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Things to do in Quito

Things to do in  Quito

Welcome to Quito

Tumbling from the slopes of smoldering volcanoes, the typically South American city of Quito entices travelers with a thriving culinary scene and a UNESCO-listed Old Town that begs be explored on a walking tour—day or night. Before flocking to Ecuador’s biodiverse rain forests and national parks, visitors should cover the highlights of Ecuador’s capital on a sightseeing tour. Take in the views from Panecillo Hill during a guided hike or horseback riding tour; ride the Teléferico, South America’s highest gondola; and jump between two hemispheres at the Middle of the World Monument (La Mitad del Mundo), otherwise known as the equator. Day trips from Quito include Otavalo Market, a sprawling indigenous market selling artisan treasures; Cotopaxi National Park, reigned over by the ash-capped Cotopaxi Volcano (where visitors can opt for horse or bike tours); Quilotoa Crater Lake, famed for its vivid emerald hue; and Mindo Nambillo cloud forest reserve, tours of which typically include a visit to a chocolate factory. Nature lovers should add a full-day excursion to the Ecuadorian highlands, where bears roam the forests freely and hot springs surrounding the Papallacta volcano beckon with healing properties. If you’re continuing your Ecuadorian adventure, Quito offers easy access to the Galapagos Islands; Baños (three hours away), renowned for adventure sports such as rafting, rappelling, and ziplining; and Cali and Salento in southern Colombia.

Top 15 attractions in Quito

#1
Church of the Society of Jesus (Iglesia La Compañía de Jesús)

Church of the Society of Jesus (Iglesia La Compañía de Jesús)

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Quito’s Jesuit Church of the Society of Jesus (Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús), often called La Compañía, is one of the most significant works of Spanish baroque architecture in South America. The incredibly ornate and beautiful church boasts gold leaf ornamentation, gilded ceilings, and religious paintings by artists of the Quito School.More
#2
San Francisco Church (Iglesia de San Francisco)

San Francisco Church (Iglesia de San Francisco)

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As Quito’s first church, construction of the Baroque-style San Francisco Church started in the 1530s, shortly after the Spaniards arrived, and lasted for over 100 years. Having sustained epic earthquakes, it’s in remarkably good shape and remains the largest, and arguably the loveliest, of the city’s original colonial structures. Franciscan fathers still live here and work on premises.More
#3
Cotopaxi National Park

Cotopaxi National Park

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With sweeping plains, rocky mountain trails, and glassy lagoons, Ecuador’s largest and most-visited national park is a spectacular setting for an outdoor adventure. Located along the Pacific Ring of Fire, Cotopaxi National Park is most famous for the much-photographed Cotopaxi volcano, the highest active volcano in South America.More
#4
Middle of the World Monument (La Mitad del Mundo)

Middle of the World Monument (La Mitad del Mundo)

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The Middle of the World Monument (La Mitad del Mundo) commemorates the site where the 18th-century French explorer Charles Marie de la Condamine once calculated the globe's equatorial line. A trapezoidal monument in the center of the park houses a viewing platform; a small museum on the equator pays tributes to local indigenous cultures.More
#5
Quilotoa Lagoon

Quilotoa Lagoon

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Quilotoa Lagoon was formed when a now-extinct volcano collapsed and the resulting crater was filled with a startling emerald-green lake, the color resulting from volcanic minerals. Just south of Quito, the village and lagoon of Quilotoa have become a popular day-trip destination, affording spectacular views and photo opportunities.More
#6
Quito Old Town

Quito Old Town

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The historical heart of Ecuador’s capital, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Quito Old Town is the first port of call for most visitors to the city. Known for its cobblestone lanes, Spanish colonial architecture, and beautiful churches, it’s Quito’s most atmospheric district.More
#7
Basilica of the National Vow (La Basílica del Voto Nacional)

Basilica of the National Vow (La Basílica del Voto Nacional)

