Quito is one of the most beautiful cities in Latin America. Its historic center is one of the largest and best preserved on the continent. Also, located almost 3000 meters high, you will have the feeling of being in heaven. But Did you know that near Quito there are a lot of interesting places? In this post we tell you the 10 best excursions from Quito so that you fall in love with Ecuador and complement your visit to the capital.
What do we tell you in this post?
10 BEST EXCURSIONS FROM QUITO
1. Quilotoa Lagoon
⏱ Distance from Quito: 3 hours | 178km
The Quilotoa Lagoon is one of the most magical places to see in Ecuador. It is about 3 hours from the capital, but it is worth the effort. You cannot miss such a spectacular site!
It is a volcano, whose crater is filled with water. It is very impressive as it has a diameter of 3 kilometers. To visit it, you can go down to its lagoon and take a boat ride. From below you will perceive its incredible size even more! Of course, then the climb is much harder, especially due to the altitude. Keep in mind that you will be close to 4000m, so it is very important that you take it easy and enjoy its viewpoints.
You can also walk the entire diameter of the caldera through a hiking route of about 5 hours. It is quite tiring, but the views are well worth it.
The color of the water is beautiful. Of course, what is great is deep! For you to have a reference, the lagoon is 250 meters deep and the dissolved minerals have given it a beautiful greenish hue. As a curiosity, there are fumaroles at the bottom of the lagoon and there are hot springs on the eastern side of the volcano. Without a doubt, one of the best excursions from Quito.
Best excursions to Quilotoa:
2. Cotopaxi volcano, one of the best excursions from Quito
⏱ Distance from Quito: 1 hour and 30 minutes | 95km
The Cotopaxi Volcano is one of the most famous volcanoes to see in Latin America. And also one of the most feared! It is active and due to its height, 5897 meters and its proximity to Quito, it is considered one of the most dangerous in the world.. An eruption would melt much of the glacier near its top and trigger lahars that would threaten millions of people.
But let’s not think about that! Visiting Cotopaxi is one of the best excursions from Quito. The volcano is beautiful, with an almost perfect conical shape. And although it can be seen from many corners of the capital, There is nothing like getting to the José Rivas Refuge, at 4864 meters high. It’s not every day you can be at that altitude!
Apart from arriving at the refuge, we also recommend you visit the beautiful Limpiopungo Lagoonfrom which you will have privileged views of the volcano.
3. The Otavalo Market, one of the best excursions from Quito
⏱ Distance from Quito: 1 hour and 45 minutes | 92km
The best thing about visiting Quito and Ecuador is that you will always be surrounded by natural sites that will take your breath away. But there are also slightly different excursions! You cannot return home without buying Ecuadorian handicrafts or their famous ponchos, very typical in the country and throughout the Andean region.. Quito has super interesting markets like La Mariscal, but If you are looking for a more beautiful experience, we recommend you go to the one in Otavalo.
Located at an altitude of 2,550 meters, the city of Otavalo is considered the Intercultural Capital of Ecuador. This is due to its cultural and historical richness, in part, for being the place of origin of the Quichua people of the Otavalos. Nevertheless, Its main attraction is its craft market, the most important in the country and one of the most famous in Latin America. This market is also known as Plaza de los Ponchos, since you can find a lot.
Regarding prices, it must be said that it is not the cheapest in Ecuador. And that can be understood, since it is super touristy. However, regardless of buying or not at the best price, we believe that it is one of the best excursions from Quito for the authenticity of the site. You will see that most Otavaleños still wear their traditional clothing.
4. Mindo and its Cloud Forest
⏱ Distance from Quito: 2 hours | 98km
The Mindo Cloud Forest is one of the best excursions from Quito. Why? Because in just two hours you are going to plant yourself in the jungle. It consists of 19,000 protected hectares where some 470 varieties of birds and 90 species of butterflies live, among other threatened species.. Apart from the Amazon, nowhere else in Ecuador will you find such biodiversity.
In Mindo you can do a lot of things: from the incredible hiking route of the Santuario de las Cascadas to practicing all kinds of adventure sports such as rafting, tubing, canopy, mountain biking and much more. The lush jungle of the Chocó Andino will not disappoint you! And by the way, don’t forget to cross in his incredible tarabita. You will have unbeatable views of the landscape!
