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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
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 bustling 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.
Churrasco is a a great Ecuadorian version of a Brazilian dish. Tallarin is a popular noodle dish mixed with chicken or beef.
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.  
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.  
*'''Theatrum Quito Fine Restaurant & Wine Bar''' [ ], Quito.
*'''Theatrum Quito Fine Restaurant & Wine Bar''' [ ], Quito.

Revision as of 22:58, 1 July 2007

Quito [3] 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.


Quito lies between two mountain ranges and its altitude is about 10,000 feet. It may take you a couple of days to get accustomed to the altitude. Because of its topography and the lack of any real air pollution control on the buses, breathing can be a problem and your eyes will be very irritated at first.

Quito is roughly divided into two parts, the Old City and the New City. Visit the Old City if you are into very old cathedrals and public buildings. Don't miss the presidential palace.

Quito is also divided between North Quito and South Quito. Most of the newer buildings and tourist areas are in the North. Most of the poorest people and the older historic buildings are in the South.


Be prepared to speak some basic Spanish in order to get along. Very few locals speak English except in the very touristy areas of North Quito and in an area called "La Mariscal" in South Quito. 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 long pants and a shirt with a collar. Short pants are not worn at all in Quito except by athletes playing a sport. Wearing "grungy" clothes, ripped jeans, or sandals is often interpreted by locals as "showing no respect" or being derelict. You need not be a fashion plate; just wear a button down shirt and some long pants and you will encounter better service and fewer hassles in all your interactions. If you cannot bring yourself to dress appropriately for Quito then leave Quito and head down to Ecuador's coast, where more relaxed attire is the norm.

The South American Explorers Club [4] 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 Sucre district of Quito right off of 6 de deciembre) 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. Their small membership fee includes...


  • Cozy house near “Gringolandia” – hang out while researching travel plans, meet other travelers or just chill – includes a private garden area to enjoy
  • Free internet access – use one of the Club’s five computers to e-mail friends and family, upload pictures to share, etc., or use the wireless for your laptop
  • Free coffee or tea – enjoy a hot drink while you plan your trip, chat with other travelers, catch up on the news or your favorite telenovela (the TV has cable and a DVD player), or listen to music
  • Travel resources - buy travel books or maps (including topographical) at discounted prices or use the vast reference library of travel guide books and maps; well-researched recommendation lists of hostels, restaurants, tour operators, gear shops, etc.; detailed trip reports written by members and promotional materials from local operators – resources cover Ecuador and other South American countries
  • Mail pick-up/holding – use the Club’s address for mail and packages – Club staff pick up the mail, small packages and notices for large package delivery once a week
  • Secure storage – put your passport and other small valuables in the safe; store extra luggage, etc., in storage while traveling
  • Volunteer resources – find meaningful short-term or longer-term volunteer work by using member reports or promotional materials from local organizations
  • Member discounts – save money on tours, accommodations, restaurants, Spanish schools and shopping with your member ID
  • Library and book exchange – borrow or exchange from a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction books in English and a few titles in other languages; find a wide range of travel-related books (photography, birding, botany, etc.) in the reference library
  • Message board – post and view notices when looking for a travel mate, roommate, apartment or home stay or a job; or advertise something for sale
  • Magazine subscription – an annual subscription to South American Explorers Magazine (delivered free in the U.S. and at a low cost elsewhere)
  • Surrogate pet – missing your pet? Yana the resident dog is always happy to accommodate by taking you for a walk

Quito maps

Get in

By Plane

  • Aeropuerto Internacional Mariscal Sucre(IATA: UIO) (ICAO: SEQU), [5]. Located around 8km from Quito's center and is the main, best and easiest way to get into the city. There are (almost) daily flights serving Amsterdam, Atlanta, Houston, Madrid, Miami, New York with KLM, Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, Iberia and American Airlines. Some of these flights continue to or originate from Guayaquil.

Near the baggage area of the Quito airport, it is possible to buy vouchers that can be used for a taxi ride. As of June 2005, 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 "gringo" section of Quito (it is not advisable if you have much luggage or are not familiar in Quito), which is often referred to as "gringolandia", 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 as of August 2004.

Quito International Flights & Domestic Flights to Cuenca, Guayaquil and Galapagos Islands departing from Quito

A new, large international airport is presently under construction. It will be located well outside of the city to the northeast. The airport is expected to be completed in 2009.

By Bus

The Terminal Terrestre is the bus terminal in Quito. This terminal is dark and dirty. If you arrive with a lot of luggage it's best to avoid the public transportation system in Quito and take taxi to your hotel. Ecuadorian long-distance busses will generally let passengers off anywhere along their route. If you are arriving in or departing Quito you can avoid the bus terminal altogether by simply getting off near your destination or by flagging down a bus marked for your destination along one of Quito's main arteries.

There are frequent connections to all mayor destinations in the country, including Sto Domingo (3 hours and around $2.50), Guayaquil (8 hours), Baños, Otavalo.

