Walking Tour: Old Town

  • Start Plaza Grande
  • End Parque La Alameda
  • Length 3km; four hours

This walk meanders along the cobblestone streets of the Old Town, passing 18th-century churches and picturesque plazas.

Start at the lively Plaza Grande, with its shoeshine boys, singsong vendors and well-worn benches. After checking out the Palacio de Gobierno (and changing of the guards on Monday), head inside the cathedral for a look at paintings from the Quito School. Head down García Moreno to La Compañía de Jesús, Quito’s most ornate church. Then walk northwest along Sucre to the impressive Plaza and Monastery of San Francisco, with majestic Pichincha visible behind it on a clear day.

From the plaza, cut down Bolívar and turn right on García Moreno. Pass under the arch at Rocafuerte to the Museo de la Ciudad, an excellent place to learn about Quito’s development. Continue on García Moreno toward the historic street of La Ronda, which is lined with colonial balconied houses, galleries and shops. Come evening, live music makes this the liveliest place in the Old Town. From La Ronda, turn left onto Guayaquil, and you’ll pass the Plaza and Church of Santo Domingo, its 17th-century domes making a nice backdrop to yet another picturesque snapshot.

From the Plaza Santo Domingo, head north along Flores to the attractive Plaza del Teatro and peek inside the Teatro Sucre foyer to see what performances are on while you’re in town. From here, walk north to Esmeraldas and turn left, then right at Venezuela and continue north to the looming Basílica del Voto Nacional. Climb to the top of the clock tower for superb views over the Old Town. From the church, walk east along Caldas to busy Guayaquil. Glimpse the pretty Plaza San Blas before continuing on to the Parque La Alameda and the handsomely restored Quito Observatory, South America's oldest. Here you can peruse 19th-century instruments and return by night for a look at the (often fog-shrouded) sky.