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Difference between revisions of "Quito"

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Closer to the bus station, Old Town is a good base for sightseers.  
 
Closer to the bus station, Old Town is a good base for sightseers.  
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====Budget====
 +
*'''The Secret Garden''', Calle Antepara E4-60 y Los Rios, San Blas, (593)2956 704 or (593)3160 949, [http://www.secretgardenquito.com/].  Offers a roof terrace with a great view and herbs grown by the volunteer staff.  Moreover there is a jaw dropping and wonderful view of the older section of Quito. Has a great in-house travel agency Carpedm Adventures ( http://www.carpedm.ca ) to help sort out Galapagos, Amazon & more. There are fires nightly and the staff cooks three course meals every night, the hostel also offers breakfast for $2.
  
*<sleep name="Hotel Huasi Continental" alt="Close to the crossing of Flores and Sucre." address="Calle Flores 308" directions="email: info@hotelhuasi.com" phone="+593 2 2957 327/+593 2 2956 535" url="www.hotelhuasi.com" checkin="" checkout="" price="Singles from $5" lat="" long="">Nice and clean hotel in the old town with helpful staff. Note that some of the rooms facing the street can be a bit noisy.</sleep>
+
*<sleep name="Hotel Huasi Continental" alt="Close to the crossing of Flores and Sucre." address="Calle Flores 308" directions="email: info@hotelhuasi.com" phone="+593 2 2957 327/+593 2 2956 535" url="www.hotelhuasi.com" checkin="" checkout="" price="Singles from $10" lat="" long="">Nice and clean hotel in the old town with helpful staff. Note that some of the rooms facing the street can be a bit noisy.</sleep>
  
*'''The Secret Garden''', Calle Antepara E4-60 y Los Rios, San Blas, (593)2956 704 or (593)3160 949, [http://www.secretgardenquito.com/]Offers a roof terrace with a great view and herbs grown by the volunteer staffMoreover there is a jaw dropping and wonderful view of the older section of Quito. Has a great in-house travel agency Carpedm Adventures ( http://www.carpedm.ca ) to help sort out Galapagos, Amazon & more. There are fires nightly and the staff cooks three course meals every night, the hostel also offers breakfast for $2.
+
====Mid-Range====
 +
*<sleep name="Hotel San Francisco de Quito" address="Sucre 217 y Guayaquil" directions="Walk east from Santo Domingo Trole station to Sucre, turn right, hotel is at end of block.  If taking a cab, walk to a nearby street...cabs in front of the hotel will refuse to use their meter." phone="+593 2 2951 241/+593 2 2287 758" url="http://www.sanfranciscodequito.com.ec/" checkin="" checkout="" price="singles/doubles $23/$42" lat="" long="">A lovely, comfortable, converted estate house offering excellent valuePrice includes a basic breakfast, which can be upgraded for a priceSome rooms on the courtyard and street are a bit noisy. There are no windows in most rooms.  The restaurant also serves excellent dinners, priced in line with other a-la-carte restaurants.</sleep>
  
 +
====Splurge====
 
* A number of small, boutique hotels have opened recently in the Old Town. These include the five-star '''Hotel Plaza Grande''' [http://www.plazagrandequito.com], '''Villa Colonna''' [http://www.villacolonna.ec], '''El Relicario del Carmen''' [http://www.hotelrelicariodelcarmen.com] and the longest-established: '''Patio Andaluz''' [http://www.hotelpatioandaluz.com].
 
* A number of small, boutique hotels have opened recently in the Old Town. These include the five-star '''Hotel Plaza Grande''' [http://www.plazagrandequito.com], '''Villa Colonna''' [http://www.villacolonna.ec], '''El Relicario del Carmen''' [http://www.hotelrelicariodelcarmen.com] and the longest-established: '''Patio Andaluz''' [http://www.hotelpatioandaluz.com].
  

Revision as of 22:47, 23 September 2009

Quito [1] is the capital of Ecuador. It was founded in 1534 on the ruins of an ancient Inca city. Today, two million people live in Quito. It was the first city to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site [2] in 1978 (along with Krakow in Poland).

Contents

Districts

Quito lies between two mountain ranges and its altitude is 2,800 metres or about 10,000 feet. It may take you a couple of days to get accustomed to the altitude.

Quito is roughly divided into three parts: the Old City at the centre, with southern and northern districts to either side. The greatest concentration of tourist facilities is in the North, including the airport. Quito's Old City is the largest in the Americas. It has undergone a huge restoration and revitalisation programme over the last decade, mainly financed by the Inter-American Development Bank. It boasts no less than 40 churches and convents, 17 squares and 16 convents and monasteries. It's been called the 'Relicuary of the Americas' for the richness of its colonial- and independence-era architecture and heritage. It's a great quarter to wander, with several excellent museums and plenty of restaurants and terrace cafes for a rest while sightseeing.

Modern, northern Quito (on a map, up until the southern tip of the airport) is a fun place to explore, with plenty of museums and urban parks as well as restaurants and nightlife. The southern and northern (from the airport up) districts of the city are more working class and seldom visited by tourists.

Understand

Be prepared to speak some basic Spanish in order to get along. Quito is an excellent city in which to learn Spanish before heading off to other places in South America. The Spanish spoken in Quito is very clear and it is spoken slowly as compared to coastal areas. There are many excellent Spanish schools where you can have private or group lessons very economically. These schools will also arrange homestay accommodation which is convenient, inexpensive and a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the culture and try the local food.

Very few locals speak English except in the touristy areas of North Quito which includes "La Mariscal" quarter, where most tourist businesses are located. La Mariscal occupies several square blocks in North Quito and is the place to be if you wear a backpack. Bars, restaurants, hostels and internet cafes abound. Young people from many countries tend to congregate there.

