20 BEST Quito Tours: Easiest & Safest Ways to Explore Quito

by | Feb 9, 2024 | Ecuador, Travel

Are you planning a trip to Ecuador and wondering what the best tours in Quito are?

Quito is one of the most beautiful and historic destinations in Ecuador. It is the best place in the country to explore its culture, history, and food. Just a short drive from the city, you can enjoy some of its most beautiful natural wonders

However, what’s the easiest and safest way to see all these amazing places? Of course, on a tour with a local guide!

In this article, I’m going to share with you the 20 best Quito tours. By taking these tours, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the history, culture, and food of Ecuador, experience the most beautiful volcanoes and lakes of the country, and see the best of Ecuador safely and comfortably.

So, let’s begin!


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Top 3 Picks: Best Quito Tours

#1 Top Tour Pick

fruit stand

Quito Street Food Tour

♥  6 Food Stops, 5 dishes, 4 drinks, coffee, chocolate, & lots of exotic fruit

♥ Visit the non-touristy side of Quito

#2 Top Tour Pick

a church and convent next to a square in Quito Ecuador

Cultural Walking Tour with Food

♥  Major attractions in Old Town

♥ Chocolate tasting

♥ Try popular street food

#3 Top Tour Pick

Cotopaxi Volcano and Lake Quilotoa

Tour of Cotopaxi & Quilotoa

♥ 2 sites in one day

♥ Hotel pickup & drop-off

20 Best Quito Tours

1.      Customized Quito City Tour

A street with buildings and a hill in the background

DURATION: 8 hours | RATING: 5/5 (250/258 5-star reviews) | BOOK YOUR TOUR: Viator

Got only one day in Quito? Then this tailor-made tour of all the city’s major attractions with a passionate local guide at your side is the PERFECT one for you.

The tour kicks off at a comfortable 9:00 am at the Teleférico cable car that takes you to the top of Volcano Pichincha. Here you’ll get bird’s-eye views of Quito. You can do some hiking, swing, or just take in the views.

Stop #2 is Quito’s Gothic Basilica. Climb to the top of its towers for the highest viewpoint in the city.

The passionate local guide then takes you to Old Town where you’ll take a walking tour of its many plazas, churches, museums, and colonial houses.

The tour wraps up at the equator in Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World).

You’ll also get to stop at a local market to try some fruit that is special to South America as well as attend a chocolate workshop and tasting at Yumbos.

Solo travelers don’t need to pay extra for this tour!

“This trip was worth EVERY PENNY!!! Don’t miss out on this tour. In ALL of my travels, this was best tour I’ve taken. Pato, my guide was so informative and that’s exactly what I was looking for. Fantastic tour from beginning to end.”

Renee J (Read More Reviews)

2. Cultural Walking Tour with Food

a church and convent next to a square in Quito Ecuador

TOUR TIMES: 9:00 am & 2:00 pm | RATING: 5.0/5.0 (245/254 5-star reviews) | BOOK YOUR TOUR: VIATOR or GET YOUR GUIDE

For those with more than one day, start your Quito itinerary with a guided walking tour of the historic center. With a 5-star rating and rave reviews, this walking tour is definitely one of the best tours for culture, history, and food lovers. It combines the cultural highlights of Quito with the food of Ecuador.

You’ll get to taste some sweets, chocolate, empanadas, and one of Ecuador’s famous and tasty natural fruit juices. But it is NOT a food tour. If you want a tour that’s more about food, check out the next two Quito tours on this list.

The tour starts at the Basilica. Here, you can take an elevator to the top of its towers for some of the best panoramic views of Quito.

Next, you’ll visit an art gallery displaying indigenous art before heading to the main square of Quito, Plaza Grande.

On the way to the last stop, you’ll walk down the most important street in the city passing by some of the city’s most historic buildings. You’ll stop for empanadas and Quito’s famous natural fruit juices.

The tour ends at the massive Plaza de San Francisco and Yumbos Chocolateria for a chocolate tasting.

You can choose to either do a morning tour at 9:00 am or an afternoon tour at 2:00 pm.

This is one of my favorite walking tours I’ve done in Latin America. Skip the free walking tour. I signed up for the free walking tour and my guide canceled on me twice. Luckily, I found this tour instead and it was worth the money.

“It was an amazing and must do tour! We loved every second and got so much knowledge and interesting facts about Quito and Ecuador! Ivan, our guide, was fantastic, genuine and had an answer to all our questions! We loved tasting all the different things! Being around a local guide in a foreign city was really special! Thank you so, so much!”

Ditte_M (Read More Reviews)

3. City Highlights and Food Walking Tour

Large white two-story buildings surrounding a plaza filled with trees and people

DURATION: 3.5 hours (10:00 am) | RATING: 4.9/5 | BOOK YOUR TOUR: Get Your Guide

Another tour that combines the cultural highlights of Quito with the food of Ecuador is this fabulous tour with Bondabu.

The tour does both the historic center and some off-the-beaten-path places in the city that tourists rarely visit. And it’s heavier on the food than the previous tour on this list.

