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Quito

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Travel Guide South America Ecuador Quito

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Introduction

Quito - Church of El Sagrario

Quito - Church of El Sagrario

© All Rights Reserved fredrik_p

Quito is the capital city of Ecuador. It is high up (2,800 metres) in the Andes mountains and the altitude may take some getting used to. The city hosts many wonderful sights including an amazing colonial centre built by the Spanish during colonial times. The old town has several stunning churches that rival those of any other major Latin American or South American city.

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Neighbourhoods

The old town is full of colonial buildings and elaborate churches. Take great care, especially after dark, to avoid pickpockets.'La Mariscal' is the backpacker area, full of hotels, restaurants, bars and travel agencies. Many people here speak English. The north of the city is home to the business district, further north is the airport.

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Sights and Activities

Quito is divided into two areas: Old Town (Centro Historico - on the UNESCO World Heritage list) and the New Town, where La Mariscal, a busy, backpacker-friendly area has developed. Things not to miss:

La Virgen de Quito

La Virgen de Quito

La Virgen de Quito

© All Rights Reserved Steve-Kay

On the 200 metres high hill of El Panecillo, stand the Virgen de Quito, the statue of the Virgin Mary. Due to its location the statue can be seen from most of Quito. The statue is made out of approximately 7,000 pieces of aluminium, and was made by the Spanish artist Agustín de la Herrán Matorras. He was commissioned to build a 41-metre-high monument of the Madonna, and completed his work in 1976. He based his statue on a statue by Bernado de Legarda, who sculpted his "Virgen de Quito”, a 30 centimetres high sculpture in 1734. The statue was unveiled and inaugurated on the 28th of March 1976 by the Archbishop of Quito.

Other Sights and Activities

  • Colonial Quito (The Old Town) - with various plazas, churches, and lots of colonial architecture. Walking tours can be arranged, but it's usually better just to explore it on foot yourself with a decent guidebook.
  • Basilica del Voto Nacional - a twin spired, relatively modern neo-Gothic church. You can climb the towers (US$2) and see views of the city and many unusual gargoyles, featuring native Ecuduadorian fauna. Not for those afraid of heights.
  • Museo del Banco Central - smallish museum, but very well presented (descriptions in English). The first floor contains many excellent examples of pre-Inca pottery and a room full of ancient gold artefactcs (currently being refurbished). Other floors exhibit colonial religious art and contemporary art. Contains a cafe and shop. Entrance for an adult, US$2.
  • TeleferiQo - cable car which climbs up Volcano Pinchincha high above Quito to over 4,000 metres above sea level. Walks on the barren hillsides and horseriding (at weekends) are available. On clear days there are great views (it usually clouds over in the afternoon).
  • Nearby attractions include 'La Mitad del Mundo' - a complex of shops and restaurants surrounding the Equator line, a few kilometres north of Quito. Take a taxi for US$12-15, or get a modern blue bus marked 'Mitad del Mundo' from near the airport.
  • Pulalhua Crater - A geobiosphere reserve just a few kilometres further north from Mitad del Mundo is one of the biggest volcanic craters in the world, and one of the biggest inhabited ones. Take a steep walk down the crater side to vast, verdant fields within. A few restaurants and posadas are located in the crater itself. It is possible to hire bikes and horses (easier at the weekend). Very peaceful place, but beware the rain and cloud which ususally descend about 1pm every day and make the walk back up the crater wet, cold and difficult. National Park entrance is US$5.

