A Locals Guide to Quito - Recommendation from Dirk who operates Old Town Suites in Quito - A 200 years old mansion turned to an amazing Hotel.
Why Visit Quito:
Quito, also known as "La Carita de Dios" (God’s face), is the capital of Ecuador. This city is a hybrid between modernity and colonialism, with a modern part and with a historic center known throughout the world as the best-preserved colonial center in Latin America. Wandering through the streets and squares, sitting on a bench, and observing the locals dressed in traditional clothing and selling (for us) weird things is a great experience. At any point in the city, just look up and observe the impressive mountains (in reality volcanoes) surrounding the city. A virgin with wings like an angel (El Panecillo) stands on a hill between the North and South part of the city and watches over the citizens. The diversity of people and races, the vast offer of museums, attractions, the contrast between modern and historical, the hummingbirds and Arupo-flowering trees, the parks, and tasty local food but also the vicinity of the Andes and his volcanoes with thermal baths, climbing and hiking possibilities, the Amazon with his tropical forest and indigenous tribes, the coast and his beaches and seafood, the Galapagos,... will seduce you and maybe you will be tempted to stay here forever as I did! Count at least 3 days in if you want to do only the highlights of the city.
Must visit sites in Quito City:
In Quito, there are some places you can’t afford not to visit. My top 3 starts with the “Basilica of the National Vow”. Here, from the highest point of its towers, you have a 360 ° view of the city. The remains of two of the most important residents of the country are put at rest here. Very unique is that the representative fauna from Ecuador (such as the condor, turtle, and iguana) are used to ornament this building. It is the second-highest religious structure in the Americas, still unfinished. A legend whispers that if the construction would be finished, the world would end. “The Basilica of the National Vow” is also the door to the Historic Center of Quito and the ideal place to start your discovery of this beautiful city.
Secondly, you have “TelefériQo” with the experience of knowing Quito from above the clouds. This tourist attraction of the city is one of the highest in the world, rising from 3117 meters to 3945 meters. Next to the steep route of more than 2 kilometers you can hike and climb to the Rucu Pichincha volcano here.
Thirdly the “Middle of the World”. The spot of 0 ° 0′ 0 ”, awaits his visitors and highlights the exact location of the equator demonstrating it with physical tests. Here you will find a replica of the ancient and colonial city and 19 other tourist attractions (such as a museum of the virgins, a planetarium, and the equatorial monument with 9 floors of history and science).
Best day trips from Quito City:
Imagine you only have 24 hours to visit Quito. We would recommend a tour starting at the “Basilica of the National Vow” and ending at “El Panecillo” passing by the colonial center with his amazing churches and beautiful squares. A vast offer of day trips are possible: the market of Otavalo; the thermals of Papallacta; the hummingbirds; Quilotoa loop; the natural reserves of Antisana, Cotopaxi, Pasochoa,...; Winged Garden, the Zoo, and much much more.
Best restaurants for local foods:
Next to the variety of fancy restaurants we can recommend a few hidden treasures. Apetite mariscal, Theatrum and Miskay for local food; El Ventanal and Mosaico for his views over the city; La Purisima and Casa Warmi for his different approach to local ingredients.
Best places to get local crafts?
Don´t leave the city without buying some souvenirs that way you support the locals and artists. The “Artisan Market”, Park Ejido, El Quinde artisan-shop, folklore Olga Fish, Tianguez.
Of course don’t forget the Panama hat, the chocolate, and coffee!
What tours do you recommend and why?
To get to know better the huge variety of landscapes in Ecuador do the following excursions. Mindo (cloud forest), Otavalo (indigenous city, waterfalls), The avenue of the volcanoes (Andes mountains), Antisana (moorlands and western Andean), Pasochoa (a unique forest patch)
Best places to grab a beer/drink in the city?
To relax and have a beer or cocktail I can recommend a variety of venues. Craft beers are very popular in Quito but if you want to taste them in a unique decor, go to “La Oficina” or “El Bandido Brewing”. If you prefer a complete entertainment district: “Mariscal Foch area”. This is the so-called pink zone of Quito, where you can find a great variety of bars, discos and restaurants. I would recommend Finn's McCool or Cherusker, two good bars with craft beers. If you prefer a quieter environment with gastronomic options, go to “La Floresta” quarter.
Where to Stay?
We recommend Old Town Suites. A quaint hotel that is distinguished by the staff's personalized attention. Together with an eye-catching design focused on convenience and space, their apartments are designed to meet the needs of single travelers, couples, and families. You will have the experience of living in a colonial era (200 years old building). And as a bonus, the location right between the Modern and Historical part of the city.
How many days to spend in the City?
If you want to do only the highlights of the city, count at least 3 days in.
What are the best hikes in the region?
Ecuador is also a hiking destination. The best places in and around Quito are Pichincha mountain, Antisana, Quilotoa, Lloa and Cotopaxi.
What are the best months to visit?
Quito weather will welcome all kinds of travelers all year long. Remember that Quito is located on the Equator. The rest of the country is also visit able all year round but you could opt for more sunny seasons.