Squeezed between mountain peaks amid the dramatic Andes, Quito’s setting is just as dramatic and inspiring as its character and identity, which can be discovered in everything from historic streets and bustling markets, to vibrant restaurants and awe-inspiring nature.
Ecuador’s capital, one of the highest in the world, is a fascinating mix of historical charm and striking modernity, with contrasts found around every corner of this dynamic but modest city.
It’s difficult to ignore the historical significance of Quito, founded in the early 16th century and still showcasing signs of its beginnings. The city’s old town and historical centre is one of the largest and best-preserved historic centres in the Americas. Alongside Krakow, in 1978 Quito was the first designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its old town is full of beautiful old buildings and plazas. Wandering into Plaza Grande is like entering into a past era, with the grand Presidential Palace and the Metropolitan Cathedral surrounding the square. Nearby La Compañía de Jesus, with its gold interior, has withstood earthquakes since the 17th century.
History is very much just one part of this burgeoning city’s appeal, and after exploring informative museums, climbing church towers and discovering colourful cobblestone streets, visitors will uncover numerous other ingredients that form the captivating capital of Ecuador. Whether it’s haggling in a local market, indulging in the diverse nightlife or heading into and hiking the surrounding landscapes for incredible city views, Quito offers adventure, discovery and inspiration in large doses.
Quito is already a remarkable city based on geography alone. Situated in a narrow valley, surrounded by volcanoes and right next the equator, it’s a charming UNESCO heritage site. Steeped in history, Quito’s Old Town is a great place to get a genuine feel for the local culture with bustling markets, sweet shops, small lanes with cobbled streets, countless churches, majestic squares and of course, smiling locals at every turn!
What to do
- Explore the historic plazas
- Visit the stunningly ornate churches and monasteries
- Take day trips to the nearby cloud forest, Otavalo and Cotapaxi
- Explore vibrant and colourful markets
- Make the climb up El Panecillo
When to go
Quito can be visited all year round. Because of the altitude it can be cool in the evenings.