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The Center of the World

Sure, there are other towns along the equator. But nobody makes 0°00’00” look as good as Quito, Ecuador. Set within a ring of mountains, it’s nearly twice the elevation of Denver and enjoys abundant sunshine and spring-like weather year round. The Incas and the Spanish knew there was something special about this place--so sit down over a bowl of ceviche in an old grand plaza and see for yourself what all the buzz is about.

Where to Stay

Live like colonial royalty on Quito’s most happening street

Casona de La Ronda

Follow Quito’s oldest street with its cobblestones, colonial buildings and lively art scene, and you’ll reach Casona de la Ronda. Set within an 18th-century Spanish home, this boutique hotel is as charming as it gets: It’s built around an atrium with a three-story living wall, whose vines seem to extend into the rooms thanks to whimsical floral murals. Enjoy top-notch service over complimentary American-style buffet breakfast and practice your Spanish with the adorable waiters.

Calle Morales OE1- 160

Where to Eat

Quinoa, plaintains, ceviche and cinnamon hot toddies

San Francisco Market

Want to try street food but feeling a little geramaphobic? This renovated traditional market is spic and span, but remains legit. Nibble your way through the exotic fruit stalls (don’t miss guanabana and tree tomato), then work your way up to the hot-food stalls for llapingacho (cheesy potato pancakes), cevichocho (veggie ceviche) and any soup of the day. On your way out, note the curandera herb stalls (and maybe witness an Andean spiritual cleansing.)

plazagrancw Hotel Plaza Grande/Facebook

Cafe Plaza Grande Hotel

Just across from the Presidential Palace, this historic hotel is where Quito’s elite do their power and leisure lunching. Wooden panel walls, botanical prints, white tablcloths and live guitar make for a proper dining experience...especially when you have the fresh-squeezed juices, sea bass ceviche and homemade ice cream.

Garcia Moreno N5-16

pims @Emmawhite03/Instagram

Pim's Panecillo

This restaurant features an unparalleled mountaintop view overlooking the city and Quito’s most iconic statue (a massive Virgin Mary with wings). Go for canelazo cocktails (Ecuador’s cinnamon hot toddy), trout with almond sauce and any dish served with quinoa.

Calle Melchor Aymerich, Top of Panecillo Hill

What to Do

School yourself in history, geography and the science of shopping

tourbig Patrick Heagney/Getty

Geo Reisen City Tour

Sure, you could wander the charming Centro Historic with your head down in a Frommer's, but Quito’s 500-plus years of history warrants a professional guide. Let Geo Reisen’s local experts shed light on the Incan ruins, share the mysteries of the golden Compañía de Jesus church, point out the Galapagos-inspired gargoyles at the Basilica and take you to the city’s best colaciones sweets shops.

 

museum Trip Advisor

Inti馻n Solar Museum

While you’ll probably feel obligated to go to the grand monument to the Center of World, make sure you trek the extra ¾ mile to the real equatorial line. When the invention of GPS revealed that royal mess-up, this quirky science and culture museum emerged in its rightful spot. Stand at 0°00’00” and see the Coriolis effect, balance an egg on a nail head and drop your body weight by 0.5 percent (easiest diet ever).

park1 Wikimedia

Parque El Ejido Art Fair

On weekends, this beloved city park hosts a vibrant craft fair attracting picnicking locals and savvy souvenir hunters. Not here on a weekend? Head to El Ejido anyway to stroll the lovely green space, watch a game of Equivolley (the country’s twist on volleyball with a really high net and intense betting) and shop a few blocks over at the Mariscal Craft Market.

What to Skip

Don’t take adventurous eating too far

Guinea Pig

Sounds kooky, but it’s a beloved Andean delicacy and you’ll see them roasting all around the city. While we love trying dishes of cultural importance, you can spare yourself the guilt of eating your third-grade class pet (it tastes like shoe leather anyway). Instead, try the unofficial dish of Ecuador: fritada, seasoned fried pork over hominy and topped with plantains, avocado and crunchy corn.

What to Pack

sunblock Sun Bum

Sunblock

Two miles high and in absolutely direct sunlight, Quito requires vigilant sun protection. Pretend you’re at the beach and lather up with the thick stuff.

Sun Bum ($16)

jacket Shopbop

Light Jacket

The city’s stable temps are usually in the 50s and 60s, so it never gets too hot or cold. A versatile, understated short-length coat should be your daily go-to.

BB Dakota ($97)

money Twenty20

Dollar Bills

As of 2000, good ole USA greenbacks are the official currency. Bring a few hundred in small denominations to avoid foreign transaction fees and buy stuff without breaking big bills.