Lisa Owen


For many travellers, Ecuador’s capital city is a jumping off point to the Galapagos Islands, Cotopaxi volcano or the backpacker mecca of Baños.

But Quito has a charm of its own extending from the surrounding mountains and volcanoes to its colonial buildings – and you only need a day or two to see the sights and get used to the altitude.

Here’s my list of top five places to visit in Quito.


1. Bell Tower of the Basilica del Voto Nacional

The view from the gothic basilica bell tower was my favourite place to visit during my two days in Quito.

The basilica, which was built over many years starting in 1926, is located on a hill in Quito’s Old Town and offers a great view of the capital city. You can see the basilica from most parts of the city.

For $2USD, you can enter the basilica, take a look inside, then proceed along a wooden plank in the roof before tackling the dizzying near-vertical steps up to the bell tower viewpoint.

The last part of the climb is the steepest and you’ll probably want to hold the handrails on the way up to reaching the superb view of the city below.


2. Calle La Ronda

Calle La Ronda is one of Quito’s oldest street and is filled with restored colourful buildings.

The colonial street was home to some of Ecuador’s most well-known poets and musicians during the early 20th century.

Take a stroll through the brick archway heading up the street, and read up on the street’s history on the information signs scattered along the route.


3. El Panecillo viewpoint

El Panecillo is the hill sitting above Quito and it is visible from much of the city on a clear day.

The hill is topped by the distinctive winged Virgin of Quito.  

From the base of the statue, you can get a great view of the city below. It’s best to visit in the morning for the highest chance of clear views. You can also climb up to the first platform on the statue for $1USD.

It’s recommended to take a taxi up to the top rather than hike for safety reasons. The return trip from Quito’s centre to the viewpoint should cost around $10USD and includes waiting time at the top.

Another vantage point in the Quito area is on the cable car (TelerifiQo) which offers a 2.5km ride up the east side of Volcano Pichincha to the Cruz Loma viewpoint.


4. La Floresta neighbourhood

Outside of the city centre lies the La Floresta neighbourhood, adjacent to a university. The neighbourhood is scattered with colourful street murals, and also hosts a number of trendy restaurants and cafes.

It’s a great place to wander for a few hours and is the perfect place for a lunch break.


5. The Old Town

Quito’s historic Qld Town features an array of beautiful buildings that will remind you of Europe.

Pretty plazas and ornate churches fill the centre and it’s easy to spend a few hours wandering the cobblestoned streets.

Must visit plazas include the Plaza Grande and Plaza San Francisco.

You can also check out the Compania de Jesus church, which contains up to seven tonnes of gold leaf throughout its interior. The entry fee is $5USD.

Things You Should Know

  • Quito is located at 2,850 metres above sea level so take it easy the first few days after your arrival while you acclimatise to the altitude.
  • English speakers are uncommon in Ecuador, so a basic knowledge of Spanish is essential.
  • The US dollar is the official currency of Ecuador; however they also have their own coins of 5,10, 25 and 50 cents and also utilise a $1 US Dollar coin. Both US and Ecuadorian coins are interchangeable.
  • Ecuador is a cash economy and you’ll be hard put to find locations, including hotels, hostels and tour operators, that accept credit cards. ATMs are easy to come by inside banks and accept foreign cards. Small notes are best as it’s often difficult to get more than $5 in change.
  • Pickpocketing is a threat when exploring Quito, but be alert, not alarmed. Carry only the money you need for the day, carry a copy of your passport, and keep cameras concealed when not in use. Be careful after dark and avoid dark streets.
  • Central bus stations are called Terminal Terrestre in Ecuador. Buses leave Quito regularly for destinations such as Ambato, Banos, Cuenca, Loja, Riobamba and Guayaquil. Tickets can be bought from bus operator counters. If taking buses, keep bags containing valuables on your lap and not under seats or in overhead racks.
  • There are many tours offered from Quito, including to the Amazon, the cloud forest town of Mindo, and the Quilotoa crater lake.


Lisa Owen is a pint-sized Australian following her dreams to travel to as many places as she can, and loves to share her photography, travel hacks, hiking adventures, and food discoveries along the way. At last count, she has travelled to more than 60 countries in between working in public relations and discovering hidden gems in Australia's great outdoors. Instagram: @thelittleadventurer. Facebook: The Little Adventurer Australia.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the Policy Documents available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.