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7 reasons for extending your stay in Quito

Quito is well known as a heritage city that offers a variety of cultural activities and sightseeing. Nevertheless, most of the travelers use Quito as a stopover before or after their trip to the amazing Galapagos Islands. There is plenty to explore for the most avid traveler to plan to spend a few nights in this beautiful Andean city. Quito has many places, activities, and experiences to offer. Each traveler can focus on their interests in planning their trip. Here is our list of 7 reasons for extending your stay in Quito either before or after traveling to the Galapagos Islands and within Ecuador. 1. Visit the Middle of the World Ecuador´s name comes from the Equator that crosses the country. The Middle of the World monument is twenty-seven kilometers away from the financial district and heritage city center of Quito. I’ll bet you didn’t know there are two sites marked as Middle of the World? There are the park and monument built in the site marked by the geodesic expedition in the 18th century. The second site is the actual site measured by GPS as 0°0´0”, but don´t worry it is only a few feet away from the park! This iconic site was dedicated in 1979,; after more than 200 years the Ecuadorian Government built a small monument that represents the place marked by the geodesic group. Visiting the Middle of the World Park is a must for worldwide travelers who can also learn more about the Ecuadorian culture through its restaurants, artistic shows with traditional dances, and museums such as the history and details of the geodesic expedition lead by France and Spain. The right place marked as 0°0´0” by GPS measures is the Intiñan Museum. This museum not only provides the experience of being right in the middle of the world surrounded by indigenous history and culture such as the Quitu Caras tribe and the importance of the sun for them. In this place, travelers are invited to try and keep their balance while walking right in the line that divides the northern and southern hemisphere of the world. Another fun experiment is to try and swing an egg on the tip of a nail. 2. Awaken your senses in Quito’s heritage city center Quito was the first city declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Walking along the ancient streets amongst colonial and republican buildings will take you back to the past. Visitors must also seek to understand the history and culture on Quito. First of all, you should visit La Ronda Street twice. Why? This artistic and picturesque neighborhood offers you a different atmosphere during the day and at night. La Ronda Street hosts many artisans´ workshops in which visitors can interact with each artist while you watch them crafting their art pieces. If you join them in the process, you will make memories much more significantly than numbers and years! Visiting La Ronda during the day offers a better introduction to local culture and art; at night this street becomes as the party district in the city center. Travelers can experience the local ambiance of party accompanied by traditional live music, dance floors, and drinks such as Canelazo. The other neighborhood that visitors mustn´t miss is San Marcos. This parish is one of the few residential areas in the city center. It is very close to Santo Domingo church and square beside La Ronda, and five minutes walking away from the Independence Square. San Marcos, in comparison with La Ronda, it is ideal for experiencing the family and artistic ambiance. San Marcos is the traditional home of many artists, and for decades was connected with the city center only with one entrance. In this area, you will find ancient houses from the Colonial and Republican period which have been inhabited by many generations of the same family. Also, it has its church and a square, ideal for sitting and enjoying the routine of locals among the shops. For example, in front of the square, it is possible to meet Mrs. Angelita and his restaurant, which has been running for 70 years. All the locals and visitors stop by and let Angelita spoil them with her fritada (deep fried pork served with corn, and sweet plantain) or her Cevichocho which is an interpretation of a Ceviche made with local vegetables. These neighborhoods offering both commercial and residential areas are surrounded by traditions, local customs, and the Ecuadorian atmosphere. While La Ronda offers artisanal shops and nightlife, San Marcos exudes family traditions, calmness, and picturesque ambiance. 3. Watch the city from the Pichincha volcano Quito is a big valley that is surrounded by many volcanoes, but the most iconic is the Ruco and Guagua Pichincha. It is in this volcanic mountain where the cable car station of Quito is based. From the Pichincha volcano visitors will have an amazing view of Quito, and with luck and good weather, it is possible to watch also the Cotopaxi and Antisana Volcanos from here. For those looking for an adventure, it is possible to do a variety of activities such as horseback ride, trekking, cycling, camping, and paragliding. The cable car can satisfy not only the thirsty of adrenaline that some people may have but also be the eye candy for those that would like to contemplate or photograph the beauty of the city. 4. Let the Cotopaxi volcano take your breath away As we have mentioned before, Quito is surrounded by volcanoes and some of them are still active like the Cotopaxi volcano. This is the second highest volcano in Ecuador (5.897 m / 19.347 ft) after the Chimborazo, and it is the second highest active volcano