things to do in quito

38 Best Things to Do in Quito: A Local’s Guide

Ecuador might be a bit overshadowed by its larger neighbors of Colombia and Peru – and best known for the Galapagos! – but mainland Ecuador and Quito have so much to offer visitors. Here you’ll find South America’s largest and best-preserved Old Town, and visiting it is just one of many things to do in Quito.

Not only does Quito have an incredible historical center, but attractions in Quito range from incredible views, delicious food, cable cars, incredible day trips, and so much more!

After living in Quito for two years, we have truly done it all. So we wanted to create this mega guide (seriously, we’re including everything there is to do here!) to the best things to do in Quito Ecuador. All in hopes you’ll fall in love with it as we did.

Keep reading for all the best in this ultimate guide to the best things to do in Quito, Ecuador. We’ve included all things to do in Quito that you just can’t miss, as well as our off-the-beaten-path Quito things to do, and popular day trips from Quito.

quito backpacking

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37 Things to Do in Quito

1. Explore Quito’s Historic Center

Easily one of the best things to do in Quito, Ecuador is visiting the city’s beautiful historic center. Quito has the largest and most well-preserved historic center in Latin America. You’ll want to spend a few hours exploring this neighborhood and all it has to offer – many of the top things to do in Quito you’ll find here.

Beyond just walking through these historic streets, you’ll want to see important sites like the beautiful churches, lively plazas, and important destinations the area is known for. Keep reading for some of our favorites.

Read More: Old Town Quito: Ultimate Traveler’s Guide

2. Shop at the Mercado Artesanal La Marsical

If you’re looking for handicrafts or souvenirs of any kind in Quito, this is the place to find them. This city block comprises several rows of stalls selling every artisan handicraft imaginable, including sweaters and ponchos, jewelry, hammocks, and so much more. Come prepared to bargain, and look for at least a 30% discount off the initial asking price for most items!

If you don’t have the opportunity to head to the Otavalo market just two hours north of Quito – absolutely worth the journey! – this is where to buy your souvenirs! If your Ecuador itinerary does include a trip to Otavalo, you might be able to skip this market, or at least hold off on purchasing souvenirs until you get to Otavalo. Prices tend to be better there!

Head a few blocks south after your visit to Parque El Ejido for people-watching, street food (try cevichocos, fresh fruit cups, or grilled corn with queso fresco), and to see art on display around the edge of the park.

Read More: Ultimate Guide to Otavalo, Ecuador

quito ecuador guide

3. Take in the View from the Basilica

Other than exploring the historic center of Quito, a visit to the Basilica is one of the best things to do in Quito. Not only is this a beautiful building worth visiting itself, but it also provides some of the best panoramic views of the city.

The Basilica del Voto Nacional is located on the edge of Quito’s Old Town on a hill – you can either get here by walking uphill through the streets from the Old Town or by taking a taxi.

Visitors can choose to either visit the interior of the church (accessible from the side), the clock towers and spire (accessible from the front), or a combined ticket to access both. I’d highly recommend just visiting the clock tower and spire, as this ticket will also give you a fantastic view of the church interior as well.

Views from the clock towers are unmissable, but make sure you head to the spire for the best views. To access the spire in the back of the church you’ll need to navigate some very steep steps and a steel ladder that you’ll probably want to avoid if you’re afraid of heights. However, the view of the city with the church’s clock towers is truly one of the most beautiful you’ll ever see, so put your fear of heights aside if you can.

A visit to the Basilica in Quito truly tops my list of the best things to do in Quito Ecuador – don’t miss it!

quito travel tips

4. Ride to the Top of a Volcano on the TelefériQo

Visiting Quito’s TelefériQo cable car is an absolute MUST when visiting Quito. This cable car whisks you up to the (almost) top of the Rucu Pichincha volcano. The view over the city is truly breathtaking, and there are 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains that are perhaps even more beautiful than the view of the city itself.