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Events and Festivals

  • Festivities of Quito (Late November - Early December) - A growing feeling of a fiesta atmosphere begins in November in the build-up to the festivities that celebrate the Spanish founding of the city (1534). Traditional Spanish culture is embraced with traditional food, music, parties, comedy and card game competitions. Late November sees the election of the Queen of Quito. Lots of dancing to the town band and drinking of canelazo (potent alcoholic traditional cocktail) can be enjoyed. In the ten day run up to December 6th, Plaza de Toros hosts the bull fighting which is considered to be a high-class social event. The night of December 5th means partying climax. There are street parties all over Quito. Carolina Park has the open-air concerts and fireworks, Vancouver y Polonia has epic street parties and the traditional neighbourhoods are closed for dancing.
  • Quito Carnaval - Public festivities are held just before Lent. Water fights and floral/fruit parades and processions are held, plus dancing and music! Children are given gifts and traditional sweets after water fighting. It doesn't matter whether you're a tourist or local: no-one is spared in the water fights!
  • QuitoFest (Dates range) - This independent Music Festival is completely free and is Ecuador's largest independent mass event for youth. It has been going for nearly ten years now and has helped position the country as a musical epicenter of the continent. 24 national and 6 international bands take to the stage in the Itchimbia Park and attract crowds of 70,000. Address: Parque Itchimbía
  • Easter Week - Unmissable celebrations occur on Good Friday where a fantastic procession meanders through the old city. Devotees dressed in purple tunics and cone-shaped hoods chart the events of Christ's Passion. Penitents and flagellants drag crosses through the streets. Address: Old Town, Hours: Good Friday, Price: Free

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Weather

Quito is known as the 'city of eternal spring' - most of the year, it is t-shirt weather at lunch time, but when it gets dark at 6pm you'll need a fleece or jacket. Quito is at high altitude and temperatures are moderate. It is never hot. Average maximum temperatures are around 18 °C to 20 °C and drop to 10 °C or a little lower at night. Although rainfall is possible in every month, June to August is fairly dry while March and April are the wettest months.

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Getting There

By Plane

Try to arrive in daylight hours for fantastic views of the Andes as you land. Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) is located north of Quito. Most flights are to and from Latin American cities and the United States, but Iberia serves Madrid and KLM has flights from Amsterdam and Bonaire. LanEcuador has flights to and from Quito, both internationally as well as domestic.

By Bus

Direct buses travel between Quito and Bogota. Between Quito, there are also direct services to and from Lima in Peru.

  • Terminal Quitumbe (located in the far south of Quito), services all the buses that go to any destination south of Quito: Basically all of the coastal provinces, all of the amazonian provinces, and all of the mountain region (sierra) provinces except two: Carchi and Imbabura (where Otavalo and other tourist attractions are located). This terminal can be reached by local buses (which often leave La Marin in Old Town) or by the Trolebus and Metro trolleys.
  • For Carchi and Imbabura (where Otavalo and other tourist attractions are located) two you need to go to Terminal Carcelén (located in the far north of Quito). This terminal can be reached by local buses (which you can catch at La Marin in Old Town or El Ejido in New Town) or by Ecovia, Trolebus and Metro.
  • Some bus companies have their own terminals near La Mariscal. These include TransEsmeraldas (just past la Colon), Flota Imbabura (above El Ejido), and Reina del Camino (also above El Ejido).

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Getting Around

By Car

Taxi drivers generally do use their taxi meters, though you may have to 'remind' them. Fares within the city are US$3-4, from the old town to the airport about US$6-8 and from the New Town to the airport US$4-6. Fares are a bit higher after midnight and before dawn. Drivers are usually reliable and helpful, but it's best to arrange a fare before getting into the cab.

By Public Transport

  • El Trole or The Trolley (Green stations, buses of different colors) run from station La Y in the north to El Recreo in the south. Downtown, it has the closest stations to Plaza Grande.
  • Metrobus (Blue stations marked with a Q, buses of different colors) run from Universidad Central in America Avenue, next to Prensa Ave, and then to Diego de Vasquez Ave. until Carcelen last station, this is the best bus service for visitors who wants to visit the Mitad del Mundo Monument, because at Ofelia station the public services buses who go to Mitad del Mundo monument waits to make the switching and carry visitors to Mitad del Mundo, USD 0.25 until Ofelia station, USD 0.35 to Mitad del Mundo Monument.
  • Ecovia (Red buses and stations marked with an e) run from Rio Coca Station (north) to La Marin Station inside the Quito historic Downtown. Serves stations close to Casa de la Cultura and Estadio Olímpico and Quicentro mall.