The tour starts in the historic center where you’ll see some of the most important plazas and buildings and learn about the history of Quito.

Then the tour travels north and gets more off-the-beaten-path stopping at a local flea market.

Next, you’ll find yourself in local neighborhoods visiting food markets to sample some local fruit and trying some local dishes. You’ll also get to visit a cool street art spot.

The tour ends with a sample of the chocolate that Ecuador is famous for as well as a cocktail or coffee.

On this tour, you’ll do 4 food stops.

I didn’t do this exact tour, but I did another tour with the same company (Bondabu), stopping at some of the same stops. I loved the tour I did with Bondabu, so I’m sure this tour is just as good.

“We had a great time with Ernesto that proposed us a non common touristic tour by showing us the hidden face, but also the authenticity, of Quito. Street art, Street Food, architectural buildings (going from French to Arabic house style), markets used by local people. Everything authentic and nice to see for those who really want to know Quito.”

Get Your Guide Traveler (Read More Reviews)

4. Quito Street Food Tour

fruit stand

TIME: 10:00 am (4 hours) | RATING: 5.0/5.0 (127/132 5-star reviews) |BOOK YOUR TOUR: Viator or Get Your Guide

Ready for the best tour in Quito?

This food tour was the best thing I did in Quito. It’s PERFECT for those who want to get to see a less touristy part of the city as well as delve into the street food of Ecuador.

The tour starts in the historic center where you’ll guide will entertain you with interesting stories of characters from Quito’s past.

You’re first food stop is at a flea market near the Basilica! You’ll get to taste one of Ecuador’s most popular dishes, fritada.

Next, you’ll head north to off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods stopping at a very local bakery that makes a cheese pastry called a quesadilla.

Your guide will then take you further into the neighborhood of America, stopping at a local market to try tortilla de yuca and Ecuador’s famous natural fruit juices.

The next stop is at a cultural center where you’ll see some of Quito’s street art before heading to a VERY local outdoor food court for some seafood soup.

After that, the tour stops at another market where you’ll sample exotic fruit from Ecuador. This was the highlight of the tour.

The tour ends with a chance to taste Ecuador’s world-famous chocolate and a cocktail or coffee.

There are a lot of stops on this food tour, making it one of the best food tours I’ve ever done.

Still not convinced? Read my complete review of this Quito food tour here for more details on this tour.

“Superb tour, one of my favourite things I did in Ecuador and I did it my first day so it gave me a great base for understanding food/culture as I moved through the country. Santi was a wonderful guide, lots of cultural and historical info as well as food stuff. There is SO MUCH food on this tour, don’t eat breakfast before you go! I would 100% recommend this to anyone in Quito.”

Francesca (Read More Reviews)

5. Chocolate Lovers Tour

chocolate bars, chocolate pieces, cacao bean, and cacao fruit

TIME: 2:30 pm | RATING: 5/5 | BOOK YOUR TOUR HERE: Get Your Guide

No trip to Ecuador would be complete without delving into the world of chocolate.

But do you want just an “average” run-of-the-mill chocolate tour like you get in Costa Rica or Mindo?

Or do you want one that’s more special and that delves even more deeply into chocolate and the cuisine of Ecuador?  

Then you MUST book this Chocolate Lovers Tour.

You’ll begin with a You’ll of course learn all about the cacao fruit and how it turns into the chocolate we eat today.

Then you’ll have a gourmet multi-course meal of 5 to 6 dishes using cacao is a main ingredient.

“Amazing experience! Not just a “normal” chocolate tasting, it’s without compare and high quality of food and knowledge. Each dollar worth it! Go for it, if you have the chance!”

Get Your Guide Traveler (Read More Reviews)

6. Cooking Class and Market Visit

a bowl of locro de papas
Locro de papas is a dish you might make at this fabulous cooking class in Quito

TIME: 9:30 am, 11:00 am, and 1:30 pm | RATING: 5.0/5.0 (123/134 5-star reviews) |BOOK YOUR TOUR: Viator  

Immerse yourself in the cuisine of Ecuador with this nearly perfectly rated cooking class. The culinary workshop includes a visit to the main market of Quito as well as a hands-on cooking lesson on how to cook Ecuador’s 3 most popular dishes. At the end, you’ll get to feast on what you made.  

The cooking class begins with a tour of the Central Market in the historic center where you’ll buy the ingredients for that day’s lesson. The guide will introduce you to the best vendors selling the freshest fruits and vegetables, traditional medicine, flowers, and fruit juices. You’ll also get to try some Ecuadorian street food.

Next, you’ll start the cooking class at a historic villa in Old Town. You’ll make 3 dishes:

  • Starter (locra de papa soup or quinoa soup)
  • Main dish (ceviche, a coconut fish soup, or empanadas)
  • Dessert (fresh fruit in chocolate sauce or a traditional Quimbolito)

Finally, you’ll get to have an amazing feast of the dishes you made with your teacher and guide.

This highly-rated cooking class is a great way to dig deeply into the food and culture of Ecuador.