Ecuador, especially the Sierra region that includes Quito, is culturally a very conservative society. This is reflected in manner of dress. People of all socio-economic backgrounds tend to dress up in Ecuador. For men, this means a pair of trousers and a button down shirt. For women, slacks or dresses are acceptable. Men and women seldom wear short pants in Quito, although in recent years casual clothes have become somewhat more accepted especially among the young and on very hot days. Some popular nightclubs and restaurants enforce a dress code. Lastly, remember that Quito is said to have "all four seasons in a day". Once the sun goes down it can get downright cold. Dressing in layers is a good idea.

The South American Explorers Club [3] is a non profit organization dedicating to helping independent travelers in Ecuador and South America. Their office, at Jorge Washington 311 y Leonidas Plaza (in the Mariscal district of Quito right off of 6 de Diciembre) is a great place to stop by, meet people, and get the latest information on where to go, what to avoid, and on adventure travel. You can find out more about the services they offer on their website.

The Quito Visitors' Bureau [4] has several information centres around the city. These include at the International Arrivals terminal at the airport; the small Parque Gabriela Mistral, on Reina Victoria in the Mariscal quarter; the Banco Central Museum in the Mariscal District; and finally, in the Old Town, on the ground floor of the Palacio Municipal on one side of Plaza Grande - their main centre. This includes helpful staff, lockers for leaving bags, maps, leaflets and books for sale, a store of Ecuadorian crafts. This offices offers free guided tours to visitors,with various routes available. Visitors only pay the entrance fees to the churches or museums. The contacts for the main office are: (+593 2) 2570 - 786 / 2586 - 591, infotur-ch@quito-turismo.com [5]

The Ministry of Tourism [6]] or [7]] has offices in their building on Avenida Eloy Alfaro and Carlos Tobar, close to the El Jardin shopping mall which cater to tourists. The Pichincha Chamber of Tourism (CAPTUR) [8] also has offices at Patria and Amazonas.

Quito's Plaza Grande at night
* The Visitors' Bureau publishes a useful A3-size map with all the city's attractions. You can pick it up at their information offices. They also publish a number of pocket guides on various themes, including Artesans of Quito, the 'Water Route' to the east over to the Amazon, the Tulipe route in the northwest, eating in the Old Town, Mariscal nightlife. Their website has an interactive map, videos, etc.

Get in

By Plane

Near the baggage area of the Quito airport, it is possible to buy vouchers that can be used for a taxi ride. As of 2007, the cost to go to the tourist hotel zone was $5.

If you wish to try taking a bus instead of a taxi to the Mariscal (main tourist destination) section of Quito (it is not advisable if you have much luggage or are not familiar with Quito), which is often referred to as "gringolandia" by tourists or "la zona" by locals, you can exit the airport, cross the main street, and board any bus with "J.L. Mera" or "Juan L. Mera" on the sign. The cost is USD $0.25, but if you are a student under 18 or a senior citizen over 65 then it is USD $0.12.

A new, large international airport is presently under construction in a valley located in the northeast of Quito. It will be well outside the city between the towns of Tababela and Puembo, approx. 25 kms from the city. It will feature a one of the longest runways in Latin America: 4,100 meters long by 45 meters wide, that will allow an average of 44 take-offs and landings per hour. The airport is expected to be completed in 2009 and will start its operations in 2010.

By Bus

The old "Terminal Terrestre," which was located in Cumandá (Center of the city)has been replaced by two new terminals.

  • Terminal Quitumbe (located in the far south of Quito), services all the buses that go to any destination south of Quito: Basically all of the coastal provinces, all of the amazonian provinces, and all of the mountain region (sierra) provinces except two: Carchi and Imbabura (where Otavalo and other tourist attractions are located).
  • For these two you need to go to Terminal Carcelén (located in the far north of Quito). Fares depend on where your going. Long distance bus fairs in Ecuador cost around $1 per hour, but generally the price is already established. So if for some reason, your bus trip takes double the time to get to your destination, for whatever reason (damaged road, too much traffic, etc.) you don't have to pay the extra hours. The fare to Guayaquil (July 2009) is 9$.

Still, the same safeguards apply: as long as you hold on to your belongings and don't hang around there at odd hours, it is safe. People will probably shout at you asking where you are going. They either work for a bus company and want to get you to buy a ticket with that company or want to help you find the bus you are looking for in exchange for a tip. If you arrive with a lot of luggage it's best to avoid the public transportation system in Quito and take a taxi to your hotel. Ecuadorian long-distance buses will generally let passengers off anywhere along their route.

