A list of the 10 best things to do in Quito, Ecuador.
Ecuador’s capital city can easily overwhelm travelers on their first day.
From the busy roads full of wild drivers and the constant sound of car horns to the crowded streets packed to the brim with persistent street vendors and pedestrians, Quito is a lot to take in.
Countless restaurants and parks fill every street.
Different museums and churches are scattered around every block.
How does a traveler know where to start in this chaotic city?
Quito has so much to offer in terms of urban beauty and cultural insight. The city itself is even a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
But there are definitely some highlights that can make exploring the city easier.
Here are the ten best things to do in Quito, Ecuador’s amazing capital.
10 Best Things To Do In Quito, Ecuador
1. Tour the Cathedral
When looking at an aerial view of Quito there is one building which stands out above all the rest: Basilica del Voto Nacional.
This massive, ornate cathedral sits on a hill in the Centro Historico, in the south of Quito. It is truly a work of art.
The exterior of the building is crafted in beautiful detail. Whereas the interior is full of religious art and delicate stained glass.
It costs $1 to enter the church and $2 to climb the tall towers for a picturesque view overlooking the city.
2. Enjoy The View From El Panecillo
While wandering around the south of Quito, you may notice a giant silver angel on a hill, faithfully watching over the bustling city.
This 45-meter tall, aluminum statue represents the Virgen de Quito and rests atop the hill named El Panecillo.
Buses and taxis frequently travel up and down the hill for very cheap prices.
I recommend taking public transport because walking up the hill will take you through a dangerous neighborhood.
Upon reaching the top of the hill, you can spend the afternoon marveling at the incredible views and eating at the small sheds of street food.
Read next: 50 Budget Travel Tips
3. Eat Street Food
Speaking of street food, every street corner in Quito hosts a friendly local with a small cart offering some sort of cheap, freshly made food.
You can find everything from assortments of fruits like papaya, watermelon, and banana, to traditional meat and rice dishes, to sweet pastries, to fresh juices and smoothies.
A particularly delicious local dish is Choclo con Queso. This is thick, Ecuadorian corn grilled and slathered in butter, mayonnaise, and cheese.
4. Browse Through San Roque Market
The south of Quito is traditionally poorer than the north of Quito, so it has some less visually-appealing neighborhoods.
But the people of this area are as friendly and welcoming as can be. And the outdoor markets here have incredibly cheap prices.
The San Roque Market lies on a steep street branching off of the main road and is overflowing with fresh produce.
From piles of exotic fruits to massive bowls of nuts to baskets stuffed with bread and pastries, you can buy enough delicious and fresh food to last a week for only a couple dollars.
5. Hang Out In La Foch
For a fun night with a younger crowd, visit the small neighborhood known as La Foch near the center of Quito.
The narrow, stone streets contain more pedestrians than traffic in this part of the city.
So La Foch perfect for strolling around at night and hopping between the endless supply of clubs, bars, and restaurants.
Food of every genre is available here as well. You can find Irish pubs, fast food joints, classic Ecuadorian cuisine, and Asian or Middle-Eastern food.
This area also contains tons of cheap hostels, enticing street art, and unique theme bars and clubs.
So La Foch is ideal for young travelers who love to party.
Visit Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights into Ecuador. I flew from Florida, USA to Quito for only 100 USD!
6. Wander Through El Centro Historico
The Historical Center, or Old Town of Quito, is the best place for sightseeing in the whole city.
The tightly-packed buildings brighten the town with vibrant colors and decorations.
Huge government buildings, magnificent churches, and spacious public squares complement the crowded maze of side streets to create a marvelous center of history, art, and culture.
7. Take A Day Trip to Mitad del Mundo
When in Ecuador, one must visit the Center of the Earth, also known as the Equator.
The line of latitude 00°00’00’’ passes right through the northern Quito.
Blue public buses labeled “Mitad Del Mundo” travel through Quito to the equator every day.
Visit the museum at the center of the earth to learn about the physics of the Equator line and the history of the area’s indigenous cultures.
Other amazing day trips from Quito include the Quilotoa Lagoon, Cotopaxi National Park, and the Cloud Forest of Mindo.
8. Relax In Parque Carolina
Located in central Quito, this gigantic park is perfect for enjoying Ecuador’s warm, sunny weather.
Complete with a skate park, a botanic garden, a kid’s playground, various artistic sculptures, and numerous sports fields, Parque Carolina has something for everyone.
For those who just want to relax, napping in the soft green grass makes for a wonderful escape from the craziness of the city.
9. Visit A Local Craft Market
Though commercialized shops offer many souvenirs, the best place to buy gifts in Quito is a craft market.
Parque El Ejido houses an enormous open-air market full of hand-crafted goods and unique trinkets.
Here you can find weaved clothing, colorful bags and hats, incredible paintings and artwork, chocolate, food, and snacks, coasters, posters, jewelry, maps, shoes, figurines, key chains, and any other type of souvenir imaginable.
Once again, prices are cheap, and the locals are always willing to engage in conversation with confused tourists.
10. Explore The Museums
For a more in-depth education about the history, lifestyle, and culture of Quito and Ecuador, stop by one of Quito’s many museums.
Most museums are located in the Centro Historico, wedged between government palaces and ornate churches.
Quito’s most popular museums are Museo de la Ciudad, Museo Manuela Saenz, and Museo Alberto Mena Caamano.
You can find all of these near each other in the Centro Historico.
This area of Quito has quite a few information booths and tourist offices, which can provide more information on the many attractions in the city.
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That concludes my list of the 10 best things to do in Quito, Ecuador!
I visited Quito while doing a work exchange in Ecuador. Click here to read about my experience!
I used Worldpackers to find a work exchange. Read my Ultimate Guide to Work Exchange to learn more, or visit the Worldpackers website.
Also, I always recommend buying travel insurance before traveling abroad and visiting iVisa.com to check visa requirements for the country you are visiting.
Now that you know the best things to do in Quito, check out my other articles from Ecuador:
11 Best Things To Do In Baños, Ecuador
Ama La Vida: Experiences in Baños, Ecuador
Mindo, Ecuador: My Volunteering Experience
Volunteering in Ecuador: My First Volunteer Experience!
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