Panting for breath after walking just 5 steps…that was our first memory of Quito as soon as we touched down at the Mariscal Sucre airport.
Standing proud at 2,850 metres (9,350ft) high, tucked away in the Andes Mountains, Quito is the second-highest official capital city in the world after La Paz in Bolivia. And bloody hell you certainly feel it!
Other than panting for breath every 5 minutes, Quito packs a punch for gay travellers. It's not only a cultural gem with a really pretty Old Town to explore, it also has an impressive and vibrant gay scene. The capital city of Ecuador is also located right by the equator line from which it takes its name. Locals nickname Quito as “la mitad del mundo” or the middle of the world.
We spent half a year based in the middle of the world during our big trip to Latin America and fell in love with it. It's an inexpensive place, extremely pretty, never too hot and never too cold. It's also a very rewarding destination due to the variety of food to try and the variety of hot guys to meet!
We've bundled all our first-hand experiences from Quito into this comprehensive gay guide covering the best gay bars, clubs, hotels to stay, things to do and more.
Arriving in Quito soon?
Organise a private airport transfer to your hotel before you go. Getting to Quito Old Town from the airport can only be done via public bus, taxi or a private transfer. We definitely recommend a private transfer as it's the safest and quickest way to travel into the city. You can relax knowing you have a professional English-speaking driver to take you directly to your accommodation so you can get ready to explore Quito.
Is Quito safe for gay travellers?
Overall, yes very much!
Quito is the touristic and LGBTQ capital of Ecuador – a country that legalised gay marriage in 2019 and was one of the first in the world to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation back in 1998. The city has a very active LGBTQ community, along with quite a diverse LGBTQ scene and a popular Pride every June that has taken place almost every year since 1998.
As a gay couple, we never had any problems in any of the hotels we stayed in. We always felt welcomed and never faced any issues when asking for a double bed. The only thing we'd say about Quito, which applies to all travellers (straight or gay), there are parts of the city which are a bit dodgy, such as the Old Town in the evening after dark.
The other thing to note is that Ecuador is a very Catholic country, the older generation, in particular, retaining very conservative views. Therefore, when heading to more remote areas of the country outside of Quito, homophobia may be prevalent, so bear this in mind! Having said this, we never experienced any problems in Ecuador. We found the people to be welcoming, respectful and curious to learn more about us. In the worst-case scenario, people thought we were brothers!
To find out more, read our interview with local boy Mario from Quito about what gay life in Ecuador is like and what it's like growing up gay here.
The gay area of Quito
The bulk of the gay scene of Quito can be found in the touristic Mariscal area, in and around the “Plaza Foch”. It is affectionally nicknamed “La Zone Rosa” (ie the Pink Zone) by locals, however, not because it's a “gay area” per se, but because it is the heart of the city's nightlife. This is where all of Quito's main bars, clubs and restaurants come to life every evening. Gay or not, we love the atmosphere in Plaza Foch in the evening. It's exciting, always a “buzz” in the air, filled with locals and people from all around the world.
The main (and only!) gay bars in Quito to check out are Radar and Pravda, both located in Plaza Foch. In terms of gay clubs, there are several, which are more spread out. These include Touch UIO (located in Plaza Fochs), Tercer Milenio Discoteca (around 10 mins walking distance south from Plaza Foch), Kika (around 10 mins drive north from Plaza Foch) and La Disco Bicht/Bitch (around 5 mins drive north from Plaza Foch).
Gay friendly hotels in Quito
There are many gay friendly hotels spread across the Mariscal and the Old Town of Quito. For our first visit to Quito, we wanted to be close to the gay nightlife, so, for this reason, we tried out a few hotels in the Mariscal area. Some of the best gay hotels can be found here, in particular the gay-owned Casa Joaquin.
