Travelers worldwide are drawn to Quito for its spectacular mountain setting, its colonial historical center, near-by adventure travel opportunities, international cuisine, and the gentle, generous Quiteño culture. The city is known for being home to some of the best Spanish schools in South America; there is a great backpacker community; and, the area offers plenty of activities to help you escape from the typical tourist crowds. Don’t miss out on socializing with the locals: Quiteños tend to be relaxed, friendly and eager to make friends.
Planning a trip from Quito to other parts of Ecuador, or to neighboring South American countries, is also fairly easy. Most Quito hotels, travel agencies and tour operators can be found in the neighborhood of La Mariscal and are within a five block radius of each other. Transportation by land and air is also plentiful and generally inexpensive (depending on the time of year).
This rapidly growing capital city has a past that stretches back to before the Incas made Quito the second capital of their empire. It appears that only the mountains that cradle the city remain unchanged. The historic Old Town features colonial architecture which the Spanish constructed over the charred remains of the Inca city. Just north of Old Town, towering concrete and glass structures show off the modern structures of the business and tourist center of the city.
Divided into different neighborhoods (sectores), most tourists spend their time in La Mariscal or the area north of Parque el Ejido and south of Avenida Orellana. The Centro Histórico hosts a diverse and rich colonial history with some beautiful plazas, churches, museums and pedestrian walkways. Other noteworthy neighborhoods include Guápulo, La Floresta and the Northern part of Quito. The capital itself was originally contained within the limits of what is now called the Centro Histórico. Today it is about 50 kilometers long from north to south (30 miles) and on average 8 kilometers (about five miles) wide east to west, hosting a population of just over two million.