Though Quito was once an Incan Empire enclave, the modern-day city was indelibly shaped by the Spanish in the 16th and 17th centuries. You’ll notice it right away in the glut of baroque churches and colonial abodes that line the paved squares of Latin America’s best preserved Old Town.
At Plaza Grande, you can catch the morning flag-hoisting in front of the stately Carondelet Palace, which also hosts exhibitions in its presidential halls. On Plaza San Francisco, the whitewashed façades of La Compañía de Jesus convent and the Church of St Francis stand in stark contrast to their ornate interiors of gilded altars, elaborate paintings and dainty sculptures like the Virgin of Quito.
Another Madonna looms large on El Panecillo hill – a 45-metre-tall statue built on a former Inca temple site. When you take in the sweeping views on show, you’ll understand why they worshipped the sun. And having worked up a thirst on the climb up, try to pick out the lively La Ronda district – it’s your inevitable next stop for a well-earned drink.
When to go?
Although it’s close to the equator – just 35 km away – Quito’s high altitude means its subtropical climate keeps temperatures at around 20℃ (68℉) year round. The dry season between June and September is slightly cooler, which also results in more visitors and somewhat higher prices.
Where to stay?
ArtPlaza - Quito, Ecuador
Daubed with colourful décor, this property oozes relaxed vibes. Guests love to mingle on the communal terraces before exploring the nightlife of Plaza Foch, just five minutes’ walk away. The comfortable rooms include a shower, while the shared kitchen is handy for quick meals. ArtPlaza’s reliable WiFi and helpful staff are highly rated by Booking.com guests.
Hotel Casa Gardenia - Quito, Ecuador
Just 500 metres from Plaza Grande in Quito’s historic centre, this hotel provides panoramic city views from its terrace. The pristine guest rooms boast contemporary design and marble-finish bathrooms, while a generous breakfast spread sets you up for a day of sightseeing. Booking.com guests really appreciate Casa Gardenia’s attentive staff.
La Rosario - Quito, Ecuador
Offering a modern fitness centre and free parking spaces, this hotel is only a ten-minute drive from Quito’s historic centre. Each room includes a TV and a private bathroom with a shower, and guests can also make use of a shared kitchen. Booking.com guests value the spotless rooms and fast WiFi on offer at La Rosario.