Try to plan your visit for a sunny morning for the best chance of getting a great view. On the clearest and sunniest days, you can see up to five snow-capped volcanos all around the city from the top. Plus, lines tend to form later in the day, so coming early is the easiest way to ensure you don’t have to wait.

Be aware that the elevation is HIGH here – you will likely feel winded and out of breath just walking around on the even surface at the top. Even if Quito is sunny and warm, come prepared with a sweater or jacket, as it will likely be quite windy and cold so high up.

You can take a taxi to the bottom of the cable car, and taxis will also wait to take people back into the city. Make sure you bring a photo ID (it doesn’t need to be a passport) to get your ticket. Since the TelefériQo is located towards the north of the city, try to plan to visit and head to the Mitad del Mundo (the equator line!) right afterward since they are relatively close.

Read More: 10 Most Impressive Volcanoes in Ecuador

5. Stroll on La Ronda

The historic street near the Panecillo known as “La Ronda” is a great place to experience some of Old Town Quito’s charm. Here you’ll find small artisan shops, restaurants selling traditional foods, and more, alongside charming colonial architecture.

Come in the evening and try an empanada de viento and canelazo – this combination of the sweet, flaky empanada with a warm (sometimes spiked) fruit beverage will warm you up on Quito’s cold nights. Don’t miss the view up the hill to El Panecillo from the corner of La Ronda and Calle Guayaquil – it’s lovely illuminated at night, but gorgeous any time of the day.

What To Pack for Ecuador

Check out our Ultimate Ecuador Packing List to help you pack for your trip – we’re sharing exactly what to bring to Ecuador and what we never travel without.

6. Take a Free Walking Tour (or Two!)

If you’re looking for an excellent, budget-friendly way to explore the city and see the very best of the sites, consider joining on a free walking tour of the city! Civitatis offers two different free walking tours of Quito.

These walking tours are quite extensive and guides are engaging, so while the tour is free, consider leaving a tip if you can:

where to stay in quito

7. Take in the View from El Panecillo

El Panecillo – Spanish for “the little bread roll” – is a large, rounded hill in the center of Quito that offers a great view over the city. It’s visible throughout the city thanks to the “Virgen de Quito” Virgin Mary statue that looks out over the city. At the top, you’ll find some vendors selling handicrafts, snacks, and drinks.

While many consider a visit to the Panecillo as one of the top things to do in Quito, I honestly don’t think it’s that necessary of a stop.

The main draw for visiting is the view over the city, and the view you’ll see from the spire of the Basilica del Voto Nacional is much, much more beautiful. It’s a nice excursion you’re sure to enjoy, but if you’re pressed for time, I recommend passing on this one and heading to the Basilica instead!

8. Visit the Home of Ecuador’s Most Famous Artist

Ecuador’s most famous painter – Oswaldo Guayasamin – left behind an incredible home and museum in the care of the city of Quito, and today these make up one of the top attractions in Quito for art and history lovers.

A visit includes a tour of his home with a guide, as well as visiting the Capilla del Hombre (Chapel of Man) next door where his greatest large-scale works are on display. If you’re making the visit, you’ll definitely want to see both. You can book your ticket online with Civitatis.

Even if you’re not a big art fan, his home boasts easily some of the best views over the city. After your visit, head about half a block down the hill to get coffee and a pastry at Omama Coffee Shop – it’s the perfect way to finish out an afternoon.

9. Marvel at the Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús

This church is a must-visit! Unlike any other church I’ve seen throughout all my traveling in Latin America, the Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús seems to be completely bathed in gold.

It will truly take your breath away – this is one of those things to see in Quito you just can’t miss. Every surface inside this church is covered with frescos, gold-leaf carvings, and more.

Tickets cost $5 per person, and while visiting most other churches in Quito is free, this is absolutely worth the ticket price! You can book your ticket online with Civitatis.

