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Know Before You Go
- Quito is 2,850 meters above sea level making altitude sickness a risk for first-time travellers. If you show symptoms for longer than 24 hours, it's advised to seek medical advice.
- For architecture lovers, the city of Quito is a dream. The "centro historico" is home to the largest concentration of classical architecture in Latin America.
- Although Quito is right on the equator, it's altitude means it doesn't get warmer than 19°C. So make sure you bring a few warm layers, especially for the evening when temperatures plummet to 10°C.
- Quito's altitude and zero latitude make travellers more exposed to higher levels of UV rays. Make sure you minimise the risk to your health by wearing a hat and sunblock between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. when the sun is at its harshest.
- When you leave Ecuador's capital city, book a window seat. As you take off, you'll be able to witness the beautiful snow-capped summits that form "The Avenue of the Volcanoes."
Getting Around Quito
One of the cheapest ways to get around Quito is with the city's buses. There are three different types to choose from, and a single ride costs USD 0.25.
- The Trolley is the main bus system used by the locals, and it has the most stops. It runs from station La Y in the North and terminates at Quitumbe in the south. But it's not the fastest way to get around Quito if you are in a rush.
- The Metrobus is the best option if you want to visit the Mitad del Mundo Monument. You can catch that bus at the Ofelia bus station, but the fare will cost an extra USD 0.35.
- Ecovia are red buses that run from the Rio Coca Station in the north to downtown Quito. It also has an express lane towards the Quitumbe station and stops near attractions such as the Casa de la Cultura and the La Mariscal area.
There are also private bus companies that run extensive routes around the city. Fares are USD 0.25, and the buses have placards which list their destinations on their front windows.
Taxis are another inexpensive and more convenient way to get around Quito. The base fare for a ride during the day is USD 1.45 and after 7:00 p.m. increases to USD 1.75. With most of the city's attractions close together, it's rare that you will ever pay more than USD 5 for a single journey. Just make sure the driver turns on the meter or negotiate the fee beforehand.
If you have access to Wi-fi, the fastest way to get a cab is to use one of the ride sharing apps. EasyTaxi and SmartTaxi are the most popular in Quito, and the drivers won't try to rip you off.
If you want to see the city at your own pace without renting a car, Quito is becoming a more bicycle-friendly city. Join in on the weekly Ciclopaseo every Sunday. It's a route of 30 km that runs from the North to the South of Quito from 8:00 a.m. to 2 p.m.
While you can rent a car in Quito, it's not recommended. With taxis being so cheap and the country's lax driving rules, it makes for a much more stressful experience
When is The Best Time to Visit Quito?
The busiest time to visit Quito is between June and August as well as December and January. If you plan to visit during this period, you'll need to book your hotel, flights and tours well in advance. The influx of people in the city means prices will be higher than usual and there will be long queues outside popular attractions.
If you are on a budget, the best time to visit Quito is during its off-season months. February, April, September and November are some of the cheapest times to visit and score great travel deals. Many hotels, restaurants, tours and flights will drop their rates during these months. But the best part is crowds will be minimal, so you'll be able to explore the city in peace.
But if you are looking for a quieter version of Quito, plan your travel around Carnival. It kicks off in February before Ash Wednesday, and the city transforms into street parties and water balloon tossing. However, if your budget can handle the increase in prices, it's one of the best cultural events to experience in Quito.
Airports in Quito
Mariscal Sucre International Airport
Mariscal Sucre is one of the busiest airports in the country and South America. It's located 18 km from the city centre and is the largest hub for Ecuador's flag carrier TAME. The airport services over 220 weekly flights and is also a focus city for Avianca.
Getting To and From Mariscal Sucre International Airport
There is a direct coach bus service from the airport to Quito. The Aeroservicios runs every Monday to Friday from 3:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and Saturday to Sunday from 4:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. The buses run every 30 minutes and cost USD 8 for a single trip.
For a cheaper option, you can take the ordinary public buses for USD 2 one way. But your journey time will be longer than the coach service.
Taxis are also available 24 hours a day from the airport. The average rate is between USD 20 to USD 50 depending on your final destination.
The airport also has several car rental services for travellers that want more autonomy getting around Quito.