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World Travel Guide > Guides > South America > Ecuador > Quito

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Getting around Quito

Public transport

The three pillars of Quito's public transport system are the Trolebus, Metrobus and Ecovía electric bus lines, which are run by Empresa Pública Metropolitana de Transporte de Pasajeros de Quito (tel: +593 2 266 5023; www.trolebus.gob.ec). With dedicated lanes that are inaccessible to all other transport, they play the same role as trams or underground trains in other cities. All of them cross the city north to south from the airport area to the old town.

A metro system in Quito, stretching the 14 miles (22km) from Quitumbe to El Labrador, is currently under construction and projected to open in 2019.

Taxis

Registered taxis in Quito are obliged to have meters. They are yellow cabs that come in all shapes and sizes and can be hailed on the street or at taxi ranks around the city. Rides inside the city rarely cost more than $5, usually much less and drivers do not expect tips. To pre-book a taxi try Teletaxi (tel: +593 2 222 2222).

Always check that any taxi is officially licensed, look for a municipality registration number sticker displayed on the windscreen and doors; an orange license plates or the new white plates with an orange strip on the top; and video cameras inside.

Driving

Driving in Quito is a challenge because of chaotic traffic and jams. Considering its cheap taxis, and the efficient Trolebus, Metrobus and Ecovía services, hiring a car really isn’t worth the hassle.

Car hire

Car hire firms operating in Quito include Hertz (tel: +593 2281 8410; www.hertzecuador.com.ec). To hire a car, you must be over 21 (a surcharge may apply to drivers under 25) and hold a valid national or international driving licence. Insurance is required. The Ecuadorian police also recommend the use of a local, temporary driver permit.

Bicycle hire

BiciQuito (tel: +593 2395 2300, in Ecuador; www.biciquito.gob.ec) is Quito's public bikeshare scheme, with more than 400 bikes available across the city.

If you are longing for a two-wheeled adventure, head to Biking Dutchman, La Pinta E 731 and Reina Victoria (tel: +593 2 256 8323; www.bikingdutchman.com). It offers a wide range of bicycle excursions to the most beautiful spots of the Ecuadorean Andes.

Featured Hotels

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Hilton Colón Quito

Close to the historical district and Quito's airport, Hilton Colón Quito is a large compound, complete with the excellent Italian Portofino restaurant and a sushi bar. The main 19-storey tower overlooks Edijo Park and the Old Town. Large rooms have all the expected amenities. The hotel also boasts a fitness centre, a spa with Turkish bath and sauna, and an outdoor heated pool.

Community Hostel

Socially-minded and solo travellers should feel right at home with Community Hostel's daily schedule of activities, which include everything from a weekly food tour of the city to a Saturday night pub crawl. Situated in Quito's historic centre, the hostel also offers free Wi-Fi, security lockers, and 24 hour reception.

Casa Joaquin Boutique Hotel

Situated in the lively La Mariscal district, this boutique offering occupies the grounds of a restored colonial house and enjoys a rooftop terrace and large patio. Rooms include parquet flooring and all the modern fixtures and fittings you would expect, including a flat-screen TV, telephone and free Wi-Fi.

Café Cultura

This legendary hotel, in the heart of Mariscal Sucre area, is owned by a Hungarian painter who has turned every room into a work of art. Located in an old mansion house, it has a lush garden and a common area where you can dine in style or chat with other travellers, sitting by the fireplace. Wireless Internet is available.

Swissôtel Quito

Set dramatically on top of the cliff overlooking the picturesque Guaopolo valley, this hotel offers luxurious rooms as well as apartments for a prolonged stay, complete with all amenities one might expect from a high-class business hotel. It has six restaurants specializing in Swiss, French, Japanese and other international cuisines. The Amrita Spa centre boasts a gym and two pools - indoors and outdoors.

Hostal de La Rábida

Everything is white in this friendly Italian-run, middle-range hotel: the mansion house which it occupies, the rooms and the rabbit that lives in the little garden into which rooms open - hence the name. There is a cosy little restaurant serving Italian and Ecuadorean meals. Wireless Internet is available.