Ecuador’s highlands are dotted with characterful colonial cities, including Quito. The first city ever to gain World Cultural Heritage status, Ecuador’s capital delights with its elegant plazas, colonial facades and winding narrow streets. Most of Quito’s historic charm lies in its atmospheric Old Town which has been beautifully preserved.
The rural highlands of Ecuador are extremely picturesque, ranging from snow-topped peaks to verdant valleys scattered with lakes and meandering rivers. Lying in a scenic valley high up in the Andes, the old Inca capital of Quito has a vibrant atmosphere and is filled with craft markets, cosmopolitan galleries and architectural wonders.
Enjoy a walking tour of the old quarter where you will find numerous churches, spacious plazas and ancient monasteries. The San Domingo and San Francisco monasteries are particularly impressive, each boasting spectacularly ornate interiors. You can spend many hours soaking up the rich colonial architecture, stopping every now and then for a rest at one of the colourful terrace cafes.
If you’ve ever wanted to stand at the center of the earth, you have the opportunity to do so at the Mitad del Mundo just outside of Quito. This monument marks the location of the equator, so take the chance to stand with one foot on each hemisphere.
Jump on board the Teleferico sky tram up 4,000 meters to Cruz Loma for an excellent view over Quito’s mountainous landscape. You can stop there, but those more active may want to hike an extra 3 hours to reach the summit of Rucu Pinchincha.
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