Quito’s size and the number of people who live here hide a vast culture that simmers below the surface-one that has been shaped by the Spanish, the Inca, and people from all over the country. It’s a mecca that seems a bit rough around the edges but has a lot to offer for those who are looking for a genuine glimpse of the nation’s capital. Keep reading for four things to try in Quito that set aside the hustle and bustle of the city and show its astounding depth.
Guapulo is a small neighborhood set on a hill overlooking the valley outside of Quito. It has a handful of restaurants and bars that offer hot canalazo drinks-made with strong Ecuadorian spirits, juices, and cinnamon. What makes the neighborhood stand out are the views over the church below and the twinkling lights of the valley in the distance. Its streets fill up with people from all over the city on the weekend-a- a good mix of Ecuadorians, local expats, travelers, writers, and teachers.
“As I was walking along I met two large tortoises, each of which must have weighed at least 200 pounds: one was eating a piece of cactus, and as I approached, it stared at me and slowly walked away; the other gave a deep hiss and drew in its head.”Sept. 17th, 1835
Santa Clara Market is one of the open markets that people visit from all around Quito. Set close to the New Town, there are stacks of vegetables, fruit, flowers, amid large sacks of flour and rice. There are also stalls selling fish from the coast, meat, chicken, and traditional Ecuadorian lunches.
While not something people think about as one of the things to try in Quito-the Santa Clara Market is an eye-opening spectacle with exotic fruits and a healthy sampling of some of the 4,000 varieties of native potatoes grow in the Andean highlands.
Quito’s Teleferico is built on one of the sides of the city’s valley-taking travelers high up to a view that stretches for miles in every direction. Most who visit the city stay in the accommodations close to the new town and visit the tourist sites of the historic center without realizing the immense size of the city. As the gondolas ascend to the top-the specter of the city comes into perspective-as do the neighboring volcanoes to the north and south of the city.
There are football stadiums, bull rings, towering churches, and big parks spread throughout the city, which act as landmarks when trying to find different areas of Quito from above the clouds.
Any list about genuine places to try in Quito has to include La Ronda, one of the city’s authentic cultural attractions that don’t skimp on the fun.
Located off of the Santa Domingo Plaza at the southern edge of the historic center, the pedestrian street’s shops, crafts, food, and vendors are havens for travelers and locals who savor low-key nights filled with laughter, music, and art.
The neighborhood has been home to poets, freedom fighters, artists, musicians, and writers for centuries and still inspires the current art and culture scene every weekend.