We loved our stay in Quito, it’s a beautiful and safe city, surrounded by green mountains. There is lots to do here and you could spend a lot longer then three nights if you want to go to some museums and explore more of the colonial old town. This is what we enjoyed in Quito.
Using public transport – arriving from the south (Baños) by bus you end up at the Terminal Quitumbe which is $10 taxi to the centre or .25c using the metropolitan buses. Take the red line (Ecovia) into the city. There is also a great tourist information office here where you can get a map.
It’s so easy to use public transport to get to all the sites around Quito. It’s cheap and convenient and perfectly safe as long as you are aware of your belongings – ensure your backpack has a packcover or is locked and always wear your daypack on your front.
If your heading north after Quito, you need to get the bus (blue line) to Terminal Ofelia then change for Terminal Carcelen.
Old town – stroll around the cobbled streets and admire the churches and plazas. There are police EVERYWHERE so you can feel safe, but saying that there are still opportunistic thieves around so don’t flash your belongings about and be sensible when out at night.
Basílica del Voto Nacional Cathedral – it’s $2 to enter this fantastic church. Keep your eye out for the Illuminati symbolism inside and marvel at the animal statues and gargoyles decorating the outside.
Quito Backpacker Guesthouse (cnr Oriente and Los Rios) – don’t stay at the Secret Garden! Just around the corner is this secret gem of a hostel for cheaper and it’s great! Set in a old school building, the winding staircase is wide as are the hallways. Wooden floorboards, big windows and clean, large rooms make this a winner. Each level has a kitchen and the top floor boasts ‘the saloon’ a room with bar, couches, ping pong and pool as well as a outdoor terrace with views over Quito. We did not want to leave.
Parque Itchimbia – head up to this large parklands for amazing views over Quito. It also has the Quito sign.
Teleferico – take the cable car up to Volcán Pichincha ($8.50 return). The cable car goes steeply up the mountain and the views going up and also at the numerous miradors around the summit afford spectacular views of sprawling Quito and surrounding mountains and farmlands. There are lots of hiking trails around here so be prepared if you want to go trekking or you can do what we did and ride horses.
La Mariscal – is a suburb to the north of the centre which attracts lots of gringos as it has lots of cafes, restaurants and bars. We had a stroll around during the day and found a cheap menu place for lunch.
Mitad del Mundo – no visit to Quito is complete without heading to the equator. There are two options – the official ‘town’ with the large monument and heaps of other attractions to keep you busy for half a day. For $7.50 you get the full pass which lets you enter the interesting museum within the nine story monument, a chocolate exhibit, a train exhibit, the planetarium, a historic village, a French museum (France helped to map the equator) and a few other bits and pieces including numerous gift shops, over priced restaurants and some llamas!
The other option is the Museo Ininãn ($4) which is just around the corner.
To get to both its easy to catch the blue line bus to the Terminal Ofelia and then change for the bus that says Mitre de Mundo.
Crater Pululahua – from the equator you can hop on a blue bus heading about 5-10 mins further out of town to the national park Pululahua (free entry) where there is a mirador over the crater of this volcano. It was very misty and foggy the afternoon we went, but usually you should be able to see the lush farmland below as well as the edges of the volcano surrounding the crater.
This is only a snapshot of the things to do in and around the capital of Ecuador. Have fun!!