Cuenca has been on my Ecuador bucket list so when the opportunity presented itself to go, I was ecstatic. The anticipation was great as I had heard wonderful things about it from friends and from the international press who report that retirees are flocking to this city in the Andes, the third biggest in Ecuador after Guayaquil and Quito.
I loved Cuenca so much! The city was founded by the Spaniards in the late 16th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its colonial architecture and heritage. The food is absolutely delicious (and this is not because I’m Ecuadorian, the other bloggers I traveled with said so too!) and the people are friendly and warm. It has a perfect climate and it’s easy to understand why so many people are choosing to move there. This city is definitely a place you want to visit!
Here are 7 things you must do if you go to Cuenca:
Visit Las Herrerías.
Las Herrerías is a part of town where you will find blacksmiths. Seeing these tradesmen working is quite amazing, many have been doing this work for generations, and the blacksmith we visited explained that unfortunately it is a trade that is losing members. His apprentice was his father’s apprentice and has been working with the family for over 20 years, but now it’s hard to get people to become apprentices. He explained that before the whole street was full of herreros (blacksmiths) but now many families have moved over to food production as that brings in more revenue. So, you can go to Las Herrerías for the iron work and the food!
Take a bike tour on The Barranco When I saw that we would be biking in Cuenca I was very nervous because I haven’t biked since I studied abroad when I was 21! In the end I did it and we biked along the rivers in Cuenca for a total of 7.5 miles at 2500 meters (8202) feet! The sites were absolutely stunning!
Visit the Churches: The Old Cathedral & New Cathedral… and many others, I’ve heard Cuenca has 52 churches!
The Old Cathedral (La Catedral del Sagrario) sits on the square off Parque Central (Central Park). It was built in the 16th century and has impressive frescoes, an organ imported from Germany and beautiful artwork. You will feel as if you’ve stepped into a museum in Europe.
The New Cathedral, la Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepción, took 100 years to build. The domes and stained glass windows are quite impressive, especially the ones that show how the traditions of the Old World and the New World combine (the traditions of Catholicism with traditions of the Andean people, like depicting the sun in stained glass, for example). In the New Cathedral you can see this beautiful painting of La Virgen de la Dolorosa and many devout people leave candles and flower for her as they say their prayers. Ecuador is a deeply religious country and overwhelmingly Catholic.
El Turi viewpoint – The best view of the city… isn’t it gorgeous?
El Parque Central, Abdón Calderón This is in the center of the historic city center.
Eat, eat, eat! I can’t say enough about the food. It is SUPER DELICIOUS!
There is hearty food, delicious drinks and fancy food as well! As Tracy, one of the bloggers that went on the trip with me explains in her beautiful recap of our Cuenca trip, “The plates coming out of El Jardin’s kitchen rivaled dishes in a fine New York City restaurant, and the inviting space provides an exquisite view.” El Jardín offered us an incredible tasting menu with a magnificent view of the city.
photo credit: Tracy Kaler
Visit Piedra de Agua Spa Volcanic mud baths and subterranean thermal water baths and sauna boxes are definitely worth the detour to the parroquia (parish) of Baños outside the city center. Piedra de Agua Spa is a space of detente and relaxation. It’s definitely a spot worth checking out! The volcanic red mud and thermal water do wonders for your skin!
Cuenca is definitely a place worth visiting so add it to your bucket list! For more information on traveling to Cuenca visit Turismo Cuenca. Ecuador never ceases to amaze me and I can’t wait to discover more! If you’re interested in finding out more about travel to Ecuador you can visit ecuador.travel
Want to know more about Ecuador? Check out the 7 Things You Must do in Quito