On our second visit to Quito, we based ourselves in the pretty Old Town, which has more boutique and upmarket hotel options like Hotel Plaza Grande and Casa Gangotena. The old town is around 10-15 minutes drive northeast from the Old Town. However, taxis are inexpensive in Quito, so whether you choose to base yourself in the Old Town or in the Mariscal, getting around will never be a problem. We've set out below the hotels in Quito which we not only tried and loved but welcomed us as a gay couple.
Hotel Plaza Grande
Why we love it
- Gorgeous 5-star gay friendly hotel in the Old Town
- Lavish suites featuring big marble Jacuzzis!
- Three incredible restaurants with live music including opera, live guitar and flamenco
- Our top pick for a romantic and luxurious getaway in Quito
Located in Quito's Old Town, on the Plaza Grande main square, this luxury boutique hotel is well accustomed to welcoming gay couples and travellers. The rooms are spacious, decorated in a colonial style, and my god those beds – huge and oh so comfortable!
There are only 15 suites at the Hotel Plaza Grande, which makes it feel quite exclusive as well as bloody opulent! Our suite had a large marble Jacuzzi bathtub and private balcony from where we had prime views over Quito's super pretty Old Town.
Plaza Grande has two highly-rated house restaurants and a posh wine bar, each with live music shows every evening: La Belle Epoque is the first restaurant. It is decorated in 1940s French-style and specialises in fusion cuisine. We loved it for the live opera (yes opera!) they play for guests! accompanied by live opera. Café Plaza Grande is the second restaurant, which serves traditional Ecuadorian food and has live guitar music. The El Caustro wine bar features live Flamenco music – as a former Flamenco wannabe dancer, Seby was in his element at El Caustro!
One of the activities offered by the hotel is a moonlight horse-drawn carriage ride through Quito's old town. Yes, it's a bit cheesy but by the end of it, we were both smiling our socks off!
Why we love it
- Stunning Colonial-style 5-star gay friendly hotel
- Highly rated restaurant – one of the best in all of Quito
- Rooftop terrace for romantic sunset views over Quito's Old Town
- Absolutely impeccable service
Casa Gangotena is one of the most famous luxury hotels in Quito, famously rated as one of the top 25 luxury hotels in the world by CNN. It is situated in a beautifully restored mansion overlooking Plaza San Francisco in Quito's Old Town.
The restoration has kept many of the Art Nouveau and Art Deco elements that were originally part of the building. Art lovers will be in heaven here: Casa Gangotena is filled with painted ceilings, oil paintings, murals and friezes.
Casa Gangotena has one of the best restaurants in the city and for good reason. It's truly a gourmet dining experience with the best steak in town. It's pricey but well worth the penny. The only downside is that you need to reserve in advance as spaces are limited and they get booked up quickly. We also loved the bountiful breakfast here with some of the best eggs Benedict we've ever had. They even offer guests a champagne breakfast if you're feeling fancy, as well as brunch on Sundays.
The service at Casa Gangotena is amazing, with incredibly delightful staff who seem to appear from nowhere to meet your every need. When we checked-in, we were welcomed with fresh fruit and a restorative herbal drink to help acclimatise to the altitude. Finally, we found them to be very gay friendly. The staff didn't bat an eyelid at welcoming two men who wanted to share a double bed. They were clearly accustomed to welcoming LGBTQ travellers.
Why we love it
- Gay owned medium budget boutique hotel
- Amazing location for the gay scene: walking distance to Plaza Foch
- Set in a charming and quirky restored Colonial house
- Romantic rooftop terrace and bar
Casa Joaquin is a charming gay owned boutique hotel in the Mariscal, walking distance to the main gay bars of Quito.
We will never forget the cute and quirky London-inspired decor, such as the iconic red London phone box-turned-into-toilet in the communal area!
Casa J is our top pick for LGBTQ travellers looking for a medium budget hotel, with a choice of basic double rooms or spacious suites that include a kitchen and private courtyard.
