Shutterstock/32222881/JOSE ALBERTO TEJOFew cities have a setting to match that of Quito, the second highest capital in Latin America. It sits in a narrow valley running north to south, at the foot of the volcano Pichincha (4776 m). It is a city of many faces. At its heart is colonial Quito or the
centro histórico
, the first UNESCO World Heritage Site city in the world, where pastel-coloured houses and ornate churches line a warren of steep and narrow streets. North of the colonial centre is modern Quito, an altogether different place. Its broad avenues are lined with fine private residences, parks, embassies and villas. Here you'll find Quito's main tourist and business area: banks, tour agencies, airlines, language schools, smart shops, restaurants, bars, and cafés and a huge variety of hotels in the districts known as La Mariscal and La Carolina. Quito's working-class neighbour- hoods stretch to the south of colonial Quito, while suburban sprawl fills the valleys to the east. In the far north and south are relatively small industrial zones.

Quito is surrounded by scenic countryside well worth visiting on one-day or multi-day excursions. There are nature reserves, wonderful thermal baths, mountains to climb, quaint villages and - of course - the monument to the equator, all within easy reach of the city. The western slopes of Pichincha, also close at hand, are covered in beautiful cloud forests where nature lovers can indulge their taste for adventure.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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