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One of the largest neo-Gothic churches in the Americas, La Basílica del Voto Nacional is an unmistakable feature of the skyline. Perched on a hill, the 19th-century beauty has three towers, which may be climbed to enjoy a fantastic city panorama. Technically unfinished, local legend opines that when the completion of the basilica arrives, so will the end of the world.More
#8
Santo Domingo Plaza (Plaza de Santa Domingo)

Santo Domingo Plaza (Plaza de Santa Domingo)

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Situated at the southern edge of Quito’s Old Town, Santo Domingo Plaza (Plaza de Santo Domingo) sits beneath the shadow of the 17th-century domed Iglesia de Santo Domingo. A statue of Ecuadorean hero Antonio José de Sucre stands in the middle of the plaza, pointing toward the spot where the battle for independence was won in 1822.More
#9
Mindo Cloud Forest

Mindo Cloud Forest

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Stretching over 48,000 acres (19,200 hectares) and reaching heights of 15,700 feet (4,778 meters), the Mindo Cloud Forest—part of the Mindo-Nambillo Ecological Reserve—is one of the most biologically diverse forests in the world.More
#10
Independence Plaza (Plaza de la Independencia)

Independence Plaza (Plaza de la Independencia)

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Flanked by several important buildings—the Archbishop’s Palace, City Hall, Government Palace, and the cathedral—Plaza de la Independencia (Plaza Grande to the locals) has been part of Quito’s streetscape since 16th century. What was once a central market and bullfighting arena is today a shady square.More
#11
Termas de Papallacta Spa

Termas de Papallacta Spa

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For a day of pampering, drive from Quito through the Amazon rainforest to this privately-owned hotel spa and resort. Set on 625 acres (253 hectares) between the Cayambe and Antiisana volcanoes, Termas de Papallacta Spa features several natural thermal baths and nature trails along the banks of the Papallacta, a gentle river that flows across the property.More
#12
Cotopaxi Volcano

Cotopaxi Volcano

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The Cotopaxi Volcano, one of South America’s most famous peaks and Ecuador’s most active volcano, is perhaps the most recognizable landmark along Ecuador’s Avenue of the Volcanoes. On a clear day, you can see the snow-capped cone all the way from Quito, but a closer exploration requires a trip to Cotopaxi National Park.More
#13
El Panecillo

El Panecillo

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Squint south toward the old town from Quito center and you can’t miss the El Panecillo, a hill that resembles apanecillo (little bread roll) with a statue of the Virgin Mary standing on top. At 9,895 feet (3,016 meters) above sea level, El Panecillo is Quito’s most popular lookout, affording 360-degree views of the city.More
#14
Limpiopungo Lagoon

Limpiopungo Lagoon

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Tucked in a valley within the Cotopaxi National Park along Ecuador’s famed Avenue of the Volcanoes, Limpiopungo Lagoon is 12,400 feet (3,800 meters) above sea level. With the right light, this stunning body of water is a turquoise-colored mirror reflecting the beauty of the surrounding peaks.More
#15
Calle La Ronda

Calle La Ronda

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In downtown Quito, just one block south of Santo Domingo Plaza, you’ll find the emblematic street affectionately called Calle La Ronda. This pedestrian drag is lined with shops that provide a peek into the local culture and give visitors a chance to pick up popular Ecuadorian take-homes like Panama hats (which are actually from Ecuador).More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 1 Day in Quito

How to Spend 1 Day in Quito

How to Spend 2 Days in Quito

How to Spend 2 Days in Quito

Top activities in Quito

Quito City Tour Double Decker Bus

Quito City Tour Double Decker Bus

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From
$15.00
2 Full Days Exploring The Ecuadorian Amazon | Tour Start In Quito
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Recent reviews from experiences in Quito