5. The Middle of the World, one of the most popular excursions from Quito
⏱ Distance from Quito: 1 hour | 26km
To the north of Quito you can visit one of the most touristic areas of Ecuador, half the world. Although it seemed overrated to us, we believe that it is worth knowing about it. Although Quito and its surroundings have much more beautiful places!
In the Middle of the World you will not be delighted with its landscapes, but yes you can step on the equatorial line. Most famous is its monument, built on the exact spot where Europeans first defined the position of the equator. However, it is wrong. After the latest research, experts place it in the Intiñán Museum, where you can carry out various interesting experiments.
It’s not every day that you can have one foot in the northern hemisphere and the other in the southern hemisphere!
6. Holy Water Baths
⏱ Distance from Quito: 3 hours and 30 minutes | 193km
Despite being more than three hours from the capital, Baños de Agua Santa is one of the best excursions from Quito. Although it can be visited in one day, we recommend spending at least one night to learn more about the destination and its surroundings.
Baños is one of the most touristic locations in the country, which is why it is known as the adventure capital. It is located in a privileged environment, surrounded by a great multitude of rivers, waterfalls and dense forests, ideal for lovers of adventure sports.
On your visit to Baños you cannot miss the Pailón del Diablo, the most spectacular waterfall in Ecuador. Its 80 meter waterfall will not leave you indifferent. In addition, your visit to Baños will allow you to see the Tungurahua, one of the most important volcanoes in Ecuador, as well as visit other waterfalls and swing on Treehouse that will almost allow you to touch the sky.
7. Cuicocha Lagoon
⏱ Distance from Quito: 2 hours and 20 minutes | 106km
Lhe Cuicocha Lagoon is one of the most beautiful and curious to see in Ecuador. It is located just over 2 hours by car from Quito and in recent years it has seen a great increase in its visitors. And is not for less! This lagoon was formed by a volcanic eruption more than 3,000 years ago. However, the main attraction of Cuicocha are the two islands that emerge from the lake and which give it its name.
Cuicocha in head means guinea pig. And if you look closely, you’ll see that the islands are shaped like the backs of two guinea pigs. It all depends on perspective though!
In Cuicocha you can do a lot of things: from enjoying the lagoon from one of its viewpoints to navigating the crater by boat. And if you have time, you can do the hiking route that skirts the crater on the mountain. Definitely, one of the best excursions from Quito.
8. Pululahua, one of the best excursions in Quito
⏱ Distance from Quito: 45 minutes | 30km
If you don’t want to go far, this natural wonder is one of the best excursions from Quito. Did you know that only 30 kilometers from the capital you can visit one of the only two inhabited volcanoes on the planet? It is the Pululahua, and the other is in Japan.
Approximately 40 families live inside.. However, they do not seem to be very afraid despite the fact that Pululahua is still potentially active.
It can be a perfect half day excursion. On top there is a very nice restaurant called El Cráter that will allow you to eat with magnificent views. After eating, you can go down to the crater to see it from another perspective.
9. Papallacta Hot Springs, if you are looking to relax
⏱ Distance from Quito: 45 minutes | 30km
If the height has killed you during your trip to Quito, you always have the option of relax in the Papallacta Hot Springs. They are by far the most famous in the country. and the great advantage is that they are relatively close to the capital.
In Papallacta you can bathe in the hot water that flows naturally from the volcanoes to its artificial pools. It’s an amazing experience! But not only that, the journey to the hot springs will allow you to enjoy some of the most spectacular landscapes of the Ecuadorian highlands. If the day is clear, you will be able to see very close the antisana volcanothe fourth highest peak in the country.
10. Chimborazo volcano, one of the most interesting excursions from Quito
⏱ Distance from Quito: 3 hours and 30 minutes | 206km
And to end this post about the best excursions from QuitoWe went from one volcano to another. But in this case, we have to mention the highest. And not only that, but to the point closest to the Sun on planet earth.
With 6263 meters of altitude, the Chimborazo volcano is the highest peak in Ecuador and the furthest point from the Earth’s surface if we measure it from the center of the planet. This is due to the tilt of the Earth and its geoid shape, flatter at the poles and wider at the equator. Precisely where the Chimborazo is!
Despite the fact that in Quito you can already feel the height at more than 2,700 meters, in Chimborazo you can easily reach 5100 meters by visiting the Condorcocha Lagoon. But don’t worry, you can drive up to 4800 meters and from there increase the difference. Without a doubt, an incredible experience!
LOCATION OF THE BEST EXCURSIONS FROM QUITO
In the following map you will find the location of the best excursions from Quito.