The staff at Casa J are very cute and extremely welcoming to gay travellers. It is owned by a Belgian/Ecuadorian gay couple who also own the excellent La Petite Mariscal restaurant around the corner (see below). They are very passionate about the gay scene and always have the latest advice about the latest parties happening in Quito.
Casa Joaquin has a large rooftop terrace and bar where you can get some pretty spectacular views of the Andes on a clear day. This is also the perfect spot for a few drinks before heading out to party in the nearby bars. The breakfast is a buffet which includes empanadas, humitas, coffee, tropical fruits, freshly baked croissants, made-to-order eggs and freshly squeezed juice. Another favourite memory from Casa Joaquin was the cute towel animal art waiting for us in our room, which included a pair of swans and also bears chilling out with TV remotes!
Hostal de la Rabida
Why we love it
- Our favourite gay friendly budget hotel in Quito
- Gorgeous garden with Brownie the Rabbit and hummingbirds
- Walking distance to the gay scene of Plaza Fochs
- Personable and family-like with only 11 rooms
For a good budget option in the Mariscal area we loved Hostal de la Rabida. It's an extremely homely Victorian-style inn, with a fireplace in the communal area as well as a library, sofas, desks and classical music playing in the background.
Brownie the enormous fat rabbit also roams free here in their garden who loved to nibble on generous grass/plant gifts offered to her by Seby. We also loved hanging out in the garden trying to spot the hummingbirds.
There are only 11 rooms at La Rabida, which makes it feel like you're staying with your own Ecuadorian family. The staff are friendly, smiley and had no issue checking in this gay couple! If you have an early departure they will make sure you have a packed breakfast to take with you and can organise an airport shuttle for a small fee. We also love that they had free filtered water available for guests – very important for battling altitude sickness!
In terms of location, La Rabida is perfectly located near Plaza Fochs, just a few minutes walking distance to gay hangouts like Pravda, Radar and Disco Bitch. La Rabida has its own in-house restaurant which specialises in delicious local food and some western dishes like burgers. If the weather's nice you can eat outside on the patio and there's also the option of having pre-dinner drinks beside the fire.
Rincón Familiar Hostel Boutique
Why we love it
- Comfortable and affordable
- In the heart of Quito's Old Town
- Free American breakfast
- Lovely rooftop terrace
Don't worry, because there is a budget option for staying in the heart of Quito's Old Town.
Rincón Familiar Hostel Boutique is housed in a lovely colonial building from 1702, painted in a charming peach colour. It's only about 100 metres away from the Plaza Grande, so you can easily explore the historic city center. Although it's called a hostel, there are many private rooms, with space for up to five people.
The rooms are cosy, with wooden floorboards, exposed beams in the ceiling and some with skylights. You'll also benefit from daily housekeeping just like in a regular hotel, and there are dorm rooms if you are looking to keep costs down even more. An American-style breakfast is provided free of charge, plus you can use the shared kitchen to cook for yourself. The staff are lovely and helpful as well, with good English skills if your Spanish isn't the best!
One of our favourite features at Rincón Familiar is the rooftop terrace, with seating and pretty lights so you can relax while enjoying panoramic views over the city. There are also cute little interior courtyards and balconies throughout the building, along with lots of pretty plants to make it seem like a little urban jungle. There's also a little reading room/library, for when you need a quiet break from the city outside.
Gay bars in Quito
When it comes to gay bars in Quito, they are seriously lacking. We only found two official gay bars – Radar and Pravda, both in Plaza Foch. There were a few others (like Capri and the Om Buda Lounge), but these have since permanently closed.
We've also included in this list a few other straight bars we tried out, which we considered to be gay friendly and therefore a cool place to bring a group of friends for drinks or a date for romantic cocktails.
A word of warning: bring your passport! If you don't have your passport, won't be allowed in any of the gay bars in Quito. The door staff want to see your original passport with immigration stamp. A copy is not enough!
