How to Spend One Day in Quito, Ecuador

basilica del voto nacional

We spent two nights in Quito, Ecuador on our way to the Galapagos IslandsSince we arrived late Friday and left early Sunday we essentially only had one day to explore this capital city. To be honest, I didn’t want to like Quito. It was our first stop after being robbed in Chile and a big South American city was the last place I wanted to be. I wanted to feel safe on a tiny Galapagos Island ASAP. Turns out I ended up loving Quito! We had so much fun on our one day there and I felt safe the entire time!

Visit Beautiful Churches

Start your day in Quito’s old town to admire the colonial architecture including beautiful churches. Start with Iglesia Santo Domingo a beautiful cathedral filled with blues and greens. Then head over to the impressive yet slightly gaudy, Compañia de Jesus. This cathedral is all gold everything on the inside. You’re not allowed to take photos so you’ll have to visit it yourself (or check Google images) Some people say it is the most beautiful church in the world. It’s not really my style but magnificent nonetheless.

For a cathedral visit that is equally thrilling as it is impressive check out Basílica del Voto Nacional. You can climb up to the top tower. This one is definitely not for the acrophobic. Right when we started our ascent to the tower there was a sudden thunderstorm! Not the place you want to be when it starts lightning. We had to sit in the church for a while to wait out the storm. Apparently, this type of weather is typical for Quito. Bring a rain jacket!

basilica del voto nacional

Eat a Super Cheap Lunch

Order a sopa or encebllado (fish soup) for $2.50 at a hole in wall spot. This usually includes sides and a juice! It typically consists of some kind of broth and mystery meat but if you are daring it can be quite rewarding and delicious!

lunch quito

Also for well located and cheap accommodations check out La Rosario hotel. This is where we stayed and it was great!

See the Views from El Panecillo

Take a taxi up to this scenic viewpoint. You can see panoramic views of the entire city and check out an aluminum statue of the Virgin of Quito.

panecillo views quito


Quito Artisan Market

Head to Mariscal for a cute artisan market. They have handmade quality products rather than cheesy souvenirs. I bought the most amazing hiking boots!

Check out the Nightlife in Mariscal

After checking out the market head out to Plaza Foch for nightlife in Mariscal. There are lots of bars and restaurants and it is really fun! We found a German pub, Cherusker Cervecería,  that was packed and had great affordable beer. There was also a feminism parade when we where there followed by a concert afterparty! The restaurants in this area are pretty American-ish with bar food as the primary menu item, but they’re not bad. We ate wings at Urban Kitchen and Bar. Insider Tip: Be sure to bring an ID. This is the only place in South America, on our entire travels, where they checked ID’s.

mariscal quito

We had a really fun time in Quito. I’m sure there is much more to do but we had a super action-packed and fun-filled Saturday. Don’t underestimate this capital city when planning your Ecuador trip!

Want more information to plan your trip to Quito? Check out the Ecuador Lonely Planet here.

Pleasantly Surprised in Quito,



Quito Ecuador

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