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How to Spend 3 Days in Cuenca

How to Spend 3 Days in Cuenca

Three days in Cuenca give you time to soak up the culinary and cultural highlights of the UNESCO-listed historic center, and explore El Cajas National Park and beyond. Here’s how to make the most of three days in one of Ecuador’s most laid-back and livable cities.

Day 1: Discover Cuenca’s Colonial Charms

Get your bearings in Cuenca on a hop-on hop-off bus tour, most of which depart from Parque Calderón and allow you to create your own itinerary. Disembark at the Old and New Cathedrals, and the Cuenca museums that most interest you—the Panama Hat Museum is an essential destination for fashion and history buffs while food lovers won’t want to miss the city’s many excellent chocolate shops.

Alternatively, take a more structured tour of Cuenca; shared, private, walking, biking, and colonial-themed options are available. In the evening, enjoy dinner and a show in the historic center—the Cuenca Symphony Orchestra often perform in the Old Cathedral.

Day 2: Take a Cultural Day Trip

On your second day in Cuenca, take a day trip to the surrounding towns and villages. Combine a visit to the Ingapirca archaeological ruins with a thrilling ride on the Devil’s Nose Train, or if you’d prefer to do some souvenir shopping, head to the artisanal towns of Gualaceo, Chordeleg, and San Bartolomé. Some full-day excursions combine stops at these crafty villages with a visit to Ingapirca for a more general interest full-day excursion.  

 

You can also go souvenir shopping in Cuenca in the company of a guide, ideal for those who find marketplaces overwhelming. Shopping tours tend to explore the Mercado 10 de Agosto while some also include a cooking class. 

Day 3: Get Back to Nature in El Cajas National Park

After two days of strolling and shopping, up the ante on your final day with a full-day trip to El Cajas National Park, which typically include convenient round-trip transportation. Excursions are typically accessible for all ability levels, meaning that your entire party can enjoy the sweeping panoramas, opportunity to see llamas in their natural habitat, and endemic flora of El Cajas National Park.

However, more advanced hikers can opt for specialized tours which incorporate hikes through impressive cloud forests. Similarly, tailored bird spotting excursions will be of special interest to twitchers, who can both benefit from the insight of a local guide as well as look for El Cajas National Park’s many endemic bird species at their own pace. 

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14 Tours and Activities

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Cuenca Excursion Panoramic City Tour SightSeeingTour in double-decker bus

Cuenca Excursion Panoramic City Tour SightSeeingTour in double-decker bus

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28
South Basin This panoramic double-decker bus runs through the most important tourist places in the city of Cuenca, the tour is led by a professional bilingual guide (Spanish-English) who will help explain and inform about the history and traditions of the city. This service works in the " HOP ON HOP OFF" where you can get off and on at certain stops, the ticket lasts 24 hours, on this tour we visit the viewpoint of Turi. From the bus you can appreciate the roofs, balconies, gardens, museums, churches, monuments and other tourist places in the city of Cuenca in a different way. If you visit Cuenca, Atenas del Ecuador, you cannot miss the double-decker panoramic bus, it is a unique sensation.
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  • 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
US$8.34
From
US$8.34

Full-Day Ingapirca Ruins and Gualaceo & Chordeleg Tour from Cuenca

Full-Day Ingapirca Ruins and Gualaceo & Chordeleg Tour from Cuenca

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Discover the historical wonders and contemporary culture of Ecuador on a full-day tour from Cuenca. Convenient round-trip transportation from your hotel spares you the stress of rushing to a meeting point. Learn about the ancient Cañari and Inca ways of life at the Ingapirca Archaeological Complex, then see artisans at work in Gualaceo. Enjoy the view from the Church of Biblian before you refuel on a filling Ecuadorian lunch at a traditional restaurant.
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
US$59.59
Price varies by group size
From
US$59.59
Price varies by group size

Full-Day Ingapirca, Gualaceo & Chordeleg from Cuenca
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out

Full-Day Ingapirca, Gualaceo & Chordeleg from Cuenca

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The countryside surrounding Cuenca in the southern Ecuadorean Andes is home to some of the country’s most important archaeological sites and artisan villages. If you have limited time in Cuenca, this tour combines two top attractions into a single day trip. Tour Ingapirca, the largest Incan site in Ecuador, as well as Gualaceo and Chordeleg, villages known for their silver filigree and hand-woven shawls.
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  • 9 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
US$64.99
Price varies by group size
From
US$64.99
Price varies by group size

Cajas National Park adventure tour from Cuenca, Ecuador

Cajas National Park adventure tour from Cuenca, Ecuador

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76
Explore one of the most spectacular parks in Ecuador on a full-day tour from Cuenca. Hike through the park's unique high altitude landscape which includes lakes, paramo vegetation, llamas, ancient Polylepis trees, and more to delight nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts who want an easy escape from the nearby city.
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  • 7 to 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
US$38.99
Price varies by group size
From
US$38.99
Price varies by group size