Radar is one of the main gay bars of Quito, located right in the heart of Plaza Foch. It has a bar and lounge area as well as a dancing space for later in the evening with a live DJ. They have the occasional drag show on weekends, which we recommend checking out. Check their Facebook page for details of the next event. The crowd is mainly foreigners, tourists and a handful of locals. Remember to bring your passport to get in, the door staff are very strict about this!
Radar is located at Joaquín Pinto E7-22 near Reina Victoria street. It is open only on Wednesday to Saturday evenings from 6pm to around 2am.
Pravda is the other main gay bar of Quito, also located in Plaza Foch. The name “Pravda” means “truth” in Russian and is also the main newspaper of the Russian Communist Party.
Pravda is particularly famous for its weekly gay karaoke parties. We came to one of them and joined in with a group of local guys pelting out classics from Latina divas like Gloria Trevi (the Mexican Madonna), Thalia and Paulina Rubio! It's a fun night out in Pravda, which we recommend checking out.
Pravda is located at Foch E4-278 with Amazonas street. It is open daily (except Sundays) from 5pm until around midnight (3am on weekends).
La Petite Mariscal is one of our favourite restobars in Quito, owned by the same gay couple who own and run the awesome Casa Joaquin. It's located down the road from the heart of Plaza Foch, making it a convenient place to come with a group of friends for a bite to eat and a few drinks before heading out dancing. We tried the famous canelazo here, which we recommend you try out. This is a famous Ecuadorian alcoholic hot drink made from boiling water, cinnamon, sugar with a sugar cane alcohol called punta or aguardiente.
La Petite Mariscal is located at Diego de Almagro N24-304 and is open only Monday to Friday from 12-3pm and 6-9:30pm.
Our favourite place for date night and romantic cocktails together. Vertigo is famous for being one of the best rooftop bars in Quito with gorgeous city views. You can also order food here, but let's just say we were more impressed by the quality of their cocktails and the views, particularly at sunset! As Vertigo is located a few blocks away from Kika club, we would head here first before sashaying our way over to Kika for the rest of the night.
Vertigo is located at the Le Parc Hotel at Avenida República, del Salvador N34-349. It is open daily from 5pm until around 1am except on Sundays when it's closed.
Gay clubs in Quito
The gay clubs of Quito start late, so factor in a dolly nap before heading out. Most don't get busy until after midnight.
As we said above, you MUST remember to bring your passport to get in. We tried to get in showing a copy of our passport but we got turned away and had to go back to our hotel to get the passports. The door staff want to see your original passport along with the immigration stamp. They are very strict about this!
These are the main gay clubs in Quito. They are mostly spread in and around the Plaza Foch area.
This is where the cool kids come to drink. Kika was definitely our favourite gay club in Quito. Everything from the crowd to the decor here is stylish, tasteful and hip. It's a mixed crowd of locals, foreigners in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Music is a mix of Latino pop hits and other chart classics – right up our alley! They have an open bar with the entrance fee before midnight to encourage crowds to arrive early. Fede Arguello is the bar's handsome and very charismatic owner who loves hanging out with the crowd – look out for him when you visit.
Kika is located at Japón E569 with Avenida Amazonas street. It is open Thursday to Saturday from 9pm to 4am.
Aka El Hueco or Evolution, this is the largest gay club in Quito. It is known locally as El Hueco and was the popular gay club in Quito when we visited, rivalling Kika. We found the crowd here to be a lot more mixed than Kika, with both locals and foreigners of all ages including twinks, bears and fabulous transgender girls. We spent quite a few Saturdays partying here and made a lot of new friends. It's always a fun night out here, getting busier (and messier!) later in the evening. On Thursdays, they have a themed Stripper Show worth checking out. Just remember – an aguardiente hangover is NOT pleasant…!
El Hueco is located at Baquedano 188 with Reina Victoria street and is only open on Thursday and Saturday evenings from around 11pm until late.
