Is Quito Safe? Unique Things You Need to Know

is quito safe

Is Quito Safe? This is a question that often arises among travelers planning their visit to Ecuador’s capital city. Situated amidst stunning mountain vistas and perched at an altitude of 9,350 feet above sea level, Quito beckons adventurers with its rich cultural tapestry and breathtaking natural beauty. Yet, concerns about safety can loom large, especially for those unfamiliar with Latin American travel.

Fortunately, Quito has undergone significant transformations in recent years, emerging as a safer and more tourist-friendly destination. Collaborative efforts between the Ministry of Tourism and local authorities have bolstered security measures, making key areas like the historic Old Town increasingly welcoming to visitors. However, navigating the nuances of safety in Quito still requires a thoughtful approach, particularly for first-time travelers to the region.

In this guide, we’ll delve into essential tips and insights to help you navigate Quito safely. From practical advice on safeguarding your belongings to understanding local customs and navigating transportation options, we’ll empower you to explore Quito with confidence. So, whether you’re marveling at colonial architecture in the heart of the city or embarking on high-altitude adventures in the surrounding Andean landscape, rest assured that your journey through Quito can be both enriching and secure.

How Safe is Quito?

Is Quito Safe? Unique Things You Need to Know -

When exploring historic downtown Quito, Ecuador, safety is a key consideration. Quito, like many South American capitals, attracts a significant number of visitors. While generally safe, travelers should exercise caution and common sense, particularly in public areas where pickpocketing is common. Certain parts of the city may be less welcoming and best avoided, especially after dark.

Quito’s historic center is frequented by tourists and patrolled by police, but it’s advisable to remain vigilant, especially at night. The city boasts a well-developed tourism infrastructure and reliable public transportation, facilitating exploration. However, incidents such as pickpocketing, scams, violent crime, and natural disasters can occur, potentially affecting travelers’ experiences.

When selecting accommodations, research is crucial. Read reviews to gauge the safety of the neighborhood, especially for nighttime strolls. Utilize online forums or platforms like Reddit to seek advice from locals and seasoned travelers familiar with the area. For those concerned about safety or navigating the city without proficiency in Spanish, inexpensive guides are available to enhance the experience.

Is Quito Safe Right Now?

Despite Ecuador’s state of emergency declaration, Quito, located in the highland provinces, is relatively calm and considered safer. However, travelers should exercise caution, especially in coastal provinces and border areas with Colombia and Peru, which are deemed high-risk. Stay updated on current events and advisories to make informed decisions about safety while visiting Quito.

Places to Avoid in Quito

In Quito, certain areas should be approached with caution, particularly those south of downtown, extending from calle Rocafuerte, and neighborhoods like Carcelen, Calderon, and Comite del Pueblo in the extreme north. Additionally, some regions beyond Av. Mariscal Sucre to the west, especially slum areas, should be avoided.

Nighttime can bring added risks, especially in isolated parts of downtown and along Av. de Los Shyris. Exercise vigilance with valuables like wallets, cameras, and cellphones, particularly on public transportation and during walks. Party areas may attract a mix of individuals, so staying vigilant is crucial.

Travelers should avoid visiting ‘El Panecillo’ hill alone or on foot, opting instead for guided tours or reliable transportation. Having a well-thought-out travel plan can enhance safety and enjoyment while exploring Quito.

10 Quito Safety Tips

Go on a Walking Tour

Is Quito Safe? Unique Things You Need to Know -

Opting for a guided walking tour in Quito enhances safety while offering rich cultural insights. Professional guides ensure security and provide valuable knowledge about the city’s history and traditions. Walking tours help prevent getting lost and navigating potential challenges. Quito boasts various tour options, from city highlights to countryside excursions, catering to diverse interests. Joining a tour not only deepens understanding but also fosters connections with fellow travelers, enriching the overall experience.

Ask Your Hotel Staff About Safety in the Area

Consulting hotel staff about local safety is a wise travel strategy. They often possess valuable insights as residents, offering advice on areas to avoid and safe walking times. Inquire about crime-free destinations and recommended activities. Hotel staff can suggest enjoyable tours, enhancing your experience. By adhering to travel safety guidelines and seeking local advice, you become a savvy traveler, ensuring a secure and enjoyable stay in Quito.

Have Travel Insurance

When traveling in Quito, having travel insurance is crucial for your safety. It serves as a safeguard against unforeseen accidents, emergencies, or medical expenses. Our recommendation is World Nomads, offering tailored coverage for digital nomads and travelers. Whether you’re exploring the Old City, La Floresta, or La Mariscal, reliable travel insurance ensures peace of mind as you navigate Quito’s attractions. With proper coverage, you can enjoy your adventures knowing you’re financially protected in any unexpected situation.