10. Tour the Presidential Palace (for Free!)

A visit to the presidential palace – the most impressive building in the city’s Plaza Grande, is a fantastic look into Quito’s history, past and present. You’ll see the formal salons and meeting rooms used for entertaining dignitaries and heads of state and lavish gifts from famous past visitors.

You can take a free walking tour of the palace, offered every hour throughout the week (except when the Palace is closed on Mondays). You’ll just need to sign up in advance at a ticket booth to the left of the building, between the palace and the Centro Cultural Metropolitano.

Make sure you have a photo ID on you for the tour, as you’ll need to pass through security and get a badge for your tour.

Read More: Old Town Quito: Ultimate Guide

mitad del mundo

11. Straddle Hemispheres at Mitad del Mundo

The Mitad del Mundo – “Center of the Earth” and location of the Equator – is just a few miles north of Quito and a great excursion well worth a visit. You can visit the equator in two ways – visiting the monument to the Equator, or visiting the Inti Ñan Solar Museum, just a few minutes’ walk away.

Booking a group tour of Mitad del Mundo (super affordable!) or even a tour of the Historic Center and Mitad del Mundo is one of the best ways to visit Mitad del Mundo. Slightly outside the city of Quito, public transportation takes a long time to get you here, and taxis can get more expensive, so a group tour here is definitely worth it.

You’ll save time (and probably money on transportation, too!) and learn a lot more about these fascinating sites. If you book one excursion during your time in Quito, this one should be it!

The true equator line can be found within the Intiñan Museum; the monument to the Equator was built on a site calculated in the 1700s before GPS correctly calculated the true equatorial line. Both sites are worth a visit – the monument is impressive and a great photo opportunity, but if you just have time to visit just one, visit the Intiñan Museum.

At the Intiñan Museum, you can try fun experiments that only work on the Equator, like balancing an egg on a nail, seeing water run through a sink in different directions north and south of the Equator and more.

12. Explore Quito’s Most Beautiful Park

Quito has many lovely parks, but Parque Itchimbia is a hidden gem among others like Parque Carolina or Parque El Ejido. It may not make it on to some lists of the top things to do in Quito, but I’m out to change that!

By far my favorite park in Quito, Parque Itchimbia covers the top of a hill near Quito’s historic center and has a ton of space to explore. It has plenty of running and cycling trails that stroll up and down the hill facing Quito and the opposite valley as well.

Best Hotels and Hostel in Quito

13. Eat Street Food on a Food Tour

Is there any better way to get to know a place when traveling than through its food? Taking a food tour is an excellent way to learn about Ecuadorian food, which is both a delicious way to spend an afternoon, and something that will help you decipher menus during the rest of your trip.

Try the much-loved “Delicious Side of Quito” Tour for the best experience – the guides are excellent, and you’ll get to try a lot!

condor machay ecuador

14. Hike to Condor Machay Waterfall

If you’re looking for an escape from Quito, head outside of the city to the neighboring Valle de Los Chillos for an unforgettable day trip to the soaring Condor Machay waterfall. This off-the-beaten-path excursion takes about an hour and a half drive to reach, but it’s well worth it.

You can find excursions from Quito or travel here on your own (though you’ll need a taxi to get to the entrance of the falls) – check out our guide to Valle de los Chillos for all the details about how to get here.

You’ll hike along rocky but mostly flat areas for about 45 minutes to reach the stunning waterfall, which has carved out a large canyon, the perfect place for a picnic at the bottom of the falls, or a swim if you come prepared with a towel. Just as stunning as the waterfall is the mountainous landscape you’ll drive through to get here – it’s a stunning corner of Ecuador.

15. Explore Sangolquí Market

Sangolquí is a town just outside Quito, easily accessible by public buses from the city in less than 45 minutes. The Sunday morning food market is massive and lively, flowing outside the indoor market space and into the surrounding streets.

This is a lovely escape from bustling Quito and can easily accompany a visit to the waterfall hikes to Molinuco or Condor Machay close to Sangolquí.

