A Quito tour which includes both the city and the surrounding areas can make a great addition to your Galapagos vacation. We always recommend visitors arrive at Quito at least a day before because if your flight is delayed you could end up missing your boat out to the Galapagos.
So here we give you some suggestions of tours you can do with your time in Quito perhaps exploring its colonial architecture, visiting some indian markets or some great train rides.
Colonial Quito & the Middle of the World monument
A day to explore the capital of Ecuador which is also a UNESCO World Heritage City.
After breakfast, a full day visit of colonial Quito, declared by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 1978 and the largest historical centre in the Americas.
Your Quito tour includes a visit to the Old Town, including the Plaza de la Independencia. As the President still conducts business here, access to the inside may be limited. It is also the home of the tomb of Sucre and houses interesting 17th and 18th century paintings.
You will also visit the Parque Alameda that houses the oldest astronomical observatory in South America, as well as an impressive monument of Simon Bolivar. The Plaza de San Francisco which was constructed by the Spanish in 1553 has a high altar made of gold and beautifully carved ceilings. You shall also visit the Church of San Francisco where every inch of wall and ceiling is paved with Gold. If time, we will visit some of the markets including the Indian market at Avenida de 24 de Mayo at the base of El Panecillo and the Ipiales market.
A visit to the middle of the world monument and museum 11 miles from Quito enables you to have your photo taken with a foot in each hemisphere. At the end of the day you will be returned to your hotel.
Cotapaxi National Park & Indian market
Today you will be collected for your hotel for a full day tour to visit Ecuador´s first National Park and home to the highest active volcano on earth: Cotapaxi National Park. Cotopaxi Nacional Park is the country’s most visited mainland park and has around 33,390 hectares, although during weekdays is generally traffic free and quiet.
The park itself affords spectacular views of the Paramo while center stage is of course the 5890m cone-formed, snow crested volcano Cotopaxi, normally only viewable by climbers ascending the volcano.
Lunch is included and a visit to an indigenous market.
Otavalo Indigenous Market & Chaski Antawa Train.
The Chaski Antawa Train (messenger train) rides on the railroad built at the beginning of the 20th century connecting the northern highlands with the tropical coast. From Ibarra, the train climbs down to the warm, dry valley of Ambuqui, going through sugar cane plantations, magical landscapes, and tunnels, and crossing bridges that span large canyons and gullies.
The 26-km ride to Salinas plunges from 2,200 down to 1,500 meters above sea level (7,216 to 4,920 feet) in only about 2 hours.
Other sites include the village of Mascarilla; an Afro-Ecuadorian community known for its unique clay masks and Otavalo with its famous indigenous craft market.
2 Day / 1 Night Cotopaxi, Baños and the Devil´s Cauldron excursion.
We depart south from Quito stopping at Cotopaxi, the stunning volcano standing at 5,897m. Here we have lunch at a hacienda before continuing on to Baños, a small and friendly spa town nestled between the Andes and the Amazon. This evening we will take a tour to view eruptions from Tungurahua Volcano (5,016m). Accommodation will be in a typical hosteria.
After a brief tour of the town we continue south along the “Avenue of the Waterfalls”. The largest of the waterfalls in the area is known as the “Devil´s Cauldron” observed from a suspension bridge. You will then have lunch before returning to Quito.