Elevated at 2,850 meters (9,350 ft) above sea-level crowns Quito the second highest capital city in the world, and it certainly shows. This beautiful city looks as if it was hand-carved into the mountains, constituting a crater of sprawling pastel-coloured houses and church steeples which bask in the shadows of looming volcanoes and mountain peaks. Quito’s dramatic backdrop will certainly leave a mark on your memory. Aside from it’s spectacular location, the historic old town is famous for its preserved mix of European and indigenous architecture, rich in 17th century churches, Gothic cathedrals and colonial state buildings. The Plaza Grande is a great place to relax after a day’s sight-seeing where you can try the typical ecuadorian dish of figs and cheese (absolutely delicious) while appreciating the historical buildings which surround the plaza. However, Quito’s altitude does come at a cost. Be prepared for the cooler climate and the potential for altitude sickness, both of which come hand-in-hand with Quito’s elevation. Although, don’t worry if you do experience altitude sickness, it’s super common and will hit regardless of age, fitness or experience and can be counteracted by drinking plenty of water, getting a good nights sleep and keeping your sugar levels high.
Returning to Quito after my last visit three years ago has definitely cemented it as one of my favourite cities I have ever visited. So be sure to pack your warmest alpaca jumper and your thickest pair of bed socks to check out this truly unique destination too. ⛪️
Where we stayed: Hump Day Hostel (my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
What to eat: Ice cream is literally sold EVERYWHERE in Quito and is hand made using traditional methods throughout the streets. Try this and you won’t be disappointed.
What to do: There is SO much to do and explore in Quito. Here are a few of my favourite…
– The Basilica del Voto Nacional is probably the biggest landmark in Quito. A Roman Catholic Church which towers over the city featuring a giant stained glass window and breathtaking views over the whole of Quito.
– The Intiñan Solar Museum is a charming attraction that is situated exactly on the Equator line where you can take the classic ‘one foot on either side of the equator’ photo and learn about the magic of the middle of the world. The museum also houses several demonstrations of the indigenous Amazon cultures where you can learn about their practise of human head-shrinking and see the dangerous animals of the Amazon. A super cheap, fun and insightful day out.
– We also recommend doing a bus tour. We did one which took us around the whole of Quito, allowing us to hop on and off when we pleased. Highlights included the botanical orchid gardens, the Angel on the hill and the contemporary art museum.
Top tip: Be very cautious with the taxis in Ecuador. A few years ago, the government introduced a new system after so many problems with pirate taxis that are unsafe and illegal for tourists. Safe and government approved taxis will always have a bright orange number plate, two cameras and a panic button inside the car and a specific vehicle number on the outside. Look for these markers to guarantee a safe ride.