Is a Free Walking Tour in Quito Worth It? And How Much to Tip

posted in: City Guides, Ecuador, South America | 0

A free walking tour is one of my top recommended things to do in Quito. 

Why? Because it’s the perfect introduction to the historical city and a great way to meet other travelers as well. I highly advise booking a tour for your first full day.

If you’re planning a trip to South America, check out my checklist of
Important Things to Do BEFORE Arriving in Ecuador.

Yumbos Chocolate Tour
Learning about Ecuador’s famous chocolate region on a free walking tour.


What to Expect on a Free Walking Tour Quito

There are a few options for tours (your hotel might even offer one), but we joined Community Adventures with about ten other people from different parts of the world.

We met a single guy from Ireland, another from St. Martin, a couple and single girl from Germany, a gal from Paris, a couple from Israel, and a few others.

The Old Town Walking Tour begins at Community Hostel. You can choose a morning or afternoon tour. The times are 10:30 am or 2:30 pm Monday through Saturday- rain or shine. It lasts around three hours and ends in the San Francisco Plaza.

The main attractions you’ll see vary depending on what day of the week you schedule your tour and what is going on in the city. 

Looking for other memorable things to do in Quito?
Read here about the Rucu Pichincha hike, an unforgettable adventure!

Mercado Central

The tour begins at the Central Market where you’ll learn about different local herbs, flowers, and fruits.

Did you know Ecuador’s major exports include cut flowers like fresh roses? It is said they have the largest blooms of any country in the world. 

Ecuadorian rose bouquet seen on Old Town Quito Tour.
A beautiful rose bouquet in Ecuador, one of the major exports of the country.

One of our favorite parts of the tour is trying unique fruits.
For $1 per person, a seller cuts up a bunch of different types to try including lilikoi, cherimoya, guayaba, tomate de arbol, granadilla, and pitahaya. It’s fun sampling fruits we otherwise would not have tried on our own. 

Read Next: What to Do in Quito for a Week

Trying local fruits on the free walking tour Quito.
It is so much fun trying all the different local fruits on the walking tour.

A Must-Try Local Drink

Afterward, you’ll walk to a restaurant to try a popular Ecuadorian beverage called Canelazo for a small fee. 

The spiced warm drink served in a shot glass is made with sugar cane alcohol seasoned with cinnamon and cloves. It’s delicious and doesn’t taste alcoholic – or maybe the spices hide that!

A shot glass filled with the yellow spiced drink of canelazo, a traditional beverage popular in Ecuador.
Trying canelazo, a spiced alcoholic beverage popular in Ecuador, on the free walking tour Quito.

Once you’ve given your feet a proper rest, you’ll walk over to a gorgeous boutique hotel. While inside you’ll learn more about the history and culture of the city and country.

The guide will also take this opportunity to share some other useful information for visiting Quito.  Obviously, this depends on the guide and their expertise, but ours talked about the best neighborhoods in Quito, other attractions we should check out and traditional food dishes to try while in Ecuador. He also answered many questions throughout the morning. 

Another magical experience we booked with Community Adventures was an Amazon Jungle Tour in Ecuador. 

The restaurant at Patio Andaluz.
The Patio Andaluz is a beautiful boutique hotel located in the heart of Old Town Quito.

Plaza Grande

Next, is the historical hub of the city- Plaza Grande. 

Here you’ll find the Presidential Palace, City Hall, Archbishop’s Palace, and the Metropolitan Cathedral in the most significant area of Old Town. 

Also known as Independence Square, the monument standing tall in the center is in honor of the first attempt at independence from the Spanish Monarchy.  

Plaza Grande is filled with people. Walking in Quito, Ecuador.
Plaza Grande, also known as Independence Square, is the central square of the city.

Church of the Society of Jesus

Then, you’ll walk down Sebastián de Benalcázar to one of the most striking churches in Quito.

Construction on the Church of the Society of Jesus was started in 1605 and didn’t finish for over one hundred years in 1765. 

The exterior is dark and dramatic with the inside glowing in gold sheet ornamentation. The main temple is carved in volcanic stone and every inch is covered in elaborate trimmings.
Note: Photos are not allowed inside. 

The front of the Church of the Society of Jesus in Quito, Ecuador.
The Church of the Society of Jesus, also known as Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus, is known for its elaborately carved gold altar.

The Church of San Francisco and Plaza

Before the tour ends, you’ll head over to San Francisco Plaza, one of the largest public squares in Quito. 

Head inside the Church of San Francisco, one of the oldest churches in Ecuador. Construction began in 1535 of this amazing structure, and it is considered one of the best examples of American colonial architecture. 

The gold-covered inside of the Church of San Francisco in Quito, Ecuador.
When searching for things to do in Quito, make sure not to miss one of the oldest churches in Ecuador, the Church and Monastery of San Francisco.

Yumbos Chocolate

Finally, your afternoon will bring you to Yumbos Chocolate, a small artisanal chocolate store on the edge of San Francisco Plaza. 

Discover all there is to know about the high-quality chocolate industry in Ecuador. From cocoa beans to chocolate, you’ll learn all the ins and out of the process and be able to sample many final products. 

Also don’t miss the fantastic view overlooking the plaza from their balcony!

Pieces of Yumbos Chocolate of Ecuador.
Trying free samples at Yumbos Chocolate.

Again, this is just an example of a Quito free walking tour, they may differ depending on your guide and what day you are visiting.

How Much to Tip on a “Free” Walking Tour

The reason I put quotes around the word free is that even though the tour itself costs nothing, there are some other fees.

It is expected to tip your guide a minimum of $10 per person at the end and there are a few other minor expenses during the tour that I discuss above.

What to Bring and/or Wear

  • Cash for tips and tastings (don’t forget Ecuador’s currency is the US dollar)
  • A camera
  • Raincoat – the weather is so unpredictable in Ecuador
  • Sunscreen or a hat (the sun is no joke being so close to the Equator) 
  • Comfortable walking shoes (you don’t walk that far but there’s a lot of standing)

See below for a Quito walking tour map of the places we visited in case you’d like to plan a self-guided jaunt. 

Other companies that offer free walking tours in Quito:
  • Free Walking Tour Ecuador
  • GuruWalk
  • Civitatis

If you’re looking for how to spend a day in Quito Ecuador, a free walking tour is a great place to start!



Follow Angela:

Angela E. is a travel writer from the Chicagoland area who has visited all 50 states in the US and has traveled extensively around the world. She is passionate about exploring the great outdoors and hiking in particular. Her love for nature has taken her to some of the most beautiful locations on the planet. She has written extensively about her travels on her own website, Dang Travelers, and has been published in collaboration with other travel websites and multiple visitor bureaus around the country.

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