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Ecuador Travel Guide History | Climate | Overview | Transport | Places to avoid | Festivals | Write a review about Quito

Sightseeing | Tourist information | Restaurants | Accommodation | Fun & Entertainment | Shopping | Activities | Tour operators | General interest | Medical services | Trekking near Quito | Climbing near Quito | Excursions | Churches | Museums

Ejido ParkThe old cityModern QuitoAmazonas Avenue Naciones Unidas Avenue6 de Diciembre Avenue and EcoviaQuito is Ecuador's capital, the country's second largest city and the capital of the province of Pichincha. Nestled in a long narrow valley, Quito is one of South America's most attractive destinations.
 Ecuador and Galapagos Travel History
The earlier inhabitants of what is today called Quito derived its name formerly from the Quitus tribe who lived and frequented the area in pre-Inca epochs. These indigenous people also intermingled with the coastal people called the Caras which helped formulate the next generation, the Shyris in 1300 AD by intermarriage who later joined the Puruhas who's descendants had many brutal battles with the Incas. When the Spaniards arrived in the early 16th Century Quito was already a major stronghold of the Incas under Huayna Capac and subsequently his son Rumiñahui Atahualpa who triumphed over all other indigenous races.

The city was subsequently burned to the ground however, as the onslaught of the Spanish conquest to capture Quito resulted in the pride of the Incas destroying their own city even though many were captured and so there were no Inca remains to gloat over or live in.

The new colonial city of Quito was re-founded by Spanish lieutenant Sebastián de Benalcazar, Pizarro's lieutenant on December 6th , 1534 and was reconstructed at the beginning of the Panecillo above the old city's ruins with actual Inca stonework's in many of the new floors and walls still visible today in the church and Cathedral of San Francisco.
 Ecuador and Galapagos Travel Climate
Quito which stands just 22 km from the equatorial line has along with its 2,850m elevation above sea level, often been compared to an English springtime climate with mean temperatures of around 13ºC and afternoon rainfall mainly from October to May, as the clouds roll in covering the indigo blue skies. The length of the day is the main difference however with 12 hours of daylight between sunrise and sunset and 12 hours of darkness varying little throughout the year.
 Ecuador and Galapagos Travel Overview
Flanked by the Andes mountain range sandwiched by the western slopes of the Volcano Guagua Pichincha standing at a colossal 4,790 m with canyons on the eastern side the city sits inside a lengthy narrow basin valley forming a setting unparalleled by most cities in South America. It is also the highest capital after La Paz in Bolivia in this continent and combined with its rich architecture of bygone colonial days the scenery and overall effect is simply breathtaking.

On clear days you may also view other snowcapped volcanoes such as Cotopaxi in the far distance adding to this truly unforgettable, impressionable ambiance of a large Ecuadorian city which combines both old and new, more modern sectors of the north which includes the international and national airport as well as the main embassies, businesses, banking services, restaurants, shopping centers, hotels, parks and tourist agencies.

The southern area (view the section on Old Quito) in contrast houses various museums, churches, galleries, cathedrals, colonial buildings, balcony furbished homes and outdoor markets within narrow cobbled streets which helps balance the formulae. For many travelers of a well rounded 4 to 5 day excursion to Quito of the old and new life styles which was sanctioned through the auspices of UNESCO in 1978 who confirmed this latter area of colonial Quito to be a World cultural heritage site.

 Ecuador and Galapagos Travel Orientation & Transport
Quito is a long, narrow city running north to south for over 40 km and by approximately 4 km from west to east, the volcano Guagua Pichincha lies to the west and is a good geographical landmark to orientate yourself. Flanked by twin trolley systems running parallel to one another on Av. 6 of Deciembre and Av. 10 de Agosto to Av. 12 de Octubre as well as Av. Patria to Av. Orellana including hundreds of local buses and taxi routes the city is well equipped to handle travelers with a budget to suit the individual pocket.

If you are armed with a local map guide you'll quickly find the city is divided into three main areas, namely the center (El Centro), the colonial old city accessible via trolley for a visit to the old historical center, the distant south consisting mainly of working class residential areas and light industry and thirdly, the commercial, financial, shopping, restaurant, park areas with the newer tourist zones located in the northern sector along with its modern hotels.

The latter which in addition houses several bars with food and discos is populated mainly in the Mariscal Sucre district including the Juan León Mera area, popular with the locals at weekends. Most of the major banks, shopping malls and newer hotels are located off Av. Naciones Unidas and in the middle of Av. 10 de Agosto and Eloy Alfaro, also other hotels and restaurants may be found on the higher Eloy Alfaro elevation itself on the eastern side of the city below Metropolitan park. The other major parks in the northern area, Parque Carolina is situated between Amazonas and Shyris.

