Quito is the starting point for exploring all the wonders Ecuador has to offer. Explore its Historic Centre, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, its charming colonial streets, stunning views from the mountain peaks and its exquisite gastronomy. This is what makes it a must-visit destination for all passionate travellers.
Quito is also the starting point for a visit to the famous Galápagos Islands and the magical Ecuadorian Amazon. Below, we’ll let you in on some of the activities you can enjoy if you’re planning to spend 3 days in the Capital of the Middle of the World.
Day 1 - Historic Centre, heritage and culture
Start with a visit to Quito’s Historic Centre and immerse yourself in local culture. Here you’ll find the Compañía de Jesús Church, considered “South America’s Baroque Jewel”, which is impressive for its glorious architecture and splendour, as it’s covered in gold leaf.
Continue on to the Catedral Metropolitana, home to emblematic works of art such as The Last Supper and The Adoration of the Kings, where you can head up into its domes for a panoramic view of the Plaza de la Independencia and a great photo opportunity. La Basílica del Voto Nacional is another must-see. At almost 100 metres tall, this is one of the country’s most impressive churches.
For a spot of lunch in the Historic Centre, we’d recommend restaurants such as San Ignacio or Achiote, which offer an unforgettable cultural experience and exquisite Ecuadorian dishes.
Sunset is the perfect time to visit the TelefériQo, located in the foothills of Rucu Pichincha. The trip on this aerial lift takes 10 minutes and reaches 4,053 metres above sea level, with unbeatable views of the city.
End the day at Nuema, an avant-garde restaurant that explores the country’s four regions with its innovative dishes.
Day 2 - Middle of the World (Mitad del Mundo)
Kick off your second day in the Ecuadorian capital with a visit to Yunguilla, a community located in the Chocó Andino. In these mega diverse surroundings, you’ll be able to observe the productive and sustainable activities undertaken in the area, including organic allotments and small dairy factories.
Continue the day in the Middle of the World (Mitad del Mundo), where you’ll be able to experience 0 degrees latitude and set foot in both hemispheres at the same time. As well as observing the monument and delving into all the tales about the equator, you’ll be able to visit museums, dine at traditional restaurants and go shopping for typical handmade goods.
The Intiñán Museum is perfect for a family visit, with plenty of fun physics experiments that will prove you’re in 0 degrees latitude. You’ll be able to see an egg perfectly balanced on the head of a nail, or how water flows in opposite directions depending on which hemisphere you’re in.
Grab lunch at Santana Tasting Lounge. This restaurant offers national contemporary dishes which make for the perfect pairing with the famous beers made by the Santana Brewing Company.
Head back to the city to discover La Mariscal, a centenary neighbourhood with history, culture and architecture, showing Quito as a benchmark city, as well as being cosmopolitan for its range of leisure, cultural, academic, artisan and accommodation establishments.
Enjoy dinner at Tributo, a restaurant included on the list of the 101 World’s Best Steak, which places Ecuador high up in the rankings for its ‘Vaca Vieja Andina’.
Day 3 - Panoramic Quito and its traditional neighbourhoods
A trip up the Panecillo and a look out over sprawling Quito from above is a must during a trip to the city. The Panecillo mountain divides the city, and its peak is home to a representation of the iconic winged virgin, with intriguing detailing such as a snake, the world and a crown. The southern part also boasts a small viewpoint from which you’ll be able to observe several of the peaks and volcanoes in the mountain range.
Later on, head to the colonial neighbourhood of La Ronda, with narrow, cobbled streets, wooden balconies and old colonial houses that will transport you to a different period. This is the perfect time to continue tasting the traditional cuisine, made up of dishes such as Locro (a kind of thick squash stew), seco de chivo (goat stew), fritada (slow-cooked pork), and delicious sweet treats such as quesadillas (sweet pastries), mistelas (traditional sweets) and more.
San Marcos, the most bohemian neighbourhood in the Historic Centre, is the perfect end to your visit. You’ll be able to explore art galleries and workshops that show off the talent of local craftspeople, as well as wandering along its picturesque streets, admiring the colonial houses that make this a particularly charming stop.
Quito has endless places to discover, but if your trip to Ecuador only allows for a short visit to the city, follow this 3 day guide for an impressive whistle-stop tour and a great excuse to come back!