Things to know about Quito
Each capital is unique and remarkable. So is the capital of Ecuador – Quito, also known as a Villa de San Francisco de Quito. It is an ancient and beautiful city (especially the Old Town), elegantly preserved through the ages.
Quito was founded by Spanish colonizers on the ruins of the Inca civilization in 1534. That allowed it to inherit the Baroque School style for its numerous monasteries, churches, and other buildings, created by true Spanish artisans.
The capital of Ecuador withstood several earthquakes and managed to save its pristine view, nearly untouched by the caused havoc. Quito is a true architectural masterpiece, that’s why it became the first chosen city for UNESCO World Heritage program.
Quito Geography and Climate
The capital of Ecuador is the second-highest capital city in the entire world for a reason. Quito elevation is around 9,340 ft, and it is surrounded by 47 volcanoes, some of them are still active.
The most popular volcanoes here are Cotopaxi and Pichincha, which are located just 15 and 50 kilometers from Quito. They’ve erupted numerous times, sometimes covering the city with ash. The capital of Ecuador is also unique because it is the only capital that is built close to the active volcanoes. That makes life in Quito slightly extreme, but still, an enjoyable place to live in.
The fan fact is that Quito altitude makes people somewhat immune to malaria transmission, which stops at ~1600m above sea level (the Quito elevation is 2,850 meters). Even though, Quito altitude may cause a bunch of other symptoms for unprepared travelers, like insomnia, dizziness, headaches, and nausea. That’s why it’s recommended to acclimatize first and reach new heights gradually.
The capital of Ecuador is also located near the equator, that’s why it is not drastically affected by the seasonal changes. The Quito climate type is an oceanic climate. Quito temperature is rather stable during all months – around 15°.
Still, the humid climate lasts from October until May, which can negatively affect your vacation. Some say, that the perfect time to visit Quito is between June and September during the dry season. Quito temperature is moderate during the dry season, so it should not spoil your vacation, and you can plan your travel route safely.
Also, there is a special Sun Festival (Inti Raymi), held on June 21. If you will ever visit Quito on this day – make sure to honor the fest and join it with the locals. The end of harvesting season will be very lively with lots of food and drink to share.
The easiest way to visit Quito is to get there by plane. The Quito Airport is called Mariscal Sucre International Airport, and it’s the busiest airport in South America. It is managed by the Corporación Quiport and provides an immense level of quality control and support for the passengers. The name was given thanks to the Latin American leader of independence – Antonio José de Sucre.
The old Quito Airport was founded in 1935 and maintained until February 2013. Then the company introduced the new Quito Airport (International) and announced the closure of the old airport. It even received an Airport Service Quality Award in 2014, keeping the level of service nowadays.
The Quito Airport is located 18 kilometers northeast of central Quito. If you wish to reach the city – you’ll need to ride around 36 kilometers/24 miles. First, you need to reach the Conector Aplachaca Road – one of the branches of Ecuador Highway 35. Proceed to Ecuador Highway 28 (from Tumbaco to Cumbaya) and eventually you will reach central Quito.
The most popular way is to take a taxi in the Quito Airport, which will cost you around $25-45. The road to Quito will take 1 or 2 hours at most.
You can also use public buses as a great alternative. They will cost you much less (around $2). Still, it will take you more time to reach the city, and the public buses may not operate in the evening (after 7 PM), so take that into account while planning the arrival or departure.
Whenever you visit Quito, the first important thing is to choose where you would like to stay and also where to take a meal. There is a great variety of Quito restaurants, and there is no obvious choice of where to head first. The capital of Ecuador offers two approaches: 1) the classic old Quito historic center; 2) various neighborhoods (Gonzalez Suarez, La Carolina, La Floresta, Guápulo, La Mariscal).
If you’ve selected to stay in old Quito – you will experience the colorful, narrow labyrinth of streets and a perfect feeling of being a part of the historical legacy. As for the neighborhoods – they provide a variety of activities to keep you busy. None of the choices is bad and relies directly on how many days one would spend in Quito. And of course, both approaches grant you the possibility to taste a perfect Spanish kitchen in the most popular Quito restaurants.
So, which Quito restaurants should you choose? There are traditional and modern restaurants. The popular list of recommended restaurants is: Quitu Identidad Culinaria, Urko, Casa Gangotena. Chez Jérôme, Marcando El Camino, Fried Bananas,Cafe Dios No Muere.
These Quito restaurants are examples of a traditional kitchen, where we recommend tasing fish soups, ceviche, fried bananas, Andean grains, clams with cacao, and many other dishes. Almuerzo is a traditional launch (chicken soup, rice dish, salad, and juice). The prices are also quite affordable.
As for the modern Quito restaurants like Octava de Corpus, Cosa Nostra Trattoria Pizzeria, Osaka, Naranjilla Mecànica, Shibumi, and others – they are more oriented for European and Asian tourists. You can get a variety of both traditional or common food, like Italian pizza, tiramisu, Japanese seafood, etc. These types of Quito restaurants are suited for the people, who are not ready to experiment with the local food, even though, we highly encourage you to give it a try. And if you are a fan of coffee – make sure to visit Galletti or En-Dulce café, which are rated quite high among the locals.
Despite the choice you’ll make, the selected culinary route should be unforgettable. Especially if you visit Quito restaurants at night. The stunning look of night streets from the terraces of Quito restaurants will definitely stay in your heart for a long time.
How safe is Quito
Not the most pleasant, but still important topic. Quito is definitely not a criminal capital where your life is in constant jeopardy. Still, poverty is a pretty real thing in Quito, that’s why you may encounter various criminals, mostly pickpockets. For example, the U.S. Department of State rates Quito as a critical-threat location because of home invasions, armed assaults, homicide, and even sexual assaults.
The most dangerous areas at night are:
- Panecillo neighborhood
- Bellavista neighborhood
- Historic District
- Mariscal Sucre areas in Quito
If you plan to visit the capital of Ecuador – there are several important nuances you’ll need to keep in mind to be safe:
- Under any circumstances, do not walk alone late in the evening (after 7 PM), especially if you have some precious things with you. The sunset happens nearly at the same time any day, so with careful planning you won’t get into trouble. Always take a taxi. Of course, most of them will have a double tariff, but it is a fair price to keep your goods and your life safe. And of course, there are so-called “fake taxis”. Don’t allow the yellow color to blind your senses. A registered taxi should have an orange license plate on both sides of the car (front and back).
- Use common sense and avoid taking the credit card and passport with you. Take only the required amount of cash, a copy of your passport, and keep an eye on them. Don’t be too stressed or suspicious. Instead, try to have neutral or positive behavior and do not wear too candid clothes. This lowers the chances of robbery, etc.
- If you have a backpack – carry it in your hands whenever you are (on the street, in the bus, etc.). A lot of locals do the same, so there is nothing too weird about that. During the rush hour, it is especially important.
- Most locals do not speak English, so if you wish to get some assistance – it’s recommended to learn some common Spanish words. They will help you in a long run.
- If you were robbed – well, we have some sad news for you. The police usually won’t investigate the cases, if your total property was not worth at least ~$500. That’s why, try to follow the listed advice and be cautious at any time.
The capital of Ecuador is a great city with nearly limitless activities to satisfy the needs of every tourist. Quito is a marvelous place, surrounded by ancient volcanoes and wild nature. There are a lot of architectural masterpieces and other points of interest, which are worth visiting. With a little caution, you can be sure, that your vacation will be a safe and pleasant experience. Quito will always remain in your heart, as one of the most outstanding capitals in entire South America with its breath-taking views, nice people and pristine nature.