Get around

  • El Trole (The Trolley) and the Ecovía follow north-south-lines down through the heart of Quito. $0.25 for a ride. Take note that there is no tradition of waiting for people to disembark before people board, so this may take some getting used to. The buses are among the cleanest of South America, but still, be aware of pickpockets!
  • The easiest way to get to most Quito hotels from the airport is to buy a taxi ticket, available after the baggage area before exiting the airport. Cost to the hotels in the main tourist area is $5 (November 2008).
  • Taxis and buses are everywhere and very inexpensive. . A taxi ride costs a minimum of $1 during the day and a minimum of $2 at night. Only use official taxis (yellow with a number painted on the door). Make sure the driver turns on the taxi meter if you don't want to get ripped off and find another taxi if they claim its broken (taxímetro). At night or if they refuse to, negotiate the price before getting in, or wait for the next. Carry small denominations of money and have exact change for your taxi fare. If you do not have exact change, taxi drivers conveniently won't be able to make change for you and will try to convince you to make the change a tip instead. Most major hotels have taxis that they have approved as safe and legitimate. If unsure about a taxi, call your hotel and they can generally have a safe taxi dispatched to your location. A bus trip costs in Quito $0.25, including Trole and Ecovía (July 2009)
  • Ecovia run from Rio Coca Station at north in Quito to the la Marin Station inside the Quito historic Downtown. The ride cost $0.25, is a good way to reach the Mariscal area if you live or stay at the western neighborhoods in Quito.
  • Metrobus run from Universidad Central in America Avenue, next to Prensa Ave, and then to Diego de Vasquez Ave. until Carcelen last station, this is the best bus service for visitors who wants to visit the Mitad del Mundo Monument, because at Ofelia station the public services buses who go to Mitad del Mundo monument waits to make the switching and carry visitors to Mitad del Mundo, $0.25 until Ofelia station, $0.35 to Mitad del Mundo Monument.
  • The railway station is at the south end of the old city, close to the El Trole route. The railway is very rundown and services are erratic. It's best to check with the Visitors' Bureau on the most recent timetable.
  • You can rent a car in Quito, but it's not recommended for getting around the city. It's not worth the effort with taxis so cheap. Renting a car is a possibility for exploring further afield, to the Cotopaxi or Otavalo or Papallacta areas, for instance, but is only recommended for those who speak a bit of Spanish and can handle the tension of Ecuador's 'lax' driving rules.
  • You can also get around by renting a Bike at Yellow Bike. Quito offers a unique Cycle Path that goes around the nothern part of the City, through out Av. Amazonas to Parque La Carolina. If you rent a bike to travel around Quito we recommend you are carefull and use a healmet, it is a nice adventure and a cheap way to get around but it can some times be dangerous because of the heavy traffic. Lizardo Garcia 512 y Almagro, La Mariscal. www.yellowbike.com.ec

See

Plaza Grande, Quito
  • Conjunto monumental San Francisco. The church dates back from the 1570s and was devoted to San Francis, since the Franciscan order was the first to settle in the area. Hence the city's official name: San Francisco de Quito. The church contains masterpieces of syncretic art, including the famous "Virgin of Quito" by Legarda. The sculpture represents a winged virgin stepping on the devil's head (in the form of a serpent) and is displayed in the main altar. The virgin would later be inaccurately replicated on top of Panecillo hill. The museum next door to the church is arranged through the monastic compound and includes access to the choir.
  • Museo del Banco Central. Located across from the Casa de la Cultura and adjacent to the Parque El Ejido, you'll find perhaps Ecuador's most renowned museum with different Salas, or rooms, devoted to pre-Colombian, Colonial and gold works of art, among other topics. Some of the famous pieces include whistle bottles shaped like animals, elaborate gold headdresses and re-created miniature scenes of life along the Amazon. The museum is well-organized, and it takes about 3-4 hours to see everything. Guides who speak several different languages including English, French and Spanish are available for a small fee.
  • Museo de la Ciudad. The Museo de la Ciudad is in the Old Town, on Garcia Moreno street, directly opposite the Carmen Alto monastery. A lovely museum with two floors encircling two quiet courtyards, the "Museo de la Ciudad" provides more of a social history of Ecuador than other museums in Quito. Re-enacted scenes from daily life of Ecuador's citizens through the years include a hearth scene from a 16th-century home, a battle scene against the Spanish, and illustrations of the building of Iglesia de San Francisco church.
  • Teleferico. This is the world's second-highest cable car. It's located on the eastern flanks of the Pichincha Volcano which overlooks the whole city. It hoists visitors up to an amazing 4,000 meters (12,000 feet). On clear days, one can spot half-a-dozen volcanoes and spy the entire city below. You can also hike up from here to the Guagua Pichincha Volcano, which is active. See Teleferiqo website for details [10]. It is $4 for locals, but $8 for foreigners. There is also an express lane option for more money.
  • Botanical Gardens. The Jardin Botanico is located on the southwest side of Parque La Carolina. It's a wonderful escape from the city, with all of Ecuador's ecosystems represented with a wide variety of flora. You can take a guided tour or just wander. The highlight for many people are the two glassed-in orchidariums.
  • Museo Mindalae. An extremely original project in the north part of the Mariscal District, this museum provides an 'ethno-historical' view of Ecuador's amazingly rich cultural diversity. You can find out about the country's different peoples, from the coast to the Andes to the Amazon, and their crafts in a specially-built and designed structure. The museum has a restaurant for lunch, a cafe and a fair-trade shop.
  • Itchimbia cultural complex and park. This hill lies to the east of the Old Town. It provides stunning views of central and northern Quito, as well as the distant peak of Cayambe to the northeast. The hillside was was made into a park and an impressive cultural centre established here in 2005. The centre holds temporary exhibitions. At the weekends, there are workshops and fun for children. A restaurant, Pim's, opened at the complex in June 2007. The complex closes at 6 pm. Once it closes, you can head to the nearby Cafe Mosaico to watch the sunset until about 7 pm. It's a great spot to watch the fading of the light on the mountainside with the floodlights of the Old Town's churches.
  • Museo Guayasamin [11]. This musueum houses the collection of Ecuador's most renowned contemporary artists, Oswaldo Guayasamin. It has a fine collection of pre-Colombian, colonial and independence art, as well as housing many of the artist's works. You can also visit the nearby Chapel of Man (Capilla del Hombre) [12] which was built posthumously to house some of Guayasamin's vast canvasses on the condition of Latin American Man.
  • Calle de la Ronda. This street in the Old Town was restored by Municipality and FONSAL in 2007. It was transformed with the help and cooperation of the local residents. It's a romantic cobbled street just off the Plaza Santo Domingo (or it can be reached via Garcia Moreno by the City Museum). There are shops, patios, art galleries and modest cafe restaurants now, all run by residents. Cultural events are common at the weekends.
  • La Vírgen del Panecillo. Adjacent to the Old City, El Panecillo is a large hill on top of which is La Virgin del Panecillo, a large statue of the 'winged' Virgin Mary. She can be seen from most points in the city. Local legend has it that she is the only virgin in Quito. Never walk up the hill, always take a taxi or a bus as the walk up can be dangerous.
  • Mitad del Mundo. Just outside of Quito is where the measurements were first made that proved that the shape of the Earth is in fact an oblate spheroid. Commemorating this is a large monument that straddles the equator called Mitad del Mundo or middle of the world. Note, however, that the true equator is not at the Mitad del Mundo monument. Through the magic of GPS technology, we now know that it is only a few hundred feet away -- right where the Indians said it was before the French came along and built the monument in the wrong place. The entrance for the park is $1.50 and for most of the attractions you have to pay extra. The Intiñan Solar Museum is right next to the Mitad del Mundo monument on the other side of the North fence. For two dollars you can have a tour of this little museum. They demonstrate the Coriolis effect and several other interesting things. The place looks like a total dump and is at the end of a dirt road, but is much more interesting and informative than the Mitad del Mundo. When you go to the middle of the world, it is best to go with a tour, or hire a taxi driver by the hour. The hourly rate should be in the $12 or less range. Busses leave from the Occidental or Av. America for $0.40.
  • Iglesia de la Compañia de Jesus. In the Old City, this church is regarded by many as the most beautiful in the Americas. Partially destroyed by fire, it was restored with assistance from the Getty Foundation and other benefactors. Stunning.