This is the place to come on Friday nights to party with the twinks of Quito. We'll be honest, as thirtysomethings, we did feel like tired old queens hanging out here – the crowd is very young, made up of teenagers and gays in their early twenties. We love the music at Kika though, which includes modern-day chart music, a few 1980s and 1990s hits thrown in, and plenty of Latino classics from the likes of Maluma, Shakira and Ricky Martin.
Disco Bitch is located at Avenida 6 de Diciembre street, where it meets with Avenida de la Republica, diagonal to La Paz Ecovía station. It is only open on Thursday to Saturday evenings from 10pm until around 3am, but Friday night is the best and most popular night to come.
Touch is one of the best gay clubs in Quito for drag shows and GoGo dancers. Every weekend this little gem located in the heart of Plaza Foch has parties featuring some of the best drag queens from all around Latin America. On Saturday evenings, they have their most popular gay night – “White Party”, with open bar until 1am. They also have the occasional women-only night. We recommend checking their Facebook page for the most up-to-date info about the next party.
Touch is located where Joaquin Pinto road meets Juan Leon Mera street and is only open Thursday to Saturday evenings from 8pm until around 3am.
Secret Location is one of the best monthly gay parties in Quito. It's a group that rents a new house or venue each month where they host a massive club night. The location is always a secret (hence the name!), announced last minute by word of mouth via its Instagram. It's the most famous and popular gay party in Quito amongst locals and definitely worth checking out if your visit coincides with one. Another way to find out more about it is to use gay dating apps like Grindr to connect with local gay guys who will most likely have the latest info about the next event.
Location and opening hours vary. As a starting point, we recommend connecting with them on Instagram and messaging them directly for more info.
Gay saunas in Quito
Gay saunas come and go a lot in Quito with many opening and closing all the time. The most recent victim that closed down is the famous Pharaoh Sauna. We always keep our articles up to date across our website thanks to our local gay friends in each place we visit. These are the best gay saunas in Quito at the moment to check out which our friends have reported to us. Also, as with the gay bars and clubs of Quito, always remember to bring with you your passport so you can get in.
Sauna Jinetes is the oldest gay sauna in Quito, going strong since 1999. They offer a reduced entry fee for guys aged 19-24, which makes Jinetes popular with a younger crowd. It is open daily from 2-9pm and from 12-9:30pm on weekends. Sauna Jinetes is located on 147 Berlin street with 9th October street, 3 blocks from Colón station.
Sauna La Isla (which means “The Island”) is a larger sauna, complete with sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi, maze, glory holes galore, cinema and private booths. They have an underwear/Speedo themed day on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, whilst the other days are 100% nudist. Sauna La Isla is open daily from 2-8pm (9pm on weekends) and is located at Avenida Atahualpa Oe2-08 where it meets the corner of Rumipamba street.
Sauna Azul plays on its name (Azul means “blue” in Spanish) and is decorated with every shade of blue you can imagine! It has a Jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and very sexy masseurs on hand to (ahem!) knead out any knots in your back (oh er!). Sauna Azul is open daily from around 2-10pm and is located at Foch E9-36 near Andres Xaura street.
Sauna Robles is a spa for men located a few blocks north from Plaza Foch. They have themed events every day with different offers, like discounted entry for 18-25 year olds on Thursdays. Facilities include a gym, herbal steam room, sauna, Jacuzzi and video room. Sauna Robles is open daily from 2-9pm and is located at Robles E7-34 where it meets with Avenida 6 de Diciembre.
Quito Gay Pride and other events
There are two main gay events in Quito to check out – the Pride in the summer and the film festival in November. The main gay bars and clubs of Quito tend to get heavily involved in each, especially Kika, so it's worth checking their social media for details of the latest parties happening at the same time.
Quito Gay Pride (Orguio) – June
The official Quito Orgullo Pride Parade usually happens on the final Saturday in June. It goes through the streets of the Mariscal, culminating at La Carolina Park where there are live concerts and other events taking place throughout the day. The Kika Disco Club is located right next to La Carolina Park, which makes it a handy spot to head to after the parade has finished. Kika always has the best parties during the Pride weekend, so check out their Facebook page for the latest info.
