But Really, Are There Enchanting Things to Do in Quito, Ecuador ?

February 21, 2017

But Really, Are There Things to Do in Quito, Ecuador?

Let me Guess:

Quito, Ecuador is not on the top of your bucket list and you have no idea if there are things to do in Quito, Ecuador. Am I right? Okay, I’m not a mind reader but if I was a betting woman, I would say that you are stopping over in Quito before you head to the Galapagos Islands.

Not to Worry Though:

Because even though this enchanting city may not be at the very top of your travel to-do list, it really should be. During my brief visit to this historic capital (added bonus they use the US Dollar), I was astonished to discover that this city was able to
both bewitch my heart and capture my soul.


Let’s take a look at all the not so badass things to do and see in Quito, Ecuador; a picturesque city that is situated along the stunning backdrop that is the Andes Mountains

Bonus Info:

Bring pants and sweatshirts because the altitude makes the city pretty cold at night, even though it’s on the Equator. Yup, I’ll never make that mistake again.


***Thinking of visiting Peru while you’re in Ecuador? Then make sure you avoid these Peru travel mistakes.

The List: How to Spend a Day in Quito, Ecuador

1. Capilla del Hombre

What Does This Even Mean?

This building is actually an art gallery that is dedicated to the peoples of Latin America. Throughout this gallery, you will find some of the finest works of painter, Oswaldo Guayasamin.

But What’s The Big Deal?

The importance of these paintings lies in their ability to capture the pain and hope of an entire generation of indigenous people. These feelings are embodied in a way that I have never seen before and in a way that words simply cannot express.

It Gets Better:

The building itself is located in the Bellavista and overlooks the entire city of Quito. Plus, this gallery is located just a few blocks away from the Museo Guayasamín and pays homage to the suffering of Latin America’s indigenous poor and to the eternal hope for a better future.


Bring a kleenex. The emotions this art evokes are unreal and unlock feelings you didn’t even know you had (Best and most moving part of my time spent in Quito, Ecuador).

One More Thing:

Tours of the gallery are offered in English, French, and Spanish. These tours are also included in the price of admission ($8 adult) and are an amazing way to enhance your understanding of the art displayed here (they leave upon request, while the museum is open, from 10 am – 5:00 pm, Tuesday – Sunday).

2. Take Pichincha Teleférico (Instagram Baller Status is a go)

Looking for Spectacular, jaw-dropping views of Quito, Ecuador?


Tandayapa bird lodge
If you have extra time, be sure to visit the Tandayapa bird lodge.

Look no further than the Teleferiqo vantage point. Not only do you get insane views of the city, but you get the added bonus of the Andes Mountains in the background too.


While ascending the mountains here, you will feel as though you are entering an entirely different world/. In reality, though, you are only a short cab ride away from the center of Quito.

Truth Be Told:

It’s a truly transformative, worthwhile journey. Plus, all you have to do to get here is hop aboard the sky tram that takes passengers on a 2.5km ride (10 minutes) up the Volcán Pichincha to the top of Cruz Loma (You can also take a cab but that’s lame compared to the sky tram. And of course, that’s what I did).

The Best is Yet to Come:

Once at the top, you can hike to the summit of Rucu Pichincha (4680m). I’m not a hiker so I passed on that but for the fitter members of the audience, it’s about a three-hour hike.

Just Remember:

The hike can be tricky so ask a park ranger about safety concerns before attempting this hike.


If you’re lazy like me, you can also hire horses ($10 per hour) that are about 500m or from the upper station. Do you get lost easily like me? No worries, just follow signs to ‘paseos a caballo’.

Farm in Ecuador
My pictures are old and crap. So let’s look at this rustic farm scene instead, shall we?

Sadly Though:

I only had twenty-four hours in Quito, That’s I beelined it here in the morning when the views are at their best. I went by taxi, which cost about $5 from the center of Quito.


If you’re looking for the national park, it is open between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm Monday through Friday (open until 8:00 pm on Saturday and Sunda) and entry costs $8.50 (I went a few years ago so the price may have gone up).


I didn’t get the experience that I wanted, but I was ecstatic that I took some time out to enjoy this scenic and insanely beautiful place. Yup, makes the views in New York look like total crap.

Side Note:

If you look around Quito, you’ll notice that there is a huge ass statue of a virgin atop Quito El Panecillo. This statue of a winged virgin is a symbol of the city and is one of the best places to get an epic view of the city.


I do NOT recommend walking there, especially if you are an avid solo traveler like me. Instead, stay say, man up, and take a taxi. Ain’t nobody got time for people stealing their belongings.

3. La Mitad del Mundo 

AKA, the equator, or the invisible line that runs across the globe and separates the world into the Northern and Southern hemispheres.


While the line itself is imaginary, the El Reloj Solar Quitsato monument is located here and was designed to represent the equator and its impact on scientific advancement (Equator pride, woot).