“Had a great experience, tried lots of fun new fruits and learned to make some traditional dishes. Definitely worth it.”

Victoria (READ MORE REVIEWS)

7. Middle of the World Tour

DURATION: 3 to 4 hours | RATING: 4.5/5 (150+ Reviews) | BOOK YOUR TOUR: Get Your Guide

Is standing on the equator on your travel bucket list?

Luckily, you can easily visit the equator with this inexpensive tour to La Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World), a park located on the outskirts of Quito. The tour is US$19 AND the entrance fee is included in the tour price!

This park contains the Monument to the Equator which marks the exact (not quite) location of the equator can commemorates the eighteenth century Geodesic Expedition from France and Spain that identified the location of the equator. The mission’s measurements led to the creation of the metric system and proved that the Earth is not perfectly round and instead bulges at the equator.

The tour picks you up at specific locations throughout the city. You drive directly to La Mitad del Mundo where you get to freely walk around the park for around 2 hours.

You can climb to the top of the Monument to the Equator for panoramic views. Visit the Ethnographic Museum which exhibits the culture of the indigenous people of Ecuador. Stop by the many souvenir shops.

The most exciting thing to do here is to try to make an egg stand on a nail. Balancing an egg on its head is supposedly easier here than anywhere else because of the strength of the magnetic field at the equator.

Check out this AMAZING Quito itinerary guide for details on how to incorporate a trip to Mitad del Mundo into your visit to Quito.

“Perfect half day tour opportunity and it was the perfect timing. The pick up and drop off worked like a charm and our guide & driver, both made sure it was a comfortable & easy drive to and back from the monument. Was the perfect way to start our Ecuadorian adventures.”

Vandy (Read More Reviews)

8. Hop On and Hop Off Bus Tour of Quito

a hill with statue on top in Quito

RATING: 4.5/5 (425 Reviews) | DURATION: As long as you want | BOOK YOUR TOUR: Get Your Guide or Viator

For those short on time, this hop-on hop-off bus tour is the perfect way to see as much of Quito as possible. It’s also a great way to begin your Quito itinerary as it gives you a good overview of the city.

There are 5 pickup spots throughout the city, making it easy for you to start your tour from wherever you’re staying in Quito: La Mariscal, La Carolina, and the Historic Center.

The bus tour starts at the largest park in Quito, Carolina Park. Then it travels through La Mariscal passing by Fochs Plaza, the entertainment district of Quito.

On its way to the heart of Old Town, it passes by the largest handicraft market in Quito, Mercado Artesanal. You can get off here and do your souvenir shopping.  Buses will come by every hour to pick you back up.  

Next, the tour stops at the Basilica in Old Town, one of the highest viewpoints in the city. You can stop here and climb to the top of the church’s tower for stunning panoramic views of the city.

After that, your bus will make its way to the heart of the historic center at San Francisco Plaza. Here you can get off and wander around the cobblestoned streets, grab a bite to eat, try some chocolate, visit the museums and historic churches and convents, and just people-watch.

The final stop is the hill overlooking Old Town and the statue of the Virgin Mary called Panecillo. Here you’ll find the best views of Quito.

“We loved being able to see many places in the city and being able to listen. About its excellent story to take advantage of time.”

Esli_O (Read More Reviews)

9. Exploring Quito by Bike

RATING: 5/5 (29/29 5-Star Reviews) | DURATION: 4 hours | BOOK YOUR TOUR: Viator

Want to see a side of Quito that travelers don’t get to?

On this amazing tour, you’ll get to explore the city’s culture by biking through its coolest but less touristy neighborhoods. During the tour, you’ll learn about Quito’s vibrant street art scene, try its street food, chocolate, and natural fruit juices, and pedal through its beautiful parks.

Stop #1 is a bike ride through La Floresta neighborhood—famous for its street art and trendy cafes. The area is a favorite hangout of Quiteños. You’ll get to experience one of Quito’s best cafes:  Ocho y Medio.

You’ll then bike up to Guapole district for stunning views of the city.

Next, the tour takes you to the oldest park in Quito, Parque Alameda. Along the way, your guide will share interesting stories about the people and events of Quito.

The final neighborhood of this cultural bike tour is La Mariscal. Here you’ll stop at the largest handicraft market in Quito where you’ll get to meet some of the artisans and at a local fruit and vegetable market where you’ll sample some of Ecuador’s exotic fruits. 

Don’t leave Quito without getting an authentic taste of local life by seeing a more off-the-beaten-path part of the city.

“Great way to see Quito Roberto and Milton made the experience great. They know a lot about history wildlife and they take you to city parks that you would never see on any other tour. A few hills. I had to stop and walk the bike but otherwise not difficult”

Mbpjchouston (Read More Reviews)

10. Night Street Food, Art & Bar Tour

people toasting with glasses of beer

RATING: 4.8/5 | DURATION: 2.5 hours | BOOK YOUR TOUR: Get Your Guide or Viator

Want to explore Quito at night but worried about safety?  Then book this fabulous street food and walking tour of one of Quito’s hippest neighborhoods.

