"¡Bienvenidos a Quito!" Quito by tejanasueca

Quito Travel Guide: 1,075 reviews and 2,921 photos

The city of Quito (pop. 1.5million), capital of Ecuador and the country's second largest city (Guayaquil is the largest), stretches along a large valley, surrounded by volcanoes. The combination of the city's proximity to the equator (a few kilometers north of the city) and its high altitude (2850m/9000ft.) ensures a spring like climate year around. Most days you can count on a sunny morning, with clouds and light showers by the afternoon. Due to its location crammed in the valley between huge mountain ranges, the capital of Ecuador stretches across approximately 45 kilometers from North to South but is only 8 kilometers wide from East to West. This makes it very hard to get lost in the city, just always remember that the Pinchincha Volcano is to the west.

Built on the slopes of the Pichincha Volcano, the city is located in exactly the same place as the old capital of Shyris, and ancient people who fought off the Incas for over 17 years. While all travel guides advice you that on clear day, it is also possible to see the volcanoes Cotopaxi, Cayambe, and Antisana, in the background, I have spent plenty of time in Quito and have only able to kind of see Cotopaxi on very few occasions. Your best bet to see the volcanoes is probably to visit the Panecillo or the Basilica during the morning hours. Despite this, the view and the atmosphere in the city are phenomenal. In South America, Quito is my home away from home! (I've been here 3 times already....and is currently planning my next trip...)

Orientation

Roughly, Quito can be divided into three parts: the poorer southern part, the historical center, and the richer northern part. As a tourist, it is advisable to stay to the north of historical Quito, and while you visit the historical downtown, be very cautions of pock-picketers. Essentially, do not go further south than a few blocks north of the Panecillo (read about the Panecillo under "Dangers and Warnings"). If you have to go to Terminal Terrestre to catch a bus, it is advisable to take a cab from historical downtown.

Historical Quito, or Colonial Quito, is one of the best preserved colonial areas in South America and is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. While up until a few years ago, this area was very dangerous, new policies have made it much securer for the tourist (however, be aware of pickpoketers, even during the day, though). Just north of Colonial Quito lies the area Mariscal, nicknamed Gringolandia, as this is where most hostels, tourist shops, internet cafés, restaurants, bars, etc. are located. Essentially, this is were the backpacking ground (and some other tourists) hang out. The area is fairly safe, but be careful if you head home late from the bar. Don't go by yourself, and if you have had too much to drink, it's worth taking a cab just a few blocks even if you are in a group (Trust me! It's worth it!).

North of Gringolandia, you will be able to find big parks and North American like shopping malls, where everything is just as expensive, or even more expensive, than in the USA. The airport is also located in the northern part of Quito. If you arrive in Quito without knowing where you will stay, simply get a cab and go to Mariscal (Gringolandia); it will only be a 5-10 min ride and will only set you back about $4 (USD is the official currency in Ecuador).

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!!!!!!
  • Cons:Hmmmm....hard to think of any...but like in all of Latin America...look after your belongings...
  • In a nutshell:A mixture of old and new ontop of the Andes
  • Last visit to Quito: Apr 2006
  • Intro Updated Apr 22, 2006
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