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29 September, 2022 José Ayerve0
Reading Time: 4 minutes

The Ecuador tourism industry has been growing steadily over the last decade, with more and more visitors flocking to the country to enjoy its stunning scenery, diverse gastronomic fare, and friendly people. One of the main reasons that this small but diverse nation has become a leader in travel is its lovely capital city, Quito. Many novel and unique tourism projects have taken root there, trying to make the most of the city’s distinctive status as a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site.

Does staying at Quito’s Historic Center intrigue you?

 

Proud Leaders in the Hospitality and Tourism industries

Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel has had the honor of being a driving force in Ecuador’s tourism industry. Since opening its doors, the hotel has helped make Ecuador one of the most popular tourist destinations in South America.

Casa Gangotena happens to be the only Relais & Châteaux hotel in all of Quito—a distinction that is bestowed on those few highly vetted hotels with a truly noteworthy cultural and gastronomic experience that complements their top-rated accommodations and hospitality. 

The hotel’s location is one of its biggest assets. Quito is a beautiful city, full of history and culture. Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel is located right in the middle of it all, making it the perfect base for exploring the city proper, starting with its fabled historic quarter. But that’s not all, it is also a sort of staging ground or home base for exciting and adventurous activities throughout the region and beyond.

Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel
Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel

Why is Quito the ideal gateway to Ecuador?

Founded in the 16th century, Quito was one of the first cities established in the New World. The city’s architecture reflects its colonial roots, with churches and buildings dating back to the Spanish conquest. Quito is also home to many museums and art galleries, making it a perfect destination for history buffs and art lovers alike.

Not only is Quito a fascinating city to explore, but it is also the gateway to some of Ecuador’s most stunning natural attractions. Just a short drive from the city, visitors can find themselves in the middle of the Chocó rainforest or on the slopes of many snow-covered volcanoes that dot the landscape. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder that Quito is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South America!

Natural landscapes at the Chocó rainforest
Natural landscapes at the Chocó rainforest

Its proximity to natural wonders is amplified thanks to Ecuador’s relatively compact size. A short drive to the airport guarantees access to the rest of the country and to its crown jewel: the Galapagos Islands!

One of the things that visitors to Ecuador tend to enjoy is how easy it is to get from one key environment to another. As an example, in the evening, you can delight in Quito’s unique gastronomy; the next morning, you can head out and find yourself in the middle of the rainforest or enjoying the unique Galapagos wildlife by the time the afternoon rolls around.

Peru & Colombia

Similarly, just a short flight away, Ecuador’s neighbors—Colombia and Peru—provide a whole other set of incredible destinations in South America!

Peru is known the world over for its fantastic gastronomy, unbelievable scenery, and ancient sites, perhaps no better illustrated than by its ever-popular ruins of Machu Picchu. Peru is definitely worth your consideration!

 

Machu Picchu ruins
Machu Picchu ruins

Similarly, Colombia, Ecuador’s neighbor to the north, is home to a diversity of regions that include Cartagena along the Caribbean Coast, the cosmopolitan cities of Medellín and Bogotá, and of course, the quaint and charming valleys of the Coffee Triangle, to name a few. 

The other nice thing to keep in mind about Colombia is that it has been growing, transforming, and welcoming more and more visitors from all over. Recently, a forgotten gem, the riverside town of Mompox in the north of the country, has positioned itself as a fascinating destination, not just for its popular jazz festival, but for its pristine Andalucian-inspired architecture and layout.

These are just a few reasons to consider visiting the region and exploring these countries. We can help you plan the ideal trip, so why not talk to one of our destination experts? You’ll be surprised to see just how easy it is to travel between Quito and these other destinations. 

Cartagena's Historic Center
Cartagena’s Historic Center

Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel has been instrumental in making Ecuador a tourism powerhouse. By offering guests a luxurious and convenient base from which to explore all that this amazing country has to offer, Casa Gangotena has helped put Ecuador on the map as a must-visit destination.

If you’re looking for a unique and memorable travel experience, look no further than Ecuador. With its rich history, stunning scenery, and friendly people, it’s sure to exceed your expectations. And when you’re ready to start planning your trip, consider staying at Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel! You’ll be glad you did.


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30 August, 2022 Johanna Alvear Larenas0
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Everyone has different criteria for choosing a honeymoon destination. Like most travelers, couples want to feel inspired. An ideal destination will activate their wanderlust and give them a chance to experience different cultures in a romantic setting surrounded by charm and beauty everywhere they look. For this reason, there is possibly no better place than the capital of Ecuador. 

Visiting Quito on your honeymoon means exploring one of the first Cultural World Heritage Site ever declared so by the UNESCO. The experience can be incredibly romantic and exciting, even more so when you stay at a hotel with a rich cultural history of its own, located right in the heart of the Historic Quarter. Lucky for you, Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel is at the top of every travel authority’s list of the best hotels in Ecuador. 

In this blog, we offer an overview of the reasons to plan an Ecuador honeymoon as we break down why Casa Gangotena is one of the best honeymoon hotels in the world!

Want to take a look inside? Explore our accommodations!

 

Honeymoon Hotel: A Prime Location, Central to Everything

Being one of the best hotels in Ecuador has a lot to do with location. For starters, the city of Quito is an ideal spot from which to travel to other parts of the country and, for that matter, the Andean region. Then, there is the privileged location of Casa Gangotena, centrally located in Quito’s Old Town.

Beyond Quito and Ecuador

From Quito, you can visit nearby cloud and rainforests by going just outside the city, to the northwest corner of the Metropolitan District of Quito, where the Chocó Bioregion is host to Mashpi Lodge, a luxury ecolodge that hosts an important research facility dedicated to the conservation of Mashpi Reserve and the Ecuadorian Chocó. 

Mashpi Lodge
Mashpi Lodge

Ecuador’s capital also allows for easy access to the world-renowned Galapagos Islands. These “Enchanted Isles” are located in the Pacific Ocean, about 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) from the mainland. The archipelago offers plenty of sustainable tourism experiences within the Galapagos National Park and Marine Reserve.

Metropolitan Touring's expedition vessels
Metropolitan Touring’s expedition vessels

Metropolitan Touring’s fleet of award-winning expedition vessels offers you a luxury cruise experience through different regions of the Galapagos with multiple guided activities at various visitor sites. For a more land-based option, the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel on Santa Cruz Island combines the land exploration you might expect from an expedition hotel with the option to enjoy a sailing experience to nearby islands in the Galapagos National Park aboard the hotel’s own Sea Lion Yacht.

Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel
Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel

Quito also offers good connectivity to neighboring Perú and Colombia, making it easy to plan tours to Macchu Picchu, Cuzco, Lima, Bogotá, Cartagena, and Medellín.

In Old Town Quito

Seasoned travelers know each city’s historic center has a unique flavor, but when it comes to Quito, you’re looking at the most well-preserved historic quarter in all of South America. Here, you will find several important colonial squares and plazas. The standout among them: the emblematic Plaza San Francisco. 

About a 40-minute drive from Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport—and mere minutes from many of Quito’s popular points of interest—, Casa Gangotena sits along the southwest corner of the renowned San Francisco Plaza. The boutique hotel is essentially a restored mansion that once belonged to a distinguished family involved in many of Quito’s most important and historical decisions.

Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel
Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel

Quito’s Historic Center is also home to many breathtaking colonial-era churches. There are three in the hotel’s immediate vicinity: the religious complex for which the square is named; La Compañía de Jesús Church, a favorite for many locals and visitors; and the Santa Clara Monastery. Architecture and art connoisseurs would have a feast spending some time here on their honeymoon in Quito! 

