Many travelers that come to Quito are actually visiting Ecuador, so they stay just a few days in the capital. Here’s a guide of what you can do and see in Quito if you only have 2 days.
Quito is a lovely city in the middle of the Earth, yes, the Equatorial line cross the city, so is a special place. It is full of culture and art, you can find a different kind of activities for any taste.
Because of its location, the weather has no extremes, so you can travel any time of the year and it will be ok. But it is also located at 2.800 mths above the sea, so weather can be a little temperamental. So before you go out your hotel be sure to be dress in “layers”, one t-shirt a little sweater, and a good rain jacket, just so you can be prepared for anything.
Your first day in Quito
If you just arrive into the city, or if you wake up here, it doesn’t matter, you can go to next places in the morning or after lunch.
Well in the Old Town actually the are several stops, but just walking in this streets is beautiful. I recommend to start your walking from the Independence Plaza, here you can find:
- Presidential House, Palacio de Carondelet, (you can actually get in there, groups get in every hour and the tour last around 30 min, it cost 5 dollars)
- The Cathedral
- Palacio Arzobispal: in here you can find different restaurants.
- The Municipal Building.
In the Independence plaza, you will be in the middle of the Old Town so you can walk to any place you want.
La Compañia Church
I know, probably have you been visiting a lot of churches during your journey, but La Compañia Church is one of a kind. It is placed 2 blocks south from the Independence Plaza through García Moreno street, it’s in the corner and the entry cost 5 dollars.
From outside it looks like a beautiful normal church, but the magic begins once you are inside. The whole church is cover in paper gold, so is a golden hit for the eyes. It is one of the most important baroque buildings. It is full of little details, you will not know where to look. It also has very interesting paintings, my favorite one is called “El Infierno”, this is an interpretation of what the hell looks like, you can find different sinners paying for their sins. It’s kind of creepy, but quite interesting.
After you go out of the church you can walk 3 more blocks to the south in the same street, and you will find very big stairs, if you take them, you will get to the 3er stop.
El Panecillo is a little hill in the middle of the city that divides the central part from the south part. It is called like that because of it’s resemblance to a bread (panecillo is the Spanish word for little bread) In the top there’s a big Virgin named “La Virgen de Legarda”, it was inaugurated in 1975 (actually very new), it is a copy of a small statue done by a very important colonial artist from Quito.
You have to walk 800 stairs up to get to the top of the hill (you can get there in a taxi too, it will not cost more than 3 dollars).
You can go up inside the Virgin and have an spectacular view of Quito, it cost 2 dollars. If you don’t want to pay you can find many viewpoints around the monument. There are several shops of food, but wait! That’s the next stop.
When you get down the stairs you come back one block to the north and turn right, and you will find La Ronda.
La Ronda is a traditional street, made of stone. You can find many food shops, and some art and design shops. There’s a particularly interesting place called República del Cacao, it’s an artisanal chocolate from Ecuador, and it has a little “museum” of the processing of chocolate. And the chocolate is great. You should visit this place in the late afternoon, the places open late, and the ambiance is much mysterious in the night.
You can get in any shop so you can have something to eat. Food is very important, and there are a lot of flavors in the Ecuadorian cuisine. You should order some empanadas, my personal favorites are the Morocho empanada, but you can also ask for Verde (Green Banana), that can be of cheese or some kind of meat, or Viento (Wind), that’s filled with cheese; and for drink you should try the Canelazo, this is a traditional drink made of cinnamon and naranjilla (an Ecuadorian fruit), you can ask it virgin (without alcohol) but it normally has some puntas (sugar cane liquor).
Your second day in Quito
This day it will be better if you start early, cause the visiting points are not very close to each other.
Ciudad Mitad del Mundo
As I said, Quito is in the middle of the earth, and there’s actually a line that divides the world, and you can see it. You can get by bus, it will cost $0.25 each trip and depending on where are you staying you will have to take 2 different buses. To get in the park you need a ticket, the full price is $5 for adults an $2.5 kids, that allows you to get in all the buildings.
Ciudad Mitad del Mundo is a park where you can find several activities, there are museums, a planetarium, and the monument. But, really the most important thing to do here is taking the traditional picture with one foot in the eastern hemisphere and the right in the west.
Itchimbia is a park placed in a very high neighborhood of Quito. It has a terrific view, and you can just chill and relax in the grass. In the center, there’s a building called El Palacio de Cristal that is very beautiful and has different expositions.
Guapulo is actually a neighborhood, it is placed between the top of Quito and a closed valley. You can get there in a taxi, or walking from Gonzalez Suarez street. Guapulo has the nice ascent street where there are restaurants and bars. Is quite nice to sit and enjoy the great view.
These food places are very cultural so is probable you will find some live music or expositions. This is a traditional neighborhood, so the houses are built in an old style. I can recommend a place call Ananke, you have to ask for a terrace table, and order any kind of pizza with a hot wine, then you will have a great meal looking to a really nice view of Quito.
And this could be the best way to end a short trip in Quito.