Quito Transport Transport

Air.- The airport Mariscal Sucre (Tel. 2440080), is located at the north end of Avenida Amazonas, some 5 Km north from the Mariscal district. All International flights into Ecuador arrive to Quito or Guayaquil (Simón Bolivar airport).

TAME.- Ecuador's main airline company with flights to almost all destinations in the country and with a daily frequent service to Galápagos, Guayaquil, Loja, Cuenca and Machala.

Bus.- The Terminal Terrestre is addressed at Maldonado and Cumandá (south of Plaza Santo Domingo), in the old city. All long distance buses leave and arrive to the station. Some other long distance bus companies with better quality coaches have their own private terminals in the New City, such as Panamericana on Colón and Reina Victoria corner (Tel. 2501585). They go to Guayaquil, Manta, Esmeraldas, Huaquillas, Cuenca, Loja and Machala. They also offer international service to Lima and Bogotá.

Ormeño Internacional.- (Lima, Santiago and Buenos Aires) Address: Shyris N34-432 and Portugal opposite Parque la Carolina (Tel. 2460027).

Flota Imbabura.- (Cuenca and Guayaquil) Address: Manuel Larrea 1211 and Portoviejo (Tel. 2236940).

Transportes Ecuador.- (Guayaquil) Address: Juan León Mera 330 and Jorge Washington.

Note: The Terminal Terrestre is not a safe area and it is highly recommended to pay close attention to your belongings every time.

Quito Buses City buses

There are three types of city buses, "Populares" which are light blue and cost around US $0.18 (crowded). "Interparroquial" which are pink and run to outer places such as the valleys of Los Chillos and Tumbaco. And "selectivos" which are red and takes only sitting passengers. The cost is around US $0.25.

Trolley bus.-
Is an organized transport system of Trolley buses, running on sole set lanes across the city north to south and feeder (alimentadores) bus lines, running to suburbs from the northern and southern stations. The Trole has 2 routes running mainly along Av. 10 de Agosto, and the brand new one called Ecovía along Av. 6 de Diciembre. The fare for both systems is US $0.20.

By law all taxis must have working meters, make sure that the meter is running when you hire one. If it is not, you should bargain the fare with the taxi driver in advance. For a short ride the cost is US $1. The average rates are: From the airport to the new city costs around US $3, to the old city US 5-$6; from the Bus station (Terminal Terrestre) to the new city is around US 4-$5. At night, rates increase to a 40% more. The most recommended Radio Taxi companies to use are: Taxi Amigo, Tel. 2222222 / 2333333 / 2222220, City Taxi, Tel. 2633333 / 2630220, Central Radio Taxis, Tel. 2406806 / 2811111 / 2267900, RTR Tel. 2533878, 2535600 and JJ Taxi Tel. 2639639 / 2639999 / 2628400. They will all pick you up from wherever you're calling. The rate to hire a taxi per hour is between US$8 and $10.

Train.-Regular train schedules are sporadic and located via trolley at Chimbacalle or Machángara for Maldonado, for exact times check with the ticket offices at Tel 2656142 or head office Tel. 2582921, the train station is open Monday to Friday 08:00-16:30 and on Saturdays 08:00-12:00. You can also take a tourist train costing around US$10.00 each way from Quito to Cotopaxi located in area Nacional de Recreación El Boliche embarking at 08:00 and returning at 14:30. See Tour operators in Quito for agencies offering train trips.
 Ecuador and Galapagos Travel Festivals
The Años viejos (stuffed dummy's) which stand upright are typical around December periods and burned on the last day before new year for good luck, a custom displayed throughout the whole country. See our Holidays and Festivals section. They stand on most street corners but are more prevalent on the Av. Amazonas route especially around Hilton Colón Hotel district.

Good Friday is also a festival in the colonial part of Quito and although colorful, it is a solemn affair. The major festival occurs during the first week of December and is named "Fiestas de Quito" and has many dancing parades, street music and bull fights ending around the 6th of December. Another festival of note occurs in August "Mes de las Artes", with music, dancing and different cultural events dotted throughout the city.
 Ecuador and Galapagos Travel Places to avoid
The golden rule in any large city is beware in the evenings where pickpockets proliferate especially in shady, dark shadow areas including all major parks, in addition crowded market areas of the south as well as trolley stations are easy targets for pickpockets.

The main area populated by tourists is the Mariscal district and so, if you are in local bars or restaurants till late at night on Reina Victoria, Foch, or 6 de Diciembre call a taxi prior to departing.

The Policia de Turismo is actually on Reina Victoria and Roca but is ineffective for pickpockets. Also in the South avoid walking up the winged angel monument on top of the Panecillo as there are robbers awaiting as you ascend the steep inclines, take a taxi!. See more about safety in our Useful tips > Safety section.
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