Speaking of which, museums also abound in this part of the city, and our hotel enjoys close proximity to several. Among them, are the Fray Pedro Gocial Franciscan Museum, within the San Francisco Church and Convent complex, and the Pre-Columbian Art Museum House of Praise. 

As if all this weren’t enough to make Casa Gangotena the best honeymoon hotel, there is of course the charm of the Plaza itself, with its stunning views of the surrounding Andes Mountains.

The Wonders of Plaza San Francisco

This plaza is host to one of the largest and most popular religious visitor sites in downtown Quito, the San Francisco Church and Convent. The church offers weekly and daily mass, and the convent is still inhabited by Franciscan priests. At ground level, just below the stone steps of the entrance, you’ll find small souvenir shops along with cafés overlooking the square’s pigeon-covered cobblestones.

San Francisco
Front view of the San Francisco Church and Convent, next to Casa Gangotena.

The sidewalk directly in front of San Francisco Church is lined with vendors of as many traditional wares as you can think of. Many of these are made by hand by artisans whose passion and talent for the craft have long been passed down from one generation to the next. There are also a few candy stores selling traditional quiteño sweets—entirely unique to the city—, as well as places to sample and purchase the finest Ecuadorian chocolate. 

Along one side of the church, next to the hotel, the southern stretch of Cuenca Street is filled with places selling all the spices and herbs quiteños have used for centuries to prepare traditional dishes, infusions, and home remedies. This is also where the hotel sources many fresh ingredients for its restaurant, and what makes their Cocina Mestiza cuisine so tasty and popular. 

On the opposite side of the plaza, you’ll find apparel shops, of both clothing and shoes, and even Panama hats (which, in fact, originated in Ecuador)! If all this is what you’ll find within the immediate surroundings of your hotel, imagine what you’ll discover in the rest of the Old Town, the city, and the country. Can you picture a better hotelat which to spend your honeymoon?

Casa Gangotena’s Cultural Heritage

Being central to everything of interest in Quito, the Highlands, and Ecuador is one very good reason why Casa Gangotena is the best hotel for your honeymoon. Besides location, there is nothing like staying at a place that has seen so much history and is filled with incredible art; a cultural hub in and of itself. 

The Gangotena name has been prominent in Quito since the 18th century. A group of wealthy businesspeople with a keen eye for opportunity and a desire to improve the lives of quiteños, the family was mostly made up of academics, diplomats, and politicians. 

Yet perhaps the most notable of them was Alfredo Gangotena, an early 20th-century poet who wrote in Spanish and French. His work is of the most nationally and internationally recognized among Ecuadorian writers. 

With a love for the arts and high-end tastes, the Gangotenas held many artistic soirees in their day and decorated their home with large oil paintings and lavish European furnishings. A few suites in the hotel still retain restored frescoes on the walls, and the original stonework across the main entrance depicts the Gangotena family crest. 

Staying in a restored colonial mansion that keeps its spirit alive will make your honeymoon in Quito truly one of a kind. You can read more about this grand house and the notable family that inhabited it in this blog.

Want to see our lovely spaces?

 

Casa Gangotena Loggia
The Loggia at Casa Gangotena is an airy space full of light, plants, and comfortable seating areas.

A Curated Experience

At Casa Gangotena, we aim to make guests’ experiences a blend of historical grandeur and modern comfort. Staying at the hotel and exploring its neighborhood allows you to step back in time and still witness modernity unfold around you. Most importantly, we strive to make each guest feel at home. 

The renovation of the Gangotena family home into the luxe boutique hotel it is today was intended to bring back to life its former glory in every detail the brothers Russo (notable architects of the time) imprinted into the building’s French-and Italian-inspired Art Deco-style interiors when they reconstructed it after a fire in 1914. It also took into consideration all the necessities a modern guest would require of a premium hotel. 

Spaciousness is a given in any mansion, but the open design and domed ceilings, with some spaces featuring the original ornate tin ceiling tiles, give it a very particular feel as you make your way around the hotel’s interior spaces. Sound-proof windows, elegant blackout curtains, and heavy wooden doors provide quiet and privacy. 

The mixture of styles—neoclassical, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and contemporary—brought together in the Italian designers’ reconstruction from the last century, and the present-day renovation that took place not too long ago bestowed the hotel with many delightful spaces that just fit like a glove for a Quito honeymoon. 

There is the stunning Crimson Room, the orchid-filled Patio, the refreshing Rooftop Terrace (with a fantastic 270° view of the Historic Center), the bright Restaurant, the timelessly elegant Bar, and the lush Garden with the original stone fountain at its center. It is no wonder Casa Gangotena is a genuine, world-class Relais & Châteaux-endorsed hotel experience!

The interior garden at Casa Gangotena
The interior garden at Casa Gangotena.

Personalized service

Don’t let the opulence of our ornate façade and elegant interiors fool you: we focus on warm interactions with our guests. While we certainly expect you to understand a little about the house’s aristocratic past, it is the welcoming character of the former residence we most aim to preserve, through an unrelenting dedication to quality service. 

Casa is Spanish for house, and our endeavor is to have our house be your home throughout your stay with us. From our staff’s cheerful disposition to the deep connection to our community, we keep it like family inside the hotel. Casa Gangotena is undoubtedly an emblem of quiteño hospitality. 

Our attentive concierge is always ready to arrange for anything you may want to do, see, and taste; just about everything can be arranged as you like it. Come relax in the utmost comfort; enjoy premium service, facilities, and accommodations; and delight in exquisite food as you live an idyllic honeymoon in Quito.

Experience Quito Like a Local

Part of Casa Gangotena’s mission is to preserve the spirit of Ecuadorian tradition, which is evident in every aspect of staying at the hotel. From the restoration of the original design of the house and signature quiteño hospitality to our restaurant’s gastronomy, where our Cocina Mestiza shows its respect for national cuisine by highlighting Ecuadorian ingredients, flavors, and techniques. 

When you stay at our house, we want you to know our people and their way of life. Lifestyle in San Francisco Plaza flows differently than how it does outside of the Historic Quarter. Slightly offbeat compared to the urban ambiance of modern Quito, this neighborhood continues to live in the ancestral traditions of the Old Town. 

We can arrange private tours, though we’ve customized a selection of the most immersive experiences just for our guests, completely free of charge and private, outside of the tourist schedule.

View of Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel from the air, showcasing the Rooftop Terrace.
View of Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel from the air, showcasing the Rooftop Terrace.

Guest-exclusive Activities

There’s an activity in store for Casa Gangotena guests each day of the week. Each one is focused on providing as much insight about Ecuadorian and quiteño culture as possible. 

  • On Mondays, we cook ceviche with our chef, seafood- or vegetarian-style, as we learn the story behind the Ecuadorian version of this ultra-popular dish. 
  • On Tuesdays and Saturdays, we explore the mansion as our host tells the story of the Gangotena family and how Metropolitan Touring made their home into a quintessential boutique hotel. 
  • On Wednesdays and Sundays, we learn the history of Old Town Quito from the vantage point of our rooftop terrace, as we admire the mountainous horizon of the city’s location on the Equator and the colonial skyline of the Historic Center. 
  • On Thursdays, we taste quiteño hot chocolate while learning about this globally popular concoction and its origins in Ecuador while tasting some of the finest chocolate from the Amazon and the Coast.  
  • Oh Fridays, we stroll along the streets of Old Town Quito at dusk, listening to the city’s legends told by our host, on our way to Plaza Grande (Independence Square) and back.
Quito's Historic Center
Quito’s Historic Center

With everything Quito and Casa Gangotena have to offer, why not make them the hosts of your wedding? Choosing Casa Gangotena as the venue for a destination wedding in Quito will not only make for memorable nuptials but also the perfect opening for an Ecuador honeymoon. 

