Nestled near the Middle of Ecuador, Quito is an ideal jumping-off point for short trips to the surrounding provinces. Rather than spending a week in one place, explore some of Ecuador’s nearby cultural and natural attractions on the following day’s trips from Quito.
When planning your trip, consider staying in a central location. The boutique hotel in Quito, Casa Gangotena, is perfectly situated to explore Quito’s Old Town and access the main highways that would take you around and beyond the city.
Casa Gangotena can arrange the best day trips from Quito for you, leaving directly from the hotel!
With its central location within Quito’s Old Town, Casa Gangotena is an ideal exploration headquarters. See the special rates we offer for a stay with us.
Cotopaxi National Park
Located in the Middle of the Andes, the Cotopaxi National Park is home to Ecuador’s second-tallest active volcano and a favorite among mountain climbers, locals, and visitors. It is located 3 hours and 25 minutes from Quito. The best time to visit is in the morning because later it becomes covered by fog. You can enjoy many activities, from camping and observing the stars to walking along a marked path to admire the incredible views.
There is an Interpretation Center where a museum and several rooms are found where you can learn more about the history of the Cotopaxi volcano, the local flora and fauna, and a short explanation of the rest of the mountains and volcanoes of Ecuador. Nearby is a cafeteria where they serve coca tea and a souvenir shop.
Best day trips from Quito, Ecuador include a visit to the market in Otavalo, which is a very popular cultural and commercial spot. It can take around 2 hours to get there. Locally known as “Plaza de Ponchos,” it is one of the largest indigenous markets in Latin America. The official days of the market are Wednesday and Saturday, but you can visit every day from 7 am to 6 pm.
You’ll find many unique products from crafts, clothing, rugs, and more that you will need help knowing where to begin. This market is full of artisans who make incredible items from shawls, scarves, paintings, jewelry, leather goods, home goods, and more.
Mitad del Mundo
Day trips from Quito would only be complete with visiting The Middle of the World (Mitad del Mundo), less than an hour from downtown Quito and best known for the enormous monument that sits (approximately) on the equator. While at the Middle of the World, you can visit the Ethnographic Museum, showcasing the territories and traditions of Ecuador’s indigenous people. At the nearby Cacao Museum, you can learn some cool facts about Ecuadorian cacao and the chocolate-making process.
You can also visit the quirky attraction called Inti Ñan, located on the road that leads west from the large roundabout. This does, in fact, lie right on the equatorial line and includes more hands-on experiments that illustrate the physics at work here. The area around is known for its staple dish, the fritada, or fried pork meat with a side of potatoes, corn, and cheese, which you can try at any nearby restaurant. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you’ll also find many restaurants serving roasted guinea pig – a local delicacy!
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, 9:00 am – 6:00 pm.
Mindo is a town in northern Ecuador and the only Parroquia of the canton San Miguel de Los Bancos province of Pichincha, about 80 km northwest of Quito. You’ll find various activities in Mindo, from taking a zip line through the forest to visiting a butterfly farm. Home to beautiful nature, exotic wildlife, and incredible Ecuadorian culture. Visit Mindo butterfly farm for $6 to learn more about their life cycle while observing and interacting with different species of butterflies.
You can walk through the trails at Casa Amarillo while enjoying the breathtaking views and excellent birdwatching opportunities. Downtown is quiet y small but has many amazing restaurants where you can experience delicious Ecuadorian cuisine. Finally, you can visit a local chocolate shop to learn more about chocolate-making and take some home with you.
Day trips from Quito are perfect for visiting Quilotoa Lake. About 800 years ago, this volcano erupted and caused a lake to form at the bottom, which is now a water-filled carter located 21 miles (35 km) from the city of Latacunga. Once you get there, you can walk the whole trail to the lake or stop at a viewpoint to look at the fantastic views and take pictures.
If you decide to walk the trail to the lake along the way, you’ll spot some amazing birds and breathtaking views. Once you get there, you can kayak or take a boat out on the laguna. Walking around in a loop takes about 5 to 6 hours, so start early in the morning. If you get tired, you can rent a donkey that will take you back to the beginning of the trail.
Papallacta Thermal Baths
A Quiteño favorite, Papallacta is a small village between the Andes and Amazon. It is about 1 hour and 40 minutes by car from Quito and is best known for its healing and incredibly relaxing hot springs. Visit any of the numerous spas and pools that have opened over the years to offer the chance to unwind in the thermal water from the surrounding mountains. You can visit their upscale spa to access exclusive pools, massages, facials, and aromatherapy services, or opt for the regular pools at the Balneario.
You’ll find pools of varying temperatures at both locations, including a pool filled with cold water from the adjacent mountain stream. After an hour or two in the baths, you can enjoy local delicacies such as smoked freshwater trout or locro de papa (thick potato soup). When planning your trip, keep in mind that the baths tend to get crowded on weekends! Monday to Wednesday is the best time to visit Papallacta for rest and relaxation.
Las Termas de Papallacta Spa is open Sunday to Thursday: 09:00 am – 8:00 pm. The Balneario is open every day from 6:00 am – 10:30 pm.
These are the day trips you can enjoy from Quito. If you’re planning day trips from Quito, Ecuador we suggest leaving early to experience everything they offer. Remember to pack comfy, warm clothes, a windbreaker, a hat, and sunblock. Quito is located perfectly so that you can visit different places and staying in Casa Gangotena gives you a great place to rest and enjoy an incredible meal after all your adventures.
Visit or stay at Casa Gangotena to enjoy the best of Quito’s Old Town.