Do

Calle Olmedo in the old town of Quito
  • Explore the Old Town With its gorgeous colonial architecture, relaxing plazas and a stunning number of churches. If you happen to be there during Christmas or Easter, you'll be amazed at the number of events, masses, and processions that bring out the crowds. You'll find craft shops, cafes, restaurants and hotels across its grid of streets.
  • A recommended walking tour that could enhance your vision of the Historic Center is as follows. Take the trolley (watch your belongings) south until "Cumanda" stop. Get down, you are on Maldonado street. There you will have an impressive view of what once was the "Jerusalem" ravine, which stands between Panecillo and the core. Walk north past the trolley stop and go down a narrow stairway that brings you to La Ronda street, of Pre-columbian origins. Walk up picturesque La Ronda until you reach Av. 24 de Mayo. This boulevard was built on top of this section of Jerusalem ravine to connect the two sides of town. On Garcia Moreno Street turn north and you will arrive to the Museo de la Ciudad, which provides an easy and interactive history of Quito. Then walk on Garcia Moreno street until Sucre, which is a pedestrian street. La Compania is at the corner and if you go up Sucre street you will reach San Francisco. If you continue on Garcia Moreno you will reach the Main (independence) Square. If you go to San Francisco, then walk to La Merced and down to the Main Square. This itinerary follows a chronological and logical sequence of sites. Most people do it backwards, turning La Ronda and Museo de la Ciudad as distant points where you're usually worn out by the time you get there. In any event, the Historic Center is so vast that you need more than one visit to see it all. The recommended walk provides you with a good overview if you're short of time or want to see as much as possible on a first day.
  • Watch The old men play Ecuador's version of bocce at Parque El Ejido. You can also see some serious games of Ecua-volley, the local version of volleyball, on a Saturday or Sunday.
  • The Middle of the World 45 mins from the capital Quito, you can go to see the Monument to the middle of the World. It's a big monument with many events and things to do. For example, national indigineous music groups play different songs of their culture. There are museums with the history of the 0 latitud and history of Quito as well. There are many unique artworks and once you are there you can even weight your self and you will find out how you weigh less on the equator.
  • Bicycle Ride the Ciclopaseo takes place every Sunday. 30 kilometres (20 miles) of roads running north-south through the city are completely closed to traffic. People cycle, run and blade the route. Up to 30,000 people take part. Several bike shops rent bikes for visitors to be able to take part.
  • Yellow Bike Rent a Bike and Discover Quito. Lizardo Garcia 512 y Almagro, La Mariscal. www.yellowbike.com.ec
  • Cable Car There is a cable car ride up the side of Ruco Pichina. It's called "Teleferico" in spanish. Ask your hotel about the special buses that run through the city taking people towards this destination. You can also find your own way there through taxi or bus.
  • Go Mountain Biking (Flying Dutchman mountain biking tours), Foch E4-313 (corner of JL Mera, in La Meriscal), (02) 2568 323, [13]. There are many outfits offering one- to multi-day mountain biking trips to the surrounding volcanos, lakes, and valleys. Biking Dutchman is one of the oldest and most well-regarded.

Buy

There are lots of artisans working on unique crafts in the capital. These include guitar-makers, candle makers, tanners and leather-workers, silversmiths, ceramicists and woodcarvers. You can find them at their workshops, published in a guide by the Visitors' Bureau.

There are also several fair-trade shops in Quito which promise to pay the craftspeople fairly for their products. The ones at the Tianguez (Plaza San Francisco), El Quinde (Plaza Grande), and Museo Mindalae are all very good.

There are many shopping malls in Quito such as Quicentro, Mall el Jardin, CCI, CC. El Bosque, Megamaxi, Ventura Mall, Ciudad Comercial el Recreo, San Luis, etc. and every street corner has several small "Mom and Pop" shops or stands where only a couple of items are for sale. If your shopping list is very long, you may spend all day looking around for the stores that have the items on your list.

There are many casual wear stores like MNG, Benetton, Lacoste, Guess, Fossil, Bohno,Diesel etc. So if you need some items Quito is in fact a very good place to buy nice clothes at relatively low prices.

