Edged in by its snowcapped peaks of 2 mesmeric, active volcanoes (and cloud high in the Andes), only a few cities in South America boast as dramatic a geographic setting as Quito. This Ecuadorian capital’s old town (16th century Centro Historico) is not only the best preserved and largest colonial center in all of Latin America, but it is also the world’s very 1st UNESCO World Heritage town.

In fact, 2019 marks the 41st year since Quito’s UNESCO inscription. Better yet, given the recently spotted round trip flights from the United States for as low as 340 dollars, exploring the city’s shamanic healers, pastel-colored palaces, and the maze of candlelit monasteries ought to be on your 2019 New Year’s resolution list.

You do not know where to start in the city? Let me give you a tip. Get your bearing at Quito’s oldest, prettiest, and largest square, i.e. the palm-shaded Plaza de la Independencia.  Also known as Quito’s living room, Plaza de la Independencia is a hive of activities, where you will find native women wearing bowler hats & woven shawls hawking boiled eggs and seasoned shoe shiners hurriedly polishing and budding under the vaulted arcades.

In addition, you will find old-timers loitering around the splashing central fountain as they argue about politics a couple of steps away from the president’s palace. That said, the real highlight of Quito is upstairs, where from January, you’ll be able to follow a friar and needle tight passage that leads up to the roof so you can enjoy one of the best views of Quito.


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