in the world. The Cotopaxi is only 33 km (20 miles) away from Quito, so it takes approximately 1 hour to reach the entrance of the National Park in the Latacunga Province. Many climbers come to challenge themselves climbing the Cotopaxi, but for those who are not so adventurous or don´t have the physical conditions or experience for climbing this volcano, it is possible to visit its snowy peak up to the first shelter. It’s also possible to stay in some of the haciendas surrounding the volcano which allows guests to feel the experience of waking up and watch this impressive snow-capped mountain very closely. For those with a generous budget and looking for a unique experience, it is possible to take a helicopter tour that overflies the volcano, with the possibility to watch the impressive crater from above while passing over the valleys that surround Quito. 5. Enjoy the proximity to the cloud forest and other Andean towns Quito is privileged for being very close to some of the attractions that the highlands have to offer, such as Otavalo, Mindo, and Papallacta, just to mention some interesting sites. For example, Otavalo is the biggest indigenous market in South America, and it catches the eye of both locals and foreigners because of the handicrafts that Otavalenos make. It is a colorful experience that all travelers will love. For those looking for a more authentic experience, you can stay on a Friday night near the town and visit very early in the morning, before sunrise, the Saturday’s animal market where locals bring goats, rabbits, chickens, turkeys, cuy (guinea pigs), and more to market them. Additionally, there is Mindo cloud forest with its butterflies, hummingbirds, cocoa, and adventure activities. Mindo it is just 3 hours approximately away from Quito, on the way to the coast. In fact, it is the border between the coast and the Andes where the humid and warm winds from the Pacific Coast are stopped by the Andes mountain range. That´s why the clouds formed this cloud forest. You can visit it either on a day tour or stay one night here. Visiting Mindo is worth it! Papallacta, on the other hand, is in the border between the Andes and the rainforest, also approximately 3 hours away from Quito. This town is very well known for its hot springs, and that´s why many visitors decide to spend a day among hot volcanic waters and wellness therapies that complement the experience. Why not relax while receiving a mineral mood massage therapy. 6. Discover the Ecuadorian train and its many routes through the Andes Ecuador built one of the most daring and impressive train routes that connect the Pacific Coast with the Andes. It took many years, and hard work to build it. The Devil´s Nose route was especially difficult due to the steep and rugged inclines that had to pass through a very narrow mountain in order to reach the Andes. Nowadays, the train offers tourist services for domestic and international visitors by offering a series of experiences in the train and in each stop with local communities. This award-winning attraction is catching the attention to those travelers that would like to experience something unique yet cultural at the same time. Some routes are day tours that start at the Chimbacalle Train Station at the south of Quito, while others start in other cities. Depending on the length of the trip, budget, and interests it is possible to take a 5-day journey on board the Tren Crucero Gold which allows passengers move from Quito to Guayaquil or vice versa, staying in local haciendas for 4 nights. On the other hand, it is possible to take the day tour to the Devil´s Nose or the Ice Train that starts in Riobamba. Staying in Quito and not experiencing its train routes and services is unforgettable! 7. Complement your experience discovering Quito’s artisanal beer selection In the recent years, Quito has grown to be the home of many artisanal breweries that have been established in this Andean city. The spring waters, the rise of worldwide immigration, and the interest to combine foreign traditions with the locals are the driving forces behind this growth. In fact, it is not a new trend because of the first brewers in Quito where the Franciscan Congregation that brought the barley and produced beer for the internal consumptions of the monastery. Nowadays, the Franciscan Brewery is no longer operating however it is open and restored for those visitors that love this golden drink. On the other hand, the newest breweries are using antiques and new techniques brought from Belgium, Germany, USA, among others. The variety is quite impressive because it is possible to find IPAs, Ales, Lagers, and Stouts. As a result, it is possible to visit some of this breweries as well as enjoying them in local bars specializing in this famous drink. If you love beer and you´re looking for the local taste of fun, you can ask and try some of these artisanal beers. For example, Amsel Bräu, Santana Brewing Company, Santa Rosa, Doggerlander, Bandido Brewering, Los 3 Monjes, Django, among others. There are many other reasons, but we encourage you to experience and live Quito more in-depth because in that way you will get a better understanding of the city, its people, its culture, and why not considering to return to broaden your experience in this Andean city. Marcel Perkins is CEO at Latin Trails. Latin Trails is an incoming destination management company specialized in bespoke tours, with a focus on offering unique experiences throughout Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, and Peru. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Marcel Perkins

