Menu
There’s a chance this post contains affiliate links, and I may receive a small (but grateful) portion of the sale. There’s no extra cost to you, and I only share things that I use and love. See my full disclosure here.
Ecuador / South America

10+ Stellar Ideas for Epic Day Trips From Cuenca Ecuador

Cajas National Park, day trips from Cuenca, Laguna Toreadora, paramo in Ecuador, things to do in Cuenca Ecuador, Cuenca Day Trips

Ahhhh… Cuenca. It’s so much more than a lovely UNSECO Colonial City nestled snuggly in the mighty Andes Mountains. Located in the Azuay Province, the city of Cuenca Ecuador offers so many rich treasures for any type of traveler. While the city can casually be explored in a few days, some of the best places to visit are found in the surrounding areas and make exceptional day trips from Cuenca Ecuador.

The substantial list of ideas for Cuenca day trips is long, and always seems to be growing. From this top South American city, it’s possible to soak in curative healing waters, visit diverse artisanal villages specializing in one-of-a-kind handicrafts, hike up waterfalls in cloud forests, trek through worthwhile national parks, and visit both Cañari and Inca ruins. Whew!

Ingapirca ruins, day trips from cuenca, temple of the sun, grass, clouds, sky, things to do in cuenca ecuador
Distant views of the Temple of the Sun, Ingapirca Archaeological Complex

From lovely Ecuador villages to otherworldly landscapes, the day trips from Cuenca Ecuador are diverse, enchanting, and will leave you breathless, (thanks altitude!) with both your heart and belly full. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention the typical culinary dishes that are found in the many villages?

All of the these day trips from Cuenca Ecuador can be done independently, however, some places are quite far and are best explored with an organized tour, or better yet, spend the night in these magical villages.

So rent a car, or use the efficient Cuenca bus system. But whatever you do, don’t miss these worthwhile day trips from Cuenca Ecuador.

Table of Contents

Why You Should Visit Cuenca Ecuador for More than a Few Days

Cuenca Markets, Cuenca Flower Market, Colonial City, Things to do in Cuenca Ecuador, Mercado de las flores
The Cuenca Flower Market is beautiful and surrounded by lovely colonial buildings in Cuenca Ecuador

These unique day trips from Cuenca Ecuador are an excellent way to delve deep into the region; however, don’t rush through the busting capital city of the Azuay Province, Cuenca. The historical center is beautiful and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In Cuenca, there are lots of things to see and do. It’s worth to spend at least three full days exploring the city. Cuenca things to do include: Visit at least one of the many FREE museums, wander and experience a traditional market, get lost on the city’s inviting cobblestone streets and swing by and rest at an inviting plazas. Walk along the Rio Tomebamba and make sure to catch a sunset from Mirador Turi. Also, the culinary scene in Cuenca is blossoming and there are spectacular restaurants, coffeeshops, traditional eateries and more.

➯ Detailed Cuenca Itinerary | Amazing Things to Do in Cuenca Ecuador in 3 Days

How to Tour the Following Day Trips from Cuenca Ecuador

Turi Mirador, Cuenca panoramic, things to do in Cuenca Ecuador, Azuay Province, mountains, clouds, sky, houses
Cuenca Ecuador from Turi Mirador

The most efficient and fastest way to experience these day trips from Cuenca Ecuador is to rent a car. However, Ecuador has an excellent public transportation system, and almost all of these sites can be reached with ease via bus. Of course, those who don’t like the added stress to plan may opt to take a a guided tour from Cuenca.

Browse the best hotels in Cuenca

Rent a Car

With a large expat community, there are a few options to rent a car in Cuenca Ecuador.

Car rentals can easily be picked up from Cuenca’s downtown airport, and usually cost around $30 USD a day. The Cuenca airport is not far from the center and is conveniently located right by the city’s main bus station, Terminal Terrestre.

Another popular option to rent a car is via Cuenca Car Share. This is more like exactly how it sounds, a car share program in Cuenca. The company prides itself on being fast and hassle-free and includes insurance and a daily mileage allowance. Check them out here.

If you get a car, make it a road trip! Explore many of the recommended day trips from Cuenca casually over a few days.

Discover These Day Trips from Cuenca Via the Public Transportation System

Just the same, these day trips from Cuenca Ecuador can be reached using the efficient bus system in Cuenca and connects to all the villages in the area and city’s far beyond. Multiple bus companies offer frequent departures to ALL of these popular Cuenca day trip destinations.