Read More: Guide to Sangolqui and the Valle de Los Chillos

16. Have a Beer With a View at Secret Garden Quito

It probably is not often that you’d want to head to a hostel you’re not staying at. However, Secret Garden Hostel is more than just a hostel – it has one of the city’s loveliest views from its rooftop bar, well worth a visit for a drink even if you’re not staying here.

Located near the city’s historic center, you’ll have the perfect vantage point over the city’s most beautiful neighborhood, including the Basilica. Come prepared to hike up a few flights of stairs to reach the terrace!

If you haven’t decided where to stay in Quito, Secret Garden is also my top recommendation for a fantastic place to stay in Quito on a budget – I highly recommend checking it out. There’s nothing like starting the morning by eating breakfast on the rooftop or relaxing here after a long day of exploring the city. Rooms are comfortable, and dorm beds are inexpensive.

Read More: Where to Stay in Quito, Ecuador (On Any Budget)

quito view

17. Or, Have a Delicious Meal With a View at Vista Hermosa

Vista Hermosa is very close to the entrance of Parque Itchimbia, and it’s the perfect way to end a day at the park in style. This restaurant practically hangs over the edge of the hill, with the most incredible views of the illuminated city and the Panecillo as the sun sets over the mountains.

It’s definitely the best spot in the city for an evening view. It’s a bit pricier than most standard restaurants in Quito, but the food is excellent, and it’s an experience. Call ahead for a reservation on the terrace to enjoy the view – it’s the most requested area of the restaurant to enjoy, for obvious reasons.

18. Attend a Film Festival at Casa de la Cultura

Visiting Casa de la Cultura is one of the best things to do in Quito for its fascinating permanent exhibits that show off Ecuador’s archeological and colonial history. The permanent collection at the Casa de la Cultura is the number one museum I recommend to visitors who might only have time for one museum in their Quito itinerary.

However, there is much more to see and do here that most visitors don’t include on their itineraries. Casa de la Cultura hosts regular events, including workshops, music and dance performances, and movie festivals that are usually low-cost or free to visitors and are well worth looking into (check out the events listings for more details).

When we lived in Quito, we loved taking advantage of movie festivals to see brand-new Latin American movies and even were able to meet some of the directors in person. While they sometimes host English-language movies with subtitles, most movies are in Spanish. However, dance performances and concerts by Ecuadorian and Latin American groups don’t need to be translated to be enjoyed!

19. Relax With Locals at Parque La Carolina

Located in the heart of Quito and surrounded by highrises and shopping centers, Parque La Carolina is easily one of the most popular parks with locals. On weekends, the park is filled with families strolling, street food vendors, pick-up sports teams, and everything in between.

Inside this sprawling park, you’ll also find Quito’s lovely Botanical Garden, sports courts, activities like horseback riding for kids, and more. It’s a great place for a picnic or people-watching, and the surrounding neighborhoods have plenty of great restaurants and cafes worth checking out.

20. Try Ecuadorian Food at Mercado Central

If you’re looking for something even less frequently visited by tourists, Mercado Santa Clara is my favorite of Quito’s markets, with everything you could be looking for and more. It’s a bit smaller and more relaxed than Mercado Central but even more authentic. At the entrance, you’ll find vendors with some of the most colorful and artfully displayed fruit you’ll ever see.

quito market

21. Try Ecuadorian Craft Beer at Bandido

It’s no longer a secret in Quito that the craft brewery scene is growing rapidly. Craft beer-making and breweries have become so popular that they’ve begun to take hold even in smaller cities in Ecuador as a result.

By far my favorite brewery in Quito, Bandido Brewing is a small and friendly spot founded several years ago by expats from the United States. Located near the historic center, Bandido’s has several types of beer on rotation at all times and has great deals on flights.

Bandido also has delicious pizza and other small plates to accompany your beers and will entice you to stay with board games like Cards Against Humanity. They occasionally have live music as well!

