Why Colorful Quito Can't be Missed!
If you’re going on a solo adventure this summer, then it doesn’t get any better than exploring Quito, Ecuador. Traveling Quito is considered safe for female travelers, and its majestic beauty is something everyone should experience at some point in their lifetime! When visiting Ecuador, many tourists intend to visit the Galapagos Islands and Cloud Forests, but there is so much more to experience, and I’m here to be your guide!
Quito is known as the capital of Ecuador; however, it has become a point of interest for tourists to explore the volcanoes and viewpoints that surround the small city. The minimalistic structure of the city appeals to people across the globe. Quito is located at an elevation of 2,800 meters (9,350 feet), and it is surrounded by a vast number of dormant volcanoes. Altitude sickness is common, and I certainly experienced it for the short time I was there! Drink cocoa tea to subside the symptoms.
Quito is an embodiment of history, culture, influential architectural work, and it has an inviting element to it that widely appeals to someone who travels to seek adventure. If Quito is on your must-visit list, then you should consider visiting the following places to experience an unforgettable journey.
1. Visit Quito Old Town
If you truly want to experience the cultural aspect of Quito then, you should consider visiting the Quito Old Town. It is regarded as one of the oldest districts of the city, and it has gained popularity for becoming a part of the UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site. The old town features restaurants and shops that are built using an antiquated approach, and it features a multitude of attractive architecture alongside the cobblestone streets. Get photos of all the colonial style buildings. So colorful and cute!
Here, you should ask your guide to take you to the Plaza Grande, which leads to the Presidential Palace. The site is specifically built for the pedestrians to explore the ventures of the city on foot. You can further your journey by discovering the churches and museums of Quito.
Wandering the streets of Old Town Quito.
2. Visit Quito Churches
The outdated and antiquated churches in Quito have become a site of attraction, and each church is constructed in its own unique way. The churches are located within the hindsight of the old town, and you can start your journey from Plaza Grande to the 17thcentury La Compania de Jesus for exploring the indescribable charm of the churches.
From Plaza de San Francisco, you can head towards the 16th-century Roman Catholic San Francisco Church, where you will be introduced to the most stunning and eye-catching artwork released from the Quito School of Art. You can capture the exterior of the churches; however, you should refrain from capturing the interior of the churches, and allow yourself to immerse in the beauty of the churches.
My favorite church and the most amazing was Basilica del Voto Nacional. You can even climb to the very top for photos. It is scary, but cool once you get up there. If you have a fear of heights, forget it, as it’s just a ladder crawling up. I also recommend not wearing a dress as I did, and a few people got a free show! It was humiliating, to say the least.
3. Ride the Quito cable car
When visiting Quito this summer, you should absolutely add riding the Quito cable car to your list, as it would truly introduce you to the beauty of the city. The Quito cable car goes up to a height of 4,000 meters, and it allows the tourists to explore the indescribable beauty of the city up high from their rides. It would allow you to sightsee the ancient volcanoes that surround the city. There are many stopping points and I did not go all the way as it would have been far too cold for the attire I was wearing, even on a hot day. When you go to elevation that high, you must have warm clothing and a hat and gloves. I stopped at the first point which has stunning views, a café, and a cool swing set you can swing on and feel as though you are swinging in the clouds. You can see the entire city from here. This was a highlight of my trip. There are also loads of animals up here you can pet, ride, and take photos with for very cheap. It will cost you about 1 dollar USD.
If you decide to hike to the top then you can explore the Pichincha Volcano, and study its nature in detail and in-depth. The temperature at this point is beyond freezing, so it is better to grab a coffee cup from the cafes built up on the peak point. You can sit down and explore the panoramic viewpoints from a distance and capture images for preserving the moment for an eternity.
