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Things to do in Quito

Things to do in  Quito

Welcome to Quito

Tumbling from the slopes of smoldering volcanoes, the typically South American city of Quito entices travelers with a thriving culinary scene and a UNESCO-listed Old Town that begs be explored on a walking tour—day or night. Before flocking to Ecuador’s biodiverse rain forests and national parks, visitors should cover the highlights of Ecuador’s capital on a sightseeing tour. Take in the views from Panecillo Hill during a guided hike or horseback riding tour; ride the Teléferico, South America’s highest gondola; and jump between two hemispheres at the Middle of the World Monument (La Mitad del Mundo), otherwise known as the equator. Day trips from Quito include Otavalo Market, a sprawling indigenous market selling artisan treasures; Cotopaxi National Park, reigned over by the ash-capped Cotopaxi Volcano (where visitors can opt for horse or bike tours); Quilotoa Crater Lake, famed for its vivid emerald hue; and Mindo Nambillo cloud forest reserve, tours of which typically include a visit to a chocolate factory. Nature lovers should add a full-day excursion to the Ecuadorian highlands, where bears roam the forests freely and hot springs surrounding the Papallacta volcano beckon with healing properties. If you’re continuing your Ecuadorian adventure, Quito offers easy access to the Galapagos Islands; Baños (three hours away), renowned for adventure sports such as rafting, rappelling, and ziplining; and Cali and Salento in southern Colombia.

Top 10 attractions in Quito

#1
Cotopaxi National Park

Cotopaxi National Park

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With sweeping plains, rocky mountain trails, and glassy lagoons, Ecuador’s largest and most-visited national park is a spectacular setting for an outdoor adventure. Located along the Pacific Ring of Fire, Cotopaxi National Park is most famous for the much-photographed Cotopaxi volcano, the highest active volcano in South America.More
#2
Quilotoa Lagoon

Quilotoa Lagoon

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Quilotoa Lagoon was formed when a now-extinct volcano collapsed and the resulting crater was filled with a startling emerald-green lake, the color resulting from volcanic minerals. Just south of Quito, the village and lagoon of Quilotoa have become a popular day-trip destination, affording spectacular views and photo opportunities.More
#3
Middle of the World Monument (La Mitad del Mundo)

Middle of the World Monument (La Mitad del Mundo)

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The Middle of the World Monument (La Mitad del Mundo) commemorates the site where the 18th-century French explorer Charles Marie de la Condamine once calculated the globe's equatorial line. A trapezoidal monument in the center of the park houses a viewing platform; a small museum on the equator pays tributes to local indigenous cultures.More
#4
Termas de Papallacta Spa

Termas de Papallacta Spa

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For a day of pampering, drive from Quito through the Amazon rainforest to this privately-owned hotel spa and resort. Set on 625 acres (253 hectares) between the Cayambe and Antiisana volcanoes, Termas de Papallacta Spa features several natural thermal baths and nature trails along the banks of the Papallacta, a gentle river that flows across the property.More
#5
Mindo Cloud Forest

Mindo Cloud Forest

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Stretching over 48,000 acres (19,200 hectares) and reaching heights of 15,700 feet (4,778 meters), the Mindo Cloud Forest—part of the Mindo-Nambillo Ecological Reserve—is one of the most biologically diverse forests in the world.More
#6
Cotopaxi Volcano

Cotopaxi Volcano

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The Cotopaxi Volcano, one of South America’s most famous peaks and Ecuador’s most active volcano, is perhaps the most recognizable landmark along Ecuador’s Avenue of the Volcanoes. On a clear day, you can see the snow-capped cone all the way from Quito, but a closer exploration requires a trip to Cotopaxi National Park.More
#7
Otavalo Market

Otavalo Market

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Nestled in a valley at the foot of a volcano 57 miles (92 kilometers) north of Quito, Otavalo is a highland community of indigenous locals famous for their weaving skills and colorful textiles. The local Otavaleños who sell their wares at the daily market wear traditional clothing and have maintained their culture, way of dress, and identity.More
#8
Telefériqo Quito

Telefériqo Quito

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Telefériqo Quito’s cable car whisks passengers up the Pichincha volcano in glass gondolas. The 1.5-mile (2.5-kilometer) journey up the mountain offers what are perhaps the best panoramic views of the city and ends at the Cruz Loma plateau, where hiking trails lead to Rucu Pichincha, one of the volcano’s twin peaks.More
#9
Quito Old Town

Quito Old Town

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The historical heart of Ecuador’s capital, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Quito Old Town is the first port of call for most visitors to the city. Known for its cobblestone lanes, Spanish colonial architecture, and beautiful churches, it’s Quito’s most atmospheric district.More
#10
Basilica of the National Vow (La Basílica del Voto Nacional)

Basilica of the National Vow (La Basílica del Voto Nacional)