In this definitive travel guide for Cuenca day trips, look for the green boxes for detailed public transportation tips.

The main bus terminal, Terminal Terrestre has a tourist information center to help answer any questions. With multiple departure times to hundreds of different destinations, the bus system works like a charm.

Travel Tip | Don’t forget the 10¢ fee to exit the Cuenca Bus Terminal. Dimes are gold at the bus station.

Take a Guided Tour

There are many different Cuenca tour companies that run to all the popular day trips from Cuenca. Yes, it’s nice to use a tour guide, but it’s just as easy to explore these day trips from Cuenca Ecuador on your own terms and at your own pace. Make sure to seek out a local guide rather than a large corporation.

The Lovely Hot Spring of Baños de Cuenca

Baños termales, Thermal Spa Novaqua Hostería Durán, pool, tree, buildings, sky, clouds, Baños de Cuenca, hot springs Baños Cuenca
Enjoy a day relaxing in curative waters in Baños de Cuenca, one of the easiest day trips from Cuenca Ecuador

One of the easiest and shortest day trips from Cuenca Ecuador is a trip above the city to Baños de Cuenca. This cute little hamlet is only 7.5 miles to the west of Cuenca and offers some seriously relaxing curative waters. The hot springs of Baños sit right on an old volcano crater, so an actual fault line is the source of all the mineral rich water. No matter what termale you choose, expect stunning views of valley and surrounding mountains.

There are multiple hot springs to choose from, ranging from budget friendly to luxury.

For a local experience, dip in the local termales of Balneario el Riñon. These basic facilities still offer a Turkish steam bath, contrast pools, mud baths and a large and hot soaking pool. Bring your own swim cap, gorra in Spanish! These local hot springs cost $6 for the entire day.

Another great termales in Baños de Cuenca is Novagua. This mid-range spa includes a Finnish sauna, Turkish steam bath, contrast pools, a mud cave, a spacious warm pool, steam boxes, and lots of green space too sprawl out and relax in the sun. To access the complete circuit it costs $20 for the day.

Finally, for a more luxury experience, head over to Piedra de Agua. An hour and a half spa circuit costs $35.

➯ Detailed Cuenca Travel Guide | Relax at the hot spring of Baños de Cuenca

How to Day Trip from Cuenca Ecuador to Baños de Cuenca

Movilizate Card, Movilizate Ticket booth in Cuenca Terminal Terrestre, Public Bus System in Cuenca Ecuador, people, ticket boothh
Purchase a Movilizate Card in the building right behind Cuenca’s Terminal Terrestre or any tienda in the city that advertises Movilizate cards

Reach the hot springs Baños Cuenca via a swift city bus. If in a hurry, a taxi is cheap and should cost no more than $5 from the historical center of Cuenca. Make sure they have a meter and run it.

The Cuenca City Bus Lines #100 & #12 both run frequently to Baños de Cuenca. If you’re by the main bus terminal, these buses run right behind the terminal across the street.

🚌 Bus # 100 Logistics | Catch it here: Parque Maria Auxiliadora, in front of Librería LNS | Cost: 30¢ each way | Duration: 25 minutes (buses run frequently) | Make sure to purchase a Movilizate Card to use the Cuenca City Buses | Exit in Baños at Hosteria Duran

Explore Artisan Villages Near Cuenca Ecuador

Plaza Civica Gualaceo, pigeons, signboard, church, things to do in Gualaceo, artisan villages in Ecuador
Gualaceo is must visit village near Cuenca

Another way to experience the culture of Cuenca is to take a day trip to one or a few different artisan villages. These artisan villages near Cuenca can be combined and experienced as a full day trip from Cuenca.

🚌 Buses run frequently from Cuenca’s Terminal Terrestre to all of these villages. These day trips from Cuenca Ecuador are easy to explore independently.

The three most popular Ecuador villages to explore from Cuenca are Gualaceo, Chordeleg, and SigSig. Each city is known for different handcrafts, stunning nature, and special typical cuisine.

