Sitting 2800 metres above sea level within the Guayllabamba river basin, Quito is the world’s highest capital city. Its dramatic location within the fertile Andes mountain range certainly makes for a memorable first impression of Ecuador. The city feels almost suffocated within its natural borders, and it has sprawled for miles lengthways to fill every possible space available. In fact, as you drive from the airport to reach the city, the distinctive colourful Ecuadorian homes dotted precariously across the slopes may be your first lasting memory.
A city full of contrasts, your time here is likely to be focused upon the historic streets of the Old Town. This area was of the first to be recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1978, and it remains one of the best preserved and least altered historic sites in South America. Here you will find streets bursting with shabby yet beautiful colonial houses, cobbled plazas and impressive monuments. Here you can also get a feel for the cultural heritage, with market stalls, peddlers selling their wares and shoe shiners vying for business. In the New Town, you will find the majority of modern conveniences, accommodation and a sophisticated dining scene.