One of South America’s most underrated cities, Quito is located at an altitude of 9,350 feet on the side of Pichincha Volcano. During June, July and August, the Andean sky is generally clear, and the snowcapped volcanic cones of Cotopaxi, Cayambe and Antisana — all more than 18,000 feet high — are clearly visible. Quito was founded in 1534 on the ruins of an Inca city in a long, narrow north-south valley. Nowadays, its suburbs have spilled over the confining ridges, but its center of gravity remains the Old City, a World Heritage site, which has been extensively restored. Shopping in Quito can be a real pleasure, especially in La Mariscal, a neighborhood just northeast of the historic city center.

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