Quito is the second biggest city of Ecuador and is surrounded by 14 volcanoes, of which some are still active. Because of this, the city is struck regularly by earthquakes and ashfall.
It's historic centre is UNESCO heritage and in the beginning of the new millennium, the city started renovating old buildings, created indoor markets and invested big time in safety. Thanks to these efforts, the city is a popular place visited by tourists. It’s not the most beautiful city of Ecuador but we have to say, it does have some cool and interesting spots to see.
Otavalo has a good bus connection with Quito, every 15 minutes a bus leaves from the Otavalo bus terminal. We took a bus around 11.30 am for 2.50 USD p.p. This 80 km took around 2 hours and we got dropped at the Terminal del Norte. Here we hopped on another bus to Espejo area for 75 cent each. We could walk from this park to our hostal.
We booked ourselves a room at Hostal L’Auberge Inn and really liked this place. It’s a 10 minute walk to the centre, the place is nice and quiet, the room and bed are comfortable, the shower is strong and warm, there is a restaurant where they serve great soups but guests also have access to a shared kitchen.
** You can find them on booking.com
The centre of Quito has lots of old historic buildings and it is nice to just stroll around and keep looking up. Some other things of interest that we really liked are:
CHANGING OF THE GUARDS
The changing of the guards happens twice a day at the Plaza de la Independencia, and if you are in town on a Monday, make sure to be here at 11 am. If President Rafael Correa is in town, he oversees the changing from the balcony and you can wave at him. But even without the presence of the president, it is an impressive and fun thing to see.
The square is filled with people and lots of them carry flags or even dress up like the guards. There are horses, there is a brassband, the people are happy while the guards look really serious. It is quite a show.
HOP ON HOP OFF BUS
For just 25 cents, you can get on the Hop on Hop off bus and explore Quito in a lovely and lazy way. The total tour takes 3 hours and the last bus leaves from Plaza de la Independencia at 3 pm. Unfortunately, we missed this last bus so no lazy exploring for us. We had to walk...
BASILICA DEL SAGRADO VOTO NACIONAL
After getting your ticket (2 USD p.p.) at the booth outside the entrance, you can enter this impressive church. You can climb up, all the way to the top, but this climb isn’t for those who are afraid of heights or don’t like scary ladders. But the view you get as a reward, is worth it. The only ‘annoying’ thing is that there isn’t a real system in who go’s up and who go’s down so it is possible you have to wait for quite some time till the flow of people has ended. Inside the church you will find a beautiful stained glass window.
One of the things we love about South America are the cablecars. They are the perfect way to overlook the city from above and again, it is really impressive to see how big Quito is. The cost of a ride is 8,50 USD p.p. and brings you to the point from where you start the walk up to Pichoncha Mountain. It is best to go early in the morning and when it’s good weather obviously.