Quito On Less Than $25 A Day


About the author: Brendan is an Africa-obsessed, summer-chasing, noodle-addicted former accountant from New Zealand. He has been traveling full time since 2011 and is the author of the budget travel book Triple Your Travel. You can read more of his story on his blog Bren On The Road.

Ecuador is definitely not the most popular place on the South American backpacker trail, with many opting for the more popular Brazil, Peru and Argentina for the majority of their time on the continent. However, Ecuador will definitely surprise you – whether you’re looking for mountains to hike, beaches to relax on or some big city living, it’s all here in spades for you to enjoy.

This is Quito!

As the capital, Quito is the obvious launching spot for your Ecuador adventures and is an amazing city to explore. There is a lot of history here and it has highly developed areas with all your first-world amenities, as well as more preserved areas with a more rugged and local feel. As a bit of general advice, be sure to pack warm clothes for Quito. It is one of the highest major cities in the world and with the altitude comes very cool and dry weather, even in the summer. Things have also become slightly more expensive in Ecuador since it adopted the US dollar, but it’s still very affordable.


People generally stay either in the northern part of Quito, where the Mariscal district is located, or in the Old Town, where many of the historical landmarks are. The two areas are not really close together, so it’s important to choose the right area. Despite being quite touristy and more expensive, I prefer the Mariscal district as that’s where the better hostels are and you’ll find it’s closer to the bars, restaurants and shopping malls. Most of the big backpacker hostels will be located around the Mariscal area and its main square, Plaza Foch. This area also has a kicking nightlife and both locals and tourists head out there on most nights. Hostels near Plaza Foch will cost you between $8-$12 for a dorm room, and most hostels include breakfast. I’ve stayed at both Discovery Quito and Blue House and both were comfortable.

See also  Budget Hostel Review: Rethymno Youth Hostel (Crete) and BedBunkers (Bali)

If you decide to stay in the Old Town, you will find a few small hostels and hotels and should be able to find a private room for around $10-$12 a night. Not all of these places list on hotel booking sites, so it pays to walk around and take a look. Despite having many historical sites, this area of the city is a lot less touristy, so Spanish will be very helpful. Not everyone will speak English around there.

Food and drink

Eating in Quito is cheap if you go to the right places. In the Old Town you should find various local eateries that offer the “menu del dia” for $2-$3. For this you get a soup, a main meal (usually meat, rice and vegetables), a glass of juice and maybe a small donut or cake for dessert. These same eateries will also serve dinner, which will typically be a slightly smaller dish, for a similar price.

Ate this at the more upmarket Carolina area - $4!
Food you can get at the more Upmarket Carolina for $4

You can find these types of places around the Mariscal area also, but you’ll need to walk one or two blocks outside the Plaza Foch area. Your hostel receptionist or owner will definitely be able to tell you where to find them. You’ll also find many western joints near the main square, such as sandwich and coffee shops as well as things like Subway and pizza, which is obviously more expensive. Also, make sure you try the Ecuadorian chocolate – it’s some of the best in the world and obviously the cheapest place to get it is here!

Ecuador makes some of the world's best cocoa!
Ecuador makes some of the world’s best cocoa

As for drinks, a few places around Plaza Foch have happy hours that start in the early evening, and drinks will cost you maybe $2-$3 at many of the bars and clubs. Of course this can vary depending on where you go. La Ronda is an area that tends to attract a more local crowd and is located in the Old Town – this is a good spot to go if you’re looking to get away from the backpacker nightlife!

See also  A Day In Sydney Without Breaking The Bank


Taxis are cheap in Quito, and you should never really pay more than $3 for a ride unless you’re heading somewhere particularly far away. There is a meter system in place which is improving and many drivers have adopted it, but some still go by a fixed rate so just know that your ride shouldn’t exceed $3-$4 if you’re just taking a 10-15 minute drive within the city. At night, most will run by a fixed rate so be sure to negotiate. Again, paying more than $5 would be very unusual.