By Bike

You can also get around by renting a Bike at Yellow Bike or Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental.

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Eat

  • Encebollado - Fish or prawns in a tangy sauce with lots of onions and mashed yuca - add plenty of lemon juice. Delicious!

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Sleep

Multiple options for all budgets exist in 'Mariscal' (the 'New Town'), a neighbourhood full of bars and restaurants and hundreds of other travellers. The Old Town is quieter (almost dead after 9:00pm every evening) and far more characterful, although there is a smaller range of places to stay. For budget options it is always a good idea to ask to see a room first and check if it has hot water etc, before registering and paying for your stay.

Budget

Old Town: Hotel Flores. Adress: Flores 355 y sucre. Excellent, clean rooms, helpful staff, safe and quiet premises in an old colonial building. US$15 per night for a double room, ensuite, hot water. No breakfast included. More budget options in Quito include:

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Aleida's HostalAndalucia No 559 y Salazar LA FLORESTAGuesthouse87
Auberge InnAvenida Colombia 1138 y YaguachiHostel85
Blue HouseJoaquin Pinto E8-24 y Diego de AlmagroHostel84
Casa Agua CanelaMercadillo 347 y VersallesGuesthouse83
Casa ColibriJuan Manuel Avila 2Guesthouse-
Casa Grande ApartmentJ. Washington & 10 de Agostoapartment-
Casa KanelaJuan Rodriguez E8-46 La MariscalGuesthouse83
CasapaxiNavarro 369 y La Gasca Navarro 364 y La GascaGuesthouse87
Chaupiwasi13 de Junio 3245 y Catequilla Pasaje Alberto Herdoiza No. 2guesthouse-
Chicago HostelLos Ríos St. N11-142 Briceño San BlasHostel-
Colonial House QuitoOlmedo 432 Vicente LeónHostel82
El Centro del MundoLizardo Garcia E7-26 y Reina VictoriaGuesthouse70
Galapagos Natural LifeJoaqui­n Pinto 145Guesthouse83
Hostal AlcalaLuis Cordero 1187 La MariscalHostel81
Hostal AndalucíaQueseras del Medio E11-269 y AndalucíaGUESTHOUSE-
Hostal Arco del SolJuan Rodriguez 736 y Reina VictoriaGuesthouse-
Hostal Backpackers´ InnJuan Rodriguez 245 y Diego de AlmagroHostel76
Hostal CarrionCalle CarrionGuesthouse-
Hostal El ArupoJuan Rodriguez E7-22 Reina VictoriaGUESTHOUSE-
Hostal FargetCalle Sta. Prisca y Pasaje Farget 109Guesthouse-
Hostal HuaukiJoaquin Pinto E7-82 y Diego de AlmagroGuesthouse-
Hostal Jardin Del SolCalama 166 y Almagro Almagro 420 y CalamaHostel-
Hostal JhomanaGil Ramirez Davalos 151 y Av. AmazonasGuesthouse72
Hostal La Iguana FerreisenAzuay E2-270 y AmazonasGuesthouse-
Hostal Lexuscalle 18 de Septiembre E4-60Guesthouse-
Hostal Margarita 2Rios n12-118 y Espinoza Elizalde 410 y RiosGuesthouse75
Hostal MarsellaRíos N 12-139 y EspinozaGuesthouse78
Hostal Tutamanda & Spanish SchoolAv. Colon 20 88 y Versalles Av Colon 20 88 y VersallesGUESTHOUSE-
Hostel RevolutionLos Rios N13-11 y Julio Castro, San Blas, QuitoHostel90
Hostal SurFrancisco Salazar TamayoGuesthouse-
Hotel CaymanCalle Juan Rodriguez 270 y Reina VictoriaHotel-
Hotel Majestic QuitoMercadillo 366 & VersallesHOTEL77
Hotel Margarita InnCalle Ríos y ElizaldeHOTEL-
Housite Andino HostelLeonidas Plaza N24-395 y Luis CorderoHostel-
Jumbo LodgingEsmeraldas E4-86 and Los Ríos st., San Blas.Hostel87
La Casa Sol Bed & BreakfastCalama 127 y ave. 6 de DiciembreGUESTHOUSE87
La Casona de MarioAndalucia 24115 y GaliciaHOSTEL89
Mia LeticiaMontufar N5-91 y MejiaGuesthouse85
Hotel OthelloAv. Amazonas N20-20 y 18 de SeptiembreHotel-
Posada del MapleJuan Rodriguez E8/49HOSTEL80
