Planning a trip to Quito Ecuador is exciting. It’s a large city and there’s a lot to see. In this post, you’ll find the best things to do in Quito Ecuador as a tourist. These locations and activities will give you a taste of the culture and natural beauty of the city. Plus, we include a 7-stop weekend Quito itinerary.
Explore Quito Ecuador’s Attractions
These Quito Ecuador tourist attractions are something to get excited about. You’ll see what I mean as you watch this visual tour of Quito.
Visual Tour of Quito Ecuador
What a gorgeous city! Now, let’s look at specific locations so you can enjoy the best of what Quito has to offer.
Best Places To Visit In Quito Ecuador
All the locations covered in this post will be within walking distance or a short taxi ride from your Quito hotel.
There are some attractions outside the city that you probably won’t want to miss. Like the popular Otavalo market and Quilotoa Lake (a water-filled caldera). But we’ll cover Quito day trips in another post.
Let’s get started with the 6 best attractions in Quito Ecuador.
Top 6 Quito Ecuador Tourist Attractions
Here’s a quick list of the top 6 places to visit in Quito:
- Quito’s Old Town: Best preserved old town in the Americas
- Mitad del Mundo / Middle of the Earth: Where the Northern and Southern hemispheres meet.
- TelefériQo (Cable Car up Pichincha Volcano): A view of the city from 4,100 meters (13,500 feet)
- Museo de la Ciudad / City Museum of Quito: History of the city in a UNESCO world heritage site housed in a gorgeous 16th-century building
- Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal / Mariscal Artisan Market: Largest artisan market in Quito with a wide variety of artisan products.
- Parque Itchimbia / Itchimbia Park: Large park with wonderful views of the city and a Cultural center.
Now we’ll take a closer look at each location.
1. Visit Quito’s Old Town
This is a must if you want to see colonial architecture. Quito has the best-preserved old town in the Americas (at least that’s its reputation); the buildings are impressive and the plazas are gorgeous.
But if you stay in a modernized part of the city, you could miss this altogether.
La Ronda (in the old town) should be at the top of your list if you have limited time. La Ronda is said to be the oldest and best-preserved street in Quito. The streets decorated with flowerpots, flags and little balconies.
Here you’ll get a taste of colonial charm and experience the culture of old town Quito. There are lots of cafes, shops, restaurants, and street vendors.
In this video, you’ll see what the atmosphere is like at this top Quito attraction.
The old town also includes beautiful plazas like Plaza San Francisco and Plaza de la Independencia. You’ll also find the Artisan market Tianguez.
Address of La Ronda – Juan de Dios Morales, Quito 170150, Ecuador
2. Mitad del Mundo / Middle of the Earth
Mitad del Mundo is where the Northern and Southern hemispheres meet, it’s right on the Equator. Visitors love to straddle the yellow line which puts them in two hemispheres at the same time.
This is Mr. Popular when it comes to Quito Ecuador tourist attractions.
In the following video, you’ll see Mitad del Mundo and the surrounding area.
There is an interesting story that goes with this popular spot. The location in the above video is not the true middle of the earth. Geographically speaking it’s close, but latitude 0°0‘0’’ is actually a few hundred meters north of this monument at the Intiñan Museum.
Although some say neither location is exactly correct. At the Intiñan museum, you’ll be a little closer to the real thing.
Here is a little tour of the Intiñan museum (the real middle of the earth).
Address of Mitadad del Mundo – Autopista Manuel Cordova Galarza, San Antonio de Pichincha, Quito 170180, Ecuador.
Address of Intiñan Museum – Autopista Manuel Cordova Galarza, 200 meters from the roundabout at Mitad del Mundo San Antonio de Pichincha, Quito 170180, Ecuador.
3. TelefériQo: Cable Car Up Pichincha Volcano
This is the best way to “see” Quito. The cable car takes you to an elevation of 4,100 meters (13,500 feet).
This is South America’s highest gondola ride and one of the highest aerial lifts in the world. If the sky is clear, you’ll have breathtaking views of the city and the surrounding countryside.
It’s best to go in the morning as fog usually rolls in later on in the day. Make sure to bring a sweater or jacket because it’s often windy and cold.
Read more about the TelefériQo. At the base of the TelefériQo is Vulqano Fun Park. If you’ve got kids schedule in some playtime after your gondola ride.
