Back in 2008 I was fortunate enough to spend three months living in Quito, Ecuador’s striking capital, which is spread across a spectacular Andean valley surrounded by volcanic peaks; a setting hard to beat.
Here I share a handful of my favourite things to do in and around Quito:
- Explore the Old Town. Wander the narrow cobbled streets, of its historic centre (roads closed to cars on Sunday daytime). Built centuries ago the grand churches, convents, chapels and monasteries are steeped in history and sure to impress.
- La Boca del Lobo restaurant, Quito. This colourful and quirky restaurant holds fond memories, having been taken for dinner on my eighteenth birthday. The kooky, illustrated menu offers delicious tapas and main dishes, there is a warm and buzzing ambiance.
- La Virgen de Quito. The statue of the winged virgin which sits atop El Panecillo is an impressive 45 metres high and what is particularly special about this spot is the panoramic view over this city. Apparently on a clear day you can see Cotopaxi mountain.
- Sit out on Plaza Foch. We used to dash down for cocktail hour from 5/6pm – 7pm. Although the surrounding area is seemingly dodgy, it is a great and safe place to sit and people watch.
- Mindo Cloud Forest. We actually stayed in Mindo, a back packer town surrounded by forested mountains; however I would recommend staying in a Mashpi Jungle Lodge. Explore the Zenlike beauty of the sublime scenery either on foot, sky bike or while dining on the open terraces.
- Otavalo Market. The drive alone is enough to justify the trip! However, once you arrive at Otavalo, keep your wits about you, and you’ll love this vibrant charismatic market, full of real Ecuadorian life. This weekly fiesta dates back to Pre-Incan times selling traditional produce such as textiles, combined with more modern products such as TVs!
- Horse Riding in Cotopaxi Area. Horse riding in the shadow of Cotopaxi was quite a special way to take in the natural beauty of the area. The ponies are slow and steady, which means you get to really soak up the surroundings. We were particularly chuffed with our full-length, hairy chaps!