The Quito El Lugar Sin Limites (which translates to “The Place Without Limits”) is the city's annual gay film festival that takes place every November. It is a 2-week festival featuring screenings of the latest local LGBTQ with the writers, directors and cash present to talk about it with the audience. The festival culminates with an award ceremony to honour the best movies.
Where to eat in Quito?
One of the things that surprised us the most about Quito was the food. The food of Ecuador is extremely varied with influences from the coast, the Andes highlands and from the Amazon basin. Look out for local gems like llapingachos (fried stuffed potato patties), locro de papa (potato soup), canelazo (the popular warm alcoholic drink), churrasco (a hearty Ecuadorian meal) and lots of different types of empanadas. These are some of the best restaurants we tried in Quito, which we recommend you check out.
La Petite Mariscal is a gay owned restaurant/restobar in the Mariscal area near Plaza Foch. It's a great spot for trying some tasty local dishes, like their ceviche which is served in a cocktail glass, as well as international favourites like fried camembert, hamburgers and crepes. The staff are wonderful – warm, friendly and eager to please. In terms of drinks, we loved their canelazo (traditional Ecuadorian warm spiced alcoholic drink) as well as their sangrias. On warm balmy evenings, it's lovely sitting on their terrace with a cool jug of sangria to hand. On chillier nights, it's super cosy inside by their fireplace with that warm canelazo to hand!
URKO is rated as one of Tripadvisor's top ten best restaurants of Quito, and we can certainly see why. URKO is a restaurant that “combines architecture, gastronomy, agriculture, sustainability, history, identity and Ecuadorian culture”. The menu changes frequently but always features fresh local ingredients. Dining here means you will get to experience dozens of small tasting plates, each paired with a beverage and aiming to take you on a trip across Ecuador. It's a fairly pricey restaurant, perfect for a special occasion to impress your other half.
Achiote is an excellent family-run restaurant where you can enjoy Ecuadorian cuisine including a wide range of vegetarian options. We particularly love it because there are usually authentic live music performers who elevate the experience. We had delicious empanadas, an incredible sea bass in coconut sauce and mango cheesecake with ice-cream. The staff are wonderful, patiently explaining the menu in excellent English and ordering you a taxi when you leave if you need one. You can even book in to do cooking classes with the chef and learn how to make the dishes at home for yourself.
SOMOS is another Tripadvisor top rated restaurant in Quito, so you know we had to try it out for ourselves. Even from outside this place is incredible: just check out those murals! There's more colourful wall-art inside (including a gallery on the upper floor), as well as lots of hanging plants and a huge open kitchen where you can watch the chefs in action. The food does not disappoint either, with a focus on contemporary Ecuadorian cuisine. Dishes range from Amazonian fish to mountain vegetables and their famous flatbread made from yucca. There also have a shop selling local handicrafts souvenirs.
Located in the courtyard of the 17th century Chapel of the Miracles in the Old Town, this restaurant and show is the perfect spot for a romantic night out. Seating is outside, but in case of cold weather or rain, ponchos are provided as well as outdoor heaters, making it very cosy. The food is inspired by old traditional recipes, revisited with a modern twist. Host Fausto explained each dish to us including their history which made it more memorable. We strongly advise reserving a table a few days in advance to avoid disappointment. They also do brunch on Saturday with the live dance show performance if you can't make it for dinner.
