Since the airport is in the middle of the city, it is not very far nor very expensive to go from the airport to Mariscal (the area with all the hostels). Essentially, you have two options: taxi or bus.
The cab ride from the airport to Mariscal will set you back NO MORE than $4.
You can also take the bus from the airport (10-15min, and only costs $0.25). Just go across the street, and look for one of the blue busses with a sign that says "Amazonas." Get off a couple of minutes after the bus passes the big circle with the big Marriot Hotel at one corner, and you will find yourself in Mariscal.
La Mitad del Mundo is situated in San Antonio, 22km north of Quito, and to go there I had to take the Metrobus from La Marín to the end station Ofelia. I had used the Metrobus, but also Ecovía, several times during my visits in Quito but somehow I went to the wrong platform. The bus took a familiar route and I didn’t pay much attention to it. It was not until I saw Centro Comercial Quicentro that I realised I was on the Ecovía and not the Metrobus. Well, it was not far to the end station Río Coca and from there it was a strait walk about 1.5km to La Y, one of the stops on the Motorbus -line. A ride on Metrobus or Ecovía is $0.25.
From Ofelia there are frequent buses to La Mitad del Mundo. That bus ride took just over half an hour and the ticket, which I bought on the bus, was $0.15 (August 2011).
Going back to Quito I waited for a bus at the roundabout, by the entrance to the Mitad del Mundo-monument. This time I paid $040 on the bus, but this price also included the transfer to the Metrobus.
The Metrobus, Ecovía and Trole are three bus routes running in a south - north direction through Quito. They stop at special stations with a raised platform. They drive in their own car-free lane so they are not held up in traffic jams, which makes them a fast and popular way of travelling. They are often crowded and you should be careful with your luggage as it is said to be popular with pickpockets. I have used those buses a lot, but going from the airport and Quitumbe Bus Terminal I took a taxi as I had too much luggage.
They run at least every 10 minutes from early morning to late night. The fare is $0.25 (August 2011) and it is paid either at a ticket booth or at a machine on the platform.
Update 2012: Also in June, July and August 2012 the price was $0.25 for a ride on Metrobus, Ecovía or Trole.
Once when I travelled south from San Gabriel the bus suddenly turned and started to go back after a few stops. I thought all buses where going south pass La Marin, but apparently some didn’t.
Before coming to Quito I had read that buses to Otavalo leaves from Terminal Carcelen, in the far north of Quito. To know how to get there I asked for direction. Someone told me to take the bus to La Y and from there take another bus to Carcelen. When I left in the morning they told me at my hotel to take the yellow Metrobus from La Marín to Ofelia and from there another bus to Carcelen.
At La Marín I bought the ticket for Ofelia, which was 25 cents (June 2011). On the way to Ofelia the bus stopped at La Y (two different stops) but I decided to continue to the end stop Ofelia. From La Marín to Ofelia it took over half an hour and when we arrived there people quickly went to line up in queues for other buses. The queue for the Carcelen bus was the longest and when the bus arrived the queue dissolved as everyone tried to get in at the same time. Anyway I got on the bus! The bus linking Ofelia with Carcelen didn’t cost anything (not when you have already paid for the Metrobus).
At Carcelen most people went directly to the ticket booths, but I had to buy something to eat first as I hadn’t had breakfast and there were several small booths selling snacks and drinks there. Then I went to buy the ticket for Otavalo, which was $2. To enter the terminal you have to pay another 20 cents. On the bus ticket not only the seat number was written, but also the bus number. As it was Saturday , and market day in Otavalo, a lot of people were going there and my bus was not the first leaving, but the third.
To Otavalo it took 2 hours and the bus stopped at the terminal, but many people left the bus already at the Panamericana and took a short cut to the market. However, it is not far to the market from the terminal either.
Coming back to the terminal in the afternoon a bus was just leaving for Quito and I went aboard and bought the ticket on the bus. To Carcelen it took 1h 50 minutes
At Carcelen I went to the line for La Y (wanted to see if this way was quicker than the one over Ofelia). On the bus I paid 25 cents and at La Y the line for the Metrobus was very long. As I had already paid 25 cents I didn’t pay again for the Metrobus to La Marín. As far as I can see it doesn’t matter if you change at La Y or at Ofelia, as both routes took a very long time.
Long story short: I was supposed to arrive in Quito at midnight, but I arrived in Guayaquil at 3 a.m. instead. Thank you Continental!
Well, I took a nap on a wire bench (I felt like an Excel spreadsheet), and at 6:30 sharp, the office of TAME (pronounce Tammy, stands for Transporte Aereo Militar Ecuatoriano) opened. I bought a ticket to Quito for $56, and to my delight discovered the flight would be on one of the two remaining 727s operated by TAME.
So, in the end, I got to fly 40 minutes in a 40 year old "whisperliner," one of the noisiest but most exciting early jets: A delightful flight with great views to boot.
As most interesting sightseeing points are located centrally in the old part of Quito, it can easily be done on foot.
Just be careful, whenever it is your first day in Ecuador. Do it slowly, do not forget that you are at 2800 m altitude.
If you feel a bit dizzy or weak, stop walking around, and go to your hotel to rest and let your body acclimatize.
There are plenty of busses and trolleys in Quito.
Just be careful for your belongings as these busses are mostly very full. And the danger of encountering a pickpocket is very big over here.
Leave are your valuable items in the hotel safe and take a cop of your passport, as there are regular checks from the local police.
