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What City Was Just Named the 2013 Best Tourist Destination of South America?

Have you ever been caught in a place where you knew no amount of photos could ever capture the beauty in front of your eyes right there and then? Quito, Ecuador is one of those rare places that keep you from closing your jaws in awe, especially as you peek around the endless corners of the old downtown.


Have you ever been caught in a place where you knew no amount of photos could ever capture the beauty in front of your eyes right there and then? Quito, Ecuador is one of those rare places that keep you from closing your jaws in awe, especially as you peek around the endless corners of the old downtown.

On July 20, 2013, Quito was given the honorable title as the best tourist destination of South America by the World Travel Awards, largely considered the Oscars of tourism.

And having had the pleasure of visiting as part of an Ecuador holiday just a few months prior, I am happy that it was the strongest candidate in the running. Set in the northern highlands of Ecuador in the Guayllabamba river basin, the city is surrounded by picturesque mountains and peaks including the famous Pichincha volcano, and via a spectacular trip on the city's aerial tram, visitors are offered breathtaking panoramas of the world below them.

Another unrivaled highlight in Ecuador is the colonial center. Once one of the main headquarters of the Spanish empire in the New World, Quito retains many of the original buildings constructed during the early 16th century. Today, you will find traditional Ecuadorian sweets such as fried coconut pieces and candied nuts sold in small colorful shops that now occupy what used to be manors of the rich and powerful aristocratic class. The original cobblestones that set the streets continue to receive constant use, though today that includes vehicular in additional to foot traffic. Charming Spanish-style black iron balconies hang over the streets, and the echo of a cathedral's bells are never far off. The old downtown was and is still a central place of commerce and socializing for countless Quiteios. The classic Calle Ronda street was a particular favorite, a place steeped with as much history as modern offerings such as artisan chocolates and quaint coffee shops and bars.

Perhaps best of all, the geographic location of Quito makes it an ideal place for getting out to the rest of Ecuador. It is just 1.5 hours from the depths of the Andean highlands dotted with delightful countryside haciendas and quiet, traditional villages. As well, it is only a 3.5 hour flight (including obligatory brief layover in Guayaquil on the way) from the infamous Galapagos Islands for embarking a Galapagos cruise. Lastly, the Amazon is just a 45 minute flight away! In short, using Quito as a hub, it is very easy to gain a complete Ecuadorian experience without any of the long flights and inconveniences of traveling within a larger country.



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