Free in Quito: Things to do

  1. Posing next to a Tarqui grenadier: Just like the guards at Buckingham Palace, the Tarqui grenadiers are one of Quito’s many tourist attractions. They guard the Palace of Carondelet, and perform the changing of the guard every Monday at 11am. If you’re not around for that, you can observe them standing at attention at the Palace with their libertarian age uniforms, carrying the Ecuadorian flag

  2. The Guayasamín Museum on Sundays. Every Sunday, the city is cleared of traffic and families go out to get some excercise by playing sports or simply by taking walks. Many enjoy this at the Parque Metropolitano Guanguiltagüa, one of the city’s largets parks. Nearby, you can visit the Chapel of Man or the Home-workshop of Oswaldo Guayasamín, one of the most prolific artists of Ecuador and Latin America. His work is vast collection that narrates joyful, tender, sad, and bitter moments involving Man. This area of Quito, known as “Bellavista” (Beautiful View), lives up to its name with its panoramic views of Quito.

  3. Experiencing the popular culture of the marketplace. Going to the markets of Quito costs nothing. At the Central Market or the San Francisco Market (Historic District), or the Iñaquito Market (Central North), visitors can admire the colors and variety of the products that are on sale: fruits, vegetables, flowers, meat, typical dishes, herbs, spices, etc. To try a piece of “hornado” (roast pork) is free. Local merchants will offer it free of charge and try to further entice you with flattery, “venga guapo, mi lindo mi rey” (losely translated, “come here handsome”). Its a chance to boost the ego and have a taste of typical Quiteño flavors. Oh,and if you decide to actually buy some fruit or some vegetables, remember to ask for the “yapa” (extras thrown in for free).

  4. Dancing to the spinning top. If you visit La Ronda street, you’ll find Don Zabala, an artisanal carpenter, who much like the famous fictional character of Geppeto, breathes life into wood by creating traditional toys. The spinning top is one of the most popular artifacts, which “dances” in this craftsman’s hands. When walking this street, remember to visit the Zabalartes Workshop, and reminisce about your childhood games.

  5. Everyday life at La Plaza Grande. Its worth sitting on one of the benches to watch the people and the movement of one of the main sqaures in old town; a part of the city where visitors can also see the Cathedral, the Archbishop’s Palace, and Carondelet, along with the centenial trees and gardens, filled with Mangolias and Fringe trees, that adorn the landscape. In this part of the city, visitors will find many retirees who frequent the square to watch the “passage of time” while they chat among friends.

  6. Art in the park. During weekends at El Ejido, artists come together to exhibit their work along the park’s surrounding sidewalks. This ancient square, (which divides the modern city from the old) is worth visiting to take a look at the work by young painters and sculptors. Inside the park, visitors can take walks, and perhaps come across the street theatre by Miche, a popular local comedian.

  7. From above at the Itchimbía. Watch as the city lights up to illuminate the night, like a small canvas painted with streets and paths. This ancestral hill, home to indigenous funeral rites, is where visitors can find an amazing view of the city’s historic district and the Avenue of Volcanos. During the summer, days are even clearer, guaranteeing a true sight to behold.

  8. Culture in La Floresta. Walking along this traditional neighborhood presents the city’s new wave: artisans, designers, and filmmakers inhabit this area, which also hosts several restaurants and cafes. During the afternoons and evenings, this area comes alive with culture; there are art-house films, art galleries, and several culinary options.

Written by: Carla Martínez / Picture: Quito Turismo

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