Quito’s Best Kept Secrets: Unmissable Stops on Your Walking Tour


Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is a city rich in history, culture, and breathtaking architecture. Nestled high in the Andes, it boasts one of the best-preserved historic centers in the world, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While many tourists flock to the well-known landmarks, there are countless hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Join us on a free walking tour through Quito’s historic center and uncover the city’s best-kept secrets that you won’t want to miss.

1. La Ronda

Begin your journey on La Ronda, one of Quito’s oldest streets. This charming cobblestone alleyway is lined with colorful colonial houses, artisanal shops, and cozy cafes. Stroll down La Ronda and soak in the vibrant atmosphere, where you can watch local artists at work, sample traditional Ecuadorian snacks, and listen to live music that brings the street to life.

2. Casa del Alabado

Just a short walk from La Ronda, you’ll find the Casa del Alabado, a museum dedicated to pre-Columbian art. Housed in a beautifully restored colonial mansion, the museum showcases an impressive collection of artifacts that offer a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of Ecuador’s indigenous peoples. This hidden gem is a must-visit for history enthusiasts and art lovers alike.

3. San Francisco Market

Dive into the local culture at the San Francisco Market, a bustling market where you can experience the flavors and aromas of traditional Ecuadorian cuisine. From fresh produce to exotic fruits and homemade delicacies, the market is a feast for the senses. Don’t miss the opportunity to try a fresh juice or sample some local street food, such as empanadas or hornado (roast pork).

4. El Museo Camilo Egas

For a dose of contemporary art, visit El Museo Camilo Egas. This museum is dedicated to the works of Camilo Egas, one of Ecuador’s most renowned modern artists. The museum’s collection includes a range of Egas’ paintings and murals that explore social and political themes. The building itself, a beautifully restored colonial house, adds to the museum’s charm.

5. The Hidden Courtyards of Quito

One of Quito’s best-kept secrets lies behind the grand facades of its colonial buildings – the hidden courtyards. Many of these courtyards are accessible to the public and offer a tranquil escape from the bustling streets. One notable example is the courtyard of the Archbishop’s Palace, which features a serene garden and a small café where you can relax and enjoy a coffee.

6. Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús

While the Church of the Society of Jesus, or La Compañía, is well-known, many visitors overlook its intricate details. This Baroque masterpiece is adorned with gold leaf and boasts some of the most elaborate interior decorations in Latin America. Take the time to explore the nooks and crannies of this church to fully appreciate its grandeur and artistry.

7. Guápulo

A short distance from the historic center, the bohemian neighborhood of Guápulo offers a different perspective of Quito. This hillside area is known for its artistic vibe, with numerous galleries, studios, and cafes. Walk down the winding streets to the Guápulo Church and enjoy stunning views of the valley below. The neighborhood’s relaxed atmosphere makes it a perfect spot for a leisurely afternoon.

8. El Panecillo

End your walking tour with a visit to El Panecillo, a hill topped with a statue of the Virgin Mary that overlooks the city. The climb up the hill is rewarded with panoramic views of Quito and its surrounding mountains. The statue itself, made of thousands of aluminum pieces, is an impressive sight and a symbol of the city.


Quito’s historic center is a treasure trove of hidden gems waiting to be explored. From ancient streets and vibrant markets to stunning churches and serene courtyards, each stop on this walking tour offers a unique glimpse into the city’s rich history and culture. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, these unmissable stops will reveal the secrets that make Quito such a fascinating destination.