south america

The 6 Best Day Trips From Quito

Although it’s possible to spend weeks exploring all the towns, villages, hiking trails and lakes surroundingQuito,,,,the capital of Ecuador, we appreciate that many people will have a limited time in this part of the world. Thankfully, many of the very best things to do in the region are easily accessible on a day trip from the city.

Within this guide we’ve covered what we consider to be the best day trip trips from Quito, including information on how to access them independently as well as our pick of the best organised to tours to each of the popular destinations.

The swoosh_VAR 002 copy.png

A word of Warning about Buses…


The good news is that these robberies are always (or at least as far as we are aware), non-violent, and often of the bag-slash kind (you probably wouldn’t even notice you’ve been a victim until you arrive at your stop or get off the bus). The bad news, is that the thieves which prey upon backpackers are very, very good at what they do!

To avoid becoming a target

  • Keep your daypack (the one with all your valuables) on your lap at all times.

  • Never, ever put it below or above your seat. Ever.

  • If someone tells that you must put your bag elsewhere, politely decline, no matter how insistent they are or whether they’re wearing a uniform (crooks have been known to dress up in the outfits of a bus driver).

* This isn’t broad-brush scaremongering; we’ve travelled several times in Ecuador and it’s an issue specific to buses there. We have more advice in ‘10 Things To Know Before You Visit Quito’.


best day trips from quito

/ Mindo

/ Otavalo

/ Mitad del Mundo

/ Termas Papallacta

/ Quiloto Lake

/ Cotopaxi

The Cloud Forests of Mindo

We spent three days here inMindo,,,,muddy boots permanently on our feet, and a perpetual smile on our faces (due not in small part to the friendly troupe of dogs that roam the streets). Mornings spent tracing trails through the forest in search of birds, waterfalls, and wonderful views and afternoons indulging in some of the world’s best chocolate and Ecuador’s tastiest arepas whilst watching the rain fall - as it tends to, every day, no matter what the guide books say.

我们真的觉得,求生意志比法律更值得t a day trip, but appreciate that if you don’t have weeks to explore Ecuador, you will want to squeeze in as much as possible. The good news is that it’s absolutely possible to tick off at least a couple of Mindo’s biggest attractions on a day trip.

Do it Yourself

Nice and early, head to Terminal La Ofelia and a bus company called ‘Flore de Valle’. The journey takes approx two hours and costs $3.10 per person. You will get dropped off in the centre of Mindo.

If you’re visiting independently, we’d recommend setting off with a firm plan about which activities you’d like to do to maximise the amount of time you have - take a look atour guide to Mindo计划您的访问。

Take a Tour


Thishighly-rated full-day tourincludes a visit to the hummingbird garden, a guided walk through the cloud forest and the opportunity to try out zip lining or repelling (for an extra cost).

If you’d prefer a private tour that can cater to your specific interests, consider taking a look atthis one


The Market of Otavalo

The traditional market town of Otavalo, two hours north ofQuito,,,,is a hugely popular stop on any travellers Ecuador itinerary, and whilst we chose to spend a few days here, you can get a really good sense of the place on a day trip - just make sure it’s on a Saturday so you get to enjoy the huge market that takes over the town every week (the largest indigenous market in South America and best place for a proper souvenir!).

We’ve put together an entireOtavalo指南(即将出版),有一些关于您在访问期间做什么的更多想法,然后前往那儿。

Do It Yourself

从您待在Quito的任何地方,都可以前往CarcelénStation(无论是出租车还是C5“Trolébus”)。该公共汽车每人$ 2.50(加上0.20美元的终端费),需要两个小时,然后在Otavalo Bus Station降下您。整天都有非常定期的出发。

Take a Tour

As getting to Otavalo is so straight forward, we really don’t think that you need to take a tour. However, if you’re keen to see a little more of the region (including the opportunity to visitLaguna Cuicocha- it really is beautiful!), considerthis tourwhich includes time at a weaving cooperative, lunch in Cotacachi and time at the lake.

Alternatively,this full-day tourcombines a visit to La Mitad Del Mundo, Otavalo Market, Peguche waterfall, and a short time at Laguna Cuicocha.


Mitad del Mundo

Whilst recent technological advancements have proven the measurements to be a little off (the very large monument erected is actually 300m in the wrong direction), the designation of the equatorial line, and its position just 22 km north ofQuitohas created quite the tourist attraction - and a very popular day trip for locals and tourists alike.

So you’d think perhaps that after two trips to Quito that we probably would have made it there…yeah, no. We know that this was perhaps an oversight on our part, but we promise that when we go back, we promise to try harder (in part because of fun little activities like being able to balance an egg on a nail, and flushing sinks on either side of the equator to test the theory that the water runs in opposite directions!)

Unlike every other destination in this list, as its relatively close to the capital, it’s a very easy place to visit if you’ve only got a few hours spare.

Entry to the park costs $5 and includes all museums etc.

Do It Yourself

参观自己里程碑式的很直forward, simply head to Ofelia station, then connect on to the clearly marked Mitad del Mundo bus for $0.40. The journey takes approx one hour each way, and can get incredibly crowded (watch those bags). It’s possible to take a taxi for $15 (not a bad idea if you can get a group together.

Take a Tour

If you’d prefer to to visit Mitad del Mundo as part of a tour and with a guide that can provide more information,this one(包括条目)强烈建议使用。

If you’re able-bodied and speak some Spanish however, we honestly don’t think a tour is necessary.


The Stunning Quilotoa Lake

远足整个路线Quilotoa Loopremains one of our absolute favourite experiences in Ecuador, however we understand that not everyone visiting the country has the luxury of setting aside four or five days for the independent hike or indeed is capable - or keen - to hike that far.

