Quito and The Highlands: an Overview

Surrounded by the Andes, Quito has a dramatic setting and is overlooked by the Virgin of Quito, a statue atop the Panecillo hill above the Old Town. The city has been transformed in recent years as there has been restoration of old mansions and streets, installations of dramatic lighting and increased security and cleanliness. The colonial heart of the city is the old town where there are fun markets and horse and trap rides to take you round the sites.

Will, Hero and Ysobel are here to help give you the inside track.

Why we think you’ll love it

  • Quito is the second highest capital city in the world (pop quiz - name the first?) and was the first city to be named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO
  • The city also boasts one of the largest and best preserved historical quarters in all of the Americas

Quito and The Highlands: The Detail

Ecuador is one of the most rural countries in South America, and this is very evident in its Highlands region, where the pace of life is slow, the way of life simple, and the scenery beautiful. The two Andean mountain ranges that run parallel and cross Ecuador from north to south create everything from volcanoes and snow capped mountains to green valleys, lakes and rivers.

Dotted about this landscape are impressive colonial cities like Quito (which is second highest capital city in the world and was the first city to be named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO) and Cuenca, quaint Indian villages and markets, farmlands and traditional haciendas, many of which are boutique hotels, making a lovely trip out from the city.

As well as this 16 miles north of Quito, the Equatorial Monument 'Mitad del Mundo' marks the exact Middle of the World, latitude 0º, where you can stand with one foot in each hemisphere. This makes for a memorable holiday destination.


Expand

Original Highlight

To really appreciate the colonial heritage of Ecuador, you have to travel up into its highlands for a night or two and stay in a hacienda. For horse lovers, a great way to explore the undulating countryside is to ride from one hacienda to another along the cobbled roads laid by the Incas.

Hero, Original Traveller

Weather in January January February March April May June July August September October November December
  • Average Temp. — 13°C / 55°F
  • Rainfall — 12cm / 4.8 inches
Flight from London

11:15 hrs

Time Difference

GMT -5 hrs


Top picks for Quito and The Highlands

Hacienda San Agustin de Callo

Hacienda San Agustin de Callo

Quito and The Highlands

Just over an hour from the capital Quito, the Hacienda San Agustin de Callo is built on one of the two most significant Inca sites in Ecuador.

Where to stay

Casa Aliso

Casa Aliso

Quito and The Highlands

This delightful little property offers all of the style and comfort of a small luxurious home, with warm and tasteful interiors.

Where to stay

Hacienda Piman

Hacienda Piman

Quito and The Highlands

Hacienda Piman is a historic property in the dry mountains of Imbabura Province in the northern Ecuadorian Andes, an hour from Zuleta. The original buildings may date from the 1600s but the owners offer a really fresh (and refreshing) take on staying in a luxury hacienda in Ecuador.

Where to stay

 Casa Gangotena

Casa Gangotena

Quito and The Highlands

Located on Plaza San Francisco, a cobbled square with a history stretching back to Inca days, Casa Gangotena is the perfect base from which to explore Quito.

Where to stay

Climbing Cotopaxi

Climbing Cotopaxi

Quito and The Highlands

Get to the top as the sun rises, and you can see the peaks of the surrounding volcanoes glisten red and yellow and miles of glacier spread below with the twinkling lights of Quito visible in the distance. Well worth the climb.

What to do

Hacienda Cusin

Hacienda Cusin

Quito and The Highlands

Situated within a wide scenic valley just south of the snow-capped Imbabura mountain lies Hacienda Cusin, a restored 17th century estate.

Where to stay

Mashpi Lodge

Mashpi Lodge

Quito and The Highlands

Just two and a half hours west of Quito in the biodiverse hot spot of Tumbez-Choco-Magdalena, the new Mashpi Lodge is the ideal staging post for anyone wanting to explore the Andean Cloudforest.

Where to stay

Hacienda Pinsaqui

Hacienda Pinsaqui

Quito and The Highlands

Hacienda Pinsaqui is a colonial property that has belonged to the Freile family since 1888 and is one of Ecuador’s oldest and most historic haciendas.

Where to stay

 Hacienda Zuleta

Hacienda Zuleta

Quito and The Highlands

Zuleta is a 4,000 acre colonial working farm that has belonged to the family of a former Ecuadorian president for more than 100 years.

Where to stay

Patio Andaluz

Patio Andaluz

Quito and The Highlands

Located in the heart of the historic centre of Quito, this small and charming colonial-style hotel is surrounded by churches, museums and national monuments.

Where to stay

Riding Safaris in the Highlands

Riding Safaris in the Highlands

Quito and The Highlands

One of the best ways to explore the Ecuadorian Highlands, north of Quito, is on horseback, riding between historic Haciendas and working farms through spectacular scenery and beneath the snow-capped Andes.

What to do

Plaza Grande

Plaza Grande

Quito and The Highlands

This legendary building was originally the home of Juan Díaz de Hidalgo, one of the Spanish conquerors who founded Quito in the early 16th century.

Where to stay

It was a great holiday and went like clockwork from an operational standpoint, it always does with OT

Nicholas

Start creating your tailored trip today

Tell us what you want

Our thoughtful experts are ready with ideas, inspiration and advice for your next journey.

Build a tailored itinerary

Working with you we’ll craft an unforgettable trip and tailored itinerary.

We've got you covered

We're here to help with everything while you're away from the smallest to the biggest request.

Our enthusiastic experts are seasoned travellers with the inside track on the most memorable adventures.

Call us on +44 (0) 20 7978 7333

Or enquire online

Newsletter Sign-Up

Get the latest travel advice, information and inspiration in our weekly newsletter.

Brochure Sign-Up

Our beautiful, free brochure is packed with insider information and incredible travel ideas from every corner of the planet.
Get the brochure

About Us

We are a creative luxury travel company who take a thoughtful approach to creating tailor-made holidays that perfectly fulfil your needs. Read our story

Why Us

Our meticulous planning, in-depth knowledge, honest advice, award-winning service and financial protection all ensure that you will enjoy the most memorable holiday experience. Why us

Contact Us

Talk to our team of thoughtful experts about your travel needs:
Call: +44 (0) 20 7978 7333 Email: ask@originaltravel.co.uk Contact us online

Press

For all press enquiries, please contact our marketing team:
Call: +44 (0)20 7978 0205 Email: press@originaltravel.co.uk Contact us online

Close