Day 1 in Quito
Welcome to Quito! Upon arrival at the airport, you will go through customs and immigration. Should you opt to purchase a transfer to your hotel; a representative will be waiting for you as you exit immigration. Arrive at your hotel, check in and do not give in to jet lag! There is so much for you to see and do!
We recommend you get acquainted with they city by taking a leisurely stroll around one of the 17 picturesque plazas found in Old Quito, visit the beautiful Plaza Grande located in the heart of the Historic Center of Quito. Here you will find a tranquil setting brimming with restaurants and cafes boasting outdoor seating. Enjoy lunch in one of the many eateries where you can try some local favorites including a bowl of locro de papa (traditional potato soup) topped with cheese and avocado or seco de chiva (goat stew). Take in the sights surrounding the plaza such as the spectacular Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus and Plaza San Francisco.
After some lunch, wander around the sensational squares exploring the magnificent churches and museums, while stopping into the quaint shops that line the colorful streets. There are some great free walking tours offered from the Historic Center with a local guide who offers information on the history and culture of this fabulous city.
Take some time to see some of the fantastic museums in the city. We recommend Museo de la Ciudad or The City Museum which is housed in the 16th-century building and former San Juan de Dias Hospital. The museum tells the story of Quito`s past as an indigenous trading post to its rise as the Inca Capital with the arrival of the conquistadors in the 19th century. There are permanent exhibitions displaying the changes in the social fabric of the city and the history of the building as a hospital.
Alternatively, visit Casa del Alabadao, the museum of pre-Columbian Art housed in a 17th-century mansion boasting eight galleries containing over 500 pieces of art. The works of art are arranged thematically, take some time to visit the tranquil courtyard and enjoy the surroundings.
Wander down to the enchanting neighborhood of La Ronda boasting a long winding cobblestone road lined with picture perfect 17th-century buildings housing quaint cafes, shops, galleries, and restaurants. The area comes to life at night especially on Friday and Saturday`s when vendors fill the streets accompanied by live music. Check out El Murcielago (Bat House), which is a secret basement bar that was popular with musicians back in the 30`s.
Enjoy dinner in the city at any of the fabulous neighborhoods bursting with flavorful restaurants offering local and international cuisine. Enjoy a nightcap at one of the rooftop terraces and take in the spectacular evening time atmosphere.
Day 2 in Quito
Start out your day with a bicycle ride in the city with permanent bike lines that make it easy and safe to ride around Quito. Bikes can be rented in the city in many different locations with a popular bike sharing system, called BiciQuito. There are also bike tours offered around the city which include one-day rides through the paramo (high-altitude Andean grasslands) of Parque Nacional Cotopaxi. On Sundays Avenida Amazonas and Old Town are closed to vehicles from 9 am until 2 pm and the streets are open for cyclists to roam.
Take a ride to Mercado Central situated near Old Town, `Mercados’ are a popular shopping tradition for locals that occupy large buildings in the city. Shop for cheap groceries, cheap eats and plenty of fresh ingredients. Enjoy a fresh homemade juice of smoothie and pick up some items for a picnic. Look for some chocolate to take home, Quito is known for some of the best chocolate in the world as well as coffee.
Quito offers a great variety of shopping opportunities for all tastes check out the Mall El Jardin, where you can find international brands and stores with Ecuadorian designs in the colorful La Floresta neighborhood. The Historic Center has plenty of local arts and crafts stores which are the perfect place to pick up authentic souvenirs such as alpaca fabrics, gold, and silver along with filigree jewelry and leather goods.
Head to one of the many beautiful parks located in Quito and enjoy your picnic under the shade of trees while taking in the scenery and life passing by. After lunch, check out the Center for Contemporary Arts of Quito found in the Old Army Hospital in Old Town, this is one of the most interesting and historically relevant buildings in the city. There are multiple shows and cultural events including concerts and performances held here and the museum exhibit spaces for displaying paintings, sculptures, and photography. There are a coffee shop and bookstore on site.
Take a ride on The Teleferiqo, the world`s second highest cable car which travels 13,500 feet up the Pichincha Volcano. There are plenty of activities to enjoy at the top along with spectacular views overlooking Quito and the surrounding volcanoes. Check out the Vulgano Park (amusement park), Go Karts, Paintball, shopping and an abundance of restaurants and a food court.
