It’s never easy choosing the highlights, but here are some of the best things to do in and around Quito, so get out of the hostel and enjoy…
1. Do not go to Baños or Quilotoa until you’ve been to The Secret Garden Cotopaxi. Cotopaxi is on the way to Quilotoa and Baños and we have a shuttle leaving here at 10 am every day. More than 94% of guests rate it the best place they stayed in Ecuador. On Tripadvisor, it gets more “amazing” “spectacular” “incredible” and “so worth it” than any other hostel in South America. Book at reception or online – it’ll be a highlight of your trip.
2. Explore the Historic Old Town – the first UNESCO world heritage listed city in the world. The best way is with the free walking tour, run by our travel agency downstairs. Book at reception.
3. Mitad del Mundo, the middle of the world equator monument. The highlight here is the quirky little “Museo Inti Ñan”. Unlike the big main monument complex, Inti Ñan is on the real equator, so they can demonstrate loads of fun (ok a bit cheesy!) experiments like water spinning in different directions down a sink, balancing eggs on nails – all stuff that is only technically possible exactly over the equator. They also have loads of interesting displays ranging from jungle creatures to traditional indigenous huts, ceramic pots used for live burials (the wives of the recently departed chief!), and a real shrunken head (with illustrations guiding you through the process of shrinking your enemy’s head). Take one of our taxis (the most convenient), ask the receptionist for an info sheet on directions using public transport (the cheapest option), or take the shuttle after the walking tour (a good compromise).
4. Ride the “Teleferico” cable car, trek to the summit, and gaze down into the crater of Rucu Pichincha volcano. Spectacular views, and even on a cloudy day it’s a real adventure – the summit is around 4,800m – the same height as Mont Blanc – the highest mountain in Europe! It’s cheap because you don’t need a guide, and it’s great acclimatization if you plan on doing more trekking in South America. Do this trek in the morning, as early as possible for the best views. For full details take a photo of our info page on the terrace.
5. The Papallacta Thermal Springs Located at an altitude of 3,250 m in the Magical High Andes landscape, just 2 hours from Quito, The Papallacta Hot Springs Spa and Resort will provide a break with experiences of relaxation for you, and if you are lucky maybe some bear watching too. www.termaspapallacta.com
6. Do a Daytrip
Mindo: hike waterfalls, Zip-line, and visit the Chocolate or Butterfly farm in the cloud forest
Otavalo: visit one of the biggest handy craft markets in South America!
Quilotoa: visit the fantastic Turquoise lake inside the crater!
6. Visit Carolina Park. A little bit further north you will find lots of green space. Activities include playing pick-up games with locals, renting bikes or paddle boats, buying ice cream and relaxing in the sun, or visiting the Botanical Garden with hot houses – over 1,200 species of orchids. Not just for horticulturists – if you have even the slightest appreciation of beautiful orchids, bonsais, carnivorous plants, and more, then you’ll love this place. Surrounding the park you will find lots of great shopping malls, bowling alleys, movie theaters, and restaurants.
7. Guayasamin Art Gallery. The “Picasso of the Andes” – might not be familiar to many foreigners, but you’ll see replicas of his art throughout the country (just google it – it’s very cool). His custom-built gallery, “Capilla del Hombre” has been described as “jaw-dropping architecture” and the entry fee ($8) includes access to his house. It’s a big property with amazing views, and his house contains much of his personal art collection including original works by Picasso, Chagall, and Goya – it’s an impressive place! It’s up a steep hill, so take a $5 taxi from the hostel.
8. La Floresta. A hip neighborhood not too far from the hostel. Here you can find lots of street art and graffiti, grab a cup of coffee in an alternative movie theatre called Ocho y Medio, eat local food from a food truck or one of the various types of restaurants, and if you’re lucky maybe run into one of their street fairs. Also available with our bike tours
9. Immerse yourself in the cultural experience of Quito: Party in a CHIVA!, try a local food tour, or check the agenda at quitocultura.com for art, festivals, drama, workshops, and music.
10. Take 1 or several Spanish classes, come on you can´t leave Ecuador without improving your Spanish, take a class and learn the slang