Tucked into the folds of the southern Andes lies Cuenca, Ecuador's third city. Cuencanos are said to 'sing' Spanish - they tend to lilt their voices at the end of a sentence. But then, they have quite a bit to sing about.
Their city is ranked by many as the country's most attractive, located in a verdant basin of mountains and crossed by no less than four rivers. Its historic centre is a treasure trove for the visitor to explore on foot: cobblestone streets, museums, churches, flower-filled plazas, Inca ruins, river banks, antiquarians, convents, curio shops... The Cuencanos are justly proud of their city and its contribution to the country's cultural, political and intellectual life. And did we mention the best mis-named Panama hats come from Cuenca?
To add to its attractions, Cuenca's hotel offer is better than ever, with some delightfully-converted historic mansions providing comfortable and sophisticated bases from which to explore, all imbued with its citizens' famous gift for hospitality. Dining out, too, has improved considerably of late with several options highlighting the best of the city's culinary traditions and contemporary cuisine. About the only thing Cuenca doesn't have is a decent football team.
We believe in Cuenca's potential to provide great travel experiences for our guests. That's why we've re-engineered some of our favourite tours of the city and its surrounding countryside, focusing on meeting local people (and listening to their lilting Spanish accents!): journeys that scratch beneath the surface to reveal a city that is at-once traditional yet progressive, and often cutting-edge.
A reminder of the highlights in our host of tours:
- Explore Cuenca's World Heritage-listed historic centre, including the best sights, sounds, flavours and views.
- Journey north to explore Ecuador's most famous Inca ruins, Ingapirca, and its rolling countryside.
- Head west to the wilds of El Cajas National Park, a fascinating ecosystem ideal for hearty hikes.
- A visit to the nearby towns of Gualaceo and Chordeleg, with their markets and famous filigree jewellers, as well as an amazing orchid farm.
Familiarise yourself with these tours on our B2B site
Cuenca scenic tour with lunch
Gualaceo & Chordeleg
El Cajas National Park
Ingapirca Inca Fortress full day
With the improvements in Ecuador's road system, Cuenca can now be linked by road, via El Cajas, with Guayaquil in around three-and-a-half hours - a dramatic and inspiring journey down from the Andes to the coast, and far more fun than the plane. Travellers can also venture south, to the least-visited part of the Ecuadorian Andes: Loja, Vilcabamba and Podacarpus National Park.
Cuenca: it might be third in size, but it ranks first in many of our guests' hearts!