10 reasons to visit Quito
Quito was the first capital city to be named a World Heritage site by UNESCO and recognized for the second consecutive year as “Best Leading Destination in South America” by the World Travel Awards (2013 & 2014). This city will amuse visitors with its cultural and natural wonders.
There are many reasons to visit Quito; we will enumerate 10 of the “must do & see” in this wonderful destination.
Quito in the Middle of the World
Quito is the capital city located closest to the sun with its 9,350 feet above the sea level, and is also the only place in the world where you can put one foot in the North Pole and the other one in the South Pole… at the same time! You can feel the pure energy of the center of the world while you walk the Equatorial line, which is an imaginary line, drawn by the Geodesic French Mission in the 18th century which determined Latitude 0°0’0’’. This privileged geographic location gives Quito over the top virtues that are easy to notice in its weather and its natural richness.
Its wonderful Centro Historico
Discover the impressiveness of the historic center, considered the biggest and the best conserved of all Latin America. This is the jewel that made Quito in the first capital city to be named a World Heritage site by UNESCO. In this place you will find the history of the city in its most recognized sites: La Compañía de Jesús, top work of the Baroque period in the Americas; La Plaza Grande as the heart of important historic deeds that relates Quito´s and Ecuador´s history; go through the religious complex of San Francisco; also stroll at La Ronda, a street that keeps its charm with the diverse workshops and traditional trade.
The Centro Historico is not only a great museum, it is a dynamic place that merges the daily life of its inhabitants, traders, religious people and public servants with visitors from all over the world.
The flavors of Quito´s cuisine deserve to be savored by every good traveler. Traditional dishes of the city are mestizos (a mix of pre-Columbian and Spanish), Andean and Iberian: locro de papas, seco de chivo, fritada, empanadas, envuelto (wraps: corn dough wrapped in leafs and cooked in steam), aji sauce, fruit juice and paila ice cream, are some of the dishes that you cannot miss while you visit this city. Enjoy this menu in high-end restaurants and typical flea markets.Of course, Quito offers the flavors of the world in various restaurants that will satisfy all your cravings, and vegetarian dishes cannot be left behind.
The people and its workshops
During the Spanish colony, Quito was an important cultural and artistic center, this virtue has been maintained through the time. Today, it is common to find artisans that preserve their trade: traditional hairdressers, tailors, hat crafters, herbalists, among artists like Oswaldo Viteri, Oswaldo Guayasamín, Luigi Stonornaiolo or Eduardo Kingman which have workshops that are open to the public with the owners available to teach visitors more about their work and their life.
Museums, theaters and cultural centers
Quito has many places that relate stories and realities of other times, besides promoting the culture by temporary and permanent expositions, theater, music and movies performances. The City Museum, “El Alabado” House Museum (with an extraordinary colection of pre-Columbian art), the Wax Museum, the Sucre Theater, Contemporary Art Center and the House of Music are some of the “must see” places. And of course the site museums in the surroundings such as Tulipe, Rumipamba and La Florida; and for the kids there are also spaces and activities such as Yaku Park Water Museum, the Interactive and Cience Museum and the Train Museum.
When you visit The Mariscal, La Floresta, Guapulo or La Carolina neighborhoods, you will find yourself immersed in various options of restaurants, coffee shops, bars and nightclubs. You will find music, local and international gastronomy, party and overall, the so characteristic of Quito´s entertainment.
Take a tour in Train
From the popular Chimbacalle neighborhood, to the south of the city, set forth on what was once described as “the toughest railroad of the world.” Today this heritage has been converted into a touristic train. Ecuador connects the Costa and the Andes with this impressive work of engineering from the beginning of the 20th century. Visit the station, its museum and ride this great adventure.
If shopping is you passion, this city is ideal. In Quito you will find a wide variety of options for every taste and budget. From modern shopping malls such as “El Quicentro Shopping” or mall “El Jardín” with local and international renowned brands. In La Floresta or La Mariscal neighborhood, you will find stores and galleries with contemporary design; in the Centro Historico you will find specialized art craft stores such as “El Quinde”. For art shopping, Quito is your destination. On weekends at “El Ejido” park you will find paintings, sculptures and more. At “La Mariscal”you will find the perfect place for galleries and antiques shops.
Paramo and the Cloudy Forest
Just an hours trip, you can enjoy of different activities available in farms nested at Los Andes paramos. Some of the activities are: hot spring waters, horseback riding, hiking, agrotourism and much more.
In the north-western zone, you can discover the beauty and the richness of the Cloudy Forest, a real paradise for birdwatching. More than 500 species live here, where the quinde or hummingbirds stand out, always with the opportunity of sightseeing the Spectacled bear, or the Andean bear, a unique South America specie.
Close to everything
Quito is the departure point for Ecuador’s main tourist destinations because of its strategic location and well developed tourist infrastructure. Quito is an ideal place from which to start a trip. You can depart from here to the Pacific Coast with beaches, fisherman´s towns and great gastronomy. To Los Andes with the path of volcanoes that amused Alexander Von Humboldt. To the Amazonia with all its magic and extraordinary vegetation that gives home to ancestral towns. And to the Galapagos Islands, a unique place in the world that relates the evolution of the species where Charles Darwin supported his evolution theory.