Ecuador  is full of vibrant indigenous cultures and remnants of history that spans thousands of years. Time your visit right and you can catch an outstanding local fiesta or two, such as Latacunga’s Mama Negra (early November) or Imbabura’s Inti Raymi (June). There are large indigenous markets every day of the week in the Andes.
In Old Town, visit the Itchimbía Cultural Center, the preserved colonial home of María Augusta Urrutia, and the Centro Cultural Metropolitano.
Stop by the artisanal market at Parque El Ejido or in La Mariscal.
The area near Otavalo , two hours north of Quito  by bus, is rich with indigenous culture. Visit crafts villages such as Ilumán and Peguche. Bargain at the markets, like the famous one in Otavalo’s Plaza de Ponchos, and sample a traditional plate of cuy. Visit Laguna Cuicocha , the waters of which are renowned for their healing properties by local indigenous people.
Latacunga, south of Quito, is the starting point for the Quilotoa Loop  into the Andean hinterlands. Browse the sheep’s hide paintings in Tigua and the animal market in Zumbahua before gazing on the spectacular Laguna Quilotoa . Stay with indigenous people in the villages of Chugchilán and Isinlivi.
If you’re in this region on Thursday, stop by the market at Saquisilí.
Cuenca , Ecuador’s third-largest city, has great cultural offerings.
Don’t miss the shrunken heads in the Museo del Banco Central and the ruins of the Inca city Pumapungo behind the museum.
Beyond the city limits, take in the well-preserved Inca ruins at Ingapirca  and the indigenous villages of Gualaceo, Chordeleg, and Cañar.
Visit the indigenous community of Saraguro, south of Cuenca. Stay at Hostal Achik Wasi and go hiking in the surrounding hills with indigenous guides.