➯ Detailed Ecuador Village Guide | The Best Cuenca Day Trips to Discover Artisan Villages

Gualaceo

Casa Museo de la Macana, jars, yarn, natural dyes, Macanas del Gualaceo, artisanal villages in Ecuador, Ecuador villages
The traditional methods to dye wool for Macanas can be seen at Casa Museo de la Macana

The village of Gualaceo is filled with many things to see and do, so it could be in itself a full day trip from Cuenca. One of the reasons many travelers visit Gualaceo is for a chance to discover the traditional weaving of macanas, which is like a shawl or scarf. While there are many workshops in town, Casa Museo de la Macana offers guided tours daily.

Follow along with the entire process for weaving macanas. From preparing the wool, to dying techniques, and understanding the weaving, this workshop demonstrates it all. This house is famous for using all natural products including rocks, insects, and lemon juice to dye the fabrics and uses a weaving technique that has been passed down from generation to generation.

Another things to do in Gualaceo is to visit Ecuagenera, a greenhouse and shop that is famous for it’s high-altitude orchids. Don’t miss the town’s river walk that is lined with art, statues, a bike path, and an inviting lawn.

The lively and tasty Mercado 25 de Junio is filled with food stalls to sample typical plates of food. Here in Gualaceo, hornados is one of the more popular dishes. However, Gualaceo has its own specialized culinary dishes like cuy, or guinea pig that is roasted on a stick over an open spit to tortillas de chocolo, or native corn tortillas.

Gualaceo is one of the best day trips from Cuenca Ecuador.

Chordeleg

Rainbow colored Chordeleg Sign, Church, Plaza, day trips from Cuenca, Ecuador, sky, bright buildings, Cuenca day trips
The main plaza of Chordeleg is lined with lovely colonial buildings

Chordeleg is known for their unique handmade jewelry making process of filigree. Filigree is a delicate artisan method of twisting the threads of metal into intricate designs and patterns. Centuries ago, Chordeleg became an artisanal “hot spot” for jewelry makers using the filigree method. Now the village is lined with multiple shops selling this handmade jewelry, especially in silver.

The Plaza de Armas in Chordeleg is charming and is encircled by multiple colonial buildings with a that typical South American focal centerpiece church. Make sure to step inside a few of these buildings, oftentimes hidden inside beautiful are extraordinary courtyards. The town is literally decorated in traditional jewelry. Do you see the streetlights are wearing earrings?

On Sundays, there is a traditional market in town that sets up in the main square. Find anything and everything from leather goods, pottery, toquilla hats, and other souvenirs made with love. The informative Museo Chordeleg, is worth a quick stop to understand the history of this artisan village a little better.

SigSig

Asociación de Toquilleras Maria Auxiliadora, building, colored straw, garden, day trips from Cuenca, Ecuador, SigSig, Cuenca day trips
Colorful straw hanging to dry at Maria Auxiliadora.

SigSig is known for their production of Panama hats and untouched Cañari ruins.

An excellent place to visit in SigSig is the Asociación de Toquilleras Maria Auxiliadora. This is an authentic place to understand and see firsthand how the toquilla hats, or more commonly referenced as “Panama hats” are made. Not only is it an original toquilla straw hat factory, but there is an informative little museum with a chance to witness the entire hat production process. This workshop is one Ecuador’s largest women’s associations and helps support over 150 local women and their families.

In Chobshi, which is right down the road from SigSig explore the small black cave, named Cueva Negra. Within a short walking distance from the cave, find Cañari ruins. Look out into the distance and savor the views of the nearby Rio Cuchipampa. Another great spot to appreciate this river is along the scenic road back into SigSig.

Bonus Villages as Day Trips from Cuenca Ecuador

Patue Market, Mercado, awning, people, umbrellas, vendors, mountains, buildings, sky, clouds, day trips from Cuenca Ecuador, Cuenca Day Trips
The bustling Mercado 26 De Febrero in Paute Cuenca

While Gualaceo, Chordeleg, and SigSig are the more popular artisan day trips from Cuenca Ecuador, there are a few more noteworthy villages that are worth a detour.

Paute is close to Gualaceo and is an authentic village to explore the distilled liquor of Caña. This sugar cane liquor is produced and promoted by the Restaurant Corvel. This restaurant also offers a welcoming garden patio and daily lunch specials, or almuerzos, weekdays for around $4.

