Nestled in a valley at the foot of a volcano 57 miles (92 kilometers) north of Quito, Otavalo is a highland community of indigenous locals famous for their weaving skills and colorful textiles. The local Otavaleños who sell their wares at the daily market wear traditional clothing and have maintained their culture, way of dress, and identity.
Otavalo market is a popular day trip from Quito, as a visit to Otavalo and the surrounding area offers a window into more traditional indigenous cultures of Ecuador. A visit to the market typically only takes a half day, and it’s often combined with other nearby attractions, such as Parque Condor, Laguna Cuicocha, Peguche Waterfall, or Cotacachi Market.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Otavalo Market is a must-visit for shopping lovers and first-time visitors to Quito.
- Otavalo day trips from Quito typically last eight to 10 hours, depending on the option chosen.
- Don’t forget to bring along cash in small denominations, and be prepared to haggle; the currency is the US dollar.
- Bring your camera, but always ask before taking pictures.
How to Get There
While it’s possible to get to Otavalo from Quito by public bus (the journey takes about two hours), most travelers find it more convenient to visit as part of a guided tour with pickup and drop-off in Quito.
When to Get There
The market takes place daily, but Saturday is by far the biggest market day and the best time to visit for the largest selection of goods and liveliest atmosphere. Wednesday is the second-largest market day. Plan to arrive in the early morning, as vendors begin setting up around 6am.
What to Buy at Otavalo Market
The most popular items on offer at this craft market are hand-woven textiles, but silver jewelry, woven bracelets, Panama hats, wooden carvings, and traditional pan pipes are also available. Those planning to spend time in colder climes can pick up alpaca sweaters, gloves, ponchos, and scarves.