What to do in Quito
Ecuador, this country has some of the most beautiful landscapes in Latin America, thanks to its tropical weather that allows for great biodiversity. You probably associate the name of the country to the equator, the imaginary line that divides the world into the northern and southern hemispheres. Since this parallel goes through the country, Ecuador is actually part of both hemispheres at the same time. The capital is San Francisco de Quito, normally referred to as Quito, and considered one of the most important cities in Latin America. It has a formidable cultural value, and traces of the colonial times are to be found everywhere. Here we will give you some guidelines if you’re not sure of what to do in this city.
Before we start, in this link you’ll find a few walking tours around Quito.
Independence, Major or Main Square (Plaza Independencia – Plaza Mayor – Plaza Grande)
As of course the name indicates, this is the most important square in Quito, located in the historical city centre. Originally, around the XVI century, this was only an area with rammed earth constructions. Today is surrounded by some of the most important buildings in the city: the Carondelet Palace, the Archiepiscopal Palace, the Municipal Palace, the Pizarro Palace (Plaza Grande Hotel), the Mayor’s House, the Palace of the Metropolitan Curia, the Metropolitan Cathedral. In the centre of the square there’s an obelisk in which some of the main patriotic symbols are shown.
Basilica of the National Vow (Basílica del Voto Nacional)
This is one of the most impressive neogothic buildings you’ll find around here. The central nave is 140m long! (460 feet), which is about two blocks. It’s 35m (115 feet) wide and 30m (98 feet) high. At the crossing, you reach a height of 74m (243 feet), and on the main façade the two towers grow up to 115m (377 feet). Inside, the stained glass produces a powerful effect. You absolutely must climb up to the lookout point, which is open every day of the week from 9am to 5pm. The price to access is 2 USD (Year 2020 – The dollar is the official currency in Ecuador). An interesting detail is that the gargoyles represent native animals, such as owls, sharks and iguanas, among others.
Itchimbía park lookout point
Great place to enjoy a beautiful sunrise or sunset, your choice. It’s pretty close to the city centre, and the access is free of charge every day, between 5am and 5pm. If you need some directions, you can get more information through this link, indicating your starting point
Middle of the World City (Ciudad Mitad del Mundo)
This monument was done to show the exact location where the equator line crosses. Built between 1979-1982, it reaches a height of 30m (98 feet). Ironically, it was believed that the line was there, information that was later corrected at the end of the 20th century. The ticket costs 5 USD (Year 2020), and it’s located about 12km towards the north from Quito (7.5 miles), it takes about 40 minutes to get there. If you’re feeling insecure about your weight, remember that when visiting this place, you’re as far away as you can be from the Earth’s centre of gravity, so your weight drops a little (1 kilo, 2.20 pounds), so after the visit make sure to treat yourself with whatever you want to eat! It’s also easier to balance an egg on a nail, a popular experiment related to the Coriolis effect.
Reserva de Pahuma
This natural reserve is fairly close, about 50min-1 hour away. It’s a botanical garden, very important for the area, filled with beautiful orchids marking the way through the trails, and plenty of activities: rappel, taking a bath in the waterfalls. To get there, from Mitad del Mundo you can take the Calacali-La Independencia route, it’s a distance of approximately 43km (27 miles).
If you like walking, go to La Ronda Street, it’s a very relaxed environment to enjoy the colours and traditions of the city. It’s the bohemian street in Quito.
Map of Atractions