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IFLY tips Quito

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Basilica (2 hrs)

Quito Cathedral
The Basilica of the National Vow (Basílica del Voto Nacional) is a Roman Catholic Church located in the historic centre of Quito. It is the largest neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas. It looks like an old cathedral, but when you take a closer look you see a lot of concrete. Technically the church is unfinished, but the biggest part of the cathedral was built between 1892 and 1909.

It is very nice to climb the towers of the church as you get great views on the old city centre and it’s surroundings. Some stairs are very steep and you shouldn’t be afraid of heights. The entrance fee to the church is $1 and climbing the towers cost $2.

Plaza Independencia (1 hr)

Quito Plaza
Plaza Independencia (Independence Square) is the historic public square of Quito, located in the heart of the old city. This is the central square of the city and one of the symbols of the executive power of the nation.

Its main feature is the monument to the independence heroes of August 10, 1809, date remembered as the First Cry of Independence of the Royal Audience of Quito from the Spanish monarchy.
Around the square you can see the Carondelet Palace, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Archbishop's Palace, the Municipal Palace and the Plaza Grande Hotel.

At the Presidential palace you can watch the guards and every Monday at 11 am there’s the ceremony of the change of the guards. If the president is around he will show up at the balcony as well.

La Compañía Church (1 hr)

Quito Campanila
La Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús (known colloquially as La Compañía) is a Jesuit church in the historic center of Quito. It is among the best-known churches in Quito because of its large central nave, which is profusely decorated with gold leaf, gilded plaster and woodcarvings.

La Compañía is one of the most significant works of Spanish Baroque architecture in South America and it’s on the world heritage list. You can visit the church during daytime, but there is no entrance for tourists during a mass. It is located at Benalcázar 562 y Sucre.

Teleferico (2-3 hrs)

Quito Teleferico
Quito is strategically located in a valley and from the mountains around the city you can get great views on the city when it’s a clear day. Best way to go there is by cable car, Teleferico. With this cable car you go to an altitude of 41000 metres, so walk slowly and drink enough water.

It can be nice in the morning and also great at sunset. See the sun go down and enlighten the city. Before you go up with the Teleferico, check the view from the city first. If you can’t see the peak of the mountain it's not worth to go.

Foreign tourists have to go through the express lane. A ticket there costs $8,5 for a return. The cable car is open daily from 8 am to 8 pm. Take a cab from the city centre and make an appointment with the driver to pick you up again.

Plaza san Francisco (1 hr)

Quito San Francisco
The Iglesia y Monasterio de San Francisco (colloquially known as El San Francisco) is a colonial-styled church and monastery in the historic centre of Quito. It is located at, where else could it be, Plaza San Francisco.

Construction of the building began a few weeks after the founding of the city in 1534 and ended in 1604. It is the largest religious complex in the Americas. It is approximately 40000 square metres, but only the church is open to the public. The Statue of the virgin Maria in this church inspired the designer of the huge Maria statue on the mountain in the city.

La Virgin Maria (1 hr)

Quito Maria
One of the landmarks of Quito is the big statue La Virgen Maria. The statue is located at La Panecillo, which literally means the little bread, as this hill sticks out as a little bun dividing the city into north and south. Best time to go there is in the morning, as this is the time when the weather in Quito usually is the best to take pictures.

Just take a cab from Colonial Quito. Ask the driver to wait for you while you visit the area (10-15 minutes). The total price for the ride, waiting time and ride back should be less than $10. You can also enter the statue for $1 but there’s not much to see. Ask the driver also to stop halfway up the hill as you get the best view on the city from there.

Biking the Cotopaxi Volcano (1 day)

Quito Cotopaxi 1
Eighty kilometres south of Quito you will find the famous Cotopaxi Volcano. When the sky is clear you can already see it from the mountains around Quito. At this volcano you can do a mountain bike tour with The Biking Dutchman, starting at 4500 meters altitude.

It is an absolute beautiful tour and you only need a little bit of biking experience. Although it sounds a bit dangerous, if you use common sense, everybody can do it. They will pick you up in Quito and drive you to the highest point of the volcano (at least from where you can still bike).

Quito Cotopaxi 2
The first part is seven kilometres down hill. After that you go off road mountain biking for another eight kilometres before lunch. After lunch you bike another fifteen kilometres before you reach the entrance of the Cotopaxi National Park again. From there they’ll drive you back to Quito.

The tour is organised by The Biking Dutchman. Go to their website for this tour. They also offer other (longer) tours as well. Prices depend on how many people attend the tour.

Termas Papallacta (1 day)

Quito Papallacta
In the mountains, 100 kilometres east of Quito you will find hot springs in Papallacta. At Termas Papallacta you can enjoy the hot baths in the middle of beautiful nature. There are baths with several temperatures and there’s a nice restaurant in the thermal park.

Papallacta is approximately two hours drive away from Quito. It is a beautiful drive through the mountains and Parque Nacional Cayembe Coca. You can arrange a taxi in Quito to go there. This will cost you between $90 and $125 for a return (including waiting) and this price depends on your bargain skills. The thermal baths are open daily from 6 am to 9 pm. The entrance fee is $7,50 per person. If your driver needs directions, get them here.

If you want to have some activity before enjoying the hot baths, next to the thermal park you can do a walk. There is an easy walk along the river, which will take about one hour. You have to pay a $2 fee for this. More walks are possible but they will take several hours and you have to take a guide for $10.

Parque la Carolina (1-3 hrs)

Quito Parque Carolina
The biggest and nicest park in downtown Quito is Parque la Carolina. This is the city’s ‘Central Park’, which is bordered by the avenues Río Amazonas, de los Shyris, Naciones Unidas, Eloy Alfaro, and de la República.

You can just hangout here do a lot of sports like biking, running, skateboarding, ecua-volley, which is an Ecuadorian variation of volleyball, or rent a water bike. The park is open 24 hours a day and the entrance is free of course.

Taking a taxi in Quito

For your safety, always take a yellow taxi with orange number plate, as these are the official metered taxis.

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Language of the world

Of course you like to speak a few words of the local language onboard the plane or at your destination. Here you find some simple basics of the main language spoken in Quito.