3 Days in Quito Itinerary

9 min read

Destguides may receive commissions from purchases made through affiliate links in this article.

A lagoon with greenery-covered hills around it under a blue sky with clouds
Quito in Ecuador has many attractions like Lake Quilotoa

If you only have a short time to spend exploring Quito, then 3 days in Quito will be plenty. Of course, if you have a little less time, you can skip a place or two, but use this Quito itinerary to find out how to make the most of your time here.

When I was on my way to Quito, I had no idea what to expect. It was the capital of Ecuador - that's all I knew. I ended up getting a job teaching English for a government-run program, so I spent a reasonable amount of time in Quito, exploring everything it had to offer. The truth is, I would have lived here for longer if I hadn't faced visa issues in Ecuador.

Quito has a lot to offer, be it architecture, nightlife, a food scene, and several museums, Quito has got them. I mean, there is a reason why it was designated as the first UNESCO World Heritage city in 1978 after all, along with Krakow, Poland. According to UNESCO, Quito's historic center is the best preserved in all of Latin America. The architecture is a mix of Spanish, Italian, Flemish, and indigenous influences.

Many travelers use Quito as a central point for their Andes adventure, or as a stop on the way to the Galapagos Islands. They often spend a night and catch a bus or flight to somewhere else the next day.

Heading to Quito and planning last-minute?

To make the most of your visit to Quito, we recommend you book accommodations and experiences soon. Here are some top choices to make your trip enjoyable.

🏨 Top accommodations in Quito

☂️ Top tours and experiences in Quito

3 Day Quito Itinerary

Quito 3-Day Itinerary Video

Check out our highlights video of the stops covered in this Quito itinerary.

Quito 3-Day Itinerary Map

A map of Quito. Use the map to explore all the days and stops.

Quito 3-Day Itinerary Map

Show Interactive Map

The Historic Center, Plazas, Churches, a Garden & La Ronda Neighborhood

An urban setting with many buildings, cars, and trees under a blue sky with clouds
There's a lot to do on your first day in Quito City

Quito is the second-highest capital city in the world, located in a high mountain valley on the foothills of the Pichincha volcano, in the Andes mountains. On your first day, you will be exploring some of the best of what Ecuador's capital has to offer.

You will see historic churches and buildings, plazas and a botanical garden. The day will end in the lively La Ronda neighbourhood with street music and a tasty dinner.

A white and brown church in a square under a clear blue sky
The Convent of San Francisco in Quito is the oldest monastery in South America

Start with a Free Walking Tour to See Colonial Quito

Begin your day with a free walking tour. A free walking tour is the best way to familiarize yourself with a new city. That's the reason why I recommend doing this first before anything else.

Of course, you can go to all the places that a tour covers by yourself. However, a walking tour allows you to discover things from a local's perspective.

Many tours run twice a day - once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Usually, the tours begin from meeting spots close to La Mariscal near Plaza Foch and the Old Town.

The tour I took was from Free Walking Tour Ecuador. It starts at 10.20 am from Community Hostel in Quito. On this tour, a local guide will take you around Quito's beautiful and historic colonial centre.

The guide will tell you all about the history of the city and what makes it unique. The guides usually speak fluent English, so feel free to ask them anything, or you might choose to practice your Spanish with them as I did. Make sure to bring along some cash to tip the guide! While the tours are free, the guides do work for tips.

During the walking tour, you will see the following:

🏨 Accommodations in close proximity to Community Hostel

Jardin Botanico de Quito is a beautiful place to go for a walk

Jardín Botanico de Quito

If you love getting to know the local flora and fauna, then Quito's Botanical Garden is a must. It has a massive collection of South American plants, orchid greenhouses, and bonsai trees. And, it's small enough to explore at a leisurely pace in two to three hours.

