Squeezed between majestic mountains and volcano’s is Quito, a capital city of Ecuador located high up in the Andes.
A scrambled mess of modern high-rise buildings, peaceful green neighbourhoods and a historic old colonial town that may be the best in Latin America – Quito is beginning to draw in travellers from all over the world and the city cleans up its act and crime levels are dropping. Gay travellers and locals alike are also flocking here as the heart of gay life in Ecuador, a deeply conservative country that is slowly but surely becoming more accepting of queer life.
The modern Mariscal neighbourhood affectionately know as the pink zone is the heart of gay life in Quito as is packed with boutique hotels, fine dining, crazy nightlife and plenty of gringos looking for a gay time. While the laws of Ecuador are firmly in support of gay rights, public displays of same-sex affection are very rare here and gay travellers are advised to use discretion. That is not to say gay travellers won’t enjoy Quito which has a lively gay scene with plenty of nightclubs exclusively for gay people and a lively drag culture. The colonial old town is a huge drawcard, as it the variety of hiking and natural attractions right on Quito’s door-step! With the right planning a gay trip to Quito could easily be the highlight of your holiday in Ecuador (though it is no Gay Medellín or Gay Bogotá) – and if not you will still need to go here to access the stunning Galápagos Islands so you might as well check it out!
Gay Quito Guide: The Essential Guide To LGBT Travel In Quito Ecuador
Because gay life in Quito mostly thrives at discos, spas, online and behind closed doors, many of the attractions in Quito during the day gay travelers will want to see are the top attractions in Quito anyway. All travelers in Quito should take caution in less-developed areas with valuables, always listen to local advice when exploring and take taxi’s or ride share apps without exception at night!
Gay travelers in Quito should take special care in terms of public displays of affection where many residents may be less exposed to LGBT culture and likely hold conservative attitudes…Though outright outrage is unlikely! Though in the Mariscal district also known as the ‘Pink-Gay Zone of Quito’ you can frequently see gay couples holding hands or kissing, as a foreigner you are still likely to draw unwanted attention to yourself and is best avoided. Overall Quito is safe with the right precaution and a common-sense approach to travel will generally ensure you have no issues exploring this beautiful and diverse city!
TelefériQo – Unforgettable views over Quito’s mountainous basin are offered on this cool sky tram with just a 10-minute ride. Taking you to the top of Volcán Pichincha (4100m) you can then hike to Rucu Pichincha if you are feeling energetic and have 4-5 hours!
Cotopaxi National Park – A short day trip from Quito, though you might want to consider staying over, and you can be hiking this infamous mountain, smashing some mountain-bike trails or exploring the stunning Laguna Limpiopungo
Carondelet Palace – The seat of government of the Republic of Ecuador. Free tours can be arranged at the entrance hourly. Very worth it to see inside this stunning building – Or just to see how many ridiculous gifts the Middle Eastern Oil Nations have given Ecuador!
Basílica del Voto Nacional – Probably the most beautiful church in Latin America, or at least the most exciting as you scale the neo-gothic rooftop and get stunning vista in every direction.
Quito Old Town – A incredible array of churches, monasteries, and convents all incredibly preserved to this very day. One of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world.
The Ciudad Mitad del Mundo – For all you geography nerds, why not take a 20 minute trip out of town to stand on the equator (probably the easiest place in the world to do it). Just don’t look at your map as modern GPS technology has mapped it more accurately and it’s now 50m away.
If you can plan your trip around it, two of the biggest annual gay events in Quito are the Quito Gay Pride Festival (Orgullo) or the Quito Gay Film Festival (El Lugar Sin Limites). Quito’s Pride has taken place every year in June since 1998 and is a beautiful celebration of gay life rarely seen during daylight hours in this conservative country! Or if you are traveling to Quito in November the Quito Gay Film Festival is the perfect opportunity to check out the latest in award-winning queer cinema, while have more sophisticated interactions that might otherwise occur over a boozy mojito in a dark club…
Also of note are also a few travel agencies in Quito specifically marketing to gay and lesbian clientele if you want to explore this beautiful country further. The best of these are Ecuador Gay / Zenith Travel with over 8 years in the market (and were the first LGBT agency in Ecuador) who offers tours around Quito, into the Amazon and of course to the Galapagos Islands. Be sure to ask about their special gay only Galapagos cruises!
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In Quito you would be hard pressed to find a upscale hotel which had any issues with gay guests but discretion is advised still in this conservative society. Some Quito hotels are more popular with queer travellers due to their location and and inclusive environment or vibe and there are many Quito gay-friendly hotels especially in the Zona Rosa suburb, where gay travellers can also find plenty of discos, cafés, pubs and saunas.
Masaya Hostel Quito ☆ – A modern hostel built-in a stunningly renovated colonial building in the historic centre of Quito. A well-known chain of hostels in Latin America, gay travellers will find Masaya Quito the perfect place for budget accommodation and opportunities to mix with other travellers – either on nights or our through organised cultural events.
Casa Joaquin BnB ☆☆ – Gay owned and Gay-popular hotel right in the heart of the La Marisal ‘Pink Zone’. A mix of traditional European decor and contemporary design. In a restores colonial house with rain-shower and a roof-top terrace.
Imperial Hostel ☆☆ – Conveniently located in the Pink Zone of Quito, this is a great option for gay travellers to Quito on a budget. Clean with extremely helpful staff.
