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Best things to do in Quito

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Where in the world: South America  /  Ecuador  /  Pichincha Province  /  Quito

Top 15 things to do in Quito

1. Fundacion Iglesia de la Compania

Quito's famous Baroque church, Fundacion Iglesia de la Compania dazzles visitors with its golden interior. Dripping with extravagance, the church is adorned head to toe in gold leaf decorations, perhaps explaining why it took 160 years to build. Equally impressive-- though not nearly as golden--the church's symmetrical facade gives visitors a taste of what's to come inside. Have a look at the indigenous Ecuadorian faces depicted subtly on the pillars.
Suggested duration: 30 minutes
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2. Mitad Del Mundo, San Antonio de Pichincha

Stand between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres at Mitad Del Mundo, marked by a compass-like monument erected to show the exact location of the Equator. Stand with one foot on either side of the line for a unique photo opportunity, and get your passport stamped to say you've visited the Earth's midpoint. Here's the thing, though--it's not the real Equator, as the park's designers missed it by about 250 m (820 ft).
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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3. Basilica del Voto Nacional

Reminiscent of some of Europe's finest cathedrals, Basilica del Voto Nacional stands as one of the city's most prominent landmarks. This imposing Neo-Gothic church boasts dual towers climbing to a height of 115 m (377 ft). Though begun in 1892, the church did not receive consecration until 1988, and technically remains unfinished. Enter the historical building to marvel at its cavernous sanctuary, wandering through the aisles to take in the bronze images, stained glass windows, and other decorations. Try steeling yourself to climb up the towers' internal staircase--you'll be rewarded with both a lofty vantage point to the church's interior and a sweeping view of the surrounding historical city on the outside. Don't miss the church's defining feature: instead of traditional gargoyles, it's decked with carvings of sharks, penguins, iguanas, monkeys, and other native species.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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4. Museo Templo del Sol Pintor Ortega Maila

Discover the ancient customs of Ecuador at Museo Templo del Sol Pintor Ortega Maila, an interactive institution offering a range of demonstrations and performances. Learn how Incas used jade in healing rituals, see traditional dances, and listen to the atmospheric chants of the museum's performers. Wrap up your visit by watching an artist create an original piece of finger painting, drawing on ancient customs and using traditional materials and techniques.
Suggested duration: 30 minutes
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5. Quito Old Town

Wander the narrow alleys and wide squares of Quito Old Town, a World Heritage Site renowned as the best-preserved historic center in Latin America. Dotted with monumental churches, government buildings, museums, and historic homes, the area offers a blend of architectural styles ranging from Spanish colonial to Baroque. In addition to the busy atmosphere and endless sightseeing opportunities, the old town features a great selection of shops and restaurants. You can explore the area on your own or on one of many guided tours.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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6. La Capilla Del Hombre

Immerse yourself in a creative and spiritual journey with a visit to La Capilla Del Hombre, a museum housed in an Inca-inspired chapel. Established by artist and philanthropist Oswaldo Guayasamin, the museum serves as a tribute to humankind, reflecting on suffering and violence but ultimately inspiring hope for a better future. Tragically, Guayasamin died before the opening of his masterpiece, but his spirit lives on in the floor-to-ceiling paintings lining the museum's walls. Take a guided tour in English, Spanish, or French, included in your ticket price.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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7. Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco

Gape in wonder at the dazzling gold and ornate carvings adorning the interior of Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco. A crowning jewel of the central square, the church has stood for almost as long as Quito itself--construction started just weeks after the city was founded in 1534. Despite significant damage from earthquakes, the church's commanding facade and glorious interior remain in top condition thanks to tireless restoration work. Check out the attached courtyard, which features a ring of palm trees among its manicured gardens.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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8. La Ronda

Day or night, stroll at a leisurely pace along La Ronda to appreciate the charms of Quito's old town. Curving its way through the city's historical quarter, the charming cobbled street typifies the Spanish colonial style of architecture. Look up above you at the colorful flowerboxes adorning many of the street's balconies, and appreciate the recent work that has restored the area to its former glory. During the day you can buy handicrafts from quaint souvenir shops, while at night you can join in the party at one of the street's many bars.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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9. Intinan Museum, San Antonio de Pichincha

Discover the true center of the Earth at Intinan Museum, providing fascinating insight into how Ecuador's indigenous peoples lived and worshipped the sun, as well as explaining some of the scientific quirks of the Equator. During the guided tour, you'll learn why water rotates in opposite directions on opposite sides of the Equator and why it's difficult to walk in a straight line along this imaginary line.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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10. Casa Museo Guayasamin

Dedicated to the art of Oswaldo Guayasamin, Casa Museo Guayasamin displays powerful, politically charged works. The paintings take you through the struggles of Ecuador and its peoples in recent history. Take a tour of the museum to get extra details about the many pieces by the artist. Consider combining this with a visit to the artist's expansive house next door, where you can see Guayasamin's personal art collection.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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11. Food Tours

Suggested duration: 4h 30 min
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12. Cuicocha, Cotacachi

Densely forested mounds and volcanoes rise out of scenic Cuicocha, lending it a serene atmosphere. Many hiking trails and nature spots surround the hazy blue lake and provide ample viewing opportunities of the surrounding scenery, colorful wildflowers, and local bird population. The trails are best traveled clockwise, as the opposite direction is largely uphill.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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13. Independence Square

Mingle with the crowds and get a sense of colonial Quito at Independence Square. Ever since the early 17th century, the square has functioned as one of the city's main public spaces. What was then just a cleared patch of earth is now a picturesque square surrounded by historical buildings, including a cathedral, the presidential palace, and a luxurious hotel. The square's monument to independence symbolizes the struggle for South American freedom from Spanish rule. Stake out a spot at one of the numerous cafes and restaurants to relax and people-watch.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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14. Termas de Papallacta, Papallacta

Relax in the naturally heated pools at Termas de Papallacta. The subterranean activity of one of Ecuador's many volcanoes heats the waters here, in pools ranging from 36-40 C (96-105 F). Take a dip and enjoy the view of the surrounding forested hills and the Andes in the background. Choose from shallow or deep warm pools, or circulate between the hot and cold water for the best relaxation experience.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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15. Walking tours

Suggested duration: 8 hours
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