With over two dozen historic churches, a wide variety of museums and attractions, and a developing foodie culture paying homage to traditional ingredients, Quito is a destination that visitors should not overlook. Read on to know great things to do in Quito, Ecuador.
Great Things to Do in Quito
1. Explore Quito Old Town
Quito’s old town is the city’s historic district. It’s been named a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site because of its relatively unchanged Colonial squares, local shops, restaurants, and colorful architecture along hilly cobblestone streets.
Begin in Plaza Grande where you’ll also find the Presidential Palace. This central square is perfect for pedestrians to explore on foot. From there, walk or use the hop-on-hop-off bus to discover Quito’s museums, churches, and main sights.
2. Hike the Bread Roll
El Panecillo, or “The Bread Roll,” is a small hill overlooking the city. Standing just over 200 meters (656 ft), it offers a beautiful panorama of the city and surrounding mountains. Before the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, it was home to an Inca temple. Today, a massive aluminum statue of the Virgin Mary (known as the Virgin of Quito), built in 1976, towers over the city. Try to arrive early in the morning for the best views (since the altitude is high, and clouds are common).
3. See Plaza de San Francisco
Saint Francis Square is where you’ll find the Church and Convent of St. Francis, the city’s oldest building. It dates to the 1500s and took almost 150 years to be completed. It’s baroque in design and is one of the largest historical structures in Latin America. The plaza itself is huge and makes for a nice place to people-watch. It was built on ancient Incan ruins.
This is one of the great things to do in Quito that you should experience.
4. Visit La Compania de Jesus
Demonstrating the wealth of the powerful Jesuit order in 16th-century Ecuador, La Compania de Jesus is the most impressive church in the country’s capital. Built over 160 years starting in 1605, the structure is best known for its highly decorated interiors. Around half a ton of gold was used to ornament the walls, ceilings, and the church’s 11 altars. In the towering nave, gold leaf, gilded plaster, elaborate mosaics, and wood carvings cover every surface. At the base of the high altar lie the remains of Quito-born Mariana de Jesús de Paredes, Ecuador’s patron saint.
5. Spend time in the Plaza Grande
You could spend an entire day in the Plaza Grande and still not see everything this historic square has to offer. Since the 1600s, royalty, dictators, and presidents have governed the country from the buildings surrounding Plaza Grande. Visitors can tour the presidential palace Carondelet, which has been converted into a museum, and the 16th-century Cathedral of Quito, Ecuador’s oldest Catholic church. The Archbishop’s Palace and Hotel Plaza Grande are open to the public as well. At the center of the plaza stands the Heroes de la Independencia, a moment to those who fought in Ecuador’s war for independence from Spain.
6. Visit the Teleferico
Those with acrophobia take note. For breathtaking views and a nail-biting ride that will leave you on the edge of your seat, stop by the Quito Teleferico. This sky tram is one of the highest aerial lifts in the world. The ride is only 10 minutes, but you will marvel at the views over Quito as it climbs up the side of Volcan Pichincha and comes to rest on top of Cruz Loma.
This is the gateway for more adventures. Visitors can hike, cycle, or enjoy the rides at the amusement park, Vulqano Park, at the base station of Rucu Pichincha. There is also a swing at the top for the ultimate Instagrammable picture.
7. Relax in Parque Metropolitano
This is the largest green space in the city. Spanning over 1,700 acres, the park is home to hiking trails, campsites, bike paths (and rentals), and beautiful cloud forests for hiking and bird-watching. You can easily spend a few hours or an entire day here. Pack a lunch, bring a book and some walking shoes, and bask in the natural beauty and views of the surrounding mountains and landscape.
In conclusion, these are some great things to do in Quito that you can’t miss during your trip.