Have just one day in Quito and wondering how to spend it?
Here are a few of my favorite options:
1. Free Walking Tours of historic Old Town Quito depart from Community Hostel six days a week (Monday-Saturday) at 10:30am. Generally, the tour lasts around three hours but, if folks are engaged and asking questions, the guides will take the time to answer. No rush! Bring some small bills ($1s and $5s) for a couple of stops in the local market and a traditional sweets shop. Also remember to tip the guide if you had an amazing time. Stop for a traditional, set menu “almuerzo” afterwards with your tour-mates and enjoy a delicious Andean meal for just $2-5/person! You will want comfortable walking shoes (of course), layers, sunscreen, camera, and plenty of water. This tour is popular so I highly recommend reserving yourself a space ahead of time.
2. Hop On Hop Off Bus is a double-deck bus that stops at most of Quito’s major highlights including the Teleferiqo cable car, Old Town, Panecillo hill, La Mariscal district, and New Town in north/central Quito. The ride is narrated in both English and Spanish and is the quickest way to get a great overview of what Quito has to offer. I highly recommend taking time to climb the clock towers in the grand Basilica del Voto Nacional and a stroll through Carolina park. Grab an ice cream from a street vendor and try out the paddle boats. The bus also offers a ride to the equator line and night tours of the city.
3. Teleferiqo cable car, mentioned above in #2 glides up to 13,300ft where you can enjoy stunning views of the city. If you start out early enough in the morning, you might attempt a hike from the top of the cable car to the summit of Volcano Rucu Pichincha at 15,413ft. You can also ride horseback, have your photo taken while sitting on a llama, or simply stroll around a bit enjoying the view before heading back down. Be sure to wear/bring warm layers, sunscreen, water, and rain gear. Especially at this altitude, the weather can change dramatically and winds can be quite high. Cost is $8.50/person for foreigners.
4. Basilica del Voto Nacional is worth an hour or two. Stroll through the sanctuary as the afternoon light streams through stained glass windows, climb the clock towers to enjoy lovely views of the Old Town area, and climb the somewhat rickety stairs to the exposed tower in the back if you dare.
5. One of the most popular museums in Quito is the Guayasamin Museum dedicated to one of Ecuador’s most famous artists. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am-5pm and costs $8/person.
If spending the day in Quito, you will want to be sure you are prepared:
- Wear sunscreen and be sure to reapply.
- Have plenty of drinking water on hand. This is especially important if you are adjusting to the altitude.
- Wear/bring layers. Here in the Andes, the common saying is that you can experience all four seasons in one day. Layers are your key to comfort! Be sure to have rain coats or umbrellas too.
- Have smaller bills on hand such as $1s, $5s, and $10s. Many merchants will have trouble breaking a $20 bill and you’ll surely want to buy a fresh juice in the market or an ice cream from a street vendor. You will also want to have some small change. Public bathrooms often charge $0.10-$0.15 per person.
- Keep an eye on your belongings and be aware of your surroundings. Pickpocketing is common, especially in popular tourist areas.
Have questions or want to book a private guide for the day? Feel free to contact us any ole time.