You’ll kick off the tour with a visit to a local gallery where you’ll meet the artists and listen to them tell you about their art.

Next, enter Quito’s evening street food scene at a night market where locals stop for a bite to eat.

The evening ends with a visit to a local bar with a great vibe to try some local drinks.

The tour includes 3 food stops, a beer, and a local drink.

Travelers rave about the passionate and informative guide, Santiago. They love being able to see a side of Quito that tourists rarely visit as well as try delicious food and terrific art.

This tour is PERFECT for solo travelers who want a bit of nightlife but don’t want to go out by themselves.

“Santi was an incredible guide! We loved trying the different foods, visiting cafes/restaurants/and street vendors and learning about Quito along the way. The street art was also magnificent. The other families we met on the tour made it even more special.”

Kathy (Read More Reviews)

11. Otavalo Tour

a street market with many bags of food on the ground

TIME: Tu and Sa (All day tour) | RATING: 4.6/5  | BOOK YOUR TOUR: Get Your Guide

Located 90 kilometers (56 miles) from Quito, Otavalo is famous for its vibrant indigenous market. The stalls in the market are brimming with colorful textiles, handmade crafts, and traditional Andean souvenirs. Visiting Otavalo and its market as a day trip from Quito is a must on any Ecuador itinerary.

The easiest and safest way to visit Otavalo is on a guided tour. One of the best tours is this jampacked tour that not only visits Otavalo but also three other Ecuador destinations: Cayambe, Cotacachi, and Cuicocha.

First, the shuttle bus takes you to Cayambe for their famous and tasty bizcocho. You get a little food demonstration on how bizcocho is made and then you get some free samples. It is really delicious!

Next, you stop outside the artisan town of Cotacachi for views of Cotacahi Lake and Volcano.

Afterward, your tour heads to Otavalo where you get to wander amongst the artisan stalls and shop for souvenirs or just people-watch. The market is a hub of local activity with indigenous people from all over the region coming to sell their goods.

The fourth stop on this tour is the beautiful crater lake of Cuicocha. You’ll do a short hike up to the rim of the crater and then along it while learning about the Kichwa religion.

The tour ends back in Cotacahi where you can try some of the region’s famous dishes, carne colorada and cuy.

It’s a long day, but the tour guide is fabulous. She’s a wealth of information and the attractions are beautiful. You get to go to places that you couldn’t get to without a car and you get to learn about the culture and religion of the indigenous people of Ecuador. On the way to Otavalo, a Kichwa woman comes onto your bus to tell you about the traditional dress of the Kichwa women.

“Javi was great, super knowledgeable and was always talkative and teaching the group along the ride. The trip is long but spaced out so you get to enjoy the market, the park, some local food and shopping.”

Get Your Guide Traveler (Read More Reviews)

12. Cotopaxi Tour – Hiking & Horseback Riding

people riding horses through a paramo landscape at Cotopaxi National Park

RATING: 5/5 (36/38 5-Star Reviews) | DURATION: 10 hours  | BOOK YOUR TOUR: Viator

Located one hour from Quito, Cotopaxi National Park is one of the most popular day trips to take from Quito. The park is home to the second tallest volcano in Ecuador, Cotopaxi Volcano.

However, visiting Cotopaxi is nearly impossible and expensive to do on your own without a private car. So, The best way to visit is with an organized tour.

One of the best-organized tours to take is this hiking and horseback riding tour of Cotopaxi.

You’ll leave Quito for Cotopaxi early in the morning. Before you get to the park, the tour will stop at a viewpoint for an amazing view of Quito.

Once at the park, you’ll go horseback riding for an hour and a half through the beautiful páramo landscape of Cotopaxi Park. When I was horseback riding at Cotopaxi, we spotted an Andean Condor.

After that, your guide will take you on a hike up Cotopaxi to the Jose Ribas Refuge at nearly 16,000 feet or 4,800.

The tour ends with a lunch where you get to try local Ecuadorian cuisine.

Travelers rave about the tour guide, Kathy.

Do you need to have ridden a horse before?

When I took my horseback riding tour through Cotopaxi National Park, I had never ridden a horse before. It was challenging. I won’t lie. But I did it and I’ll never forget it!

“A breathtaking a serene excursion. The perfect day trip from the busy city of Quito! Our guide was also fantastic. Made our day so simple and was a pleasure to get to know. We had some great conversations during the drive.”

Tyler_D (Read More Reviews)

13. Cotopaxi Tour – Hiking

RATING: 4.5/5 | DURATION: 9 hours | BOOK YOUR TOUR: Viator

If you’re looking to do some hiking at Cotopaxi without horseback riding, then look no further than this amazing tour of the Cotopaxi National Park.

You’ll first stop at the park is the Limpiopungo Lagoon. Here you’ll be able to see (if not cloudy) views of 3 volcanoes: Cotopaxi, the Sincholagua, and Rumiñahui. The lake is also an optimal area for seeing wildlife like the Andean condor, llamas, and the Andean fox.

Next, you’ll go on a short hike in the Limpiopungo Valley.

