48 Hours in… Quito
Isabelle Mazille, Journey Latin America's Product Manager for the Andean regions shares her top tips on how best to spend 48 hours in Quito.
Explore the colonial centre
Begin with a walking tour of the colonial centre, including the Plaza de la Independencia, bordered by the Cathedral and the Archbishop and Government Palaces. Just a block to the west is the 17th century church of La Compañia de Jesus, an Aladdin's cave of intricately carved gold so ornate it all but overwhelms the senses, and a few paces onwards again you'll find one of the first great religious buildings in the New World, the 16th century plaza and monastery of San Francisco.
Don't miss a peek into the Casa Del Alabado (just off Plaza San Francisco), home to a great new museum of pre-Columbian art.
Explore the San Francisco market, one of the oldest in the capital. From the market walk downhill to the emblematic street of La Ronda, considered one of the flagship regeneration projects in the city.
Next, wander northeast to the Basilica del Voto Nacional, most famous for its very quirky gargoyles.
To end your sightseeing tour with some amazing views, jump in a taxi and wind your way up to the Virgin of Quito, which enjoys a wonderful vantage point overlooking the cobbled streets and tiled roofs of the historic centre.
If you're there mid-week, you may be able to catch the weekly multicultural dance showcase at the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana, performed by the Ballet Folclórico Nacional Jacchigua each Wednesday.
Centre of the World
Quito's big geographic claim to fame is its proximity to the Equator, so while in the area a visit to the 'Middle of the World', is a must. The monument lies a about a 25 minute drive. Admittedly, it is the photograph that every tourist will take home with them from Quito, but there is something strangely thrilling about standing with one foot in the southern hemisphere and the other in the northern hemisphere.
Food and Drink
Dine in the popular Theatrum, a great restaurant in the refined surroundings of a former theatre. The restaurant overlooks the main square in the heart of the colonial centre.
Visit the fantastic Rumiloma, which is located at the foot of Pichincha, an active volcano! It's a 15-minute drive from the centre, passing through areas not usually seen by tourists. Getting to the restaurant is all part of the experience, with very steep, unpaved roads to negotiate for the last two kilometres, and then just when you think the surprises are over you'll discover a cuisine you would have never imagined to find in Ecuador. I recommend the degustation menu, although any of the gourmet options on offer is bound to be a treat.
Make sure you try a warming canelazo drink and look out for the traditional soup called 'locros de guallabamba' in a traditional café and soak up Quito's blend of indigenous and Spanish influences.
From 14 May, Air France will offer 3 flights a week to Quito's international airport via Paris. Flying to most major cities in Latin America, Air France is one of our preferred partners.
See the map below for their comprehensive flight network
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