22. Celebrate Carnival in Amaguaña

Carnival is an important holiday around the world, but it is celebrated in many special and unique ways in Ecuador – check out our complete guide to celebrating Carnival in Ecuador for more details!

This is a fantastic time to visit Ecuador and enjoy tons of cultural activities and events for free. Carnival usually falls in mid to late February or March – Carnival Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday. However, Ecuadorians usually celebrate Carnival for about a week or more leading up to Carnival.

Quito has several parades in the historic center on the weekend before Carnival, which are well worth a visit for the chance to traditional Ecuadorian dances, dress, and concerts.

Head just outside of Quito to Amaguaña for traditional Carnival “games” like throwing water, foam, and colored powder during parades and performances. It’s a dirty game, but fantastic fun and a great way to get involved.

23. Ride a Chiva to Celebrate Fiestas de Quito

If your travel coincides with the Fiestas de Quito, you’re in for an incredible celebration and tons of cultural events to enjoy. The annual Fiestas de Quito celebrates the foundation of the city of Quito and are celebrated the first week in December each year.

The city celebrates its history by hosting bullfighting events, parades, and cultural events around the city. A popular way to celebrate includes getting on one of the city’s party buses – called chivas – which have live music and dancing as they travel through the city.

Making the most of these cultural events is one of the best ways to enjoy the city – if you’re looking for what to do in Quito, Ecuador to make your trip unforgettable, try to add at least one event to your itinerary.

24. Try Ecuadorian Coffee at Travesia

Ecuador is a major global producer of coffee, and though often overshadowed by its northern neighbor of Colombia, it has some of the best ecosystems on the planet for coffee production. Quito’s burgeoning cafe scene has increased ten times in the past several years, and more places than ever are showing off Ecuadorian coffee.

Cafe Travesia is faithful to only using Ecuadorian coffee roasted and prepared in-house, and highlighting its incredible diversity of flavors. It’s very modern yet still inviting, and if you’re looking for a place to get some work done, you’ll find people set up with their laptops here. Come back in the evening for local craft beer options, too.

25. Explore La Floresta

Often overlooked by its more touristed neighbor, La Mariscal, the La Floresta neighborhood could easily make its own appearance on this list itself for the countless things to discover here, like cozy cafes, street art, galleries, and more.

Here are some of the things to discover here:

  • Bahn Mi, a mid-range Vietnamese restaurant with delicious options;
  • Ocho y Medio cafe and movie theater, which plays Ecuadorian and Latin American indie movies;
  • Botanica is one of my favorite little cafes in Quito – this lovely spot has tons of delicious pastry and coffee options, as well as small plates of more substantial food. They put a real emphasis on their coffee here, and showcase it well.
  • Jervis Cafe is my other favorite La Floresta spot for coffee and treats.

26. Visit Skull Donuts

Located within walking distance of the La Mariscal neighborhood and Casa de la Cultura, Skull Donuts isn’t just any spot for a sweet treat. This fun donut shop and cafe sells delicious, handmade donuts, all with incredible flavors, many special to Ecuador. Try the tart passionfruit (maracuyá) or blackberry (mora) flavors or any of the seasonal specialties.

There are a few tables in the back, plus other cafe staples like other sweet and savory bread and treats, and of course, coffee.

quito to cotopaxi

27. Take a Day Trip to Cotopaxi

Cotopaxi Volcano is an unforgettable sight to behold – one of South America’s most impressive volcanoes – and one of the most beautiful destinations Ecuador has to offer. Planning a visit to Cotopaxi as a day trip from Quito is a fantastic way to add it to a quick itinerary.

Reliable tour companies (click through this link for the one I’ve used!) offer day trips to Cotopaxi from Quito, including private transportation and guides. Booking a tour with these components included is the only way to easily get to and from Cotopaxi and navigate the national park in just one day.

If you’re looking to spend a bit more time enjoying Cotopaxi, by far the best way to visit is by booking a stay at The Secret Garden Cotopaxi. This retreat-like hotel (also with hostel rooms!) is situated in the heart of Cotopaxi National Park and offers visits to the volcano’s refuge and glacier line, fun excursions like horseback riding and biking down the side of the volcano, and hikes at other nearby volcanoes.