Chican Riena Pizza, pizza, wood fired pizza, veggies, table, beer, beer mugs, wood cutting board, hidden gem food day trips from Cuenca, Ecuador
On the weekends, Chican Riena Pizza is open and is filled with locals making day trips from Cuenca Ecuador

Close to Paute, visit Chican to eat delicious wood-fired pizza at Chican Riena Pizza. Another gem near Paute is Cabañas el Copal. This is THE spot to taste the freshest and most flavorful trout in the region. The restaurant offers outdoor seating with excellent views of the valley and has a few hiking trails.

Not far from SigSig, San Bartolomé is a famous village known for making guitars. Many of the guitars are made from different woods including: walnut, cedar, black cherry, and rosewood.

Psst… Love hidden gems like this? Get inspired with these charming South American villages in the Andes

Giron Waterfall | El Chorro Waterfall

El Chorro Waterfall Giron, Cuenca Day Trips, day trips from cuenca ecuador, el chorro waterfall giron, giron ecuador
The primary Giron Waterfall provides a misty experience in a cloud forest

One of the best nature-lovers day trips from Cuenca Ecuador is the stunning El Chorro Waterfall. Find this multi-tiered towering cascade in the picturesque town of Giron. The El Chorro Waterfall is nestled within a cloud forest and the staggering waterfall cuts through the rocky mountain side that is covered in hues of green plants and trees.

While most travelers that visit Giron will appreciate the lower section and the trails leading to the El Chorro Waterfall, there’s another uphill hike to the second tier of the waterfall. The worthwhile, but steep and rugged climb to the second falls tops off close to 10,200 feet. The views are literally breathtaking (at this altitude), but it’s the landscape of Yunguilla Valley and the tiny speckle that is Girón that make this climb a must.

Things to do in Giron Ecuador, El Chorro Waterfall, Cascada El Chorro Giron, mountain, hiking path, grass, fence, trees, sky, clouds, day trips from Cuenca
The second cascada Giron is worth the uphill climb!

For those seeking to hike to the second tier of Giron Waterfall, will need to plan on this being a full day trip from Cuenca. Most tours don’t include the hike to the second waterfall, which is why Giron is perfect to visit as an independent day trip from Cuenca. Farther up the road from the towering Giron Waterfall is Busa Lake. If you have a car, it’s possible to stop by the lake, but otherwise, explore the many lakes at Cajas National Park.

➯ Detailed Travel Guide | Giron Ecuador and the Spectacular El Chorro Waterfall

How to Visit Giron as a Day Trip from Cuenca Ecuador

The village of Giron can be reached by car from Cuenca in around an hours time. Take note there is a small toll (30¢) to drive to the El Chorro Waterfall entrance gate. Giron is also connected to Cuenca via multiple bus companies. The most frequent buses are run by Cooperative Giron Buses. 

🚌 Cuenca to Giron by Cooperative Giron Buses Find them near terminal 4 in the Terminal Terrestre Cuenca, Booth #05 | Buses run:6:00 – 19:00 | Last bus TO Cuenca from Giron is 17:40 | One way bus ticket cost: $1.25 USD | Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes | Up to date info here

Cajas National Park | Parque Nacional Cajas

parque nacional Cajas, Cajas National Park, Cuenca hiking, Ruta 1 Cajas, alpine lake, paramo, grass, Andes Mountains, things to do in Cuenca Ecuador, day trips from Cuenca Ecuador, Laguna Ecuador, places to visit in Ecuador
Wander through the incredible paramó ecosystem in Cajas National Park

Cajas National Park is less than 20 miles from Cuenca, so wandering through this otherworldly landscape is a must. The Cajas is a special place with a unique paramó ecosystem. Notice all the stunning lakes, there are close to 786 lakes scattered throughout the park. It’s important to be prepared and properly acclimated to explore this epic National Park, the Cajas lowest elevation point is 10,365 feet at the worthwhile Laguna Llaviucu.

I’ll stress it again, the park sits in a high altitude cloud forest. It is noticeably cooler here than in Cuenca. Be prepared for the weather to change instantly. Most afternoons, the clouds roll in over the towering mountains and rains pours down. It is free to visit Parque Nacional Cajas, simply sign-in at the ranger station. Note, you don’t have to sign-out.

There are many trails twisting throughout the the Cajas National Park. At Laguna Toreadora, find a Visitor’s Center, bathrooms, and a small museum. This is where you check in with the park ranger. They will notify you of any trail closures and alternative route options. If you don’t have a lot of time, take the easy and well-marked loop trail around the lake.