Pululahua HostalCalama E7-68 y Diego de Almagro Puluahua Geobotanical ReserveGuesthouse-
Quito Furnished ApartmentsCordero 1456 y Amazonas PBapartment-
Real AudienciaBolivar 220 y Guayaquil(Oe-318) QuitoHotel89
San Francisco de QuitoSucre Oe3-17 y Guayaquil - Historical DowntownHotel-
San Jorge Eco-Lodge and Botanical ReserveKm 4 Via Antiqua Cotocollao-NonoHostel-
Sol de QuitoAlemania N30-170 y VancouverHotel-
The Folklore HotelMadrid 868 y PontevedraHotel-
The Secret Garden QuitoCalle Antepara E4-60 y Los Rios Sector San BlasHOSTEL84
Travellers InnLa Pinta St. E4-435 & Amazonas Ave.GUESTHOUSE86
Hostal Belmont PlazaAntepara E3-78 y Vicente León San BlasGuesthouse77
Amazonas InnJoaquin pinto 471 Av. Amazonas E4-324 en la EsquinaHostel-
Hostal New BaskLizardo Garcia E7-56 Reina VictoriaGuesthouse-
Chez Elena GuesthouseCalle Escudero S1-412 Las OrquideasGuesthouse-
Hostal SunriseCalama E7-46 y Reina VictoriaGUESTHOUSE-
Hostal Quito CulturalFlores N.4-160 Y Chile Old Town - Centro HistoricoGuesthouse89
Hotel Catedral InternacionalCalle Mej�a Oe6-34 entre Benalc�zar y CuencaHOTEL89
St. Gallen HausGuanguiltagua N37-04 y Diego Noboa Batan AltoGUESTHOUSE-
Hostal Guapulo IntiAvenida de los Conquistadores N26-648 Sector de La TolitaGUESTHOUSE-
Villa Esperanza Homestay QuitoPontevedra N23-27 y Lerida (Quito - Ecuador)GUESTHOUSE-
Ventana Bed and BreakfastVia Intervalles km 5 1/2 y Manuel CastroGUESTHOUSE-
La Guayunga HostalAntepara e4-27 y Vicente LeonHOSTEL81
Hostal del PiamonteMariscal Foch E8-58 y Av. 6 de DiciembreGUESTHOUSE79
Hostal Casa ValladolidValladolid E1376 y Pontevedra La FlorestaGuesthouse-
Fontana-Ecuador ApartamentosAv. Republica del Salvador 1058 y Naciones UnidasAPARTMENT-
Hotel Vieja CubaLa Niña N26-202 y Av. Diegro de AlmagroHOTEL82
Hotel Mediterraneo QuitoAntonio Elizalde E4-78 y av. Gran ColombiaHOTEL-
Embassy HotelPresidente Wilson E8-22 y 6 de DiciembreHOTEL-
Hostal La Posada ColonialParedes S1-49 y RocafuerteGUESTHOUSE81
Vibes HostelJoaquin Pinto 132 and 6 de DiciembreHOSTEL81
Hotel Mediterraneo RealAntonio Elizalde E478 y Gran ColombiaHotel-
Hotel AndinoLeonidas Plaza N24-395 y Luis Cordero Leonidas Plaza 1129 y Baquerizo MorenoHOTEL-
Hotel QuitoAvenida Gonzalez Suarez 27-142HOTEL-
Hostal Eco KarmelItalia N33-27 y AlemaniaGUESTHOUSE-
Hostal Villa NancyMuros N27 94 Gonzalez SuarezHOTEL-
Las OrquideasLuis Larenas 1854 y pasaje 16Hostel-
Hostal ButterflySanta Maria 110 y Diego de AlmagroGUESTHOUSE-
Hostal EcuadorVenezuela S128 RocafuerteHOTEL82
El CafecitoLuis Cordero E6-43 y Reina VictoriaHOSTEL-
Hostal San BlasCaldas E1 38 Pedro Fermin CevallosHOTEL81
Las Orquideas Home QuitoLas Orquideas calle Luis Larenas E14-511 y Psje. EHOTEL-
Community HostelPedro Fermin Cevallos N6-78 y OlmedoHostel88
Hosteria Rancho Alegre Quito - Mitad del MundoSegovia 308 y Quijuar San Antonio de PichinchaHostel-
Hostel WhipalaJuan Rodriguez E8-87 Av. 6 de Diciembre (esquina)HOSTEL-
Petite BluehouseJosé Calama N24-C y 6 de DiciembreHOSTEL-
Apartamentos Filatelia9 de Octubre N19-58Hostel-
Fuente de PiedraJuan León Mera N23-21 y Baquedano La MariscalHOTEL-
Quito Airport Guesthouse971 Alfonso Tobar y Tulio GarzGuesthouse-
Buena Vista Centro HistoricoBenalcazar N9-35 y Oriente 305Hostel-
Quito Airport GuesthouseTababela Calle Principal 34-17GUESTHOUSE-
Hostal Sol y Luna#E1-469 Pasje Romelia y Pasaje Sol y LunaHostel-
Chicago HostalLos Rios N11-142 y Pedro Briceno Sector San BlasHOSTEL-
Community HostelN6-78 Pedro Fermin Cevallos and OlmedoHOSTEL-
La Casa Sol Bed & BreakfastCalama 127 y ave. 6 de DiciembreGUESTHOUSE-