What Sucks is That:

Equator Memes.
Omg Dying. Talk about a throwback.

Because this area has become a popular tourist destination, everyone wants those dollar dollar bills y’all. Therefore, a series of shops, food stalls, and museums have all sprung up around the monument, like gross weeds that irritate the crap out of you.

This Means That:

Hawkers with various indigenous wares will get in your face and demand that you buy whatever they are selling.

My Tried and True Travel Policy:

I maintain a,” get in, get out” mentality where you basically stop, take your pictures, and bounce. But above all, do NOT look them in the eye. Keep your head down so that they don’t see you and immediately see dollar signs.

But It Gets Better-ish:

The one place that you might want to visit here is the Equatorial museum. Yes, it is touristy, with “shrunken heads of the Amazon” on display (Like really? Come on. I feel like this would only appeal to Jeffrey Dommer).

In Fairness Though:

There were some cool scientific experiments that the tours guides demonstrated here, that will only occur along the Equator itself (Yup, my inner science nerd screamed with delight when I saw this).

Nerd Alert:

Nerd Memes
I’m sorry, this is too funny not to share.

My guide proved that there is resistance on the equator line by having me hold my thumb and forefinger together in the shape of an “O”. When I wasn’t on the equator, it was hard for him to pull them apart. But on the equator, he pulled my fingers apart with ease. See, magic!

Don’t Forget Your Souvenir:

You can also get an equatorial stamp, in your passport, to commemorate your visit, and I mean, come on, who doesn’t want more stamps in their passport? Exactly, the more stamps the better.

4. Old Town 

Make sure you end your day by walking along la Ronda and through the Old Town of Quito. This area is basically the architectural and historical crown jewel of the entire city.

No Joke:

Everywhere you turn, the streets are lined with colonial monuments and architectural wonders that reflect the historic occupation of this city by the Spanish.

In Old Town, stuffing my face with an empanada while listening to some music and sipping canelazo.

Look Forward to:

Locals steadily meandering through a series of restored, cobble stone blocks, that are lined with 17th-century facades, picturesque plazas, and magnificent art-filled churches.

Don’t Forget:

After marveling at such historical beauty, wander towards the ‘gringolandia’ of the Mariscal.


An area in the Old Town that is packed with local eateries (Get the empanadas and canelazo, which is a traditional, warm cinnamon drink). Also stick around for some vivacious nightlife, and bands that play authentic, Ecuadorian music until the wee hours of the morning, or til you pass out at 10:00 pm like this old fart right here.

One More Thing:

Don’t miss La Plaza Grande or the Plaza de Independencia. Right smack dab in the center of Quito, this plaza is the epicenter of all activity in Old Town Quito. Yes, it’s gorgeous. Yes, you’ll find the presidential palace and a monument to Ecuadorian independence here (hence the name). And yes, it’s hella Instagram worthy. So yeah, don’t miss it.

***Naturally there are like thirty churches throughout the old town. So if you’re short on time, I would narrow it down

South America Memes

and see La Basilica and La Compania de Jesus.

Historic Architecture Not Your Thing?

That’s cool. If you’re more into a neighborhood with a more hipster vibe them definitely head over to La Florista. This Quito neighborhood is packed with cool coffee shops, galleries, and enchanting graffiti that will make you feel like you’re worlds away from Old Town Quito.

Are You a Bohemian in Training?

If you like a great view, a well-kept/gorgeous church like the Church of Guapulo, then you’ll love this area. This quaint, historic neighborhood has an artistic, Bohemian vibe that is exemplified best by the Pizzeria Ananke gallery. It’s also one of the oldest districts in Quito so you’ll kind of feel like you’re in a quaint little Andes town.


5. Museo Nacional 

Now, if you have done ALL that in one day then you are some sort of Harry Potter level sorcerer and I need to commend you because that’s a lot for a day.


If you need more things to do in Quito, Ecuador then I highly recommend the Museo Nacional.

The Truth Is:

I was SUPER bummed that I didn’t have time to visit, but I heard wonderful things about this museum from my friend Maria who lives in Quito

Architecture in Ecuador


The Museo Nacional is actually located in the circular, glass-plated, landmark building known as Casa de la Cultura Ecuadorian.

What’s the Big Deal?

This museum houses one of the country’s largest collections of Ecuadorian art, with works that date as far back as pre-Hispanic times (yeah, that’s pretty damn old).

What Should You See?

Some highlights include a magnificent golden sun mask, ‘whistle bottles’ from the Chorrera culture, figures showing skull deformation practiced by the Machalilla culture, ceramic representations of tzantzas (shrunken heads), ceremonial stone chairs of the Manteños, and the Colonial Art Room.