So, if you have dreams of seeing the deep blues of this incredible crater lake, of kayaking the 3 km across its still waters and experiencing life in this small Andean village but are on a tight schedule, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s possible to visit on a day trip from Quito.

有关完成多天远足的更多信息,请阅读我们的指南,‘10 Things to Know Before Hiking the Quilotoa Loop’.

Do it Yourself

While it is theoretically possible to visit Quilotoa as an independent day trip from Quito, it would make for a very early day start, a super late finish and several transport connections, as described below:

- From Terminal Quitimbe in south Quito, hop on a bus to Latacunga (depart every 30 minutes, $1.50 per person, take one hour)

- 公共汽车将使您在需要走8个街区或乘坐短途出租车前往中部拉塔坎加的高速公路上。出租车将等待,预计支付约1.50美元。

- Take a bus from Latacunga to Quilotoa. Two options for this: the first is a direct bus all the way to Quilotoa ($2.50, just over two hours) but if you’ve just missed one, consider taking the much more frequent bus to Zumbahua followed by a shared taxi / pick-up to Quilotoa ($5 for entire car/van).

Take a Tour

As discussed above, given there is no direct public bus from Quito to Quilotoa; if you’d like to visit as a day trip, taking a tour makes the most sense. There are plenty of tour companies offering trips to the Quilotoa Lake, especially in the Old Town of Quito, but if you’d prefer to book in advance, thenthis full-day tour有足够的空闲时间进行探索。

Do note that there are a handful of tours offering combined day trips to Laguna Quilotoa and other touristic destinations nearby, but as the lake is so beautiful and there’s plenty to occupy you for hours, we’d encourage you to book a tour that only visits the lake.



At 5,897m,Volcan Cotopaxiis the second highest peak in all of Ecuador (Chimborazo takes the top slot), and provides ample opportunity for all sorts of out door activities including mountain biking, hard-core mountaineering and high-altitude hiking. Closed for a couple of years following a particularly active period, it’s now very much open to the public, and a fantastic day trip for the more active traveller.

Do It Yourself

It is perfectly possible to visit Cotopaxi independently, but note that you will be limited to hiking up to the start of the glacier only.

First off, you’ll need to take a bus from Terminal Quitumbe in the south of Quito, heading towards Latacunga. The bus doesn’t actually go in to the national park, but if you let the driver know where you’re headed, they'll let you off at the junction for the entrance (Control Caspi). Unfortunately, this is nowhere near the actual park entrance, so you have the option to hitch-hike (only really possible on a weekend) or jump in one of the waiting taxi-trucks.

The going rate is $20 for a return journey, but expect to barter over price. The driver will stop at the control point in order for you to sign in, and continue up to the car park. From there you can hike up first to the refuge (definitely have a hot chocolate!) and then on to the foot of the glacier.

There is also the possibility to rent a bike from the taxi drivers ($10 per bike), to cycle to the entrance where they will meet you and drop you back off at the highway from where you should flag a passing bus.

Be sure to check outour experience of visiting Volcan Cotopaxi

Take a Tour

Despite our preference for doing most day trips independently when we can, we chose to experience Cotopaxi as part of a tour. There were a couple of reasons for this, but the most important being that we wanted to do the crazy cycle back down the volcano, and at the time this wasn’t offered by entrepreneurial taxi drivers!

与所有旅行一样,最优惠的价格可以在基多的地面上找到,但是如果您需要提前预订,我们可以推荐这个绝佳的选择which combines hiking, biking, breakfast and lunch, or, if you’re not keen on the two-wheel option,this tourwhich focuses a little more on flora, fauna, and a hike up to the volcanoes refuge.

Papallacta Hot Springs

For those seeking a little more relaxation rather than adventure, we can recommend taking a wee day trip to Termas Papallacta, a series of natural hot springs nestled high in the Ecuadorian Andes, around 40 miles east of Quito.

Technically part of a采取,,,,there is a large thermal bath open to the general public (6 am - 9 pm, costs $9 per person) but it’s also possible pay a higher entrance fee of $22 to gain access to the private pools and jacuzzis, as well as indulge in all sorts of additional beauty and relaxation therapies.

If you’re feeling particularly fancy, or want a little longer to relax, consider spending the night as well! Check prices, availability and find out morehere

Do It Yourself

从基多(Quito)航站楼Quitumbe到Papallacta镇有一辆直接的巴士(它将在Ba​​eza,Tena或Puyo停留),只需让驾驶员知道您要去“ Las Termas”。他们每30分钟留下每30分钟,费用约为3美元。尽管在40公里处,距离基托(Quito)相对较短,但蜿蜒的山路导致旅程约为1.5-2个小时。


  1. 拿出出租车 - 期望支付$ 2左右

  2. A small path heading uphill that follow the route of the river. Allow around 30 minutes for this.

  3. The 17 kmVirgen de Papallacta trail。这条路线将花费大约5-6个小时才能到达弹簧,因此,您必须留出足够的时间,对于大多数人来说可能不是可行的选择。

Alternatively, it’s also possible to grab a rental car from Quito airport for around $30 a day or grab a taxi/Uber for $60-80 (this is one way, so even if there’s several of you in the car, this is a pretty expensive option!).

To return by bus, just wait on the side of the road for one heading towards Quito.

Take a Tour

If you’d really like the visit the Papallacta but are on your own or don’t feel like negotiating Ecuador’s bus system, there are a couple of tour options.

Papallacta Private tour| This tour includes the Terras as well as lunch and a visit to a market. It’s a relatively expensive option if there’s only a couple of you in the group, but becomes much better value for slightly larger groups. Find out more here.

Papallacta Group Tour| A highly rated tour that includes transport and entry to the spa. Find out morehere

The swoosh_VAR 002 copy.png

plan for ecuador with our guides