Find out everything you can host inside our hotel!

 

As a favorite event venue among locals (with our very own event planner), our hotel has all you need to host your destination wedding! Our team can even arrange for anything you may require outside of our offered services. After all, as one of the best honeymoon hotels, we can certainly host your wedding and make it the best. Find all the details in this blog! 


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22 August, 2022 Kevin Wright0
Reading Time: 7 minutes

If you’re looking for an amazing travel destination with plenty of culture and history, look no further than Quito, Ecuador. Situated amid the foothills of the Andes Mountains, Quito is a cosmopolitan city that offers a unique blend of tradition and modernity. Whether you’re interested in exploring the city’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or enjoying all the amenities and conveniences of a major metropolitan area, Quito has something for everyone.

Check out Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel’s private activities for guests!

Historical Sites

In addition to its many museums, Quito is also home to several historical sites. When selecting things to do in Quito, it is well worth the effort to plan visits to as many of the following as possible.

Plaza de la Independencia (Independence Square)

Quito’s Plaza de la Independencia is the perfect place to start your exploration of the city. The square is home to several important historical buildings, including the Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace), the Cathedral of Quito, and the Presidential Palace.

Plaza Grande in Quito's Downtown
Independence Square is also known as Plaza Grande.

Be sure to admire these impressive buildings’ architecture and soak up this beautiful square’s atmosphere.

Catedral de Quito (Cathedral of Quito)

The Catedral de Quito is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city. The Cathedral is located in Quito’s Plaza de la Independencia and is one of the largest cathedrals in South America. It was built in the 16th century and features a baroque façade and an impressive interior with several oil paintings and sculptures.

Catedral Metropolitana de Quito
Catedral Metropolitana de Quito

Make sure to take a guided tour of the La Catedral, as locals call it, to learn more about its history and architecture.

Iglesia de San Francisco (San Francisco Church)

The Iglesia de San Francisco is one of the most beautiful churches in Quito. The church was built in the 16th century and features an ornate baroque façade. Its interior is equally impressive, with several oil paintings, gilded altars, and marble floors.

Plaza de San Francisco
Front view of the San Francisco Church and Convent.

Make sure to take a guided tour of the San Francisco Church to learn more about its history and architecture.

Museums

One of the best things to do in Quito is to explore its many noteworthy museums. The city is home to several world-class museums, including the Museo del Banco Central (Central Bank Museum), which houses an impressive collection of Ecuadorian art and artifacts; the Museo de la Ciudad (City Museum), which tells the story of Quito’s rich history; and the Museo de Arte Colonial (Colonial Art Museum), which showcases colonial-era artwork from around Latin America.

Casa del Alabado

If you’re interested in learning more about Ecuador’s indigenous cultures, the Casa del Alabado museum offers excellent exhibits of pre-Columbian art and artifacts. The museum is also home to a restaurant, cafe, and gift shop.

Casa del Alabado Museum in Quito
Casa del Alabado Museum in Quito

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.

Day Hikes and Outdoor Activities

Quito is the perfect destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The city is surrounded by several stunning mountains, making it an excellent destination for hiking and mountaineering. Cotopaxi National Park, Chimborazo, and Pasochoa are all within easy reach of Quito and offer a variety of trails to suit all fitness levels. The variety of parks and reserves surrounding the city makes nature activities one of the top things to do in Quito.

Parque Itchimbia

For a break from sightseeing, head to Parque Itchimbia, a large park located in the center of Quito. The park offers plenty of green space for picnicking, strolling, and people-watching. There is also a playground for children, a jogging track, and a beautiful glass structure where different groups can host all types of events and exhibits.

Itchimbia Park in Quito, Ecuador
Itchimbia Park in Quito, Ecuador

TelefériQo

For stunning views of Quito and the surrounding area, take a ride on TelefériQo, a cable car that takes passengers to the top of one of Pichincha’s most scenic peaks. There, you’ll find a restaurant, bar, and observation deck at the summit. TelefériQo is also a great place to go hiking and mountain-biking.

Quito's TelefériQo Gondola Lift
Quito’s TelefériQo Gondola Lift

Cotopaxi National Park

Cotopaxi National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ecuador. It is home to the Cotopaxi volcano, the tallest active volcano in the world. Visitors can explore the park on foot or by mountain bike, and many guided tours are available.

Cotopaxi Volcano
Cotopaxi Volcano

The Park is also a great place for camping, and many camping sites are located within its boundaries.

Pasochoa Reserve

If you’re looking for an easy day hike near Quito, head to the Pasochoa Reserve. The reserve is just a short drive from the city and offers several well-marked trails. The views from the summit of Pasochoa are simply stunning; on a clear day, you can even see all the way to the coast.

Mashpi Lodge: Quito´s Wild Side

Mashpi Lodge is a luxurious eco-lodge located in the heart of the Ecuadorian Chocó Bioregion, within the Metropolitan District of Quito. The Lodge offers all-inclusive packages that cover meals, lodging, and guided tours.

Mashpi Lodge is the perfect place to go if you’re interested in exploring the flora within one of the most biologically diverse forests in the world and observing the fauna that inhabits this remarkable, natural habitat. The Lodge has its own private reserve, home to endemic species found nowhere else on the planet! It´s also a luxurious marvel of a jungle lodge, like no other.

Mashpi Lodge
Mashpi Lodge

Well away from the hustle and bustle of the city but still inside the Metropolitan District of Quito, Mashpi is a good starting point to visit other noteworthy spots in the capital of Ecuador. Check out this blog to discover even more activities locals recommend to visitors and expand your list of things to do in Quito.

Food and Nightlife

Quito offers a variety of dining options to suit all budgets and tastes. For traditional Ecuadorian cuisine, head to one of the many restaurants in Quito’s Old Town. For something a little more upscale, check out one of the city’s many trendy cafes and restaurants. You’ll find plenty of spectacular places to eat and drink, with various atmospheres. Pairing unique dishes with experimental indoor esthetics makes dining out a fun thing to do in Quito!

Casa Gangotena Restaurant

For an unforgettable dining experience, head to Casa Gangotena Restaurant. Located in a beautiful colonial mansion in the heart of the Historic Quarter, flanking Plaza San Francisco, the restaurant serves traditional Ecuadorian cuisine with a modern twist. it has an extensive wine list and a selection of original cocktails. You’ll find it on the ground floor of Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel, although it allows access to the rooftop terrace with a 360° view of Quito’s Historic Center.

Casa Gangotena's Restaurant
A pleasant atmosphere is ideal for celebrating any occasion with a fine meal.

Mercado San Blas (San Blas Market)

Mercado San Blas is the perfect place to sample some of Quito’s delicious traditional food. The market is located in the Old Town and features a variety of stalls selling everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to seafood and meat dishes. Be sure to try ceviche, a popular Ecuadorian dish made with fresh fish, lime juice, and chili peppers.

Salsoteca Lavoe

If you’re looking for a place to enjoy some live music and dance the night away, head to Salsoteca Lavoe. This popular salsa club is located near most of Quito’s biggest Malls and features a large dance floor, live music, and a bar. The club gets crowded on weekends, so be sure to arrive early.

