What to do and see in Pichincha Province, Ecuador: The Best Places and Tips

November 5, 2017 Enriqueta Cusson

Pichincha (Spanish pronunciation: [piˈtʃintʃa]) is a province of Ecuador located in the northern sierra region; its capital and largest city is Quito. It is bordered by Imbabura and Esmeraldas to the north, Cotopaxi and Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas to the south, Napo and Sucumbíos to the east, and Esmeraldas and Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas to the west.
Restaurants in Pichincha Province

1. Museo Templo del Sol Pintor Ortega Maila

Calle Eduardo Kingman Oe12-174 | Av. Manuel Cordova Galarza, Mirador Volcan Pululahua, Quito 022, Ecuador +593 98 484 1851
Excellent
94%
Good
3%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 2 reviews

Museo Templo del Sol Pintor Ortega Maila

Reviewed By HZambonino - Quito, Ecuador

Located nearby the "official" monument to the Middle of the World, you will find this temple at the entrance of Pululahua inhabited Crater. the sculptures will take you to other era and the sight will offer you spectacular picture opportunities. Better to visit in the morning since the clouds get down from 2pm.

2. Iglesia de La Compania de Jesus

Benalcazar 562 y Antonio Jose de Sucre, Quito 170150, Ecuador 2581-895
Excellent
78%
Good
17%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 4 reviews

Iglesia de La Compania de Jesus

This Jesuit church is a masterpiece of baroque and Quiteno-colonial art with lavish golden altars and gilded columns, making it one of the most ornate structures in Ecuador.

Reviewed By Escape-overseas - Stevenage, United Kingdom

Impressive church in the centre of the old town. Many different animals and gargoyles providing drainage channels off the roof. Access to the interior is available for $2.00, with a further $2.00 allowing access to the towers, in art across a timber walkway above the vaulted ceiling, to a small platform and near vertical metal ladders to get to the tower. No control as to the number of people on the walkway is a cause for concern, particularly when hearing the timber grown, and start to deflect. We were glad to be firmly back on the ground. Elevators and stairs provide access to the main upper levels - no need to risk life and limb by crossing the walkway, which is not for the faint hearted.

3. La Capilla Del Hombre

E18-94 Mariano Calvache St. And Lorenzo Chavez St | Barrio Bellavista, Quito 170150, Ecuador +593 2-244-8492
Excellent
79%
Good
16%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

La Capilla Del Hombre

Reviewed By dtomato - Burlington, Connecticut

This museum was created by the local artist Oswaldo Guayasamin. He was unknown to us but had influences of Picasso and Goya. Massive canvases that were uncomfortably expressive. Wonderful!

4. Guayasamin Museum

Mariano Calvache E18-94 y Lorenzo Chavez | Barrio Bellavista, Quito 170150, Ecuador 5932446455
Excellent
75%
Good
20%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Guayasamin Museum

This museum features exhibits related to the Ecuadorian contemporary artist Oswaldo Guayasamín including posters, signed prints and colonial religious art.

Reviewed By Chalo261088 - Quito, Ecuador

This was the house of the most famous painter of Ecuador. Now is a foudation and the Capillas del Hombre. A must go if you are in Quito. Plus you have one of the most beatiful views of the sunsets of the city.

5. Casa del Alabado

Cuenca N 1-41 | Bolivar, Near Plaza San Francisco, Quito 170150, Ecuador +593 2-228-0940
Excellent
79%
Good
17%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 671 reviews

Casa del Alabado

Casa del Alabado is a non-profit institution supported by individuals and private companies, established with the purpose of preserving and sharing the legacy of Pre-Columbian cultures in Ecuador.

Reviewed By pmb1206 - devon

Private collection in an old house but brand new display cabinets. Wonderful ceramics from many periods and areas. Spoiled by almost complete lack of contextual information. Apparently this is intentional and you are supposed to admire their beauty without understanding. The function of many of the exhibits was not at all clear. Fortunately the girl on the desk was keen to speak English and also knowledgeable.
Six dollars no discount for oldies.

