Quito is a must-stop visit on your way to your amazing Galapagos vacation. The vibrant capital of Ecuador is full of life and there is much to see and do. Depending on your schedule, you might be able to visit some of its beautiful surroundings such as: the artisan city of Otavalo or the majestic Cotopaxi volcano. But if time is limited, there’s definitely a number of interesting things to do in the city. If a nice, broad view of the capital is what you are looking for, here is a recommendation of three sites you could visit within the span of a single day. We call it “Three things to Do in Quito in a Day”.
Quito’s Colonial Downtown
Make sure you stay at the best located hotel in town, Casa Gangotena, as it’s the perfect jumping off point for a one-day adventure. Try to make the most of your morning by walking around the one area you should definitely not miss in Quito – the beautiful colonial downtown. Since staying at Casa gangotena places you squarely in the heart of Quito’s old city, you won’t need to go far to start exploring. Start by visiting the magnificent San Francisco church at neighbouring San Francisco Plaza. Follow it up with a walk down to the unbelievable La Compañia church ($2 entrance fee). Nothing can really prepare you for what you will encounter inside: Its completely gold-leaf covered interior will leave you speechless.
From there you are but a block away from the Plaza Grande or Plaza de la Independencia, where Ecuador’s Presidential house is located along with the Metropolitan Cathedral and the City Hall. Walk around the plaza, listen to the local preachers, street vendors, and watch grandparents calmly observing life around them. If there is still some time left before lunch, walk through one of the prettiest pedestrian streets downtown – Eugenio Espejo Street. Here you will get a glimpse of what used to be one of Quito’s most glamourous theaters, Teatro Bolivar, which was burned down years ago by a terrible fire. It has not been fully renovated, but some of its old beauty can still be admired.
Expert’s tip: Visit Galeria Ecuador Gourmet at the corner of Venezuela and Eugenio Espejo, and choose between their amazing coffees, teas, artisanal beers and award-winning chocolates while perusing their selection of native handicrafts.
Capilla del Hombre
For lunch, we recommend you head back to your headquarters at Casa Gangotena and enjoy the finest cuisine at one of Quito’s best restaurants right at the hotel. From there, the staff will arrange a taxi to drive you to your next stop, Capilla del Hombre (Chapel of Man). This will be an opportunity to get more acquainted with the more modern side of Quito. You will feel the transition from its historic downtown as you drive north to its financial center. The Capilla del Hombre museum is home to some of the most beautiful paintings by world-famous Ecuadorian artist Oswaldo Guayasamin.
Not only will you get a chance to marvel at the amazing view of the city from the museum, but also you can check out the impressive collection of art by this emblematic artist. His passion for portraying the hardships and injustices suffered by the weakest and most forgotten members of society can be seen throughout his dramatic and geometrical paintings of men and women. A strong indigenous influence is obvious within his style and he uses a color palette that resembles all of Earth’s beautiful tones. The museum is open from 10h00 to 17h00 and the entrance fee costs $8 for adults, and $4 for seniors. Best yet, it’s free for kids under the age of 12 so take the whole family.
Expert’s Tip: In an attempt to see a little more of Quito, some visitors think it is a good idea to walk all the way up to the Capilla del Hombre. We recommend you take a taxi, for the Capilla is located at the top of a steep hill that could take a toll on visitors not yet used to Quito’s altitude.
From the Capilla del Hombre, take a short taxi ride to Isabel la Catolica Street located in the picturesque neighborhood of La Floresta. One of Quito’s prettiest streets with numerous food and drink options. A busy day spent walking around town means only one thing: you deserve a nice cup of Ecuadorian coffee or perhaps a cold craft beer. We can almost guarantee that you will be able to find something to your taste on this street. Tell your taxi driver to leave you at the beginning of the street and start walking down south to have a look at what it has to offer. Food from around the world, local designer shops, and coffee shops populate the area. It is a nice place to unwind, get a glimpse of the northern part of town and get in touch with the inner Ecuadorian you didn’t know you had in you.
Another Three things To Do in Quito in A Day? (More than three, actually)
There are much more than just three things to do in Quito if you have a little more time on your schedule. Here are just a few of them: Visit La Ronda street at Quito’s historic downtown, but try to go at night to get the chance to listen to some live music at any of the coffee shops and restaurants. Visit the Alabado Archeological museum, across the street from Casa Gangotena. Visit the “Mitad del Mundo” (Middle of the World) monument and have one feet in both the southern and northern hemispheres at the same time. Go to the TeleferiQo (Quito’s cable car), on a clear morning to get the most amazing view of the city and the volcanoes that surround it. Go for a stroll on Quito’s version of New York’s Central Park, Parque La Carolina and visit the Botanical Garden located right in the middle of the park. You will marvel at their Orchid collection! We will give out more detailed information on all of these activities in the near future, so stay tuned!