By Bus -- Very frequent buses leave Quito's main bus terminal, Terminal Terrestre, heading south along the Pan-American Highway to Latacunga. Cooperativa CIRO (tel. 03/2801-285), Cooperativa Cotopaxi (tel. 03/2800-752), and Latacunga (tel. 03/2800-765) bus companies take turns running the route, with a bus leaving roughly every 10 minutes between 5am and 7pm and somewhat less frequent service throughout the rest of the evening and early morning. The ride costs $1.50 (£1) and takes around 2 hours. Alternatively, you can also catch any bus heading to Ambato or Baños -- just ask to be let off in Latacunga.
Latacunga's main bus terminal is right on the Pan-American Highway, near one of the bridges a couple of blocks away from the town center. Buses heading to other towns such as Ambato will drop passengers off at the corner of 5 de Junio and Cotopaxi, a 10-minute walk from the center. Taxis are always waiting around the bus terminal and along the southern edge of the main market.
By Car -- To reach Latacunga by car, head south out of Quito on the Pan-American Highway (E35). Latacunga is located just off the highway, across the Río Cutuchi. The ride takes a little over an hour and a half.
The heart and majority of the city lies on the eastern side of the Río Cutuchi, with the Pan-American Highway passing along the western bank of this river. There are several bridges over the river: The most popular one, farthest to the north, takes you on to Calle Félix Valencia, which runs along the northern edge of the market and Plaza El Salto. A second bridge crosses the river on Avenida 5 de Junio, which runs along the southern edge of this large market area. The main north-south thoroughfare through town is Avenida Amazonas; this broad avenue is dotted with monuments, sculptures, and antique-style lampposts strung along the central divider. Most of the hotels, restaurants, shops, and bars are clustered around or near Parque Vicente Léon, the town's main plaza.
You can easily walk anywhere in Latacunga, but taxis are also plentiful. A ride to anyplace in town should be $1 to $2 (65p-£1.35). If you can't flag down a taxi, call Taxis los Nevados de Cotopaxi (tel. 03/2802-766) or Cooperativa de Taxis Universidad de Cotopaxi (tel. 03/2809-100). Taxis are always waiting around the bus terminal and along the southern edge of the main market.
There's a basic tourist information booth (Mon-Fri 8am-6pm) inside the main bus terminal. There's also an official Captur (tel. 03/2814-968) tourist information office on Avenida Sánchez de Orellana and Guayaquil, in the Plazoleta de Santo Domingo, which is open Monday to Friday from 8am to noon and 2 to 6pm. At both places, you can get maps and brochures, but your best source of information will probably be the local tour agencies.
Fast Facts -- The main police station (tel. 03/2812-666, or 101 in an emergency) is on Calle San Martín. The main post office is at the corner of calles General Maldonado and Quevedo. The Hospital General Latacunga (tel. 03/2800-322) is near the southern edge of the city, on Calle Hermanas Paez and 2 de Mayo.
You'll find a branch of Banco de Guayaquil (tel. 03/2813-900) on calles General Maldonado 7-20 and Orellana, and a branch of Banco Pichincha (tel. 03/2810-304) on Calle Quito 71-95 and Salcedo, across from the Parque Vicente León. Both have ATMs.
Internet cafes are abundant in Latacunga, especially around the downtown. Good options include AJ Cyber Café (tel. 03/2806-415), on Quito 16-25 and Manuel Padre Salcedo, and Visual Net (tel. 03/2683-431), Av. Carlos Lozada 225.