How to Spend 2 Days in Cuenca
Modernity and tradition collide in Cuenca, a laid-back, liveable city and UNESCO World Heritage site. With two days to dedicate to Ecuador’s charming colonial destination, there are plenty of ways you can experience the best of Cuenca and the surrounding area. Here’s how to do it in only 48 hours.
Day 1: Explore the City
Morning: Start your day with Ecuadorian coffee and people-watching in Parque Calderón, the central plaza. Then, get your bearings while also admiring some of Cuenca’s architectural highlights: Hop-on hop-off bus services typically depart from the square to top attractions, such as the Turi Viewpoint and San Sebastián Church.
Afternoon: In the afternoon visit the attractions of most interest to you. History buffs may want to opt for a half-day guided city tour to learn more about the city’s past. Food lovers can choose among market tours and interactive cooking classes. Regardless, take time for brief stops at the Panama Hat Museum or at some of Cuenca’s many chocolate shops to sample cacao products—both essential Ecuadorian experiences.
Evening: A day in Cuenca wouldn’t be complete without a tranquil evening stroll through the historic center. Watch the buildings light up from within, stop to admire street performers, or grab drinks at one of Cuenca’s many bars. And, don’t forget to sample lechón (roast pork), one of Ecuador’s typical dishes.
Day 2: Venture Further Afield
Morning: Wake early on day two for a full- or half-day excursion to the Ingapirca ruins, Devil’s Nose train, or several artisanal market towns, such as Gualaceo and Chordeleg. Meanwhile, active travelers won’t want to miss the opportunity to take a shared or private tour to El Cajas National Park, a top spot for bird-watching.
Afternoon: If you opt to stay in Cuenca’s city center on day two, consider taking a full-day tour of the city’s many colonial highlights to learn from a knowledgeable guide. Alternatively, take your time to explore Cuenca’s markets, including the Mercado 10 de Agosto.
Evening: Relax on your final night in Cuenca. Enjoy a typical Ecuadorian meal at one of the historic center’s restaurants—and take the opportunity to sample roasted guinea pig, a traditional dish of the Andes—before catching a Cuenca Symphony Orchestra performance at the Old Cathedral.