Reading this list right now makes me want to book a flight so I can go back and check some of these things out. The Only problem is that sadly, my bank account won’t let me. Sigh, the problems of a travel blogger. LoL.

So There You Have It, Quito, Ecuador Points of Interest in the Tiniest of Nutshells

Okay, so obviously I’m not a local and even more obviously, I wasn’t in Quito, Ecuador for very long. So while this may not be the most mind-blowing and totally earth shattering post about Quito, Ecuador, a first-time visitor to Quito will definitely get a sense of what to see and do while he or she is there.

Just don’t write Quito off as a fun urban destination because this charming city and the friendly people who live there definitely defied my, admittedly low, expectations in every way possible.

No Seriously, even though I didn’t expect much from the city, it is still one of those places that I would love to return to and

explore more.

Bonus Round and More Awesome Things to Do in Quito, Ecuador: 

For anyone who stuck around to the end, serious kudos to you. You are the very definition of amazing. So as a reward to you, I wanna tell you about Cotopaxi National Park.


This park is located 31 miles outside of Quito and is totally worth a day trip if you have the time (on my future bucket list).

Why Visit:

The park is home an active volcano, which feels enormous and is like 19,000 feet above sea level. Do yourself a favor though and book a tour. Yes you’ll have to pay a small fee to enter the park, but it’ll still be cheaper than going it alone.

Yup, You’re Welcome and Enjoy Ecuador!

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Doing some Ecuador travel and want to experience the best of Ecuador culture and Ecuador photography? Then look no further because this post details the best Ecuador travel tips, top Ecuador travel things to do, and the best Ecuador travel places to visit. Check this post out and get the most out of your vacation to Quito, Ecuador.
Doing some Ecuador travel and want to experience the best of Ecuador culture and Ecuador photography? Then look no further because this post details the best Ecuador travel tips, top Ecuador travel things to do, and the best Ecuador travel places to visit. Check this post out and get the most out of your vacation to Quito, Ecuador.



Nanny by day and travel blogger any other time.

I love writing and traveling and bearing my soul on the page.
I want to inspire others to face their fears and join me on an adventure.


  • Kevin's Travel Diary 1 year ago

    Wow, what a great post, I have always wanted to visit Equator, but still haven’t gotten around to it. I am hopefully planning to visit next January and this guide will be very handy as I only plan to stay in Quito for a couple of days. Thanks for sharing

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      No problem!! Happy to help in any way I can. I hope you have as much fun there as I did.

  • Kevin's Travel Diary 1 year ago

    visit *Ecuador

  • Leah 1 year ago

    Ah Ecuador is definitely on my bucket list! Thanks for the ideas! I look forward to checking some boxes off my list!

  • Sheena 1 year ago

    I didn’t have high expectations of Quito either but I ended up really liking it & staying a few extra days. Great itinerary, brought back memories of places I hadn’t thought about for a long time, especially the Guayasamin museum, I was so moved my the emotion in his paintings. And fantastic to see La Mitad del Mundo on the list, that’s a must-visit too 🙂

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      That’s why I love posting about places I’ve visited. It always brings back great memories and makes me feel like I am visiting the city for a second time. Glad I could create some positive memories for you.

  • Kesi 1 year ago

    Thanks for sharing! I want to go to Ecuador at some point!

  • Sheena 1 year ago

    That empanade looks epic! Putting Ecuador on the travel bucket list!

  • Jm 1 year ago

    Quito is definitely one of my must visit cities. I definitely love to land in their airport watching the mountainous surrounding. It is definitely one of the most dangerous airport in terms of landing. The city itself is rich in culture and beauty as well

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      Yeah. It is crazy how high up Quito is and where it is situated in the Andes but so glad I go to go there and experience such a vivid and vivacious culture.

  • Ricci - wheninmyjourneys 1 year ago

    Glad that it turned out well for you even if it isn’t really your original plan. Since I’m big on i’m big on old buildings, churches and empanadas I would like to visit the old town 🙂

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      Yeah, the Old Town was really great and so alive at night. And it’s always nice when things turn out even better than you expected.

  • Wanderlust Vegans 1 year ago

    We hope to get to Quito soon! It looks like an amazing city. I think the best part of the adventure is when it doesn’t go as planned! It often turns out better. 🙂

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      Totally agree. I love taking spontaneous adventures and just seeing where my feet take me. You always find the coolest things that way.

  • Carmen Baguio 1 year ago

    This looks like a delightful place! I would definitely be drawn to the Old Town. The outlaying countryside looks so lush and green! Thanks for highlighting a place I probably would have never considered.

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      Happy you enjoyed getting to know the city a little better. I honestly wouldn’t have really explored the area had it not been for my friend who showed me what the city really has to offer.

  • Jen Morrow 1 year ago

    Sounds like a jam packed day! Bummer you missed the Museum, that would be so cool to see for local culture. The Equator line looks totally cheesy and right up my alley!

