Quito is a very special city. Its beauty extends from the mountains to the plazas to the cuisine to the people.
We stayed in a boutique hotel with just six guest rooms, Casa el Edén, which was located in close walking distance to the heart of the the central historic district. The couple who owns and lives in the place were so kind and welcoming and made a delicious breakfast each morning. The place was comfortable and gorgeous—in a restored colonial building with a little rooftop garden overlooking the city. Perfect!
We only had two full days in Quito, so we spent our first day simply wandering around the old town. It was a Sunday, so many streets were closed to cars. It was also the Epiphany (or Three Kings’ Day) so people were out and about celebrating. We really enjoyed wandering through the beautiful plazas.
Our second day was truly memorable. We booked a private cooking class at Altamira Restaurante, which was in walking distance from our hotel. We went to the local markets with Chef Edwin, picked out fresh ingredients and went back to the restaurant to cook a three-course Ecuadorian meal. It was exquisite! We loved the experience, as it’s something you probably cannot get on your own, and we felt like we got a great introduction to Ecuadorian culture.
Our ceviche, shark with coconut sauce, and fruit with chocolate soup were beyond delicious!
Practical tips: Quito sits at almost 10,000 feet or 3,000 meters, so drink lots of water, limit alcohol consumption and get lots of rest. Also, when the sun is out, it’s no joke. Wear a hat and sunscreen.
We stayed in the historic district, which was perfectly safe to walk around during the day, but I would suggest using a car service after dark because the streets are narrow and desolate. Don’t hail a cab on the streets. You can ask the hotel or restaurant to call you a taxi or you may find a designated taxi stand. We used Uber, which worked out great. The popular area 15 minutes north of the historic district, Mariscal around Plaza Foch, is very touristy and felt safe walking around at night on the main streets and exploring the restaurants and bars. As with anywhere, use caution and common sense and be alert of your surroundings.
Quito has quickly become one of my favorite cities in Latin America. Do not skip it on your way to the Amazon or Galápagos Islands—immerse into this city’s culture for a few days of adventure!