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21 things to do in Quito, Ecuador

You landed in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, the city in Latin America with the best-preserved historic center. This distinction allowed it to become one of the first cities, alongside Krakow, to be declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. However, there are many more things to do in Quito than just a visiting a beautiful old town. This city is brimming with history and culture, making it the perfect first stop if you're traveling to Ecuador.

Quito stands out for its parks, its volcanic surroundings, its museums, its incredible viewpoints, and its gastronomy, which you can savor in a wide variety of stalls and restaurants. Don't miss trying the encebollados, bolones de verde, or locro de papas. If you don't want to miss the best of this city, keep reading and discover the 20 best things to do in Quito.

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Where to stay in Quito, Ecuador

things to do in Quito, Ecuador
Quito, Ecuador

In Quito, you’ll find several neighborhoods to stay in. Some stand out for their charm and welcoming atmosphere. One of the best areas to sleep in Quito is La Floresta, a lovely neighborhood located near the historic center and known for its array of restaurants, bars, and cafes, as well as its street art. Another popular place to stay is the La Mariscal neighborhood, renowned as the party zone for its vibrant nightlife and numerous museums and art galleries.

You can also choose to stay in the La Carolina neighborhood, which offers ample green spaces, along with a wide variety of shops and restaurants. The historic center can be a good option too, especially if you’re planning a quick visit to the city, although it may not have as much nightlife.

Recommended hotels in Quito

Here are some recommended accommodations for different budgets in the neighborhoods I mentioned:

Things to do in Quito

Ready to get to know the 20 best places to visit in Quito? Let’s get started!

1. Quito’s historic center, the best preserved in Latin America

Quito's historic center
Historic center

Strolling through Quito’s historic center is truly an experience. Later on, I will mention several places you shouldn’t miss in this part of the Ecuadorian city, but for now, I recommend you get lost in its streets, observe local life, and enjoy the beauty of the historic buildings.

If you’d like to take a guided tour, I recommend this tour of Quito’s historic center. It’s one of the best-guided tours in Quito. By the way, did you know that this is the best-preserved historic center in Latin America?

2. Quito Cable Car, you’ll see the city from high above

One of the most fun and unique activities to do in Quito is to take a ride on the cable car. It will take you to the top of Cruz Loma Hill, located at an altitude of over 4,000 meters, from where you can enjoy incredible views of the city. From there, you can also engage in various activities such as hiking, cycling, climbing, and more.

One of the most popular trekking routes is the one that leads to the summit of Rucu Pichincha (which takes about 4-5 hours). The entrance fee is $9.

🏥 Remember, it’s highly important to purchase travel insurance for Ecuador if you don’t already have medical coverage in the destination. I personally use and recommend HeyMondo, where I can offer you a 5% discount on your next travel insurance policy.

3. Basilica of the National Vow, one of the most beautiful places to visit in Quito

Basilica del National Vow
Basilica of the National Vow

One of the places in Quito that impressed me the most was the Basilica of the National Vow. Both the magnitude and the beauty of its exterior will make this neogothic-style religious building hard to miss. Built between 1887 and 1924, it is considered the largest neogothic temple in America and the tallest religious building in Hispano-America.

It was designed by the French architect Emilio Tarlier, who was inspired by the Notre Dame in Paris to create the basilica. You can climb one of the towers for $2. You’ll be fascinated by the view.

4. Itchimbia Park, stunning views

things to do in Quito
Itchimbia Park

After talking about the Basilica of the National Vowl, I can’t help but mention Itchimbía Park. From here, you’ll not only have beautiful views of the city but you can also appreciate one of the most beautiful postcards with the basilica as the main feature. Additionally, the park is perfect for taking a stroll and mingling with the locals. You’ll be intrigued by the glass palace, which houses the Itchimbía Cultural Center.

5. The Virgin of El Panecillo, a must-see in Quito

The Virgin of El Panecillo
The Virgin of El Panecillo

Another one of the popular things to do in Quito, which is a must-see on a city tour, is El Panecillo, a hill standing at 3,000 meters above sea level located right in the city. It is crowned by a massive aluminum sculpture of the Virgin of Quito, also known as the Virgin of El Panecillo. This statue reaches a height of 41 meters, making it one of the tallest statues in South America. If you want to get a bird’s-eye view of the city, this is another excellent place to do so.

