Sleeping in Airports

Quito Airport Layover Sightseeing

This article includes links to our travel partners at Tripadvisor, where you can read traveller reviews, book tours and plan your visit to Quito.

Quito Layover Sightseeing
(photo credit: Fabricio Burbano / Shutterstock)

Quito airport is approximately 40km from the city centre, so a longer layover is needed to make the most of your time in Ecuador’s capital. For those who do have the time, leaving the airport is an opportunity to admire the beautiful Andean countryside or wander the colonial streets of Ecuador’s capital. Read on for our top picks on how best to spend your time in Quito.

Airport Overview

There is free WiFi and multiple 24-hour food options at Quito airport. It’s quiet overnight, so if you wrap up warm, sleeping is possible, but it might be worth paying for lounge entry to have a more comfortable wait. Check out our Quito Airport Guide for more information about the airport and nearby hotels.

Quito Sightseeing Attractions

Below are a few of the top things to do in Quito during your layover:

Hop-On Hop-Off bus

Basilica de Voto Nacional
(photo credit: Becker Stefan / Shutterstock)

Perhaps the best way to see a city quickly is Quito’s Hop-On Hop-Off bus stops at seven landmarks across the historic and commercial centres. Visit markets, churches, and parks and choose from various museums if you’ve got time for a more extended stop. It’s worth paying the extra fee to walk up the Basilica del Voto Nacional towers, too.

  • Plan your visit: Visit Tripadvisor for more information about Quito’s Double Decker Bus, book a tour or read traveller reviews.
  • Time required: Full day.
  • How to get there: Check out this Google Map for details on transport from the airport to the Miraflores Visitor Centre.

La Mitad del Mundo

Equatorial Monument
(photo credit: SL-Photography / Shutterstock)

One of the most visited sites in Ecuador, the ‘Middle of the World’ is a popular destination for visitors who want to see the Equator. Alongside the extensive yellow line, there’s a planetarium, museums, restaurants, and souvenir shops. It’s a fun day out and a great spot to tick off the bucket list on your Quito layover.

  • Plan your visit: Visit Tripadvisor for more information about visiting Mitad del Mundo, to book a tour or read traveller reviews.
  • Time required: Half day (not including transport time).
  • How to get there: Check out this Google Map for details on transport from the airport to La Mitad del Mundo.

Scala shopping centre

If you fancy more choice than the duty-free in Quito airport, head to Scala shopping mall, just a 30-minute taxi ride away. You’ll find many international brands here and smaller boutique shops offering everything from clothes to books to electronics. There’s a wide variety of food options, so whether you’re looking for a sit-down restaurant or something on the go, you’ll find it at Scala. And if you’ve got a bit more time, why not head to the cinema inside the mall too?

  • Plan your visit: Look at the Scala shopping centre website for a complete list of shops and services.
  • Time required: Half day.
  • How to get there: Check out this Google Map for details on transport from the airport to the Scala shopping centre.

Airport Transportation

Due to Quito airport being relatively remote, the most convenient transport option for a layover is a taxi or shuttle bus directly from the airport. Public transport is available but may only be suitable for a more extended layover due to the slower journey times.

  • Bus: Public buses run between the airport and Quito’s north and south terminals. Tickets are $2; more information can be found on the airport website.
  • Shuttle bus: Aeroservicios is a shuttle bus service that provides transportation from Quito directly to the New Mariscal Sucre International Airport 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, without intermediate stops. For more details on times, schedules and costs, visit the Aeroservicios website.
  • Taxi: Taxis can be found at the airport exit and run 24/7. You can also reserve in advance – for more information, head to the airport website.

Before You Go: Layover Tips

Now that you are motivated and excited about your mini layover vacation, check a few final logistical concerns off your list before you fully commit.

  • Altitude. Keep in mind that Quito sits at 2850 metres above sea level, so this must be considered if you’re prone to altitude sickness.
  • Do you need to organize a visa to leave the airport? Requirements change frequently and for each nationality, so be sure to seek out current details on the availability, cost, and procedures of obtaining a transit visa.
  • When is your next flight’s check-in time? Double-check with your airline exactly when you need to be at the airport – and plan your layover accordingly.
  • What are security wait times like at the airport? Some airports are notorious for extended security wait times, so research in advance and factor that into your overall time budget.
  • What’s happening with your luggage? When you check in to your first flight, be sure to confirm whether your luggage will be checked through or needs to be picked up between your connecting flights. Check out our Quito Airport Guide for information on luggage storage.

Other Useful Resources

Finally, here are a few handy resources to help you plan your layover even more thoroughly: