At Journey Latin America we use cookies to give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on our website.
Find out more

October 03rd, 2014

City Life: Quito by Daniel Allen

Discover the old world charm of Ecuador’s lofty capital. Its buzzy plazas, high-energy volcanic biking trails and street stalls selling alpaca textiles make for an unforgettable experience.

Surrounded by snow-dusted Andean volcanoes, the Ecuadorean capital of Quito is shoehorned into a web of high valleys, a few miles south of the equator. Founded by the Quitus, the pre-Colombian indigenous inhabitants of Ecuador, the city was remodelled by the conquistadores from the 1530s onwards, and offers a fascinating blend of Spanish, indigenous Quitus and Incan influences.

For years the capital was overlooked by international travellers en route to the Galápagos archipelago, Ecuador’s Darwinian wildlife mecca. Today, however, the city’s well-restored Centro Historico (Old Town) is a magnet for tourists and locals drawn to the churches, restaurants, museums and galleries populating this picturesque and culture-laden neighbourhood.

There’s hardly a street or alley without a view of green-flanked slopes or soaring volcanic peaks. Although divided into three main parts — the old city, the modern city, and the southern-northern districts — it’s the Old Town where the lion’s share of the capital’s charms lie.

Despite the fact UNESCO named Quito a World Heritage City in 1978, the Old Town sat in a sad state of decline for many years, until a group of enlightened politicians and businessmen stepped in, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on restoration, gentrification and improved security, thus breathing new life into its historical treasures.
“A decade ago I wouldn’t have brought my foreign clients here at this time,” says local tour guide Analia Arrata, as she stands on an Old Town street corner at 11pm. “It was dilapidated, dirty and often dangerous. These days I’m proud to show off Old Quito. Quiteños say it’s like el rostro de Dios — the face of God. We joked that it was a pretty ugly face before, but now the city’s back to her beautiful best.”

The rest of the article features recommendations for the following: See & Do, Buy, Like a Local, Eat, After hours, Sleep. Read all on National Geographic Traveller.

How to do it:
A 12-day trip with Journey Latin America visiting Ecuador’s highlights and staying three nights in colonial Quito starts from £3,198 per person, including international flights, transfers, B&B and excursions. If this takes your fancy give us a ring.

By Daniel Allen. Published in National Geographic Traveller on 6th September 2014

Post a comment

Upcoming Events

See full Event Listing

Other articles you may like

Browse our inspiration area of the site. It's packed with insider travel tips, Top5s, competitions, events, recipes and holiday ideas for Central and South America sure to whet your travel appetite.

Journey with the UK's NO1 specialist in travel to latin america

The Leading Specialists

  • Since 1980
  • The original pioneers in travel to Latin America - the first and still the best
  • Award-winning holidays, crafted with care
  • Nobody knows Latin America better

Travel with the Experts

  • All our staff are in-depth Latin America specialists
  • Our team shares  a unique insight into Central and South America
  • Get the inside track with expert advice based on first-hand experience

Choice and Flexibility

  • The widest range of options
  • No limitations on how you can travel
  • A genuinely personal service geared to understanding your needs
  • The journey you'll love, in a style to suit you

Wanderlust Reader's Travel Awards - Top Ten Tour Operator 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015

Latin American Travel Association – Award for Customer Service 2012

Sunday Times Travel Magazine – Specialist Tour Operator 2012

Sunday Times Travel Magazine – Best Value Tour Operator 2011

Sunday Times Travel Magazine - Editor's Award2013

British Travel Awards – Best Small Tour Operator Central & South America 2011, 2012

Condé Nast Traveller – Top Ten Specialist Tour Operator: 2010, 2011, 2012

Guardian and Observer Travel Awards– Top Ten Small Tour Operator: 2009, 2010, 2012

Page Full Path: /sitecore/content/JLA/Home/travel-inspiration/travel/City-Life-Quito

Page ID: {4133CB93-26E2-4E09-A808-A24E3DC04259}

Page Name: City-Life-Quito

Page Display Name: City Life: Quito by Daniel Allen

Page Template Name: T031-PapagaioBlogPost

Page Template ID: {ECC6A232-9784-4CC7-BA26-18421546B8F5}

Parent ID: {DC65CFB2-D81C-4A04-A7F8-0A1B3D88E7EB}

Parent Name: travel

Parent Display Name: Travel

Parent Template Name: T029-PapagaioCategoryListing

Parent Template ID: {4D163066-ED7E-48E6-AF31-34B6C47536CD}