Cuenca is a beautiful small city in the South of the Andes in Ecuador. The historic center is a protected UNESCO world heritage site and the church in the main plaza dates back to the 16th Century. Cuenca Ecuador city has cobbled streets, many churches and charming colonial buildings.
Like most places in Ecuador being so close to the equator Cuenca enjoys a moderate climate year round. There are 12 hours of sunlight every day of the year the only variable is the amount of rainfall seen. Ecuador only has two seasons the rainy season and the dry season. The rainy season is from March through to June, though mostly this involves some rain in the late afternoon and very late at night. Though due to being in the Andean Mountains the weather can be variable so pack an umbrella just in case!
Cuenca does not have an international airport therefore most people arrive first in either Quito or Guayaquil and catch a connecting flight to the local airport in Cuenca, Mariscal Lamar Airport. However it´s fairly close by bus (3.5 hours) from Guayaquil therefore this is a good alternative option to reach the city.
The main bus terminal is called Terminal Terrestre and connects with many other cities and the surrounding area thus it is easy to get to Cuenca Ecuador from many other places in Ecuador. Once you reach the terminal it is possible to walk into the town center in approximately 20 minutes however you would probably be better to jump in a taxi for a couple of dollars instead. Unlike other countries, the taxis in Ecuador are very reasonably priced.
Cuenca (Santa Ana de los Rios de Cuenca) is a beautiful city around 2,500m (8,200ft) above sea level in the South of the Andes in Ecuador. There are approximately 350,000 inhabitants in the city making it the third largest in the country. The historic center has been made into a UNESCO world heritage site and the church in the main plaza was built towards the end of the 16th Century. You can expect to see small cobbled streets, churches around every corner (52 in total in this small city) and attractive colonial buildings. It`s also known for the Tomebamba river that passes through the heart of the city and the making of Panama hats and handicrafts. There is a large market in the center of the town called Mercado 10 de Agosto.
Barranco river walk – There is a wonderful river that meanders through out the heart of the city called Tomebamba. Along both sides of the river are stone paths and an area called Barranco the walk itself is relaxing and there are many beautiful bridges along the way. Alternatively you can hire a bicycle from the Casa de Brazil Café and bike along the riverfront.
El Cajas National Park – An absolutely stunning park that demands a visit when you are in Cuenca. It’s a fairly short bus journey away (1.5 hours) and only costs a few dollars. The park contains many different trails from various one day hikes to full-on multi-day treks. All of the trails are well signposted so it´s easy to navigate on your own. However if you would like there are guides available that can take you around the park and highlight some of the wildlife and vegetation. A very quiet and tranquil place you´ll want to spend more than just one day here.
New Cathedral (Catedral de la Immaculada) – The New Cathedral is simply exceptional, and that´s probably why it took almost 100 years to complete. There are two different tours available: darkness or light if you will. You can either wander down into the dark, narrow crypts or you can go up the stairs (approx. 150) into the bright bell towers and sky to gain a bird’s eye view of the city. Both activities incur a small cost. As the second highest ranked attraction in Cuenca on TripAdvisor it’s definitely worth a trip.
Viewpoint (Mirador Turi) – In the South of Cuenca there is a superb viewpoint overlooking the city which offers an astounding vista day and night. It´s free to see but worth taking a taxi to get there for a few dollars.
Old Cathedral (El Sagrario) – is the oldest building in Cuenca. Construction commenced in 1557 and the foundations were built with Inca stones. The cathedral has now been deconsecrated and functions as a religious museum definitely worth a look.
Fabianos – This is an absolutely fantastic pizzeria I visited, it’s one of the top restaurants in the city on Trip Advisor and I can understand why! The pizza was delicious yet reasonably priced and the service was extraordinary. One thing you may not think about when you select a restaurant is the Wi-Fi however if you´re travelling alone or your hostel/hotel has bad WIFI you should definitely check this place out. It was truly incredible one of the fastest connections I´ve ever used!
Address: Presidente Cordova 4-84 and Mariano Cueva. Cuenca, Ecuador
Moliendo Café – A small restaurant situated 10 minute walk from the main plaza. A great place to stop for lunch. Not spectacular but if you want food that is cheap and plentiful eat here. I couldn´t believe the amount of food for the price be sure to ask for the` menu del dia` at lunchtime, which is the set lunch usually with a banana and soup to start followed by the main course with a drink for a couple of dollars.
Address: Honorato Vasquez 6-24, Cuenca 010150, Ecuador
Sucre Ale Café – I stopped at this café a few times while I was in Cuenca the relaxed quiet atmosphere and good coffee kept me coming back. The café helado is really good (very rich!). I didn´t sample the food but it did look good.
Address: Luis Cordero 8-74 | Mariscal Sucre (Parque Abdón Calderón), Cuenca 010150, Ecuador