One of my favorite things to do is take quick long-weekend jaunts to the unexpected — and as long as I can find a cheap flight, it’s as good as done!
Heading to Quito, Ecuador was no exception. A four-day weekend to the nation’s capital was even more than I could have hoped for and if you plan it right, you can see and do a LOT in a short period of time.
Check out my tips for exploring Ecuador in a weekend:
Casa del Arbol
You may have seen the pictures on Instagram of people soaring through the sky on a tree swing; that’s Casa del Arbol, home to the Swing at the End of the World. A whopping 2,600 meters from ground level, this swing is the perfect off-the-beaten-path tourist attraction that boasts incredible views and the biggest rush you could imagine.
The experience only costs a few dollars (Ecuador uses USD!) and you can spend as much or as little time as you’d like at the swing.
Pro tip: the swing is located in Banos, Ecuador, which is about a 3 hour drive from Quito. I highly recommend hiring a driver to take you to and from, as it’s much easier and safer, plus they tend to be super knowledgeable about the areas you’ll drive through!
La Mitad del Mundo
So I had an epiphany one day and it clicked that the word “Ecuador” means ‘equator’.Yeah yeah, I wasn’t great at geography or word association in elementary school. Anyhow, while there is a bit of discrepancy about where the REAL equator actually is located in Ecuador, the monument where the Ecuadorian government commemorates the location is a sight to behold — and so much fun!
Get there right when it opens to avoid large crowds and crazy high temps (I’m from Chicago, I’m used to some wind!). Plus you’ll be able to take as many photos as you’d like with minimal people in the backgrounds.
This amazing area wasn’t even on our radar and I wish it had been! Luckily, we stumbled upon this bright and exciting neighborhood while walking around downtown Quito.
ArtPlaza is home to several small hotels and AirBnB listings, as well as quaint restaurants and coffee shops. But the real draw is the bold artwork that appears on every. single. building. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so….
Eat and Drink…Everything
Ecuadorian cuisine is fantastic, affordable, and fun – just like the rest of Ecuador! From breakfast to dinner, you’re sure to find something on a menu. Check out these spots around Plaza Foch:
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Yep, just like the band. A super cool ambiance accompanies traditional South American cuisine…and the biggest margaritas you’ve ever had. I would have taken photos of the food, but well….I ate it.
Need breakfast? Magic Bean is where it’s at. The portions are massive and the beverages are creative and definitely not something you’re used to. Try the cheesy hot chocolate – yes, I’m serious.
Many eateries in Quito are quick stops, so if you find yourself needing a quick snack, make sure you grab an empanada. The ones I had in Quito are the absolute best I’ve ever had.
I’m a huge fan of local beers when I travel and Quito was no exception. Latitude Cero (get it? Like the equator!) was a delicious Amber Ale with a super crisp finish – perfect for sitting on a patio in Plaza Foch on a hot day!
Hang Out in Plaza Foch
If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop in Quito for some great nightlife, look no further than Plaza Foch. From karaoke bars, to lounges, to cafes and restaurants, there is something for everyone in Plaza Foch. Also, all of the napkins you get with your cocktails say “¡Foch Yeah!” which just makes everyone smile 🙂