Quito is the highest capital city in the world (approximately 2800 meters) and earned one of the first UNESCO World Heritage designations in 1978. It is a bustling city spread out between valleys and sprawls partway up the massive mountains that surround it. While the Galapagos Islands garner much of the attention of tourists – a visit to Quito offers a variety of attractions both in and outside the city.
Setup “home base” in the lively La Mariscal neighborhood – with its wide variety of lodging, restaurants, bars, shopping and travel agencies. Explore this part of town, especially at night when it truly comes alive (other than Sunday evenings when the sale of alcohol is forbidden). Then hit the Gran Plaza and the old town – where one can visit and see some of the oldest buildings in South America.
Great day trips include a visit to Cotopaxi (hiking or biking, but be sure you are well adjusted to the altitude before going here as you reach elevations of around 5000 meters), Quilotoa Lagoon, a beautiful aquamarine lake situated inside a crater, Teleferico one of the world’s longest and highest tram cars (tops out at 4100 meters) for awesome views of Quito and on a clear day, the great Cotopaxi volcano – and a visit to La Miad del Mundo – an interesting museum that sits approximately on the equatorial line.
For more information about Ecuador and Quito, visit: www.ecuador.travel