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Don’t Carry All Your Money at Once

It’s wise not to carry all your cash and cards at once in Quito. Instead, carry only what you need for the day, keeping a small amount of money and one card with you. Leave the rest securely stored at your hotel. Utilize a money belt for added security, as they’re designed for this purpose. Consider leaving valuables at the hotel too, as exploring an unfamiliar city as a tourist isn’t ideal with all your valuables in tow. This precaution ensures that even if you encounter pickpocketing, you’ll still have access to your funds.

Want to Know a Secret?

Is Quito Safe? Unique Things You Need to Know -

The Wise Credit Card is a traveler’s ally, offering a host of benefits tailored to globetrotters. With just one card offering competitive exchange rates in 160 countries, it ensures seamless spending abroad for a worry-free journey. This is the card we use while traveling as it offers the best rates and lowest fees.

Watch for Pickpocketers

In Quito, be vigilant for pickpockets and bag snatchers, especially in popular tourist areas. Follow standard precautions: avoid carrying valuables in your bag or back pocket, and keep your luggage securely zipped. Consider using a money belt for added security. When using public transportation, keep your belongings in front of you to deter theft. Stay alert and aware of your surroundings to minimize the risk of falling victim to pickpockets while exploring Quito.

Make Sure Taxis Use the Meter

In Quito, insist that taxi drivers use the meter, as it’s the regulation in Ecuador. Most drivers comply with this requirement. Alternatively, consider using Uber, which accepts payments directly through the app, providing a convenient and transparent option for transportation. By ensuring taxis use the meter or opting for Uber, you can avoid potential disagreements over fares and ensure a fair and regulated ride experience in Quito.

Buy a Local SIM Card or eSIM

Boost your safety in Quito by acquiring a local SIM card or eSIM. While free Wi-Fi is available, having a local phone connection is essential, especially for solo travelers. In Quito, you can conveniently purchase an affordable SIM card from the airport, convenience stores, or malls, with Claro and Movistar being popular carriers. Remember to bring your passport for the purchase. Alternatively, consider the convenience of an eSIM, ensuring uninterrupted connectivity, access to local emergency numbers, and the ability to stay connected in any situation.

Is Quito Safe? Unique Things You Need to Know -

We’ve tested the top 5 eSIMs on the market in Peru, and AIRHUB took the top spot. It’s the most reliable, giving us the strongest signal possible even at the highest altitudes and the deepest canyons of our hikes.

You’ll have the option to access multiple carriers when you sign up for an Airhub eSIM. Haven’t found any other eSIM that got that in the bag.

Don’t Walk Alone at Night

In Quito, it’s advisable to avoid walking alone at night. Once the sun sets, the city can become less populated and potentially more dangerous. Even if your destination is nearby, opt for a safe taxi, especially when dining out after dark. Unless you’re headed to a well-lit area with multiple bars and nightclubs, refrain from wandering alone at night, prioritizing your safety, particularly if you’re traveling solo. By exercising caution and utilizing safe transportation options, you can minimize the risk of encountering nighttime dangers in Quito.

Don’t Dress to Impress

In Quito, avoid wearing flashy jewelry or expensive watches to deter unwanted attention and potential theft. Refrain from displaying signs of wealth, as it may attract unwanted attention. Opt for modest attire that blends in with the local surroundings rather than standing out. By dressing discreetly and avoiding flashy accessories, you reduce the risk of becoming a target for theft or scams while exploring the city.

Learn Basic Spanish Phrases

Solo travelers in Quito benefit greatly from learning basic Spanish phrases. While not everyone speaks English, knowing a few key phrases in the local language enhances your travel experience. You don’t need an intensive Spanish course; simple phrases suffice. Mobile apps or pocket dictionaries can aid your linguistic journey. With basic Spanish, navigating Cotopaxi tours becomes smoother, as certified guides are often bilingual.

🔗 Related: Survival Spanish 101

Is Quito Safe For Solo Female Travelers?

Is Quito Safe? Unique Things You Need to Know -

Traveling solo as a woman in Quito requires caution and awareness. While instances of assaults on women are relatively rare, they do occur, necessitating vigilance. Female travelers should remain mindful of their surroundings to avoid attracting unwanted attention. If feeling intimidated, seek refuge in busy areas and approach a police officer for assistance.

