Spend a full day exploring Quito, which has a large and well-preserved colonial center. Ornate homes and shops line the narrow, sloping streets, which periodically open onto plazas fronted by grand municipal buildings and elaborately decorated churches.
Start in the impressive Plaza Grande (also known as Plaza de la Independencia) and walk to the nearby 17th-century Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús. The interior is a riot of gold, with golden Moorish-style latticework encrusting the nave’s barrel vault and golden grapevine-clad columns framing niches with life-size statues of saints.
Afterward, perhaps visit the newly renovated National Museum, rich with pre-colonial and Quito School art. The Gold Room is especially memorable.
Alternatively, continue farther north into La Mariscal, a neighborhood with a wealth of upscale art galleries.
You could also visit the Casa Museo Guayasamín, the former home of Ecuador’s most important modern painter, Oswaldo Guayasamín, and the adjacent Capilla de Hombre, a grand gallery housing many of his large-format works.
Dine tonight at Zazu, Quito’s best restaurant, which serves beautifully presented versions of Ecuadorian dishes.