48 hours in Quito

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The Ecuadorian capital may not have the glamor of Rio de Janeiro, the labia of Buenos Aires or the charm of Bogotá, but patient travelers will discover in it a mystery to be revealed, along with the dramatic scenery of the Andes.

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Haciendas of Ecuador, Andean delicacies

However, we do not always have the necessary time to dazzle the destinations over low heat. What if we only have two days to decide if Quito is the city of our dreams? Nothing happens: Quito is also willing to be loved in speed dating, if you pay a little attention.

Calles coloniales de Quito

Colonial streets of Quito © Getty Images

DAY ONE

9 o'clock. Plaza Grande and Government Palace

Start to know Quito from your heart, where it all began: the old town . Wander around to your liking for its cobbled streets, and let yourself be surprised by the colonial architecture that adorn them in each corner. Almost without thinking you will arrive at the Plaza Grande, the nerve center of the old town, which will make you fall in love with its picturesque stamp between palm trees and pulsating energy of capital life.

In the Plaza Grande you will find two of the most important buildings in Quito: the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Government Palace.

The Cathedral will cost you to distinguish it, do not wait for a replica of the thousands of Catholic cathedrals around the world. Bright white and surmounted by a dome of green tiles, this Cathedral does not resemble any other and is difficult to catalog in terms of style. There are those who say that it is Gothic, there are those who say that it is Mudejar; It is best to come and decide for yourself.

Just around the corner, the Government Palace also deserves a visit, even guided: there are daily (and free), but can not be booked in advance and the seats fly. Come with time (even at nine o'clock, if you can).

Plaza de la Independencia en Quito

Independence Square in Quito © Getty Images

11:30 Saint Francis Square

When you can say goodbye to the Plaza Grande, head three streets south to the other great jewel of the old town: Plaza San Francisco . Framed by the Pichincha volcano, the square is home to the oldest church in Ecuador and one of the most appreciated corners of the old town.

The Church and Monastery San Francisco are almost as old as Quito itself: its construction began almost at the same time as that of the city, in 1534, but did not finish until 70 years later . Despite having been restored several times by damage from earthquakes, many parts, such as the chapel of the Lord Jesus of the Great Power, maintain the original construction and art.

In the square you can also visit the Francisco Museum, which contains part of the restored and recovered art of the church, including 16th-century paintings, sculptures and furniture, and the Cantuña Chapel, with art samples from the Quito School.

Iglesia y monasterio de San Francisco en Quito

Church and monastery of San Francisco in Quito © Getty Images

2:00 p.m. Lunch at San Agustin Ice Cream Shop

To eat, do not deviate much from the road and go to the San Agustin Ice Cream Shop, on the corner of Chile and Guayaquil streets. Do not confuse the name: here you can eat much more than ice cream.

This traditional feeder serves typical Ecuadorian dishes for 150 years, and will be the best introduction to local cuisine. Dare with a dry goat (lamb stew), a good sweaty sea bass (steamed fish) and some green empanadas (male banana empanadas with cheese), and let Quito conquer you also through the stomach.

4:00 p.m. Basilica of the National Vote

In the afternoon, begin to climb towards high ground (or rather, higher: let's not forget that Quito rests at 2, 800 meters above sea level ) to enjoy the panoramic view offered by the Andes. Your first stop should be the Basilica of the National Vote, a neo-Gothic church that could well rival the Cathedral in spectacular.

In what the Basilica does not have rival is in situation: on top of a hill, without buildings that obstruct the view and with full access to the towers, this church gives a 360 degree view of Quito that few monuments in the capital provide. Even if you are afraid of heights, dare: you will not regret it.

Basílica del Voto Nacional

Basilica of the National Vote © Getty Images

18:30. Roll

And we continue climbing: after the Basilica, take a taxi and ask him to take you to the Panecillo. At this point in the day you will surely have seen it from the city, the sculpture of the winged Virgin of Quito watching over Quito from the top of the hill south of the old town, enjoying the best views of the capital.

