Quito, Ecuador – City Guide for Nomads and Expats

Updated in 2022.

Quito, Ecuador.

Located at an even higher elevation than Cuenca!

The highest constitutionally-recognized capital city in the world (La Paz, Bolivia is higher, but it’s an administrative capital only). The historic center of Quito is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the largest and best-preserved centers of colonial architecture in all of South America. The city is also a gateway to the Mindo Valley, a world famous nature area where two of the most biologically diverse ecoregions in the world meet; the Chocoan lowlands and the Tropical Andes.

POPULATION: 2,500,000


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 The best time to visit Quito is in the dry season from June to September. Try to avoid visiting Quito in the rainy season. Due to the elevation and crazy mountains to be traversed, any bus travel is not recommended during the rainy season. The busiest month for travel is probably December and January. It has been reported that trips to the Galapagos islands are busiest in December and January. Quito is a relatively good year-round destination and the city is livable in all seasons of the year.

 

RENT AN APARTMENT IN QUITO

$600.00 will get something close to Plaza Foch.

 

DAY TRIPS & THINGS TO DO IN QUITO

Quito is a great city to get outdoors. Quito is also a historical treasure with an abundance of museums and cultural activities. On the days in rains, there will still be things to do in Quito.

Visit the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana. This will give you some necessary cultural context for your trip through Ecuador.

Take a photo in front of the Arco de la Circasiana, an emblematic monument.

Visit the Museo de la Ciudad, a small museum in a cool colonial hospital built in 1565 with exhibits about Quito’s history.

Hit up the Mercado Artesanal in barrio La Mariscal for amazing crafts and gifts.

Visit Cima de la Libertad, a cool monument/museum perched above the city with great views.

Visit the Parque Metropolitano Guangüiltagua, a massive park with alpacas, trails, and amazing views.

Visit the world famous Mindo Valley, located just outside the city.

Visit the town of Otavalo and the famous Otavalo Market. You can buy indigenous artisanal crafts here.

Hike the Cotopaxi Volcano, an active stratovolcano in the Andes Mountains about 50km from Quito.

Take a day trip to Quilotoa Lake for adventure and amazing landscapes.

Head to the beach! The most popular beach towns in Ecuador are Manta and Salinas

 

BEST CAFES & COWORKING IN QUITO FOR DIGITAL NOMADS

Coffee is good in Quito. Quito is a great city for cafes and finding a place to work on your laptop is not that hard. There are several cool neighborhoods in Quito that border each other. The layout of the city makes it such that there are many good cafes within walking distance.

My Latin Life recommends:

Tres Gatos: Perfect cafe for digital nomads looking to work in a comfortable environment.

Sweet & Coffee: Expensive food but good service and free wifi.

El Español: Expensive food but good wifi.

 

BEST BARS & NIGHTLIFE IN QUITO

6.5/10 

La Mariscal, La Mariscal, La Mariscal. Just go here. Everyone will tell you the same. As you’ve probably guessed, Mariscal is the entertainment district of Quito and it has a great deal of bars, discos, hotels and restaurants. From here, you can plan your night. The clubs are fairy good, and you have the choice to party with all gringos, or none at all. As nice as it is to be the only foreign dude in a bar, it’s nice to hang out some fellow countrymen once in a while. You can generally find something Monday-Saturday. There’s two neighborhoods bordering La Mariscal that have bars and restaurants as well, these are La Floresta and Simon Bolivar. Some people think that Simon Bolivar (the area centered around Plaza Foch) is la Mariscal, but they are technically separate neighborhoods.

My Latin Life recommends:

Bungalow 6:Quito’s most popular nightspot (I think..) in Quito. Has an excellent setup for meeting and mingling. A healthy fusion of tourists and Ecuadorians make for a pretty comfortable environment for everyone.

Cherusker Cervecerìa Artesanal Alemana: Popular brewpub in La Mariscal/Simon Bolivar.

Isabella: Live music bar in barrio La Floresta.

Map of La Mariscal, Quito
Map of La Mariscal, Quito

 

 COST OF LIVING IN QUITO

The following data is from Expatistan, a crowdsourced database of prices and cost of living around the world. In our experience, the data tends to underestimate cost of living, so take the following as the minimum you might need to live here.

*Figures are listed in USD

You’ll need a minimum of $1041 USD/month to live in Quito, Ecuador

cost-of-living-quito-ecuador

HOW TO GET TO QUITO, ECUADOR

You are most likely to arrive in Quito by way of the Mariscal Sucre International Airport. This is the busiest airport in Ecuador. The drive from Quito airport to the centro historico is approximately 1 hour. There are direct flights from Bogota, Lima, Panama, Spain and the USA. It is possible to take a bus (several buses) from Colombia to Ecuador, but don’t expect that to be a comfortable ride. 

Drive from Quito Airport to Centro
Drive from Quito Airport to Centro

 

IS QUITO SAFE?

There are thieving motherf*ckers in Quito. Violent crime isn’t too common, but express kidnappings, armed robberies, slash-and-grab, credit card fraud and pickpocketing is; Ecuador may have some of the best pickpockets on the continent. At very least, it’s safer than Guayaquil.

 

QUITO, ECUADOR: FINAL THOUGHTS

Meh. Didn’t do much for me. It didn’t feel particularly safe at night and aside from the Old Town it was quite ugly. It used to be cheap but not so much anymore. You’ll spend $40 a day minimum. For lower prices and a more relaxed experience, head over to Cuenca.

Quito – and Ecuador in general – is quite a tough sell when you have Colombia next door, the latter which boasts lower prices, better infrastructure, and better looking people. One upside of Ecuador is there will be much less gringos and tourists than overrun Colombia. Quito is a little more challenging than Bogota, but not overly so. Quito is a similar looking city to Bogota, and most of my readers would be happier in Bogota.


OVERALL RATING: 5/10 


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