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 guest-exclusive activities!
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.
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.
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.
Make sure to take a guided tour of the San Francisco Church to learn more about its history and architecture.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Park is also a great place for camping, and many camping sites are located within its boundaries.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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!