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Quito and the Highlands

picturesque rural highlands and characterful colonial cities

Ecuador’s highlands are dotted with characterful colonial cities, including Quito. The first city ever to gain World Cultural Heritage status, Ecuador’s capital delights with its elegant plazas, colonial facades and winding narrow streets. Most of Quito’s historic charm lies in its atmospheric Old Town which has been beautifully preserved.

The rural highlands of Ecuador are extremely picturesque, ranging from snow-topped peaks to verdant valleys scattered with lakes and meandering rivers. Lying in a scenic valley high up in the Andes, the old Inca capital of Quito has a vibrant atmosphere and is filled with craft markets, cosmopolitan galleries and architectural wonders.

Enjoy a walking tour of the old quarter where you will find numerous churches, spacious plazas and ancient monasteries. The San Domingo and San Francisco monasteries are particularly impressive, each boasting spectacularly ornate interiors. You can spend many hours soaking up the rich colonial architecture, stopping every now and then for a rest at one of the colourful terrace cafes.

If you’ve ever wanted to stand at the centre of the earth, you have the opportunity to do so at the Mitad del Mundo just outside of Quito. This monument marks the location of the equator, so take the chance to stand with one foot on each hemisphere.

Jump on board the Teleferico sky tram up 4,000 metres to Cruz Loma for an excellent view over Quito’s mountainous landscape. You can stop there, but those more active may want to hike an extra 3 hours to reach the summit of Rucu Pinchincha.

Ask one of our Ecuador experts for a personalised, luxury itinerary and find out what makes Quito tick.

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Recommended hotels Quito and the Highlands

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Mashpi Lodge, Cloud Forest Quito and the Highlands

Step outside the cocoon of luxury that is Mashpi Lodge and the cloud forest you have been observing through the massive picture windows suddenly becomes a living, entrancing, multi-dimensional reality. Giant, primitive ferns tower above …

Hacienda Zuleta, Northern Sierras Quito and the Highlands

Zuleta is an astonishingly beautiful, working farm stretching from horizon to horizon. It comprises 4000 acres of scenic countryside, at the heart of which is an outstanding hacienda dating back to the 16th century.

Hacienda San Augustin de Callo, Cotopaxi Quito and the Highlands

Stand in the main courtyard of the Hacienda San Augustin de Callo and you’ll be engulfed in the history of Ecuador. Beside you will be a 15th century, Imperial Inca wall. The …

Swissotel Quito Quito and the Highlands

No less than five restaurants without having to travel outside your hotel. A choice of indoor and outdoor pools, one of them spanned by a waterfall bridge. An ultra-modern lounge with wall-to-wall windows giving massive …

Patio Andaluz, Quito Quito and the Highlands

Your horse drawn carriage clip clops you through the narrow streets of old Quito, past illuminated colonial facades and through elegant plazas. It is a beautiful warm evening and the whole town seems to be …

La Casona de la Ronda, Quito Quito and the Highlands

As you admire a huge vertical garden – a great wall covered in over 150 orchids and other indigenous flowers of Ecuador - you think to yourself; ‘only in La Casona de la Ronda’. And you would …

Casa Gangotena, Quito Quito and the Highlands

Even the cuisine at Casa Gangotena is revered, having won the country’s much prized ‘Rosa de Oro’ award for its regional specialities and international dishes. Trip Advisor has rated the hotel itself ‘amongst the …

Carlota, Quito Quito and the Highlands

In the heart of Quito’s UNESCO listed old-town, guests at Carlota can experience the impressive churches and plazas of the Ecuadorian capital, from a fashionable and homely base at Carlota.

There are …


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