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Health & safety

Dangers & annoyances

Quito has a reputation for being a dangerous city. Fortunately, that danger is easy to avoid by knowing where – and where not – to go.

Ironically, the area with the most tourist services – the Mariscal Sucre – is one of the most dangerous areas in the city, especially after around 9pm, when you should take a taxi even if you have only two blocks to walk. The Mariscal has been plagued by drugs, muggings, assaults and prostitution, and only recently has the city taken even the most token steps to control it (and the police corruption that allows it to continue). In an isolated incident in December, 2005, a German tourist was murdered when she stumbled upon a thief who’d broken into her hotel. While this is out of the ordinary, it illustrates the extent to which rampant crime has gone completely unchecked in the Mariscal. Despite the inconveniences, consider staying in another neighborhood – besides safety issues, you’ll have a more authentic experience to boot. Sundays, when no one is around, can also be dodgy in the Mariscal.

All that said, most folks who get mugged could have avoided it simply by taking a taxi. A campaign by local businesses in late 2005 as well as continued public pressure may improve the situation. Foch, between Avenida Amazonas and Diego de Almagro is notoriously bad. Ask your hotel about the current situation.

The old town, once more dangerous than the Mariscal, has been cleaned up and is now entirely safe as late as 10pm during the week and until around midnight on weekends. It’s well lit and the city has taken a keen interest in keeping it safe. After dark, do not stray south of Plaza Santo Domingo, east of Plaza San Francisco or north of the Church of La Merced.

The trolley system is plagued with pickpockets; El Comerico newspaper reported in 2005 that the Mariscal Trole stop was where you can most likely expect to get pick-pocketed. Either avoid the Trole during rush hour or watch your back.

The steps of García Moreno heading from Ambato to the top of El Panecillo are potentially dangerous. Take a taxi to the top, and flag another to return.

If you get robbed, file a police report, particularly if you wish to make an insurance claim. Do so at the police station (Mideros & Cuenca), in the old town, between 9am and noon. In the new town, go to the police station (cnr Reina Victoria & Vicente Ramón Roca).

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While you're there

Medical services

The following individual doctors have been recommended, many of whom have offices in the Centro Meditropoli (Map) near the Hospital Metropolitano.

Clínica de la Mujer (245 8000; Av Amazonas 4826 & Gaspar de Villarroel) A private clinic specializing in women’s medical problems.

Clínica Pichincha (256 2408, 256 2296; General Veintimilla 1259 & U Páez) Does lab analysis for parasites, dysentery etc.

Dr Alfredo Jijon (245 6359, 246 6314; Centro Meditropoli, office 215, Mariana de Jesús & Av Occidental) Gynecologist.

Dr John Rosenberg (252 1104, ext 310, 222 7777, 09-973 9734, pager 222 7777; Foch 476 & Av 6 de Dicembre) Internist specializing in tropical medicine; speaks English and German, makes house calls and is available for emergencies nearly anytime.

Dr Jorge Cobo Avedaño (225 6589, 246 3361, ext 222; Centro Meditropoli, office 004) English-speaking dentist.

Dr José A Pitarque (226 8173; Centro Meditropoli, office 211) English-speaking ophthalmologist.

Dr Silvia Altamirano (244 4119; Av Amazonas 2689 & Av de la República) Orthodontist and dentist; excellent. Near Parque La Carolina.

Hospital Metropolitano (226 1520, 226 9030, emergency 226 5020; Mariana de Jesús & Av Occidental) The best hospital in town.

Hospital Voz Andes (226 2142; Juan Villalengua 267) American-run hospital with an outpatient department and emergency room near the Iñaquito trolley stop. Fees start at about $15 for an office visit.

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