Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and active volcanos, Quito is one of the most scenic cities I’ve ever been to and it will (literally) take your breath away!
Quito’s an ideal destination for all travelers, but especially those interested in history and architecture. There are a plethora of museums, art galleries, restaurants, and public squares to keep anyone occupied for a couple of days, not to mention a vibrant nightlife.
This is a big city though – one that hosts over 2 million inhabitants. Sorting through all of the neighborhoods in Quito can actually be a little intimidating…
That’s why I created this comprehensive guide on the best areas in Quito!
Based on your style of travel, we’ll make recommendations for exactly where to stay in Quito, and eliminate any guesswork for you! This way you can focus on what matters, like eating yummy Seco de Chiva and exploring old churches and colonial buildings.
Let’s take a look at Quito’s neighborhoods and the best places to stay in Quito below!
Table of Contents
- Quick Tips – These are the Best Neighborhoods in Quito
- Quito Neighborhood Guide
- 5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Quito
- 1. Old Town - Where to Stay in Quito for the First Time
- 2. La Ronda Neighborhood - Where to stay in Quito on a Budget
- 3. La Mariscal Neighborhood - Where to Stay in Quito for Nightlife
- 4. La Floresta Neighborhood - Coolest Neighborhood in Quito
- 5. La Carolina Neighborhood - Where to stay in Quito with Family
- Review of Best Places to Stay in Quito
Quick Tips – These are the Best Neighborhoods in Quito
Quito Old Town – Where to stay in Quito the first time
La Ronda – Where to stay in Quito on a budget
La Mariscal – Best Area in Quito for nightlife
La Floresta – Coolest place to stay in Quito
La Carolina – Best Neighborhood in Quito for families
|Old Town Neighborhood
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|La Ronda Neighborhood
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|La Mariscal Neighborhood
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|La Floresta Neighborhood
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|La Carolina Neighborhood
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Quito Neighborhood Guide
Quito was founded in 1534 and built on the ruins of an ancient Inca city. Today, it’s home to over 2 million people. It was one of the first cities (along with Krakow) to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.
The city is sandwiched between two mountain ranges and sits at an elevation of 2800 meters, which officially makes it the highest capitol city in the world! It can take a few days to get accustomed to the high altitude.
Quito is roughly divided into three parts; the colonial center and the northern and southern districts. Most of the city is safe for travelers, but there are definitely some neighborhoods you don't want to stay in. That's where I come in with this guide for where to stay in Quito to help you navigate the process.
The Historic Center or Old Town is the largest historical center in the Americas and has recently undergone a massive revitalization program. It still looks much the same as it did in the 16th and 17th century.
This is the best neighborhood for history buffs as you'll find a whopping 40 churches and convents, 17 squares and 16 convents and monasteries.
Also located within the Old Town is the oldest neighborhood in the city - La Ronda - which dates back to ancient Incan times. It's a popular spot for nightlife and boutique shopping.
Another notable landmark in the Colonial Center is the Teatro National Sucre which hosts many performances throughout the year. It's highly recommended that you see one if you have the chance.
Heading north from the Historic Center the next neighborhood that's most popular for backpackers, La Mariscal, aka "Gringolandia." This is where to stay in Quito if you like to party. This area has the highest concentration of hostels, travel agencies, and international restaurants.
There are also lots of bars and nightclubs centered around Plaza Foch. Even if you don't like to party til the sun comes up there are several awesome things to check out such as an artesanal market and park where local artist show of their for sale works.
La Floresta is the next point of interest and it's right next door to La Mariscal. La Floresta is by far the coolest neighborhood in Quito. If eating is at the top of your priorities when you travel, this is the best neighborhood for you as most people come here to eat!
The history of the area is also pretty interesting. You can read more about it a little later in the post.
La Carolina is the northernmost recommended area for travelers in Quito. It's the financial center and the most modern area of the city. It's mostly residential and it's named after a park of the same name.
Parque La Carolina is one of the most visited parks in the city. It's a great area for families as it's safe and there are many museums and other attractions specifically catering to kids in the area, such as the Vivarium, where they can learn about reptiles and other animals, and an abandoned plane to climb on.
5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Quito
Quito is quite a sprawling city and it doesn't have the best public transportation system. There are lots of public buses and taxis as well as Uber. It's relatively easy to get around to all the best parts of the city but you'll want to stay in an area that suits your travel style to save time and money.
There are only a couple of areas that are good for travelers as safety is still a concern in some parts of the city. This guide for where to stay in Quito lays out all of those best neighborhoods and what you can do there.
Should you only have 2 or less days in this city, here's a fun itinerary for 36 hours in Quito.