La Mariscal

La Mariscal is the perfect place to enjoy Quito’s nightlife. This traditional neighborhood is home to various bars, clubs, and restaurants. You’ll find everything from relaxed outdoor cafés to lively dance clubs. Be sure to check out Plaza Foch, the neighborhood’s main square, which is always buzzing with activities and artisanal fairs of every kind.

La Mariscal neighborhood in Quito
La Mariscal neighborhood in Quito is home to a very busy nightlife scene.

Where to Stay in Quito

There are many different neighborhoods in Quito, Ecuador. You can read about some of them here. Proximity, comfort, and location are key factors in deciding where to stay. Put simply, the most convenient and worthwhile spot is Quito’s beautiful Historic Center. Within Quito’s Old Town, you’ll find Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel along one side of the picturesque Plaza San Francisco. Casa Gangotena is an award-winning Relais & Châteaux-endorsed hotel, the only one in Quito, which offers incredible views of the surrounding areas and mountains, along with plenty of fantastic spaces, including an atrium, rooftop terrace, Art Deco-style bar and lounge, plus a very popular restaurant!

The interior garden at Casa Gangotena
The interior garden at Casa Gangotena

Quito and Ecuador are incredibly affordable compared to other major tourist destinations worldwide. You can enjoy all that the city and country have to offer without breaking the bank, making it a travel destination that works with a budget. So, what are you waiting for? Book your ticket to Quito today and start planning your ideal vacation!


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25 February, 2021 Isabel Espinoza0
Reading Time: 5 minutes

If you’re planning a trip to Quito, the capital city of Ecuador and home to the best-preserved Historic Center in South America, you’re in for a treat! The city bustles with life, history, culture, gastronomy, and much more. Before embarking on the great adventures awaiting there, you ought to learn the singularities of the weather in Quito.

Many factors influence the weather in Quito, including the city’s high altitude, equatorial position, and surrounding mountain ranges. These unique Andean conditions make Quito’s climate somewhat unpredictable. It’s common for the city to experience four seasons in a single day, which can affect your plans if you’re not prepared for it. The best advice we can give you is to dress for all seasons and carry anything you may need, regardless of how the day looks in the first hours of the morning.

Curious about what it’s like to stay in Quito? Explore our hotel

Seasons in Ecuador

Daily weather in Quito
On clear days, you can witness how the volcanoes surrounding Quito display their beautiful snow-capped peaks.

Due to its unique position so close to the equator, Ecuador’s seasons aren’t the usual four, but only two: a rainy one and a dry one. For the most part, the drier months run from June to September, and the rainy season begins in October, stretching into May. Although many of us would expect the rainy season to be like winter, this is actually the time when the country is the warmest.

The temperature in Quito goes as follows. During the dry season, daytime temperature averages a comfortable 70°F (21°C), generally falling to around 50°F (10°C) at night. During the rainy season, the temperature is steadier throughout the day, hovering around 67°F (19 °C). March and April are typically the wettest months, with clear skies in the mornings and showers in the afternoon, interspersed with bursts of sunshine.

So, why is Quito’s climate so peculiar? One reason is that it is only 16 miles (26 km) from the equator. Another is because it generally has low winds and therefore can have abrupt changes in weather: sunshine to rain, hail, thunderstorms, and then back to sunshine. Temperature variations can also feel abrupt because of Quito’s exposed position and proximity to the sun.

If wind speed suddenly increases or the sun ducks behind the clouds, it can feel like the temperature has dropped. Strangely enough, this normally isn’t true,  but our bodies don’t know that. That’s why it’s always best to be prepared no matter the season or, especially, the forecast.

If you stay at Casa Gangotena...
… You’ll never have to worry about bad weather ruining your plans! Apart from our privileged location in Quito’s Historic Center (flanking the wonderful Plaza San Francisco), which allows our guests to walk to the most incredible churches and squares, we host some great indoor guest-exclusive activities, completely free of charge. You just need to sign up!

Casa Gangotena in the early morning
Casa Gangotena is your ideal hub for exploring Quito.

Quito’s Altitude

The altitude in Quito averages 9,350 ft (2,850 m), so it’s no surprise that this historical beauty of a city can often feel like the middle of the desert. It means that the sun’s rays beat down more directly than in most cities, so it tends to be a little ferocious compared to other warm places.

Some days, it can feel like you are melting into the pavement! It’s important always to apply and reapply sunscreen throughout the day. Stay hydrated by always carrying a full water bottle with you, and always wear a sun hat and sunglasses.

Some popular visitor points, such as El TelefériQo, take you even higher, up into the mountains. Remember that at higher altitudes, temperatures can drop dramatically. Always wear warmer clothes and carry a warm jacket on any of these excursions.

Quito’s Mountains

This city lies between the volcanoes of the soaring Andes mountain range, therefore the climate can be a little temperamental; after all, mountains attract clouds. This often translates into surprise thunderstorms and even hail.  Although the temperature doesn’t fluctuate much, the weather throughout the day can change without warning. It’s common for it to be scorching hot sunlight one second and thunderstorms the next, causing torrents of water to run down the streets.

Yes, the torrents happen due to a combination of poor draining and steep hills in some areas of the Old Town., but they are also caused by the gigantic raindrops commonly formed by the surrounding mountains. As the air reaches a mountain, it rises, and as it rises, it cools. If the air carries a lot of moisture, it will cause precipitation (or rain), because cool air carries less moisture.

But don’t let that scare you! Quito mostly has an extremely comfortable climate that is perfect for exploring and sightseeing. The main thing is always to be prepared and carry everything you may need on every day excursion you go on.

Quito the capital of Ecuador
Quito is a city cradled by mountains.

How to pack for Quito’s climate

So how do you plan around this unpredictable weather? When traveling around Quito, it’s always a good idea to wear layers. Put on a breathable T-shirt, then a light sweater, and then a rain jacket on top. Of course, this means that you should always carry a backpack to share with your group for any day excursions. You don’t want to get caught in the pouring rain or burn under the sun! The backpack should include:

  • Umbrella
  • Sunblock
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Water bottle
  • Spare sweater

Are you interested in a complete packing checklist for your adventure in Quito?

Remember: If traveling to a higher elevation, pack extra-warm clothes and some chocolate to nibble on to help with the altitude.

A trip to Quito is spectacular any time of year. The stable temperatures mean you won’t experience snow or desert-like heat any month of the year. However, you should be prepared for sudden changes in the weather on your day excursions, and take any local weather forecast with a grain of salt. Sometimes we think blue skies mean we’ll have a full day of sunlight ahead of us, but that’s not always the case in Quito. It’s not just the incredible sights and adventures that can surprise you in this city –the weather likes to play, too!


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23 July, 2020 José Ayerve0
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Quito is a dynamic and diverse city with many neighborhoods and sectors that have their own lodging and restaurant options. However, while you will always enjoy your time in the capital, not every area is equal, and not every location will optimize your time in Quito. As we already know, the specific place and the neighborhood where we choose to stay can make or break our trip, as many things can affect how much we get out of our visit. Come on a journey with us as we explore the advantages and disadvantages of several options, including their location within Quito, the logistics of staying there, and surrounding tourist attractions.

La Floresta

La Floresta is known as Quito’s most chic parish thanks to its many brightly painted, mosaic-covered walls that demonstrate an appreciation for modern art and food.  During the day, you can wander down picturesque, tree-lined streets and enjoy the local galleries and cafés that seem to appear around every corner. On Fridays and Saturdays, there are a couple of small farmers’ markets that give residents and visitors the chance to pick up locally grown fruit and vegetables from nearby farms. There is also a huge concentration of restaurants ranging from the quintessential American burger joint to the upmarket sushi restaurant. All eateries are within walking distance as long as you aren’t venturing out too late at night. While your taste buds will definitely be satisfied with the options in this neighborhood, you should be aware that there are very few tourist attractions or daily activities that you can experience close to this stylish neighborhood.

