Often just a quick stop-off point for those heading on towards the Galapagos, we think it’s time Quito was appreciated in its own right. Along with art galleries, museums and stunning architecture, Quito is also the destination for high-quality chocolate, coffee and beer; a paradise for your taste buds. You can easily while away a wonderful week or two exploring this cultural gem, its UNESCO site and natural surroundings. You just need to know where to start.
Arriving in Quito, some 2,850 meters above sea level, you’ll need a little while to acclimatize. Having been picked up from the airport and dropped straight to your luxury digs, rest up and take the evening at your own pace. The next day, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to absorb the beauty of Quito and its spectacular mountainous location as it comes to life in the fresh morning light. Having enjoyed an Ecuadorian breakfast at your hotel, you’ll head out into the bustling streets to begin your private tour of the city’s fascinating museums and the UNESCO site of the city’s Old Town. From the stunning art housed in the Museo Nacional del Banco and Guayasamin Museum to the historical insight you will gain into all things local at Museo de la Ciudad, your morning will totally immerse you in Ecuadorian culture.Read more
Quito’s Old Town is next on your list, and you’ll spend a whole afternoon exploring its lively streets and lovingly restored buildings. The Old Town is a hive of activity whichever day you visit, home to a myriad of monasteries, churches and other colonial beauties. With your private guide at hand, you’ll learn all about the history of Quito, from its Inca beginnings to the iconic mountaintop city it is today.
Straddle the equator and explore Sacred Valleys
Today you’ll spend time appreciating the natural beauty and historical ruins that surrounds Quito. First, your driver will take you up to the Middle of the World Monument. Yes, it’s a bit of a tourist trap, but the views you’ll get from this vantage point are some of the best anywhere. When you’ve explored the monument and the on-site museum, it’s on to the archaeological ruins of Tulipe. Surrounded by cloud forests, Tulipe was a humble town few people knew about, but when a local unearthed what he assumed to be ruins, that all changed. For what he had, in fact, stumbled across was a ceremonial ground used by the Yumbo Tribe, dating back up to 2000 years. Take time to wander the ruins with your guide who will explain their full story and poke your head into the visitor’s center. Had your fill of history for one day? Then it’s back to your bolt-hole for a quick freshen up before your evening meal.
On top of the world
Over the next few days, you’ll continue to discover the sheer majesty of Quito’s landscapes, as well as some of its cultural quirks. The Teleférico cable car will be the first leg of your journey to even greater heights, and as you soar from 3000 to over 4000 meters in as little as ten minutes, you may need a bit of time when you hop off to acclimatize once more. When you’re ready, have a wander and experience the most astounding views over Quito and its surrounds. Once you’ve taken it all in, it’s time to embark on your trek up the Pichincha Volcano. You’ll have an expert guide to lead you, and you can take it as fast or slow as you wish – just remember to drink lots of water and dress warmly. When you reach the top, any trouble you’ve had with acclimatising will quickly be forgotten as the world sits pretty beneath your feet.
Who can say no to chocolate?
Your last few days will be spent in a variety of classes as you immerse yourself once more in Quito’s cultural side. Enjoy a morning of local craft beer tasting at the beautiful Bandido Brewery before spending your afternoon at a private cooking class with a locally renowned chef where you can try your hand at authentic Ecuadorian cooking. Then, it’s on to a Chocolate tour. Quito is famed for its cacao, so rest assured you’ll be tasting some of the best chocolate in the world, as well as learning all about its cultivation and final production. The best bit? You get to take a goodie box filled with local chocolate home with you.
Your final Ecuadorian experience is a messy but delightful one. With a local artist leading you, you’ll be trying your hand at clay sculpting in a fully equipped artist’s studio. It’ll prove to be both an insightful and entertaining day. You’ll leave Quito with some new cooking skills, an artistic talent and a box of sweet treats, not to mention those incredible memories from your time on top of the world.