This trip to Ecuador started in Schiphol airport (near Amsterdam - Holland)
We had two stops, first one was in Bonaire (Dutch Caribbean) and the second was in Guayaquil (Ecuador).
And like that we arrived after a flight of 15 hours (stops included) in Quito.
The flight back home (Quito - Schiphol) had only one stop (in Bonaire), and traveltime was 12 hours.
As always, the service on board was very good.
This bus company goes to many places on the coast, and have direct connections to places like Atacames. While their buses also stop at the main termial, their office is closer to Mariscal and in a safer area. You can both board the bus here (you'll get good seats AND don't have to pay the exit tax at the main bus terminal) and ask them to let you off here (since it's walking distance to Mariscal, you'll save some money).
Some of the direct buses leave early in the morning, so go check out times the day before. While you'll probably be fine buying the tickets right before you leave, you can also buy them ahead of time if you liked (then you better be on time, the bus will not wait for you!).
The office is located on the street 18 de Septiembre, one block west of Manuel Larrea. It is close to the offices of Flor del Valle and Flota Imbabura.
One of the most reliable agency in Quito, Safari Tours is excellent for any kind of tour in Ecuador. They have a variety of well organised expeditions or trips to fit all tastes. It's not cheap but the company are associated with more than one boat companies or travelling experts so they can give you a range of different prices. Whatever your needs or desires are, they can find the best solution. Go climbing, jungle trekking, sightseeing or even shopping in the famous Ecuadorian markets under their care. You 'll have your peace of mind, as they are seriously taking care of every client. The staff are very efficient, knowledgeable and polite.
By the way the famous bar and restaurant “ Magic Bean” is across the street.
Foch E5-39 & Juan Leon Mera.
Flota de Imbabura is one of the better bus companies in Ecuador (the best buses) and while they mainly go to the Imbabura province, they also have serveral other destinations. While their buses also go down to the main busstation, you can also board the bus or go to check schedules at their office (locadted within walking distance from Mariscal).
Their office is located on the street Manuel Larrea (btw Portoviejo and 18 de Septiembre). It's about two blocks west of the park El Ejido, and close to the offices of Flor del Valle and Transportes Occidentales.
For me, and I'm going to go out on a limb and say for the majority of visitors to Quito, the most useful bus routes will be the north-south links between the Old Town and La Mariscal. Fortunately, it's very easy to make this connection cheaply and conveniently.
There are three main bus networks. The Trole, which uses electric trolley buses and runs along Avenida 10 de Agosto in the Old Town and along Avenida Maldonado and run most of the day (not after 11:15 pm on weekdays and 12:35 am on Fridays and Saturdays). For connections between the Old Town and La Mariscal, it makes no difference which bus you get on, they all follow this route.
The Ecovia runs between La Marin in the Old Town and along Avenida 6 de Diciembre through La Mariscal. While it's not electric, is is eco-friendly, which means the buses are low emissions vehicles and they are just as easy to use. Again, any bus will connect you to the Old Town or La Mariscal.
The Metrobus Q runs from 6am to 10pm and also runs low emissions vehicles from the Universidad Central at the southwestern edge of the new town to the airport along Avenida America and Avenida de la Prensa. I didn't actually take the "Q", but it looks like a great option.
There is a flat fare of $.25 for the buses! Not a bad deal!
When I returned to Quito in August 2012 they had just started with a new public bicycle system. There are 425 bicycles at 25 stations around the city, between LaY in the north and Plaza Santo Domingo in Centro Historico. The stations are open between 7 – 19 and you can use a bike for 45 minutes before you need to put it back at a station.
Registration and annual subscription cost $25.
I had a broken wrist and could unfortunately not try the bicycle system.
The Terminal Terrestre de Cumandá is located in the southern part of the old town, a few blocks from the Plaza de Santo Domingo. From here you can catch a bus to anywhere in Ecuador. There are several companies serving main destinations, and most of the time it takes only few minutes before you are seated in the bus. It´s more a matter of taking the next bus that choosing a company. The Cumandá terminal can be reached from the north (Cumandá trole station) or from the south in a taxi. There are Andinatel offices, cheap restaurants and small stores.Take care of your belongins because robberies had been reported, although I didn't see or heard a problem. There is a $0.20 departure tax.
Because I was travelling with a small and a big backpack, and had a broken wrist, I didn’t want to take the metrobus to Ofelia (the terminal from where the buses to Mindo are departing), but took a taxi. The taxi from Centro Histórico to Ofelia was $6.30 (July 2012).
I arrived at Ofelia at 11.30 and went over to the counter to buy a ticket for the next bus to Mindo. There was no bus until 16.00. I should have had a look in the guidebook because there it says there are morning buses and then one later in the afternoon. Somehow I had thought there was going to be buses throughout the day. At the ticket counter I met five people from Quito who had thought the same as me. So, instead we shared a taxi to a place where we waited for a bus coming from Terminal Carcelen. This bus didn’t go to Mindo, but passed LaY on the main road above Mindo. For the bus to La Y I paid $2.50.
The bus attendant told us that it wasn’t far to Mindo from La Y, but someone else told us it takes around 1.5h to walk there. Well, we started to walk but very soon a taxi stopped and we could all go with it. For the taxi we paid $3. I arrived at the hotel in Mindo at 14.00, so taking the bus to LaY had been a better option than to wait for the afternoon bus.