Before leaving the park, the tour will go on a hike up Cotopaxi to the Padre Rivas Refuge at 4,830 meters or 15,800 feet. If you’re physically up for it, you can continue climbing to a glacier at 5,050 meters.

The day ends with a delicious lunch.

This is one of the rare Cotopaxi tours in Quito that take solo travelers at no extra cost.

“The tour was great. Alejandro, the tour guide was fantastic. He allowed time to explore for those who were in better shape and stayed with the rest to help them make it to the refuge (base camp). I had a wonderful experience.”

James_K (Read More Reviews)

14. Quilotoa + Indigenous Market Tour

a crater lake surrounded by steep mountains

RATING: 5/5 | DURATION: 11 hours | BOOK YOUR TOUR: Viator

No trip to Ecuador would be complete without a visit to the eye-catching emerald Quilotoa Lake. However, getting to this crater lake on your own by public transportation can be long and cumbersome. So, joining an organized tour of Quilotoa is the ideal option.

In this Quilotoa tour, you’ll both get to experience the beautiful scenery of the lake as well as explore indigenous villages, and visit the home of an indigenous family.

The first stop is the indigenous market of either the Saquisilí (Thursdays) or Pujilí (Sundays), where you can immerse yourself in the local culture.

Next, you’ll head to Quilotoa. After taking in the stunning views of the lake, you’ll hike down to the shore of the lake. A popular activity is to kayak around the lake. You can choose to either climb or take a horse back up to the top. 

The tour ends with a stop at the art galleries in the community of Tigua to check out the vibrant indigenous paintings.

This tour includes lunch and a pickup and drop-off at designated meeting points in the Old Town and San Blas Plaza. 

“We kicked the day off with a yummy breakfast at a local market, visited an indigenous group who shared their way of living with us – which was super insightful before we had time to spend at the Quilotoa lagoon. We rented a kayak for 20 minutes- which was fun before we headed back up. We all did it below an hour and we’re rewarded with a delicious lunch nearby. Our guide was super caring and fun.”

Sonia_R (Read More Reviews)

15. Cotopaxi & Quilotoa Tour

Cotopaxi Volcano and Lake Quilotoa

RATING: 5/5 (89/93 5-star reviews) | DURATION: 10 hours | BOOK YOUR TOUR: Viator or Get Your Guide

For those wanting to check off two Ecuador bucket list destinations in one day, this Cotopaxi and Quilotoa tour is the PERFECT option.

In the morning, you’ll drive to Cotopaxi National Park. Here you’ll walk around the Limpiopungo Lagoon and experience the parks’ surreal landscape. If it’s not too cloudy, you’ll get to see Cotopaxi Volcano.

The afternoon is spent visiting Lake Quilotoa at your leisure: hike to the shore of the lake or just admire the view from the top of the crater.

This is one of the best Quito tours for those who are short on time or those suffering from altitude sickness and can’t do a hard hike up Cotopaxi.

Just a warning: There will be a lot of time spent driving from one place to another.

“Pedro was great! He was knowledgable about Cotopaxi & Quilatoa and answered all our questions. It is a long day but Pedro had great energy throughout. If you are interested in seeing these 2 sites this is the best way to do it in a day.”

John_N (Read More Reviews)

16. Papallacta Volcanic Hot Springs Tour

hot spring pools with mountains in the background

RATING: 5/5 (37/37 5-star review) | DURATION: 3 – 5 hours | BOOK YOUR TOUR: Viator

Want to relax your weary muscles after cruising the Galapagos or your travels around Ecuador?

Then join this perfectly-rated tour to the Papallacta Hot Springs. You’ll get to soak your troubles away in the thermal hot springs.

Along the way, you’ll go higher and higher into the Andes Mountains with views of the stunning landscape.

After a short stop at the Papallacta Lagoon for some views and photos, you’ll head to the highlight of this tour: the Papallacta Hot Springs Resort. The resort has over 10 thermal pools. Don’t leave the resort without getting a massage while you’re there from one of their professional massage therapists.

For the uber-ambitious, there are also hiking trails going up into the mountains and to a waterfall for you to follow.

If you want to venture to Papallacta on your own, you can get step-by-step instructions in this guide on how to get to Papallacta by public transportation.

You can also book an overnight stay at Termas de Papallacta – it’s well worth it!

“This was an outstanding trip! Our guide Daniel, and his car George, were wonderful! Daniel was very professional and provided a lot of information about Quito and the surrounding area. The hot springs were amazing! Heaven on Earth! The massages were amazing and the thermal pools were so relaxing. You must do the cold pool, too! It was a great experience all around!!”

lorioconnor213 (Read more reviews)

17. Cotopaxi & Papallacta Tour

RATING: 5/5 | DURATION: 7 hours | BOOK YOUR TOUR: Get Your Guide or Viator

Imagine climbing a volcano in the morning and then relaxing in volcanic hot springs in the afternoon. Sounds like the perfect day, right?

That’s EXACTLY what you’ll experience in this Cotopaxi and Papallacta Tour.

