We just had the most amazing five days in Quito, Ecuador – a city that isn’t always on the top of everyone’s holiday list provided us with a great time with everything from mountains, to the charm of the historic center, to chilling by the pool with a craft beer. Whether you are strictly coming to Quito or only stopping over for a few days on the way to get to the Galapagos, here is our top things to do in Quito, Ecuador.
Hotels in Quito: Where to Stay
After eight months of travel we decided to spoil ourselves and stay at the gorgeous Rukka Lodge! It was great for many reasons but the first would definitely be the ambiance – which really sets this hotel in Quito apart from the rest. The Rukka Lodge is actually located within the complex of the Garden House, the Garden House features 4 boutique restaurants (which was the best food we had while in Ecuador) as well as a craft beer bar, a spa, yoga and meditation classes. All of this is within the most gorgeous garden you have ever seen! We had comfortable rooms with a balcony that overlooked the garden and the heated pool. We truly felt as if we were on a tropical getaway – except we were at about 2,200m above sea level!
We also loved the unique location. Instead of staying right within the craziness of Quito’s city center, we were about a 20 minute drive out (20 minutes from the airport as well, directly in the middle of the city center and airport.) This allowed us to stay in safer neighborhood and have easier access to all of the activities that are offered around Quito.
Also, we must give a shout out to the owners who went above and beyond to help us with everything we needed and more, a special thanks Rafael and Sandra. We truly enjoyed stayed at the Rukka Lodge.
Things to do in Quito, Ecuador
1. Quito Historic Center – This is an obvious place to start, one can’t visit Quito without checking out the historic center and all it has to offer. There are churches and museums all surrounded by colonial style buildings. Now, it is a major South American city so be careful with your belongings as pick pockets are common, but if you are careful you should be just fine. I always recommend a walking tour as the best way to get to know a city quickly with the most inside information. There is a free one offered everyday outside of the Community Hostel at 10:30am. You could also hire a private guide for a day trip to the city through GreenGO Travel. Like I said, we stayed 20 minutes outside of the city center so we just made a day trip in, but we found that this was enough time.
2. Quilotoa Crater – This is a massive crater created from a volcano which is now filled with a gorgeous blue lake. Some people hike this as part of the Quilotoa Loop but we weren’t feeling up to a few days’ worth of hiking so we did a private day trip to see the crater with GreenGo Travel (I would highly recommend this agency as both the booking staff and the guide were extremely helpful and professional.) It was a bit of a drive, but well worth it! The drive was 2.5hours but very scenic and we stopped at a couple of view points along the way. When we got to the crater we viewed it from about and then hiked to the bottom and back up which took us about two hours. Overall, it was a great day and a pleasant way to spend some time in nature and get some pictures. One of my favorite things to do in Quito, Ecuador!
3. Papallacta Hot Springs – Only 30km, or a short taxi ride away from the Rukka Lodge, these are famous luxury hot springs. We didn’t actually get a chance to visit them during our short stay but we spoke with our travelers who did and they loved it! There are amazing views at the hot springs and they are located far enough out of the city that it feels relaxing in nature. There are 5 different pools all with different temperatures and spa and restaurant onsite if you would like. This is another great option or a day or half-day trip and easy enough to organize as all you need is a taxi driver and a swim suit!
4. Check out the neighborhood – Cumbaya is right next to Tumbaco, only two minutes away but taxi or bus. There, you will find a main plaza which is a park surrounded by nice places to eat or drink. There is also a massive shopping mall called “Scala.” The day we walked around here there was actually a parade which made for an interesting and exciting outing for us!
5. Mindo – We aren’t massive bird people so we skipped this one but if you are into bird watching then I would definitely recommend organizing a day trip to check this out. Mindo is only 44 km from Tumbaco so it easily accessible with a day tour or hired taxi driver.
Where to Go Next
Banos – If you have more time in Ecuador I would recommend heading to Banos. Banos is easily accessible by a quick three hour bus ride. Check out everything to do with Banos here.
Montanita – Other good options are Purerto Lopez or Montanita if you want some warmer weather and the beach! Read about our experience snorkeling, checking out the wildlife, and whale watching here.
Otavelo – Otavelo has a very popular artesanal market. If you want to shop this is the place to go as it is only 2.5 hours from Quito. Some people take a day trip here but there are decent hotels around and staying a night will give you more time to shop!
Those our our top things to do in Quito, a different way to explore the city forsure! Feel free to comment below if you have anything to add or any questions.
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