As tourism in Quito grows, so does the frequency of attacks and sexual assaults on female tourists. In some unfortunate cases, victims have been targeted with drugs. Regardless of gender, it’s unwise to stray from main roads, especially at night or in less touristy areas.

Is Quito Safe At Night?

Quito presents increased risks after dark, as criminals often take advantage of the cover of night. Quiet neighborhoods pose particular dangers, making certified taxis the safest option for nocturnal travel. If planning a night out, it’s wise to stay within close proximity to your accommodation to minimize risk. Areas like La Ronda, Republica de El Salvador, and Plaza Foch are generally safe for nighttime walks. However, accommodations in Quito’s old town may not offer the same level of safety. Always remain vigilant of your belongings, refraining from displaying valuables while walking. In La Mariscal, sticking to main streets is advisable to avoid potential dangers lurking in dimly lit areas.

Is Quito Safe For Digital Nomads?

Is Quito Safe? Unique Things You Need to Know -

While Quito offers some perks like easy access to destinations like Banos and a relatively low cost of living, it may not be the ideal destination for digital nomads seeking a fulfilling experience. The city’s safety concerns, coupled with limited amenities and overall lackluster experiences, make it less appealing for long-term stays.

Regardless of your choice to reside in Quito, prioritizing access to reliable internet and essential amenities is crucial for digital nomads. Conduct thorough research on your chosen neighborhood, as some areas may pose safety risks.

Is Quito Safe For Traveling With Kids?

Quito can be a safe destination for families with children, but it’s essential to plan and navigate the city carefully, considering its chaotic traffic and bustling neighborhoods. Here are some specific considerations:

  1. Chaotic Traffic: Quito’s traffic doesn’t prioritize pedestrians, and many pedestrian crossings may be faded or ineffective. Exercise caution and yield to cars when crossing the streets, especially if you’re accustomed to stricter pedestrian rules.
  2. Sidewalks and Narrow Paths: Not all roads in Quito have sidewalks, and some sidewalks, particularly in the Old Town, can be narrow. Ensure everyone walks together and holds hands, especially when navigating crowded areas.
  3. Busy Neighborhoods: Areas like the Old Town and the Mariscal district can get crowded, increasing the risk of getting separated from your children. Keep them close, accompany them to public facilities, and have a plan in case of separation. Teach older children basic information like the hotel’s name and phone number, and for younger ones, provide a laminated card with your contact details.

Are Taxis in Quito Safe?

Generally, taxis in Quito are safe, but the risk lies in using unlicensed taxis, which is strongly discouraged. Legitimate taxis can be identified by their orange license plates or a white plate with an orange stripe. Official taxis often have video monitoring for added security. Alternatively, app-based providers like Uber, Easy Taxi, and Cabify operate in Quito, reducing the risk of encountering illegal drivers or scams.

Are Buses in Quito Safe?

Is Quito Safe? Unique Things You Need to Know -

Buses are a convenient and affordable way to explore natural attractions like Baños and Laguna Quilotoa. While generally clean and spacious, buses can attract petty crimes. To safeguard your belongings, keep them secured and avoid using overhead racks or stowing luggage beneath seats, where they may be vulnerable to theft. Instead, keep your bag on your lap to maintain control. Traveling during the day and sitting near the driver enhances safety and offers scenic views. Consider paying extra for a direct bus to your destination to minimize the risk of changing buses and potential theft.

Is the Tap Water in Quito Safe?

While tap water in Quito is technically potable, it’s not recommended for travelers due to aging infrastructure that may lead to contamination. Tourists should opt for bottled water to avoid potential health risks from harmful bacteria. However, tap water can be suitable for activities like brushing teeth and cooking, although locals often boil it for added safety. To minimize plastic waste, consider traveling with a filtered water bottle to ensure access to safe drinking water while reducing environmental impact.

Is the Street Food in Quito Safe?

Is Quito Safe? Unique Things You Need to Know -

Street food is a popular option in Quito, with numerous markets and stalls offering quick and convenient meals or snacks. A good rule of thumb is to observe the locals—if a place is bustling with locals, it’s likely safe to eat there without worrying about stomach issues. However, it’s essential to ensure that the food is prepared and handled hygienically to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses. Look for vendors who maintain clean cooking practices and serve food that is cooked thoroughly and served hot.

Is Quito LGBTQ+ Friendly?

