A Guide to Quito
Quito will quite literally take your breath away at 9,350 ft above sea level this beautiful city is the second highest capital in the world. It’s easy to see why Quito is one of the first UNESCO world heritage sites. The well-preserved city center is filled with rows of colorful houses, ornate churches, and tree-lined plazas. I loved Quito so much that I’m already planning a trip back.
Where to Stay in Quito
Calle Manuel Burbano, Barrio La Palma, S/N Via a Pronaca, 170179 Puembo, Ecuador
I cannot say enough positive things about the Quito Polo club. This unique boutique hotel is on the grounds of a private polo club. Besides polo fields, there are two pools, an open-air restaurant, clay tennis courts, and endless places to walk and explore the beautiful grounds. The Polo Club is close to both downtown Quito and the airport making it a convenient place to stay if you are looking to relax and avoid some of the craziness of downtown Quito. Another benefit of staying at the Polo Club was that the manager was able to organize a driver, Jimmy, to take us to Mindo for a day. The price of hiring a driver was the same as a group tour, and we were able to customize what we did completely.
Simon Bolivar, Quito 170401, Ecuador
Casa Gangotena epitomizes old world elegance. Take a step back into the 1920s in this beautiful mansion overlooking San Francisco Plaza. Everything about my stay here was exceptional - Champagne on ice when we arrived, welcoming staff, and chocolates on our nightstands every night. I highly recommend scheduling a free chocolate tasting, watching the sunset from the rooftop (the views are incredible), and trying Casa Gagontena’s afternoon tea. Quito can be an overwhelming city, and one of the significant advantages of staying at Casa Gangotena was that its central location, the concierge was upfront about safety (where we should walk and where we should Uber), and the team went above and beyond to ensure every restaurant and shopping experience we had in the city was exceptional.
Pedro Fermín Cevallos, Quito 170136, Ecuador
I personally didn’t stay at Community Hostel but heard wonderful things from fellow travelers. If you are looking for a budget accommodation Community hostel is a great option - it’s centrally located, affordable, and the hostel team puts on an excellent walking tour.
Things you must see in Quito
To learn your way around Quito I recommend doing the free walking tour hosted by Community Hostel. The tour lasts a couple of hours and is a great chance to learn about the history of Quito, buildings worth visiting, and how to navigate the city. Although the tour is technically free - like any “free” city tour, you will need to tip your guide.
Reina Victoria N24-263, Quito 170143, Ecuador
For the best chocolate and coffee stop in Galería Ecuador. The shop offers samples, and the staff is knowledgeable on all of the different coffee and chocolate offerings.
Cuenca 477, Quito 170401, Ecuador
If you love churches and gardens, explore the beautiful grounds of San Francisco. We spent about two hours wandering the grounds. Please keep in mind that there are some areas where photography is not welcome so be mindful of the signs.
Eugenio Espejo, Quito 170401, Ecuador
Cathedral of Quito is a site that you shouldn't miss. The 16th central cathedral is located on Plaza de la Independencia and has incredible colorful domes. There are designated tour times to see the domes (the walkway to the domes is a bit treacherous), and the view from the top of the domes offers a beautiful panoramic view of Quito.
Quito 170130, Ecuador
You’ve probably noticed that Quito is full of beautiful churches and Basílica del Voto Nacional is one of the most remarkable. Part of why this church is so unique is that instead of Gargoyles Jaguars, Iguanas, and other wildlife adorn the building. The church is still under construction and rumor has it the world will end once it’s finished.
Quito’s old town is incredible, but the soul of the city can be found in La Floresta. This chic neighborhood is home to cafes, trendy restaurants, and boutiques. Catch a film at Ocho y Medio, visit galleries, and check out the incredible street art in this neighborhood. If you are looking for the perfect local souvenir pop into Olga Fisch (located on the border of the neighborhood) for beautiful wares crafted by local artists.
Where to Eat & Drink in Quito
Quito has no shortage of excellent restaurants. One of my favorite things about staying in a nice hotel is their breakfast menu. We opted to eat at the Polo Club or Casa Gangotena for breakfast each day - both were excellent. Although my breakfast recommendations may be lacking, we had terrific meals outside of our hotels. Here are my favorites.
Valladolid, Quito 170143, Ecuador
We took a break from exploring to check out this lovely little cafe. The decor is very eclectic, and there are a ton of great lunch options. Stop in here for a quick bite to eat or a coffee when you’re exploring La Floresta.
Centro Comercial Pasaje Arzobispal Patio de Comidas 3 Piso, Ecuador
Take a break from exploring an enjoy traditional Ecuadorian food at Hasta La Vuelta. We loved their empanadas, and the serving sizes are generous. If you are feeling adventurous, try Rosero- a fruit cocktail like juice.
Av. Isabel la Católica N24 862, Quito 170525, Ecuador
For a modern take on traditional Ecuadorian favorites try URKO. URKO came highly recommended from a restauranter we met in Santa Cruz. The entire meal was excellent - I loved their ceviche (it was the best of the trip) and their plantain soup. We also tried a couple of cocktails made with local spirits that were excellent.
N30-135, Ave La Coruna N31-70 y Whymper, Quito 170517, Ecuador
One of the worst parts of traveling with a shellfish allergy is missing out on local cuisine. ZFood came highlighy recommended by many travelers I met, but unfortunately, I was unable to dine here because of my allergy. If you love shellfish and are fortunate enough not to be allergic stop into ZFood for some of the best seafood in town.
García Moreno S/N, Quito 170901, Ecuador
Located in trendy Cumbayá, Cire is a restaurant you will not want to miss. We arrived at Cire for lunch and were pleasantly surprised by the head chef walking us through the entire menu. We ordered a few of his favorite dishes. Cire is known for having incredible presentation, and we were not disappointed. From smoke to apple shaped mousse each course was more extravagant from the last.
Getting Around Quito
Navigating Quito is simple! The old town is very walkable - just be careful not to overexert yourself because of the altitude. Cabs in Quito can be tricky. If you are taking a taxi have your hotel or restaurant call the taxi to make sure it’s reliable. Uber is also widely available and a reliable way to get around Quito.