Ins and outs

Getting there

Quito's airport, Mariscal Sucre, lies only about 5 km to the north of La Mariscal, the main hotel district, well within the city limits. Mariscal Sucre is served by the airport taxi cooperative
, the trolley bus (
El Trole
), the Metrobus (articulated bus system) and city buses.

Bus

Two new long-distance bus stations opened in July 2009: Terminal Quitumbe in the far south of the city, for destinations south, on the coast via Santo Domingo, and in Oriente; and Terminal Carcelén on Av Eloy Alfaro, where it meets the Panamericana Norte in the far north of the city, for destinations north and on the coast via the Calacalí-La Independencia road. Both these bus stations can be reached by public transport: Quitumbe is served by the Trole and feeder bus lines of the Ecovía and Metrobus, and Carcelén by feeder buses of the Ecovía and the Metrobus. There are plans to extend the Metrobus to both terminals. Taking public transport with luggage is not recommended however, because of crowding and theft.

Getting around

Both colonial Quito and La Mariscal in modern Quito can be explored on foot, but the distance between them and from these areas to other neighbourhoods is best covered by some form of public transport, which is plentiful. Using taxis is the best option, as it's convenient and cheap. There are city buses and three parallel transit lines running north to south on exclusive lanes: the
Trole
,
Ecovía
and
Metrobus
. Public transit is not designed for carrying heavy luggage and gets crowded at peak hours. Suburbs are serviced by buses leaving from specific stops.

Orientation

Quito is a long, narrow city, stretching from north to south for almost 47 km, and east to west for only 3-5 km. The best way to get oriented is to look for
Pichincha
, the mountain which lies to the west of the city. The
El Panecillo
hill is a landmark at the south end of colonial Quito.

The areas of most interest to visitors are the revitalized
colonial city
, with its many churches, historical monuments, museums and some hotels and restaurants, best accessed by trolley;
La Mariscal
or
Mariscal Sucre
district, east from Avenida 10 de Agosto to Avenida 12 de Octubre, and north from Avenida Patria to Avenida Orellana, where you find many hotels, restaurants, bars, discos, travel agencies and some banks; and the environs of
Parque La Carolina
, north of La Mariscal as far as Avenida Naciones Unidas and from Avenida 10 de Agosto east to Avenida Eloy Alfaro, where the newer hotels, restaurants, main banking district, airline offices and a number of shopping malls are located.

Safety

Like any big city, Quito requires precautions. The authorities are working on improving public
safety. In colonial Quito, Plaza de la Independencia and La Ronda are patrolled, as is Plaza El Quinde in La Mariscal. Members of the
Policía Metropolitana
, who patrol the colonial city on foot, speak some English and are very helpful. The
Policía de Turismo
in La Mariscal are open 24 hours.

Watch your belongings at all times, do not carry unnecessary valuables, avoid crowds and especially crowded public transit. Use taxis at night and whenever you carry valuables. Be extra careful after 2200, especially in La Mariscal. If an area is very quiet hop in a cab. Bag slashing can be a problem at bus terminals,
especially La Marín and the old Terminal Terrestre, where there have also been many reports of scams: thieves pretending to work for the bus company and stealing hand luggage in the bus. Do not give your day pack to anyone and always keep your things on your lap, not in the overhead storage rack nor on the floor.

Climate

Quito is within 25 km of the equator, but it stands high enough to make its climate much like that of spring in England; the days pleasantly warm and the nights cool. Because of the height, visitors may initially feel some discomfort and should slow their pace for the first day or two. The mean temperature is 13°C; rainfall, 1473 mm. The rainy season is October to May, with a lull in December, and the heaviest rainfall in April, though brief heavy storms in July are not unknown. Rain usually falls in the afternoon. The day length (sunrise to sunset) is almost constant throughout the year. Quito suffers from air and noise pollution, principally due to traffic congestion. These are worst at rush hours and especially severe during the pre-Christmas shopping season. During school holidays, July to September, the air is a little better.

Tourist information

Empresa Metropolitana Quito Turismo/Quito Visitor's Bureau
, www.quito.com.ec,
has information offices with English-speaking personnel, some brochures and maps, and an excellent website. They also run walking tours of colonial Quito. Information offices are in various locations. See also Ministerio de Turismo
, www.vivecuador.com.

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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