Old town Quito is one of the largest and best preserved colonial centers in Latin America. It's definitely where to stay in Quito for the first time as you'll be just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the most important landmarks in not only Quito but all of Ecuador.
Most of the historical buildings have survived almost unchanged throughout the centuries, earning the Historic Center the title of World Heritage Site by the United Nations.
This is where you'll find vintage churches, theaters, monasteries, and convents. In Old Town, you can get your culture fix during the day and find vibrant entertainment options in classy bars and restaurants at night.
There are a couple of important plazas dotted with cafes perfect for enjoying a cup of coffee or hot chocolate while you people watch or read a good book. Plaza de la Independencia (aka Plaza Grande) was my personal favorite!
Top things to do in Old Town, Quito
- Watch the incredible changing of the guard ceremony in the Plaza Grande where the president himself comes out to greet the crowd.
- Enjoy a cheap and delicious meal after perusing all the fresh food on offer at Mercado Central.
- Join a free walking tour and learn the history of Quito and its historic landmarks.
- Take a tour of the presidential palace and get a first-hand look at the art & architecture inside.
- Get a better view of Plaza Grande and Quito from the roof of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Quito.
- Admire the architecture of Teatro Sucre in Plaza del Teatro.
- Take in the incredible collection at the Museo de la Ciudad which chronicles Quito's history.
- Challenge your fear of heights by climbing to the top of the towers of Basilica del Voto
- Gawk at the impressive beauty inside the Church and Monastery of San Francisco, Quito's oldest church.
- Take in the best view of Old Town while enjoying tasty cocktails and dinner at Vista Hermosa.
- Balance an egg on a nail, stand with a foot in both hemispheres, and all sorts of other whacky things by joining a tour to the Mitad del Mundo (middle of the world).
- Take the Teleferio up to the top of Pichincha Volcano and enjoy the sweeping views of Quito before setting off on one of the hiking trails
Best Hostel in Old Town: Hostel Revolution
Hostel Revolution is a hostel made by backpackers for backpackers. Its smaller capacity makes it easier to make friends and feel at home.
The hostel is conveniently located nearby several restaurants but there's also a fully equipped kitchen for those who would rather cook. There are three common areas: a TV lounge with lots of DVD's, a rooftop terrace, and a bar.
Best Hotel in Old Town: Hotel Casa Ecuatreasures
Located in the heart of Old Town, Casa Ecuatreasures offers a nice breakfast in the cost of the room. Each room comes with a TV and lots of different channels. Some rooms even have a private balcony.
The owners go the extra mile for their guests making them feel like they're staying in a home rather than a hotel. It's a great choice for where to stay in Quito within Old Town!
La Ronda is actually a small neighborhood within the Historic Center of Quito, but it's so special that it deserves its own category for places to stay in Quito. The accommodation options you'll find below are quite inexpensive, making La Ronda where to stay in Quito on a budget.
La Ronda is said to be one of Quito's oldest neighborhoods dating back to pre-Colonial days. In the 17th century, the Beatniks of the day began to flock there in droves. It also served as a meeting point for prominent members of the revolution against the Spanish.
By the 19th century, it was a popular area for nightlife full of decadent bars, restaurants, and brothels. Then it fell into disarray and was ultimately forgotten about until 2006 when the city started the recovery efforts, restoring it into one of the coolest areas in Quito.
Today, La Ronda is one of the most romantic areas of Quito. The lantern-lined streets and balconies make visitors feel like they've been transported to Spain. Most of the traditional homes open up to courtyards that have been turned into art galleries, museums, and elegant restaurants.
Top things to do in La Ronda, Quito
- Try a Canalazo: an adult beverage served hot, made from aguardiente, local citrus fruits, and cinnamon.
- Shop til you drop at the boutique shops that line the main street selling clothing, crafts, and other specialty items that aren't found anywhere else in the city.
- Learn the history of the neighborhood by reading the boards full of information in both English and Spanish.
- Take in the exhibits of new Quiteño art at the Casa de Arte Museum and Art Gallery.
- Dance to the live music on the street and many of the restaurants on La Ronda.
- Taste local specialties, such as empanadas and chorizo, on a stick.
- Enjoy the sweeping views of Quito from the top of El Panecillo then climb to the top of the Virgen of El Panecillo (the tallest aluminum sculpture in the world) for an even better view.
Best Hostel in La Ronda: Masaya Hostel Quito
Masaya Hostel was designed with busy travelers in mind. The dorm beds are very private; each one is its own little cubicle with a light, power outlet, and USB plug. Even the private rooms are rather luxurious for a hostel and privates include breakfast. It's just $4 USD to add to a dorm booking.
There's also a beautiful garden with bean bags and tables. The modern kitchen and daily activities are just the icing on the cake, making this hostel a top choice for where to stay in Quito.