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! Quito Trolebus map with tips about security and tourist stations
  • 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 (June 2005).
  • Taxis and buses are everywhere and very inexpensive. A bus trip costs in Quito $0.25, including Trole and Ecovía (January 2005). Don't even think about renting a car. There are no traffic rules in Quito but—amazingly—very few wrecks. A taxi ride can be very exciting. Only use official taxis (yellow with a number painted on the door). they should have a meter (taxímetro) and use it in the daytime. At night or if they refuse to, negotiate the price before getting in, or wait for the next.
  • The railway station is at the south end of the old city, close to the El Trole route. The railway is very rundown and appears to have few regular services. The line south from Quito is block by road construction and the line to the north is abandoned.
  • 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 Metrobus bus service map
  • 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 Ecovia bus service map


  • 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 Virgin Mary. It is difficult not to see the statute. It is visible from miles around. 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 road up is 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.
  • 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. The museum is a also a nice stop if it's hot or raining outside.
  • Museo de le Ciudad. Wander around the Old Town, and you'll find the Museo de la Ciudad, directly opposite the Carmen Alto monastery. A lovely museum with two floors encircling a quiet courtyard, the Museu 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 16t-century home, a battle scene against the Spanish, and a re-enactment of the building of Iglesia San Francisco.


  • 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.
  • 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 artwork and once you are there you can even weight your self and you will fing out how you weight less in the equator.


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 artesenal markets, such as the famous one in Otavalo.


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 bustling 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.

  • Theatrum Quito Fine Restaurant & Wine Bar [6], Quito.
  • Chandani Tandoori, Juan Leon Mero 1312 (Luis Cordero and Av. Colon), has some fine Hindustani dishes
  • There is a Hare Krishna hang out in old town, where you can get some great food for little money (sometimes even free)


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, "Canelazos" "Vino Caliente" etc. Water in Quito is perfectly OK, as it has an ISO 901 International Quality Certification but bottled water is recommended.

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.

La Bunga - 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.

Blooms - The coolest! Located in the Mariscal district. Walking distance from Reina Victoria.

Bungalow 6

No Bar


Check out the Guapulo area of Quito, its a winding steep area with several great bars and cafés with a real bohemian feel to it without being overrun by gringos (yet).


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

One of the best hotels in Quito is the Swis Hotel. They have five star service with a variety of restaurants in the hotel. You don't need to worry about your personal belongings in this hotel. When you are there you will feel pampered. There are some expensive rooms, but for the most part there are deals to be had and you can get a room around $80 and that includes a buffet breakfast. The area around the Swis Hotel has a variety of restaurants that are amazing, they are pricy for Quito but it cost the same as going to any restaurant in the US.

New Town


  • 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, has affordable rooms, a trilingual owner Pierre, and is a great spot for backpackers. There's also a television room and free rum and coke nights three times a week. Food is also available whenever you're hungry cooked by the friendly staff. Showers aren't very hot though. +593.222.9050.
  • Hostal Casa Kanela, Juan Rodriguez E8-46 y Almagro, [7]. City Heritage house in the heart of La Mariscal District. Cosy authentic cafe. Nice and safe place to stay. From 12 USD night. +593.2.2546162 [email protected]


  • Hotel Sierra Nevada
    Hotel Sierra Nevada, Joaquin Pinto 150-E4 y Cordero, la Mariscal, +593.2.2553658 (, fax: +593.2.2554936), [1]. 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 elegant, comfortable and clean room and offers free breakfast. They offer airport pick-ups as well as tours throughout the country (renowned agency 'Sierra Nevada Expeditions' is in the neighboring building. Adjacent are an Italian-owned pizzaria, a German-owned cafe, as well as many close-by Ecuadorian joints. The city center (el Centro) can be reached by bus (3 minutes, 25¢) or by foot (15 minutes).

    Single $30.50; double $45.00; triple $58.00; quadruple $65.00.

  • Hostal de la Rabida, La Rabida 227 y Santa Maria. Beautiful and comfortable hotel in central Quito. Rates range from $46-$70 a day. There is also a very good restaurant on the premises. Taxi drivers won't understand "ciudad nuevo," so ask to go to the neighborhood "Mariscal Sucre" instead.

Between the Old and New Town


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

Old Town

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

  • One great hostel is The Secret Garden, Calle Antepara E4-60 y Los Rios, San Blas, (593)2956 704 or (593)3160 949, [8]. Offers a roof terrace offering a great view and herbs grown by the volunteer staff. There are fires nightly and the staff cooks three course meals every night. The hostel also offers breakfast for $2.

Photo: Secret Garden

Stay safe

Dangerous Neighborhoods

Avoid travelling 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. 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 city is a great place to visit or even to stay in but is something of a magnet for 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 travellers (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, as you can be easily distracted and have all your key possessions stolen before realising it. Unfortunately you need to watch your bags on top of, or under the bus, at every stop until you arrive at your destination.

Assualts 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. 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 its 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.


Get out

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!