Plaza de San Francisco, Old Town Quito, Ecuador

Quito

South America’s second highest capital is sprawled along the slopes of the surrounding mountains at an elevation of 9,350 feet.

The traffic is constricting the city and the best place to avoid frustrating delays is to base yourself in the old town. A stroll through the old town reveals an intricate maze of narrow cobblestone streets flanked with colonial mansions and ornate churches, the splendour of which has earned Quito UNESCO World Heritage status.

Historic Buildings, Quito, Ecuador
Historic Buildings, Quito, Ecuador

A little more about Quito

Highlights of the historical centre include Plaza Grande (Independence Square), La Compania Jesuit Church, and La Ronda, all encapsulated in a scenic vista from the top of Panecillo Hill crowned by the guardianship of the winged Virgin of Quito.

In spite of the traffic, Quito remains a good staging point from which to explore the neighbouring countryside and sights, such as Otavalo market, the cloud forest and some wonderful haciendas.

Experiences

What do you really love doing? We curate your itinerary especially for you.

Middle of the World Monument, Quito, Ecuador

Stand at the Equator

View the monument that marks where explorers calculated the equator, and receive a science lesson where eggs stand on end and water spins in both directions.

La Virgin del Panecillo, Quito, Ecuador

Visit the Virgin of El Panecillo

Hike to the landmark statue, which is said to bless everything that it overlooks, to learn its history and take in expansive views of the city.

Teleférico cable car, Quito, Ecuador

Travel the Sky Rail

Take a ride on the Teleférico, a sky rail that soars from Vulgano Park to the dormant Pichincha Volcano.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Need Inspiration?
Browse our Ecuador holiday ideas.

Our Ecuador experts have created and curated these holiday ideas to get you started. Take the time to search through them and find something to spark ideas for a unique adventure.

Where to stay

Some of the wonderful places to stay that we frequently recommended.

Chilcabamba Lodge £££££

  • Americas - South
  • Wilderness

Built from local materials, Chilcabamba Lodge is cosy, unpretentious and charming. This family-owned lodge has only 13 rooms and is surrounded by the rugged peaks of the four towering mountains.

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Patio Andaluz £££££

  • Ecuador
  • City

A truly charming boutique hotel that has been declared a Cultural Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO, Patio Andaluz is a former 17th century mansion house. The property is just minutes away from the hubbub of the city’s historic centre whilst being encapsulated in an old-world piece of architecture. Typical of the style of the city, its 32 spacious rooms and suites are arranged around two glass-ceiling internal courtyards, most rooms only have internal windows. The courtyard restaurant often features live music and is decorated with exotic flowers year-round, serving delicious Ecuadorean cuisine that is fused with Italian influences.

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Casa Gangotena £££££

  • Ecuador
  • City

A spectacular three-story boutique hotel set within a newly-restored historic mansion overlooking Plaza San Francisco, Casa Gangotena boasts an exquisite interior that combines contemporary aesthetics with antiques and fine furnishings. A number of charming nooks and cosy spaces can be found dotted around the property, providing ideal spots to tuck into tea or cocktails. Its 31 spacious rooms and suites are appointed with rich carpets, towering window frames and lofty ceilings, while original restored fittings can be spotted throughout the entirety of the property. A lovely third-floor terrace boasts commanding views over Quito’s historic Old Town and the surrounding mountains, and the restaurant serves an interesting menu inspired by the biodiversity of Ecuador.

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Hotel Plaza Grande £££££

  • Ecuador
  • City

Rising above Independence Square in a historic district of Quito, Hotel Plaza Grande was formerly the home of the Spanish conquistador Juan Diaz de Hidalgo before been conscientiously remodelled. Its restaurant serves French and traditional Ecuadorian specialities, and a wine bar offers live music at weekends. Offering 15 spacious suites, each handsomely appointed with colonial-style furnishings and tapestries, Hotel Plaza Grande is decorated with heavy drapes and original artworks that set off the traditional ambience. In addition, a stately presidential option with noise-reducing windows ensures total peace and quiet amid the city bustle.

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Mama Cuchara £££££

  • Ecuador
  • City

A colonial house that has been through a meticulous process of modernisation, Mama Cuchara is a boutique hotel that integrates authentic Ecuadorean culture and forward-thinking design. Its 26 rooms and suites are charmingly decorated with locally-inspired textiles, featuring original wood beams and meticulously carved oak headboards, and are warmly lit by custom-made recycled plastic lighting fixtures.

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La Casona de la Ronda £££££

  • Ecuador
  • City

Situated on one of Quito’s most traditional streets, La Casona de la Ronda has been wonderfully restored to maintain its original colours, stone walls and traditional character. Entering through wooden doors into a piece of Ecuadorean history, the heritage hotel is within a mansion built in 1738. Featuring 22 rooms, each arranged around a central patio, the property boasts a concoction of cultural, traditional and contemporary design elements. Each of the rooms is well-appointed, containing polished wooden floors and elegant furnishings.

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Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Rachael Tallents

Adventure, discovery and my curiosity for people and the natural world is what drives my love of travelling.  I am grateful for my parents’ desire to explore, and from an early age my eyes were open to diverse landscapes, cultures, and underwater worlds.

For the last 16 years, I have worked for a leading luxury tour operator designing incredible journeys for discerning clients and travelled to some magical places. I am excited to have joined Steppes Travel, and to be working for a company with such strong ethical and sustainable values.

Talk with our experts
  • 01285 880 980

Paul Bird

From quaint Andean villages and colourful markets to staggering volcanic landscapes and the Amazon Rainforest, Paul has explored the length and breadth of Ecuador.

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  • 01285 880 980

John Faithfull

John rode the railways of Ecuador on the carriage roof before it was outlawed, but still recommends a jaunt along the Devil’s Nose – an engineering marvel that can still be enjoyed from inside a carriage.

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  • 01285 880 980

Roxy Dukes

I love to squeeze as much out of my day as possible. An outdoors fanatic, I love to delve into harsh environments having summited numerous mountains and trail running into the unknown whenever I get the chance – whether at home or overseas. Funnily enough, it didn’t start like that. It took a few years for the burning fire of adventure to truly take light with my eyes opened by the adventures travel could afford.

Talk with our experts
  • 01285 880 980

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