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Quito
View of Quito city backed by mountains
Quito's red and blue flag
Quito city map and guidebook
Quito´s botanical garden
The Virgin of Quito statue on the Panecillo hill
Buses in Quito

Quito, capital city of Ecuador,
has many cultural and historical attractions for the visitor.  The range of Quito hotels caters for visitors on all budgets.


Quito -  Ecuador Destinations

Quito, Ecuador's capital city, lies in a long, narrow valley in the Andes mountains at an altitude of around 2800m with spectacular views of several volcanoes.  Take it easy when you first arrive and cut down on alcohol and salt, to avoid problems with the altitude.  The sun is harsh at this altitude and the air is dry, so you should protect your skin and drink plenty of water.
To get your bearings in Quito, try riding the Trole or EcoVia bus systems from end to end for just 25 centavos, with map in hand - go mid-morning or mid-afternoon to avoid the rush hours.  Quito city tours are offered by many travel agents, or ask at your hotel, or search tours Quito Ecuador online - though Ecuador travel agents are mostly almost invisible on the web.  Most tours focus on the Old Town and some have a horse-drawn carriage for a romantic tour around the narrow streets and illuminated colonial churches.  Alternatively, grab a city map and Quito guide book and do your own walking tour. 
When booking Quito hotels, there are 3 key areas to consider.  The Old Town of Colonial Quito is atmospheric with some attractive hotels, but security is an issue after dark (i.e. 6p.m.) and you will not be able to walk around this area at night.  In the New Town, La Mariscal is the most touristy area, with all the facilities and nightlife tourists might need, but can be noisy at night and is perhaps not as "authentic" an experience as the residential parts of Quito.  Further north, the business district has some of the higher-end Quito hotels and also a few cheaper options - this area used to suffer from aircraft noise but now that the old airport has closed (February 2013) this is no longer a problem, so be aware when reading old hotel reviews.  Check a city map before booking your Quito hotel to pick the area best suited to your vacation or business trip. 
Prices at Quito hotels range from just a couple of dollars a night for shared dormitory rooms in hostels, up to several hundred dollars a night in luxury boutique hotels.  Whatever level of luxury you are looking for, there is a Quito hotel to provide it, with something for everyone in this eclectic city.
Quito celebrates the anniversary of its foundation as a city on 6th December, the date in 1534 on which the first town council was appointed.  The "fiestas de Quito", as this time of year is known, extend over several days and include parades, bullfights and parties.  Although Quito is the capital city and political centre of Ecuador, it is smaller than Guayaquil and not as wealthy economically.  However, it is the cultural capital of the country and the best city for museums, theatres and other examples of Ecuadorian culture, music and art.  Quito's museums include exhibitions of art, history and culture.  Quito Zoo is actually outside the city, near the town of Guayllabamba, and merits a page of its own.
Quito is a major transport hub for the country.  Buses leave from the Terminal Terrestre Carcelén in the north of the city for destinations in other provinces to the north, and from Quitumbe in the south of the city on routes covering the rest of Ecuador.  Make sure you get the correct bus station as they are a long way apart.  From the tourist area, allow about 45 minutes to get to Carcelén on public transport, or expect to pay about $8 for a taxi.  To Quitumbe, the journey on the Trolé bus along 10 de Agosto can take up to 2 hours and the Trolé is usually packed.  A taxi will take at least an hour for the journey and is likely to cost $10 to $12.  Take care of your belongings on the Trole and at the bus stations, which can attract pickpockets.  Regional buses, i.e. within Pichincha Province, leave from the La Ofelia station in the north, reached on the Metro line along Avenida América.
Domestic and international flights leave from Quito's new airport at Tababela (as from February 2013) which is a 1 to 2 hour journey out of the city.  Travel options include the $2 green bus from Rio Coca, $8 shuttle bus from the old airport site, a shared taxi from the old airport site ($8 each, minimum 3 passengers), or a private taxi which will cost around $25 from the old airport site or around $30 from the La Mariscal area.
Within the city, Quito has an excellent bus network including the north to south routes of the Trole, along 10 de Agosto, the EcoVia along 6 de Diciembre, and the Metro along Avenida América.  
The minimum fare for a taxi in Quito is $1.  A journey from the old airport in the north to the Old Town should not cost more than around $7 maximum in the day, $14 at night (after 9p.m.).  Taxi drivers in Quito are mostly honest and helpful.  Ensure they switch on the meter ("taxímetro"), unless travelling at night, when you need to negotiate a fare before starting the journey.  Registered taxis are yellow and display a prominent orange sticker with their permit number.  Avoid unregistered taxis.
Allow sufficient time here before or after exploring the rest of the country, because there are many attractions to visit, buildings to see and winding streets to explore in Quito.

Useful Spanish Vocabulary for Quito, Ecuador's capital city:
Centro Histórico: historical centre, the Old Town of Quito with its colonial churches
Terminal Terrestre: bus terminal
Trole: trolley bus system along 10 de Agosto
EcoVia: bus line along 6 de Diciembre
Ecuador Destinations: Quito
The capital city of Ecuador, Quito, has many historical and cultural attractions and is also a transport hub.  Most Quito city maps give enough information for a walking tour.  Quito hotels range from cheapbasic hostels through international hotel chains up to luxury boutique hotels.
Website www.ecuadortravelsite.org, text and photos by Sarah Clifford.
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