In the morning you’ll visit Cotopaxi National Park. Here you’ll walk around Limpiopungo Lagoon where you’ll get views of Cotopaxi Volcano and experience the flora and fauna of the Andes.

The afternoon will be spent enjoying the thermal springs at the Papallacta Hot Springs. You can enjoy one of the many pools and get a massage. For the ambitious, you can hike in the mountains surrounding Papallacta.

This tour combines the best of both worlds: the mountains and the water of Ecuador.

Expect a lot of driving, but this day trip from Quito will still be worth it!

If you want to visit Papallacta on your own, check out this AMAZING guide on how to get to Papallacta by bus.

“Really enjoyed this tour. Cotopaxi National Park and the hike up to base camp was stunning. The lunch included is typical Ecuadorian in a lovely restaurant with its own little farm and we got to feed the llamas which was fun! I definitely recommend upgrading your hot springs entrance to the quieter baths, much less busy and incredibly relaxing in beautiful surroundings, was a perfect ending to my trip.”

Delyth (Read More Reviews)

18. Mindo Cloud Forest & Birding Tour

a man standing at the bottom of a waterfall in Mindo
One of the many waterfalls on the hike along Cascadas de Nambillo on this tour from Quito.

RATING: 5/5 | DURATION: 10 hours | BOOK YOUR TOUR: Viator

Located 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Quito, the small town of Mindo is one of my favorite places to visit in Ecuador, and it should not be missed, especially if you’re a birder. But even if you’re not, there’s plenty to do here for those who just like chocolate, hiking, waterfalls, and adventure. What’s not to love?

On this jampacked tour of Mindo, you get a taste of everything that a cloud forest has to offer.

Before you even get to Mindo, you’ll experience Ecuador’s natural beauty with a visit to Pululahua Volcano. You get to stand on the rim of the volcano looking down at the crater.

The first stop in the Mindo Valley is at the San Tadeo where you’ll have one of the most unforgettable experiences of your trip to Ecuador—having hummingbirds feed from your hand

The next stop is a butterfly sanctuary.

The tour then takes you to Cascadas de Nambillo. You’ll first take a short cable car ride over a valley and then hike down to a series of waterfalls.

The last attraction in Mindo is a chocolate workshop and tasting where you’ll learn all about chocolate and get to taste some artisanal chocolate.

You can add tubing and ziplining to your tour for an additional fee.

This is one of the only Mindo tours from Quito that doesn’t charge solo travelers extra.

“We had a fantastic day with Pato! He was very friendly and knowledgeable and was dedicated to making our experience special! Seeing the plethora of birds at San Todeo was a lifetime experience! We saw many wild tanagers, toucans, etc plus the many species of hummingbirds will knock your socks off. We also went for a hike to a waterfall, a volcano crater, and a butterfly farm . Also, chocolate. Wonderful day, highly recommend.”

amlee7 (Read More Reviews)

19. Baños Tour

Pailon de Diablo waterfall in Banos, Ecuador
One of the best Quito tours takes you to Pailon del Diablo waterfalls in Banos.

RATING: 4.5/5 | DURATION: 12 hours | BOOK YOUR TOUR: Get Your Guide

If you’re looking to visit the adventure capital of Ecuador, Baños, as a day trip from Quito, then look no further than this all-day, jampacked tour with kind and knowledgeable guides.

Your journey leaves Quito at 8:00 am and arrives 3 hours later in Baños. The first stop is at Manos de Dios, a lookout point with stunning views of Banos and the surrounding mountain range.

Next, you’ll make your way along the Ruta de Cascada (Route of Waterfalls) ending at the granddaddy of them all waterfalls: Paillon de Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron). On the way to the cauldron, you’ll have a chance to go ziplining or bungy jumping.

The final stop is at Casa del Arbol (the Tree House) with more views of Banos and a chance to swing over the valley.

The tour guides get amazing reviews. As one traveler put it: “Our guide Paul was such a kind person who really took time the give us more than we expected.” What more can you want in a guide?

Our guide, Paul, was personable and kind. He was very knowledgeable about everything in Ecuador. He picked a great spot for lunch. We saw an amazing waterfall and he was happy to offer pictures of everyone. 10/10 would recommend

Get Your Guide Traveler (Read More Reviews)

20. Cotopaxi, Quilotoa & Baños Tour

RATING: 5/5 (139/145 5-star reviews) | DURATION: 3 days | BOOK YOUR TOUR: Viator

With a nearly PERFECT 5-star rating, this 3-day tour to Cotopaxi, Quilotoa, and Baños is the most efficient way to see three of Ecuador’s most popular destinations.

The first stop on this highly-rated tour is at Cotopaxi National Park. You’ll start your tour of the park with a hike up the second-highest volcano in Ecuador, Cotopaxi. You’ll only go as far as the refuge, which is at 4,684 meters, where you’ll stop to warm up with some cacao tea or hot chocolate.

Next, you’ll hike around Limpiopungo Lagoon, where if it’s not too cloudy you’ll be able to get a view of the volcano in all its glory. That first night you’ll stay in a hotel near Cotopaxi.

