Planning a Trip
By Bus -- Buses leave Quito's Terminal Terrestre for Ibarra roughly every 20 minutes between 5:30am and 8pm. Two main bus companies, Transportes Andina (tel. 02/2573-641 in Quito, or 06/2950-833 in Ibarra) and Cooperativa Expreso Turismo (tel. 02/2572-255 in Quito, or 06/2607-456 in Ibarra), alternate departures. The ride takes around 2 1/2 hours, and the fare is $2.50 (£1.65).
The main bus terminal in Ibarra (tel. 06/2644-676) is located southwest of downtown, on Calle Espejo and Gómez de la Torre. Taxis are always waiting at the bus station and charge $1 (67p) for a ride to the city center.
There are also frequent buses from Ibarra north along the Pan-American Highway to Tulcán.
By Car -- To reach Ibarra by car, take the Pan-American Highway (E35) north out of Quito. It's a fairly straight shot, and Ibarra is located just off the highway. You will pass first through the towns of Calderón and Cayambe, and then just skirt Otavalo. There are two $1 (65p) tolls between Quito and Ibarra. The ride takes around 2 hours.
Ibarra has a compact downtown, parts of which still feature rough cobblestone streets and whitewashed buildings from the colonial period. The Pan-American Highway skirts the town to the west before turning north for Tulcán. The city's central park, Parque Pedro Moncayo, occupies a full city block and has well-tended gardens and plenty of benches. It is anchored on the north by the city's cathedral. One block west lies a similar little park, Parque La Merced, which fronts the Iglesia La Merced, while 1 block east is the San Agustín church, which features its own little plaza out front.
Ibarra's downtown is quite easily navigated on foot. Nonetheless, taxis are always available. If you can't flag one down, call Taxi Ibarra (tel. 06/2612-333) or Taxi Express (tel. 06/2643-500).
There's an iTur information office (tel. 06/2608-489; www.ibarraturismo.com), on the corner of Sucre and Oveido, offering maps and advice on attractions, tours, and accommodations. It's open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 1pm and 2 to 5pm.
Fast Facts -- To contact the police, dial tel. 101, or 06/2641-029. The main post office (tel. 06/2643-135) is located on Salinas, between Oveido and Pedro Moncayo. The Hospital San Vicente de Paul (tel. 06/2957-272) is located just west of downtown, on Luis Vargas Torres and Pasquel Moreno.
There are several banks and plenty of ATMs around the center of Ibarra. A branch of the Banco Pichincha (tel. 06/2643-097) is just off Parque Pedro Moncayo on Calle Flores 5-18 near Calle Sucre, and a branch of Banco del Pacífico (tel. 06/2957-728) is on the corner of Pedro Moncayo and Olmedo.
For Internet, try Nando's Cyber Café (tel. 06/2950-632), on Av. Pérez Guerrero 6-50 and Bolívar, or Internet Lago Azul (tel. 06/2641-851), on Pedro Moncayo 5-78 and Bolívar.