Quito is a large city and the capital, expect to experience a typical South American metropole. A couple of skyscrapers, a lot of traffic, long distances in between districts and a very busy city centre.
Getting in and out of Quito: Quito has two main bus terminals. If you want to head North then go to the North terminal, all trips to the South depart from the South terminal only. The terminals are 2 hours away from each other, so inform yourselves well and don’t make the mistake of going to the wrong terminal. Buses in Ecuador are pretty old (also compared to the rest of South America), there are countless companies and they all offer more or less the same service, even if they say otherwise. That means if you know how to negotiate you are going to have mostly very affordable, but uncomfortable journeys.
Inside Quito you can use public transportation, but also Uber, being priced pretty decently, is a great option to consider. A 30minutes Uber ride will cost you around 3$.
The old town of Quito is a must see. It is filled with historical buildings and some beautiful churches. Our favorite was the golden church, la „Iglesia de oro“. If you happen to be in Quito in the last weeks of November you might have the luck to experience „la Feria de Quito“, a yearly celebration of the city, with a lot of live music, traditional dances and a great, energetic atmosphere.
The best meals during our time in Quito we had at the central market. One of the most traditional dishes is called „Corvina“, which is a fried white fish. Food-prices will be around 3-5$ in Quito, with the market being one of the cheapest options.
As Quito lies on a height of 2850 meters, exploring the city is also a good way of getting used to the altitude and preparing yourself for going deeper into the Andes.
There are two main areas you will find hostels at, one is the historical city center and the other is in a modern district called „La Mariscal“. We stayed in both areas, as we have been twice in Quito.
While for us staying in „La Mariscal“ was cheaper (7$ per person for a double-bed in a dorm), we felt like there was nothing to do in that area, unless you feel like going to malls. We actually got ourselves some thicker jackets there, as Ecuador and Quito can get pretty cold. “La Mariscal” is supposed to be the party area, but when we were there it was all dead, probably because it wasn’t on the weekend.
Staying in the city center was for us by far the better experience, you are close to most historical buildings (all in walking distance), and you have way more choice in terms of food, drinks, cafés. Hostel-prices in the center range from 15-20$ for a double room and 8-15$ for a dorm-bed.