Address of El TelefériQo – Av. Occidental and Fulgencio Aruajo, Quito, Pichincha, 170120, Ecuador.
4. Museo de la Ciudad (City Museum of Quito)
When you visit the City Museum you’ll immerse yourself in the history of Quito.
Here you’ll see the story of the city – from an indigenous trading post, through the Incas, the conquistadors and up into the 19th century.
This museum is a UNESCO world heritage site and is in a gorgeous 16th-century building which was the former San Juan de Dias Hospital.
Address of the Museo de la Ciudad – García Moreno, Quito 170101, Ecuador
5. Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal/ Mariscal Artisan Market
This is the largest Artisan market in Quito. If you are looking for souvenirs at great prices then La Mariscal should definitely be on your list of Quito Ecuador tourist attractions. Some say it’s like a little Otavalo market.
Address of Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal – Reina Victoria and Juan Leon Mera on Jorge Washington road, Quito 170150, Ecuador
6. Parque Itchimbia/Itchimbia Park
Quito has many beautiful parks, but if you only have time for one this should be it. Itchimbia park is situated on a hill and offers wonderful views of the city.
The main attraction in this park is the Itchimbia Cultural Center. This is a beautiful building make out of iron and glass.
At the Itchimbia Cultural Center, you can see art exhibits and cultural events. Watch this aerial video of Park Itchimbia, Quito.
Something I loved about Quito (and the other cities in Ecuador) was the parks. A couple of our family favorites in Quito are Parque El Ejido and Parque La Carolina.
If you’re planning on exploring more of the Andes you’ll want to read about the top 15 things to do in Ecuador’s Andes Mountains.
Address of Parque Itchimbia – Iquique y Jose Maria Aguime, Quito 170150, Ecuador
Weekend in Quito Ecuador (7 Things to Do)
Here are 7 things to do in Quito on a quick weekend trip. This is trip suggestion is by Karissa Jobman of BucketPass.
When I arrived in Quito six years ago for the first time, I didn’t know what to expect. After all, it was my first time setting foot on foreign soil. My trip was short but I craved to understand as much of the country as possible.
Thankfully, I had a local to show me the magnificence of the country by whisking me around the city to the must-visit sites, in what she called her “Quiteño crash course”. Since then, I have been back several times, bringing friends and family members to the country to share a similar experience.
More reading: Where is Quito located?
Here is my crafted itinerary of things to do in Quito – so you can appreciate its history, culture, gastronomy, and scenery in as little as a weekend trip. We begin on Friday afternoon…
Friday in Quito
3PM: Teleférico Start your journey 500 meters above the city to enjoy the view of the sprawling metropolis. The Teleferico is a twenty-minute cable car ride that runs alongside the Pichincha Volcano. Afterward, you can grab snacks before making your way back down.
5PM: Capilla del Hombre Perched on top of the city is the breathtaking art museum of Ecuador’s famous Oswaldo Guayasamín. Considered one of Quito’s best attractions, Capilla del Hombre allows you to explore two sites.
- First, a museum that the artist designed himself featuring solely his own work. Guayasamín’s collection goes through many stages, depicting the suffering of indigenous people and calls for peace and human rights.
- Second, the grounds also feature the home of the late artist. Here you can join a guided tour to understand his life and the history of the city.
8PM: Dinner at Cafe Mosaico Enjoy an Ecuadorian and international menu on one of the best balconies in the country. This locally-sourced restaurant features live music, an enchanting ambiance, and a delicious spread.
Saturday in Quito
9AM: Quito Tour Bus Quito’s first and only double-decker bus starts at Boulevard Naciones Unidas to begin an action-packed day in the historic center.
This city tour allows you to see the city with convenient, reliable transportation, while exploring at your own pace.
Make your first stop at La Mariscal for some shopping in the artisan markets.
Stop six, the Basilica features the most iconic church in the city. For a small fee, you can climb the towers of church and lookout on the impressive downtown.
Reload the bus to head to the Historic District, where you can spend the afternoon visiting the Presidential Palace, admiring the gilded Iglesia de la Compañía, learning history at Museo de la Ciudad, and making chocolate at the Quinde Store.
A final ride on the tour bus will take you up to the Panecillo, the statue of the Virgen de Quito that watches over the city.
