Elegantly fusing colonial charm, architectural gems and modern city life, Quito is as diverse as it is ornate; helped no end by its dramatic Andean setting.
Flanked by snow-capped volcanoes and verdant peaks, Quito sits at 2,800 metres above sea level, making it one of the highest cities in South America. With a rich colonial past and connection with Ecuador’s indigenous heritage, Quito is awash with ethnic markets, historical plazas, tight ancient streets and well-weathered buildings, many of which are now comfortable, luxury hotels.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site which is Quito’s old town is certainly the jewel in the capital’s crown, with many believing it to be the best-preserved historic centre in Latin America as well as a fully thriving neighbourhood to this day. Here, you can find crowded thoroughfares, ethnic eateries and typically Ecuadorian market stands selling all manner of locally produced goods. Meanwhile, the monasteries of San Francisco, Santo Domingo, and the Church of La Compañía are just some of our favourite examples of the Spanish, Italian, Moorish, Flemish and indigenous artistic fusion which characterises this city.
Unlike many capitals, it is easy to escape the hustle and bustle thanks to the undulating land the capital was built on, offering numerous lookout points across this picturesque and captivating city. For nature lovers, a trip northwest of the capital leads to pristine cloud forest reserves. This vast, unique habitat is home to a wide array of flora and fauna which have adapted to the changing climate associated with the high altitude. The region is also perfect for hiking, biking and rafting, as well as the more relaxed nature walks and birdwatching you would expect here.
Take a tour of the Old Town
Quito’s historical centre is undoubtedly one of the architectural and cultural gems in all of South America. At every turn, it is easy to see why the Old Town has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site for many years. With no end of places of interest, plazas, monuments, ancient churches and more, Quito's enviable backdrop of scenic mountains to all of this history makes for a truly unique setting for this experience.
The TelefériQo hanging gondolas
Starting at a height of 3,000m, and rising to over 4,000m above sea level, the TelefériQo gondolas are the highest of their type anywhere in South America. Quito and its surrounds are well-known as one of the most beautiful and perfectly located capitals anywhere in the world. So, what better way to enjoy the views offered by the city than from above, in the comfort of a gliding gondola?
Biking trails, tree-lined forest walks, and fantastic views across Quito; the Parque Metropolitano offers a welcome change from the urban swell of the city centre. The park itself is an expanse of well-maintained, wooded grassland, covering one of the hills overlooking the capital, making for the perfect place to hike or picnic if looking to escape the city for a couple of hours!