10 Reasons to Visit Quito

10 Reasons to Visit Quito
There are many reasons to visit Quito; here are 10 of the “must do & see” in this wonderful destination:

1. Journey to the Middle of the World

Straddle the Equator in Quito. Located 9,350 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains, the city is the world’s closest capital to the sun—and also the only one where you can simultaneously stand with one foot in the Northern Hemisphere and the other in the Southern Hemisphere. Visitors can experience the unique energy found at “the middle of the world” while walking at Latitude 0°0’0’’, the equatorial line drawn nearly three centuries ago by the pioneering astronomers and geographers of the famed French Geodesic Mission.

2. Dig into Quito’s cuisine

A plethora of local and international cuisines in a cosmopolitan city. Ecuador’s national cuisine is rapidly finding its place in global gastronomy and Quito is the best place to find the latest culinary innovations, as well as traditional dishes from across the country.

From top-notch and trendy restaurants to local neighborhood markets, visitors will find that the basic dishes of Quito’s cuisine have roots in its mestizo heritage, a blend of the pre-Columbian Andean and later Iberian (or Spanish) cultures. This cultural mash-up provides a heady mixture of flavors, textures, colors and cultures—all in one spoonful.

Foodies should not miss local specialties such as locro de papas (potato soup), seco de chivo (braised goat stew), fritada (fried pork), empanadas, envuelto (corn dough wrapped in leaves and then steamed), aji sauce, exotic fruit juices and the elaborate paila ice cream.

Vegan? Gluten-free? Never fear. Many of Quito’s chefs have been trained internationally and can tailor dishes to meet dietary restrictions if asked.

3. The iconic Centro Historico

Quito’s Centro Historico, or historical center, is the city’s heart and soul. Home to elaborate structures built in the baroque style, multigenerational homes turned into museums and boutique hotels, restaurants and cobblestone streets offering centuries-old street food and drinks, this historical part of Quito emerges not only as a great outdoor museum of Ecuadoran history, but a vibrant meeting place where locals and visitors converge.

Considered to be the best preserved colonial-era city center in Latin America, the Centro Historico is the main reason why in 1978 Quito was the first city to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area is full of secrets to be discovered and visitors should not miss some key buildings in the area, including La Compañía de Jesús, a top work of the baroque period in the Americas; La Plaza Grande, the site of important events in the history of both Quito and Ecuador; and the monasteries of San Francisco. Visitors should also stroll the street of La Ronda, a thoroughfare whose inhabitants still practice many of the trades once employed in colonial times, including one-of-a-kind works of arts and crafts.

4. Art galleries and workshops

Take a master class with a local artist. Quito’s picturesque surroundings and nurturing bohemian spirit have made it popular with artists and artisans since the city was established during the colonial era. This still holds true today, as many local, national and international artists have set up shop in the city and have opened their studios to the public. This offers a unique opportunity to not only buy their works directly, but to also interact with the artists themselves—or even take a class. Noted local artists include Oswaldo Viteri, Oswaldo Guayasamín, Luigi Stonornaiolo and Eduardo Kingman.

5. Museums, theaters and cultural centers

Take in a show on almost every corner. Quito is bursting with venues that tell stories from times both past and imagined, and up the cultural ante with temporary and permanent exhibits, theater pieces, films and musical performances. Must-sees include the City Museum, “El Alabado” House Museum (with an extraordinary collection of pre-Columbian art), the Wax Museum, the Sucre Theater, Contemporary Art Center and the House of Music, as well as museums in surrounding areas such as Tulipe, Rumipamba and La Florida. Traveling with kids? No problem; they’ll thrill to attractions such as the Yaku Park Water Museum, the Interactive and Science Museum and the Train Museum.

6. Take a train trip

Experience travel by luxury train. A long-lost mode of transportation, a fleet of newly restored luxury steam locomotives once again takes travelers from Quito’s popular Chimbacalle neighborhood, in the south of the city, across the Andes to different locations throughout Ecuador. Once described as “the toughest railroad of the world,” this impressive work of engineering from the early 20th century once again connects Ecuador’s Pacific coast and the Andes. Visit the station and its museum and then hop aboard this great railway adventure.

7. Nightlife

Party in the Middle of the World. Quito’s La Mariscal, La Floresta, Guapulo and La Carolina neighborhoods are the city’s nightlife hot spots, home to an array of restaurants, coffee shops, bars and nightclubs that combine musical entertainment, world-class cuisine, exotic cocktails and culture with people-watching opportunities on every corner.

8. Shopping

If shopping is your passion, Quito—with its wide variety of retail options for every taste and budget—is the place for you. Trawl modern shopping malls such as “El Quicentro Shopping” or “El Jardín,” bursting with local and international renowned brands. In the neighborhoods of La Floresta or La Mariscal, browse antique shops and art galleries peddling contemporary designs. In the Centro Historico, peruse specialized arts and crafts stores such as “El Quinde.” In the market for art? On weekends, head to “El Ejido” park for paintings, sculptures and more.

9. Páramo and the cloud forest

A world away—in under an hour. Take a break from the bustle of the city and visit the Andean countryside of the Páramo (Moorland) farm region. Nature-based activities on offer in the area include hot-spring swims, horseback riding, hiking, agro-tourism and much more.

In the region’s northwestern zone, visitors will revel in the rich beauty of the Cloud Forest. It’s a paradise for flora-and-fauna fans, as the area is home to many endemic plant and animal species found only in Ecuador. Birdwatchers will spot over 500 species; a highlight is the quinde, or hummingbird. Also keep an eye out for the spectacled—or Andean—bear, a breed unique to South America.

10. Connectivity to the rest of Ecuador

Quito is the gateway to Ecuador. The city’s world-class infrastructure, international gastronomy, and historical and ecological offerings can provide for days and weeks of experiences, but its location also makes it the perfect base for trips to Ecuador’s many other attractive tourism destinations.
Within an hour’s flight from Quito, visitors can enjoy the simple life in rustic and charming beach towns of the Pacific Coast, popular with surfers, families and couples on romantic getaways alike. For the adventurous, road trips south or north from Quito lead to the Andes Mountains and a belt of towering volcanoes. The Amazon region, with all its magic and extraordinary vegetation, is also home to historical ancestral towns. And don’t forget the unique ecology of the Galapagos Islands, which played a crucial starring role in the development of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

For more information on Quito, please visit: www.quito.com.ec/en/