Quito

At 9,350 feet above sea level, Quito is the second highest capital city in the world behind Bolivia’s de facto capital of La Paz. But despite the altitude and the surrounding mountains, Ecuador’s capital — population 2.7 million — is far from being a frigid, wind-blasted metropolis.

Situated just a few miles south of the equator, Quito has a pleasantly cool subtropical climate. The fine weather enhances what is already a pretty city — arguably one of the most attractive big cities in South America.

Quito’s historic center is one of the largest, most untouched and best preserved in the Americas. The whole area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, containing hundreds of historic buildings. Three of the most impressive buildings are the Palacio de Carondelet (Ecuador’s seat of government); the Basilica del Voto Nacional (the largest neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas); and the Cathedral of Quito (the most important Catholic church in Ecuador). The city is also home to an array of lavish colonial churches, including the churches of La Compañía de Jesús, San Francisco, El Sagrario and Santo Domingo.

Alongside Quito’s New World colonialism, traditional highland culture and at times staunch Catholicism sits the capital’s more contemporary side: a city with modern shops and services, ever-evolving café and restaurant scenes, and world-class nightlife.

The cosmopolitan La Mariscal district is a tourist hub with plenty of entertainment options, as well as hip cafés, excellent restaurants, tour agencies, and plenty of places to stay. After dark, La Mariscal becomes a lively nightlife area centered on Plaza Foch, with bars and clubs radiating out from this central square.

Other things to do in and around the city include riding the aerial tramway, known as the Teleférico, from the city center up to Pichincha Volcano. You can enjoy spectacular views from the top, where you’ll also find restaurants, cafes and a few stores.

Another popular attraction is the super-touristy but nevertheless fun Ciudad Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World City). Located about 16 miles north of Quito, this is where you’ll find the Monument to the Equator — and a whole bunch of tourists straddling what is supposedly the equatorial line. Having one foot in each hemisphere is a great photo opportunity, despite the fact that the actual equatorial line runs about 262 yards further north. Oops.

Learn more about this destination at Visit Ecuador.

Recommended Quito Tours

Quito Hotels

Ecuador Travel Guide

Ecuador Tours & Travel / Galapagos Tours & Cruises / Galapagos & Machu Picchu Tours / Ecuador FAQ / Ecuador Weather / Galapagos FAQ / Galapagos Weather / Galapagos Accommodations / Top Galapagos Activities by Land or by Sea / Galapagos Wildlife Calendar / Galapagos Packing List / Ecuador Blog Posts / Galapagos Blog Posts / Galapagos Islands Map

Top Ecuador Travel Destinations

Baños / Cuenca / Guayaquil / Otavalo / The Ecuadorian Amazon / The Galapagos Islands

The Main Galapagos Islands and Visitor Sites

Baltra Island / Bartolomé Island / Chinese Hat Islet / Eden Islet / Española Island / Fernandina Island / Floreana Island / Genovesa Island / Isabela Island / Mosquera Islet / North Seymour Island / Rábida Island / San Cristóbal Island / Santa Cruz Island / Santa Fe Island / Santiago Island / South Plaza Island

Galapagos Wildlife: 15 Iconic Species

American Flamingo / Blue-Footed Booby / Flightless Cormorant / Frigatebirds: Great and Magnificent / Galapagos Fur Seal / Galapagos Giant Tortoise / Galapagos Hawk / Galapagos Penguin / Galapagos Sea Lion / Land Iguana / Marine Iguana / Nazca Booby / Red-Footed Booby / Santa Fe Land Iguana / Waved Albatross

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