Ecuador's indigenous peoples include many highly skilled weavers. Almost everyone who goes to Ecuador sooner or later purchases a sweater, scarf or tapestry. In Quito vendors are found along the sidewalks of more touristy neighborhoods. You should also consider travelling directly to some of the artisen markets, such as the famous one in Otavalo. If you haven't got time for Otavalo, you can find virtually the same gear at the market on Jorge Washington and Juan Leon Mera in the Mariscal district. The Mariscal is replete with dozens of souvenir, craft and T-shirt stores which make shopping for a gift very easy.

  • Zapytal, Foch E4-298 v Av Amazonas, 528 757. Hand made shoes. A wide selection in stock plus made to measure if you have 8 days to spare. A selection of correspondant (spectator shoes), riding boots and womens shoes $80
  • Guitarras Guacan, Chimborazo y Bahia, Quito, (+593) 2-2583-475, [14]. Master Luthier Cesar Guacan's quaint guitar workshop at the base of the Virgin del Panecillo - great guitars for both professionals and budget-conscious. www.guitarrasguacan.com

Eat

You name it, and it's available in Quito. Restaurants range from the basic places offering chicken and rice for $1.50 to international food with very expensive prices. The country benefits from all worlds, with a variety of dishes inspired by both coastal and Andean produce. Seafood and fish is fresh and delicious, while meats, particularly pork, are excellent. These combine with typical ingredients such as potatoes, plantains and all sorts of tropical and Andean fruits.

A good area to head to for eating out is the Plaza El Quinde (or Foch) which is in the Mariscal district at Foch y Reina Victoria. There are dozens of restaurants and eateries all around this area. La Floresta, up the hill from the Mariscal around 12 de Octubre, also has many fine restaurants. The La Floresta traffic circle turns into an evening market after 5 pm and the most popular dish served is tripa mishqui (grilled beef or pork intestines).

Churrasco is a a great Ecuadorian version of a Brazilian dish. Tallarin is a popular noodle dish mixed with chicken or beef. Chinese restaurants are known as "Chifas" and are very abundant. Chaulafan is the local term for fried-rice, a very popular dish. Cebiche (also spelled ceviche) is a very popular dish in which clams or shrimp are marinated in a broth. Worth trying, but look for a well known restaurant with many locals to be sure you are getting fresh seafood.

When buying from lower-priced restaurants or shops, if you only have bills larger than a $5, it's a good idea to get them changed at a bank first.

  • Pim's, [15]. A Ecuadorian Franchise. They have 3 locals, Panecillo, Cumbaya and Isabel La Catolica (next to the Swissotel).
  • El Capuleto -Italian. Av. Eloy Alfaro y 6 de Diciembre. You can enjoy a fine italian meal in a quiet space... but just in the middle of the city. The home made pizza and the capuccino are excelent.
  • Tibidabo - International cuisine. Moderate. Attentive service in a comfortable, unpretentious atmosphere. General Salazar 934 y 12 de Octubre. Tel. 593-2 223-7334. Hours: M - F 12:30 - 4 and 6:30 - 11; Sat 6:30 - 11; Sunday closed. Reservations recommended.
  • Restaurante Las Redes - Seafood. Moderate. Popular with the locals; well known for ceviche. Amazonas 845. Tel. 252 5697.
  • Ille de France - French. Expensive and excellent. Formal attire. Reina Victoria 1747. Tel. 255 3292. Hours: Daily 7 - 11.
  • El Nispero, Valladoli N24-438 y Cordero, tel. 222 6398. Fine Ecuadorian cuisine in an elegant atmosphere. Moderate. Business casual. Hours: Tues - Sat 12 - 4 and 7 - 11; Sun - Mon 12 - 4. Reservations recommended.
  • Cebiches de la Rumiñahui, Real Audiencia N59-121 La Mariscal. Ceviches are its specialty. Reasonable prices for excellent cebiche. Popular with locals. You can also find it in the food courts of "Quicentro Shopping" Mall, "San Marino Shopping" Mall and "El Recreo" Mall.
  • Restaurante Vegetariano, Salinas, near the intersection with Riofrio. Vegetarian almuerzos for $2. Juice, soups, snacks, soya milk, vegy steaks etc. Good vegy food, in a very clean environment. They also sell powdered soya milk, and a few dietary supplements.
  • Restaurante Vegetariano, Av Mariania de Jesus, down the hill from the juction with Hungaria. Chinese type vegy food. Complete Almuerzos with brown rice $2.50, or get seperate elements: soup 70c, main $1.80, and Great Juices 50c or 70c. Pearl tea $1.20 or $1.50. Soy milk 80c. Chaumien, Chaulafan, Chop Suey all $2.50.
  • Hare Krishna Vegetarian Restaurante, Right in the middle of the historic old town, on Esmereldas, just up the junction with Vargas. Peaceful coutyard setting. Vegy food, yoga, social events, lots of information. Next to the imaginitively named
  • Restaurante Vegetariano, Does almuerzos for $2, brown rice, good juice. Standard vegy fayre.
  • Mongos, Mongolian Grill. Calama 469 y Juan Leon Mera, in the heart of trendy gringolandia new town. All your can eat buffets (vegetarian $3.99, with meats $5.99. Includes salad or soup entre, and one free drink. Great quality meat.
  • Mulligan's, Calama E5-44 y Juan Leon Mera (La Mariscal), 223-6844. Need a break from all the new tastes, get a taste and comfort from home. This American style Sports Bar has great food and you can watch all your favorite sports on TV.

Drink

There are several Ecuadorian brands of beer, but the most prevalent throughout the country is Pilsener. There are also some alcoholic drinks which can only be found in Quito like Mistelas, etc.

