Quito Travel Guide

Updated: Apr 26

In this article, I will show you the best things to do in Quito.


Also, will share some advice on accommodations and a few things you need to know before traveling to Quito.


  1. Things to do in Quito

  2. The best and safest places to stay in Quito

  3. Things you need to know before traveling to Quito

  4. Video

Things to do in Quito

Firstly, you have to visit Quito Old Town! In my opinion, it is the first place you need to visit as you will get the feel of the place and will see some of the most spectacular architectural examples of South America. Also, the Quito Old Town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. Quito, together with Krakow in Poland was actually the first city announced as a World Heritage Site.


The most spectacular sight in Quito Old Town you have to see and visit is the Basilica! It is the largest neo-Gothic Catholic Church in the both South and North Americas. You can admire it from the outside, or if you wish take the steep stairs up to the top from where you can enjoy amazing views of the city. On your way, you will find an art gallery and a cafe in case you want to stop for a break. The entrance to go up is 3 USD for foreigners and 2 USD for locals.

In Quito Old Town, you will also find a very popular street - Calle La Ronda. It is full of art galleries and cafes. A very colorful street you have to walk through.


Besides the above, must-see attractions in Quito Old Town are:
  • Church of the Society of Jesus

  • San Francisco Church

  • El Sagrario Church

  • Plaza Grande

  • Carondelet Palace

  • Church of Our Lady of Mercy

If you are a chocolate lover then you have arrived at the right country. Ecuador is a massive cocoa producer and exporter. Turns out, the great chocolate in Belgium and Switzerland is actually made from cocoa beans from Ecuador. In Ecuador, you will find many artisan chocolate makers trying to preserve old traditions and support local communities. One company like that is 'Yumbos Chocolate'. They offer a chocolate tasting tour in the heart of the Quito Old Town - San Francisco square.


Quito city has so much more to offer than just a charming old town. A 10min taxi drive away you can reach the top of Panacillo hill, where the statue of Panacillo Virgen is, also called the Virgen of Quito. She overlooks the whole city so from up there you also can get a great view of Quito. Up there you will also find a cafe and a little market. If you decide to go there, please take a taxi as the area around the hill is not the safest because of robbers and stray dogs that can get aggressive. Once up there you will be completely safe.

Another 15min drive away you can reach the Quito Cable Car (Telefériqo Quito). You can go up there for a quick visit but I warn you there is so much more to do. If you walk a bit further up you will find 2 big swings. Also up there, you can go horse riding and if you have more time and power then you can hike to one of the nearby volcanoes.


If you like shopping for local goodies then you have to visit Mariscal Artesian Market. Especially if you do not have time to make your way to Otavalo (a famous indigenous market in Ecuador, 3h away from Quito) then this is a great alternative to add to your Quito itinerary. You will find everything there, starting from traditional ponchos, hats, and outfits to local chocolate, spices, and other goodies.


A very popular place to go out and socialize is Foch Square. I still recommend it if you are planning to meet up with friends but unfortunately, Covid has impacted this place and it is not as lively as it used to be.


If you are in the town on Sunday, you must participate in the weekly Sunday city bicycle riding. One of the main streets gets shut down from 8 am to 4 pm for cycling. We were very lucky and our hotel could provide us with bicycles and we are so glad we could take part in it. You will see people from families to professional cyclists, everyone is enjoying this activity. I think it is a great initiative from the government for locals and tourists.

Here are 2 bicycle rentals in Quito I found, so you can participate:


Quito is famous for having many volcanoes around it. Visiting them might require a whole day. So if you want to see one, while exploring Quito then visit Pululahue Volcano. This is still an active volcano and more shocking, people actually live in the crater. It is not far from the famous equator monument, which I will cover next.


You can't go to Quito and not visit the Middle of the World Monument. It is a must-do when in Ecuador in general. But I have to break this to you - the equator line is not there! When the French came, they actually measured it wrong. Years later when scientists from all over the world came to actually measure it accurately, turned out it is a bit off. By then the monument was already famous and wasn't moved but still, it is quite near the truth.


If you want to be on the real equator line and actually learn more about it, then I highly highly recommend the Inti-Nan Museum, which not only teaches about the equator but also how indigenous people measured time, seasons, and years. Also, it gives a glimpse of how they lived in the old days.


A very special treat I have left for the end is Casa Agave Tour. A company that relived the old traditions of making a very special local drink from Agave is now introducing us to the process of how this drink is made. The whole tour is very interesting and at the end, of course, there is degustation. Not only that, they let you try and make your own cocktails. I really enjoyed this tour, probably one of my absolute favorites so far in the whole of South America.


The best and safest places to stay in Quito


Quito city is fairly big, so you probably wonder where is the best place to stay in Quito so you are conveniently close to all major attractions.


Well, there is no ideal place, because to get to the cable car, middle of the world monuments, Panacillo and other places you will, either way, need to get a taxi or bus as they are just a bit too far away from the center.


The 2 best areas I recommend are the Quito Old Town as you will be close to a lot of major attractions and the Mariscal area as it is a very central area and will be a short taxi drive from everything or if you are used to walking everywhere then you can actually walk to most of the main sights.


While Quito Old Town is fairly safe, the Mariscal area borders with park 'El Ejido' which is known to be quite dangerous after 5pm, so better to avoid that park if you stay around that area. Other than that, the area is very central and convenient.


The safest area probably is the North of the city. A lot of good hotels are located there but then you are a bit away from everything. You will definitely need to arrange transport to go places.


You will find Uber and similar apps in Quito, so best use those as you will know exactly how much you are paying and the driver's information.


We stayed in the Mariscal area as we wanted to be in the middle of everything and despite the park we found the area very convenient. We stayed in the hostel 'Quito Terrace' and absolutely loved it! More about the hotel read here.


Things you need to know before traveling to Quito


Although the city is absolutely amazing and you definitely need to add it to your 'must-visit' list, there are 2 things I want to warn you about.


Firstly, there are stray dogs everywhere and they can be aggressive, so please be careful around them. They can seem calm at first but can attack you at any time. Also, they might have rabies so you do not want to ruin your trip by going to the hospital.


Secondly, be careful if you take the bus in Quito and Ecuador in general. Pickpoceters are extra active on the public transport here. They actually can cut up your bag, get what they can get, and disappear without you even knowing, so double watch your bag when on buses.


I hope this guide will help you prepare better for your trip.
To get the vibe of the city, watch this video:

Make sure to add Amazon to your Ecuador travel itinerary: