Quito is one of the most visited places in Ecuador, famous for its modern and colonial beauty. Quito’s prime attraction is the old town and its incredible collection of churches, monasteries, and nunneries. However, sometimes safety can be a concern, especially during the night.
But don’t panic, you aren’t walking into a ‘den of sin’. There are still a number of ways to enjoy an enriching experience. You just have to take the usual precautions that you would even in your hometown. In this article, we will help you answer the troubling question, “Is Old Town Quito safe at Night?”
Where is Old Town Quito?
To begin our research, let’s learn a little about this famous town. The City of Quito is Ecuador’s capital and is located in South America, with a population of 2,671,191. Its official name is San Francisco de Quito, and it is the second-largest city in Ecuador. It was built centuries ago by local laborers and artisans with narrow streets, exciting plazas, and well-restored colonial architecture.
Here’s a fun fact, it was actually declared a first World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO in 1978. From the roaring buses on the roads to the yelling of street vendors, it is a city bustling daily with life. With more cultural treasures to find everywhere you look, it is indeed a marvel to wander.
The Plaza Grande, which the indigenous folk considers the heart of Old Town, is a palm-shaped square enveloped with many historic buildings and architecture. A narrow cobblestone lane lined with buildings from the 17th century, which is home to bars, shops, and restaurants, comes alive during Friday and Saturday nights.
On these nights, the sound of live music and people dancing fill the surrounding areas. There are vendors selling cinnamon and hot cider with aguardiente, to keep the crowd warm and comfortable as they make merry and dance the night away. The name of this lane? La Ronda.
Is Old Town Quito Safe?
Old Town Quito is generally safe, providing you know the city’s dos and don’ts as a tourist or resident. If you do your research before arriving, we guarantee you a memorable experience. But to those who don’t, well, you know how it ends.
The daytime in Old Town Quito is far safer than that of the night time, but the nighttime offers you the chance to see the city’s authentic culture. Walking to places close by is relatively safe during the day, but you will need to take extra care at night.
A lot of females are concerned about their safety, especially when traveling solo. Here are a few things to pay attention to as a solo female tourist in Quito.
- You will be getting a lot of catcalls when crossing the streets and walking about. The best thing to do is not to react, keep a straight face, and keep walking. If you are concerned about your safety, quickly step into a restaurant or café with a crowd.
- Never accept drinks from strangers, particularly during the night, as there have been several date rape cases. Always order your drink straight from the bartender and watch it like a hawk.
- If a club looks grimy and dingy, err on the side of caution and call it a night.
What’s the Night-Life like in Old Town Quito?
The nightlife in Ecuador varies widely from city to city. The large cities of Quito and Guayaquil define their nightlife with bars and ‘discotecas’ (nightclubs), while smaller towns prefer beach activities. Just as the daytime bustles with vehicle horns and vendors’ cacophony, Ecuador’s night time also comes alive in its unique way.
For example, Banos’s city is reputed for its partying antics, while the town of Montanita is regarded as the party capital of Ecuador.
From times around 6:00 pm, as the sun begins its slow descent over Old Town Quito, the streets lights across the cobble-street lanes light up and give a beautiful backdrop lighting of the restaurants, cafes, and bars around the city.
From the Vista Hermosa Café Mirador to the Theatrum Restaurante Ecuatoriano and La Oficina, there are many places to have the time of your nightlife in Quito. Here are a few places you can visit during the day, but be informed, they really come alive at night.
- Restaurants: Mirador El Ventanal, La Purisma and Hervidos El Tropical.
- Bars: Sirk, Sereno Moreno, and Bandido Brewing.
- Cafes: Vista, Hermosa Café Mirador and Café Mosaico.
- Dancing: Wonder 1933 and La Ronda.
5 Tips to Stay Safe in Old Town Quito
We already know that Old Town Quito has the unfortunate reputation of being a city that some tourists fear for their safety. Again, remember that different countries have different cultures. To move comfortably through cities of the world, you have to research and prepare to adapt a little.
