Cuenca is one of the largest cities in Ecuador and possibly the most beautiful one. Unesco already put the old city center of Cuenca on their Cultural Heritage list, considering it an important representation of colonial architecture in Latin America.
Being in Cuenca is a treat for any traveller. Eventhough it is a large city, Cuenca won't overwhelm you with busy traffic and a hectic metropolitan atmosphere.
The old city center is a must-see with the beautiful cathedrals and gorgeous plazas. Some of the best sights in the old center are:
- Parque Calderon (with Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepcion)
- Plaza de San Sebastian (with church of San Sebastian)
- Church of San Francisco
- Casa de Cultura (with great exhibitions all year round)
- Museo del Banco Central (possibly the best museum in the country to learn about Ecuadorean culture and history)
- Plazoleta del Carmen with a nice daily flower market
From the narrow one way streets that make up downtown, to Parque Calderon where families stroll and old men gather daily to read the paper and discuss current events, to the white walled and blue domed churches, to the lush Rio Tomebamba, the capital of Azuay province is simply a beautiful city.And there is plenty to do in Cuenca’s many museums, art galleries, crafts markets, bars, and cafes.Parque Nacional Cajas and the Inca ruins of Ingapirca also make easy day trips or, depending on your preference, multi day treks.
Places to stay in Cuenca +
Places to stay in Cuenca
Mid-range Hotels: Yes
High-range Hotels: Yes
Places to eat in Cuenca
The area around Parque Calderon has options for all wallet sizes. Trendy cafes, fancy restaurants, international cuisine, and cheap comedores are everywhere. At night street vendors set up grills on the corners, cooking up chicken, beef, bananas, bell peppers and more, which is a good way to get a cheap but filling dinner. Calle Largo, above the banks of the Rio Tomebamba, also has an abundance of dining options.
Practical information about Cuenca +
Details about Cuenca
Museum, Nature Walks, Biking, Shopping, Thermal Baths, Clubs and Bars, Theatre/Cinema, Markets
Events in and around Cuenca
Getting to and around in Cuenca +
How to get to Cuenca
The main bus station is a $2 cab ride from the centro. Busses to Quito leave at least once an hour. It is about a ten hour ($10) ride between Quito and Cuenca, while busses to Guayaquil leave frequently as well, charging $8 for the four hour trip. The bus ride to or from Gualaquiza is beautiful but very bumpy, and costs $7 for a trip that can last between six and eight hours, depending on the road conditions. There are also routes between Cuenca and the Southern Oriente towns of Macas, Limon, and Mendez. Most Quito-bound busses will drop you off at Riobamba ($6, 6 hours), Ambato ($7, 7 hours), or Latacunga ($8, 8 hours), though there are plenty of busses that have these towns as their final destinations too. The Southern Andean towns of Canar province – such as Azogues, Canar, and Biblian – are serviced several times an hour and all cost between $0.50 and $2 to get to.
Map of Cuenca