Transportation in Quito
Tucked far and away in the Andes, Quito, the capital city of Ecuador, is a popular tourist destination that is easily accessible in spite of its being located almost 2850 metres above sea level.
Situated just 22 km south of the equator, Quito's vantage location makes it possible to view snow-capped mountain peaks on a fairly sunny day!
Our Quito Transportation Guide below gives you all the transport advice you need for your holiday there. Booking one of our interesting Quito tours is a great way to learn more bout this beautiful city and its culture. See our Ecuador transportation guide for general information about travelling in Ecuador.
Getting to Quito
The city is well connected to the US, Europe and Australia through the Aeropuerto Internacional Mariscal Sucre or UIO Airport, located in the centre of Quito, just five minutes away from the financial centre.
A large, new international airport is currently under construction. Located in a valley to the northeast of Quito, it is expected to be in between the towns of Puembo and Tababela, about 25 km from the city. It is likely to start operations by mid-2011.
After you've landed at the airport, it is possible to travel to the main parts of the city by taxi or by bus.
Taxi: Taxis are possibly the best way to get to the city since they are relatively inexpensive and comfortable. Just go directly to the taxi stand located outside the terminal. Taxis leaving the airport - the Cooperativa de Taxis No. 34 - are exempt from metered service; you'll have to agree upon a price before boarding the cab but expect to pay US$5.00-$6.00 to most destinations within the city.
Bus: This is a good option for those travelling light. After exiting the airport, cross the main street and board a bus with the sign Juan L. Mera or J.L. Mera. The fare is US$0.25 but If you're a student below 18 or a senior citizen, you're only expected to pay half the fare.
Overland visitors can enter Ecuador from Colombia. There are many taxis, trucks and minibuses operating between the border points for a small fee. The immigrations offices are open seven days a week in both countries.
Getting Around Quito
Buses are an affordable and easy option. The service is frequent, especially during the day. There are three types of buses that you can choose from.
The 'populares,' which are blue in colour, are the most convenient option and the fare is only US$0.25. However, for this very reason, they are also the most crowded during peak hours. The pink ‘interparroquial' buses are used for travelling to the suburbs. The most luxurious option though is the bright red 'selectivo' or ‘especiale', which does not allow standing passengers and also costs US$0.25 per ride.
Recent years have seen the emergence of the eco-friendly electric trolley buses. The Trole line runs along the Av. 10 de Agosto, the Ecovia line runs along the Avenida 6 de Diciembre and the newest line, the Metrobus, runs along Av. América.
The yellow taxis are also a great option, if you want to avoid the ‘hazards' of bus travel in Quito. On an average, a 20-minute ride should cost you about US$2.00-$3.00. During the night, fares are generally higher; you may have to pay as much as US$4.00-$5.00 for a 20-minute ride. Make sure that you negotiate the fare in advance since meters are usually not turned on at night.
Also, ensure that you carry small denominations of money while boarding a taxi; most taxi drivers don't bother with giving you the change and will instead try to persuade you to overlook it!
By Car Rental
Renting a car is not recommended, unless you're travelling outside the city or you want to make a day trip from Quito. The congested streets, lack of parking space and a general disregard for traffic rules make driving a Herculean feat for tourists who are unfamiliar with the city.
Cycling around Quito proves to be cheap and enjoyable. However, traffic is chaotic and traffic rules rather lax; visitors are advised to use a helmet. The city offers a rather unique cycle path, which goes round the northern parts and throughout Av. Amazonas to the Parque La Carolina.
Ecuador's rail transport system is used mainly for tourism. The current railway is pretty rundown and the services rather erratic. Before you decide to embark on a train journey, make sure that you check the most recently updated schedule with the Visitors' Bureau. Plans are afoot to construct a light rail system in Quito, which will alleviate much of the chaos on the roads.