DESTINATIONS Ecuador South America

5 awesome things to do during a layover in Quito, Ecuador

Wondering how to spend a day in Quito before or after you continue your Ecuador travels? On this guide, I share some unique things to do during your stopover.

From well-preserved colonial architecture, to world-class art museums and awe-inspiring views, this city is full of surprises. We certainly didn’t expect to love it as much as we did!

Here’s what to do when you only have 24 hours in Quito, Ecuador.

7am – 10am: Treat yourself to a microstay at one of the best hotels in Quito

Yes, you read right! Start your day checking into a hotel for some rest & relaxation. If you arrive to Quito early in the morning by a night bus from Guayaquil or Colombia or via an international red-eye flight, chances are you will be exhausted and craving a nap. Forget about having to kill time at a cafe or tiring yourself walking the streets aimlessly until the 3pm check-in.

Instead, book a microstay during the morning via BY HOURS, an app that allows you to rent hotel rooms by the hour. You pay only for the duration of your stay, meaning you get to enjoy quality hotel facilities and services without breaking the bank.

We absolutely loved our microstay at Wyndham Garden Quito. After a long bus ride, all we wanted was to take a nice hot shower and tuck ourselves into bed for a much needed siesta. The room was super comfortable and such a contrast with all the basic hostels we endured for weeks in South America!

We also took advantage of the fast WIFI to do some trip planning on our laptops while sipping some coffee. It was just the perfect way to start the day.

Do you need to book a hotel in Quito for a few hours? Book now with a discount of 15 USD, using the code HOLAECUADOR!

11am – 2pm: Explore Quito Old Town & Basilica del Voto Nacional

Feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on Quito, head to the Old Town. Quito was the first city to be recognized as a cultural UNESCO World Heritage site and once you come to this area you’ll understand why. You could easily spend the whole day wandering the streets of Old Town – it boasts some of the most beautiful and best preserved Spanish legacy in South America. Some landmarks you shouldn’t miss are the Independence Square, Iglesia de Santo Domingo and Church of the Jesuits.

If you’re feeling peckish, you may want to grab lunch at one of the many restaurants in this area serving typical Ecuadorian dishes.

From Old Town, walk 15min to Basilica del Voto Nacional. This church is famous for being the largest neo-Gothic style church in South America. 

For an entrance ticket of $2 USD, you get access to the 2F and 3F of the church. From the 2nd floor, you can see the huge stained glass windows and take a peek at the whole interior of the church. Continuing to the 3rd floor, you can climb up the towers for panoramic views of the city. Mind you, climbing the narrow and steep stairs is not for the faint-hearted!

2pm – 3pm: Refuel with Ecuadorian coffee

No Quito trip would be complete without trying an Ecuadorian cup of coffee. We absolutely loved Omama Cafe located a few steps from the Guayasamin Museum (our next stop). The decor is very unique and cosy. They serve locally grown coffee and the freshest fruit juices which you can enjoy in the outdoor area. A great place to take a nice break and recharge.

Tip | Bring cash as they don’t accept cards

3pm – 5pm: Get to know the legacy of world-renowned Ecuadorian artist Oswaldo Guayasamín

If you want to visit a museum in Quito, make it this one. Even if you’re not a huge fan of art galleries, I can guarantee you will find this one interesting and worth the visit. This museum houses a vast collection of famed Ecuadorian painter Oswaldo Guayasamín, as well as his collection of religious art and pre-Columbian artifacts.

On the first part of the visit, you can admire some of his most famous paintings, all of which reflect his lifelong commitment to peace and social justice. What makes this museum special is the second part of the visit, where you can take a guided tour to the well-preserved interior of his former house and studio and get to know Guayasamín on a personal level: through his personal art collections, photographs, unfinished work and memories.

What was most surprising to me was how truly famous and admired he was around the world, and not just in South America. I found the visit inspiring, touching and uplifting – I’m sure you’ll love it too.

6pm onwards: Drinks & Dinner near La Mariscal

To get a taste of Quito’s nightlife, head to La Mariscal area where you’ll find a line up of trendy bars and restaurants to choose from. We really liked the atmosphere at Cherusker, a pub serving artisan German & local beers. Perfect way to end your activity-packed day. 

Hope you find this Quito layover guide helpful. If you have any questions, please leave me a comment below!

How to get from Quito airport to the city

Most travellers agree that the most efficient way to reach the city from the airport is by taxi. Taxis can be booked on arrival by visiting the taxi booths at the arrival’s terminal. Prices vary from $25 USD to $45 USD depending on your destination and the time of day you’re travelling.

Another option is to take a shuttle mini bus which connect to all major hotels in town – you can buy a ticket upon arrival. Prices also vary upon destination.

How to get from Quitumbe Bus Terminal to the city

If you’re coming from a regional city, you’ll probably arrive at Quitumbe Bus Terminal. From there, you can either catch a taxi , call an Uber or experience the cheapest way of getting to the city by taking the trole (trolley bus) for only $0.25 USD. There are multiple lines and seems overwhelming at first and don’t worry, the staff at the station will be able to advise which line you should take.

Quito Useful Tips

– Quito is at an elevation of 2850 meters so (although uncommon) you may experience altitude sickness. Walk slowly!

– The currency in Ecuador is USD so you don’t need to change to local money.

– As with any other big city, beware of your belongings while walking in crowded areas.

– After dark, it is always advisable to use Uber or Cabify to move around.

Click here to download the BYHOURS mobile app. You can book microstays in more than 3000 hotels for 3, 6 or 12 hours around the world. It’s the new and flexible way to travel!

Thank you BYHOURS for inviting me to experience this wonderful microstay. As always, all opinions are my own.

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5 Best Things to Do in Quito Ecuador

(2) Comments

  1. Paula Long says:

    Thank you Maria for the 24 hrs in Quito. I am a flight attendant, this will be my first time visit to Ecuador and you provided the perfect attractions. I love art, history, markets, and local cuisine so I know I’ll start my first layover with Ecuadorian pastries and coffee, old city, Oswaldo Guayasamin gallery and find a great local restaurant for dinner and music. And for my second layover in May, start in old town coffee and breakfast, then off to historic landmarks. Any other spots to explore?
    I love bringing home local collectibles, any suggestions?
    Love what you do, thank you for sharing👍🏿

    1. inbetweenlattes says:

      So happy to hear Paul, thanks for your comment! You’ll have a great time in Quito I’m sure!

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