Originally known as San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador’s capital is one of the highest capital cities in the world, situated 2800m above sea level. The city is located on the slopes of an active volcano, Pichincha, which last erupted in 1999 resulting in a layer of ash falling on the capital. However this was a rare occurrence, as the last eruption prior to this was in 1660.
The population of Quito is approximately 2.2 million. The Republic of Ecuador overall has low population density, but the cities of Quito and Guayaquil have experienced significant growth in recent years with the migration of increasing numbers of the rural population into these cities. Quito has also become a popular location for expatriates to move to, with an expanding Asian community as well as expats from the US and Europe.
The old town is a charming area of cobbled streets, old colonial style houses and churches. It is also home to museums which chart the fascinating history of Quito, from its indigenous people, through the arrival of the Incas, the Spanish, and eventually independence in 1830. Quito was one of the first two cities in the world to gain UNESCO World Heritage Site status, at the same time as Krakow.
Outside the old town, Quito has many elegant modern buildings housing offices, shopping malls and hotels. One of the most popular places for outdoor pursuits in Quito is La Carolina Park, where you can play tennis, go running and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Quito is situated just 25 km from the equator, but its high altitude means that temperatures are not as hot as they might be at a lower altitude. Average daytime temperatures fluctuate very little through the year, with average highs of 22°C to 23°C and average lows of 8°C to 9°C. February, March and April are typically the wettest months, with average precipitation peaking at around 149mm during April.
Apartments and houses are generally very affordable in Quito, but of course, as in any city the prices will vary depending on which area you choose to live in. The colonial district is one of the most attractive parts of Quito, but is a little more expensive than some other areas. Another popular part is República del Salvador, a sophisticated area near to La Carolina park. The suburban area of Guapulo is also popular with expats.
Some of Quito’s newer housing developments are gated communities, many featuring luxury facilities such as pool, gym and landscaped gardens. These developments can be a good option if you are concerned about security.
Before you start looking for accommodation in Quito, you will obviously have to get visa matters sorted first. In our guide on Moving to Ecuador, you can find a first overview of visa types and information on registration and more.