How to Spend 1 Day in Quito
Ecuador’s capital city is a South American gem, filled with colonial architecture, surrounded by mountain peaks, and blessed with a mild climate year-round. Even if you only have limited time in Quito, you’ll still be able to enjoy the highlights. Here are some ideas for how to make the most of your 24 hours.
Morning: Colonial Quito
Start your day with a sightseeing tour of Quito for an introduction to the capital’s history, culture, and well-preserved colonial architecture. Walking tours of the historic city center typically include visits to Independence Plaza, the Archbishop’s Palace, gilded La Compañía church, and the Church and Monastery of St. Francis. Cover more ground (and explore at your own pace) aboard the Quito hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus. The 11 stops around town include the Botanical Gardens of Quito, El Ejido craft market, the imposing basilica, and foodie-friendly La Ronda.
Afternoon: El Panecillo and Mitad del Mundo
No trip to Quito would be complete without a visit to the top of El Panecillo, a prominent hill topped with a statue of the Virgin Mary standing watch over the city. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Cotopaxi volcano. Many city sightseeing tours make a stop here in the afternoon before heading just outside the city to another notable landmark, Mitad del Mundo. The Middle of the World Monument sits near the equatorial line—a popular spot for a photo op with one foot in either hemisphere. Alternatively, head to another Quito vantage point by riding the Teleferico Quito gondola to the top of the Pichincha volcano.
Night: Foodie Tour
This evening, join a local foodie for a tasting tour on foot through Quito’s Old Town. Learn about local food and culinary history as you sample specialties such as mote con chicharrón (corn with fried pork), empanadas, and salchipapas (fries with sliced sausage on top). Alternatively, catch a performance by the Ecuadorian National Folkloric Ballet over a dinner of haute Andean cuisine.