González Suárez

View of Gonzalez Suarez
The González Suárez neighborhood is situated along a valley edge in Quito.

González Suárez abuts La Floresta to the north and rests along the eastern side of the city’s central valley, overlooking both Quito and the valley of Cumbayá – as long as you choose a hotel with a good view.  This neighborhood is a little more reserved and quiet in comparison with La Floresta, allowing visitors to get a good night’s sleep. A number of restaurants can be found scattered amongst the buildings and homes that occupy this relatively young residential area, including some delicatessens, breweries, cafés, and cozy specialty restaurants.  González Suárez is situated close to one of the most beautiful metropolitan parks in Quito, which, on a clear day, offers park-goers exquisite views of the city and surrounding mountains.

La Mariscal

La Mariscal neighborhood in Quito
La Mariscal neighborhood in Quito is home to a very busy nightlife scene.

La Mariscal is famous for being the nightlife hotspot of Quito, especially around Plaza Foch. Many bars, clubs, and restaurants are found in this vicinity, which inevitably means that getting to sleep at a reasonable hour isn’t always possible. Although this area can be described as the best nightlife in the city, caution should be taken while walking around at night. During the day, you can walk to the Artisanal Market, where you can haggle and acquire all the handcrafted souvenirs you can fit into your bag or, if the weather is nice, take a walk to El Ejido Park, where many artists gather to display and sell their paintings. Many visitors like to purchase an original piece of art to take home with them.

Guangüiltagua Street

Despite its difficult pronunciation (Gwan-gwil-TA-gua), visitors and residents appreciate that this neighborhood offers some of the best views of Northern Quito. It is situated north of González Suárez and just below Metropolitan Park, also along the eastern bank of the valley, which means that you can take an early morning stroll alongside the park’s formidable trees while being mesmerized by a breathtaking sunrise over the Andes. This area is also known for its hip bars and various restaurants that line the length of the main street.

La Capilla del Hombre by Guayasamín
La Capilla del Hombre is part of the Guayasamín Museum, in Quito.

An excellent place to visit while staying in this area is the La Capilla del Hombre Museum, which overlooks the city. This museum was originally created by Oswaldo Guayasamin, easily Ecuador’s most famous painter, and is dedicated to the people of Latin America.

La Carolina

La Carolina Park in Quito
La Carolina offers park-goers beautiful open spaces and a large variety of activities.

La Carolina is located along the flattest part of Quito’s main valley, in the area known as Centro Norte. In the very center is one of Latin America’s largest urban parks, La Carolina, functions similarly to New York’s famed Central Park and includes dog walking areas, horseback riding, dozens of fields, and several courts designed for different sports. The southern edge of the park even has a paddle boat lagoon with water fountains and bridges.

 

La Carolina is also home to one of the continent’s top-ranked botanical gardens, which is host to an extensive and impressive orchid collection along with a tremendous variety of plants and flowers from around the world, plus an award-winning bonsai collection. This neighborhood is considered the city’s modern financial center and is therefore highly commercialized. The perimeter of the park features numerous shopping malls and plazas, interspersed amongst various restaurants and cafés.

Cumbayá

Central Plaza Cumbaya
Central Plaza in nearby Cumbayá

Although Cumbayá offers little in terms of cultural attractions, it is a great place to chill. Located about 20 minutes from the center of Quito, it is situated at a lower altitude than the capital and partially sheltered by the surrounding mountains, making the climate somewhat warmer. Cumbayá’s center hosts a farmers’ market on Saturdays, while the town square is also home to conveniences like cafés and restaurants. Also, there are a number of movie theaters very close by.

For those who are a little more active, the Chaquiñán Trail, which runs along old railroad tracks from Cumbayá to the adjacent town of Puembo, located another 12 mi (20 km) east, gives hikers and bikers a scenic view of the countryside. Another great place for a relaxing walk is around the Reservoir, which has views of the surrounding valleys. La Esquina, which is a colorful group of shops, cafés, and restaurants is located opposite one of the corners of the Reservoir, can be the perfect spot to cool down and replenish your energy.

Historic Center

San Francisco Plaza in Quito
Evening sky above San Francisco Plaza in Quito’s Historic Center

The Historic Center of Quito was the first to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As the very place where Quito came into existence, the streets and buildings of the Historic Center speak of the world that once was. Not only was it one of the preeminent centers of the Inca Empire, in the 16th century when the Spanish first arrived, it was also the location of one of the region’s primary marketplaces, which is now known as San Francisco Plaza.

La Compañía de Jesús Church, Quito
The gold-plated interior of La Compañía de Jesús Church in Quito’s Historic Center.

The Historic Center isn’t just home to countless stories and fascinating history; it also contains beautiful and extraordinary churches, galleries, and museums – all within walking distance. La Compañía de Jesús boasts one of the most intricately decorated church interiors in South America, almost entirely covered in gold leaf, and La Basilica del Voto Nacional(Basilica of the National Vow) represents the pride of Ecuador. This enormous cathedral features statues of animals native to Ecuador instead of more traditional gargoyles and a huge stained-glass window.

Basilica of the National Vow in Quito
The Basilica of the National Vow is one of the most impressive attractions in Quito’s Historic Center.

As well as churches and museums, the La Ronda area offers a small glimpse into old Quito, with its cobblestoned street and colorful colonial-style doors that lead into numerous artisanal shops, typical Quiteño restaurants and bars, and courtyards. In La Ronda, there’s a thriving nightlife of bars for those who just want to enjoy a drink and some live music, and nightclubs for those seeking a little more exercise.

La Ronda in Quito's Historic Center
La Ronda Street offers a glimpse into daily life in Quito.

Of course, the Historic Center also includes many plazas, such as the Plaza Grande, home to the majestic government palace, and the aforementioned San Francisco Plaza, home to the towering San Francisco Church and Convent. Choosing to stay in the Historic Center means that most of the city’s visitor sites will be within a short walk, and what better than to stay in a boutique hotel that caters to your every need? Casa Gangotena, for example, set along one edge of San Francisco Plaza, is a beautifully restored mansion originally belonging to some of the capital’s first aristocratic families. Steeped in history and offering unparalleled levels of service and luxury, staying at Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel means that you will not only experience Quito as a destination but also as part of a family.

Casa Gangotena in the early morning
Casa Gangotena in the glow of the morning sun.

In general, the neighborhood in which you choose to stay will define your overall experience in Quito, either adding to or diminishing the enjoyment of your trip. Do you want to enjoy cafés and restaurants? Do you want to experience the city’s many tourist attractions? Do you want to be immersed in the culture and traditions of Quito? Or do you want all the above? Only one neighborhood is definitely able to offer you everything you want on a trip to Ecuador’s capital with the most well-preserved Historic Center in South America. It’s up to you! (And, should you decide to stay at Casa Gangotena in the Old Town, you’ll certainly be able to explore all those other neighborhoods we’ve mentioned.)

Get ready to visit UNESCO’s First World Heritage Site!


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22 August, 2018 Christopher Klassen0

Reading Time: 11 minutes

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 trips from Quito.

Note: When you’re 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 day tours for you leaving directly from the hotel!

Half-day trips from Quito

Mitad del Mundo

Distance from Quito: 1 hour by car

What’s a visit to Ecuador without a visit to the actual equator?