Best Hotel in La Ronda: Hotel Casa Montero
Hotel Casa Montero is located in the Santo Domingo square just a quick walk to Calle La Ronda. Their on-site restaurant has incredible views of the neighborhood and offers a free continental breakfast.
The rooms are spacious and very clean. They offer a very reasonable price for the excellent quality here. Guests are rarely disappointed in their stay making it a great choice for where to stay in Quito.
La Mariscal is the 'hood for backpackers! This area has the highest concentration of hostels as well as a vibrant nightlife. All of the action is centered around Plaza Foch.
It's a nice, chilled out square to enjoy a cup of coffee or lunch during the day, but at night it becomes a wild party scene with locals and foreigners alike.
La Mariscal was the first neighborhood to expand northward from the colonial center. It used to be a rural cattle grazing land. First, they built a few houses and a race track. Then it became a commercial hub, which brought in tourism, and from there, it morphed into the hotspot that it is today.
This is where you'll find the best selection of international restaurants and it's also a great place to book your onward travel within Ecuador as there are many travel agents. Take the time to shop around and ensure you get the best price.
Top things to do in La Mariscal, Quito
- Party til the sun comes up in the bars and nightclubs around Plaza Foch. Just be wary of pickpocketers!
- Stroll around El Ejido Park while admiring the painting by local artists on display.
- Shop for local handicrafts and souvenirs at the Artisanal Market.
- Try the most authentic Latin American chocolate at Republica del Cacao.
- Learn about the history of Ecuador from the first inhabitants to current day at the Central Bank National Museum.
- Sip on a high-quality fresh fruit juice at La Fruteria.
- Shop for CDs of Adean Musicians as well as traditional Ecuadorian instruments at Saucisa.
- Head to Plaza Borja Yerovi to dazzle your senses by admiring the surrounding street art and children playing in the fountain.
- Grab a pint and some shepherd's pie at Finn McCool's, "The only Irish bar on the equator."
- Check out the arts and crafts at the Plaza Foch Saturday Market.
Best Hostel in La Mariscal: Color House Petite
The Color House Petite is a family run hostel located in La Mariscal. It has a super friendly vibe that makes you feel like you've been invited into a family home.
Breakfast is included and there's a well-equipped kitchen if you prefer to cook your own meals. This is where you stay in Quito if you want to party as it's located nearby all the best bars and nightclubs in the city.
Best Hotel in La Mariscal: Casa Joaquin Boutique Hotel
Located in a restored Colonial house, Casa Joaquin is a perfect choice for where to stay in La Mariscal. Each room has a unique design as well as flat-screen TVs and modern bathrooms with a rain shower.
Guests can relax in the bar, on the patio, or on the rooftop terrace. Breakfast is included and it's within walking distance to many entertainment options.
La Floresta is Quito's hip, bohemian neighborhood chock full of coffee shops, independent movie theaters, locally owned restaurants, and art boutiques. It's home to artists, writers, universities, and students.
This is the perfect area for foodies as it's the local's favorite 'hood for eating. There are all kinds of restaurants including a new food truck park.
It's also the best place in Quito to try street food. Every night the main plaza fills with street food carts local specialties. There's even a farmer's market every Friday.
La Floresta is also an ideal neighborhood for those wanting a good dose of culture from the street art on display to the independent films in the local cinemas.
During the day, visitors can get a glimpse into the past, thanks to the neo-classical mansions that remain from the early 20th century. Then at night, there are jazz clubs, taverns serving craft beers, and other fun activities.
Top things to do in La Floresta
- Dance the night away at El Pobre Diablo, a popular jazz club featuring local and international artists.
- Take in the impressive collection of paintings and sculptures at the Trude Sojka Cultural House. Trude was a Holocaust survivor from Czechoslovakia, who settled in Quito and became one of Ecuador's most honored artists.
- Join a walking tour with Quito Street Tours and learn the history plus taste all the amazing food in La Floresta.
- Spend a day wandering the nearby neighborhood, a Guapulo, a small community tucked into a steep hillside.
- Sample Ecuador's exotic fruits at the weekend Farmer's Market.
- Catch an indie film at Ocho y Medio Theater and grab a cerveza at the on-site tavern.
- Relax on the furniture made from old bike parts while sipping on a cup of Joe at La Cleta Bici Cafe.
- Shop for high-quality handicrafts at Olga Fisch Folklore.
Best Hostel in La Floresta: El Hostelito
This is a great place to stay to have a more local experience in Quito. The owner chose the location to show people the areas of the city where families live.
One of the most unique aspects of El Hostelito is the queen size pods in their dorm rooms big enough for two people. They also offer free breakfast and are surrounded by incredible restaurants. Guests can easily reach the Historic Center and La Mariscal by bus.
