CNTRAVELER.COM – Cloud-high in the Andes and hemmed in by the snow-capped peaks of two active volcanoes, few cities have as dramatic a setting as Quito. The Ecuadorian capital’s 16th-century Centro Histórico (Old Town) is not only the largest and best-preserved colonial center in Latin America, it’s also the world’s very first UNESCO World Heritage city.

Next year marks the 40th anniversary of Quito’s UNESCO inscription. With recently spotted round-trip flights from the U.S. as low as $340, exploring the city’s maze of candlelit monasteries, shamanic healers, and pastel-colored palaces should be on your 2018 list.

Don’t know where to start? Here’s how to experience the best of Quito’s Old Town.

Get your bearings at the city’s largest, oldest, and prettiest square: the palm-shaded Plaza de la Independencia. Quito’s “living room” is a hive of activity, where indigenous women in woven shawls and bowler hats hawk boiled pigeon eggs, crouching shoe shiners hurriedly buff and polish under vaulted arcades, and old-timers loiter around a splashing central fountain to argue about politics a few steps away from the president’s palace. Read Full Article