Things to do in Quito

Itineraries for Your Trip to Quito

Quito locals share their perfect days.
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2 Days in Quito for First Timers

Curated by Lydia SchrandtLydia Schrandt is a writer, editor, and award-winning photographer currently based in Houston. She’s a contributor for USA TODAY 10Best and serves as the first chair of the Editors Council of the Society of American Travel Writers. Her work has appeared in Draft, Time Out Beijing, Travel+, USA TODAY, San Francisco Chronicle, and others.

Quito ranks among South America’s most scenic capitals, and with two days to spend in the city, you’ll have enough time to wander its colonial heart, take in its panoramic views, and dig deeper into its culture and culinary heritage. Read on for tips on how to spend the ultimate 48 hours in Quito.

Day 1: Morning

This morning, orient yourself with a sightseeing tour of colonial Quito. The compact Centro Historico, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to numerous points of interest, including the Governor’s Palace, basilica, San Francisco Church, and gilded La Compañia Church. Go at your own pace with a ride on the hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus.

Day 1: Afternoon

This afternoon, head up to the hills for some of the best panoramic views over Quito. You have two main options (one or the other is often included in full-day city tours): El Panecillo with its hilltop statue of the Virgin Mary or the Pichincha volcano, accessible via the Teleferico Quito gondola.

Day 1: Night

After a day of sightseeing, nothing beats a cold beer. Reward yourself this evening with a craft-beer tour to some of the city’s best breweries. Learn more about beer’s rich history in Ecuador, as well as how beer is made in Quito’s modern brewing facilities. If you’re not a beer drinker, opt for a walking food tour of the old city instead.

Day 2: Morning

Learn all about Andean cuisine during a morning Ecuadorian cooking class. Most of these hands-on classes include a visit to the market to pick out ingredients, followed by a chef-led class where you’ll learn to prepare traditional dishes such as potato cheese soup, fish in coconut sauce, tamales, or empanadas. Dine on your creations for lunch.

Day 2: Afternoon

Put one foot in each hemisphere with a quick half-day trip to Ecuador’s Middle of the World (Mitad del Mundo). Snap a photo at the equatorial line and learn more about the influence of the Earth’s poles at the Intiñan Museum.

Day 2: Night

Celebrate the end of your time in Quito tonight with a live performance by the Ecuadorian National Folkloric Ballet. These shows feature traditional costume, dance, and music from a range of Andean cultures. Upgrade your experience to include an Andean dinner and drink before the show starts.

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