You’ll begin day 2 at the community of Tigua, known for its colorful paintings of Andean life. After that, you’ll visit Lake Quilotoa—take some photos of the lake from the viewpoint and then hike down to the shore of the lake. Finally, you’ll head to the last city on the tour: Baños.

Day 3 starts in Baños with Ruta de la Cascada. This route along the Pastazsa River is lined with waterfalls and ziplining businesses. The route ends at the stunning Devil’s Cauldron Waterfall. The tour ends with a visit to La Casa del Arbol where you’ll get to try out its swing and take in views of Baños and the surrounding mountains.

“To put it simply, this adventurous loop is absolutely fantastic. Not only is the company excellent, but each of their guides brings a unique flair and has an amazing level of understanding and willingness to share, not just about the things in front of you, but about the broader context. They truly care not only about your experience, but about the country and the people (and animals) in it.”

Chase_M (Read More Reviews)

Quito Travel Guide & FAQs

When should I visit Quito?

The temperature in Quito is the same all year round (a high of 66-68 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of 47-49 degrees Fahrenheit.) Even though it’s at the equator, it’s at such a high elevation that it never gets hot.

Quito has two rainy seasons:

  • March to May with April being the rainiest
  • October to November.

The best time to visit Quito is from June to August as these are the driest months.

How can I get to Quito?

Arriving in Quito by Plane

Most people fly into Mariscal Sucre Airport on the outskirts of Quito.

To find the cheapest flights to Quito, first check Skyscanner. I love using Skyscanner. Whenever I search for flights on Skyscanner, it gives me more results than other travel websites because it includes both major airlines and local budget airlines. I also like how it gives a rating system for each result so I know which booking site to trust and which ones not to. I can book with the airline from Skyscanner as well. Try it out!

Arriving in Quito by Land

If you’re crossing the border from Colombia or Peru, you’ll most likely arrive at the Quitumbe Bus Terminal. Quitumbe is connected to the best areas in Quito to stay in by the new metro line and the trolley line.

Is it safe?

Quitumbe is the beginning of both the metro and trolley line, so you’ll likely get a seat, making it easy to keep an eye on your bags. I’ve taken the trolley to and from Quitumbe, and it felt safe.

How long should I spend in Quito?

I would spend at least 3 days in Quito. Plus, do 2 or 3 days of day trips from Quito. In that way, you can see the major attractions, get a feel for the city without feeling rushed, try some of its delicious Ecuadorian food, and explore a less touristy neighborhood.

An overview of my recommended Quito itinerary:

Day 1: Wander around the historic center and do this walking tour (any order).

Day 2: Take the cable car to Pichincha Volcano and stand on the equator at the Middle of the World with this tour.

Day 3: Explore a less touristy neighborhood of Quito with this street food tour. You can read about my review of the Quito street food tour here.

You can add day trips from Quito on days 4 and 5.

Day 4: Take a day trip to Otavalo with this tour that will also take you to Cayambe, Cotacachi, and Cuicocha.

Day 5: Do another day trip from Quito to Cotopaxi and Qilotoa doing this tour.

Day 6: Rest your weary travel legs at the Papallacta Hot Springs using these instructions on getting to to Papallacta

Is Quito safe?

For most visitors, Quito is a safe place to visit as long as you follow a few precautions.

You’re generally safe walking around during the day. But it’s at night when you need to be extra cautious. At night, take a taxi or Uber to get around in most parts of the city including the historic center. It’s best to avoid walking around at night in the historic center or San Blas.

The historic center has problems with pickpockets and scam artists that target tourists. One common scam is to spill something on you and as the thief is helping you clean yourself, he or she steals your wallet or phone.

Crime has increased in Quito recently. However, statistically, it is safer than Guayaquil. Compared to other cities around the world, it’s got about the same level of crime as Houston, Texas.

How can I get from the airport to my hotel in Quito?

There are several ways to get from the airport to your hotel in Old Town, La Carolina, or La Mariscal:

  • Airport taxi – There’s a taxi desk in the arrivals hall at the Quito airport. Pay the desk for the taxi ride. The price is fixed based on what zone you’re staying in. They accept credit cards. They will then arrange a taxi driver for you. I’ve used this service twice.  (US$30)
  • Arrange an airport pickup with your hotel in Quito. This is what I did when I first arrived in Quito. (US$30)
  • Public Bus – You can take a bus from the airport to 3 bus stations in Quito (Quitumbe Terminal, Rio Coca Terminal, and Carcelén Terminal) (US$2). From any bus terminal, you can take a bus, trolley, the subway, an Uber, or taxi to your hotel or hostel.
  • Private Transfer Service – You can arrange one through Get Your Guide (US$40 for 1 person or US$45 for 2 people) or Viator (US$36 for 1 person or US$40 for 2 people)
  • Rent a car – You can book your rental with Discover Cars. (US$77 – $100/day)

Where should I stay in Quito?

I recommend staying in the historic center (also called Old Town) for its beauty, culture, food, and convenience.

The best website for booking hotels in Quito is Booking.com. They usually have the best selection and the best rates.

