Otavalo is a small city two hours north of Quito. It is mostly known for its big handicrafts market where you can find a lot of stuff, especially textiles, but also food and animals. Furthermore, most of the sellers wear tradional clothing, which is really beautiful. The best time to visit the market is on Saturday as it is bigger than within weekdays.
How to get to Otavalo
Otavalo market can be easily done as a daytrip starting from Quito, but you need to go early as it takes a couple of hours in the bus to get there. If you want to see the animal market you should get up very early or consider to go there the night before. The animal market closes officially around 12 p.m., but was already closed at 11:30p.m. when we came.
We get up on a Saturday at 7 a.m. and arrived at Otavalo at 11 a.m.
First we had to get out of downtown. We took the bus from Seminario Mayor to Ofelia. In Ofelia we changed bus to Terminal Carcelen (you can use the same bus ticket here). Watch out: take the bus to “T. Carcelen” and not to “Carcelen Bajo”! Otherwise you can take a taxi to get to Terminal Carcelen, where buses to Otavalo leave. If you arrive at Terminal Carcelen you have to buy another ticket to Otavalo at one of these booths. The market is located at “Plaza Poncho” in Otavalo. When you arrive better inform yourself when the last bus back goes. It was between 5 to 6 p.m..
Transport costs per person
- Bus Seminario Mayor > Ofelia > Terminal Carcelen: US$0.25
- Bus Terminal Carcelen > Otovalo: US$2.70
- same costs the way back
Otovalo market for sure is the best way for finding souvenirs and stuff you don’t need. Bargaining is a must here. Best day is Saturday, the market is much bigger then. As transportation connections are good and costs are low, you can easily do it as daytrip from Quito.