Hotel Sol De Quito ☆☆☆– One of the best rated hotels in Quito and gay-poplar, the Hotel Museo Sol De Quito is a related boutique hotel with memorable colonial design. In the heart of the financial district of Quito, it’s a oasis of tranquility and beauty – perfect for when this city inevitably overwhelms you.
Hostal de la Rabida ☆☆☆ – A beautiful gay-friendly guest house in the historic centre close to Zona Rosa. Under-stated rooms, superb reviews and a soothing, relaxing environment.
Hotel Quito ☆☆☆☆ – An enviable location on the hills over Quito, this is a popular option for gay travellers in Quito for a few days R&R and don’t want to explore the nightlife. Clean and ultra-modern, with a strong resort vibe and on site dining, this is the hotel of choice for many tour groups and travellers simply transiting through Quito.
Anahí Boutique Hotel ☆☆☆☆ – A modern hotel taking inspiration from colonial design with elegant yet fun rooms, superb views and a central location in the historic centre. Gay-friendly in Quito you will love the classic and unconventional décor and competitive prices!
Casa Gangotena ☆☆☆☆☆ – Named one of the top 25 hotels in the world, the Casa Gangotena has old-world vibes matched with modern design thanks to an artful renovation in recent years. The grand terrace has incredible views over the city and the on site restaurant in one of the best in the city.
Le Parc Hotel ☆☆☆☆☆ – A chic all-suites hotel offering an upscale hotel stay in Quito with a panoramic roof-top bar, sophisticated rooms and an on-site spa centre. In a central neighbour opposite the huge La Carolina Park
Hotel Plaza Grande ☆☆☆☆☆ – A landmark of Quito right in the thick of it all. A palatial all-suites hotel with historic detailing and dripping in grandeur. A top choice for gay travellers who love architecture, history and are more likely to hang in the hotel bar than visit the clubs.
Hilton Colon Quito Hotel ☆☆☆☆☆ – Smack-bang in the centre of Quito with a heated outdoor pool, a spa and fitness centre. The Hilton Quito is the perfect location for a gay traveller wanting panoramic rooms, Western design and facilities and an international renown Brand which is known for its support of LGBT travellers.
Gay Bars and Gay Clubs in Quito
While gay life in Quito may be subdued during the day, at night behind closed doors there is a thriving and vibrant nightlife scene where locals and foreigners come together to celebrate diversity and pride. Things start late here and for some reason Quito only seems to be capable of producing gay nightclubs and not gay bars – so you might want to check out a trendy gay-friendly bar to begin with, or just take a nap for a long, hot Latin night out.
Foreigners will often not be accepted into gay clubs in Quito without producing their original passport (not a copy) – and take care not to accept any drinks from anybody, no matter what because robberies involving date-rape drugs in South America are sadly too common. Don’t walk any of the streets of Quito at night and take ride-share apps or a taxi to and from any destination after dark.
Don’t let this put you off though! Things get crazy good here late at night and what better way could there be to get to know the locals than in a Quito gay bar! Just don’t forget your common sense.
Pravda – Local gay and karaoke bar, though straights are welcomed. The latest pop-bangers, a casual beer and plenty of singing. Disco-Bitch – Gay-popular disco with everything from salsa to electronic to the ever-present reggaeton. A great place to experience the Latino party spirit surrounding by thinks and twentysomethings.
El Hueco / Tercer Milenio / Evolution – On of the longest running gay nightclubs in Quito with three different names for whatever reason. Drag spirit is strong here and a great place to come with friends or to make some new ones (with strong cocktails and beers).
Capri Discotec – A recent addition to the gay club scene in Quito with an open bar until 1.30 am included in the entry ticket.
Kika Dance Club – Trendy and oh-so-popular with Quito’s gay fashionistas. Plenty of Latino Pop hits blasting until 4am and an open bar included in the cover charge if you’re looking for somewhere to drink beforehand. You could also try the more relaxed and newly opened Karishina Lounge in Quito by KiKa.
Radar Gay Club – Another popular gay and lesbian club in Quito hosting girls and boys only nights. Check their Facebook page for dates.
Dionisios – At one point the only drag bar in Quito, though thankful the scene here has come a long way since then. With drag nights, cabaret and comedy night – and a great dance floor. This is a great place to get your freak on!
Om Buda Lounge – A trendy gay-popular bar in Quito (but by no means exclusive) with cool vibes and electronic music late at night. A great place to check out for a mixed group of gay and straight in Quito.
Gay Saunas in Quito
Unlike some more Western countries, saunas and bathhouses in Quito are still all the rage – probably because of the conservative attitudes that still run in many families here and the tendency for men to live at home with their parents. Many gay men in Quito lead double-lives and can let loose in sauna’s where their shyness just melts away.
Most Quito saunas are welcoming to foreigners, however be careful with your belonging / take nothing of value and bring your own condoms as men here, while muscular and abnormally large, tend to not care about condoms so much. Also take care not to arrange to meet anyone outside of the sauna in private locations, but other than that – have fun!
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Neo Apolo Sauna – An upscale gay bathhouse that is one of the biggest in Quito. All expected facilities including hot tub but is well-know that tourists will have their things stolen from locker so do not take anything of value here, at all.
Sauna Jinetes – The oldest sauna in Quito going for over 20 years. Reduced entry for those 18 to 24, and open til 9pm daily. With everything you could want including a video room, jacuzzi, sauna, Turkish bath, lockers, gym, private rooms, bar and massage services.
Sauna Azul Quito– Small, clean and homely with lockers, rest areas and a massage room. Great to relax and meet people without all the sexual tension..
El Faraon Gay Sauna in Quito is no longer operating.