Top things to do in Quito
Quito has one of the prettiest old towns in all of South America – it's UNESCO listed for good reason! We recommend a day just to explore it. Quito is also famous because it lies next to the equator line from which the city takes its name. We've summarised each of these, along with a few other sightseeing highlights of Quito that we loved and think you will also enjoy:
Explore Quito Old Town
Quito's UNESCO-listed historic centre (or Old Town) is one of the most well-preserved in South America. We loved just walking around and getting lost in the cute tight cobblestone streets. It's full of character and charm, with churches, monasteries and convents dating back to the 1500s. Every corner has something new to marvel at. Despite being so touristy, it still has an authentic feel because of the many locals living here, going about their daily business. Joining a Quito discovery walking tour is one of the best ways to see all the highlights and learn more about the city's history.
Mitad del Mundo: the equator line
The equator line is less than an hour away from Quito. At the Ciudad Mitad del Mundo (or “Middle of the World”) complex you can experience standing on both sides of the equator line. You can also take part in several activities such as trying to balance an egg on the famous line and walking across it, trying not to be distracted by the alleged magnetic pulls. If you join this tour you'll be able to skip the line to see the Equatorial monument as well as the variety of museums within the complex. Not only is there a museum about the Equator, there's also one about trains, one about beer and one about chocolate!
El Panecillo Virgin Statue
El Panecillo is a 200-metre (656ft) high hill that's home to “The Virgin of El Panecillo”, a 45-metre tall statue of the madonna that proudly overlooks Quito. The statue was constructed from 7 thousand pieces of aluminium and shows the madonna stepping onto a snake which is on top of a globe. This particular madonna is significant because she has wings and is often mistaken for an angel. She's located 3,016m/9,895ft high making it a great spot for Instagrammable views across the city and beyond. To reach it you can take a taxi ride up. We were told it's safer to drive up rather than hike up.
Quito's TeleferiQo is one of the highest aerial lifts in the world, rising from 3,117m/10,226ft to 3,945m/12,943ft. To reach it, you first have to go through the Vulcano Park fairground and then you ascend the extinct Pichincha Volcano to lookout Cruz Loma. The views from the top are incredible and worth visiting just for this! It takes about 20 minutes each way to ride the lift, price is $8.50 per person and it's open daily until 8pm. We also recommend doing a bit of hiking here, particularly to the Pichincha Volcano, which is a good way to acclimatise if you're planning on doing more high-altitude trekking later in your Ecuador trip.
Iñaquito Market (or Mercado Iñaquito) is one of the popular local markets of Quito, located north of the Mariscal area. This place is packed full of stalls selling meat, seafood, fruit and vegetables, as well as a cafeteria/restaurant area. The market is famous for its corvina (sea bass) and freshly squeezed juices which contain an egg! Don't worry about hygiene here: Ecuador has an extremely strong US influence and relies heavily on it for tourism. Therefore, the markets have to fulfil very strict criteria for cleanliness: for example, you're not allowed to touch fruits at the market stalls and random health & safety inspections take place all day long with severe penalties if anyone is found breaking health & safety laws!
A cooking class is one of the best ways to learn about local food and one of our favourite things to do when we're travelling so we can recreate our favourite dishes back home. The Ecuadorian cooking class we did in Quito included a visit to a local market to learn about ingredients. We then went to a local's home in the Old Town where we learnt to make locro quiteño, ceviche and encocado, learning about the history of each dish at the same time. After all our hard work we got to eat all the yumminess on the patio of the beautiful Colonial home where the lessons are held.
Plan your trip to Quito
These are our practical safety tips and advice based on our firsthand experience in Ecuador, which we hope will help LGBTQ travellers plan a fun and safe trip:
How to get there: The easiest way to reach Quito is by flying directly into Quito's international airport, the Mariscal Sucre International Airport. It is 18km (11 miles) to central Quito, which takes anything from 30-60 minutes by taxi depending on traffic. We recommend booking a private airport transfer with an English speaking driver so you avoid taxi queues at the airport have someone waiting for you in the Arrivals Hall. This is especially important if you're having a difficult time acclimating to the high altitude!
