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14 Awesome Things To Do in Quito Ecuador in 1 Day

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Quito, Ecuador is one of the most vibrant cities in South America. Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Quito’s historic center boasts being the best preserved in Latin America. The scenery surrounding the city is outstanding too – every direction you look displays volcanos. One day certainly isn’t enough time to see it all. However, if that’s all you have like we did, you’ll want to make the most of it! Read on for the Top Things to do in Quito Ecuador in 1 Day.

If you’re wondering where to stay in Quito, I highly recommend Casa Gangotena! Another great option we considered is Casona de la Ronda.

1. Walk Around Old Town Quito

Old Town Quito is incredibly vibrant and well worth the time to wander around. While not as many people live there today given the older buildings, there’s a lot of hustle and bustle as people come to work in the area and sell items. Don’t miss the Plaza Grande! Lots of retirees hang out there as do younger people too.

2. Explore a Museum

Quito has many incredible museums that it’s well worth it to add one to your day. We loved exploring the Museum of the City to learn more about the evolution of the area from Inca to Colonial times. Other museums to consider: Pre-Colombian Art Museum House of Praise , Capilla del Hombre, and The National Museum of Ecuador.

3. Take a Free Walking Tour

We took an awesome 3-hour tour with Andrea from Free Walking Tour Ecuador and learned so much! We walked around the Old Town, market, churches and saw great view points of the city. Highly recommend signing up for a tour to make the most of your day. Just remember to tip as that’s how the guides make money!

4. Check Out a Local Market

I always love walking around local food markets and Quito has a great one in Mercado Municipal San Francisco. We tried local fruits and juices but you can also get a delicious inexpensive lunch here too. Don’t forget to check out the roses too! They’re one of Ecuador’s top exports in addition to petrol, bananas and chocolate beans.

5. Visit a Variety of Churches

The churches from the colonial period are incredibly impressive. They were built by indigenous under order from the colonists as part of the efforts to bring Christianity to the region. Today, most Ecuadorians are Catholic. Some of my favorites were: Iglesia de San Francisco, Iglesia de El Sagrario, Monasterio del Carmen Bajo and Basílica del Voto Nacional.

6. Grab a Cocktail at Casa Gangotena

One of the best views of the city is from the rooftop at Casa Gangotena! Even better to go just before sunset to see the views in daylight, as the sun sets and at night.

7. Enjoy an Ice Cream at the historic San Agustín Cafetería

I loved the ice cream and incredible variety of options at the historic Heladería San Agustín. Service was incredible too – the waiter added smoke to our sundaes to make them extra special!! A place that’s been open since 1858 has to be good and it delivered!

8. Have Lunch or Dinner at Casa Warmi in the hipster La Floresta neighborhood

Casa Warmi is one of the most beautiful and relaxing cafes I’ve been to! How cool the tree in the middle of the restaurant?! They built the cafe around it. Casa Warmi serves a delicious vegetarian menu – I’d highly recommend the local Locro soup and sandwiches. From the Old Town area, a taxi took about 15 minutes and cost $3.

9. Take a Cooking Class

One of the best ways to get to know the local culture is through a cooking class! We took one through our hotel but another great option is through Tours by Locals (I can attest how great David and Sebastian are!).

10. Buy beauty products made by nuns at Monasterio del Carmen Bajo

A highlight of our day was stopping by Monasterio del Carmen Bajo and purchasing beauty products made by the local nuns! They can’t show their faces so you talk to them from behind the wall and then use a spinning tray to pay and obtain the product. I bought a rose face cream given than roses are grown all over Ecuador and it cost $3!

11. Try the Famous Mistelas candy

We loved sampling mistelas from Miskicor – they’re candy filled with liquid alcohol. The candies were originally made by women when they weren’t allowed to drink alcohol (so creative!) and the tradition lives on. Definitely add this to your top things to do in Quito Ecuador!

12. Do a Chocolate Tasting

We did a tasting with the famous Yumbos company right on the Plaza de San Francisco and loved learning about the history and process while enjoying the samples. Cacao beans are one of Ecuador’s top exports and some of the best chocolate in the world is made here. We bought a bar at the end of the tasting and it came in this sweet bag!

13. Enjoy City Views from Basílica del Voto Nacional

The views from the basilica are some of the best in the city. You can climb up the top after paying an entrance fee on the south side of the basilica. We arrived too late in the day so just enjoyed walking around. Check the hours before you go if you’d like to climb to the top!

14. Start your Day with Breakfast at Casa Gangotena

We loved starting our day with breakfast at Casa Gangotena and would highly recommend it if you’d like a filling, delicious and sophisticated start to your day!

The main thing we didn’t do that I would add next time is taking the TelefériQo cable car up the mountain for even more incredible views of the city. There always has to be one thing left to bring you back 😉

I hope you’re ready to plan your day with these top things to do in Quito Ecuador!

More South America guides are available here. For other international destinations, check out this page.

Happy Planning!

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  1. Elizabeth on July 15, 2021 at 09:04

    Buenos días,

    El sitio es excelente y es un privilegio el compartir con Ustedes la belleza de mi país.


    Elizabeth Torres

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