Quito boasts an established LGBTQ+ community, offering a range of gay-friendly and LGBTQ+ exclusive nightlife options. Compared to other cities like Cuenca or Guayaquil, Quito tends to have more established LGBTQ+ activities and venues. However, while the city is generally accepting, it’s essential for LGBTQ+ travelers to remain cautious and aware of their surroundings, especially in more conservative areas. While there are LGBTQ+ friendly spaces and events in Quito, it’s advisable to exercise discretion and respect local customs and sensitivities.

Is Quito Airport Safe?

Is Quito Safe? Unique Things You Need to Know -

Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito is the primary gateway for travelers, serving over 220 daily flights. While the airport generally maintains safety standards, travelers should remain vigilant and cautious of their belongings, especially in crowded areas. Like any international airport, there is a risk of petty theft or scams, so it’s advisable to keep valuables secure and be aware of your surroundings. Additionally, following standard airport security procedures and adhering to any guidelines or instructions from airport staff can contribute to a safe and smooth travel experience

Is the Weather in Quito Dangerous?

Quito’s weather is characterized by its cool climate due to its altitude of 2,800 meters and its location between two mountain ranges. With an average annual temperature of 14°C, the city experiences two main seasons: a rainy winter and a dry, windy summer. Evenings can be chilly, so it’s advisable to pack warm clothing.

While Quito’s climate is generally stable, Ecuador is susceptible to natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. Quito is situated in an area of high seismic activity, making it essential for travelers to familiarize themselves with safety protocols. During the rainy season from December to May, there’s an increased risk of floods and landslides. Additionally, the dry season brings a heightened risk of forest fires due to high temperatures and strong winds.

Common Scams in Quito

Is Quito Safe? Unique Things You Need to Know -

To navigate Quito safely, it’s crucial to be aware of common scams that target tourists:

  1. The Mustard Trick: This scam typically occurs in busy areas like bus stations or tourist spots. A perpetrator splashes mustard or a similar substance onto unsuspecting individuals, often those carrying bags or cameras. A seemingly helpful passerby offers assistance to clean the mess, while an accomplice steals belongings when attention is diverted. To avoid falling victim, stay vigilant in crowded places and be cautious of unsolicited help from strangers.
  2. Taxi Scams: While legal taxis in Quito are required to have specific features like license stickers and cameras, scams still occur. Drivers may refuse to use the meter or take unnecessarily long routes to inflate fares. Always ensure the meter is on from the start of the journey, and be assertive in directing the driver if needed. Avoid sharing taxis with strangers and keep doors locked during transit to prevent theft.
  3. Bag Slashing: Travelers are often targeted for theft, with valuables stolen from zipped pockets or bags. Waiting for less crowded buses can reduce the risk of bag slashing incidents. Keeping valuables secure and being mindful of surroundings can also deter thieves.
  4. The Restaurant Bag Snatch: In restaurants, unattended bags are easy targets for theft. Thieves may seize the opportunity to steal bags hanging on chairs or placed out of sight. To prevent this, keep belongings close at hand or use a bag that can be securely fastened to the table or chair. Stay vigilant and avoid leaving valuables unattended, especially in crowded or touristy areas.

Altitude Sickness in Quito

Is Quito Safe? Unique Things You Need to Know -

Quito’s high elevation of 2,850 meters (9,350 feet) poses a risk of altitude sickness, locally known as “Soroche.” Symptoms may include headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping. Those with cardiovascular or autoimmune conditions are at higher risk. International health advisories suggest avoiding strenuous activities above 2,500 meters without acclimatization.

To mitigate altitude sickness, consider preventive measures. Ibuprofen or aspirin can alleviate headaches, while anti-sickness medication may be prescribed by a doctor. Staying hydrated is essential; however, caffeine and alcohol should be avoided as they exacerbate symptoms. Wearing a hat and applying sunblock protect against the strong equatorial sun and thinner atmosphere, reducing the risk of sunburn.

Visitors to Quito should acclimatize gradually and refrain from intense physical activity upon arrival. If symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical assistance promptly.

Well… Is Quito Safe?

Absolutely, Quito is a safe destination for travelers of all backgrounds. With its remarkable biodiversity and stunning landscapes, Quito offers an array of attractions that appeal to adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike. However, maintaining awareness and adhering to basic safety precautions is paramount.

Remaining vigilant against petty crimes, natural disasters, and other potential risks is essential to ensuring a secure journey. Whether exploring Quito’s historic sites or venturing into the wilderness, staying attuned to your surroundings is key. Additionally, opting for guided tours can provide added peace of mind for those seeking expert guidance and insight. Ultimately, Quito beckons travelers with its rich history, vibrant culture, and unparalleled natural beauty.


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