Quito, Ecuador sits roughly

Travel to Quito Ecuador

Preparing to land in Quito, EcuadorQuito is the capital of Ecuador, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the main city through which tourists arrive and depart the country.

For those who still make the mistake of skipping Colombia, Quito continues to be a popular start or end point for backpackers traveling the South America circuit.

Located at an altitude of 2, 850 meters (10, 000 feet), Quito is also one of the world’s highest capital cities. In South America, it’s also one of the cheapest, after La Paz in Bolivia.

While the city itself isn’t the prettiest, nor the safest, there are enough interesting and unique activities to keep visitors busy for at least a few days, before moving on to either the Galapagos Islands, or other parts of the country.

By Air

The Aeropuerto Internacional Mariscal Sucre (UIO) is the main airport serving Quito.

Due to the location within the city, and mountains, the approach to landing requires a series of banks and turns. A new, larger international airport is currently under construction north of the city.

A taxi during the day costs $5 – 7 to La Mariscal, the main tourist neighborhood. For safety reasons, it’s advised you take a taxi while carrying all your luggage.

However, if you want to take the local bus, the cost is only $0.25 and you can pick up any “JL Mera” labeled bus by crossing the street outside the Departure area of the airport terminal.

Be sure and keep any bags with valuables on your lap at all times, or in front of you if you’re standing. Theft on buses is rampant in Ecuador.

By Bus

Due to Quito’s sheer size, there are two bus stations located at opposite ends of the city.

Terminal Quitumbe – This modern, new bus terminal is located at the Southern end of Quito, and services the most common tourist destinations, including the coast (Guayaquil), Amazon, and most of the mountain regions (including Banos and Cuenca).

Aeropuerto Internacional Mariscal SucreA taxi during the day from La Mariscal costs about , or you can take local buses, however be extra careful of your belongings.

Buses depart for cities around the country day and night. The bigger the city, the more frequent the departures.

Terminal Carcelén – Located in the Northern part of Quito, this station serves Carchi and Imbabura. The primary reason for taking a bus from this station is to visit the Otavalo Market.

A few bus companies have terminals located in La Mariscal, so you may want to ask at your hostel whether you can take a bus from there, however you may have fewer departure times and destinations to choose from.

By Foot

The only areas of Quito you’ll want to walk on foot are La Mariscal and the historic city center.

Otherwise, for safety reasons and time, you’ll want to at least take the buses, if not taxis, to get around.

By Taxi

Taxis are inexpensive, and should be taken at night if you need to go more than a few blocks.

Taxis are metered, though many drivers prefer to negotiate instead, in an effort to gauge unsuspecting tourists. Get an estimate from a local, and always do your negotiating before you enter a cab.

Whenever possible, use a private (yellow) taxi service. Ask your hostal or hotel to call. Unofficial taxis are much more prone to robberies, whether by the driver or someone else.

A common tactic is the “express kidnapping” which involves taking the victim to an ATM machine where they’re forced to withdraw the maximum amount allowed.

Sample Costs

  • $2 – ride within La Mariscal
  • $3 – daytime ride between La Mariscal and historic city center
  • $7 – daytime ride between Mariscal Sucre airport and La Mariscal
  • $14 – daytime ride between La Mariscal and southern bus terminal
  • Terminal QuitumbeThere are 3 private bus systems which ply the city from North to South: El Trole (green stations), Metrobus (blue buses and stations), and Ecovia (red buses and stations).

    Most rides cost a mere By Bus

    There are 3 private bus systems which ply the city from North to South: El Trole (green stations), Metrobus (blue buses and stations), and Ecovia (red buses and stations).

    Most rides cost a mere $0.25, so it can be a very inexpensive way to get around the city. I know I’ve already mentioned it often, but be very careful about pickpockets when riding the buses in Quito, and Ecuador.

    Tips for Acclimatizing

    Visitors arriving by air should expect to feel the physical effects of the high altitude within 24 hours of arrival, including:

  • Shortness of breath while walking (especially uphill or up stairs)
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • To minimize the effects, and their duration:

  • Drink LOTS of water (rule: 1 Liter per 1, 000 meters of elevation, per day)
  • Abstain from alcohol and caffeine
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Plan to have a relaxing first day (it’s important to get some light exerci.25, so it can be a very inexpensive way to get around the city. I know I’ve already mentioned it often, but be very careful about pickpockets when riding the buses in Quito, and Ecuador.
  • Plan to have a relaxing first day (it’s important to get some light exercise, not just sit around or sleep all day)
  • Where to Stay

    Despite the immense and sprawling size of this 2-million person city, most visitors stay in one of two locations: La Mariscal (New Town), or the historic city center (Old Town).

    Both locations offer plenty of hostels, restaurants, and tour offices, however La Mariscal is also the city’s Zona Rosa (main nightlife district).

    Neither area is especially safe, as backpackers are commonly robbed day and night, within blocks of their hostels.

    Hostels

    Quito offers backpackers a wide range of accommodation, for all budgets. Costs are higher here than in the rest of the country.

    Dorm beds are $10 or less, with private rooms starting around $15 per night.

  • The Blue House (Author’s Pick) – Joaquin Pinto E8-24 y Diego de Almagro. Located in La Mariscal, this hostel is a backpacker favorite.
  • – Calle Antepara E4-60 y Los Rios, San Blas. Located in the historic city center, The Secret Garden is perhaps the best known hostel in Quito.
  • – Joaquin Pinto 132 y 6 de Diciembre. Located in La Mariscal, it’s one of a select few, top rated hostels on Hostelworld.
  • Short Term Housing

    If you plan to spend a few weeks, or months, in the city, then you’ll want to rent a room or apartment. Your best bet is to either negotiate a long term rate with a hostel, or ask around for rooms or apartments for rent.

    Things to See & Do

    Even if your time in Quito is short, as is the case with many who only visit Ecuador for the Galapagos Islands, there are still some quick and cheap sightseeing options.

  • – If you want to hike to the top of this 4, 784-meter volcano, start with an early morning ride on the Teleferico to give yourself plenty of time. Even if you’ve spent a few days acclimatizing in Quito, this is a challenging hike.
  • (Monument at the Equator) – Visiting the official Equator line and the monument built at the wrong spot are Quito’s most famous, and popular, sightseeing activity. Allow a half-day.
  • – For $8.50, you can ride one of the world’s highest aerial gondolas. You’ll be dropped off at an elevation of 4, 100 meters, and offered sweeping, scenic views of Quito and the surrounding mountains. Go in the morning, when you’ve got a better chance of clear weather, and dress warmly.
  • – A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Quito’s city center features a mix of old world museums, churches and cathedrals. Highlights include: Basilica del Voto Nacional, Plaza de la Independencia, Church of La Compania de Jesus, the Church of San Francisco, and Museo del Banco Central. The city center can be covered in a 1/2 day, but it’s better to allow yourself a full day to see everything at a relaxed pace.
  • Outside the City

    Near the historic city center of Quito View of the historic city center The Blue House Mitad del Mundo
    See also:
    • Επικοινωνία. maxmag.gr. Επικαιρότητα, Κόσμος, Πολιτισμός.
    Source: gobackpacking.com
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