With Colombia to the north and Peru to the south, it's easy to see why Ecuador can sometimes go overlooked in people's South America travel plans. However, despite its small size, Ecuador has plenty to offer anyone looking for a unique travel opportunity, and that is especially true when it comes to the capital city of Quito. Home to about 2.2 million people, Quito offers a wide variety of one-of-a-kind experiences, whether you want to tour its historic destinations or take in the spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Although you won't be disappointed regardless of your itinerary, there are a few spots in particular that simply can't be missed.
The most famous region of Quito is undoubtedly its Historic Center, which stands as one of the best preserved relics of the colonial era in South America. Despite being a thriving hub of activity, much of it remains largely unaltered since its earliest days, which helps create one of the most unusual juxtapositions of modern life and historical appeal in the world. There are scores of houses which date back hundreds of years, but perhaps most impressive are the monuments, palaces and other buildings that are emblematic of the intriguing history of Quito.
There are many churches throughout the Historic Center, but you should be sure to pay a visit to the The Church of the Society of Jesus, which is more commonly referred to as La Compañía. Construction began on this stunning building in the early 1600s and it took more than 100 years to complete. The craftsmanship on its exterior attracts a lot of attention, but the gold leaf interior will leave a lasting impression.
See the sights from above
Quito is located more than 9,350 feet above sea level, making it the second-highest capital in the world, so it should come as no surprise that it also has some spectacular natural sights. While you can choose to admire them from the ground, a better option is to go for a ride on TelefériQo - the city's cable car service. The gondola's rise to heights of more than 12,000 feet and take you up the side of the picturesque Pichincha Volcano. The panoramic view of the city you'll see along the way is without equal.