7 Reasons To Fall For Quito

This South American city should be at the top of your 2019 travel list. Why? The food, the views, the people and all of those markets. Quito is more than just a stopover to the Galápagos Islands.


History, markets, food, churches and so much more make Quito worthy or more than just a quick stop over stay. Photo by Justin Harrington.

Anyone who has trekked to the Galápagos has likely made a quick pitstop in Quito, whether on the way to or from the islands. But this city is so, so far beyond just a quick stop-over.

Quito’s rooftops seen from the top of the cathedral. Photo by Justin Harrington.

After spending a full week in the “Capital in the Clouds” (Quito is situated at a high altitude at the top of a volcano), we can guarantee you there’s still much more to wander through and explore, food to delve into and locals to meet than you can do in a week. But at the very least, here are some reasons you’ll fall in love with this Ecuadorian city.   

Quito’s views are incredible on sunny days, cloudy days and even rainy days. Photo by Justin Harrington.

The views

There’s a reason Quito is called the Capital in the Clouds. Winding streets travel up and down the side of a volcano (the peaks and craters may or may not be visible, depending on the hanging and lingering clouds). What this gives the city are amazing views of the streets and a climate that can change as quickly as a rainbow appears or disappears. The streets provide so many incredible views, as do restaurant and church rooftops.

The food in Quito goes from rustic and traditional to refined and elegant, so there’s something for everyone.

The food

There are a few things that you can count on eating in Quito: potatoes, seafood, ceviche, soup and corn … all of which are undeniably delicious. But the one thing you won’t want to pass up on is the soup. Ecuadorians love soup, and they make so many varieties–from their national dish, potato soup with cheese, to seafood, vegetable, and quinoa soups. Some are spicy, some are just all about the flavour, and some are hued with the bright red from achiote powder or paste. Another local delicacy you can’t miss is the ceviche–it’s more liquidy than what you would find in Peru, but equally as delicious. If you’re feeling like immersing yourself in the food culture of Quito, stop by Altamira Restaurant for a market tour and a cooking lesson so you can master the dishes yourself.

The name Ecuador and Quito both stem from “middle of the world”.

The equator

Both Quito and Ecuador translate to “middle earth” in ancient times. It was known long, long before we could equate it to today’s center-of-the-world concept that this part of the world was very significant. You can visit the middle of the world with an hour’s drive from the city (depending on traffic). See the line and jump from one side of the equator to the other, take a little tour (and do some cheesy, yet mind-blowing tests to see how the equator plays tricks on your mind and body).

Spending hours at the Otavalo Market is a must if you’re on the hunt for authentic, traditional textiles and handicrafts. Photo by Justin Harrington.

The town of Otavalo

A little more than two hours from Quito is a small, yet significant town in Ecuador called Otavalo. What makes this town so important is the mainly indigenous population and its dedication to the crafts. When the Spanish settled in Ecuador, Otavalo maintained its traditional weaving, leather works, crafts and textile making. The main market is the Otavalo Market in the central Plaza de Ponchos. This is hands down the best market you will find if you’re looking to buy anything locally made. Don’t think of it as just another tourist hub, as locals from all over the country come to this town and market for traditional goods–we may have nabbed the chicest, warmest alpaca blanket, and can easily count it as one of our best travel purchases ever.

Traditional jewellery that you can spot in local markets. Photo by Justin Harrington.

The markets

Speaking of markets, South American markets are one of our favourite attractions to experience and get lost in while visiting that part of the world. And some of the best ones (with true local finds and not just tourist-quality items) can be found either within Quito’s city limits or just outside the city. One of the most incredible markets also happens to be the oldest in the city. Situated next to the San Francisco Cathedral in the San Roque neighbourhood and focused mainly on food, the San Francisco Market dates back to 1897. Locals stop by this busy hub of the city to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables, select meats from butchers, and pay a visit to the local healers if in need of a treatment for some sort of ailment.

The charm of Quito’s boutique hotels.

The hotels

Sure, you can find chain hotels in Quito. But the real gems are the small, independently run boutique hotels perched precariously on tiny cobbled streets with the most breathtaking views of the city. And most will come with local hospitality in the form of home-cooked meals in quaint restaurants that locals also frequent. One of our favourite spots is the Hotel Castillo Vista del Ángel. It’s a roller-coaster of a ride through narrow streets to get to it, but its charm, food and views outshine anything you would find at a typical chain.

There are also no shortage of photo opportunities in Quito. Photo by Justin Harrington.

The roses

Did you know that most of the roses you will find around the world actually come from just outside Quito? It’s true. Ecuador is the third-largest exporter of cut flowers in the world, with the majority of those exports being roses. The climate and soil of this part of the planet make it a prime spot for growing one of the most famous flowers in the world. If you have the time, we suggest you take a tour of a rose farm so you can literally stop and smell the roses.

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