4. Take a stroll along Quito La Ronda:
There is only so much that you can do at Quito; however, it doesn’t get more memorable than taking a stroll along the famous Calle de La Ronda. Also known as Quito La Rona, the cobblestone street located in the old town allows the tourists to explore the cafes, arts, bars, restaurants, and so much more. You will truly learn more about the prestigious cultural importance of Quito here. It is a great way to also people watch. It’s random, but I saw so many Ecuadorians walking their dogs and their dogs wearing shoes, clothes, and even backpacks. It was quite funny to see. I could understand the shoes because the ground is very hot due to the proximity to the equator, but hats and backpacks were a bit funny. There are also people selling all kinds of goods. Remember, if you buy something there is room to haggle, but don’t go too low or you risk being offensive. Some of these people have nothing and selling these things puts food in their mouths. One thing I was impressed with also is the tricks people do at intersections to make a few bucks. I saw a fire breather, a tight rope walker, and a juggler. The people here that can’t make ends meet really go above and beyond to get cash and I found it ambitious and impressive. Some of the homeless Americans could learn a thing or two from the work ethic of the Ecuadorians.
A man getting his shoes shined for cheap in Old Town.
Standing at the middle of the world.
5. Stand at the equator:
Have you ever thought that how fascinating it would be to stand at the middle of the world? Or, is it even possible to do so? You may have heard people talk about visiting the “equator” of the world but, you may have brushed it off as an absurd idea.
But, the truth is—now that you are in Quito, you are few miles away from visiting the equator of the earth. By taking a short ride by a bus, or private taxi which is also cheap, you can visit Mitad del Mundo, which is known as the monument responsible for benchmarking the equator of the world. Here, you can capture images or, what’s even better—have your passport stamped as evidence for your trip. This is technically no longer the real equator line as that’s some distance away but this is the mark, and is a must visit spot while in Quito. It’s great for photos and a nice lunch. The locals also do a little dance around the equator line. I would get a cool photo straddling or laying across the equator line. Then you can say you have been in both the North and South hemisphere at the same time. Talk about bragging rights and a cool story!
6. Visit a Quito Market:
Quito features an abundance of local markets and cafes, for instance, visiting the famous Mercado Central on the outskirts of the old town would take you to a place where you can find delicious and affordable snacks to satisfy your appetite. There is local food that is fresh and very cheap. You can find beautiful flowers for also very cheap. If you can’t make it to the market, strolling on all the streets you will find many delicious food items and have a chance to get gorgeous flowers for cheap. Quito produces so much, so you will have no problem finding fresh fruits, juices, and lovely flowers.
7. Watch the Quito ceremony:
If you are spending another Monday morning in Quito then you can visit the Plaza Grande for witnessing the formal ceremony that commemorates the changing of the guards. The act is an embodiment of patriotism and loyalty, and you will witness horses and marching bands commemorating the guards’ change in Quito. I didn’t do this as I wasn’t here on a Monday but my girlfriend who stayed did and said it was interesting to see. It’s super fast as well, so you can stroll by before brunch.
8. Plan a day trip from Quito:
If you want to visit the outskirts of Quito then, it doesn’t get better than starting your journey in the day time. You can join a local group to embark on a journey to Galapagos or the Amazon, or you can learn more about the places that you can visit throughout the day and then come back to Quito when the sun sets. There are so many amazing places in Ecuador. I would really try to plan it where you can spend a day or two in the Amazon, and a day or two in the Galapagos’. There are also some pretty great national parks and cloud forests you can visit nearby that are worth it. You can see all of Quito in three days, so leaving some days after for trips outside Quito is important to make the most of your trip to Ecuador. I know I will come back to Ecuador just to do those, as my trip was sadly much shorter than I anticipated. Quito is so gorgeous. There is so much green everywhere and it’s just such a charming, colorful, and adorable city. It really did exceed my expectations.
So much of the beauty of Ecuador is outside of the city! There are many amazing day trips from Quito!
