Nowadays there is an increasing number of travelers who want to experience different faraway destinations. From baby boomers to millennials, people are in search of experiences of a lifetime. The most challenging decision is choosing the right destination for fulfilling your own needs and expectations when there are countless options – all who offer different charms and advantages. For that reason, I would like to give you five reasons for visiting Quito, the capital of Ecuador. Please allow me to introduce you to those attractions that make Quito different and worth visiting.
If you´re reading this post, it´s because you have considered visiting the second highest capital in the world, right? So, here is my list:
It’s the largest historic center in South America
UNESCO declared Quito the first world heritage city because of the City Center. Quito preserves the largest number of historical sites and artifacts that people can visit and view today.
Quito not only has its unique artistic expression through a unique Baroque style, which means that indigenous people have adapted and reinterpreted the Baroque style brought by Spaniards during the colonial period. As a result, during the Royal Audience of Quito, the Quito School was developed as a significant and influential artistic movement.
Walking along the streets of Quito´s downtown allows visitors to be immersed in history, legends, customs, and many traditions without being in a museum. The historic district of Quito can be cataloged as a living museum with a perfect mixture of history and present-day on every street corner.
Moorish, Italian, Spanish, and Indigenous influence are constantly showcased through the city. From churches covered entirely in gold leaf that illustrate the power and importance of some religious orders. Step back in time to houses with a Spanish ambiance that nowadays are still charming and eye-catching. Quito is without a doubt a place to cherish, live, and feel.
A perfect contrast with nature
Quito is 2,850 meters high (9,350 ft), and it is one of the major cities located along the Andes mountain range that covers Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and Argentina. Did you know that the Andes Mountains are the second highest mountains worldwide, outside Asia?
While some people decide to travel to the mountains looking forward to seeing beautiful peaks and enjoying nature, in Quito, both locals and visitors wake up every day surrounded by big mountains and impressive active volcanoes.
During summer time or sunny and clear days you can watch the impressive Cotopaxi Volcano from many areas of Quito, and during cold and raining days you can see the snowed peaks of Guagua and Rucu Pichincha.
The city has a great number of parks which allows people to be in contact with nature within the metropolitan area. For example, the Metropolitan Park Guanguiltagua offers not only good walking paths but also it has an astonishing lookout that allows visitors enjoy the view to some volcanoes like Cotopaxi, Cayambe, and with luck the Antisana. This is one of the favorite sites for locals during the weekend, when it is possible to watch them playing ecuavolley, or an Ecuadorian adaptation of the volleyball but played with a football-soccer ball and a higher volleyball net.
Charming local people
Ecuadorians have the reputation of being charismatics, friendly, and welcoming. One of the things that amaze international travelers is that visiting Ecuador is the kindness and sense of family that the local people have.
It is very common to see the whole family lunching or dining out on Sundays, for example. Perhaps you will see them exercising in a group in one of the metropolitan parks, or hanging out with friends to some of the trendiest places in the city. For example, La Ronda street in the historic district of Quito is ideal for meeting new friends because it is not only a sightseeing place, but it is also very popular among locals.
One of the things that characterized Ecuadorians is that they welcome every foreigner and invite them to join the group as if they were a long-time friend. Also, they will always try to teach visitors their local expressions or colloquialisms. That´s why it is very common to listen to visitors after a short period saying “achachay” when they feel cold or “arrarray” when the weather is too hot! Now everyone is a “local”!
In the end, Ecuadorians are friendly people who love to spend time with visitors, helping them to have a wonderful experience when they are discovering Ecuador or the Galapagos Islands.
Quito is not only famous for being the capital of the middle of the world and historic buildings. It is known for its Andean cuisine and culinary traditions. People from Quito are always trying to keep Grandma’s traditions alive while trying new food and cooking techniques.
Mealtime is the ideal time of the day for sharing with family and friends. One typical example is in the afternoon when traditionally friends share a coffee with Humitas, a pastry made of ground corn and mixed with soft cheese gently for hours.
If you are particularly into food and local culture, you should try the Espumilla, a spongy dessert made of Guava and eggs, or the delicious figs with cheese. Yes, you read it right, sweet figs slow cooked with raw sugar and spices and a slice of fresh cheese.
The Andean people are well known for having a diet based on pork meat, chicken, lamb, different types of corn, some of the 100 varieties of potatoes as well as an impressive selection of fresh fruits such as tree tomato, taxo, guanabana, arazar, granadilla, mortiño, among the traditional strawberries and blackberries.
For Ecuadorians, and especially for people from the Andes region, sharing a meal is the best way to celebrate. For this reason, if you´re lucky enough of being during Easter or the Day of the Dead, you can try the Fanesca soup (eastern) or the Guaguas de Pan with Colada Morada, both of them representing the life and the blood of the dead people. Moreover, the most important aspect of these traditions is that each family will take say that there is not another recipe as succulent as theirs because the families have their recipes kept in secret for generations. Many great restaurants are located in Quito so all visitors will have the opportunity to try Ecuadorian cuisine.
Your will experience the hemispheres at the same time
Quito is uniquely located in the middle of the world; which allows travelers to experience two hemispheres and their different gravitational forces and pressures. Did you know that in the center of the earth your body weight is lighter? Either in the Middle of the World monument or at Intiñan Museum, foreign visitors are astonished by the fact that they cannot walk in a straight line, or that some delicate objects such as an egg can stand perfectly on a nail.
Part of the experience that only Quito can offer to travelers are these weird things that challenge your mind, and without a doubt may change the way that foreigners can see the world.
There are many other reasons to describe the uniqueness of Quito as a must-visit destination while encouraging worldwide travelers to experience the city more in-depth before or after their journey within Ecuador. We invite you to let Quito light your heart and mind up. Believe it; it will do that and more!
Marcel Perkins is CEO at Latin Trails. Latin Trails is an incoming destination management company specialized in bespoke tours, with a focus on offering unique experiences throughout Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, and Peru.
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