Middle of the world monument
The Middle of the World monument is located less than an hour away from downtown Quito.


The Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World) complex is right on the Equator.

Mitad del Mundo (the Middle of the World) is located just north of Quito and is best known for the enormous monument that sits (approximately) on the equator. The monument commemorates the French Geodesic Mission that came to study the equator in the 18th century and, at the time it was built, was thought to sit directly on the equatorial line. With the development of modern GPS technology, however, the equator was found to be about 240 meters (787 feet) north of the monument. Oops!

While you’re at the Mitad del Mundo complex, 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 arguably more fun visitor complex called Inti Ñan, located on the road that leads west from the large roundabout. This more down-to-earth and quirky attraction does in fact lie right on the equatorial line and includes more hands-on experiments that illustrate the physics at work here in the middle of the world.

The area around Mitad del Mundo 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 restaurants. 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 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Panoramic view of Quito, Ecuador
Stunning view of Quito’s landscape on the foot of the Pichincha volcano at dusk, seen from the east.


Teleférico and the Pichincha Volcano

Distance from Old Town Quito: 20 minutes by car

Looking northwest from Quito’s Old Town, you’ll notice an imposing mountain that rises above the rest. You’re looking at the Pichincha Volcano whose two summits, Guagua Pichincha and Rucu Pichincha, reach 4,794 meters (15,728 feet) and 4,698 meters (15,413 feet), respectively.

The TelefériQo cable car was built in 2005 and is one of the highest aerial lifts in the world. The cable car takes you up to 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) above sea level. Up top, you’ll find an information center, a chapel, and a small complex with small restaurants offering coffee, lunch, and a spectacular view of Quito’s valley.

From here, you can follow one of the hiking paths and get a feel for the paramo (the high-altitude ecosystem above the treeline), which is characterized by shrubs and grasses. Numerous bird species can be spotted here, including the Ecuadorian hillstar hummingbird and raptors like the Caracara. As you wander around, you might see a few llamas with their handlers. If you ever wanted a selfie with a llama, now’s your chance!

For avid hikers, a well-marked trail will lead you to the summit of Rucu Pichincha in about four hours. The fog begins to roll in at around noon, so make sure to start early and take plenty of provisions, especially water. To cope with the altitude, a few sugary snacks might ward off the dizziness.

Opening hours: Tuesday – Thursday: 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Friday – Monday 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m


Parque Metropolitano

Distance from Casa Gangotena: 40 minutes by car

The easiest way to escape the buzz of the city is by visiting Parque Metropolitano, a 750-hectare (1,853-acre) park, popular among locals due to its numerous hiking and biking paths, viewpoints and public BBQ areas. On a clear day, expect to get a view of the Cayambe volcano from the appropriately named Mirador Cayambe, one of four look-out points found in the park.

Nearly the whole of Parque Metropolitano is densely forested, providing shade from the sun’s aggressive rays at 2,988 meters (9,803 feet) above sea level. Within the park, there are a few smaller areas and playgrounds designed specifically for children, and stalls closer to the main entrance offer traditional snacks such as chochos (Andean lupin beans), ice cream, and freshly squeezed juices. For a larger meal, walk down from the park’s main entrance to Calle Guanguiltagua where you’ll find a number of restaurants and snack bars.

When you visit Parque Metropolitano, remember to apply sunscreen and take plenty of water.

Opening hours: Open all day, every day. Note: Walking in the park after dark is not recommended.


Parque Arqueológico Rumipamba

Distance from Quito: 15 minutes by car

Within the valley of Quito, and only a short distance away from the historic center, lies an archeological site called the Rumipamba Archaeological Park. The ruins and artifacts at Rumipamba date back to a period estimated to range from 1500 BC to 1500 AD and belong to civilizations like the Quitu-Cara – the pre-Columbian founders of Quito. The name “rumipamba” is Kichwa for rocky plane or field, and it is believed that the Quitu-Cara settled here, above the lake which once spread over the valley below, where the present neighborhood of Iñaquito is located.

The Rumipamba ruins are still being excavated today and the park takes a rather hands-on, participatory approach to excavation. Groups of school children are often seen at the site, learning about the history behind the objects that are being uncovered. As a visitor, you may find small remnants of pottery along the path.

As you explore the park, you’ll see circular, thatched houses and adobe homes that once belonged to the Quitu-Cara. You’ll also see mossy tunnels built out of tree roots which were made by the Yumbos, another civilization that once lived in the area. For more on the Yumbo people, check out our next Day Trip below.

The Rumipamba Archaeological Park is open from Wednesday through Sunday, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and the guided tour takes about 90 minutes to complete. We suggest having your hotel concierge call the park beforehand to double-check opening hours and whether English interpretation is available when you want to visit.

Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., ask hotel to double check opening hours.


Tulipe Site Museum

Distance from Quito: 2 hours by car

The Tulipe Site Museum is an archaeological site and museum that gives you a glimpse into the daily life, history and traditions of the Yumbo civilization. The Yumbo were a nomadic tribe that lived in the area between around 800 – 1660 AD, up until the majority were killed by a volcanic eruption. Those that survived, fled.

Tulipe site museum
Tulipe Site Museum

The ruins at Tulipe are thought to be sacred water temples that were once used by shamans for their purification rituals pertaining to the sun and moon. The pools may have also been used as mirrors to observe the night sky and its constellations. Unfortunately, the pools have since dried out due to volcanic alterations in the area.

Objects at Tulipe site museum
Objects at Tulipe Site Museum

Tulipe is located two hours outside of Quito in the cloud forest that spreads out along the western flank of the Andes. The vegetation here is incredibly lush and you can learn more about the native, medicinal plants and trees on a short walk through the museum’s garden. If the cool, cloud forest air entices you to extend your visit, consider staying at Mashpi Lodge, an award-winning and exclusive ecolodge located just two hours northwest from the museum.

Quote at Tulipe site museum
Quote at Tulipe Site Museum regarding purification through water

Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Ask the hotel to double-check opening hours.


Full-day trips from Quito


Train Ride to Cotopaxi

Distance from Quito: 15 minutes to the Central Train Station by car

Tren Ecuador gives visitors the chance to explore the country aboard heritage tourist trains. There are over eight available routes that take you across Ecuador’s Northern, Central and Southern Andes, as well as one route that takes you all the way to the Pacific Coast. The train tracks are in excellent condition and the main train station in Quito is located only 15 minutes from Casa Gangotena by car.

As one of your day trips from Quito, we recommend taking the Train of the Volcanoes, or Tren de los Volcanes, which takes you from southern Quito to El Boliche, Machachi, and then back to Quito. This route winds through a network of valleys, past a number of dormant volcanoes like Pichincha, Atacazo, Pasochoa and Rumiñahui and brings you that much closer to the splendor and enormity of the Cotopaxi Volcano. The sweeping views of Ecuador’s lush landscapes alone are well worth the $39 train ticket.

And there is so much more to see! As part of the Train of the Volcanoes route, you’ll stop at Tambillo and Machachi, two small towns where you can get a taste of some local dishes, appreciate the chagras’ (Ecuadorian cowboys’) traditional dance and song, and buy souvenirs.

Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 08:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. | Saturday, Sunday & Holidays from 08:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.


Papallacta Thermal Baths

Distance from Quito: 1 hour 40 minutes by car

Papallacta thermal springs
Thermal hot springs at Papallacta are very popular among the locals.


