before I entered my writer’s block stage, I had been wanting to share my top things to do in Quito as a budget traveler. And now that I’ve recovered, I think it is time to get back on track. I was in Quito for only 3 days. It was the last stop in my Ecuador trip after the Galapagos Islands and my exploration in the coast. Nevertheless, that does not mean that my time in Quito was less interesting. I enjoyed every single moment of my stay and I want you feel the same, especially if your are a budget traveler like me. So, here are my top things to do in Quito:
Disclaimer: I am a budget traveler, but not all the items listed are free. I included them because I felt these certain places are worth spending money on, and I think that is a big part of being a budget traveler: knowing when and when not to spend your coins.
1. Take the free walking tour around Centro Histórico
This free walking tour is number one on my top things to do in Quito because the tour shows everything around the Historic Center of Quito and it’s free. This tour is offered by Community Adventures Travel Agency. The tours start both in the morning and in the afternoon, and they will take you to super interesting places. They also have other tours with really good prices, so be sure to check that out while you are at their office. Click here for more information.
Pro tip: If you haven’t booked your accommodation, I would actually suggest you to stay at the Community Hostel, which is right next to the travel agency office. It’s a really lovely hostel with awesome staff. And, they also give back to the local community. Click the link to learn more about them!
2. Get a good sky view of Quito
There are two ways to get a good look at Quito from above. You can either go to La Basílica del Voto Nacional or you can hike to El Panecillo, which is a 200-meter-high hill. Unfortunately, I only had the chance to go to the basilica because when I wanted to go to El Panecillo, it was raining all day and you couldn’t really see anything. Since I was staying at the Community Hostel, I only had to walk a few minutes to the church. The entrance to the church, where mass is usually held, is free. But if you want to go to the tower, there is a $2 entrance fee. Trust me, that’s worth it. The view was simply amazing!
If you want to go to El Panecillo, you can either walk or take a cable car. Quick note, if you decide to walk, be sure to be careful and watch your belongings. I’ve heard a few unpleasant stories about some travelers being pick-pocketed. So, it won’t hurt to be careful.
3. Exploring the art at the Guayasamín Museum
I know this one is not for everyone, but if you are visiting Ecuador, I hope you can make time to get to know one of Ecuador’s most famous painters, Guayasamín. The museum dedicated to Guayasamín is basically his house that was converted into a museum. You can learn about his life while admiring his works. This is in my top things to do in Quito because I really enjoyed my time there. Guayasamín dedicated a lot of his work to show the injustice in Latin America, and I think his works are very moving. I’m not an art expert, but I really appreciated his work and had a lot fun.
This destination is not at the Centro Histórico, so I had to take a bus there towards Bellavista (I believe the bus cost was about $1). The bus ride was about half an hour. After that, we still had to walk uphill from the main street to the museum. There was a bus that took us from the museum back to the main street, and it only cost 20 cents or so. The entrance to the museum was $8, and $4 if you are a student.
4. Eating at the local market in Centro Historico
If you are a foodie like me, exploring the local market would be a great suggestion for you. During my stay there, I always ate at the market and it was really budget friendly. You can ask for the menú, which is like a daily special that consist of soup, a main dish and a drink. I remember getting those for $2.5, which was a deal! There are also delicious juice and local fruits that are worth trying!
5. Visit Chez Tiff, the chocolate factory at La Ronda
Ecuador is known for their cacao beans and their artisan chocolate taste amazing. So, if you are in Quito, then don’t forget to stop by at a chocolate factory. When you join the walking tour (mentioned in #1), you will get the chance to visit this small chocolate factory. However, if you are limited on time or can’t make it to the walking tour, then you can also visit this factory by yourself. Chez Tiff is located on Calle La Ronda, which is a historical street in the historical center in Quito; people know where it is, so you can always ask your hotel/hostel for the directions. This chocolate factory is one my favorite stops, because they really give you knowledge about the process of making chocolate. I also bought some for my friends and family, and they loved it! Click the link to visit the Chez Tiff website.
So, those are my top things to do in Quito. I hope you can do some of the things on this list when you visit the capital city of Ecuador. And if you have been there, what were your top things to do in Quito? Did we share the same opinion? Let me know!