6. Paz de las Aves Bird Refuge

Between Nanegalito and Mindo | at Km. 66, Mindo, Ecuador +593 98 725 3674
Excellent
77%
Good
17%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 172 reviews

Paz de las Aves Bird Refuge

Reviewed By BenSAllentown_PA - Allentown, PA

Stop #1: Refugio Paz de las Aves Back to our first stop. We didn’t really suffer from the elevation, Quito and UIO are both at 9350’. We did suffer a little bit from the heat and humidity. The shuttle from UIO to both RP and MP is about 2 hours +/- on Rt28. You turn off Rt 28 I believe at the village of Nanegalito to head into MP. You go a few Kilometers further on rt28 after the town to get to the RP left hand turn. Both sites are several Kilometers off of the asphalt on the bumpy Ecuadorian clay.
We overnighted on arrival at the airport Wyndham hotel. Very nice. Easy to get to, there is a recurring shuttle van that picks up right outside the baggage claim area at UIO.
I have to confess that we don’t speak Spanish. This was not really much of a hindrance though. We got by just fine. We communicated mostly by email with RP, NW and MP. This mostly worked – but the Internet/cell is generally not great for the lodges either – and sometimes there was a little stress waiting for replies and confirmations. The first small miscommunication was with Vinicio at RP regarding the pickup at the Wyndham. Vinicio had sent an email saying the driver (Rodrigo) would pick us up at 1:30am when he meant 1:30pm……to which I replied via email and Vinicio ended up picking us up at 8:30am. Which was great for us – but unfortunately hard on Vinicio. All in all, all the lodges were very accommodating, as one would expect.
So, after a nice breakfast at the Wyndham – we were collected by Vinicio. We through our duffle bags in the back of the pickup and headed off to RP. We generally had pretty great weather throughout the trip. We had some rain showers at RP and MP – but nothing that interrupted anything important. Quito is building a new bypass to the airport – but it wasn’t quite open when we arrived. Seems that we basically drove through the north end of the city up over a mountain pass. The east side, Quito side, of the mountain is pretty arid desert. Once you get over the pass – the lush cloud forest starts. On the drive in, Vinicio stopped so Stacey could use the ladies room (a small fee service if you want tissue!)…..and there happened to be a convenience store – I went in and got a couple of cokes and a 6 pack of cervesa!!
The RP family was a standard mtn farming family before Vinicio’s father, Angel, decided to try ecotourism with his ability to ‘habituate’ the antpittas and his cock of the rock lek. I will botch this part of the story up – and will count on Stacey to correct me here. The farmers of the cloud forest are just amazing! Literally they have deforested sections of the mountain tops and they have cattle grazing on the sides of these Mountains. They are also growing corn and other crops like blackberries. The RP story, as I recollect it, has the grandmother having 7 sons. Vinicio’s father, Angel, was taking blackberries to another local lodge to sell them and he came across some birders…..the long and short of it is that he realized there was a market for his birds! He had a better lek for the cock of the rock – and also had access to the antpittas. Our impression, confirmed by Vinicio, is that the farming life is not an easy or prosperous life in Ecuador. Angel tried to make a pitch to his brothers to make a go of ecotourism – but they didn’t think he could make a go of it…….seems the family squabble got bad enough that Angel had to lease another piece of farmland to do his ecotourism separate from his brothers. Now, I believe, that his brother Rodrigo has joined the operation. Rodrigo is really a great guy/guide. Stacey and I were a bit curious as to how the food was going to be on our trip……….and, I have to say, one of the best parts of the trip was the food at each stop. The food was really amazing!! At RP, Maria, Angel’s wife and an assistant (maybe Rodrigo’s wife Diana) prepared the food. Delicious! Fresh juices and local produce. I really liked the Mtn Tree Tomato juice. The kitchen and eating area are detached. We had the one room with an ensuite bathroom. I have a medical condition – and my own bathroom is really nice…the Ecuadorian septic systems cannot handle the tissue – so you need to dispose of the toilet tissue in little trash cans (you do get used to it) – we are spoiled in the US with decent septic systems!...the hot water was provided through an electrical appliance at the shower head. Not perfect – but it worked. All the power in Ecuador is standard USA outlets…..(I don’t know why I didn’t check this before I left – I was expecting the 220 European power (I made a couple of stupid mistakes for someone that has traveled a fair amount)). Using the US currency was also nice! Anyway – the family lives on the first floor of the house – and the guest rooms are on the second floor. There is a second communal bathroom for the other three guest rooms on the second floor. There is also a little guest area, for the day trippers, on the property with two bathrooms and picnic tables for sitting and observing the hummingbird feeders. They also put out a couple of plantains for the tanagers and other species to snack on. The hummers are amazing – if you sit and observe for a while – the hummers will invariably come and “buzz” you……you can literally feel the breeze they get so close…..there are plenty of bugs – so the evening and morning lights attract some neat flycatchers. There are a lot of lodges that make day trips for a fee with their clients to see the cock of the rock lek and the antpittas. The cock of the rock seems to me like a guarantee to see, the antpittas are also pretty reliable. We saw 4 of the 5 species of antpittas. We only missed the yellow fronted – and we were going to take another stab at it – but our flight to Coca left to early and we had to skip it. Angel, Vinicio, Rodrigo and Maria were fantastic. They really tried to show us whatever we wanted to see. I am also attracted to butterflies, moths and anything with 4 legs. I would encourage people to actually stay here vs staying at a lodge and just making a day trip. Maybe it is just me, but you get a better feel when you break bread and see how people really live in a spot. Rodrigo drove us to the airport on departure morning. The drives are simple – once you get on Rt28 it seems you basically just go straight to the airport. You do drive by the Equator museum/monument which we managed to just drive by 4 times (we heard it was a neat place to see and take a picture – but it didn’t seem important enough every time we drove by it)!
We spent some general birding time during the day – spotting a common pootoo sleeping on the top of an exposed branch. Got some decent pictures of it with a scope and smartphone. They also knew about some night larks on the other side of a creek valley that they focused the scope in on. Not too many raptors. We did see some neat woodpeckers – but too far away and too dark to get pictures.
We purchased 3 tshirts as we were leaving. Turns out an Ecuadorian XL isn’t quite the same as a US XL! NBD. This is definitely a small, family operation, but really a nice place to stay. Cell service seems to “free up” / become available / get stronger in the parking lot in the middle of the night. So, basically no service – sketchy at best at night. Kind of workable though. I was actually able to check in to our TAME flights at 3:30am or so……we didn’t ask about any soda or liquor at the meals – we just took the bottled water and fresh juice. I had brought a 6 pack of cervesa and a coke – and we did have those while there. Probably best to stop on the way in at a store if you need any snacks or beverages.