  • Sport Planet, Av. America y Naciones Unidas, 593 2 267 790. Located on the 3rd floor of "Plaza de las Americas". Is the Ecuadorian version of Hollywood Planet. The night sky of northen Quito is incredible and the food is great.
  • Turtle's Head, La Niña 626 y Amazonas, 593-2-256-5544. An english pub style bar. They have their own brews along with other popular beers.
  • Q bar+restaurant+lounge, Plaza Foch, La Mariscal, [+593 2] 255 7840, [16]. A very elegant lounge style bar. It's located on Foch Plaza so you have access to an even wider options nearby.
  • Sutra, J Calama 380, Mariscal Sucre. A great place to have some drinks and have a chat, or just to pass the time. Is just above "no bar"
  • El pobre Diablo, Isabel La Católica E12-06 y Galavis esq. La Floresta, telef: (593) 02 2235194 / 2225397 / 099216290. Is one of the oldest cafe-bars in Quito. Almost every week there are some kind of cultural activity or a live concert. The food and the drinks are moderately priced. The "Vino caliente" and "canelazo" are recommended.


  • The Magic Bean, Foch # 681 E5-08 y Juan Leon Mera, 03 593 2 2566 181, [17]. a good menu, excellent quality and big portions, a good "backpacker" vibe to the restaurant and english speaking staff, good juices, the only down sides are that it´s a bit pricey, and the service can be very slow.

Dance Clubs

La Mariscal offers tons of places for dancing or just drinks.

  • Varadero - Reina Victoria 1751 and La Pinta; Small, local and super sweaty, this bar-restaurant packs in the crowds for high-energy live Cuban music. Small cover to get in and drinks are moderately expensive.
  • El Aguijon - A favorite of locals and tourist, if you like ska, new punk and all kinds of alternative rock music this is the place for you, this is the best place in the city for you to hear the fusion between Ecuadorian and Latin rhythms like salsa, meringue vallenatos, cumbias, etc. and reggae, trip hop, trance, skapunk etc. Located in the Mariscal District.
  • "Seseribo" - Famous for being the first Salsoteca in Quito. Ave. Veintimilla & 12 de Octubre Bdg. El Girón (basement). They play tropical beats here and on wednesdays they have live salsa. The club also functions as a cultural space for live Caribbean Music, art expositions and book presentations.
  • Blooms - Walking distance from Reina Victoria. It's more of beer pub than anything else, a nice place to start the night.
  • Bungalow 6 - Located at Calama street - One of the hottest bars in Quito, In Bungalow you will find all nationalities. Go for a drink and you will have the time of your life and for sure you will meet some very cool people from all over the world!
  • No Bar - One of the oldest places in Quito. Located at Calama steet and Juan Leon Mera.

Outside of La Mariscal are other clubs that are more famous among locals.

  • Discoteca Blues Av.Republica - a popular late night electronica/rock club.
  • Strawberry Fields Forever Calama y Juan Leon Mera - a unique Beatle Bar in the heart of La Mariscal/rock and roll and more.

Guapulo

Check out the Guapulo area of Quito, its a winding steep area with several great bars and cafés with a real bohemian feel.

Sleep

There are dozens of hostels and hotels in town to accommodate all the visitors. Most people stay in the new town, which is closer to the nightlife.

New Town

Budget

  • Hostal Backpackers Inn, Juan Rodriguez E7-48 y Almagro, http://www.quitohostel.com Centrally and very quietly located in the heart of La Mariscal District. Good Kitchen for joint use, Free Internet and Wireless. Big, comfy common rooms filled with fun things and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. From 6 USD/Dorm night. +593.2.2509669 info@backpackersinn.net.
  • La Casa Sol Calama 127 http://lacasasol-quito.minihostels.com +59322230798 A colorful, homey hostel in the best part of the neighborhood, close to shopping, nightlife and entertainment. Great amenities, a cafe and international library, and a beautiful antique house.
  • Casa Helbling, General Veintimilla 531 y 6 de Diciembre, La Mariscal, Tel: 02 222 6013. [18] An old, but well preserved, large mansion where every room is different, but all are nice with a lot of light. Most are shared bathrooms. Full kitchen available for use; nice courtyards, roof decks, and outdoor speaces. Breakfast and laundry available. German and English spoken. Free wifi, and a computer for use. Friendly, relaxed staff. Quiet and tranquil, perfect for those over 30 who want to be in La Mariscal but away from the crazy college crowd. Rooms around $12/night.
  • El Cafecito, Cordero 1124, La Mariscal, Tel: 02 223 4862. Clean rooms, a popular cafe/restaurant and a tranquil shaded courtyard all housed in a beautifully decorated building in the Mariscal. The hostel has 6 rooms and prices start at $7USD (June, 2009) for a dorm bed.
  • La Casona de Mario, Andalucia 213 y Galicia, La Floresta. [19] Tel: 2 254 4036 Single double and triple room. All rooms have shared bathrooms and there is a set price of $10.00 per person per night.
  • La Casa de Elize, Isabel La Católica N24-679. Hostel with a family atmosphere. It's a few blocks from the Mariscal area. Dormbed $6 and breakfast $1,50.
  • El Centro Del Mundo, +593.222.9050, [20]. Lizardo García E7-26 Between Diego Almagro y Reina Victoria Quito. Has affordable rooms, a trilingual owner Pierre, and is a great spot for backpackers. Television room and free rum and coke nights three times a week. Food is also available. Showers aren't very hot though. USD 5.60.
  • Hostal Belmont, [21]. Anteparra N-413, rooftop kitchen and terrace with great views over the city, TV room with DVDs and SNES, free use of washing machines, free internet, free tea/coffee/aromaticas all day, friendly family run place, 2 mins from Itchimbia park - more great views. 6 USD per person per night. +593.2.295 6235
  • Magic Bean Hostal, [22]. Foch No 681 (E5-08) y Juan Leon Mera Small hostel over the restaurant. One large room sleeps 3 with private bath ($40 plus taxes) the other accommodation in a Dorm style room. Friendly staff and an excellent breakfast, but its a very noisy area. +593-2-2566 181