9. Hotels to stay:
If you are looking for a great place to stay, there are a few options depending on what you want. I stayed at two hotels to get a vibe of both areas of the city. My first hotel was Hotel Mama Cuchara. This hotel was perfectly located in Old town and minuets walk from many of the tourist sites. It is an old Spanish colonial house that was remodeled into a hotel. It is a charming and pristine boutique hotel with an amazing rooftop. The views alone, from the rooftop are incredible! There is also a rooftop bar that has great cocktails and great for lounging during the day. This hotel was great and I’m happy I stayed here. My only complaint was that I had a room next to the staircase so it was quite loud and you could hear people walking up and down them, this is an easy fix and I think they were sound proofing the rooms. My other hotel was JW Marriott Quito. This hotel was huge and hosted a pool, large room, and bathroom, and on-site restaurants. The sushi and cocktails here were great. This hotel is great if you are someone who likes to stay in bigger, more commercial places. The hotel was nice. I must say I preferred the location of Mama Cuchara more since it was in the old historical area, but JW Marriott is walking distance to the touristy bars and restaurants, so you need to decide what you want more or do like me, and stay two nights in each.
10. Visit The Virgin of El Panecillo
Take a taxi up to The Virgin of El Panecillo. It is the monument of Quito, and can be seen from almost everywhere in the city. The hotel MAMA CUCHARA has a great view of it from their rooftop. It is a nice statue, and when you get up there, you get yet another amazing view of the city from a different angle of the city. Taxi’s up there are cheap. One thing I advise is to ask your taxi to wait 10-15 mins for you for an extra few dollars. Once you’re up there, it’s harder to call a cab or Uber. There aren’t many up there just waiting. At least when I went, there were none.
Have the best time in Quito. You can find cheap flights here and I can’t say enough how green and beautiful the country is. The land just seems so preserved and fresh. The people here are so special and nice. I had a really great experience in Quito and I know you will also. Ecuador is a country rich in so much culture and beauty, and in my opinion is a little untouched and unspoiled. So, go before the secret is out and everyone is flocking to Ecuador
Some other various things to see and do in Quito;
Visit La Floresta Walk and hang with the hipster of Quito.
Go barhopping around Plaza Foch.
Visit Ecological Refuge Molinuco for nature walks and camping.
See a well-known Opera at the Teatro Sucre if you love Opera.
Visit the Quito Botanical Gardens for a stroll with beautiful plants and flowers.
Have a picnic or stroll through Parque La Carolina, or buy some art in Parque El Ejido.
Visit Cotopaxi National Park on a day excursion from Quito.
Hike up one of the many volcanos in the area, just pack proper warm attire.
If you love chocolate, then do a chocolate tasting for authentic Ecuadorian chocolate.
Walk around the famous Museo Templo del Sol.
Visit some cute and cuddly bears at the Andean Nature Reserve.
Check out the Museum of the City which is exhibited in an old hospital.
Some great bars and restaurants to visit while in Quito.
Zinc is perfect for cozy and casual American food, and great cocktails.
Strawberry Fields Bar, for fun décor and good mixed drinks.
Café Mosaico, for best views and the best coffee of your life.
La Cuchara de San Marcos, for veggie options and a great jazz night. (check the night prior)
Vista Hermosa Café Mirador, for amazing views and a romantic vibe.
For luxury and lavish, dine at La Belle Époque. French and Opera. Wow!
Theatrum Restaurant is on the second floor of the National Theatre, and is great Mediterranean.
For a local spot with craft beer, check out Abysmo.
One of Quito’s most famous, is El Pobre Diablo for music, art, and fun in one place.
Rosita’s, if you’re dying of a hangover and need a boost back up with herbs and fruits.
La Gloria, for late night eating and an eclectic vibe in the boho chic Las Flores district.
Check out Sur if you love cocktails and steak. Also try the “Beergarita” if you go!
Flora cocktail bar, is great for the ladies and gin lover’s a like. Try the chocolate margarita.
For day cocktails with a view, check out Pim’s and get a British inspired Pimm’s.
For a great place to eat and stay afterhours, visit Café Cuápula. Meg Ryan and Russel Crowe were seen here once.
For eccentric décor and random Knick knacks staring at you, visit Café Dios No Muere. Although a gruesome past, this place is cool to look at, and has great craft beers and red wines. Enjoy.