Best Hotel in La Floresta: Casa Aliso Hotel Boutique
Set in an old home built in 1936, the Casa Aliso is a great choice for where to stay in Quito outside of the touristy areas. It even has a backyard making you feel right at home.
Each room has a private balcony and there is a garden and a reading room where guests can relax and read the free newspaper.
La Carolina is the most modern area of Quito. It's also the financial district so you'll mostly find young executives and families. The neighborhood is centered around a park of the same name, which is a great place for relaxing, getting some exercise, and people watching.
There is a fantastic assortment of restaurants selling international and local cuisine. As this area is located in the center of the city, it's a great jump off point for exploring other areas.
Top things to do in La Carolina
- Play any number of sports in the park including football, basketball, rollerskating, aerobics, horseback riding, and running.
- Rent a boat and row on the lake in La Carolina Park.
- Gain an understanding of the treatment of indigenous people by visiting Capilla del Hombre (the Mans Chapel).
- Visit the Botanical Garden and relax amongst the exotic flowers and trees.
- Head to the Museo de Ciencias Naturales to acquaint yourself with Ecuador’s flora and fauna.
- Oggle the various reptiles on display at Vivarium.
- Take a selfie with the abandoned Ecuadorian Airforce airplane that flew in the 1940s.
- Cheer for the local football team at Estadio Olimpico Atahualpa.
- Sing your heart out by joining karaoke at Mongo’s.
- Catch a buzz a dazzle your taste buds by sampling craft beers from all over Ecuador at Viva Cerveza.
- Give yourself a jump start by sipping on a hot cup of coffee at Cafe Jaru.
- Get some (more) exercise by strolling around the massive Parque Metropolitano.
Best Hotels in La Carolina: Hotel Lugano Suites
This is a great place to stay in Quito for those who prefer to have more space. Each suite is a little apartment, and they have one and two bedroom options.
There's also a terrace for BBQ'ing, plus it's located just a few hundred meters away from La Carolina Park. This is the best option for where to stay in Quito with a family.
The Wyndham Garden in Quito is great for travelers on the go. They have a fitness center as well as a terrace. Some rooms offer incredible city views.
The on-site restaurant serves a beautiful buffet breakfast and is famous for international cuisine. The staff is kind and helpful making this a great option for where to stay in Quito.
Review of Best Places to Stay in Quito
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for where to stay in Quito.
Best Hostel in Quito: Masaya Hostel Quito
Be close to the most important landmarks in Ecuador by staying at Masaya Hostel. Gaze out onto the old neighborhood of La Ronda and enjoy the views of volcanos in the distance while enjoying the bean bags on the roof terrace.
This hostel is made by backpackers for backpackers so travelers instantly feel at home.
Best Hotel in Quito: Casa Aliso Hotel Boutique
Offering a unique hotel experience, Casa Aliso is set in a beautiful home built in 1936. Each room is wonderfully decorated with its own design and private balconies.
There's also heating in all the rooms to keep you warm on cool Andean nights. Guests can relax in the garden or in the reading room.
Best Airbnb in Quito: Sauna & Pool, next to the park
Located right next to Parque La Carolina, this apartment has an amazing view from the rooftop terrace. It's perfect for a couple (and a child).
The apartment building is quite modern, complete with a pool, sauna, and fitness center, but the apartment itself is decorated with antiques and authentic items from around Ecuador. It's a great base to explore Quito from as the public bus offers direct access to the rest of the city.
Check out our Airbnb post for a 35% discount!
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Quito
Quito can be overwhelming. This is a massive city and it's not easy to get around, but with the help of this guide, it doesn't have to be difficult to figure out where to stay in Quito.
To reduce travel time and save a few extra travel-bucks, use this guide to help you pick the neighborhood that best suits your travel needs. Check out this fun post on 11 things to know before visiting Ecuador too!
Just to recap, our top hostel recommendation is Masaya Hostel Quito, due to their laid-back vibe and prime location in the oldest neighborhood in Quito.
For the best hotel in Quito, you'll want to book a room at Casa Aliso Hotel Boutique as they offer a unique hotel experience in a beautiful home built in 1936.
Have you been to Quito and think we missed something? Let us know in the comments below! Cheers!
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
Wondering if Ecuador is safe to visit or not? Check out our dedicated safety guide here for some useful advice and details.
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Need More Inspiration?
- Backpacking Ecuador Travel Guide
- 20 Best Hostels in Quito, Ecuador
- Backpacking South America Travel Guide
- Travel Onwards to Bolivia: Travel Guide
- Travel Onwards to Peru: Travel Guide
- Is Ecuador Safe?
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