Visa requirements: Travellers from most EU countries, USA, Canada and Australia don't need a visa to stay in Ecuador for up to 90 days as a tourist. You will, however, need to show that you have a return/onward travel ticket if you arrive by plane and a passport with at least 6 months validity from the day you arrive. Do check your personal visa requirements for travel to Ecuador before you make arrangements to visit Quito.
Getting around: The best way to get around is by taxi. They are the most direct and super inexpensive. Uber works ok in Quito, but EasyTaxi is more widely used. There are also trolleybuses but they take a long time and get super busy.
Power Plugs: Ecuador uses the same two-pronged power plug type which is common in North America, Central America, China and Japan. If you are visiting Quito from another destination then you will need to bring a travel adaptor with you in order to charge any electronic devices.
Travel insurance: We always strongly recommend booking travel insurance for any trip so that you're covered in the event of cancelled flights, theft, injury and other factors beyond your control. For your trip to Quito we recommend using World Nomads Travel Insurance. We've been using them for years and cannot recommend them highly enough. Their coverage is comprehensive and it's easy to make a claim online if you need to.
Safety and Security: Even in a safe destination like Quito, you may encounter danger when travelling and need immediate assistance. We like to use the CloseCircle “virtual bodyguard” app when we travel as they can provide support or security alerts wherever you are. Their service covers everything from advice to evacuation in the case of weather emergencies or terrorist attacks. Read more about why we love CloseCircle in our article on how travellers can stay safe.
Vaccinations: All travellers to Quito should make sure they're up to date with routine vaccinations like measles, mumps and chickenpox. Most travellers should also be vaccinated for hepatitis A and typhoid. Some travellers may also need vaccinations for hepatitis B, yellow fever, malaria and rabies, depending on what and where you'll be doing. Check the CDC website for the most up to date info for Ecuador and also speak to your local doctor or travel nurse before making your travel plans.
Currency: The currency used in Ecuador is the US Dollar. €1 converts to about $1.10 and £1 is worth around $1.22.
Tipping culture: It is customary to reward good service in Ecuador, so while you're in Quito you may like to tip the staff at hotels, spas and bars with a few dollars. In higher-end restaurants, a 10% service charge is usually included so it's up to you if you want to tip or not.
Internet access: Quito has an extensive free WiFi network available so you can connect to the internet throughout the city. If you know you will need a more reliable connection for work then we recommend bringing a portable WiFi device or buying a local SIM card when you arrive.
Online privacy: While gay dating apps are not blocked in Ecuador you may still like to keep your online activities private and secure while visiting Quito. We recommend getting a VPN for your trip so you can access the internet securely and anonymously.
Accommodation: There are many excellent hotels in Quito. We love using Booking.com because they have an extensive selection and the best prices. They also provide excellent 24/7 customer support if needed and free cancellation for most listings.
Sightseeing and adventure: We've only included a few of our favourite things to do in Quito above, so we recommend checking out GetYourGuide for more! They have lots of fun tours and activities available, the booking process is very user friendly plus their 24-hour customer support is excellent!
When to visit: The best time to visit Quito is during the dry season between June and September. Temperatures are pretty constant throughout the year but the wet season sees a lot of rainfall. Even then, from November to February can be quite nice and not too rainy as well.
Gay map of Quito
Here is our gay map of Quito which includes all the gay bars, clubs, hotels and sightseeing highlights we've mentioned in this post. Use it to plan your own amazing gay trip to Ecuador's buzzing capital:
For more inspiration:
- For more fun activities, check out these awesome things to do in Ecuador
- As well as these interesting facts about Ecuador you might not already know
- If you're heading there as well, here's our gay friendly travel itinerary for Peru
- As well as these unique gay friendly hotels in Peru
- Here's our gay city guide to Lima
- We also have a gay country guide to Colombia
- A gay guide to Colombia's capital city of Bogota
- And our gay guide to colourful Medellin
- If you're heading north, here's our gay guide to Panama City
- Don't miss our favourite sightseeing highlights from the whole of South America
- As well as the best gay travel destinations in both South and Central America