5 Cultural Ways to Tour Quito

Earlier this month I traveled to Quito for a foodie-themed trip and while the cuisine was pretty delicious, I discovered that there is a lot more to this special city than the food on my plate. From well-preserved, colonial architecture and vibrant roses of every color of the rainbow to aboriginal dance performances and gritty street art, here are 5 alternative ways to tour Quito.

1) Architecture

Like a few other cities I’ve visited in South America, the architecture in Quito greatly varies between the Old Town and the more modern parts of the city. Not surprisingly, some of the best examples of traditional colonial architecture are found in the historic Old Town and the Calle La Ronda neighborhood (also great for buying handcrafts!) If you’re really interested in colonial architecture, make sure to pay a visit to the National Museum of Colonial Art and the Guayasamin Museum, which is dedicated to artist Oswaldo Guayasamin.

Since the historical center is one of the largest and most well-preserved historic centers in Latin America, it really does feel like you’ve traveled back in time. Plus, Quito has earned UNESCO World Heritage status, with top attractions including the monasteries of San Francisco and Santo Domingo, not to mention a series of rectangular squares open to the public. As for the houses in the Old Town, many of them showcase old Spanish or Moorish architectural styles.

Cultural Travel Guide to Quito

2) Food

I felt like I was eating throughout my entire trip to Quito and in all honesty, that’s a pretty fair estimate. In fact, I don’t think I was hungry at any point during my four day visit so you can imagine how difficult it was leaving the city and heading back on the plane. Ecuador’s geographical location plays a large role in the city’s culinary culture. Surrounded by both the Andes Mountains and the lush rainforest creates a diverse ecosystem that in turn, becomes a perfect environment to grow and raise produce.

Another interesting facet of Quito’s cuisine is the blend of traditional herbs and spices with innovative trends and techniques. In terms of restaurants, I recommend splurging on a few upscale spots like modern Zazu or the chic Plaza Grande restaurant located within the hotel and then hitting up a few of the local food markets. You’ll find everything from regular grocery items to full-on entrees of ceviche, locro and other Ecuadorian comfort foods packed with flavor. There are even little stools there where customers can have a mini meal on-the-go.

5 Cultural Ways to Tour Quito

3) Dance

One of the most enjoyable activities during my time in Quito was getting to see not one but two impromptu dance performances. The first one took place in the Old Town, near our cozy boutique hotel, La Casona de la Ronda. I believe it was a Saturday and after asking a few locals, I learned that this happens most nights…or at least, most weekend nights. The men and woman performed a set of three dances and the starlit sky and full moon served as the perfect backdrop. Plus, it gave me a chance to practice my Spanish with the performers.

On my last day, I took a day-long excursion on an old train that made several stops. When we stopped in Machachi we were greeted with a group of young girls and boys who performed for about fifteen minutes. During their last song, I was invited to join in the dance! Many times when I travel I feel like I’m merely an observer but in this very moment I felt like I was right in the heart of the action; like there was no division between local and tourist. Dancing has always been a passion of mine and I’m so happy that I had the chance to learn some new steps.

indigenous dances in Ecuador

4) Art

Quito is home to a number of renowned contemporary art galleries and there are also plenty of street art and artists to fill in the gaps. In addition to the Guayasamin Museum mentioned above, other equally impressive museums include MarsuArte and The Quito Contemporary Art Center. I recommend visiting at least one museum if you can squeeze it in because from my experience, it helps one get their bearings on a new destination while also shedding insight into the traditions that make each destination unique. In the case of Quito, I enjoyed viewing work from some of the most well-known Ecuadorian artists.

In terms of street art, there is plenty of it and on most occasions, I found murals without seeking them out. After a bit of research post-trip, I learned that the Guapulo neighborhood near Bosque Protegido Lumbini park is a prime spot for spotting new work. There are also a lot of pieces in North Quito. Just a note about Quito’s layout—the city is built mostly from north to south rather than east to west, which is largely due to the surrounding terrain. If you take a look at Quito on the map you’ll see that it’s a very thinly laid out city.

street art in Quito

5) Roses

If you’ve ever been given a dozen roses from Ecuador, you know what I’m talking about. I didn’t get a chance to visit any of the rose farms but I did stop by an impromptu rose exhibit set up in one of the main squares. I was blown away by all the colors, the rich scents and the softness of the pedals. Some artists even came in and created a Hummingbird made completely out of roses. Oh, and the prices are really good here. That’s to be expected I’m sure, especially since they are local, but I so wish they were more accessible in the US.

If you do plan on stopping by a farm while in town, Nevado Roses is a good option. They are a family-owned and operated company that has been in the industry since 1965. Besides producing some very exclusive rose varieties like the Red Intuition, the Pink Intuition and Gigi, they pay close attention to the environment and are FairTrade and Organic certified (I found that most local companies in Ecuador are very eco-friendly and conscious of the environment). Esmeralda Farms is another popular rose farm and also located close to Quito’s city center.

rose farms in Ecuador

Have you visited Quito before? If so, what was your favorite thing about it? Tell me in the comments below!

This trip was hosted by Quito Tourism and Tartan Group. All opinions are my own. 

Like me on Facebook and Tweet me: @BohemianTrails

Sign up for my free monthly BOHO BLAST!

Hi! I’m Megan,

a Scorpio sun and Libra moon who left her job in the music industry to travel and write full-time. Since then, i´ve explored more than 60 countries in the hopes that you will, too.

The world is made of magic and so are you!

RECENT POSTS

top reasons to visit Kerala in 2020

Here’s Why I Want to Visit Kerala (and you should, too)!

Every so often, I write about a destination I haven’t been to. As much as I love recounting trips and sharing my experiences here on Bohemian Trails, I also love to dream; dream about people and places I’ve never crossed paths with. That’s the traveler in me, the explorer that believes in the magic of

Read More »

My Favorite Caribbean Islands to Escape to This Winter

Winter is in full swing, which means that there’s still time to plan that weekend getaway. An east-coaster from birth and having lived in New York for seven years, the Caribbean remains my go-to winter destination. In many cases, you’ll find direct flights (or nearly direct) and within a few hours, you are on a

Read More »

Reflections on the Lake: Join us in Guatemala this New Years!

Pack your bags, notepads and Yoga mats. We’re going to Guatemala! I am thrilled to announce that I’ll be co-leading another writing + wellness + wanderlust retreat over New Years! Mark your calendars for December 29-January 3. My co-leader, Heather Suzanne, is not only one of my favorite Yoga teachers I’ve had the pleasure of

Read More »

Want to Work Remote? These 5 Degrees Will Help

Back when I was starting college, I had very different ideas of what my life would become. For years, I planned on being a child psychologist and was pretty content with that. Then something happened; I studied abroad, landed a job in the fashion industry and everything changed. I started to realize that I wanted

Read More »

5 Must-Know Travel Tips for your First Solo Trip Abroad

Traveling solo as a woman is honestly one of the best travel experiences you will ever have. No pressure, right?! I’m an introvert, so taking a solo trip to a familiar destination, or even a new one, is something that suits my travel style. That said, you want to ensure your safety just like you do

Read More »

Instagram

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. More information

Use of cookies

This website is using cookies for improving your experience as a user. If you keep on navigating you are giving your consent to the use of these cookies and our cookies policy. Click on the COOKIES POLICY, the link for more information. You can also check our PRIVACY POLICY.

Close