Mid-Range

  • Hotel Sierra Nevada, Joaquin Pinto 150-E4 y Cordero, la Mariscal, +593.2.2553658 (, fax: +593.2.2554936), [23]. checkin: 24h; checkout: 2:00 PM. The hotel (founded in 1997) is located in a charming old townhouse right off the famous Avenida Amazonas. It has 19 rooms and offers free breakfast. They offer airport pick-ups. Single $35.50; double $52.00; triple $68.00; quadruple $79.00.
  • Hotel Sierra Madre, Avenue Veintimilla # 464 y Luis Tamayo, +593.2.2224950. A good mid range sort of a place. Comfortable Rooms, quiet, clean. TV reception terrible breakfast expensive. 5 minutes from Mariscal


  • Hostal la Rabida, La Rabida 227 y Santa Maria, Tel. (5932) 222-1720, [24]. Rates range from $46-$70 a day. There is also a very good restaurant on the premises. Friendly staff.
  • Hotel Sierra Madre, Av Veintemilia # 464 y Luis Tamayo, 2224 950. A good mid range place, comfortable beds, quiet rooms, close to La Mariscal (2 minutes) but much quieter. Breakfast expensive, just walk into town $60.78.

Splurge

  • JW Marriott Hotel Quito, Av. Orellana 1172 y Av. Amazonas, Phone: +593 2 2972000 One of the premier luxury hotels in Quito, Ecuador. The JW Marriott Hotel Quito offers spacious and luxurious guest rooms, along with first-class meeting facilities, a beautiful outdoor pool and garden, full-service SPA and outstanding restaurants. [25]

Between the Old and New Town

Budget

  • L'Auberge Inn, Av. Colombia 1138 y Yaguachi, (593) 2 2 552 912 (, fax: (593) 2 2 569 886), [26]. Nice place to make your base for your time in Quito. Clean but basic rooms, internet in-house and a big cheap breakfast. There is also a pizza restaurant directly below.

Old Town

Closer to the bus station, Old Town is a good base for sightseers.

Budget

  • The Secret Garden, Calle Antepara E4-60 y Los Rios, San Blas, (593)2956 704 or (593)3160 949, [27]. Offers a roof terrace with a great view and herbs grown by the volunteer staff. Moreover there is a jaw dropping and wonderful view of the older section of Quito. Has a great in-house travel agency Carpedm Adventures ( http://www.carpedm.ca ) to help sort out Galapagos, Amazon & more. There are fires nightly and the staff cooks three course meals every night, the hostel also offers breakfast for $2.
  • Hotel Huasi Continental (Close to the crossing of Flores and Sucre.), Calle Flores 308 (email: info@hotelhuasi.com), +593 2 2957 327/+593 2 2956 535, [28]. Nice and clean hotel in the old town with helpful staff. Note that some of the rooms facing the street can be a bit noisy. Singles from $10.

Mid-Range

  • Hotel San Francisco de Quito, Sucre 217 y Guayaquil (Walk east from Santo Domingo Trole station to Sucre, turn right, hotel is at end of block. If taking a cab, walk to a nearby street...cabs in front of the hotel will refuse to use their meter.), +593 2 2951 241/+593 2 2287 758, [29]. A lovely, comfortable, converted estate house offering excellent value. Price includes a basic breakfast, which can be upgraded for a price. Some rooms on the courtyard and street are a bit noisy. There are no windows in most rooms. The restaurant also serves excellent dinners, priced in line with other a-la-carte restaurants. singles/doubles $23/$42.

Splurge

  • A number of small, boutique hotels have opened recently in the Old Town. These include the five-star Hotel Plaza Grande [30], Villa Colonna [31], El Relicario del Carmen [32] and the longest-established: Patio Andaluz [33].

Stay safe

Dangerous Neighborhoods

Quito is a generally safe city but as in every big city tourists should take special care in certain areas just in case:

Do not travel up El Panecillo on foot; use a taxi even during the day. The Old City, Mariscal Sucre, and all parks among other areas can be unsafe at night so taxis are advised for even short distances. However, much of the central squares of the Old Town are patrolled by police and well-lit, so it's fine for a stroll in a group. Keep your belongings as close and as secure as possible. Beware of credit card fraud, which is an increasingly serious problem in Quito as tourists are being targeted in the Mariscal area.

The old town is a great place to visit or even to stay in but can attract petty crime against foreigners, particularly pickpocketing and purse-snatchings during daylight hours. The plaza and doors of the San Francisco church are a particularly notorious area for this. Pickpocketing is done by highly skilled groups of 3 or 4 people. You are best off not bringing a wallet at all -- just some bills split between various pockets. Despite the crime against foreigners during the daytime, the area is OK to visit at night and heavily patrolled.

The main bus station is an area known to target travelers (foreigners or locals alike). You need to watch your bags closely, before departure, during departure, even once on the bus. It is best not to put your luggage in the overhead shelving or under your own seat, as you can be easily distracted and have all your key possessions stolen before realizing it. Unfortunately you need to watch your bags on top of, or under the bus, at every stop until you arrive at your destination. There are several sorts of scam which you may encounter on buses. (1) One common one scam involves a thief impersonating bus staff ( this can be easy because those of many companies don't have uniforms)who will direct you to a seat and finding some excuse to ask you to put your bag in the overhead compartment or directly under your own seat where you can't see it; an accomplice seated directly behind you will then slash open your bag and steal the belongings. Having the bag between your legs is not safe either as children are commonly used to climb down under the seat (from behind you), slash the bag and remove belongings without you feeling a thing. Always have your bag on your lap. (2) Another scam will often have an accomplice who will provide a distraction such as pretending to sell sweets before spilling them all over you, giving their friend the chance to steal your belongings. This can't be emphasised enough: don't let your belongings out of sight. If something suspicious is happening like this on a bus, just refuse to cooperate and hold your belongings close to you. Robberies of this kind are common, particularly on buses leaving Quito. It's worth considering paying 3 or 4 dollars more for a trip on a more high end bus as these often have additional security measures which can prevent robberies of tourists and locals alike. On city buses, it's best not bring a backpack. If you have to bring one, wear it on your chest, not your back.