star-5
Wonderful Tour!
Barbara_B, May 2022
Full Day Quito City Tour Including Teleférico and Mitad del Mundo
We would definitely recommend this tour to anyone wanting to visit Quito.
star-5
Great Tour!
Rodney_F, May 2022
Quito City Tour Double Decker Bus
Excellent way to see very interesting points in Quito!
star-4
A nice tour which tales you to all major attractions in Quito
Erling_O, Apr 2022
Full Day Quito City Tour Including Teleférico and Mitad del Mundo
A very nice tour in and around Quito with all tha major attractions like the Linea ecuatorial, Telerifiqo, and the historielag part of Quito with nica plazas, churches, streets, etc
star-5
Good View of city.
Debby_M, Apr 2022
Quito City Tour Double Decker Bus
We enjoyed seeing more of the city of Quito, had a minor mishap with falling object, but guide and passengers helped greatly!
star-5
Best of Baños
Ryan_S, Mar 2022
Baños full day tour from Quito including all entrances and activities
It was a long day full of activities but well worth the time.
star-5
The Most Beautiful Hot Springs Tucked Away in the Andes!
Susan_B, Mar 2022
Termas de Papallacta Hot Springs full day tour from Quito
The hot springs are beautiful and the hike along the River was really pretty.
star-5
Absolutely incredible tour!
Shannon_A, Mar 2022
Mitad del Mundo and Teleferico Private tour
We got lucky that it was a great day to visit the Teleferico and it was an incredible experience.
star-5
Amazing Andes
Carly_S, Jan 2022
Private Tour: Mindo Cloud Forest
Eduardo was a very knowledgable and welcoming guide and was very flexible depending in what activities we wanted to do.
star-5
Extreme Fun!
Debbie_G, Jan 2022
Baños full day tour from Quito including all entrances and activities
Her English is very good, she is very knowledgeable, and is very enthusiastic about sharing her country with tourists.
star-5
Good experience and very nice tour guide.
Ken_C, Apr 2022
Full Day Quito City Tour Including Teleférico and Mitad del Mundo
This is a good day tour to get familiar around major attractions within the city of Quito.
star-5
A Fun Day
Eric_S, May 2022
Mindo Cloud Forest Private Day Tour
We tried to be quick as we wanted to allow time to see the chocolate factory.
star-5
Perfect introduction to Quito
Cathy_D, May 2022
Night Tour in Quito with free time at La Ronda Street
6 of us shared the top of the double-decker bus and got to see all of the Quito highlights lit up at night.
star-5
I’d give it 10 stars if I could
Beth_R, May 2022
Middle Of The World, Hummingbirds Paradise, and Craft Beer Tasting
We started at the monument to the middle of the world which is beautiful then went on to the geographic center of the world where we did a few fun activities on the equator.
star-5
An amazing day trip in Ecuadorian nature!
Vamsi_D, Mar 2022
Full-Day Quilotoa Lake Hiking Tour from Quito
I cannot recommend this trip enough for anyone looking to see some of the natural beauty of Ecuador, but who either cannot or does not want to do a several days trip.
star-5
See a lot in a short amount of time!
Victoria_W, Feb 2022
Tour Cotopaxi & Quilotoa All in One - 1 Day
Overall, the only think I would change is having been able to see the Cotopaxi Volcano, but I chose to come to Ecuador during the winter months and fully recognize that no one can control Mother Nature when it comes to the clouds and the rains!
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The tour was great!...
Dinyar_R, Feb 2022
Quilotoa Lagoon from Quito - Private Tours
He pointed out interesting sites and in general was giving us interesting information during the entire drive (but made sure to pause when one of us had fallen asleep!
star-5
Great tour!
Debbie_G, Jan 2022
Quilotoa Full Day Tour from Quito with entrances
Her English is very good, she is very knowledgeable, and is very enthusiastic about sharing her country with tourists.
star-5
The Best Middle of the World and Quito City Tour!
Debbie_G, Jan 2022
Private and Personalized City Tour of Quito Teleferico and Middle of the World
If you want to see Quito, this is the tour to choose.
star-5
Excellent Tour!
Debbie_G, Jan 2022
Otavalo Tour from Quito Visiting Cayambe, Indigenous Market
Her English is very good, she is very knowledgeable, and is very enthusiastic about sharing her country with tourists.
star-5
New Year at Cotopaxi
Julie_G, Jan 2022
Cotopaxi National Park - Full Day
At the end of our 10 day Galápagos excursion and just a few short hours before returning home, my husband and I decided to visit Cotopaxi.
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