The Top Tourist Attractions in Quito
Despite its initial intimidating appearance, Quito, the capital of Ecuador, has become a must-visit destination in South America due to its abundance of activities and attractions, both within the city and just outside of it. Quito offers a vast range of intriguing things to do, and the surrounding areas boast breathtaking national parks, volcanoes, and diverse wildlife, making it an ideal location to explore some of Ecuador’s most popular tourist destinations.
Here are some of the most attractive Tourist Places to see in Quito
Quilotoa Crater is one of the best things to do in Quito. Located to the south of Quito, Quilotoa Lagoon is a result of a collapsed volcano that formed a crater. The crater was later filled with a striking emerald-green lake, which owes its color to the presence of volcanic minerals. The village and lagoon of Quilotoa have now become a popular spot for day-trips due to the stunning views and great opportunities for photography that they offer. Be aware though, the walk back to the top is tough!
Mitad del Mundo Monument
The Mitad del Mundo Monument, which is the most visited monument in Ecuador, marks the equator in the country. However, this experience is highly overrated in the opinion of the writer. Although visitors can stand in the middle of the world and climb the trapezoid stone memorial for amazing views of the area, the equator line is actually located a few hundred feet north of the monument. Nonetheless, the monument is still included in the list of things to do in Quito, but the writer advises that there are better ways to spend time in the city.
A few hundred feet from the Mitad del Mundo Monument, you can visit the actual equator line at the Museo de Sitio Intinan for an entrance fee of $4 USD. It’s essential to note that the monument is situated 30 kilometers (18.5 miles) away from the city center of Quito, and there is a $5 USD entry fee. To get there by bus, go to Ofelia Station and take the Mitad del Mundo bus, which will drop you off at the monument’s entrance.
Its best to visit it as a day trip for the convenience sake
Teleferiqo Cable Car
A must-do activity in Quito is taking a trip up the TeleferiQo cable car. This ride takes you over 4,000 meters above sea level on the Pichincha Volcano, providing breathtaking views of the city and sometimes even the Cotopaxi volcano. Once you reach the top, you can take a swing ride for an amazing photo, enjoy a cup of coffee, or even hike to the top of the Pichincha Volcano, which takes about 4 hours and requires preparation for the altitude.
The TeleferiQo operates from 9 am to 7 pm every day, and the admission fee is $8.50 USD for adults and $6.50 for children. To get there, you can take a cab from downtown for a few dollars.
Basílica del Voto Nacional
The Basílica del Voto Nacional is a magnificent cathedral and the biggest neo-gothic basilica across Latin America. Its architecture is flawless and it’s definitely worth a visit on your trip to Quito.
For only $2 USD, you can access both the lower level and the top of the cathedral. Once you reach the top, you will be amazed by the breathtaking views of the city. Visiting this church is not only a budget-friendly activity, but it is also conveniently located in the historic center of Quito.
Mindo Nambillo Cloud Forest Reserve
The Mindo Nambillo Cloud Forest Reserve offers an abundance of opportunities for adventure and is teeming with diverse wildlife. It boasts one of the most concentrated levels of biodiversity in the world.
There are various day trip options available from Quito to explore the Mindo Nambillo Cloud Forest Reserve, including bird watching tours, adventure tours, or a combination of both. The reserve is home to a diverse range of wildlife and offers breathtaking views. Personally, I recommend taking a tour that includes bird watching, adventure activities, and waterfall visits. it’s a great trip from Quito for those who love nature!
Trip to Baños
Baños is often referred to as the adventure capital of Ecuador, yet many people don’t include this remote destination in their itinerary. However, don’t worry if that’s the case for you, as a day trip or overnight trip from Quito is always an option, though spending a few nights there would be ideal.
One option for a day trip is to take a full-day tour to Baños, which includes a visit to Cotopaxi National Park to see the volcano, the swing at the end of the world, and the Devil’s Cauldron waterfall, as well as other stops for ziplining and other activities (not included in the tour price).
For those with more time, a two-day, one-night tour of Baños is a perfect option, as it allows for extra stops and a more thorough introduction to the town.
Although there are so many amazing things to do in Baños, including it in your itinerary is highly recommended!
Secret Garden Hostel in Cotopaxi
The Secret Garden Hostel is a renowned hostel in Quito that strikes a balance between being a party hostel and offering reasonably quiet rooms at night. Moreover, the hostel’s rooftop is amazing and a good reason to stay there. But it is more than just a hostel, it is an experience. Based in the volcano region of Ecuador, the Secret Garden Cotopaxi hostel is surrounded by rolling hills, green pastures and a horizon that is dominated by the majestic Cotopaxi volcano. With no WIFI and limited access to the outside world, the Secret Garden hostel, Cotopaxi has nailed the digital detox revolution. The hostel offers dorm beds, cabanas and an entire house for rent. The hostel is more for young travelers Getting to the hostel is easy with the Secret Garden Quito (their other hostel) shuttle for $5 USD each way.
Day trip to Cotopaxi National Park
Home to the iconic Cotopaxi Volcano, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world and one of Ecuador’s most famous sights. See amazing panoramic views of the famous Cotopaxi Volcano. Breathtaking scenery and nature. If you’re lucky, you’ll have the chance to spot some of the park’s majestic native wildlife. Admire the Cotopaxi volcano and the stunning plateau on which it sits — you might even see wild horses grazing!
Parque Itchimbia is another essential park to visit in Quito, and it offers a stunning view of the city. You can climb a few sets of stairs to reach the park and take in the breathtaking vista. While there, don’t miss the opportunity to see the Palacio de Cristal, a fascinating and unique structure with origins in Germany over 100 years ago. You can even snap a quick photo with the Quito sign!
Within the park, there are 2.4 kilometers of trails to explore and over 400 different species of flowers and 40 bird species to discover. However, it’s recommended to explore in groups as some areas are quite secluded. You can also find local restaurants and street vendors in the park, making it a great spot for a relaxing picnic with a view. While the park is an excellent place to visit at sunset, it’s advised to leave before dark.
There’s no fee to enter the park, except for parking. You can reach Parque Itchimbia on foot from Plaza Grande (1.5 kilometers) or take a cheap Uber from your hotel.
Fuya Fuya Hiking Day Trip
Lagunas de Mojanda is a stunning crater lake located about 2 hours away from Quito. Although it’s not as well-known as Quilotoa Lake, it is equally breathtaking. The lake is approximately 3 kilometers in diameter and was created by the collapse of the Dacite Volcano. One of the best ways to appreciate the scenery is by hiking around the rim, and the most popular trail is Fuya Fuya.
Although the trail to the top is not too long, it’s quite steep, and you need to ascend nearly 2,000 feet. However, once you reach the top, the views of the Andes and the lake below are simply spectacular. This hike is a must-try for those who enjoy trekking!
If you have a car, you can drive to the crater lake and hike the Fuya Fuya trail from there. Note that you can find the starting point of the trail on Maps.me instead of Google Maps.
For those who don’t have a vehicle, you can take a day tour from Quito that includes hiking Fuya Fuya.
Walk the historic center
Quito’s historic center has been recognized by UNESCO as a Cultural Heritage Site due to its well-preserved colonial architecture. It is a safe area to explore, and is often crowded with both locals and tourists. Take your time strolling through the streets, and perhaps find a cozy spot for a meal or coffee.