Polylepis tree forest, paper trees, quinua trees, quinua forest, Cajas National Park, day trips from Cuenca Ecuador, Places to visit in Ecuador, otherworldly landscapes, paramo Ecuador, Ecuador National Parks, moss, cloud forest
It’s a magical experience to walk through a Polylepis tree forest

One of the more popular trails in Cajas is Ruta 1 (route 1), which starts from Visitor’s Center at Laguna Toreadora and veers off to the right. This trail twists through an out of this world through a Polylepis tree forest.

Oftentimes, these reddish trees that appear to be peeling are nicknamed “paper trees,” but Ecuadorians call them Quinua trees. These high altitude trees usually grow above 10,000 feet and can take over 100 years to simply grow .5 of an inch in diameter.  Walking through these magical forests feels like a wonderful, strange glimpse into another planet.

The trail continues past more scenic lakes, crosses over streams and ends along the road. Ruta 1 in Cajas Natioal Park is just over 3.5 miles and will take 2 – 5 hours.

Another popular point of interest is Tres Cruces, or three crosses viewpoint. The road actually crosses the continental divide at just shy of 14,000 feet. There is a hiking path here as well. In this national park, find hiking paths that are filled with ancient history. Some of these paths follow the old Inca road of Qhapaq Ñan.

Laguna Llaviucu, hiking Cajas National Park, Parque Nacional Cajas, Loop trail Cajas, Cajas National Park Trails, Cajas National Park day trip
Llaviucu Lake is often overlooked in Cajas National Park, but is a spectacular day trip from Cuenca

Laguna Llaviucu is an overlooked Cajas National Park trail. It is the closest entry point to the park from Cuenca, so it sits at a lower elevation. While it doesn’t offer the same paramo landscape of the higher altitude of the park, it boasts a fun trail that passes by large herd of alpacas, an abandoned brewery, and stunning scenery. This trail is perfect for birdwatchers. Find locals taking wedding photos, fishing in the river, enjoying a picnic, or simply lying on the grass on those rare, but perfect sunny days.

🥾 Hiking Guide | The Complete Guide to Hiking Cajas National Park

How to Visit Cajas National Park as a Day Trip from Cuenca

Cajas National Park is along the road to Guayaquil. Be mindful that this area is no stranger to rockslides and road closures. Make sure to check the weather before visiting. Buses run frequently past the national park. Two companies that depart from Cuenca’s Terminal Terrestre are Atrain Alianza and Super Semeria.

🚌 Cuenca to Cajas National Park by Atrain Alianza Buses Find them near terminal 1 in the Terminal Terrestre Cuenca, main entrance way | Buses run: frequently all day from 1:30 – 23:59 | Cajas National Park opens at 8 a.m. | One way bus ticket cost: $3 | Duration: 1 hour 10 minutes | Facebook Page

Alternatively, this road can be blocked due to landslides. There are small buses that run from Terminal Interparroquial El Arenal that will at least run until Laguna Llaviucu.

🚌 Cuenca to Cajas National Park by Local Green Buses Find them near el Arenal here | Buses currently depart at: 6:10, 10:20, 13:05 | One way bus ticket cost: $2.50 | Duration to Laguna Llaviucu: 40 minutes | Verify what time the bus will pass by your destination for pick up

To return to Cuenca, simply wait for any bus to come in the direction of Cuenca. (Opposite side of the road you were dropped on). I caught Super Semeria on the way back for $2.50.

Ingapirca Archaeological Site

Ingapirca ruins, day trips from Cuenca Ecuador, llama, Cañari ruins, things to do in cuenca, places too visit in ecuador
Ingapirca is an excellent Cuenca day trip for culture and history fanatics.

The Ingapirca ruins are a unique blend of both the Pre-Colombian Cañari civilization, and the Incas. This sacred site was conquered by the Inca Empire. Ingapirca Archaeological Site is the most well-preserved Inca ruins in the entire country of Ecuador.

Entrance Ticket to the Ingapirca ruins cost $2 and includes a guided-tour

It is believed that Ingapirca was used by the Cañari as a ceremonial site and had its own Temple of the Moon. After the Incas conquered the site, they built a complementing Temple of the Sun. A guided-tour is a must to visit this sacred site, but luckily it’s included with the entrance ticket.

