Quito

At an altitude of some 9 500ft, Quito is one of the world’s highest capital cities. It’s also one of the most interesting to explore, with its Old Town being a largely intact Spanish colonial city with well-preserved examples of 16th and 17th Century baroque architecture. Perhaps the most famous example is the Iglesia de la Campania de Jesús.But Quito is not just a museum piece, with everyday life continuing apace in the shadow of these grand buildings. Picturesque, bustling plazas see the country’s different cultures blend and swirl together, and you can spend many happy hours exploring the markets.The best views of the city and surrounding mountains are obtained by taking the TelefériQo sky tram. The ten-minute, one-and-a-half-mile trip to the top of Cruz Loma deposits you at a breathless 13 500ft above sea level – and then the panoramas are also breathtaking.If you have a head for heights, you can also brave the Devil’s Nose railway. Reputedly the most challenging railway construction project ever undertaken, this engineering marvel (descending rocky Andean slopes) is certainly not to be sniffed at!

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