Quito - A Weekend in the Capital of Ecuador
Quito is the proud capital of Ecuador. It lies at about 2,800 meters above sea level and is home to around two and a half million people. Due to the high altitude and the location within the mountains the city has a cool climate.
Start your weekend on Friday by visiting the Church of Santo Domingo at the Plaza with the same name. After that eat dinner at Vista Hermosa and enjoy the stunning view over the Old Town. End the day by wondering over the famous La Ronda, officially Calle Morales, which is said to be one of the most beautiful streets in the Old Town. A former red-light district turned to a tourist attraction with lots of street performers, musicians and artists.
Begin your Saturday with a real Ecuadorian breakfast at the Mercado Central. Then continue through the Old Town and take a walk along the most famous sights: the Basílica del Voto Nacional, the Palacio del Gobierno (take a free tour if you have the time, but be sure to register in advance), the Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús and the Monasterio de San Francisco. Finish by climbing El Panecillo (better take a taxi, the area around the hill is supposed to be unsafe) and enjoy the view. For a night out head to La Mariscal and discover the many bars and restaurants, e.g. the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which serves traditionally Mexican food.
On Sunday go directly to Café Modelo after you wake up. This traditional Café in the Old Town serves one of the best breakfasts in whole Quito. Then take the TelefériQo up the Pichincha Volcano to enjoy a stunning view of whole Quito. Choose between the Quito Astronomical Observatory, the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo or the Museo Guayasamín & Capilla del Hombre for the afternoon before you leave.
If you have a spare day, consider exploring the surroundings of Quito, e.g. Mitad del Mundo (was supposed to mark the Equator, but according to new measurements it lies some meters south of it) or the Termas de Papallacta (hot springs).
Accommodation: Go against the Gringo flow and base yourself in the more atmospheric Old Town. If you want the full blast of Gringolandia, how the Quiteños call it, get a Hostel/Hotel of your choice near plaza Plaza Foch in La Mariscal.
Transportation: Take taxis to get around, they are super cheap and safe, but be sure to take those with a clear visible sign on top, they are monitored by GPS and have a video surveillance system.
Safety: In general, avoid lesser touristy areas in the darkness, go in groups, always take a taxi in the evening and leave your valuables in the Hostel/Hotel safe.