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Learn

Quito is a great place to learn Spanish. There are over a hundred Spanish schools and the locals speak slowly and clearly so you can practice what you are learning.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes can be found nearly everywhere in the major cities and in many of the smaller ones. Cost is from $1 to $2 per hour in the large cities, and the better places have high-speed access. In some cafes, restaurants, and hotels you can find free wifi access, most of them protected by passwords; in most cases, you just have to ask for the password.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The international telephone code for Ecuador is 593. The general emergency number is 911, but there are special ones of police (101) and fire (102).

The centre of most towns, cities and villages have telephone 'shops', advertised in the street as 'cabinas'. Go in, ask for a free phone booth and call. There is usually a digital display giving the cost (per second) of your call, whether local, national or international. You can call the United States for about $0.10 per minute and Europe for a bit more. Avoid making a phone call through an operator; the cost for an international call can be $3 or more per minute. For calls within Ecuador, it is possible to use a telephone cabin.

Some mobile phone SIM cards of various networks have problems working in Ecuador - you can purchase a local network SIM (for an unlocked phone) for a few dollars in local mobile phone shops. The costs of calling are higher though at around $0.45 an hour.

Post

Correos del Ecuador is the national postal service of Ecuador. It's fairly reliable to send postcards and letters to other countries, though count on at least 5 days up to weeks for it to arrive. In general, postal services to North America are much faster than to other western countries. Prices start at around $1 (up to 20 grams), but rise steeply after that. You can get stamps at post offices or small shops/kiosks. Post offices generally are open from 8:00am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday and 8:00am to noon on Saturdays, although there are slight variations throughout the country. If you are going to send heavier post or post which has more value, it might be better to contact private courier companies like DHL, TNT, UPS or FedEx, which are generally about the same price and much faster!

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: -0.229498
  • Longitude: -78.524277

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