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6. Independence Square, the city’s main square

things to do in Quito
Historic center of Quito

We return to the historic center, specifically to Independence Square, which is the main square of Quito, also known as Plaza Grande. It serves as the political and historical heart of Ecuador. The square features several gardens and benches, with the Monument to Independence at its center.

Surrounding the square, you’ll find the Archbishop’s Palace, Carondelet Palace, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Quito, and the Municipal Palace of Quito. By the way, every Monday at 11 am, the changing of the guard is held.

7. Visit the Middle of the World City, between two hemispheres

Middle of the World City
Middle of the World City

Would you like to stand between two hemispheres? Then head to the Equatorial Monument, the main attraction at the Middle of the World. This place is supposed to be located on the latitude 0; however, modern GPS devices mark it 240 meters south of the true equator. Oops! It’s one of Quito’s most touristy attractions, but if you don’t have many days in the capital, I wouldn’t recommend going, as it’s somewhat far (30 kilometers from the historic center).

If you prefer, you can book a tour to the Middle of the World, where they also handle transportation and provide a tour guide.

8. La Carolina Park, one of the best things to do in Quito

La Carolina Park
La Carolina Park

One of my favorite places in Quito was this park located in the Iñaquito area, the city’s financial center. To be honest, I’ve lost count of the number of times we visited La Carolina Park. Why did I like it so much? Because of its spaciousness, its tree-lined paths, the myriad activities it offers, its atmosphere…

Two of the most interesting spots in the park are the Botanical Garden and La Carolina Park Lagoon, where you can rent paddleboats for a pleasant ride. We also enjoyed the skate park. There are many food stalls. The most popular dish is the “ceviche de chocho.” Yes, you read that right! I recommend going on the weekend because it’s full of locals, and the atmosphere is incredible.

9. Church of Santo Domingo

Church of Santo Domingo
Church of Santo Domingo

Another place that cannot be missed in your tour of the city’s historic center is Santo Domingo Square and the Church of Santo Domingo Church, whose construction began in the year 1540. In the center of the square, there is a monument to Marshal Antonio José de Sucre.

10. La Ronda Street, the most beautiful street in Quito

La Ronda Street
La Ronda Street

If there’s one street you can’t miss due to its magic and beauty, it’s La Ronda Street. It’s a pedestrian street located in the old town, with buildings featuring colorful facades adorned with numerous flowered balconies. Many of these places are cafes.

I recommend getting a table on one of the balconies and enjoying a canelazo, a typical Ecuadorian drink, while soaking in the incredible atmosphere of this charming street. There is usually live music. Don’t miss Casa 707 and La Ronda Arts Center.

11. Going out in Foch Square, located in the La Mariscal neighborhood

Foch Square
Foch Square

If you’re looking for a place with a lively atmosphere to go out at night or simply take a stroll, I recommend visiting Foch Square and its surrounding areas. Bars, restaurants, clubs… This part of the city has all the ingredients for a great night of fun. In fact, going out in this area is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Quito.

12. Capilla del Hombre (The Chapel of Man), for art lovers

If you’re in the mood for a museum visit, don’t miss The Chapel of Man in the Bellavista neighborhood. It’s an art museum built through the initiative of Oswaldo Guayasamín, Ecuador’s most famous painter. The museum’s purpose is to pay tribute to humanity, reflecting its pain, tenderness, anger, protest, and dreams.

You’ll have the opportunity to see some of his best works, learn about the artist’s life, and observe pre-Columbian archaeological pieces. Admission is $10, and you can purchase your ticket to The Chapel of Man in advance.

13. Metropolitan Park Guangüiltagua, Quito’s green lung

Metropolitan Park Guangüiltagua
Metropolitan Park Guangüiltagua

If you want to enjoy nature without leaving the city, I recommend Metropolitan Park Guangüiltagua, Quito’s green lung. It’s a vast park, precisely 557 hectares, situated in the northern part of the metropolis. The park is filled with tree-covered trails, making it an ideal place for some exercise. One of the most popular activities is having a picnic in the designated areas.

14. Tasting traditional Ecuadorian food is a must – you’ll love it!

Since you’re in the capital, where there are plenty of culinary options, take the opportunity to try local cuisine. Among the most typical dishes in the country are encebollado, bolón de verde, locro de papa, pescado encocado, shrimp ceviche, mote pillo, grilled guinea pig, and more.

One of the best places to taste authentic Ecuadorian food is local restaurants. You can find many of them in the central market. For around $2.5, you can enjoy a daily menu consisting of soup, a main course, and juice.