Last but not least, several neighborhoods located to the very north and south of the city are infamous among locals for having gang/delinquent trouble."La Bota" to the north is specially notorious as it even locals try to avoid passing through it as much as possible.

Assaults of Hikers and Trekkers

Do not assume you're safe when hiking or climbing in Ecuador. Unfortunately, there have been a number of rapes and robberies of individuals and couples who have gone on treks, including well known hikes such as the Pichincha volcano (there have been quite many assaults reported above the teleferico for Rucu Pichincha). If you plan to hike your best bet is to go in a LARGE group. Individual travelers might organize a group themselves through their hostel or the South American Explorers Club, or go on a trek organized through a reputable travel agency or trekking company. Ask around before to determine a company's reputation.

Blend in and avoid con artists

Wearing "gringo" clothes (i.e. fishing vests, travelers pants, bright colored t-shirts, dirty sandals) will make you a target. A pair of nice black pants and a non-descript white/off-white t-shirt will make you look a business person who knows his way around and not just another tourist posing as a Haight-Ashbury hippie.

Independent travelers in Ecuador are likely to be approached at some point or another by con artists or persons with "sob stories". Ignore such persons and be wary of anyone asking for money under any pretext, including children begging. If you're feeling charitable, Ecuador has lots of legitimate charities you can support.

Illicit Drugs

Avoid associating at all with the drug trade in Ecuador. Ecuador has strict laws against possesion, transportation and use of illegal drugs and foreigners caught transporting drugs at the airports have been sentenced to long prison terms. Unfortunately, any foreigner with a "alternative" or "hippie" appearance (such as men with long hair) may be assumed by some Ecuadorians to be looking for drugs. If you are approached about drugs in any context it safe to assume the person approaching you is up to no good.

One exception is use of ethnogens by indigenous people. Interest in ayahuasca is prompting increasing numbers of Americans and Europeans to travel to south america in order to partake in traditional ceremonies, and Ecuador is one such place. It is advisable to plan such a trip with a reliable guide before you travel there.

Local Laws and the Ecuadorian National Police

All Ecuadorian citizens and visitors are required to carry ID at all times. If your stay in Ecuador is for a few months or longer, sooner or later you will encounter a roadside police check and be requested to show ID. You can show your passport; however, carrying your passport around all the time is not advised due to the risk of loss of theft. A better option is to have a copy of your passport certified by your embassy and carry that. Students and long term residents will be issued an Ecuadorian "censo" card that can also be carried in place of a passport for ID purposes.

If you are the victim of a crime it is suggested you report it to the Ecuadorian National Police (by law, you must report within 72 hours of the incident), as well as to your home country embassy and to the South American Explorers Club.

Contact

A good place to start is the Quito Visitors' Bureau [34]. It has several information centres around the city. These include at the International Arrivals terminal at the airport; the Mindalae Museum in the Mariscal District; the Banco Central Museum in the Masiscal District; at the Teleferiqo cable car; and finally, in the Old Town, on the ground floor of the Palacio Municipal on one side of Plaza Grande - their main centre.

This includes helpful English-speaking staff, lockers for leaving bags, computers with free internet, maps, leaflets and books for sale, a store of Ecuadorian crafts, as well as a National Police office for reporting any crimes. The contacts for the main office are: (+593 2) 2570 - 786 / 2586 - 591, infotur-ch@quito-turismo.com [35]

You can also find different iTur (tourist information offices) located around the city. On the centro histórico you can find one on the Archbishop's palace located on the Plaza Grande. On the north part of the city you can find another one on the Ministry of Tourism located on Av. Eloy Alfaro y Republica.

Get out

Quito is surrounded by a variety of places that could interest all kinds of tourists. A couple of hours on a bus ride is all it takes to reach them:

To the North, all tourists should visit the province of Imbabura, which has a beautiful lakes such as Yaguarcocha, and San Pablo. Hikers and mountain climbers can also ask for adventures in Cayambe National Park, home of the 3rd largest volcano in Ecuador. It's a highly inactive volcano by the way. For tourists who want to shop a bit, they should take notice of the town of Otavalo, it's indian market is famous worldwide for the quality and variety of products on sale. Don't forget to haggle for your preferred price!

To the North West of Quito lies the region of Mindo, a subtropical rainforest paradise, full of rivers, majestic waterfalls, unique wildlife and more. The region is home to a variety of animal wildlife sanctuaries, and is famous locally and internationally because of its beauty.

At a slightly higher altitude to Mindo is the Cloudforest. The variety of plants, birds and butterflies is wonderful. The guides carry good qulaity binoculars to help you spot some of the many varieties of birds. After each guided walk you can return to the lodge for meals. Near the main buildings there are many humminbird feeders which attract many of the energetic and luminous birds. Accommodation is simple but very clean and pleasant with balconies from which you get beautiful views into the forest.

To the east, lies Papallacta which is a thermal water resort town. If you're into spas and relaxation, dipping into one of the natural hotwater pools for a couple of hours is a no brainer. The trucha (trout) dishes that are served here are also exquisite.



This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


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