Ecuador’s long running tourism campaign, All You Need Is Ecuador, is fitting for the country. You’d think the Galapagos, Andes mountains, Amazon rainforest and coastal beaches would be in several countries, but Ecuador has it all. Its capital city, Quito, at over 9,000 feet is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here’s what Bethany Looi recommends if you have only 24 hours.
Time to start the day in Quito! Wake up at Casa Gangotena, formerly a residence to the influential Gangotena family and now one of the most luxurious hotels in Ecuador. You’re waking up in a central location at the corner of Plaza San Francisco and neighbors to the historic San Francisco Church, dating back to the 1500s.
Breakfast at Cedrón Restaurant. Head down to the ground floor of Casa Gangotena’s bright and airy restaurant for either an a la carte or buffet breakfast.
Join a comprehensive history and culture immersion tour with Metropolitan Touring called Live Quito Like a Local. Walk on cobblestone streets and admire colorful buildings in the historic center of Quito with your guide. Highlights during the tour include a visit to San Francisco Market to see how locals shop for groceries and stopping to ask questions and chat with local hat makers and shopkeepers.
Continue on to Plaza de la Independencia, Quito’s main square – a place where locals gather. Don’t miss taking a picture in front of the Presidential Palace, where the president works. If you’re there on a Monday, you can observe the changing of the guard ceremony with the locals. Patriotic Ecuadorians enjoy singing their national anthem and waving to the President who usually stand with his cabinet members on the balcony of the Presidential Palace.
Time for lunch! Walk back to Casa Gangotena for lunch at Cedrón Restaurant. Everything on the menu emphasizes local and fresh ingredients. Don’t miss tasting llama spring rolls!
For the last leg of living like a local, head over to La Compañía de Jesús church to learn about Jesuit history in Quito and see the church’s beautiful interior where the entire inside is covered in gold leaf. Right after, learn about pre-Columbian history in Quito by visiting Casa del Alabado, a pre-Columbian art museum.
It’s been a long day of walking and exploring the city. Relax by the windows overlooking the gardens or at the lobby of Casa Gangotena for afternoon tea. Though afternoon tea isn’t a common occurrence in Ecuador, Casa Gangotena takes this tradition and gives it a little twist. Try pastries with local fruits like uvilla and savories like mini chicken empanadas. Also, take this time to head up to the terrace to get a view of evening activity at Plaza San Francisco and sunset.
For dinner, nightlife and souvenirs, head to La Ronda. This is said to be the oldest street in Quito. There are lots of little shops to buy souvenirs including chocolate shop, Chez Tiff Artesanal, where you can see chocolate being made by hand. For dinner, choose from any of the restaurants along the street for local cuisine. After dinner and when it’s dark, take taxi back to Casa Gangotena.
Call it a day or head down to Casa Gangotena’s bar for a drink, including a naturally pink, non-alcoholic agua de frescos made with seven different plants. Enjoy the refreshing drink while reviewing the day spent in Quito.
Bolivar Oe6-41 y Cuenca,
(+593 2) 400 8000
Av. De las Palmeras N45-74 y De las Orquídeas,
(+593 2) 298 8312
Casa del Alabado
Cuenca N1-41 y Bolivar
(+593 2) 228 0940
Chez Tiff Artesanal
Calle de la Ronda y Venezuela
Want more travel? The original article first appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.
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