7. Basilica del Voto Nacional

Calle Venezuela and Carchi, Quito 170150, Ecuador +593 2-228-9428
Excellent
66%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 3 reviews

Basilica del Voto Nacional

Considered the largest church in Quito, this impressive building features fine bronze doors, colorful stained glass windows and a tower with sweeping views of the city.

Reviewed By Hannisze - Hebden Bridge, United Kingdom

A visit to Quito will not be complete without a visit to this magnificent basilica. The architecture is really breathtaking, and it is worth paying to go up to the tower, as the view from up there was just amazing. I am so glad we walked all the way here from the Historic Centre, because it was really worthwhile. I was totally captivated by its beauty and the view from the top!

8. Quito Old Town

Quito, Ecuador 593-2-2528-700-1707
Excellent
64%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 3 reviews

Quito Old Town

This historic district was the first city named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is noted for its narrow streets, Spanish colonial architecture and historic attractions.

Reviewed By Escape-overseas - Stevenage, United Kingdom

Colonial buildings and narrow streets, with walks up and down hill, make up the old town, now a Unesco World Heritage site. With churches visible from just about every corner, and local shops hidden in doorways, the town provides a quite different experience. Taxi cabs abound, with local police providing a high profile presence, good for local people and tourists alike.

9. Parque Metropolitano

Bellavista, Quito 170150, Ecuador
Excellent
61%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 345 reviews

Parque Metropolitano

Reviewed By joelwx39 - Saint Paul, Minnesota

This is mainly an open air park. You walk through the woods and enjoy the outdoors without all the traffic of Quito.
There are maps that show the paths mounted in a couple locations.
Remember that you are at a high altitude so you will get winded and it will take longer to walk around.
We were fortunate because it was just blocks away from where our friends live. We just walked there and back.

10. San Francisco Church (Iglesia de San Francisco)

Plaza San Francisco, Quito 170150, Ecuador 02 211124
Excellent
59%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

San Francisco Church (Iglesia de San Francisco)

Established in 1536 by Franciscan monks, this magnificent architectural masterpiece features a museum in its convent with art from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Reviewed By Stephen A - Ashbourne, United Kingdom

Beautiful church with internal courtyards and resident parrots! Lots of history here, and we hired a guide to show us around. We recommend you do likewise. We do recommend you go up to the choir loft to overlook the interior of the church.

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