From lively indigenous festivals to lovely outdoor cafés in tranquil parks, Quito is a city of wonderful contrasts. Its mixed history of ancient empires and colonialism is visible in the ruins that dot the landscape and the incredible Spanish-style churches and leafy plazas. UNESCO named the entire downtown a World Heritage site and described Quito as having “the best-preserved, least-altered historic center in Latin America.” Surrounding the city are volcanoes and impressive mountains, all easily accessible from downtown Quito for stunning views of the Pinchincha valley.
Quito comprises several distinct neighborhoods. You will love the historic downtown with its colorful buildings, cobblestone streets, and street vendors selling everything you can possibly imagine. Equally fun is the Mariscal Sucre, the heart of the traveler scene in Quito. It’s rife with international restaurants, travel agencies, and hostels, and has an all-around lively dance scene. In other neighborhoods, you’ll experience an incredible museum that pays tribute to Oswaldo Guayasamin (Quito’s favorite artist), independent cinemas, bohemian enclaves, and tons of places to hear live traditional Andean tunes or pulsating salsa and cumbia. It’s all easily accessible by bus, taxi, or foot.
Ecuador has a wide variety of climates and they changed based on altitude. There truly is a little bit of everything offered in this country with coastal beaches, rainforests and mountain ranges. There is also the exciting ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands to visit, a UNESCO World Heritage site with quite exotic wildlife. With such a wide range of environments to choose from, you will experience countless adventures with new friends during Semester in Ecuador.