You’ve exhausted Quito’s historical sites, museums, artisans markets and the other must-do tourist attractions in and around the city. Looking for something different to do in your free time? Here are our top five picks for fun, alternative things to do in Quito (that won’t break the bank either).
1. Geek out on Quito’s craft beer scene
Believe it or not, Quito was the birthplace of beer brewing in South America, brought over from Belgium in 1566. Today the craft beer scene in Quito is enjoying revived attention and there are some great local cervezas from local and international beer makers (in the last seven years alone, the number of brewers in the city has gone from 20 to 180). If you like drinking beer and meeting new people then join Quito Craft Beer Tour’s three-hour experience that takes you behind the scenes to the local microbreweries and beer factories.
Not only will you quench your thirst with a variety of unique, award-winning beers made in Ecuador with unique local ingredients such as Guayusa and Pacari Chocolate, you’ll meet the beer makers themselves who will help you brush up on your beer vocabulary with talk of brewing methods and tasting notes. You’ll also get a chance to try a couple of the city’s traditional spirits such as Canelazo and Gringa Loca (a local vodka). The price per person depends on the number of people in the group so get a group of friends together to keep the cost down. Serious beer aficionados might also be interested in the full-day beer tour in which you learn how to make your own beer at one of Quito’s local breweries.
2. Get your adrenalin pumping with paintballing
Where: Av. Mariscal Sucre y Josefina Barba, Quito
When: Monday to Sunday 9.30am to 5.30pm
Escape the quaint colonial streets of Quito and unleash your inner adrenaline junkie with a gun and some paint bullets at Quito Woodsball. There are three themed paintballing fields to compete on so don your camouflage and channel your inner stealth as you pursue your competitors in and around wooden fences, trees and stacks of giant rubber tires. Remember, true paintball commandos aren’t afraid to get shot (it doesn’t hurt as much as you think) so don’t spend the entire time hiding behind a tree. The center also has an area where you can have your own BBQ post paintballing so you can make a full day of it in the woods. Full equipment is provided and prices range from $10 to $25 per person depending on the number of paintballs you want to shoot (100 to 500). Check their Facebook page for special promotions.
3. Race go-karts at heights of 4,000 meters
When: Daily 10am to 8.30pm
Lovers of extreme heights, high speeds and competition will enjoy the thrill of racing go-karts at altitudes of some 4,000 meters at Mundo Kart. Uniquely situated at the top of Quito’s TelefériQo, surrounded by the snow-capped mountains of Cayambe, Cotopaxi and Chimborazo, Mundo Kart is arguably one of the most scenic go-kart tracks around. Opened by local go-kart prodigy Mirko Furlato, who knows a thing or two about go-karting, there’s a zigzagging 400-meter racing track to navigate and slick-looking go-karts that reach speeds of 120kmh. Up to eight people can race around the track at any one time. And once you’ve acquainted yourself with the tight curves of that track, Mundo Kart has a second track in Tumbaco for you to test out.
4. Tap into Quito’s indie music scene
Founded by a group of local musicians and music lovers, Sesiones al Parque brings the inner workings of a music studio outdoors. The group organizes pop-up music gigs and live recording and filming sessions in Quito’s scenic parks and plazas with a view, providing a platform for Quito’s local independent musicians to play and gain more exposure. The gigs are free and open to all and take place around once a month (more during the summer season), often at sunset. The lineup of acts caters to all musical tastes, from heavy rock to electronic and jazz. To help fund these free events Sesiones al Parque also throw regular parties and mini festivals in private houses or studios, charging a small ticket fee. Check their Facebook page for upcoming events.
5. Discover the dark side of Quito
You may be familiar with Quito’s wild nightlife but this nighttime experience shows you a different side of the city by night. Quito Post Mortem takes you on a sensory, interactive journey after dark to historical and cultural places in Quito out of your comfort zone, such as the city’s local cemetery. Furthermore, it’s carried out a ciegas, which means you’ll be blindfolded for the duration of the 90-minute experience and calling on your other senses to navigate your way around (with the help of guides). We’ll say no more except wear clothes you’re not afraid to get dirty. The group also organizes one-off special events such as visits to the crypts of local historical figures and plans to launch other spooky experiences later this year. Check their Facebook page for upcoming dates. The tour is in Spanish only and tickets are $15 for foreigners.
Have you done any other fun, unconventional activities in Quito that you would recommend? Tell us about them in the comments below!