Sightseeing in Quito with Quito Tour Bus
Since the beginning of 2012, tourists in Quito can enjoy city tours with the Quito tour bus, double-decker hop-on/hop-off buses leaving once an hour (first tour starts a 9 am). At an affordable cost of 12 USD, you can drive through Quito and discover the city from a new perspective. The audio comments are in Spanish and English.
Most people do the whole 3 hour loop starting at Boulevard Naciones Unidas, close to Quicentro Shopping centre.
After leaving Quito new town and passing by the botanical garden and La Mariscal neighborhood, the bus enters in Quito old town. I especially like the San Juan neighborhood close to the Basilica.
The San Juan neighborhood is famous for its bakeries that make “quesadillas”, typical sweets from Quito. If you want to try them, hop off the bus here and enjoy a quesadilla, a good coffee and the views over Quito!
At the same stop you can visit the Museum of Contemporary Arts. In the past the military hospital was in this building.
Next stop is the Basilica – the inside of the Basilica is not very impressive, but climbing up the steep stairs up to the towers of the church is definitely recommendable and an adventure, even if you are not afraid of heights. The views from the towers are simply wonderful! There is also a small cafe in one of the towers, where you can have a rest and a drink.
The bus drives down the very steep roads of Quito old town. From the top of the doubledecker bus you can also see inside of the old colonial buidlings and get close to the beautiful balconies. This street is “Calle de las 7 cruces” (Street of the 7 crosses – as there are several churches along the way).
Plaza San Francisco is one of the most beautiful places in the old town. If you get off here, visit the museum in the monastery of San Francisco, take a rest at Cafe Tianguez and do some shopping in the nice souvenir store close to the cafe! The plaza is located on the site where the palace of the Inca ruler Atahualpa´s son once existed and was used for centuries by indigenous groups as a trading center.
I love the remodeled Boulevard 24 de Mayo – when I walked there about 2 years ago, a pickpocket tried to steel my wallet. Now there is security and it’s a really nice place to walk around and continue your way to “La Ronda”, a typical colonial street. This street used to be famous for crime and prostitution, but since 2006 the street has been cleaned up successfully so that you can feel the colonial atmosphere again 🙂 Especially from Thursday to Saturday night, it’s a very popular spot for local people and tourists alike to go out, enjoy a canelazo (typical hot drink with naranjilla juice, spices and licquor) and empanadas on the street and listen to good live music in one of the several bars and cafes.
Finally the bus takes you up to the top of the Panecillo mountain to the Virgin of Quito. If you are lucky and have a clear day, you can spot the volcanoes around Quito – in any case the views are fantastic. The bus makes a 20 minute stop on the Panecillo so that you have enough time to walk around and take photos.
Back to the city! After a last little loop through the old town, the bus continues its way back to the North to Boulevard Naciones Unidas. On the way back you can hop off at the stop of the Teleferiqo to take the cable car up to the east side of Pichincha volcano for more stunning views 🙂
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