San Francisco de Quito, the capital of Ecuador, has become one of the most exciting cities in Latin America lately. Although being a small capital, when you compare it to the rest of South America, it has the largest and best-preserved historical centres on the whole continent. It’s the reason it was declared the First Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO back in 1978. Here are some things to do in Quito.

Things to do at Quito

This is a guest blog post written by the Ecuador expert Rebecca Braak from Rebecca Adventure Travel. Check out her website for more info and ideas about some things to do at Quito.

Quito is located on the Guayllabamba basin, on the eastern slopes of the active Pichincha volcano, in the western part of the Andes. Its average altitude is 2850 meters above the sea level, making it the highest capital in the world!

TIP: Yes, that’s right. Popular and general culture make you instantly think about La Paz. But, La Paz is not the capital of Bolivia, Sucre is.

With so many things to do in Quito, the capital of Ecuador is such a fascinating place. Its culture, nature and history are just three of the best reasons to visit Quito. But, after you’ll explore it extensively, you’ll realize that Quito is so much more.

It is a great destination to go alone, accompanied or with family. You’ll be amazed by the elegance of the imposing convents. And you’ll get lost in the architectural details of the heritage houses on each corner.

History of Quito, the capital of Ecuador

There is so much history in this fantastic city. And it goes way back to times before Christianity. In pre-Inca times the importance of Quito was based more on its strategic location than on its political status. It was the hub of routes between the main towns in the area and a comercial centre.

You can still see some of the vestiges of past cultures while walking around the historical centre. Several centuries-old trades such as hatters, tailors, herbalists are guarding and preserving ancestral knowledge and sharing it in their workshops.

The emblematic La Ronda Street, located in the Quinto’s historical centre, is an ideal place to meet artisans, experience traditions and games of past times.

The republican city, as we know it today, was founded by Diego de Almagro on August 28, 1534. However, each year its major festivals are commemorated on December 6, the date on which Sebastián de Benalcázar brought the founding act to its current location.

Read more: History of Travelling

What is so unique about Quito?

But you might still wonder what makes Quito so striking and unique?

Well, the city might have some similarities to the neighbouring towns. But, the fact of being simultaneously Equatorial, Andean and Pacific, is what gives Quito such charm and uniqueness.

Because of its beauty, traditions, mysticism and legends, Quito is an interesting place to visit for everyone. There are many great restaurants, cafes, bars and clubs all around the city.

And if you are looking for cultural spots and some great things to do in Quito, check out the broad spectrum of more than 120 places classified as museums and cultural centres in Quito.

Sounds like a perfect place for culture tourists, right?

Exploring Quito’s surroundings

Quito’s beauty is not only based on its architecture, history and culture, but also in the nature surrounding it.
La Carita de Dios (The Face of God) is a nickname given by the locals because of the beauty of the country surrounding the city. You can understand the nickname when you appreciate the city from different angles, where the landscapes will take your breath away.

Top things to do around Quito

  • Visit the Cable Car early in the morning and admire the city with the volcanoes that watch over it from the Cruz Loma
  • Climb El Panecillo, a strategic place to observe Quito from north to south
  • Go to Cerro Itchimbía in the afternoon when the city becomes a magical space. You can watch the sunset behind the mountains, while the historic centre lights up at your feet.

Due to its perfect location, you can also escape the city and travel a bit further away. Just a few kilometres away from Quito, you’ll find several nature reserves and conservation areas that surround the town. Yunguilla, the Maquipucuna Protected Forest, El Pahuma Reserve, Cayambe-Coca National Park, are some of the options to enjoy the beauty and richness of the fauna and flora.
Quito is also the closest capital to the sun and the only place where you can experience the energy of the centre of the world while you walk the equator. That fantastic geographical location gives Quito a waste of kindness that is evident in the climate and natural wealth.

What to eat in Quito

The flavours of Quito cuisine are some of the best-kept secrets in the city. And exploring its cuisine is definitely among the things you should do in Quito.

Traditional mestizo dishes that mix the pre-Columbian and the colonial, have strong, both Andean and Iberian influence.
Among the food you should try in Quito are pernil sandwiches, Seco de Chivo (goat usually accompanied with rice, avocado and fried plantain), Hornado (baked pork), Fritada (fried pork), Locro de papas (potato soup with more than 2,000 years of history, usually accompanied by toast and avocados), the typical Almuerzos (local lunches) and so many more.

The wide variety of chocolates made with one of the best cacaos in the world, and of course, high-altitude coffee, are just some of the classic dishes and beverages that this city has to offer.

Of course, you shouldn’t forget to enjoy fresh fruits throughout the year. Some unique ones are tree tomato, naranjilla, taxo, and many more. And the best part is, you can easily find them at the local market while meeting the locals.

If the city hasn’t surprised you enough, in Quito you will also find one of the oldest breweries on the American continent. It’s located in a convent of San Francisco.

For those who dream about standing in each hemisphere at the same time, enjoying the colonial architecture and meeting its friendly people, Quito is a perfect place to visit. With so many amazing things to do in Quito, it should definitely find its place on your travel bucket list.

Many thanks to Rebecca for this lovely blog post. If you’re interested in some other places to visit in Ecuador or have questions about some other things to do in Quito, contact here here.