During the day you can use the bus system which is somewhat like a cross between a bus and a subway, with enclosed stations and its own express lanes in most of the city. It has good reach in the city and you’ll probably use the Ecovia line mostly if you’re staying in the Mariscal district. It costs 25 cents per ride. You may need to ask someone how to use it for your first few rides but it’s not difficult.

Quito is also building a subway system right now which should be ready in 2016-2017!


There is lots to do and see in Quito:

Teleferico This is one of the world’s highest cable cars and gives you an awesome view of the entire city. It’s a good idea to head up on one of your first few days to see how sprawling the city is and how different the areas look. It’s around $9 for foreigners.

Mitad del mundo

This translates to “middle of the world”, and is the point where the equator runs through the country. It’s quite far away and you can take public transport (it’s not difficult and your hostel will be able to tell you exactly where to catch the bus), however it’s much easier to take a taxi out there. You should be able to get a taxi to take you, wait for you to look around and then bring you back, for $30. If you can gather a few travel buddies from your hostel and split the cost by 4, it’s only around $7 each and will cut your travel time by more than half. Entrance fee should be around $4.

See also  Magnificent Scenery of Fenghuang Plus Tips on How to Explore It (<$25)

Mercado Artesenal

A small market of local arts and crafts not far from Plaza Foch.

Browsing crafts at Mercado Artesenal
Browsing crafts at Mercado Artesenal

Parque Carolina

This is a huge park that always has something going on, especially on weekends. Sometimes there are salsa classes, football games and food carts, and just a lot of people relaxing and having fun. It’s a good spot for people-watching. There are also many other parks in Quito which are great for those of you who enjoy running or walking.

Botanical Gardens

Ecuador is extremely diverse in terrain and home to many ecosystems. You’ll find them represented here at these gardens in the Carolina district. Entry is $3.50.

Old Town

There is so much to see here, but basically the Old Town is famous for being one of the best preserved ancient cities in the world. So you’ll find many old cobblestone streets and colonial buildings, many large, old churches and a lot of plazas where you can wander around, relax, people-watch and take photos. You’ll probably end up spending a whole day here, at least.

Do you feel like Quito would be affordable for you?


Close this search box.

We want you to know! Some links on this page may be affiliate links. We may earn a small commission from what you buy. 
It will never cost you extra, or make us bias, but helps us run this blog and occasionally get a good cup of coffee. 
As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Picture of Agness Walewinder
Agness Walewinder
Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"
Do you want to contribute?
Publish your guest post on Etramping!

23 thoughts on “Quito On Less Than $25 A Day”

  1. Avatar of Andrew

    quito is at the moment my planned first stop in my trip next year octoberish to south america. thanks for the great recommendations. I have to ask though, because through doing research it seems safety is a big concern in quito. I’ve seen recommendations saying basically dont go out alone, be careful in taxis, and dont take your camera out. whats your opinion?

    1. Avatar of Bren

      Hi Andrew, I also read the same things before I visited, but I stayed in Quito for 3 months and I never had a problem, which included going out and taking taxis throughout the night. Of course it can be dangerous, but use your common sense and keep your wits about you and you’ll be fine (i.e. don’t go wandering off with strangers and flashing valuables about). It’s no more dangerous than the rest of the continent, in my opinion. Have fun!

  2. Avatar of Katarina

    I almost got a chance to volunteer abroad to a stable just outside of Quito. ALMOST. It’s still good to know how cheap everything is down there. I’d love a chance to visit sometime.

  3. Avatar of Tim UrbanDuniya

    I was planning on being in Quito next year, but budget constraints won’t allow unfortunately – much of South America can be done on the cheap, but getting there from Asia-Pacific is often the most expensive part :/ Great tips all the same – I’ll be saving them up for when I finally get there!

  4. Avatar of Kate

    Hi There Agness,

    Just found your blog and happy I did! Great postings, design and information from your travels. I look forward to reading more.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *