With the acclaim as the highest capital city in the world, Quito sits at the base of the Andean foothills, often considered the la mitad del mundo, or the middle of the world. Full of sprawling hills with houses built to the top, the city has many different neighborhoods to explore, including the city center, known as Old Town. It is in this area where you can see why Quito was declared one of the first two World Cultural Heritage Sites by UNESCO, as it is home to one of the best-preserved historic cities in the world. In the list ahead, discover some of the best experiences in and around Quito, where you can photograph everything from rooftop terraces to a horse ride in one of Ecuador's national parks.
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Casa Q Hotel, located on a quiet street just past the bustling La Mariscal district, is a home away from home. Inclusive of a terrace floor with hammocks and an outdoor deck, this hotel is the perfect place to experience a local neighborhood in Quito. The property just opened in January, where they support local artists and craftsmen in their ground floor boutique. Breakfast at Casa Q is always a pleasure, as the bottom-floor dining area is home to an entire wall full of colorful Ecuadorian masks. If you're looking for the perfect Instagram opportunity, take one of the colorful masks off the wall and pose with your favorite character.
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Try Local Delicacies at Mercado Central
Mercado Central is the hub of local life in Quito. The market has different levels, each containing a category such as poultry, flowers or fruits. On the bottom floor, you can find an array of traditional Ecuadorian soups for sale. Try the locro soup, a homemade blend of potato and cheese served with fresh avocado and corn. Finish your meal off by sampling many of the local juices (pictured here).
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Wander Quito's Old Town
If you enjoy people watching and photographing local life in a destination, then a walk in Quito's Old Town is for you. With colorful façades and flags hanging all throughout the streets, Old Town is ripe for discovery and the perfect place to wander for an afternoon. Make sure to visit Plaza de la Independencia, where locals congregate to enjoy the city.
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If you visit Cotopaxi National Park during a trip to Quito, opt to stay at Hacienda el Porvenir, an establishment that's been in owner Jorge Rivas' family for over 100 years. The land surrounding the hacienda is an explorer's paradise, full of beautiful condors and wild horses. Plan to stay and do some of the many tours and activities offered at the hacienda, including horseback riding and experiencing the traditional Chagra culture of the Ecuadorian highland cowboys. You can mountain bike or trek the trails, where you can enjoy a vast landscape full of rolling hills and intensely green patches of land. Don't miss the opportunity to dine at the hacienda's restaurant to sample the traditional cuisine of the Andes.
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Stay at Casa Gangotena in Quito
Located in the historic heart of Ecuador's capital city, Casa Gangotena is Quito's premiere luxury hotel. With its foundations beginning in the time of the Incas, the hotel's location used to be home to a 15th century Inca temple. Just in front of the hotel is Plaza de San Francisco, a former market in the time of the Incas and a present-day meeting place for locals.