*NOTE: Unfortunately we are still in unusual times, and the COVID-19 regulations change rapidly. Please check here the latest information before making your journey to Ecuador.
The Ecuadorian capital city located in the middle of the world, standing proud between cloud-high in the Andes and two active volcanoes, Quito didn’t disappoint me. The 16th-century Centro Histórico (Old Town) is not only the largest and best-preserved colonial center in Latin America, but also the most visited.
Thanks to KLM and Air France, the approx. 15-hour journey from Vienna to Quito was a wonderful experience. Click HERE to read about my journey.
Breathtaking churches, impressive monasteries, colorful palaces, here is why Quito should be on your 2022 travel list.
1. The Centro Histórico
Stay in the Centro Histórico (Old Town), in the crown jewel of Ecuador’s colonial heritage. With one of the densest concentrations of colonial architecture in South America, dating back to the early 16th century, it was declared the world’s very first UNESCO World Heritage city in 1978. There are more than 200 churches, convents, and monasteries clustered together in the Old Town.
2. Basílica del Voto Nacional
The Notre Dame of Quito— Basílica del Voto Nacional, a Roman Catholic church located in the historic center of Quito. It is the largest neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas. You should definitely climb the central towers to see the town’s buildings, churches and volcano mountains.
3. Compañía de Jesús
The Jewel of Ecuador– Compañía de Jesús (The Church of the Society of Jesus ), is a Jesuit church in Quito. Considered one of the most beautiful churches in South America thanks to its shimmering Baroque and Moorish interior. Decorated with gold leaf, gilded plaster, and wood carvings, the church architecture was inspired by two Roman Jesuit churches— the Chiesa del Gesù (1580) and the Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio di Loyola (1650). Tip: climb to the rooftop of the church to peer over the town’s beautiful Plaza de San Francisco, white-washed buildings and the beautiful mountains.
4. Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco
Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco, is a 16th-century Roman Catholic church located in the historic center of Quito, Ecuador. It is the largest neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas. Visit the impressive Courtyard (El Atrio). This space is entered through the convex staircase, designed by the Vatican architect, Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Also climb to the top of the church and see the best view over the Centro Histórico and San Francisco square.
Courtyard (El Atrio)
5. Telefériqo Quito
On a sunny day, you must take a tour with Quito’s cable car to see the breathtaking views over the city while riding up the Pichincha volcano in glass gondolas. The 1.5-mile (2.5-kilometer) journey up the mountain offers what are perhaps the best panoramic views of the city and ends at the Cruz Loma plateau, where hiking trails lead to Rucu Pichincha, one of the volcano’s twin peaks.
6. Contemporary Art Center of Quito (Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Quito)
The Contemporary Art Center of Quito is located in the former Rocafuerte Sanatorium, built in the 1900, which later was modified throughout its history for different social use. This building was a military barracks for the Bolívar Battalion; the headquarters of the Old Military Hospital; and, for several years, a residence for many families.
With the support of the Municipality of the Metropolitan District of Quito, “The Bicentennial – Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Quito ”, was inaugurated on August 10, 2009, as a public space dedicated to contemporary art and open to various communities. You can see various impressive exhibitions of local and international artists.
7. Casa del Alabado Museum of Pre-Columbian Art
Casa del Alabado is a Precolumbian Art Museum in Quito, Ecuador. The museum is located in a colonial house built in the 17th century during the Spanish Colony. It houses have a collection of over 5,000 archaeological pieces, 500 of which are on permanent displayed.
WHERE TO STAY?
For luxury accommodation Casa Gangotena is one of my favorite boutique hotels in Quito, located in the heart of the historic center and Plaza San Francisco, but if you don’t want to spend $400 per night, I would suggest my absolute favorite location— Casa El Eden. A beautiful old house turned into a petite boutique hotel also located in the historic center. Family-run hotel, mixed modern with antique style decorated rooms, excellent service, wonderful breakfast and you’ll get personal advice as well as recommendations from the owner. We stayed three nights and absolutely loved it.
WHERE TO EAT?
Inside the 400-year-old building of the Casa del Alabado, En Dulce is a small cafe serving traditional Ecuadorian small bites and sweets. For a unique view over the Plaza Grande, dinner at La Vid is a must. Serving traditional dishes like Locro Quiteño and Camarones al Ajillo. For fine dining, Nuema and Urko are the most unique restaurants in the country. Both awarded restaurants offer extraordinary culinary experience. Depending on the season, the menu has ingredients from the Andes, the coast, the rainforest and the Galápagos. Restaurant Cire, for progressive Ecuadorian cuisine, the chef takes as a starting point the traditional cuisine of Ecuador. Using excellent quality ingredients, which come from qualified local suppliers and from his own organic garden. For a healthy plant-based lunch, Casa Warmi is one of my favorite places.
OUT OF TOWN
Middle of the World Monument (La Mitad del Mundo)
Located 27 min drive from Quito, you can see 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.
8. El cráter del Pululahua
Pululahua is the only protected area of the country under the category of “Geobotanical Reserve”. This is a wonderful area to see the geology and volcanic history of this region. Located 6km from the Middle of the World Monument (La Mitad del Mundo), it’s worth visiting and to feel the energy of the earth. Best experience would be a 3-hour horseback ride across the Pululahua Crater and head to the Mital del Mundo complex located at the equator.
Photos (C) DisiCouture
*This post is 100% not sponsored