"A city among volcanoes" Top 5 Page for this destination Quito by toonsarah

Quito Travel Guide: 1,138 reviews and 3,192 photos

Santo Domingo from our hotel

Quito for me will forever be defined by its dramatic location. Squeezed between two volcanic Andean ranges, its streets continually wind up and dip down, leaving you giddy at times. Or maybe that giddiness is due to the altitude - at 2,800 metres above sea level, Quito can claim to be the highest capital city in the world.

We spent four nights here at the start of our trip to Ecuador, a couple more between tours to various places in the north, and two more at the end of the trip. I grew to really like the city, and especially the contrast between its traffic-filled, somewhat manic newer areas and the colonial quarter at its heart.

The old colonial quarter is near Quito?s centre, at the foot of the small hill known as El Panecillo , from where the Virgin of Quito watches over the city. The modern city stretches both north and south from here, with the northern part being more affluent and containing the museums, shops, hotels, bars and restaurants most likely to attract visitors. Most choose to stay here, but we opted for a hotel in the colonial old town, which, though lacking the vibrant nightlife of the Mariscal district to its north, had a charm that appealed to us much more.

We spent most of our time here in the city?s colonial heart, which was one of the first two places in the world to be listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site (the other was Krakow in Poland). We visited many of its churches, people-watched in its attractive plazas, wandered its streets and ate in its restaurants at night.

But we did venture further afield at times. We were lucky enough to have friends in the city, or rather, the parents of a London friend, who had offered to spend time with us and introduce us to some parts of the city that they especially thought we would like. So with Betty and Marcello we enjoyed the views from El Panecillo, visited the Basilica and the Fundacion Guayasamin, shopped in the market and toured some of the outlying districts.

We also had some tours outside the city including a day trip to Otavalo, famous for its market and to the Mitad del Mundo monument which marks the line of the Equator; an overnight tour to Cotapaxi and Quilotoa, and another overnight stay at the lovely Termes de Papallacta.

But each time when we returned to our base in Quito, we felt we were coming home, and that for me is a sign of the city?s warm personality and rather special character. A place I am very glad to have visited.

I have linked these tips in an order that made sense to me (!), loosely based on moving in concentric circles out from the colonial heart of the city to its newer parts and beyond. So please start your tour with me with an overview of the city.

Pros and Cons
  • In a nutshell:A city that will grow on you
  • Last visit to Quito: Nov 2012
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (45)

Comments (11)

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Oct 12, 2015 at 2:08 AM

    Hello, Sarah! I enjoyed reading this page about your experience in Quito...It seems as if I have paid a visit to this interesting city...Thanks for enlightening us on this amazing destination!

  • Dabs's Profile Photo
    May 5, 2014 at 6:34 PM

    My trip will be here really soon, a little more than 2 weeks! I thought I should get on reading up on Quito :-)

    • toonsarah's Profile Photo
      May 6, 2014 at 1:22 AM

      Gosh, so soon?! You're going to love Quito I know. Do let me know if you have any questions :-)

    • Dabs's Profile Photo
      May 6, 2014 at 7:06 AM

      Yes, so soon! I got a little freaked out last night when I realized how close it was!

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo
    Apr 10, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    Loved the flow of the page with breaks to eat in between the sightseeing. Great idea. Nice to finally see some of what you did in Ecuador. I remember talking about it what seems not so long ago but I can see that it really was now. Great stuff.

    • toonsarah's Profile Photo
      Apr 11, 2014 at 1:16 AM

      Thanks Richie - I really liked Quito and hoped to do it justice here :-) And thanks too for all the pre-trip advice!

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Mar 25, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    What a wonderful tour I've had! Love the Churches you saw, the architecture in this city, the views and the markets. Good food and Restaurants too! Sounds like you had a great time!

    • toonsarah's Profile Photo
      Mar 25, 2013 at 12:55 PM

      We loved our time in Quito, and there's so much to see we could easily have stayed twice as long! Thanks for visiting with me Dee :-)

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Mar 2, 2013 at 4:18 AM

    Thank you dear Sarah for a fascinating morning read :-)) I understand why you liked Quito so much. So colourful, so "Latin" :-)) I am extremely hungry now and would not mind to have a freshly squeezed fruit juice :-))

    • toonsarah's Profile Photo
      Mar 2, 2013 at 4:40 AM

      Thank you for spending your morning in Quito with me :-) Oh yes, those juices ... :-)

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Jan 27, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    Another great page!

  • Jan 12, 2013 at 9:59 PM

    well worth the wait mrs toon! some really helpful info, and some points duly noted. i really do love the old colonial districts that most of south america's cities have. i definitely wont be missing quito's old town either! x

    • toonsarah's Profile Photo
      Jan 13, 2013 at 3:04 AM

      The old colonial part is definitely the most attractive :-) But it's good to see some of the rest too, for contrast, and to get an idea of the size of the city! You're going to love it I'm sure :-)

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Jan 12, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    Wonderful page about Quito, and lovely view from your hotel. I love Quito and I'm happy I will visit again this year.

    • toonsarah's Profile Photo
      Jan 13, 2013 at 3:04 AM

      Thank you Malena - high praise from the VT Quito expert ;-)

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Jan 12, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    A great new page about Quito!

  • Regina1965's Profile Photo
    Jan 12, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    Wow, you have been busy, Sarah :) I think you are adding more tips as I read them. Chris has become quite the VT-model :) Fantastic page!

    • toonsarah's Profile Photo
      Jan 13, 2013 at 3:05 AM

      Thank you Regina. Yes, there do seem to be quite a few photos of Chris here! No more tips left to add here now - onwards to other pages ...!


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