that much time and just went to the next peak: the Rucu Pichincha. The hike is not to difficult but mind the effects of the high altitude. This hike will bring you up to 4500m. I can just advise you to take your time, enjoy the stunning view around and down to the city of Quito.
A popular daytrip is to go the 2h car drive away active volcano Cotopaxi. The 6000m height mountain is mostly covered in cloudy dust but especially in the earlier hours you can get a good view on to the glaciers at the very top. Myself did a lightweight tour that includes a hie to the base camp at 4800m and afterwards a downhill session with Mountainbikes. The combination was quite fun and not too exhausting. Unfortunately at my visit I wasn’t too lucky to see a lot wildlife, just a few of the wild horses and a condor from far far away. The daytrip is really a good exercise and will cost you around 50-80$.