I wrote an article on the best places to stay in Quito. But for those who want a quick recommendation of my favorite hotels in Quito, here it is:

BEST HOSTEL: Viajero Quito Hostel

BEST HOTELS UNDER US$40: Traveler’s House,  TERRA PREMIUM & Posada del Maple

BEST HOTELS US$40 – $100: Friends Hotel & Rooftop & Chakana Hotel Boutique

BEST HOTEL US$100 – $200: Casa Joaquin Boutique Hotel

BEST HOTEL US$200 – $300: Casa El Edén

BEST HOTEL OVER US$300:  Hotel Casa Gangotena & Illa Experience Hotel

Wherever you stay, try to get a place with a rooftop terrace for views of the city and mountains. You can check out my Quito accommodation guide for a list of the best hotels with rooftop terraces.

Where can I find an ATM in Quito?

There are 3 major banks in Quito:

  • Banco Pichincha – Transaction fee is US$4.50
  • Banco Guayaquil – It has the cheapest transaction fee of US$1.50
  • Banecuador

I had a lot of problems getting ATMs in Quito to accept my debit card from the U.S. When I was in the Galapagos, I used an ATM. No money came out, but my bank still processed the transaction. It took me a long time to get the bank to sort it out and agree to cancel the transaction.

I had the best luck getting money from this ATM at the Santa Maria Supermarket in the historic center and from Banco Pichincha in La Mariscal. The weird thing was that the ATM at Banco Pichincha in the historic center never worked for me.

Where can I get a SIM card in Quito?

Three mobile phone companies sell SIM cards and data:

  • Claro
  • Movistar
  • CNT

I used Claro in Ecuador and got my SIM card from a phone shop in the historic center. It cost me US$20 for the card and 30 days of 12 GB of data. However, I was probably overcharged. According to the Claro website, this is the rate for prepaid SIMs:

  • US$5 for 15 days and 5 GB
  • US$10 for 30 days and 12 GB
  • US$15 for 30 days and 20 GB

Whenever I added more data and days onto my SIM card, I paid US$10 and sometimes a US$1 fee depending on the shop.

The phone shop I bought my card from was across the street from the Santa Maria Supermarket.

However, for convenience, you can get an eSIM instead. You don’t have to worry about changing SIM cards. Use Airalo to buy your eSIM. They have eSIMS for many different countries around the world. Their prices are pretty good.

Final Thoughts: The Best Quito Tours

These top 20 tours in Quito provide a glimpse into the heart of Ecuador’s capital, showcasing its heritage, national cuisine, natural wonders, and the warm hospitality of its people. Whether you’re an adventurer, history enthusiast, or foodie, Quito promises an unforgettable experience that will linger in your memories long after you’ve left this enchanting city.

Still not sure which tours to take?

Here is my quick guide to the BEST Quito tours:

BEST TOUR IF YOU HAVE 1 DAY IN QUITO: Quito City Tour (Old Town, Teleferico, & Middle of the World)

BEST QUITO WALKING TOUR: Culture & Food Walking Tour

BEST QUITO FOOD EXPERIENCE: Quito Street Food Tour

BEST DAY TRIP TOUR: Cotopaxi & Quilotoa Tour

BEST MULTI-DAY TOUR: Cotopaxi, Quilotoa and Banos

BEST TOUR FOR RELAXING: Papallacta Hot Springs Tour

BEST TOUR FOR SPOTTING WILDLIFE: Mindo Tour

Best Resources for Your Trip to Ecuador

Book Your Flight:

Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to Ecuador. They will turn up results for all airlines including major ones and local airlines. You’re guaranteed to find EVERYTHING that’s available and thus get the cheapest price.

Book Your Accommodations:

The best hotel booking sites are Booking.com and Agoda. They have the most choices and they consistently churn out hotels and hostels with the lowest prices. Another site for backpackers and budget travelers is Hostel World.

Book Your Tours:

Viator has the most tour choices of any site in Ecuador. They’re reliable and trustworthy. I also like using Get Your Guide for Ecuador for their excellent service. Both booking sites are reliable and trustworthy, and if you have trouble with your tour, they’ll quickly help you.

Get an eSIM

The most convenient way to stay connected to the internet is with an eSIM. I like to use Airalo for their excellent prices.

Want More Ecuador Travel Info?

Check out my Ecuador Travel Guide for more ideas, inspiration, and tips on traveling in Ecuador.

Are you on Pinterest?

Hey! How about saving one of these pins to Pinterest to read for later?

And feel free to follow me on Pinterest, where you’ll find lots of travel articles for everywhere around the world.

Best Quito Tours Pin
Best Quito Tours Pin

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About the Bamboo Traveler

The Bamboo Traveler

Welcome to The Bamboo Traveler, a travel blog dedicated to helping those travelers who want to dig deeply into the history, heritage, and culture of a place. Whether it’s through the pages of your passport or the pages of a book, I’ll help you travel the world and uncover the history, culture, food, architecture, and natural beauty of some of the world’s most fascinating places.

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