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One of the largest neo-Gothic churches in the Americas, La Basílica del Voto Nacional is an unmistakable feature of the skyline. Perched on a hill, the 19th-century beauty has three towers, which may be climbed to enjoy a fantastic city panorama. Technically unfinished, local legend opines that when the completion of the basilica arrives, so will the end of the world.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 1 Day in Quito

How to Spend 1 Day in Quito

How to Spend 2 Days in Quito

How to Spend 2 Days in Quito

Top activities in Quito

Private Tour to Papallacta Hot SPrings w/ Rose Plantation/Bird Garden
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Recent reviews from experiences in Quito

star-5
A full day indeed
Lorne_S, Dec 2021
Baños full day tour from Quito including all entrances and activities
Waterfall was incredible.
star-5
Mr. Effy was so awesome!
Jie_G, Nov 2021
Full Day Middle of the World, Cable Car and Quito City Shared Tour
He brought us to so many places that made us fall in love with the quaint-ness that is Quito.
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Full day tour of Quito with Effy
Robert_F, Nov 2021
Full Day Middle of the World, Cable Car and Quito City Shared Tour
His English is perfect and his intelligence and comprehensive knowledge of the area was very much appreciated.
star-5
Awesome and fabulous!
Janet_D, Sep 2021
Otavalo Tour from Quito Visiting Cayambe, Indigenous Market, Small groups
Highly recommend this tour, especially to see something other than Quito!
star-5
Driver was very helpful...
Kelly_M, Aug 2021
Quito Airport Arrival Transfer to Hotel
We spoke a simple English and Spanish conversation and he told us more about Quito and Ecuador
star-5
A perfect day with Andres!
donnariley65, Jan 2022
Mindo Cloud Forest Private Day Tour
And that after hiking, waterfalls, butterflies, hummingbirds, and a fab lunch.
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New Year at Cotopaxi
Julie_G, Jan 2022
Cotopaxi National Park - Full Day
At the end of our 10 day Galápagos excursion and just a few short hours before returning home, my husband and I decided to visit Cotopaxi.
star-5
Relaxing Day for Weary Travelers!
lorioconnor213, Dec 2021
Free time in Quito? Lets go to Papallacta's Volcanic Termal Springs!
The hot springs were amazing!
star-5
Can’t say enough!
Lizy_J, Nov 2021
Baños full day tour from Quito including all entrances and activities
If you are concerned about an English Speaking guide, she is great or even better.
star-5
Awesome, reliable, prompt service...highly recommended!
James_E, Nov 2021
Private Transfers to and from Quito Airport
They met us inside the terminal, made sure there was an English-speaking person on each leg, and got us to the hotel quickly and safely.
star-5
Old Town Quito & The Center of the World!
Heather_M, Oct 2021
Historic City of Quito and The Middle of the World - "Small Group"
The Mitad del Mundo was so cool to visit!
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Volcanoes, Craters and Lakes
Heather_M, Oct 2021
Cotopaxi & Quilotoa With Optional Hotel Pick-Up & Drop-Off - "Small Group"
Cotopaxi was such an amazing place to visit.
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Fun time
April_C, Oct 2021
Middle of the World Tour With Tickets - "Small Group"
Did the egg balance on a nail trick, weighing ourselves to see that we weigh less, and watch water flow forward and backward.
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Highly recommend!
April_C, Oct 2021
Private Transfers to and from Quito Airport
They gave us recommendations on what to do and where to eat while in town.
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Highland paradise
Ruben_P, Sep 2021
Quilotoa Full Day Tour from Quito with entrances, small groups
His english was great and his knowledge of the area, culture and cuisine was very impressive!
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Hummingbirds, Middle of the World, and beer with Wilson
Lori_P, Sep 2021
Middle Of The World, Hummingbirds Paradise, and Craft Beer Tasting
It was so cool to see the location and how folks were farming the fertile land inside the crater.
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Fun day in the cloud forest
Sara_J, Sep 2021
Mindo Day Tour including Chocolate Tasting, Hummingbirds, and Cloud Forest Hike
We also hiked the waterfall which is a fun little hike.
star-5
Awesome useful service for late night arrivals - peace of mind!!
DRMB, Sep 2021
Quito Airport Arrival Transfer to Hotel
Super nice and helpful - walked us over to find an ATM in the airport and frequently pointed to safe and "less safe" things to do on the drive to Quito.
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Great tour Great guides!!
Lauren_W, Aug 2021
Full-Day Mindo Magical Town Tour Small Group
We got to take a quick ride on a cable car across the forest and on our hike we got to see 6 waterfalls.
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Highlight of our time in Ecuador
Tracy_L, Aug 2021
Mindo Day Tour including Chocolate Tasting, Hummingbirds, and Cloud Forest Hike
Next we stopped at the Nambillo Cloud Forest Reserve, where we had a beautiful hike down to the Nambillo waterfall, and back up to the canopy on the other side of the Nambillo River, where we took a cable car back across the canopy.
Frequently Asked Questions
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