Exploring Quito: Ecuador’s Beautiful, Affordable Capital City

Quito is the capital city of Ecuador, located just south of the equator. Quito has so much culture and history to offer. My husband, Brian, and I live in a different area of Ecuador, but recently had an opportunity to go house- (and cat-) siting there for a week. We took full advantage of being in the heart of the capital city and did a lot of exploring.

Although we have a vehicle, we parked it and hopped on the public transit to get around. It is very easy, and much quicker that trying to get through town by driving. And if the bus doesn’t get you to where you want to go, a taxi is likely less expensive than driving and parking.

Our apartment was located just a few blocks from Parque Carolina, and we knew that on Sundays the city closes several main streets for cyclists (Quito Ciclopaseo). We brought our bikes and were excited to head out on a ride, not really knowing how far it went. It turns out there are over 24 miles of roads that are closed. Our route passed through several parks, the old town, and even farther to the south of the city.

It was an interesting way to see the city and ride amongst the locals. There were both groups of serious riders, families enjoying a beautiful day of activities together, and even a roller-blading club. After 21 miles and several hours of riding, we treated ourselves to a hearty lunch of hamburgers and Cokes at a Carl’s Jr. in the heart of downtown.

We also did something that we have never done before, but I think it has now become something that we will seek out in our future travels. We went on a free (tip-based) Street Art Walking Tour in the La Floresta area of Quito. Our guide was a young Ecuadorian man, who is an artist himself, and was very passionate about art. He explained to us the difference between street art and graffiti, and the interesting subculture of graffiti in South America. We ventured off for a three-hour walking tour to see some of the most amazing types and styles of street art. I now have a different view, and a much greater appreciation of street art.

While in La Floresta, we ate at the most delicious Vietnamese restaurant which had very authentic menus with prices ranging from $7 to $20. We also took in a free live Chilean band at a local Brew House, where we enjoyed several “four-pack Samplers” for $9.

We also took the opportunity to have some medical appointments. Through our Ecuadorian health insurance we were given the opportunity for free annual exams. We attended an excellent medical office where we had full work-ups and blood work done, getting our results the same day. If this had not been covered through our insurance, the cost would have only been $30 for the appointment and $60 for the bloodwork. We also went to see an Opthomologist at a professional clinic in the Metropolitano Hospital. The cost for this was $70.

We finished off the week with a visit and walk around Metropolitano Park. It is a hidden oasis on the outskirts of Quito with miles and miles of trails for walking and biking. We encountered beautiful views overlooking the valley between Quito and Cumbaya. Quito is a city loaded with history, culture, and adventure, and a must-see if visiting Ecuador.

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