Day Trips In and Around Quito
Quito Day tours
Ecuador’s capital city is nestled in the heights of the Andes Mountains, making it the second highest capital city in the world (behind only La Paz, Bolivia). Because of its location, there are some awe-inspiring day tours that start right in Quito. Here are a few of the best ones that you can do with Ecuador Adventure.
Mindo Cloud Forest
It’s no secret that Ecuador is home to some of the greatest biodiversity on the planet, and a trip to the Mindo cloud forest proves that. It is home to about 5 percent of all the world’s species, including over 500 species of birds and even 20 species of hummingbirds alone.
This unique ecosystem is the result of its geographic location, right between the Sierra mountains and the low-lying coastal region; this creates a humid, subtropical cloud forest – a great way to escape the chilly mountain climate for a few hours. The winding trail is tucked behind the famous Pichincha Volcano and takes you right into the heart of nature, as we see butterflies, birds, animals, amazing plants, and even waterfalls.
With Ecuador Adventure, this tour also includes some time in the town of Mindo and lunch at a local restaurant.
Just two hours north of Quito is one of Ecuador’s most treasured cultural centers. Otavalo is one of the biggest and most famous artisan markets in all of Latin America, and it’s the perfect place to get some great deals on handmade souvenirs for your loved ones back home.
As an authentic indigenous market, the handicrafts you will find here represent Ecuador’s rich cultural heritage. The artisans are best known for their beautifully patterned textiles, but you can also find masterful leatherwork, woodwork, paintings, and ceramics, among other fascinating Ecuadorian artifacts.
Practice your bartering skills as you negotiate the prices of each object with the vendors or simply appreciate the enthusiasm and friendliness they extend to you as you admire their art. If that’s not enough, then turn your eyes to the majestic Andean landscape that surrounds this little town.
The Mitad del Mundo & day tours
With Ecuador Adventure, you can combine some of the best Quito activities into one action-packed day. First, you’ll explore Quito’s historic Old Town, where you will see the churches, plazas, and museums that have earned Quito the first spot on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites. Considered perhaps the best-preserved colonial city centers in all of Latin America, you will have the whole morning to experience this city’s attractions first-hand.
The afternoon will be spent in both hemispheres! We will visit both major equatorial monuments – The Middle of the World (La Mitad del Mundo) and the Intinan Museum. At La Mitad del Mundo, you will have a chance to spend some time in the small town built around this giant monument. You can even stand with one foot on both sides of the equator.
Then we’ll stop at the Intinan museum to learn more about the importance and science of this region and do some fun hands-on experiments to see exactly how the equator affects us.
Papallacta Hot Springs
Hoping to spoil yourself on your trip to Quito? Then this is the tour for you! Experience the naturally occurring thermal pools, and relax in the comfort and care of the Termas de Papallacta Spa & Resort, as your worries melt into the soothing waters. The pools have varying temperatures thanks to the mix of the thermal hot springs and the chilled glacial river water.
On our way here, we take the same route that conquistador Francisco de Orellana navigated in the 16th century, passing through unique paramo, river, tropical, and cloud forest ecosystems.
Once you’re at the spa, you can opt simply for a peaceful soak in the pools or, if you’re looking to be pampered, we recommend the full spa treatment that the resort offers.
Or you could just stay in Quito…
At the end of the day, you really don’t even have to leave the city to get a taste of some of the most authentic Ecuadorian culture. And there’s way more than just one day’s worth of activities.
With the right planning, one weekend in this centuries-old city will afford you the chance to see many of the most popular attractions, like:
- El Panecillo, known also as the “Virgin of Quito.” This towering aluminum statue of the Virgin Mary sits atop one of the highest hills in Quito, splitting the city into the north and south. If you climb to the top, you will have one of the best panoramic viewpoints in all of Quito.
- The Basilica del Voto Nacional is a step (well, maybe a few steps) out of the norm in the Quiteño architectural landscape. On the opposite side of the city than El Panecillo, this gothic cathedral has two intricately carved stone towers that spiral towards the heavens. If you need to re-energize after making the climb to the top, there’s even a café that overlooks the city.
- If you want to breathe in the colonial epicenter of Quito’s culture, then head to the historic center, known as the Old Town. Here, you will find huge plazas full of vendors and bustling crowds and some of the most beautifully decorated and built cathedrals in South America, like La Companía de Jesus (the Jesuit church), the Church and Convent of Saint Francis (San Francisco), and of course, the historic Cathedral of Quito.
- For a more tranquil experience, take your adventures down a notch and enjoy a picnic in Parque Elejido or Parque La Carolina on the green Sierra grass.
- The most exciting way to celebrate visiting the equator is to visit La Mitad del Mundo, where a tall globe centers the small town built around the monument. However, if you want to visit the actual equator, then head to the Itinan Museum, next to monumental park, where they expose history, experiments, and the historical relevance of Quito’s location in the middle of the world.
- These activities are great to pair with a visit to the Middle of the World Monument (above) or the TeleferiQo, a cable car that ascends to the scenic summit of Cruz Loma, a neighboring peak of the Pichincha Volcano. At the top you can get some great photos of the surrounding mountains and valleys or even attempt the trek to the top of the mountain on foot or by horseback.