🏨 Places to stay close to Quito Botanical Gardens

A basilica with stone carvings and towering spires under the blue sky and clouds
The Basilica del Voto Nacional is a famous church in Ecuador

Basílica del Voto Nacional

The Basílica del Voto Nacional is the largest neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas. It's probably the most famous church in Ecuador. So if you are in Quito, don't miss a chance to visit it! And, for a small entrance fee, you can climb to the top of the tower for breathtaking views over the Old Town.

🏨 Stay near the Basílica del Voto Nacional

☂️ Visit the Basílica del Voto Nacional on a tour

La Ronda Neighborhood

Although you would have already seen a bit of La Ronda during the walking tour, you must see it again at night. At night, it comes to life with live music and street entertainment. There are many bars and restaurants sprinkled all around, from budget options to fine dining.

It also has old colonial-style houses, floral balconies, lantern-lit streets, and colourful banners everywhere. And on top of that, they don't allow motorized vehicles on the road. La Ronda is a refreshing sight to see, especially after a long day of sightseeing.

🏨 Places to stay close to Calle de la Ronda

☂️ Explore Calle de la Ronda with a tour

The Middle of the World City, a Museum, an Artisanal Market, and Plaza Foch

A monument with a globe on top surrounded by greenery under a partly cloudy sky
Middle of the World City is a site where the line of Earth's equator passes through

On the second day of your trip, I recommend you visit the Middle of the World City, a beautiful museum, and an artisanal market. You will be taking the public bus in Ecuador and learning about what makes Quito so interesting. Finish off the day with some relaxation and fun in the vibrant Plaza Foch area.

A man holding a yellow and red signage with other few men in the background
You can explore equatorial magnetism at Intiñan Museum

Middle of the World City

Did you know that Ecuador means equator in English? The equatorial line passes through Quito and is where a monument and museum is available for you to explore and set foot in both hemispheres at once.

So a trip to Quito is not complete without visiting the Middle of the World Monument. The place is like a theme park, boasting a planetarium, a miniature model of Quito, handcraft stores, and cafes and restaurants serving local food.

At Mitad del Mundo, you can jump from one hemisphere to another, check whether you have lost a kilo or two (as incredible as it may sound), and get a cleansing ritual from Shaman Taita Carlos.

Inside the Intiñan Museum, you can perform some fun experiments to witness the magnetic forces of the equator, and learn more about Ecuadorian history.

The Middle of the World City is open every day year-round, from the morning to the evening. It takes only 30 minutes to reach here from the historical centre of Quito. The easier and faster way to get here though is by taking a taxi from downtown, but it will end up costing you more.

The cheaper way is to take a MetroBus (South to North direction) towards La Ofelia station. Once you arrive at La Ofelia, buy a ticket for the next bus to Mitad del Mundo. The buses typically have a yellow sign and can take an hour or so to get to your destination.

If you'd like to learn more about the area and see some other landmarks, you could take a Middle of the World guided tour.

The topmost facade of a bank with details and sculptures, under the clear blue sky
Including Museo del Banco Central in your 3 days in Quito itinerary is a great idea

Museo Numismático - Banco Central del Ecuador

If museums are your thing, then you'll love Museo del Banco Central. It has a fantastic ceramic collection dating back thousands of years. It houses an incredible selection of pre-Columbian ceramics and gold artefacts, as well as colonial, republican, and contemporary art.

🏨 Stay in close proximity to Museo Numismático - Bco Central del Ecuador

Panga Media/Shutterstock.com
An entrance arch with brown bricks and steel fencing toward a market
Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal is a treasure trove of affordable souvenirs in Quito

Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal

No matter which country I travel to, I make it a point to visit the local markets. They give you an idea of all the different products that a country has to offer, and you can always buy some cheap souvenirs.

When in Quito, I recommend you do not miss Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal. It's pretty close to several hotels and Parque El Ejido.

At the market, you can wander around and stock up on inexpensive souvenirs for family and friends. You can get anything from chocolate and alcohol to alpaca wool blankets and local striped pants, fuzzy lama toys, and jewellery.

