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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 10 attractions in Quito

#1
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
#2
San Francisco Church (Iglesia de San Francisco)

San Francisco Church (Iglesia de San Francisco)

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Nestled in the historic downtown area of Quito, visitors find the first Catholic Church built in the city, the San Francisco Church (Iglesia de San Francisco). The amazing architecture of this Baroque church blends different styles that were incorporated over the more than 100 years of construction.The church stands on the open San Francisco Plaza, where the city once drew its water, held weekly food markets and general meetings and where military and political demonstrations took place.Construction of the church started in the 1530s, shortly after the Spaniards arrived in Ecuador. Although much of the church has been rebuilt due to earthquake damage, some of it is original, and it constitutes the largest colonial structure in the city.The churches and cloisters stand on almost two whole blocks and include an atrium, a courtyard and a convent. The atrium runs along the length of the public square, with access to the plaza by means of a fan-shaped staircase. Franciscan fathers still live here and work to help the poor.The entrance is adorned with images of the sun, decorations that were used to attract indigenous communities to the Catholic Church. Combinations of indigenous and Catholic symbols are repeated throughout the church. The interior of the church shows a Moorish influence on the walls and columns, which are covered in gold leafing. Of the 3,500 works of art, many are from the Quito School of art.More
#3
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
#4
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
#5
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
#6
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
#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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The Basilica of the National Vow (La Basílica del Voto Nacional), often called La Basilica, is one of the most beautiful Roman Catholic churches in Quito. Set up on a hill and visible from almost anywhere in the city, it’s particularly striking after dark, when it is illuminated.Construction began in 1883 on what became the largest neo-Gothic church in the Americas, measuring 459 feet (140 meters) long and 115 feet (35 meters) wide, and reaching a height of 98 feet (30 meters) in the nave. The two front towers stand 377 feet (115 meters) tall.The neo-Gothic decoration has an interesting twist — it features gargoyles and ornaments that depict local animals such as armadillos, iguanas, pumas, monkeys, tortoises and condors. The abundant artwork also includes bronze statues, stained-glass windows and impressive stonework.Get the best views by climbing to the top of the three towers, where you can see a large portion of Quito and the surrounding mountains. Walking from one tower to the next on wooden bridges and steep ladders adds to the thrill.The church is technically unfinished, and local legend has it that when La Basilica is completed, the end of the world will come.More
#8
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
#9
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
#10
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

Mindo Cloud Forest Day Tour

Mindo Cloud Forest Day Tour

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US$65,00
Mindo Cloud Forest Private Day Tour

Special Offer

Mindo Cloud Forest Private Day Tour

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US$112,10
US$118,00  US$5,90 savings
Cotopaxi Full-Day Small Group Tour from Quito

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Cotopaxi Full-Day Small Group Tour from Quito

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US$65,55
US$69,00  US$3,45 savings
Horseback Riding and Cotopaxi National Park Private Tour

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Horseback Riding and Cotopaxi National Park Private Tour

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US$174,80
US$184,00  US$9,20 savings
Ecuador Gateway 5 Days Tour

Ecuador Gateway 5 Days Tour

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US$850,00
Mindo Cloud Forest

Mindo Cloud Forest

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US$79,43
Cotopaxi Volcano - 1 Day

Cotopaxi Volcano - 1 Day

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US$149,00
Cotopaxi National Park Shared Day Trip

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Cotopaxi National Park Shared Day Trip

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US$84,55
US$89,00  US$4,45 savings
Quilotoa Lagoon

Quilotoa Lagoon

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US$93,47

Recent reviews from experiences in Quito

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Great private tour in Banos with Pedro!
Jean_C, Dec 2020
Baños Tour from Quito - 1 Day- Private Tour
We had a comfortable ride from our hotel in Quito to Banos with amazing stops of the waterfalls, Casa del arbol, and Pailon del Diablo.
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Great tour guide
Paul, Sep 2020
Private Day Trip to Papallacta Hot Springs from Quito
Diego speaks excellent English, showed up on time, and is very knowledgeable.
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Personal approach
deborah_g, Feb 2020
Mindo Cloud Forest -Full day- From Quito
Great to get to see a bit of Equador other than Quito.
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Neck of the Moon
Stephen_M, Feb 2020
Cotopaxi Full-Day Small Group Tour from Quito
Although we were not able to see the glacier cap from the base camp due to cloud cover, this was still super fun.
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Quito in a day
Diane_T, Feb 2020
Quito Old Town Tour with Gondola Ride and Visit to the Equator
This is a great way to see Quito in one day.
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Cotoplaxi Volcano 2 day tour worth it
Steve H, Nov 2019
Cotopaxi & Quilotoa 2Day/1Night - Tours Included
the small trek up the active Cotoplaxi volcano to snow and altitude and tour of the surrounding national park and the Quilotoa crater tour just show the many great places to see from Quito.
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Knowledgeable guide led us on a super fun excursion
Songburst8, Nov 2019
Mindo Shared Day Trip from Quito
This day included a lovely butterfly/orchid/hummingbird museum, an 800m jungle hike to a waterfall, ziplining, lunch, an unexpected children's parade, and a chocolate tasting experience.
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Great full day tour
Peter P, Sep 2019
Full-Day Quito City Tour & Mitad del Mundo
Great way to see Quito highlights and the Equator.
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Just what I needed.
Kelly1335, Sep 2019
Termas de Papallacta Hot Springs full day tour from Quito
After a very busy week of travel and tours I decided to spend my last day in quito going to the hot springs.
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Quito Tour
Beth W, Aug 2019
Private Quito City Tour
Excellent Tour - Recommended the best to see in Quito in a half day.
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Great Tour
Basanth S, Jun 2019
Private Tour: Middle of the World Monument and Quito City Tour
He was also knowledgeable of the many attractions in his country.
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Amazing
Con P, Apr 2019
Full Day Quito City Tour Including Teleférico and Mitad del Mundo
This tour covered some of Quito's best attractions, perfect if you don't have much time.
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Fun way to see Quito.
Lonewolf228, Jul 2018
Quito City Tour Double Decker Bus
Great way to see important parts of Quito.
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Just a 2 hour drive from Quito, this...
Samantha C, Apr 2018
Full-Day Tour Cotopaxi National Park - All included from Quito
Great views and a real thrill to see one of the world's most active volcanoes.
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Gabriel spoke excellent English and...
Cindy B, Feb 2018
Full Day Quito City Tour Including Teleférico and Mitad del Mundo
Gabriel spoke excellent English and provided a thorough historical tour of Quito.
star-5
This well worth every penny! We saw...
Dee M, Nov 2017
Quito City Tour Double Decker Bus
The weather was great and we had many opportunities to see amazing views during the rest of the tour.
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This tour was amazing! We got to see...
Phyllis W, Sep 2017
Full-Day Quito City Tour & Mitad del Mundo
We got to see many exciting sights and my tour guide personalized part of the tour for us so everyone got to visit the areas of Quito that they wanted to see.
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Javier was an AWESOME guide and good...
Mary E, Jan 2018
The Original Quito City Tour in Trolley with Hotel Pick-up - "Small Group"
Excellent history an overview of Old Town Quito in both English and Spanish.
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This ended up being a solo tour. I...
CT, Jan 2017
Private Tour: Middle of the World Monument and Quito City Tour
He was smart and spoke perfect English.
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Great experience. Nice to get out of...
Alison W, Apr 2017
Full-Day Tour Cotopaxi National Park - All included from Quito
Nice to get out of busy Quito to see the countryside.

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