Standing at 2,850 metres, Quito is one of the highest capital cities in the world, a slightly dizzying experience on arrival which is soon shaken off as you pass through the beautiful old town. Surrounded by an incredible number of volcanoes, the so-called Avenue of Volcanoes, Quito is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the old town is a beautiful part of town. Find cobbled streets, plazas and beautiful 16th century colonial architecture found in the cathedral, government buildings, mansions and former palaces.
The old town is the area to be based these days after a great effort to restore it to former glories with plenty of lovely boutique hotels popping up close to the Plaza Grande in the last few years. Out of town, Panecillo Hill, topped by the Virgin of Quito, offers great views across the city that sits within a vast volcano crater.
Thanks to Ecuador being a small nation there is much to see and do close to Quito. Day trips to the vibrant handicraft market at Otavalo and hiking or horse riding from country haciendas are well worth it if staying on the mainland for a short time before going on a Galapagos Cruise. There are many national parks nearby such as the Antisana Reserve and Cotopaxi NP, great for bird watching and outdoor adventures.