The best time to climb is just before (or after) the sunset, to see how the light changes over the city. This time of day is also usually the best in a matter of weather, in the morning the city is usually covered by a thick fog that almost does not allow you to see anything.

20:00 Dinner in Ronda

For dinner, head to one of Quito's favorite streets: La Ronda.

In fact, the official name of the street is Juan de Dios Morales, but nobody knows it that way (ask a taxi driver to take you there and he won't know what you're talking about). La Ronda, a charming pedestrian street full of restaurants, hotels and shops is a classic of the local night.

If you still have the desire to try more local dishes, Leña Quiteña will receive you with open arms and a warm little guatita. For something more alternative, Bohemia Café mixes Ecuadorian dishes with vegetarian pizza and homemade lasagna . After dinner, do not miss the typical Ecuadorian drink: cinnamon, schnapps with cinnamon, sugar, lemon and caramel.

La Ronda, Quito

La Ronda, Quito © Getty Images

DAY TWO

10:00. Half-World Excursion

On your second day, join an organized excursion (or ride it on your own, by taxi or public transport, but keep in mind that it takes an hour and a half to arrive) to go to Mitad del Mundo, the monument and museum that runs the equator line that passes a few kilometers north of Quito.

The park that composes Mitad de Mundo has several parts . On the one hand, there is the Middle of the World Monument, a 30-meter high construction in granite and metal that, although very impressive, turns out to be in the wrong place, about 250 meters from the real equator.

On the other hand, there is the Intiñan Solar Museum, a kind of park of curiosities about Ecuador, the equator and the relationship of the sun, astrology the calendar that is very worthwhile. Although many of the activities (such as seeing how the water in the drain turns to one side and another depending on which side of the equator they put the sink on) have an air of deception, the museum is very entertaining and gives several interesting facts.

Mitad del Mundo

Half of the World © Getty Images

2:00 p.m. Food in The Crater

If you have joined an organized trip to go to Middle of the World, you will most likely be taken to the Crater to eat. If you have decided to organize it on your own, it is highly recommended that you take advantage of the route to get closer.

El Cráter is a restaurant-hotel on the outskirts of Quito, near Mitad del Mundo, with spectacular views of a volcanic lake on one side, and Quito on the other. Unforgettable.

Restaurante El Cráter

On the outskirts of Quito but so necessary … © Restaurante El Cráter

18:30. Marshal Sucre

In the afternoon, once back in the capital, join the capitals in their evening-night tradition and go to the very stylish neighborhood of Mariscal Sucre . This area, which is devalued between luxury and hipster, is an endless succession of cafes, restaurants and shops, with the Artisan Market in the epicenter of the neighborhood that is an excellent souvenir supplier.

Between store and store she will give you the night, and with her dinner, and with her the problems. In a neighborhood where what is coming is to eat and drink, how to choose? Our advice: let yourself be totally guided by your craving. Wanting something familiar? Cosa Nostra will make you think you are in Florence. Do you want something local? The canoe puts it on a tray. Are you coming with the intention of paying homage? Zazu and its Peruvian-Asian fusion menu awaits you.

A shared publication of Quito Tourism (@quitoturismo) on 12 Jun, 2018 at 4:34 p.m. PDT

9:00 pm. Go out in Plaza Foch

After dinner, don't leave the neighborhood: just follow the crowd and let them guide you to Plaza Foch, the center of the Quito nightlife. Here you will find everything from Irish bars to Korean karaoke to Ibizan lounges, and once again, it all depends on where you throw the night.

Three good options: Azuca Beach, which has salsa classes every Tuesday; La Bodeguita de Cuba, with live music every Wednesday and Thursday; and Democratic Coffee, for more alternative nights.

Barrio de Mariscal Sucre

Mariscal Sucre Neighborhood © Getty Images

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Haciendas of Ecuador, Andean delicacies