There is easy and affordable transport from The Secret Garden Quito hostel in Quito’s historic center. The Secret Garden Cotopaxi is my favorite hotel I’ve EVER stayed in – add this to your itinerary if you have a chance!

You can also book a day trip to Cotopaxi and Quilotoa for a whirlwind day at some of Ecuador’s most beautiful natural sites.

Read More: Quilotoa, Ecuador: Ultimate Travel Guide

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28. Birdwatch in Mindo

Located in the cloud forest of Ecuador, Mindo is a beautiful, warm escape from Quito, just about 2 hours north of the city, and one of the best birdwatching spots in the world. Excellent guides like the renowned Richard Hernandez and Marcelo Arias are the best options for experts, though you’ll find excellent excursions even for beginners.

Mindo isn’t just a spot for birdwatching, though. In Mindo, you’ll get the chance to try adventure sports like ziplining and repelling down waterfalls, tubing, and much more. It’s one of my personal favorite day trips from Quito!

You can catch a bus in the morning from La Ofelia bus station in the north of Quito, but for a day trip, I recommend booking private transport or a day-trip excursion to Mindo. You’ll save time navigating public transport and have a much more relaxing day in this beautiful spot!

Check out our guides to Mindo for more:

29. Party in Plaza Foch

The beating heart of Quito backpacking, Plaza Foch is a buzzy plaza in the heart of the La Mariscal neighborhood, filled with bars and restaurants, quiet in the mornings but alive at night.

While I’d advise looking elsewhere for restaurants – the ones you’ll find in Plaza Foch are overpriced and not that great – this is a great place to start bar hopping and see where the night takes you. Bungalow is a great place for dancing just a few blocks from the Plaza.

otavalo ecuador

30. Visit the Market in Otavalo

A favorite destination and a must-visit while in Ecuador, Otavalo is a small town in the north of Ecuador best known for its market. Otavalo has the largest market in all of South America and easily tops the list of best markets in Latin America as a whole.

Market day is Saturday, so try to plan a visit on Saturday morning if you can! On Saturdays, you’ll find what seems like the whole town filled with market stalls. However, if your itinerary won’t allow it, the market is open in a smaller capacity throughout the week.

You can catch a bus to Otavalo at the Carcelén bus station in the north of Quito, as buses leave for Otavalo frequently on the two-hour route. Or if you’re on a tighter itinerary (or want to skip the bus!) there are very affordable day trips to Otavalo and its beautiful market.

Read More: Otavalo Market: Ultimate Travel Guide

31. Hike and Bike in Parque Metropolitano

Located on a hillside over Quito, Parque Metropolitano feels like it’s a world away. With countless meandering trails for hiking, biking, and easy walks through forests of eucalyptus trees, it’s an excellent escape from the city.

Make sure to explore the east side of the park, where you’ll get stunning views overlooking the neighboring valleys below.

32. Take a Day Trip (or Overnight!) to Quilotoa

Truly a sight to behold, the Quilotoa Crater Lake will take your breath away. This volcanic crater is wedged among stunning landscapes in a remote corner of the Andes, a popular destination for visitors and trekkers who make the journey here to start the 3-day or 4-day Quilotoa Loop trek.

Located about 4 hours away from Quito and requires at least two buses to get there, the best way to visit as a day trip from Quito is by booking an excursion with private transportation. You’ll get to travel comfortably and have plenty of time to hike around in Quilotoa while there. Plus, you can even book a day trip to Quilotoa and Cotopaxi for double the incredible scenery.

Looking for even more information about Quilotoa? Check out our ultimate guide to Quilotoa and the famous Quilotoa Loop Trek for more.