➯ Detailed Travel Guide | How to Visit Ingapirca Archaeological Complex as a Day Trip from Cuenca

How Visit Ingapirca as a Day Trip from Cuenca

Face of the Inca, Cara del Inca Ingapirca, Sun Valley hiking path, Ingapirca Archaeological Complex
The face of the Inca found on a nearby cliffside in Ingapirca Ecuador

Ingapirca can be reached via car in about an hour and a half. Those looking to travel by bus can take the direct bus from Cuenca’s Terminal Terrestre. This bus currently runs once a day and ONLY on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Find the ticket booth in Terminal 1 of the bus station.

🚌 Cuenca to Ingapirca Direct Bus Find them near terminal 1 in the Terminal Terrestre Cuenca | Buses Depart: Friday, Saturday, Sunday at 9:30 | | One way bus ticket cost: $4 | Duration: 2.5 hours 

The direct bus waits a few hours and departs for Cuenca promptly at 13:30.  That makes Ingapirca one of the longer day trips from Cuenca Ecuador for those using the public bus.

Another option is to hop on a frequent bus to Cañar and from there, catch a smaller, local bus that departs frequently between Ingapirca. This is a great option in case you miss the bus back to Cuenca.

How to Hike to Ingapirca | Top Ecuador Multi-Day Trek

Laguna Sontzahuin, alpine lake, Great Inca Trail, clouds, sky, alpine lake, path, tres cruses ecuador inca trail
Coming down from Tres Cruces, the highest point of the trek at an altitude of 14,446 ft (4403 m)

Ingapirca sits strategically near the beginning of the “Great Inca Trail” that ultimately ends at the Imperial City of Cusco. Adventure trekkers can start at the trailhead near the village of Achupallas, hike through the outskirts of Sangay National Park, and arrive to the gates of Ingapirca. This 3 day Ecuador Inca Trek is becoming more and more popular. If you wish to continue farther, follow the trail all the way to Cuenca.

🥾 Detailed Hiking Guide | Hike to Ingapirca Along the 3 Day Ecuador Inca Trail

Cojitambo Ecuador

Another tiny village that is worth a stopover is Cojitambo found in the Azogues Canton in the Cañar province. The town itself is tiny, but what makes this place special are the hilltop ruins that were probably built by the Cañari and eventually were meld into the Inca empire. The Cojitambo Archaeological site is less than 20 miles from Ingapirca, and sits at an altitude just over 10,100 feet.

There is a nice hiking path, which is actually part of Sangay National Park and part of the old Inca road system of Qhapaq Ñan. Take a wander through the small site, which is unique as it is made from volcanic rocks using the uncommon building technique of “picado.” The picado method was implemented by placing stones on top of surfaces to create flat walls.

After wandering the terraces climb up to the nearby mirador. The jagged rocks offers incredible views of Cojitambo village and the larger city of Azogues. The valley is stunning and the mirador doesn’t disappoint. These rocks are steep and makes Cojitambo is a popular destination for rock climbers.

How Visit Cojitambo as a Day Trip from Cuenca

Cojitambo is a longer day trip from Cuenca, but can include a wander through the city of Azogues. From Cuenca, take any bus to Azogues Terminal “Segundo Serrano.” From there, hop on a Panamericano Bus that runs between the Terminal and Deleg. The bus stops in the plaza farther up the road the main road that leads to Cojitambo Archaeological Site.

🚌 Cuenca to Azogues Buses Find them in the Terminal Terrestre CuencaAverage one-way bus ticket cost: $1.00 | Duration: 30 minutes | Panamericano Buses depart from Azogues Terminal Segundo Serrano every 30 minutes from 6:30 – 18:30 | Cost: 60¢ | Duration: 30 minutes

Long & Full Day Trips from Cuenca Ecuador

While the following suggested day trips from Cuenca Ecuador are longer than Ingapirca, they are most certainly worthwhile.

Saraguro

Saraguro Sign, Saraguro Ecuador, people, steps, plaza, trees, garden church, sky. full day trips from Cuenca Ecuador
Saraguro is an adorable Ecuador village that can be a LONG day trip from Cuenca

A hidden gem village that lies to the south of Cuenca is Saraguro. This magical village is best to visit on a Sunday, when the locals are dressed in their Sunday’s bests (black textiles) to shop at the local market and make an appearance at the morning church service.

