Quito is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world who stop by on their way to the Galapagos Islands. While tourism in the Galapagos is extremely popular, Quito continues to be an unexpected surprise for many visitors. Quito is an historic city located in a lush Andean valley, the culture and vistas are not to be missed. But what to do in so little time? We have compiled a short list of must see day trips for the Quito quick visitor.
1. Cotopaxi National Park:
Ecuador’s second most visited national park (after the Galapagos, of course), this area is also home to the one of the world’s highest active volcanoes! Options for ways to interact with this gorgeous, surreal landscape in just one day include downhill mountain biking, hiking to the climbers refuge at 15,748ft or further still to the glacier’s edge, or a combo hike/bike. All day trips will include round trip transportation from Quito, equipment, guide and lunch. It’s a great way to enjoy the mountains before touring the Galapagos.
2. Mindo Cloud Forest:
A birder’s paradise and an adventurer’s playground, this tiny town is just a gorgeous two hour bus ride from Quito. The atmosphere of this town is heavenly. With only one main road running the length of town and few side streets, you can take your time enjoying the laid-back atmosphere just before rushing off for your Galapagos tour. Breathe in the warm, moist air and your lungs will thank you for escaping big city life. Outdoor activities include canopy sip-line tours, waterfall hikes, and river tubing while those seeking to take a break from an adrenaline-pumping lifestyle can enjoy butterfly and orchid farms, chocolate tasting and bird-watching tours.
3. Pululahua Crater + Mitad del Mundo (middle of the world):
One of only two inhabited craters in the world, Pululahua is a lush and welcome site after traveling briefly through the dry forest region just north of Quito. If you love horseback riding, we highly suggest a 3-4 hour ride that will take you through the scenic highlights of the crater: colorful volcanic mineral mounds, small waterfalls, lush green fields, and natural springs. Along the way, keep your eye out for some wild and beautiful orchids and after your ride, take time to enjoy a home cooked meal in the hostal’s garden while hummingbirds zip around you. On the way back to Quito, stop by Mitad del Mundo and the Intiñan Museum to stand in both hemispheres at once! We’ll make sure you visit the crater in the morning as mists slide into the crater every afternoon to keep the area lush.