Travel Essential

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33. Try Authentic Shwarma at El Árabe

Quito has a strange love for shwarma, and you’ll find plenty of places selling these cheap, filling sandwiches – particularly in La Mariscal, where the massive, sizzling rotating meats draw in drunk partygoers and backpackers on a budget. However, if you’re looking for authentic Middle Eastern food, a visit to El Árabe is a must.

Founded decades ago by a refugee from Syria – the nicest man in Quito, I can personally attest to it! – El Árabe sells juicy, flavorful, and authentic shwarmas fresh all day, plus delicious Middle Eastern food. The food here is so good that the president of Ecuador has even eaten here. Plus, it’s quite affordable. You won’t find a better spot to eat in La Mariscal at this price range.


34. Horseback Ride in a Volcanic Crater at Pululahua

Just past Mitad del Mundo heading north of Quito, Pululahua is a long-extinct volcanic crater, now a beautiful, lust valley surrounded by the soaring sides of the volcano. This is a great excursion and a beautiful place to enjoy nature near Quito, with places to hike in the crater and plenty of viewpoints from above.

Many take an excursion to Pululahua as an add-on to a visit to the Equator which is the easiest way to visit, though visiting the park for a longer hike and visit is great if you have time – horseback riding through Pululahua is a popular activity!

35. Marvel at the Iglesia de San Francisco

Another one of the Old Town’s most beautiful churches, Iglesia de San Francisco has a dramatic and beautiful façade in one of the city’s largest plazas. You can visit the inside for free or take a tour, including a visit to the convent and courtyards, as well as the balcony, for a small ticket price.

Make sure not to miss the fresco on the wall near the entrance on the right side of the church – you’ll see a gruesome yet fascinating portrayal of the supposed punishments for different types of sinners.

36. Enjoy Rooftop Views and Art Exhibits at Centro Cultural Metropolitano

Located adjacent to Carondelet Palace – Ecuador’s Presidential Palace – the Centro Cultural Metropolitano is an excellent place to explore as you’re wandering through the Historic Center. This mixed-used building houses everything from an academic library and offices to restaurants and art exhibits.

The free exhibits located in the salons closest to the Presidential Palace are always worth exploring and are free to visit.

For a favorite – secret! – thing to do in Quito, take in a memorable rooftop view over Old Quito and El Panecillo from the roof of the building. Head up the main staircase to the rooftop and head to the southwest corner of the building. The building is usually quiet and you’ll pass by offices, but don’t worry – it’s fine to visit!

You’ll have a lovely view over an interior patio, the domes of colonial churches, and the mountainside around Quito.

37. Climb Rucu Pichincha Volcano

If you take the TelefériQo up the hillside, you’re already halfway up the Pichincha Volcano! Since the TelefériQo was built, hiking Rucu Pichincha – one of the volcano’s three peaks – has been a popular hike and climbing excursion from Quito, a perfect activity for the adventurous.

Considered of moderate difficulty, there are some sections with loose rock, but the hike is mostly doable. The high altitude is the most challenging aspect for most – its summit is 15,696 feet (4,784 meters).

For more details about how to get to Rucu Pichincha and details of the hike, plus guide recommendations, check out our guide to day trips from Quito. The hike takes a few hours, so while it’s technically in Quito, it’s a popular choice for a “day trip.”


38. Explore Guápulo

The tiny yet charming neighborhood of Guápulo is one of the must-see parts of Quito that few visitors actually make it to. Tucked just down the hillside from the rest of the city, it boasts a gorgeous colonial church and sprawling park with gorgeous lagoons and waterfalls.

Even if you don’t want to head down the hillside to Guápulo itself, make sure to check out the Mirador de Guápulo, the Guápulo Lookout, which offers sweeping views of the valley below – it’s quite impressive. Located just behind the Hotel Quito in La Mariscal, it’s an impressive (and free!) thing to do in Quito that you’ll love.

The walk down the hillside from the neighborhoods of La Floresta and La Mariscal is quite lovely, but you’ll certainly want to grab a taxi when you’re headed back up!