Almost exactly on the equator, Quito in Ecuador is a relaxed blend of traditional Sierra lifestyle and modern city living. Nestled between several mountain peaks, the best views are undoubtedly from the top of the TelefériQo cable car. From here you can spot the Baroque spires of colonial churches, the huge parks and plazas and the sprawling neighbourhoods that surround the city centre.

The cultural highlight is undoubtedly the former home of painter Oswaldo Guayasamín, now open as a museum. As well as a huge collection of his own artwork, the museum contains his collections of Pre-Colombian artifacts and religious iconography. Entry also includes a tour of the Capillo del Hombre gallery, which is a temple-like structure Guayasamín designed and decorated to commemorate and explore the suffering of people throughout Latin America, and the artist’s hope for a better future.

Away from the city, take a day trip to Cotopaxi volcano. It’s possible to hike up most of the mountain to a ranger station, then mountain bike back down. A more sedate option is to hire a horse and ride around the surrounding National Park, which is home to many unique wildflowers and plants that can survive the sometimes harsh winds and high altitude.

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Read more on Quito below with flight options, current weather, maps, and activities to try while you are there.

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