Don't worry about not speaking Spanish; you can get by with just gestures. And since Ecuador's official currency is the US Dollar, bargaining won't be an issue.

🏨 Places to stay near La Mariscal Artisan Market

Plaza Foch in Quito has restaurants and other attractions

Plaza Foch

After exploring for the whole day, your last stop should be Plaza Foch. It's the main square of Mariscal Sucre. Plaza Foch is very close to many hostels and hotels, and a must-see in Quito to get to know the newer parts of the city (New Town).

There are several excellent restaurants here serving various types of cuisines. It has also got a vibrant bar and club scene. So have a nice dinner and drink here! Afterwards, if you still have some energy, visit one of the clubs in the area to dance the night away.

🏨 Accommodations in close proximity to Plaza Foch

Take a Trip to Lake Quilotoa

A turquoise lagoon nestled amidst a green mountainous landscape under the cloudy sky
Complete your Quito adventure by embarking on a hike to the captivating Lake Quilotoa

On your last day in Quito, I recommend you continue your journey a little farther from the town. Visiting a crater lake called Quilotoa is a great way to spend your day.

It will involve taking a public bus again. Alternatively, you can travel here by taxi. Be warned though; taxis cost a lot more! Regardless of which travel method you choose, Quilotoa is one of the most beautiful places in Ecuador - so it is worth it!

To reach the lake, you will need to take part in a moderate hike for an hour or more. So make sure you are wearing hiking boots and travelling with water and snacks.

A turquoise lagoon situated in the midst of a green mountainous landscape
Lake Quilotoa is one of Ecuador's three magnificent crater lakes

Lake Quilotoa

Lake Quilotoa is one of three crater lakes in Ecuador and is only 2.5 hours from Quito. Visiting this lake will be an experience altogether different from the city.

Over 800 feet deep, it's a gorgeous green lake that takes you to an entirely different world. The crater's elevation at over 13000 feet provides stunning panoramas of the area. You can take some beautiful photos up here!

Around the lake, you will see furry alpacas, local men clad in native ponchos, and local women with Ecuadorean coral beads. You will hear them speaking not in Spanish, but a local dialect of the Quechuan language.

The hike down to the lake is of a moderate level. It is a little slippery when you go down, but manageable. When going up, you can rent a horse or hike yourself. There are frequent buses from Quitumbe terminal in Quito to the town of Latacunga, and then from Latacunga to Quilotoa Lake. It takes around 2.5 hours.

The best time to go is early in the morning. Try to make it to Quitumbe terminal for 7 am so that you can be at the lake by 10–11 am.

When coming back, you can take a taxi from Quilotoa to Zumbahua, then a bus to Latacunga, and another one from there to Quito. There are buses from Latacunga to Quito only until 7.30 pm. Buses from Quilotoa to Latacunga leave every 30 minutes, until 4.30 pm.

🏨 Place to stay close to Quilotoa Lake


Three days in Quito are plenty to explore the city and its surroundings. Many of the sites and attractions mentioned above are tourist favourites. So they might be a little crowded if you come during the peak travel season.

That being said, this Quito Ecuador itinerary will hopefully have provided you with some guidance and travel tips if you are planning to visit Quito. Have a great time!

Give us feedback about this article

Written by Deb Pati

debpati BLOGGER Originally from India, Deb has backpacked in several countries, speaks Spanish, and loves hiking. He loves to travel slowly and explore one country at a time. He wears many hats, like teaching EFL, working in tech, and blogging.

Want to keep exploring?

Subscribe for discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

Thank you for subscribing

We will be in touch soon with discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

Want to keep exploring?

Subscribe for discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

Thank you for subscribing

We will be in touch soon with discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

Want to keep exploring?

Subscribe for discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

By entering your email address you agree to our terms and conditions, Privacy policy, and consent to receive emails.