Quito caught me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting much from this capital city but it definitely has a lot to offer. It’s got plenty of historical places to visit along with quality museums, nice parks, and a wide variety of food.
We arrived in Quito on a bus. There are two bus terminals. Terminal Carcelén is in the north of the city and goes to all points north, such as Otavalo, Ibarra, and Tulcán near the Colombian border. The larger Terminal Quitumbe is in the south of the city and serves all points south, such as Cuenca and Guayaquil.
If flying into Quito, you will use Mariscal Sucre International Airport. It lies 18km from the city and has service to and from several destinations in South America and the US.
To get around in Quito, the bus system is wonderful and cheap. For just US$0.25, you can take a ride on the Metrobus, Trolebús, or Ecovía. They all run north-south in dedicated lanes. You pay to ride at each station.
Taxis are also plentiful and cheap, but beware – many will cheat you. Taxis are required by law to run their meters. We were even pulled over by the police in a taxi that wasn’t using its meter and the driver was given a huge fine. Out of about 20 taxi rides we took over four days, however, only one honored our request to use the meter. Others said it was broken or they aren’t supposed to use the meter in the direction we were traveling. In any case, you should also ask the rate before getting into the taxi. One driver may charge US$3 when another will charge just US$2.
At night, I recommend using a taxi even if going just a few blocks. There are some areas that are completely silent after dark and our hotel said it was not safe to walk through them, especially in the old town.
We stayed at Hostal La Rosario, in between the historic and modern cities. The location was ideal for exploring the entire city, staff was wonderful, rooms were big and clean, and the price was a bargain at just US$25 a night. Breakfast was not included but there were several small places nearby with complete breakfasts for about US$3-4.