Marcel Perkins is CEO at Latin Trails. Latin Trails is an incoming destination management company specialized in bespoke tours, with a focus on offering unique experiences throughout Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, and Peru. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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  1. I’ve straddled the Equator a few times in my travelling years but most of the destinations have made very little of it. I like the idea of marking the spot with a Museum. The Intiñan Museum sounds fascinating, a real celebration of what is going on around it. I just hope that my phone’s navigation system can cope with all the zeros.

    1. Dear Ted,

      Seems you have trotted the globe a bit. You definitely will enjoy Ecuador, the beauty of Inti Ñan is the experiences and interactivity. Ecuador has so much more…

  2. Regarding La Ronda Street, I think that it is fair to say that many districts change as the day goes on.

    I always try to stay centrally, even if it is just a basic guest house. Watching a community come to life is fascinating. There are often some great photos to be snatched in the morning light as the sun-rises.

    Midday you can honour the tradition of the siesta and then be ready for the night’s party ambience.

    Being around throughout the day helps you get the feel of a place and you’ve got more chance of getting to know the locals.

    1. Absolutely. The nice thing about La Ronda is that it shares 3 faces of Quito, the morning, midday and nightlife. There are hostels in the area and hotels as well.

  3. The Middle of the World? Sounds like a great Indiana Jones adventure to me. Thirsty work. I’d do justice to all those artisanal beers.

    1. Hope to see you in Ecuador soon. The artisan breweries are growing, they are experimenting more and more with local andean ingredients. Pairing up a mug of local quinoa beer and hand made sausages…

  4. Being the first city to receive the accolade of World Heritage Site from UNESCO is an award that will make people sit up and take notice. (Though nowadays there are so many UNESCO awards that in my opinion some of them have lost their value.)

    I’ve never visited Quito so there must be something rather special about walking through the splendid mix of old colonial and republican buildings.

    I’d guess that there are some excellent walking tours to be undertaken?

    1. Quito is a very walkable city, specially the downtown area. It has many nooks and cranies, there are several museums, small streets like Junin in the San Marcos neighborhood where you walk alongside local families, there are art galleries and you can interact at many of these locations.

  5. I’ve never grown out of the thrill of looking down on cities from a great height. My parents took me up the Eiffel Tower when I was 6 or 7 and I tried to capture the toytown of Paris with my Box Brownie camera. For me the highlight of Quito would be taking the cable car up to the Pichincha volcano. I’d spend hours tracing the streets. I usually take a map with me so that I can tick off the major buildings and get myself familiar with a city’s layout. Though you’ve got to pick your days. I took the cable car to the peak on Tenerife and just looked down on heavy black clouds.

    1. Dear Sally,

      The cable car ride to Pichincha is beautiful, not only do you see the city, you get to see the surrounding valleys and volcanoes. There are 2 other great look outs, Panecillo hill and Itchimbia. Also a climb up to the basilica tower gives a thrill to many.

  6. I find train rides fascinating and a great adventure to take. I’ve taken the EuroRail so I can visit a lot of countries at one go. I would like to experience a train ride through the Andes.

    1. Ecuador is perfect for this. We have a ride called “Tren Crucero”, it is a slow way of crossing the Andes and reaching the coastal lowlands. From colonial cities to mountain peaks, crossing cloud forest and reaching rice fields, banana plantations and the tropics… all in 4 days.

  7. When I visited Quito, I never thought that I would have a memorable and fascinating trip. At first, I was very hesitant to go around the city but when I did, I instantly fell inlove with the country. My trip to the Cloud Forest is something that I will never forget because it felt like I was in a place outside the earth. Also, the city’s heritage center will take you back in time as you learn more about their culture.

    1. Dear Charles,

      I am happy you share the love for Ecuador. I hope you are considering a second trip. The Amazon rainforest is a place that keeps many wonders.

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