A Quiteño favorite, Papallacta is a small, high-altitude (3,250 meters / 10,663 feet) village located between the Andes and Amazon, 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 local and foreign tourists alike the chance to unwind in the thermal water that springs from the surrounding mountains. The water is known for its rich minerals which are said to be beneficial to the skin and internal organs.

The Termas de Papallacta is the most popular baths, located at the top of the hill above the village. You can either visit their upscale spa to access exclusive pools, massage, facial and aromatherapy services, or you can opt for the regular pools at the Balneario. At both locations, you’ll find pools of varying temperatures, including a pool filled with frigid water from the adjacent mountain stream. A dip in this pool is sure to get your blood pumping!

If you’re planning to go on a full-day trip from Quito, we suggest leaving early to experience the cool, mountain mist, and spectacular views of Volcano Antisana. Once the late-morning sun appears, the baths start to feel a little too hot and sunburn becomes a risk. After an hour or two in the baths, you can enjoy local delicacies such as smoked freshwater trout or a warm locro de papa (thick potato soup). If you’re feeling energetic, there are also a number of hiking paths in the area that take you along the nearby mountains.

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 some well-deserved rest and relaxation.

Opening hours: Opening hours will vary depending on which baths you choose.

Las Termas de Papallacta Spa is open Sunday to Thursday: 09:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Friday, Saturday & Holidays: 9:00 am –  9:00 pm. The Balneario is open every day from 6:00 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.


Pululahua Crater

Distance from Quito: 1 hour by car to the entrance

Pululahua volcano
Pululahua is one of the volcanos that surround Quito that is dormant.


Pululahua is a magnificent volcanic crater or caldera, that formed 2,500 years ago when the volcano collapsed. Located just north of Quito, a trip to Pululahua can be easily combined with a stop at Mitad del Mundo.

Although not nearly as impressive as the Quilotoa Crater (located a three-hour drive southwest of the capital), Pululahua is much closer to Quito and offers numerous outdoor activities, like hiking, horseback riding, and birdwatching. Due to its unique ecosystem, Pululahua was named a Geobotanical Reserve in 1966.

There are two ways to get to Pululahua: You can either get a ride to the Café Mirador, a small café with a breathtaking view of the crater from its rim, and hike down into the crater itself. Alternatively, you can get a ride that takes you directly into the crater.

There’s a small population that lives inside the crater that depends predominantly on agriculture for subsistence. There are also a few hostels and restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat. While hiking the crater’s trails, birdwatchers should keep their eyes out for the Rusty-breasted Antpitta and the rare White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant, as well as other wildlife, like foxes, deer, and rabbits. According to locals, even pumas prowl the crater.

Pululahua offers a dazzling escape from Quito and can easily be visited over the course of a day. If you have the time, make sure to add this one to your bucket list!

Opening hours: Every day, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.


Pasochoa Forest Reserve

Distance from Quito: 1 hour 40 minutes by car

After the Pichincha Volcano, Pasochoa is the nearest volcano that you can summit close to Quito. Located only 40 km (25 miles) away from the city, a visit to Pasochoa is ideal for hikers and nature lovers and is an excellent climb for mountaineers preparing to summit higher peaks (dare we say, Cotopaxi?).

Pasochoa Volcano, now dormant, is 4,200 meters (13,780 feet) high and hosts one of the last high-altitude inter-Andean cloud forests around Quito. This unique ecosystem, home to over 100 bird species and 50 native tree species, provides an interesting window into what Quito’s original forests might have once looked like.

Pasochoa is also one of the best places to spot the Andean Condor – Ecuador’s national bird and one of the largest birds in the world. Exceptionally striking in flight, the Andean Condor takes full advantage of the thermals above the volcano. Keep your eyes open to see if you can spot one of these spectacular birds soaring overhead.

A hike to the summit and back takes around three to five hours. The journey will take you through stunning paramo grasslands and humid mountain forests. Depending on how high you want to climb, we suggest taking provisions and starting early in the day. Get in touch with us for further information!

Opening hours: Every day, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.


Cotopaxi National Park

Distance from Quito: 3 hours 25 minutes

Cotopaxi volcano
Cotopaxi is Ecuador’s second tallest active volcano and a favorite among mountain climbers, locals, and visitors.



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12 July, 2018 Christopher Klassen0
Reading Time: 9 minutes

The best way to discover Quito is by walking around. As you explore on foot, you’ll get to absorb the city’s atmosphere, history, traditions, and people. Picturesque squares, baroque churches, and snow-covered peaks form the backdrop to this vibrant city. You’ll see indigenous people wearing delicately embroidered shirts and traditional hats cross paths with tourists amid the shouts of street vendors and shoe-shiners. All of this as whiffs of delicious Andean cuisine and its aromas spill out through the windows of restaurants that line the streets of Quito’s Old Town. Due to its excellent location in our boutique hotel in Quito, Casa Gangotena is the ideal place to begin your walk to encounter the best activities to do in Quito and start exploring thousands of years of history.

View of San Francisco de Quito church
San Francisco church is one of Quito’s most iconic catholic temples.

Explore the wonders of Quito’s Old Town all within walking distance from Casa Gangotena!

From Plaza San Francisco to San Marcos

Before venturing through the city, make sure to visit Calle Cuenca, an iconic street that best represents traditional Quiteño life. As soon as you step out beyond Casa Gangotena’s garden, you’ll begin perceiving an aroma of herbs and you’ll see colorful piñatas decorating the street. It’s impossible to ignore the scents emanating from the spice store facing Casa Gangotena. With spice-filled jars and wooden boxes brimming with delicacies, you won’t be able to avoid stepping in every time you leave the hotel.

Only a few meters from the hotel entrance you’ll find the Museum Casa del Alabado, which hosts an impressive collection of pre-Colombian pieces representing various Ecuadorian ethnic groups. Originally a Colonial house, the museum was built in 1611 and has been beautifully restored. It includes a patio where you can order a cappuccino and a delightful treat: chocolates made from figs that were harvested from the very trees that adorn the patio in the upper part of the museum.

Exit towards Calle Rocafuerte and you’ll come to the Santa Clara Plaza, where you can visit the monastery and church. Keep walking downhill along the street to reach the Museo de la Ciudad’s ancient walls. Instead of exhibiting archaeological pieces or works of art from a number of different time periods, the Museo de la Ciudad reveals the story and everyday Quiteño life from its aboriginal origins until the 19th century.

If you want to travel back to Quito in the 1800s, one of the best activities to do in Quito is to walk down La Ronda. This bohemian neighborhood winds its way along a pretty street lined with geraniums and colorful flags that hang from old, ornate balconies. Along the street, you’ll find an array of stores that display the essence of Quito cultures, such as the Zabalartes toy store, where you can find spinning tops, yo-yos, and wooden dolls. Enjoy a delicious plate of typical Ecuadorian food and warm canelazos in the bars that resonate with live music every night. Don’t miss visiting the República del Cacao and Chez Tiff stores to buy chocolate made from Ecuadorian cacao, the finest in the world.

As you leave la Ronda, via Calle Guayaquil, keep walking toward Plaza Santo Domingo, and continue left toward Calle Flores, where you’ll find a series of stores specialized in candle making. Since you’re already here, buy a set of hanging candles in the shape of a bouquet of flowers, available in a variety of colors.

When you reach the corner café, Dios No Muere, turn right on Calle Junín. Walk along a huge white wall belonging to the Santa Catalina Monastery, one of the five oldest female cloistered convents in the city. Before reaching Plaza San Marcos, you’ll come across many places to dine, such as Café Khipus (they make tequila and piña colada flavored chocolates) and the “hipster” bar, Sirka, which showcases murals and paintings by local artists.

