Quito, a combination of nature and culture

A lovely, relaxed, warm and touristic Andean city with an exquisite colonial center packed with architectural treasures and surrounded by nature and volcanoes (really impressive ones)! A city that has mix of interesting attractions and nightlife scene.

Quito was founded on the ruins of an Inca city and is the second-highest capital in the world (after La Paz, Bolivia). The city, know as “La Mitad del Mundo”, remains as the least modified historic center in Latin America, impresses the tourists with contrasts between the colonial town, houses convents, churches, museums, squares and its modern infrastructure in the business and shopping district of the city. The city’s jewel is the ‘Old Town’, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, packed with colonial monuments, architectural treasures and backpackers from all over the world.

Mitad del Mundo monument

What are the most popular attractions among the backpackers?

The city has a good combination between culture attractions (museums, street art, churches, houses), adventure/nature (parks, volcanoes and lagoons for trekking) and a nightlife scene. The city offers everything a modern traveler might wish.

What are the “must see” attractions?

  • Carondelet Palace (Palacio del Gobierno)
  • Museo Templo del Sol
  • La Compañia de Jesus Church
  • Capila del Hombre (Chapel of Man)
  • Teleferico (Cableway) and Pichincha volcano (4100m)
  • Middle of the World (the touristic one and the Intinan Museum)
  • Quito Old Town (recommend the Free Walking Tour from the Community Hostel)
  • Basilica del Voto Nacional
  • Guayasamin Museum
  • National Museum Quito
  • San Francisco Church and Square
  • Independence Square (Plaza Grande)
  • Calle La Ronda (nightlife)
  • La Carolina Park
  • Itchimbia Park and Santa Clara Market
  • El Panecillo and the statue of the Virgin
  • Plaza Foch and La Mariscal (Gringoland — bars, restaurants, cafes and hostels)
  • Ecuadorian House of Culture
  • Cotopaxi Volcano
  • Quilotoa Lake

What are the best restaurants for backpackers? What those restaurants has to offer?

About restaurants, bars and clubs in Quito, La Mariscal and Calle La Ronda are the main points for travelers, and many locals too. The first, well-known as Gringoland, is a compact area hosts of guesthouses, travel agencies, restaurants and bars. The second, hipster and bohemian streets that concentrates galleries, cafes, restaurants and craft shops.

There are some many good places to go (all types of cuisine): Restaurant Hasta La Vuelta Señor (Ecuadorean Cuisine), Bohemia Cafe & Pizza, Cosa Nostra (Italian Cuisine), Dios No Muere (Steakhouse), La Choza (South American), Jürgen Cafe (European), Mercado Santa Clara and Mercado Central (Juices, Fruits and local dishes), Cafetería Modelo (Breakfast and Snacks), Naranjilla Mecánica (Healthy food), Boca del Lobo (International cuisine), Govingas (Veggie), Frida Tacos (Mexican) and the “Sanduche de Chancho” (pork sandwich) at the street. The last but also important, trying Ecuadorean chocolate is a MUST DO! The Chezz Tiff is a good place to learn more about its process and try some too.

What are the best bars? What did you specially liked about them?

La Mariscal and Calle La Ronda still the main points for travelers. There are some good options to have a beer or a drink are: Pub crawl Quito at La Mariscal, El Pobre Diablo (local and foreigners with live music), Finn McCool’s and Kings Cross (Pub, mix of locals and travelers and games), Strawberry Fields (Beatles themed bar), Coffee Tree (eating and people watching during the day and warming-up for the night to come), Bandido Brewing (Craft Beer), Zinc Gastro Bar (Beautiful place with good food and drinks). Another neighborhood for the ones that wanna try something differente is: “De La Floresta”, artistic and cultural scene of the city that has a concentration of interesting brews.

What are the best nightclubs? What did you specially liked about them?

Nightlife in Ecuador is pretty calm Sunday through Wednesday, unless you know the right places to go. Friday nights are popular, and Saturday nights are the busiest of the week.

La Mariscal (Plaza Foch) is DEFINITELY the hotspot for backpackers! The club Bungalow 6 its my place (and clearly for lots of backpackers too), because it plays crossover music, gets really full and lively on weekends and on wednesday they have Ladies Night. But there are also another clubs in the same area. And you can’t say you’ve really experienced Quito’s nightlife without spending an evening in a salsa club, the biggest and most famous is Salsoteca Lavoe.

What are the coolest places around the city you’ve visited?

The surroundings of Quito offers a lot of adventure and fun to backpackers. A day-trip at Otavalo Market or Mindo. One of the world’s highest active volcanoes, Volcán Cotopaxi. The Quilotoa Crater Lake and the Ecological Reserve Maquipucuna are also beautiful and worth a day trip.

Another cool thing to do is the train journey through the Avenue of the Volcanoes or take the Ice Train that passes by the base of the volcano Chimborazo. Is not very common to this kind of experience in South America, so is good giving it a try!

Where backpackers usually continue after the place you’ve been?

In general people leave to go to Otavalo (the famous market), Mindo, Galapagos Island or nature: climbing the Cotopaxi Volcano, trekking at Quilatoa Lake, to the Jungle or going to city of Latacunga and Baños (the hotspot of extreme sports).

From where they are usually coming?

Quito was recognized by World Travel Awards as “South America’s Leading Destination” for the second year in a row. And the city receives lots and lots of backpackers all year along (the weather helps) and they usually come from US, Germany, The Netherlands, England, France and the Latin Americans (Argentina, Colombia and Chile).

What did you feel was missing in the city? What could make your visit to a perfect one?

For a big city that receives a huge amount of travelers from all over the world I was expecting more options of entertainment, like concerts, festivals, etc. Security is another thing to be aware too, some areas are not recommended to be or to walk around. And that made me feel no to so safe in Quito. Despite of that, the city provides everything a modern traveler might wish. A good combination between nature and cultural attractions to enjoy during a few weeks.

If Selina will set a hostel there — how do you imagine it?

A party-cultural-experience hostel, an old house with a traditional designed (but also modern and clean) with a weekly schedule (tours, parties and experiences, chocolate tasting for example) at La Mariscal, or close to. A nice place where you can hang out, eat and drink some fresh and healthy food and beverages (offering meals at the hostel is pretty common and recommended) while enjoying the city and day-trip to the surroundings.

Eventually, please write in your own words your opinion and describe your personal experience.

I had a great experience in Quito! So many places to go and things to do that I wish I could stay longer and have a little bit more money too (lol). The weather was good and that helped a lot! I met nice locals and amazing travelers and they became my partners during my trip in Ecuador. By end I felt I wanna come back one day!


Ariadne Nardeli (Brazilian Backpacker Researcher for Selina Hostel)

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