Quito ranks among South America’s most scenic capitals, and with two days to spend in the city, you’ll have enough time to wander its colonial heart, take in its panoramic views, and dig deeper into its culture and culinary heritage. Read on for tips on how to spend the ultimate 48 hours in Quito.
A sanctuary from Old Town’s bustling streets, El Sagario is a favorite stop on many sightseeing tours of Quito’s historic center. Its dreamy interior, decorated in shades of green and gold, are many special treasures, including the fabulous gold Rococo altarpiece (which took 12 years to build), the frescoed archangels flying towards the grand cupola, and the magnificent wood-carved screen by one of Quito’s most celebrated sculptors, Bernardo de Legarda. Some tours include a cable car ride to the top of Pichincha Volcano to a plateau stop where you may enjoy trails for hiking or horsebacking riding and magnificent views of the valley.
Things to Know Before You Go
- El Sagrario is an ideal spot for history lovers with an interest in religious art and artifacts.
- Lighting candles have been officially forbidden.
- Dress modestly to show respect for this religious place.
- Admission is free.
How to Get There
El Sagrario is located on Calle Garcia Moreno at Plaza Grande next to the Quito Cathedral, easy walking distance from many of the top attractions in the historic center. The closest bus stops are Benalcazar y Chile and Plaza Chica. The closest metro station is Estación Marin Central, located about half a mile (800 meters) away.
When to Get There
The church is open daily from early morning to evening; on Sundays, the church closes between 1pm and 5pm. Mass is said several times each day, Peak season in Quito runs from June to September, coinciding with the Ecuadorian dry season. Throughout the year, the high-altitude climate is consistently springlike with warm days and chilly nights. To experience the city in party mode, come February to April for Carnival and the religious holiday Semana Santa.
Plaza Grande El Sagrario is located at the Plaza Grande, one of the most popular meeting places in colonial Quito. Take a seat on one of the benches and soak up the square’s lively atmosphere, day and night, and the stunning Andes mountains cradling the city. If you are around in the morning, wander over to the Palacio de Gobierno to see the changing of the guard, or drop into the Palace of the Archbishop.
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- Presidential Palace
- Independence Plaza (Plaza de la Independencia)
- Quito Old Town
- Museum of Colonial Art (Museo De Arte Colonial)
- Cathedral of Quito (Catedral de Quito)
- Church of the Society of Jesus (Iglesia La Compañía de Jesús)
- Casa del Alabado Museum of Pre-Columbian Art
- Santo Domingo Plaza (Plaza de Santa Domingo)
- Carmen Alto Convent (Museo de Carmen Alto)
- City Museum of Quito (Museo de la Ciudad)
- Calle La Ronda
- Archbishop's Palace (Palacio Arzobispal)
- Basilica of the National Vow (La Basílica del Voto Nacional)
- El Panecillo