A colorful street from Quito's Old Town
Quito’s Old Town has maintained a colonial style that can be recognized in every corner of the area.

From Plaza San Francisco to the Basílica



Basilica of the National Vow
View of Basilica of the National Vow from Quito’s Old Town.

Exiting Casa Gangotena, a perfectly situated Quito Old Town hotel, you’ll find yourself before Plaza San Francisco, with a background of the majestic Pichincha and the massive stone bell towers of the oldest church in Ecuador. Under the arches of San Francisco’s atrium, you find Tianguez, a terrace café overlooking the domes of the surrounding churches. Tianguez means “market” in the ancient dialects of Quito and, as its name indicates, the café also contains a museum of handicrafts. In the tunnels built under the church of San Francisco, you can find all kinds of crafts, such as jewelry made out of tagua seed, detailed ceramics, and colorful animal masks.

As you walk downhill on Calle Sucre, you arrive at the Numismatic Museum, the former building occupied by the Central Bank of Ecuador. The museum recounts the story and evolution of Ecuador’s currency, the sucre, including periods in pre-Hispanic aboriginal societies, its impact on the colonial period, and the issuance of banknotes until dollarization.

On the opposite side of Calle Sucre, you reach the imposing façade of the Church of the Company of Jesus (Compañía de Jesús), made of Andean volcanic stone. Every surface of its interior is bathed in gold leaf and decorated with paintings by artists from the Quito School of Art and beyond. The church is considered the most beautiful in the country. Among the activities in Quito that you shouldn’t miss is climbing to the top of its dome.

Take a short break and sit on one of the stone benches in the Plaza Grande to catch your breath. In the center of the plaza stands a monument in honor of Ecuador’s Independence Day –

August 10, 1809. On the periphery of the plaza, you’ll see a series of historic buildings. To the North is the Archbishop’s Palace, where you can have lunch in one of the cozy restaurants. The Cathedral of Quito, one of the oldest churches on the continent, is located on the south side of the plaza. You can also admire the Government Palace, a white building crowned with a huge Ecuadorian flag. If you happen to be here on Monday at 11 am, you will catch the change of guards, a popular activity in Quito.

Continue north along with Calle Venezuela, where you’ll spot the silhouette of the Basilica’s gothic towers in the distance on the hill. A few steps away lies the Carmen Bajo Monastery. Be sure to admire its marvelous front door, carved by one of the few female artists of Quito’s Colonial period: Mother María Magdalena Dávalos. Up ahead, you come to the colonial façade belonging to the house of the Camilo Egas Museum. Here, you can enjoy the works and legacy of Ecuador’s forerunner of modern and contemporary art.



Façade of the Basílica

Basilica of the National Vow
Basilica of the National Vow is one of the largest neogothic structures in South America.

Continue along this street until you are at the foot of the Basilica, the largest neo-Gothic church in Latin America. What sets it apart from other churches of this style is that, instead of traditional gargoyles, this Basilica is decorated with turtles, iguanas and other creatures endemic to Ecuador. Inside, its gray walls are illuminated by the sun’s rays that shine through the stained-glass windows. The legends that surround the Basilica add intrigue and mystery to its history. The church isn’t yet finished, and there are many who believe that when the building is finally completed, the world will end. Many locals also believe that the heart of ex-president García Moreno lies within the corridors of the Basilica’s adjoining convent.


Gargoyles of Basilica church
The gargoyles of the Basilica church are reinvented to include local elements such as the Condor.

If you like adrenaline-filled adventure, the Basilica is the perfect place for one of the best activities to do in Quito. For the brave among you, make your way up the church’s northern towers. You’ll first have to navigate across a small wooden bridge before climbing steep metal steps to reach a platform on the tower where you can enjoy a 360 degree view of the Ecuadorian capital from a height of 79 meters (260 feet).


From Plaza San Francisco to the Central Market


San Francisco de Quito Church
Plaza San Francisco de Quito is located right next to Casa Gangotena.

Ecuador boasts an abundance of brilliant colors and exotic flavors. One activity you can’t miss is exploring a locals’ market; truly one of the more fascinating activities you can do in Quito.

Along the periphery of Plaza San Francisco, you will find a variety of shops. The Nua Ami craft shop sells Ariu jewelry that combines mystical and contemporary elements. Nearby, the Homero Ortega store has dedicated itself to making famous toquilla (straw)
“Panama” hats for more than five generations.

When you arrive at the intersection with García Moreno, turn left until you reach the Independence Square (Plaza de la Independencia), which is a shining example of the social and cultural pulse of the Andean capital. If you are impressed with how beautiful everything looks from below, you can’t leave without first venturing up to the ceramic domes of the Cathedral; the Old Town is best viewed from the domes of its churches and convents. Also, it’s fun! Dare to venture into the darkness of the church’s secret passages, where the stone stairs are very narrow and the corridors can be uncomfortable to navigate. It’s worth it. Once on top, you will be rewarded with an amazing view, where you can observe how colonial architecture and Andean nature merge.

Follow Calle Chile downhill from the Archbishop’s Palace, and turn left onto Calle Guayaquil. Enter through Heladería San Agustín’s wooden doors, the same doors that you would have entered back in 1858. You will be greeted by the delicious smell of homemade food, prepared with ancestral recipes that continue to delight palates of both locals and visitors down the years. The atmosphere is quite unique: old radios and telephones are scattered around the red-walled premises, adorned with newspaper clippings that tell the Parlor’s story, as well as gold-framed mirrors. One glance toward the fresh humitas, giant empanadas, and figs, and you won’t be able to resist the temptation to taste a little bit of everything. It is, however, the artisanal ice creams that give San Agustín its name. The ice cream is completely handmade and all ingredients are directly sourced, from the harvest of the fruit to the ice collected from the mountains.

Following these traditional delicacies, go down Calle Mejía to reach Plaza Huerto San Agustín, an oasis of modern architecture in the middle of a Colonial world. The square, renovated in 2016, incorporates manicured green areas and pools of water with black, volcanic stone floors. Around these pools, you’ll find several wooden lizards representing an old legend about the square. It is said that, despite locals’ claims that there were thousands of lizards under the land of San Agustin, the owner refused to sell it. However, when a lizard appeared in his bed, he didn’t hesitate another moment to sell the land.

Finish your tour by walking down Calle Flores and then Olmedo Street. Once you reach Pichincha Avenue, go straight and cross underneath to reach the Central Market, one of the most visited markets in Quito since 1950.


Central Market
Potatoes display at a stand in Quito’s Central Market.

If you enjoy tasting exquisite and exotic food, a visit to the Central Market is an activity in Quito that is not to be missed. There is no better way to discover the delights that define Ecuadorian cuisine than to explore the market and the plates served at the dozens of tables, brimming with traditionally prepared dishes. You can find all kinds of food, from llapingachos (stuffed potato patties), hornado (slow-roasted pork), and a variety of ceviches. Also, the fruit stands are impossible to ignore. Each one is a mosaic of colors and textures, with endemic fruits decorating the tables and the market’s cement floor. Thanks to Ecuador’s diverse climates, all kinds of fruit are grown here, from watermelon and pineapple to the more exotic naranjilla, taxo, and salaak, an Amazonian fruit known as “snakeskin”.


Fruits at Central Market
You can find every type of fruit that grows in Ecuador at the Central Market.

Here, Ecuadorians and tourists alike can explore decades of culinary tradition amidst brilliant colors and flavors.