Top 10 things to do in Quito and around
It’s never easy choosing the highlights, but here are some of the best things to do in and around Quito, so get out of the hostel and enjoy…
Do not go to Baños or Quilotoa until you’ve been to The Secret Garden Cotopaxi. Cotopaxi is on the way to Quilotoa and Baños and we have a shuttle leaving here at 10am every day. More than 94% of guests rate it the best place they stayed in Ecuador. On Tripadvisor it gets more “amazing” “spectacular” “incredible” and “so worth it” than any other hostel in South America. Book at reception or on-line – it’ll be a highlight of your trip.
Explore the Historic Old Town – the first UNESCO world heritage listed city in the world. The best way is with the free walking tour, run by Carpedm, the travel agency downstairs. Monday to Friday, book at reception. Weekends, just ask and we’ll point you in the right direction.
Mitad del Mundo, the middle of the world equator monument. The highlight here is the quirky little “Museo Inti Ñan”. Unlike the big main monument complex, Inti Ñan is on the real equator, so they can demonstrate loads of fun (ok a bit cheesy!) experiments like water spinning different directions down a sink, balancing eggs on nails – all stuff that is only technically possible exactly over the equator. They also have loads of interesting displays ranging from jungle creatures to traditional indigenous huts, ceramic pots used for live burials (the wives of the recently departed chief!), and a real shrunken head (with illustrations guiding you through the process of shrinking your enemy’s head). Take one of our taxis (the most convenient), ask the receptionist for an info sheet on directions using public transport (the cheapest option) or take the shuttle after the walking tour (a good compromise).
Ride the “Teleferico” cable car, trek to the summit and gaze down into the crater of Rucu Pichincha volcano. Spectacular views, and even on a cloudy day it’s a real adventure – the summit is around 4,800m – the same height as Mont Blanc – the highest mountain in Europe! It’s cheap because you don’t need a guide, and it’s great acclimatization if you plan on doing more trekking in South America. Do this trek in the morning, as early as possible for best views. For full details take a photo of our info page on the terrace.
Visit Carolina Park. A little bit further north you will find lots of green space. Activities include playing pick up games with locals, renting bikes or paddle boats, buying an ice cream and relaxing in the sun, or visiting the Botanical Garden with hot houses – over 1,200 species of orchids. Not just for horticulturists – if you have even the slightest appreciation of beautiful orchids, bonsais, carnivorous plants and more, then you’ll love this place. Surrounding the park you will find lots of great shopping malls, bowling alleys, movie theaters, and restaurants.
Guayasamin Art Gallery. The “Picasso of the Andes” – he might not be familiar to many foreigners, but you’ll see replicas of his art all throughout the country (just google it – it’s very cool). His custom-built gallery, “Capilla del Hombre” has been described as “jaw-dropping architecture” and the entry fee ($8) includes access to his house. It’s a big property with amazing views, and his house contains much of his personal art collection including original works by Picasso, Chagall and Goya – it’s an impressive place! It’s up a steep hill, so take a $5 taxi from the hostel.
La Floresta. A hip neighborhood not too far from the hostel. Here you can find lots of street art and graffiti, grab a cup of coffee in an alternative movie theatre called Ocho y Medio, eat food from a food truck or one of the various types of restaurants, and if you’re lucky maybe run into one of their street fairs.
The Papallacta Thermal Springs Located at an altitude of 3,250 m in the Magical High Andes landscape, just 2 hours from Quito, The Papallacta Hot Springs Spa and Resort will provide a break with experiences of relaxation and rest for you, and if you are lucky maybe some bear watching too. www.termaspapallacta.com
Inmerse youself in the cultural experience of Quito: art, festivals, dramma, workshops and music. Check the agenda at quitocultura.com
La Kaskada Spa. Not necessarily a “Highlight of South America” but it’s only a 10 minute walk from the hostel and for $8 you get unlimited heated pool, Jacuzzi, dry sauna and Turkish steam room. “Spa La Kaskada” on google maps. Mention Secret Garden to pay $8 entry instead of the usual $10.