15. Church of the Society of Jesus, don’t miss its interior

things to do in Quito
Church of the Society of Jesus

Another of the churches to see in Quito is the Church of the Society of Jesus, located in the historic center. In fact, it’s the church that receives the most tourists each year. This is because both its exterior and interior are a true spectacle.

Its facade, carved in volcanic stone, is considered the greatest expression of baroque architecture in Latin America, also standing out globally. On the other hand, all the interior ornamentation of the church is covered in gold. 

You can purchase the church’s entrance ticket here in advance.

16. San Francisco Square

Since we’re in Quito’s historic center, I recommend visiting San Francisco Square as well. Here you’ll find the largest architectural complex in the historic centers of America, The Church of San Francisco. This religious building covers a total area of 3.5 hectares and includes 13 cloisters. It also houses 3,500 artistic pieces from the colonial era and a Franciscan library.

17. Best museums to visit in Quito

In addition to the previously mentioned The Chapel of Man, Quito has many other museums with various themes. If you encounter a rainy day or are a lover of history, art, or culture, any of the following museums are a perfect thing to do in Quito:

  • Temple of the Sun Museum.
  • Museum of the City.
  • Agora.
  • Contemporary Art Center.
  • Pre-Columbian Art Museum (Casa del Alabado).
  • Intiñán Solar Museum.
  • National Museum of Ecuador.
  • Yaku Water Museum.
  • Interactive Science Museum.

18. El Ejido Park

Another frequently visited park in the city is El Ejido Park, located in the center of Quito. This park features a library, an artisan market, and, on weekends, a gallery where artists display their works. You’ll find numerous trees, pathways, and fountains in the park.

It’s also worth noting the La Circasiana Gate, built in 1908 and standing at 7.5 meters tall. It’s an ideal place to take a break during your visit to Quito and observe local life.

19. La Alameda Park

I already mentioned in the introduction of this article that Quito stands out for its parks, and the city has a lot of them. Here’s my last recommendation regarding parks, La Alameda Park. It’s home to the Quito Astronomical Observatory, which is a fascinating place to visit.

But that’s not all. The park also houses the El Churo de la Alameda viewpoint and an artificial lagoon that you can explore by boat.

20. Explore the street art of La Floresta neighborhood

During your visit to the city, you can’t miss exploring the La Floresta neighborhood and its spectacular street art. This colorful neighborhood is one of the most iconic in the city. Here, you can stroll through its streets while discovering impressive murals filled with color and creativity.

In addition to its urban art, La Floresta is famous for its cafes and restaurants that offer delicious gastronomic options and a relaxed atmosphere. It’s also a meeting place for local artists, musicians, and writers, making the visit even more interesting.

21. Best day trips from Quito


If this list of things to do in Quito isn’t enough for you, here are some of the top day trips from Quito. The truth is that the Ecuadorian capital has a perfect location for excursions, as there are many incredible places to visit in its vicinity. Here are some of the best:

Map of things to do in Quito, Ecuador

Below, I’ll share a map of Quito (Ecuador) with all the places I have mentioned marked, to make it easier for you to plan your visit to the city. You will also find the recommended hotels marked, along with their respective Booking links.

💳 To get US dollars or make card payments at your destination, I recommend getting a Revolut card. It allows you to withdraw money from ATMs without incurring additional fees. It’s a better option than exchanging money!

Don’t miss my Ecuador travel guide to get all the information about the country.

I hope this article about 21 things to do in Quito, Ecuador has been helpful in planning your trip to the capital of Ecuador. If you have any more questions or would like to share your travel experiences, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. Until next time!

↠ Book free tours and guided visits on Civitatis or GetYourGuide. I always use these platforms to check what organized activities there are at my destination.

↠ To pay with card in foreign currency or withdraw money from ATMs, I always use this card (there are free and paid plans). It works the best!

↠ Traveling with travel insurance to a destination where you don’t have healthcare coverage is a must. Get your insurance 5% cheaper with this link.

↠ If you want to have cellphone data at your destination from the moment you land and don’t want to waste time, there is nothing like this eSIM. Use the code “comeamaviaja” for a 5% discount.

↠ Check out Booking’s offers, a platform I always use, as I always find very good options thanks to its search engine with filters.

↠ For destinations where I need to rent a car, I always check Discover Cars and Auto Europe search engines. I recommend them!

↠ If you still need to buy flights for your trip, there is no better search engine than Skyscanner (although I always recommend booking the flight on the company’s website).

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