Quito, the capital and second biggest city of Ecuador, is located in the middle of the Andes. With its 1.9 million inhabitants it stretches around the food of the volcano “Pichincha”. It is the second highest city in the world, about 2800m over the sea, and the oldest one in south America. Its many beautiful churches, parks and sights all promise a very interesting and exciting stay.
The historic center of Quito was the first of its kind to be declared an UNESCO world heritage site. With its beautiful, narrow streets in the colonial style it invites to an afternoon stroll with stops at the many churches and plazas. A church that is definitely worth visiting is “La Compañia de Jesu: Its interior is completely lined with gold, from floor to ceiling. In the direct surrounding, there are many plazas, first of all the “Plaza Grande” with its small park and the presidential palace. The “Plaza del Teatro” is surrounded by picturesque, colourful buildings and the “Café del Teatro” invites to a nice afternoon coffee or lunch break.
“La Ronda” is one of the most beautiful streets found in Quito, especially at night when the numerous cafes and restaurants lure with good, Ecuadorian food and live music. Meet up with friends to spend a night out salsa dancing and drinking Canelazos, or just enjoy the atmosphere and the incredible view on the Panecillo.
If you want to experience a bit of the typical “South-America- Feeling”, than this is the place for you: The huge covered market in the historic center offers everything, from vegetables over an incredible diversity of fruits to seafood and meat. The food stands are a great possibility to try cheap, typical meals of the region and its seemingly chaotic daily life creates an interesting and unique atmosphere.
Quito is a big city, but it also has some nice green areas to take a deep breath and enjoy some diversion from everyday life. The biggest park is the “Parque Metropolitano”. It is mostly covered by forest, crossed by many hiking and biking paths. The “Parque Itchimbia” is located a bit south of the historic center, on the top of a hill. Consequently, it offers and incredible view over the whole city which can be enjoyed with style on the upper class restaurant Pims terrace. Close to “La Casa de la Cultura”, where free concerts and cinematic presentations are held, there is the park “El Ejido” to be found, which is known for its art and handicraft expositions on the weekends.
If you want to go out and just have some fun for a nigh,t this is the place: La Mariscal is the area surrounding “Plaza Foch”, a plaza that is surrounded by bars, discoes and night clubs. This is the more mainstream alternative to “La Ronda” with its many, many tourists and mostly Pop- and Dance music. Most of the hostels are located in this area, as well as most travel agencies.
Mitad del Mundo
The “Middle of the World” describes a point a few kilometers north of Quito where the Equator line runs through. A few years ago, a big monument was built to mark the exact point, but some time later it was discovered that the actual equator line runs a few kilometers away from the monument! Therefore, a second monument was built, together with an interesting museum; this time actually right on the equator.
The volcano “Pichincha” with its almost 5000 meters looms into the sky, right next to the city. From its peak, you have an incredible view onto the whole city. To get there, you can take the “TeleferiQo”, a cable car, up to about 4000 meters. At the top station, different viewpoints offer a great view onto Quito. If you feel up to it, you can also hike the rest of the way up; but remember to bring warm, waterproof clothes, hiking boots and a lot of energy! The ascent takes about 4 hours!