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Top 12 Places To Visit In Quito

Quito, Ecuador

Quito, the capital of Ecuador, often takes a backseat to the more well-known Galapagos Islands. Tourists are not always aware that the city offers its own panoply of unique attractions. After all, the entire city of Quito has been crowned the very first UNESCO World Heritage site in the world.

With over two dozen historic churches, a wide variety of museums and tourist attractions, and a developing foodie culture paying homage to traditional ingredients, this gateway city is one visitors should not overlook.

Quito is a land of beautiful contrasts. The city is indeed a busy and sprawling metropolis. Yet the looming volcanos and tranquil Andean mountain peaks surrounding Quito provide a stark reminder of the serene landscapes all around.

Here are the Top 12 Places to Visit in Quito, which are worth visiting on a Quito trip:

1. Ciudad Mitad del Mundo

For a sneak peek into the history of Ecuador and its indigenous people, head to the Cuidad Mitad del Mundo. This national landmark (the equator) has several statues; a small village; and a charming, old-school museum. Don't be fooled by its size, the museum has exhibits from Highland and Amazonian tribes, which include their history, and a homey collection of musical instruments, clothes, textiles, and more. Combined with the adjacent Middle of the Earth, this is one of the best things to see in Quito.

2. Teleferico

Those with acrophobia take note. For breathtaking views and a nail-biting ride that will leave you on the edge of your seat, stop by the Quito Teleferico. This sky tram is one of the highest aerial lifts in the world. The ride is only 10 minutes, but you will marvel at the views over Quito as it climbs up the side of Volcan Pichincha and comes to rest on top of Cruz Loma. This is the gateway to more adventures. Visitors can hike, cycle, or enjoy the rides at the amusement park, Vulcano Park, at the base station of Rucu Pichincha.

3. Quito’s Historic Center

Quito’s Old Town acts as a show-stealer within Ecuador’s capital city. Wandering through the bustling streets among centuries-old architecture is not just something to see in Quito. The Old Town is something to experience. Quito's historic center is recognized as having the best-preserved, least altered historic center in all of Latin America. It’s this accolade that led Quito to become the first city in the world to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site (alongside Krakow, Poland) back in 1978.

4. El Panecillo

In a city surrounded by mountains, there are great miradors (viewpoints) all along the higher outskirts of Quito. Yet El Panecillo is one of the only lookout points that pops up right from the middle of the city. And it’s capped by a very notable statue.

El Panecillo translates to "The Little Bread Loaf". This hill in the middle of the city separates North and South Quito. While wandering around Quito Old Town, El Panecillo hill is usually somewhere looming in the background. Go here to get excellent views of Quito down below. On a clear day Rondaays, it’s also possible to see the region’s volcanos.

5. La Ronda

La Ronda is one of the best-preserved streets in colonial Old Town. Colorful and full of activity, the cobbled street is lined with cafés, galleries, and the best of traditional artisans invited by the government to share their craftsmanship with the public. If you come early in the day, the area is still sleepy and a great spot for a quiet cup of coffee. Later, the street hums with movement from both the shopkeepers and tourists.

6. Plaza Grande

Spending some time in one of Quito's popular crowd-gathering plazas is a must for visitors. Soak up the popular culture and see how the locals meet and greet. Street food vendors and buskers are all part of the activity on offer. A favorite is Plaza Grande, aka Independence Square, which is bordered by the Presidential Palace, City Hall, a cathedral, and the Archbishop's Palace.

7. Basilica del Voto Nacional

If you enjoy getting an overview of a new city, visit the Basilica for a 360-degree, bird's-eye view from the twin bell towers. The climb to the Neo-Gothic Tower is not for the faint of heart, but no worries, an elevator is also available. If possible, arrange your tour in the early morning or late afternoon for the best photography light.

8. Chapel of Man

It's easy to overlook the story of the indigenous population during travel. There is no better place to learn more than the powerful museum featuring the work of Oswalso Guayasamín. He was an Ecuadorian master painter and sculptor of Quechua and Mestizo heritage who championed the story of the underprivileged.

9. Parque Carolina

Known as the "Central Park" of Quito, this massive 165-acre urban space is a popular place to visit on weekends for city dwellers looking for some greenery, as well as for those looking for things to do. Rent a paddleboat, explore the bicycle trails, or try the skate park. On weekends, the park comes alive with performances, kite flying, and impromptu soccer games. You'll find plenty of food stalls and even a defunct air force plane that now holds an exhibit.

10. Convent and Monastery San Francisco

Iglesia San Francisco is Quito's first church and also the largest religious complex in South America. The entire compound of buildings will transport visitors back to the 16th century. Close your eyes, and you might even hear the faint sound of monks chanting in a muffled hush. Inside, along with an appropriate musty scent, the woodcarvings are spectacular. Crowning the altar is the exquisite Winged or Dancing Virgin sculpture by Bernardo de Legarda.

11. Casa del Alabado Museo

Located just a short distance from the main square of Plaza San Francisco, the collection represents the Pre-columbian world of indigenous American people. Visitors will find the rooms broken down into small, manageable bites of related objects. Taking the tour brings sightseers through the relationship of communication, rituals, and nature. Illustrating how they are all intertwined, the related objects are decorated with images from the celestial, underworld, and middle earth.

12. La Forest Street Art

If you want to get a view of the city on foot, from one of the locals, try the free La Forest Street Art Tour. You will spend three hours winding your way through historic houses, learning more about Ecuador's colorful history and even more about its colorful murals and prolific graffiti art scene. On the tour, you will also head to the famous Ocho Y Medio, an independent cinema with one-of-a-kind movies.

Besides these, there is much more to see in Quito!!!

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