48 hours in Quito – Weekend Edition
Quito In Less Than 48 Words
Quito styles itself as “Luz de America,” which literally means the “Light of America.” It is perhaps best known for its immense historical heritage. Covering an area of about 320 hectares, it has one of the largest and the best-preserved old town sectors in Latin America.
Government Palace at Plaza de la Independencia (Photo by putneymark)
First 24 Hours
You can arrive at the historically important city of Quito via the Mariscal Sucre International Airport, which is located about eight kilometers from the city’s New Town section. From there, perhaps the best way to reach the heart of the city and your hotel is hiring a taxi by the exit of the international terminal. The journey will cost you no more than $8. You can opt to pay a fixed amount at one of the information desks at the terminal, after which you will only have to show the receipt to the taxi driver.
Quito is a city that is quite long and thin, as it is located in a valley. In fact, it has a length of 35 kilometers, and a width of only five kilometers. The vast majority of tourist attractions are concentrated in its Old and New Town districts; so getting around is fairly easy. You can collect travel information and purchase street maps at its tourist office (3rd Floor, Eloy Alfaro N32-300 cor. Carlos Tobar, Quito).
CHECK IN: Get your bearings back at Quito’s hotels
Le Parc Hotel (Photo from Google images)
You can arrange for a nice stay during your 48 hour visit to Quito at one of its excellent hotels. One of the best in the city is the Hotel Plaza Grande (Garcia Moreno N5-16 y Chile, Quito, 593 + 2 2510 777, website). It is a five-star hotel with a convenient central location, plus comfortable rooms and an excellent staff.
A nice alternative is the Le Parc Hotel (Av Republica de El Salvador, N34-349 e Irlanda, Quito, 02-227-6800). It is a modern and trendy hotel with nice décor, delicious food, and an attentive staff. You can also try out the JW Marriott Hotel (Amazonas y Orellana, Quito, 02-297-2000, website), which is noted for its American style and modern amenities.
EL PANECILLO: Let’s take a view
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Quito is the El Panecillo (El Panecillo, south of Old Town, Quito), which is also known as the Virgin Monument. Named after the panecillo, a kind of small bread roll to which it looks surprisingly alike, it is a sculpture of the La Virgen de Quito that is 45 meters tall. It is located on a hill, and provides sweeping views of the cityscape.
You can reach the site by a taxi from the Old Town for a fare of about $3. It is open during Mondays to Fridays from 9 am to 6 pm, and on weekends from 9 am to 5 pm. Admission will cost you $1, and you will have to pay an additional $1 if you want to ascend to the top of the sculpture.
FUNDACION GUAYSAMIN: Appreciate art
Art lovers will definitely enjoy a visit to the Fundacion Guaysamin (Calle José Bosmediano E 15-68 Bellavista, 02/2465-265), which is an art museum dedicated solely to the works and collections of one of Ecuador’s foremost artists, Oswaldo Guayasamín. It is divided into three sections.
The first is the El Museo Arqueológico (Archaeology Museum), which features the artist’s collection of pre-Colombian art such as sculptures of tribal chiefs and shamans, as well as jugs with impressive carvings. Another is the Museo de Arte Moderno (Museum of Modern Art), which houses a collection of Guaysamin’s own art, including his masterpiece – the “La Edad de la Ira” (The Age of Anger). Last but not the least is the Museo de Arte Colonial (Museum of Colonial Art), which exhibits the artist’s collection of colonial art, such as over 80 crucifixes.
You can reach the site via a taxi ride from the New Town for a fare of around $2. It is open during Tuesdays to Fridays from 10 am to 5 pm, and admission will cost you $3.
LA PLAZA DE LA INDEPENDENCIA: Let’s take a hike
Another noteworthy attraction for tourists in Quito is the Plaza de la Independencia, which is located in the heart of the Old Town, near Calle Venezuela. During the 16th century, it served as the city’s main square, as well as the central market, bullfighting hotspot, and social center. It is also home to various historical monuments and landmarks.
One of the most impressive buildings at the site is the Government Palace, which is noted for its Spanish-Moorish style of architecture. There is no admission fee to its main area, where you can see a 1966 mural by Oswaldo Guayasamín that depicts the discovery of the Amazon by Orellana. Another is the Archbishop’s Palace that dates back to 1852. It is known for being the former residence of the Quito mayors, as well as for its Andalusian courtyard whose floor was fashioned out of pig spines. You can also find a cathedral in the square, which features a collection of impressive art works by Caspicara and Manuel Samaniego. The church is open during Mondays to Saturdays from 6 am to 10 am.