Full-Day Devil's Nose Hike and Ingapirca Ruins Tour from Cuenca

Full-Day Devil's Nose Hike and Ingapirca Ruins Tour from Cuenca

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70
Discover two of Ecuador’s most famous attractions on a group sightseeing tour to the Devil’s Nose (Nariz del Diablo) and Ingapirca Ruins. Comfortable round-trip transportation from your Cuenca accommodation spares you the headache of finding your own way to the two locations. You'll enjoy an immersive tour at Ingapirca that goes beyond the guidebook. At the Devil’s Nose, as the train line is currently closed, you can choose to bike or hike around the scenic area.
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  • 10 to 11 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
US$87.99
Price varies by group size
From
US$87.99
Price varies by group size

Cuenca Half-Day City Tour Including Panama Hat Factory

Cuenca Half-Day City Tour Including Panama Hat Factory

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35
Explore Cuenca, one of Ecuador's most beautiful cities, on foot and by vehicle during this half-day guided tour. Highlights include colonial architecture such as wrought iron balconies and carved doors, museums, churches, parks, a flower market, and a world-renowned hat factory where so-called Panama hats are made. Hats can also be purchased and shipped directly to your home address. Finally, enjoy an overview of the city from the Mirador de Turi  viewpoint.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
US$29.99
Price varies by group size
From
US$29.99
Price varies by group size

Full Day Tour Gualaceo, Chordeleg, and San Bartolomé from Cuenca

Full Day Tour Gualaceo, Chordeleg, and San Bartolomé from Cuenca

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22
Make the most of your visit to Cuenca with a day trip to three important artisan villages of Ecuador. After pickup from your hotel, take in the Andean landscape on your way to Chordeleg and San Bartolomé. You’ll get an immersive look at the craftsmanship that goes into textiles, guitars, and more.  Let your private guide help you decide on what to eat for your included lunch in Gualaceo.
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
US$54.99
Price varies by group size
From
US$54.99
Price varies by group size

Cooking Class & Market Tour in Cuenca

Cooking Class & Market Tour in Cuenca

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Dive head first into the world of Ecuadorian cuisine during a 4-hour cooking class. Your food experience begins with a stop at a vibrant market, where you pick up fresh ingredients. Then head to a local home and learn to prepare traditional dishes such as quinoa soup, ceviche, and chicken stew. Vegetarian and vegan options are available upon request. Once complete, tuck in and enjoy your Ecuadorian culinary creations.
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  • 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
US$54.99
Price varies by group size
From
US$54.99
Price varies by group size

Biking Cuenca City Tour

Biking Cuenca City Tour

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8
Explore the beautiful city of Cuenca by bike on this 3-hour tour. Pedal along the river and admire the architecture of the El Barranco neighborhood. Visit an old Inca archaeological site, Pumapungo, and learn about this ancient culture at the adjacent museum and finish up with a pedal around the UNESCO-listed historic center of Cuenca.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
US$44.99
Price varies by group size
From
US$44.99
Price varies by group size

Birdwatching Tour in Cajas National Park from Cuenca

Birdwatching Tour in Cajas National Park from Cuenca

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13
After pickup from your Cuenca hotel, you’ll set off on an 8-hour avian adventure at El Cajas National Park.  From an elevation of 3,800 meters (12,800 ft), you’ll see a long list of endemic birds, including the Tufted Tit Tyrant and Variable Hawk.  Go at a leisurely pace with your private guide to maximize your sightings and enjoy the scenery. Unwind as private transport takes you back to your hotel.
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
US$99.99
Price varies by group size
From
US$99.99
Price varies by group size

Private Colonial Cuenca Full Day Tour

Private Colonial Cuenca Full Day Tour

Make the most of your time in Cuenca, indisputably Ecuador’s prettiest colonial city, on a private 8-hour tour which serves as a perfect introduction for first-time visitors. While your guide provides history- and culture-rich commentary, you’ll tick off highlights such as the New Cathedral (Catedral de la Inmaculada), Plaza Abdon Calderon, Mirador de Turi, and Museo Catedral de Vieja. Hotel pickup and drop-off are included.
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
US$131.00
Price varies by group size
From
US$131.00
Price varies by group size

Private Cajas National Park Tour through Cloud Forest and Moorlands

Private Cajas National Park Tour through Cloud Forest and Moorlands

star-5
9
This private full-day tour from Cuenca, Ecuador was designed with hikers in mind. Explore trails through primary cloud forest, then continue to Cajas National Park to explore the high altitude paramo landscape and watershed within this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. A well-earned lunch of trout from local fish farms is included.
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  • 7 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
US$84.99
Price varies by group size
From
US$84.99
Price varies by group size

Private: Cuenca Markets Full Day Tour

Private: Cuenca Markets Full Day Tour

Soak up the atmosphere of Cuenca’s traditional markets on this full-day tour of Ecuador’s cultural capital. Browse the stalls, immerse yourself in local culture, and discover traditional handicrafts as you visit an animal market, the Mercado 10 de Agosto, the Rotary Market, and the Pottery Crafts Market. Hotel pickup and drop-off is included as needed.
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  • 7 to 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
US$195.00
From
US$195.00

Private Cuenca City Half Day Tour

Private Cuenca City Half Day Tour

Make your way through Cuenca’s maze of colonial-style buildings, domed cathedrals, and lively streets on this 4-hour private guided tour of the city. Learn about Cuenca’s top attractions on this narrated tour, which includes round-trip transportation from your hotel and stops at must-see spots.
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  • 3 to 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
US$61.64
Price varies by group size
From
US$61.64
Price varies by group size


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