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      Right?? It was pretty hilarious. My favorite part was the “shrunken heads”. I wanted to be like really dude? Come on. But so glad I went and got to experience it all. LoL

  • Christina 1 year ago

    It’s true. I feel like I don’t hear much about Ecuador except for those that are heading to the Galapagos. It definitely looks like Quito is worth exploring, though. I could imagine how great the views are from Teleferiqo. I would probably skip the 3hr hike and just have more time for empanadas and wash it down with canelazo.

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      Yeah. I totally agree. That and I frankly just did not have the time to hike it. Instead, a nice taxi driver drove me there and I didn’t even break a sweat.

  • Daisy Li 1 year ago

    I always feel the most spontaneous trips will give you the biggest surprise! Especially these cute little towns, they are such a joy to visit 🙂

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      So true. I love exploring the little towns where only the locals live. WAY more fun and authentic.

  • Sutee 1 year ago

    The list is just in time. Headed to Quito in a week. Especially looking for forward to the teleferico.

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      So happy for you!!! Have a ton of fun and hopefully this list helps you while you explore the city.

  • carlinn meyer 1 year ago

    I must say Ecuador isn’t on my list either but it does sound pretty cool and like there might be some good hikes to go on which I would love! The empanadas and cinnamon drink looks delicious btw! 🙂

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      They really were. i didn’t even think that Ecuador would have good food but they totally do. So glad I stopped for a minute to sit and take in all the culture around me.

  • Only By Land 1 year ago

    That’s cool the city center is a UNESCO site. Great that you had a friend to show you around and pick you up. You managed to fit so much in, I have a picture on the equated too, it’s a must.

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      It really is. I even got the stamp in my passport because it is such a landmark and I didn’t even realize the equator was there when I traveled to Ecuador.

  • Joanna 1 year ago

    The Teleferiqo would be very high on my list as well. Even if I hate heights, I love the views from up there. I know the Andes from Peru and Chile and I know they have some spectacular views. I wouldn’t miss standing on the Equator line either, it’s a must if you’re in Ecuador, right? 🙂

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      Absolutely. The equator really is a must and the views are amazing since Quito literally sits right in the Andes Mountains. My shampoo exploded because of the pressure change when I was there. That’s how I knew I was pretty high up.

  • Janine Good 1 year ago

    Quito looks fab. I too would not have chosen it as a bucket list must and would have just gone there as a stop on the way to the Galapagos Islands, but it looks like it has so much to offer. I find the Guayasamin’s art quite moving and it reminds me of my time in Berlin with the West side being full of emotionally charged artwork. The sunsets look gorgeous and even a glimpse of the Andes would be a dream.

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      You are so right on the comparison with Berlin. I love the emotionally charged art there and the struggle the city faced. Great comparison for sure. I always love when places i visit touch my soul.

  • Diana - MVMT Blog 1 year ago

    I can’t even name a favorite because all of these sound like things I’d love to do. Capilla del Hombre reminds me a bit of the Berlin wall and how it is covered in graffiti art. It would be so cool to stand on the equator too. I haven’t made it to South America yet but hope to soon! And you can bet Quito is on my list. 🙂

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      Great!! I am so glad I can inspire you to travel there. It is a magical city that is filled with a charm and history that a lot of places don;t have. But my favorite was the art there because it really touched my soul and had an emotional impact on me.

  • Tania 1 year ago

    Wow! Ecuador! I never thought it would change my view on Ecuador that much. I’m now definitely going there. Thanks for sharing this post!

  • Kris Morton 1 year ago

    Very cool. Quito has never been on my potential travel radar, but those views make me want to visit now. Standing on the equator would be very neat too!

  • Travellinn 1 year ago

    The Teleferiqo and eating my way through the old town would absolutely be on my list! I love views, and always try as much local food as I can. Do you know if there are any organized food tours there?

  • Lynn 1 year ago

    This is such a thorough and wonderful post! I actually want to try to live in Ecuador for a couple of months next year if I can [I want to go into the wildlife conservation field and have been looking for internships!] so this is perrrfect! It’s really got me dreaming of Quito!

  • Meg 1 year ago

    I’ve heard great things about Ecuador. I have a friend who has a place there. I still need to visit.

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      Do it!! I promise you won’t regret it. And it always helps to have a local show you around.

  • Lucile 1 year ago

    I am not much of a city person when I travel, but this looks like a cool place to visit! We’ve been wanting to go to Costa Rica for a while, but many people tried to convince us that Ecuador is as good if not better. What would you reckon concerning the nature?

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      I didn’t get to see a lot of nature but Ecuador does border the Amazon and I have heard amazing things about that unique ecosystem. But either way, I think you can’t go wrong. Both places are amazing.

  • Becky 1 year ago

    That’s on my list too. Chilling at the Equator. Never been there.

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