This short but extensive itinerary brings you into the very heart of the Ecuadorian capital and its surroundings. You will tour Quito's beautifully preserved historic center to see fine examples of colonial architecture, learn about history and culture at the Ethnographic Museum, and enjoy the best panoramic view of the city. The adventure continues north of Quito in Otavalo and Cotacachi, renowned for their local crafts. Finally, take a day-trip to Cotopaxi National Park—its namesake volcano is one of Ecuador's most famous natural landmarks.

Highlights

  • Get the best view of Quito at El Panecillo Hill
  • Buy souvenirs at the Otavalo indigenous market
  • Learn about Ecuadorian history at the Ethnographic Museum
  • Hike the magnificent Cotopaxi Volcano

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival to Quito Quito
Day 2 Quito City Tour Quito
Day 3 Otavalo Day-Trip Quito
Day 4 Hike Cotopaxi National Park Quito
Day 5 Depart from Quito  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival to Quito

Basílica del Voto Nacional, Quito
Basílica del Voto Nacional, Quito

Welcome to Ecuador! A representative will greet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel, where you can rest and freshen up. 

Depending on your time of arrival, you will have the afternoon or evening to enjoy at your discretion. You can walk around, taking in the city's atmosphere and try some local dishes like empanadas, chifles, or guatitas.

Day 2: Quito City Tour

Quito's historic center
Quito's historic center

Today, you'll officially begin your adventure with a grand tour of Quito.  Visit the city's beautiful historic center, marked by its narrow streets, colonial churches like La Compañía, and other interesting landmarks. You'll then do a short stop at the top of El Panecillo Hill, from where you can get a spectacular view of the city.

In the afternoon, have some fun by standing in the literal middle of the world at the Monument to the Equator, which marks the equatorial line. Then, it's time to dive into the city's history at the Ethnographic Museum and learn about the groups that have inhabited Ecuador throughout the centuries. 

You will have a free evening to rest or enjoy Quito's nightlife.

Plan your trip to Ecuador
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.

Day 3: Otavalo Day-Trip

Plaza de los Ponchos in Otavalo
Plaza de los Ponchos in Otavalo

Leave Quito behind as you drive north to the city of Cayambe to try some of its famous bizcocho pastries before continuing to Otavalo. This city is surrounded by volcanoes and is well known for its indigenous local market, where proud locals wearing traditional clothes sell colorful textiles and other crafts. This is a great chance to buy some souvenirs and work on your bargaining skills!

After exploring the colorful market, you will be back on the road on your way to Cotacachi, which is renowned for its quality leather goods and markets. Afterward, head to the indigenous village of Peguche and enjoy a cultural exchange with the local Otavalo people, who are always happy to teach visitors about their culture and worldview.

End the evening back in Quito.

Day 4: Hike Cotopaxi National Park

Cotopaxi Volcano
Cotopaxi Volcano

Rise bright and early for an exciting day in nature. After breakfast, you will visit the famous Cotopaxi National Park. Its highlight is its homonym volcano, which is currently active and which is one of the region's most popular attractions.

Enjoy hiking this astonishing natural park, taking in the uniqueness of its ecosystems and enjoying some breathtaking views of the volcano's constant slow eruption. Your guide will provide information on the flora, fauna, and history of the park—as well as help you find the best picture spots!

You can have lunch at an authentic local hacienda restaurant before heading back to Quito.

Day 5: Depart from Quito

Quito Cable Car
Quito Cable Car

It is time to say goodbye to Ecuador and continue on to your next adventure. A representative will accompany you to the airport and wish you safe travels.

Map

Map of Ecuador History, Culture & Nature: Quito & Surroundings - 5 Days
Map of Ecuador History, Culture & Nature: Quito & Surroundings - 5 Days