The Saraguro Sunday market is bustling and filled with produce, food, juices, and anything else you could image. Saraguro is known for their black and white hats, beautifully beaded jewelry, and colorful belts. Look for the colorful shirts the women wear underneath their black dresses.

Detailed Travel Guide | Why Saraguro, Ecuador should be on your Ecuador Travel Radar

Besides the market, wander the charming village. Take a detour to the Baños del Inca, an old cave and waterfall where it is rumored the Inca enjoyed rituals underneath the waterfall and in the natural pools. Foodies should put Saraguro on their radar for a chance to eat at Shamuico Espai Gastronòmic, a marvelous culinary experience from Chef Samuel Ortega that merges modern cuisine with typical dishes of the past.

Find the perfect place to sleep in Saraguro Ecuador

Alausi

Devil's Nose hike, hike the Devil's Nose, Nariz del Diablo, canyon, things to do in alausi ecuador
The scenic Devil’s Nose hike is one of the longest day trips from Cuenca Ecuador

Another long day trip from Cuenca is to Alausí, where it’s possible to ride the Devil’s Nose train. The train line started construction in 1872, and took over 30 years to complete. It seems miraculous at the time to build a zigzag train track down the jagged and steep slopes of the Andes mountains. Sadly, it is estimated over 2,000 people perished building these dangerous railroad tracks.

Today, the popular train line runs between the villages of Alausi and Sibambe, and only takes about 45 minutes. The ticket to ride the train is steep (pun intended) at around $40 per person. Those who want to savor the beauty of the Devil’s Nose can hike the stunning canyon landscape for a few dollars.

Alausi is a LONG day trip from Cuenca. It takes almost 4 hours each way. To experience the Devil’s Nose or ride the train, it’s best to book a tour directly from Cuenca. Independent traveler’s may also wish to sleep in Alausí and fall in love with this delightful “pueblo magico.”

Find the best Alausi Ecuador hotels, guesthouses, & hostels

San Pedro de Alausi viewpoint, alausi ecaduor, viewpoints alausi, Alausí, pueblos magicos ecuador, houses, clouds
Nestled in the mountains and clouds, Alausi Ecuador warrants more than one day

There are so many awesome things to do in Alausi Ecuador, it’s best to spend at least one night. Saturdays are ideal, where you can participate in a Saturday ceremony at the viewpoint Condor Puñuna and enjoy the weekly bustling Alausi market on Sunday. Besides the Devil’s Nose hike, wander the colorful streets, enjoy an inviting plaza, appreciate a city viewpoint, and stroll past the Puente Negro.

Awesome Ideas for Day Trips from Cuenca Ecuador

In conclusion, the above 10 plus ideas make for epic day trips from Cuenca Ecuador. Leave the hustle and bustle of the colonial city behind you and soak in healing thermal baths, visit a wide range of local handicraft villages, hike through out of this world nature, and step back in time and explore sacred ancient ruins. Visit many Ecuador villages that dot the powerful Andes Mountains.

The best way to experience these day trips from Cuenca Ecuador is with a car, but the public buses are easy and inexpensive to ride. In the city, there are many companies that offer a wide range of day tours that tour the most popular day trips from Cuenca Ecuador. However, these incredible day trips are best to explore at your own pace by losing track of time and experiencing the rich culture and beauty of the area.

Have you taken any of these day trips from Cuenca Ecuador? What places did you visit? Are there any day trips from Cuenca Ecuador that you loved and I’m missing? Let me know in the comments below!

Disclaimer: There’s a chance this post contains affiliate links, and I receive a small (but grateful) portion of the sale. There’s no extra cost to you, and I only promote things that I use and love.

About Author

Hey, my name is Megs! I'm an adventure-seeking, wanna be storyteller, with a wandering soul. I love immersing myself in diverse cultures and customs. I'm kind of obsessed with hiking in the mountains, soaking in hot springs, and seeking-out the most authentic travel experiences as possible! Find me savoring a good cup of coffee, eating at traditional markets, or catching a sunset with a glass of wine in hand. Experiences and memories are my most prized possessions.

2 Comments

  • Lina
    December 25, 2021 at 12:47 pm

    These are some great day trips ideas! I love waterfalls so much so my first choice would be El Chorro waterfall 🙂

    Reply
    • Megs
      December 26, 2021 at 8:28 am

      ohhhh yes! That’s a good one! 🥾

      Reply

Leave a Reply