Get ready to experience authentic South American colonial and indigenous culture as you explore the world’s second-highest capital city, Quito! Here, a wealth of historical patrimony has made this dynamic city a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the Old Town, a casual stroll through the colonial plazas will take you to impressive cathedrals like the San Francisco Church and Convent and La Compañía (with a completely gold-leaf interior). You'll also see the Carondolet Presidential Palace and the commanding gothic cathedral, La Basilica del Voto Nacional. Keeping watch over the city is the aluminum monument of La Virgen de Quito on Panecillo Hill. And a short drive from here will bring you to the monument marking the geographic middle of the world. Quito also makes a great starting point for Andes, Galapagos, & Amazon tours.
El Panecillo – Named for its bun-shape, this hill overlooks the entire city of Quito, offering a fantastic panorama. It's also home to the renowned monument to the winged "Virgin of Quito," which keeps watch over the whole city.
Palacio Carondolet & the Plaza Grande are in the historical center of the city and serve as the seat of the government.
The TeleferiQo is a cable car that zips travelers to the top of the mountain, where you can breathe in the brisk highland air.
La Basilica del Voto Nacional is a marvel of gothic architecture and perhaps the most recognizable church in South America with its intricately carved towers and gargoyles.
San Francisco Convent, La Compañía Church, & El Sagrario are other impressive churches that highlight Quito's colonial center.
Cotopaxi Volcano – Just outside the city is the strikingly symmetrical, snow-capped Cotopaxi Mountain, an active volcano that is great for hikers of all levels.
Otavalo is undoubtedly the biggest and most well known artisan market in all of South America, where you can find brilliantly colorful tapestries, hand-carved wooden sculptures, leather goods, and a variety of other beautiful handicrafts.