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

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Things to do in Quito

Climb up icy Cotopaxi

Nestled amidst the Andes, Quito offers a number of interesting climbing options nearby. There are popular routes around Volcán Pichincha and some further away such as icy Cotopaxi, which is not for beginners. If you're grappling to get up there, Cotopaxi Climbing (tel: +593 2 290 3629; www.cotopaxiclimbing.com), based in Mariscal, can show you the way.

Cycle down Chimborazo

Biking around the foothills of Volcán Pichincha and beyond is a popular activity for visitors feeling hemmed in by the vast city. Other options include descending the Cotopaxi volcano, visiting the Indian communities of Quilotoa or freewheeling down the Chimborazo. For tours and bike hire, Biking Dutchman (tel: +593 2 256 8323; www.bikingdutchman.com) is the only choice.

Hike the hills around Quito

Trekking through the peaks surrounding Volcán Pichincha is popular with outdoor types. Don't be tempted to venture out after reaching the summit of the TelefériQo gondola (tel: +593 2222 996; www.teleferico.com.ec) though; even experienced walkers need time to acclimatise to the high altitude so it is best not to hike as soon as you arrive.

Learn Spanish with a family

English is not widely spoken in Quito, so it's a good idea to book a few Spanish lessons. Say Hola to Cristóbal Colón (tel: +593 2 250 6508; www.colonspanishschool.com). This Spanish school has an excellent reputation and reasonable prices, and can even organise a homestay with a local family to perfect your skills.

Learn to salsa in an Ecuadorian dance school

With a thunderous nightlife spread through its salsa venues, Quito is the dance capital of Ecuador. If you're afraid of getting out there on the dance floor, loosen your hips by trying a few lessons at one of the dance schools. Ritmo Tropical (tel: +593 2 255 7094; www.ritmotropicalsalsa.com) can help even those with two left feet.

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.