DINNER TIME: Discover Quito’s restaurants
You are guaranteed a delicious dinner at the restaurants available all over the city. One of the best in the city is Zazu (Mariano Aguilera 331 & La Pradera, Quito 00000, 02-254-3559, website). It is an award-winning restaurant noted for its creative dishes, good wine selection, modern atmosphere, and excellent staff. A nice alternative is the Pavarotti Ristorante (Luis Cordero, Quito, 02-256-6668), which serves an authentic Mediterranean cuisine in a romantic atmosphere.
Zazu (Photo by AbsolutEcuador)
Have a taste of Argentina in Quito at Parrilladas Dos Argentinos (Ave 12 de Octubre N24-291, Quito EC170143, 593-2-2520444, website). It serves delicious grilled dishes and desserts, brought to you by an attentive staff. You can also try out Alma (El Monitor 188 y Quiteno Libre, Quito 00000, 00-593-2-225-2248), which offers a contemporary cuisine and a superb wine selection.
Next 24 Hours
You can discover Quito’s other tourist attractions during your next 24 hours in the city. The first could be the Casa Museo María Augusta Urrutia (García Moreno 760, 02/2580-103). It is a Spanish-style mansion that serves as the former residence of Doña María Augusta Urrutia, and is a nice place to be if you want to experience life in the city during the 19th century.
The site has been visited by various world leaders, and you can see inside antique European furniture, General Sucre’s bed, Belgian tiles, murals, hand-painted wallpapers, stained-glass windows, and impressive Ecuadorian art. It is open during Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 am to 6 pm, and on Sundays from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm. Admission will cost you $2.
LA COMPAÑIA DE JESUS: Let’s go to church
You can go to church at the La Compañía de Jesús (García Moreno near Sucre, Old Town, Quito), which is considered as one of the foremost Baroque-style edifices in the continent. Built over the course of 160 years, the Jesuit church is supported by Solomonic pillars that represent the holy path to heaven. Inside, you’ll find lavish decorations such as Inca symbols, Moorish designs, and gold leaf carvings. The site is open during Mondays to Fridays from 10 am to 5 pm, and on Saturdays from 10 am to 1 pm. Admission will cost you $2.
La Compañía de Jesús (Photo by twiga_swala)
MUSEO NACIONAL: Have a historical experience
A historical experience can be enjoyed at the Museo Nacional de Banco Central del Ecuador (Av. Patria, cor. 6 de Diciembre and 12 de Octubre, New Town, Quito, 02/2223-258). It is a massive museum dedicated to the human, natural, and art history of Ecuador. Inside, you’ll find various galleries that feature pre-Colombian and pre-Inca artifacts that date from 11,000 BC, a Cañari mummy, colonial art, European art, pre-Colombian art, portraits of Ecuadorian heroes, and musical instruments, to name a few. The site is open during Tuesdays to Fridays from 9 am to 5 pm, and on weekends from 10 am to 4 pm. Admission will cost you $2.
MACUIPUCUNA ECOLOGICAL RESERVE: Visit Mother Nature
Nature lovers will definitely enjoy a visit to the Maquipucuna Ecological Reserve (Baquerizo Moreno Street, E9-153 and Tamayo 593, (02) 2507200, website). Established in 1988, it is a nature reserve that serves as the gateway to the Chocó Andean Corridor (one of the world’s most biodiverse regions), and is a welcome break from the city life. It covers an area of 14,000 acres, and is comprised mostly of cloud forest. A hike through its various trails will allow you to see a wide variety of flora and fauna, as well as more than 400 different bird species.
Maquipucuna Ecological Reserve (Photo by Gib Cooper)
NIGHTLIFE: Enjoy Quito’s vibrant nightlife scene
At night you may proceed to Quito’s bars and clubs to have a taste of the city’s exciting nightlife. One of the most popular is Club Gia (Jose María Ayora and Villalengua, Quito, 02/2924-094). It is among the city’s most excciting clubs, hosting performances by go-go dancers and playing music ranging from Offspring to Tiesto. You can also try out Gaudí (2nd floor, Plaza Foch, 02/2451-297), a funky and stylish bar with excellent wines and cocktails, and nice views.
A nice alternative is Macondo (Calama and Juan León Mera, Quito, 02/2227-563). It is a bar-discothèque that is noted for its dance and house music, creative cocktails, and minimalist décor.
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