Make your way to the La Mariscal district, which is the area for some of the happening `Farra’ (nightlife) in the city. Plaza Foch is the epicenter of this neighborhood and boasts a large concentration of restaurants and eateries along with a long line of bars and clubs that line the streets. There is plenty of live music, dancing, and other entertainment to be enjoyed in the city as well as theaters and concerts.
Day 3 in Quito
Start your day with a hike to the top of El Panecillo (little loaf of bread), the hill situated between southern and central Quito with an elevation of 9,895 feet. The famous 135-foot high monument of a winged Virgen Mary (La Virgin del Panecillo) stands at the peak and can be seen from various points around the city.
Next head to La Mitad del Mundo or the middle of the world! In a small village 22 miles north of Quito is where the original measurements were made that proved the shaped of the world and where the equator was believed to have been found. (GPS technology later determined that the actual equator is 790 feet north of here). There is a large monument found in the village that marks the middle of the world, along with museums, shops, and restaurants all worth exploring. Enjoy some lunch in this unique location and browse the shops for some interesting souvenirs.
Check out the Intinan Solar Museum and witness the ‘Coriolis Force’ which causes water to make a clockwise rotation in the sink, south of the equator, and counterclockwise, north of the equator. Visitors can also get their passports stamped to show you stood on the equator.
Be sure to visit the Temple of the Sun Museum in the Puluhahua volcano crater, which celebrates the history of the Ecuadorian ancestors and the temple reverses the sun. Paintings and sculptures here portray the indigenous images and are displayed on two floors with masterpieces from the famous Ecuadorian artist and sculptor Ortega Maila, was is listed as one of the 100 best artists on the planet by ART CHANEL.
Take a tour of the Palacio del Gobierno, the Presidential Palace of Quito situated on the northwestern side of Plaza Grande. Originally built in 1650 boasting a neoclassical style architecture with tours available to the public, departing every 20 minutes from the Museo de la Presidencia. Visitors can see the Andalusian patios, the cabinet room, banquet room and the Presidents room with portraits of the past presidents on display. (Be sure to check the schedule as the palace is closed when the president is staying there.)
Next, stop into the beautiful Quito Botanical Gardens located across from the sprawling Parque La Carolina. The gardens contain over 5,000 plants with around 500 different species and 1,200 stunning orchids. Stroll around the tranquil gardens and see the beautiful native flora and fauna spread throughout different ecological regions with habitats covering the cloud forest, the wetlands, and Moorland, with an orchid greenhouse and Amazonian greenhouse. Enjoy some snacks and refreshments in the cafe.
Head to the Bandido Brewing in Old Town for happy hour! Microbreweries are popping up all over Quito. Sample a crisp refreshing pint of spicy Honey Ginger Saison, which is made from local honey and fresh ginger. Craft beers are popular along with IPAs or `cerveza artisanal` with seasonal brews and flagship beers all served here.
Time to indulge in some hearty Ecuadorian cuisine. Enjoy the flavors of Quito in one of the many fantastic restaurants found in the city. Traditional mestizo dishes mix pre-Columbian, colonial, Andean and Iberian flavors in classic dishes such as seco de chivo, locro, fritada and empanadas followed by locally made chocolate and some of the best coffee in the world.
After dinner head to the enchanting area of Guapulo with its winding steep streets brimming with great bars and a fun nightlife scene with a bohemian atmosphere.
Additional Days in Quito
If you are able to spend additional days in Quito and are in the city on Sunday, be sure to participate in the weekly Ciclopaseo, which promotes urban cycling in the city. Ride through the 20 miles of roads that run north to south through the city and are closed to traffic, with bicycles available for rent along the route.
See some of the amazing museums in Quito such as the Central Bank Museum, the most renowned museum in the city featuring different rooms with astonishing collections of pre-Columbian archaeology and Inca artifacts including gold works of art.
The Guayasamin Museum is housed in the former home of the legendary painter Oswaldo Guayasamin, Ecuador`s most famous artist who created stunning Picasso-like works of art. Discover the most complete collection from the artists in the spectacular home.
Visit some of the city`s spectacular sprawling parks including Parque Metropolitano Guanguiltagua, the largest urban park found in South America. The park covers 1,729 acres (NYC`s Central Park covers 843) offering plenty of outdoor activities including mountain biking and hiking through the forest and trails.
Your Last Day in Quito
Depart from your hotel to the airport for your return flight home. We recommend that you purchase a private transfer to the airport if so the representative will meet you at your hotel with plenty of time to get you to the airport for your flight out.