6PM: La Ronda After a trip to el Panecillo, the bus will take you back down to the base of the hill, where you can stop at La Ronda, a lively street known for live music, food and drinks.
Try a glass of Canelazo, a warm spiced cinnamon cocktail from the Andean region while listening to guitar players in the street.
Sunday in Quito
10AM: Mitad del Mundo On Sunday morning, head out of the city to the middle of the world, just north of Quito.
At this equatorial monument you can stand on two hemispheres at once, taking fun photos and learning the science behind the equator. The complex has nine ethnographic museums, an outlook at the top of the monument, exhibits, shopping and places to snack.
2PM: Comida Típica For lunch, head across the street to eat fritada. This traditional Ecuadorian dish is made from fried pork typically served with potatoes, corn, tomatoes and plantains. Make sure to have some fresh juice while you are in the area, as much of the produce is grown regionally.
Read more about typical Ecuador food.
If you have more time to spend in Ecuador, leave from Mitad del Mundo to Mindo, a town known as the cloud forest. Bucket Pass offers a bundled pass where you can enjoy a day zip-lining, hiking to waterfalls, learning the production of chocolate, and much more.
Keep reading: Guide to Ecuador’s Cities
Visiting Quito’s Parque La Carolina in Ecuador
Are you planning a trip to Quito? Spending time at a park is a great way to relax and get a feel for the culture. It’s also a wonderful way to help the kids unwind after spending time exploring the city.
If you have kids you might also want to check out the fun park and the TelefériQo.
Parque La Carolina in Quito: When we arrived in Quito we were told we should check out Parque La Carolina and we are glad we did. This park is massive, and has a lot of wide-open green space!
There paddle boats, some playground equipment, and a paved two-lane trail winding throughout.
There is also a small restaurant right next to the paddle boats. And vendors selling snacks throughout the park.
We were pleasantly surprised to find that there were small botanical gardens and a little reptile zoo. We even got to hold a large snake!
Visiting the park was a very peaceful way to spend the day. We went with our daughter and she loved it!
Parque La Carolina and is located right across the street from a large shopping mall, which has a huge food court.
Have you visited Parque La Carolina? Please share your experiences by commenting on this post.
Ecuadorian Families Enjoying Parque la Carolina
Parque la Carolina is a huge park right in the center of Quito. We always go there every time we visit Quito.
Last month we enjoyed a day at Parque la Carolina in Quito Ecuador – and it was full. There were thousands of people – mostly families – playing, picnicking, and enjoying a Sunday off. Family time is highly valued by Ecuadorians.
The day had a feel of a carnival, with cotton candy, paddle boats and fried foods. We are sharing this video, to give other Gringos a glimpse into family life in Ecuador. And to show that life isn’t scary here – far from it, in fact.
Have you been to a park in Ecuador on a Sunday? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Parque El Ejido in Quito, Ecuador
Do your kids love playground equipment? Our daughter sure does! And we found lots of it at Parque El Ejido.
Parque El Ejido in Quito: If you have children aged 5-10 you’ll want to check out El Ejido Park (Parque El Ejido) in Quito.
We love to spend family time strolling around a park. So we were excited to find a park with a large area of playground equipment just a short walk from where we were staying.
The equipment was in really good shape, and there were always lots of kids around. That combination helped our daughter burn off a lot of that energy she gets from . . . ohhhhh, if only I knew!
While she played on the zip line (it was addictive) Bryan and I enjoyed chatting on a nearby bench, where we could keep a close eye on her.
After a while, we convinced her to take a break and check out the rest of the park. The park was very clean and well taken care of.
It has some nice wide open green spaces and a café! So we had to stop for a coffee, being Canadian and all, it’s in our blood.
The café was comfy, with plush seats and a nice view of the surrounding park. There was also a small art gallery attached to the café, and clean bathrooms with paper and soap!
If you’re in Quito and have the time, this park is worth a visit! Have you been to Parque El Ejido? Please share your thoughts by commenting on this post.
What Will You Do in Quito?
I hope you’re even more excited about your upcoming trip to Quito now. Did you see anything that you’re adding to your travel plans? If so please tell us about it by commenting on this post.
If you feel we’ve missed anything that should be among the best places to visit in Quito please add it by commenting.
Hi, I’m Dena Haines. And I’m co-founder of Storyteller travel. I love to cover food, animals, and destinations around the world. I also blog about photography at ClickLikeThis.