Now we are not saying Old Town Quito is perfectly safe, but if you plan to go there, make sure you do your research well; otherwise, you’ll be in for a nasty surprise. If you were like us in high school and still haven’t done your research despite many warnings, well, you are in luck! Here are our five tips for staying safe in Quito.
1. Be careful with public transport
Like buses, public transport vehicles are among the most common ways of getting around cities in Ecuador. It’s cheap and straightforward compared to other forms of transportation. However, this is where some tourists typically have issues with petty theft and mugging or robbery. Never take interstate buses that have to stop to pick up passengers at various bus stops, especially at night.
This is because they are typically used by criminals to attack and rob passengers. Also, remember not to put your backpack on the bus floor, even if you think it is properly sealed and it is in between your legs. The thieves in Quito are real geniuses who will give Oceans 8 a run for their money.
They have a way of getting under your seat to cut open your bag and steal your valuables while sleeping. Sometimes, they also impersonate a bus staff, politely asking you to put your bag away where it can’t be seen.
Also, remember never to put anything in the overhead bunk, even your jacket, unless you want to donate some clothes or bags to the thieves.
2. Look out for fake taxis
Official taxis permitted by the government usually have green stickers on their sides and orange license plates.
When hailing a cab, always sit at the back and never allow strangers to join you. Also, note that official taxis have a panic button inside that you can utilize if your safety is threatened.
Once pushed, the cameras inside the cab come on, and you’re immediately tracked via GPS. One other thing to note is when drivers decide not to use the meter while driving. This is a requirement for every taxi, so if they refuse when you ask them, avoid taking that taxi. If you still feel uneasy about all this, then a safer option would be Uber or Cabify.
3. Do not flaunt cash out in public
Pickpocketing and mugging are a norm in Old Town Quito, so displaying cash means calling for a target on your back.
Pickpockets have excellent strategies without you even noticing. Don’t think this is the “bump-into-you-and-say-excuse me” pickpocketing scenario you see in movies. This is far more advanced, so better be safe than sorry. Unfortunately, if you happen to be a victim of a mugging, do not resist.
Give them whatever valuables they ask for to avoid getting seriously injured or hurt. Some people have also been forced to withdraw cash from ATMs to be released, so be extra careful when withdrawing cash from ATMs at night.
3. Avoid certain places after dark
Old Town Quito can be quite unsafe after dark, but this does not mean you should stay indoors all night and not experience the beautiful nightlife the region has to offer. Just make sure you know how to get to your destination after dark without walking. Also, make sure you are in a group; if you aren’t, do not stay out too late.
As previously mentioned, muggers really become confident at night and, therefore, target tourists more frequently. Be extra cautious at places like Carolina Pak, South Quito, Plaza Foch, La Mariscal, and Guapulo. On the other hand, Republica de El Salvador and La Ronda are much safer at night.
4. Travel in groups especially at night
Group traveling always works out in terms of increasing security for many-a-travelers around the world. Traveling in groups reduces the risk of being robbed as there are more pairs of eyes between yourselves to see what is going on behind the scenes.
Robbers are known to target single tourists most of the time. So, when stepping out, even when you think it’s just to another town or restaurant close by, try your best to take at least one person with you.
If you are traveling alone, one approach to use is to remain in a group and hop on the Wanderbus and befriend your fellow travelers. This is very helpful if most of you are interested in an activity that needs a small number of participants.
Moreover, try your best to utilize a taxi wherever you are going. If you are unsure which taxis are valid or fake, use the hotels or restaurants recommended taxi rather than hailing a cab.
Is Old Town Quito Safe at Night – Summary
Well, that’s all we can say about Old Town Quito. It is definitely placed in one of the most beautiful cities in Ecuador. Nevertheless, it is also one of the most problematic to navigate and enjoy.
Most important are the five tips on staying safe. Memorise these, and we assure you of an unforgettable stay in Old Town, Quito.
With all this information, we hope we have been able to answer the question “Is Old Town Quito Safe at Night”? Do you still plan on visiting? Let us know in the comments below.