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South America / Ecuador

Amazing Things to Do in Cuenca Ecuador | 3 Days

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Cuenca (officially named Santa Ana de los Rios de Cuenca) is the picturesque capital of Ecuador’s Azuay Province and is nestled in the majestic Andes mountains. There are so many unmissable things to do in Cuenca Ecuador. This colonial UNESCO World Heritage City offers a variety of cultural, adventurous, informative, and natural activities for all diverse types of travelers.

Cuenca is rooted in old Indigenous traditions that merge with an almost contemporary “European flair.” It’s a unique place in South America where you can see a modern street car zip silently pass you, yet most local women are still donning their beautiful traditional clothing.

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Cuenca Ecuador is a unique mixture of old traditions and new modern ways of life

There are so many interesting things to do in Cuenca Ecuador, and the city can be casually explored over three days. However, there are many authentic villages nearby, Inca and Cañari sites to explore, and natural wonders, so it’s best to slow down to truly enjoy all this picturesque city and region has to offer.

➯ Detailed Travel Guide | 10+ Stellar Ideas for Day Trips from Cuenca Ecuador

If you don’t have the time to explore all the things to do in Cuenca Ecuador, this travel guide is broken down day by day in better detail. Discover the treasures of this UNESCO World Heritage City that interests you most.

Here are all the fabulous things to do in Cuenca Ecuador over three days.

Table of Contents

“Must See” Things to Do in Cuenca Ecuador | Day 1

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Plaza San Francisco is home to many artisan stands and beautiful colonial buildings

Day 1 starts with a free walking tour. It’s a great base to see all that Cuenca has to offer and get some direction from the locals. The tour highlights many of Cuenca’s attractions around the main square, Parque Calderón, all while learning a little bit of the European influenced history.

☛ Travel Tip | Cuenca Ecuador elevation is a staggering 8,517 feet (2,596 m), so if you’re flying in from a lower elevation or coming from the coast don’t push it too hard the first day. Drink lots of water.

After the walking tour, visit one of the many Cuenca Market, like Mercado 10 de Agosto. Swing by the Artisanal shops in Plaza San Francisco and pass the bustling Cuenca Flower Market. Relax in the afternoon by enjoying one of Cuenca’s parks and green spaces.

In the evening, the best thing to do in Cuenca Ecuador is to gaze out over the city at the Mirador Turi and soak-in Cuenca’s best sunset spot.

➜ Booking | Find the Perfect Place to Sleep in Cuenca Ecuador

Take a Free Walking Tour

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Hanging out in Plaza de San Francisco is a must when visiting Cuenca

The best way to discover any new city is to take a free walking tour, and the colonial city of Cuenca is no exception. Free Walking Tours Cuenca offers a tip based walking tour that is informative, interesting, and interactive!

Free Walking Tour Cuenca | Cost: FREE, but the guides rely on tips… Share the love!! | Tours: Monday-Saturday at 11:00 and 15:00, afternoons are less crowded | Duration: +/- 2 hours | Meeting Point: Seminario San Luis, here | Reserve your spot on the official website here!

The tours starts in the UNESCO recognized historic center of Santa Ana de los Rios de Cuenca. Along the way learn a little more about the Pre-Spanish history, times of the Spanish conquest, major highlights of the city, and stop at local places to purchase and sample typical food and dishes. I love that this tour stops at local vendors on the streets to purchase items.

Many of the city’s greatest highlights are inside the colonial buildings. Make sure to step inside to observe the oftentimes hidden, but spectacular courtyards. The architecture of the Old Town buildings are beautiful. Does anyone else feel that Cuenca has a Cusco vibe, but just in Ecuador?

The guides are knowledgeable and are so excited to show off their city. You can feel their enthusiasm, and it shows throughout the tour. Hit the major tourist destinations surrounding Parque Calderón, the heart of Cuenca, all while getting a local perspective, with a dash of history. The free walking tour also gives great recommendations of other things to do in Cuenca Ecuador and nearby day trips from Cuenca.

Spend Time Exploring a Traditional Market

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The colorful market of Mercado 10 de Agosto is one of the best things to do in Cuenca Ecuador

The walking tour might have made you hungry, so wander back to Mercado 10 de Agosto. Climb up the stairs and eat Ecuador’s famous traditional dish or hornados. Vegetarians beware, you can tell this section of the market by all of the roasted pigs out on display. If pig isn’t your thing, order an almuerzo, or lunch menu special and share a table with the locals. Cuenca’s markets serve up any kind of traditional food you can imagine.

There’s more fun to be had in the market.

One of richest things to do in Cuenca Ecuador is to explore the traditional markets. In my humble opinion, Mercado 10 de Agosto is the most bustling and authentic market in Cuenca. Get lost in the aisles of produce, in between sacks of potatoes, and see how locals live their everyday life.

Don’t miss the “Mamas” aisle. These women work with the plants to heal any type of health issue. Their stalls are piled high with medicines of healing greens and flowers. From magic potions to powerful candles, these women can help alleviate any health, love, or personal issue. Need some luck in finance or to win the lottery? There’s a remedy for that!

If visiting Mercado 10 de Agosto on a Tuesday or Friday, watch the Limpia women working their magic by clearing bad energy from locals and tourists alike. Their diagnosis comes in the form a cracked egg, and their healing comes from whacking out energy with scent-infused plants and being sprayed down by alcohol in an interesting way.

➯ Detailed Guide | Cuenca Markets, What to See at the Traditional Mercado 10 de Agosto

Cuenca Flower Market

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Bright and colorful, the Cuenca Flower Market is surrounded by beautiful buildings

If you took the free tour, you probably quickly stopped by the Cuenca Flower Market. This bright market is located in the Plaza de las Flores in front of the Church of Carmen de la Asunción. Appreciate the flowers and the lovely colonial buildings surrounding the plaza. Head into the church, oftentimes you can oftentimes buy goodies from the nuns.

Outside the church is a place to purchase candles if you wish to light one inside the church. They also sell Agua de Pitimas, which is a medicinal drink made of flowers and plants. The nuns have been producing this healing drink for over 300 years, and it is said to help calm nerves and other minor ailments. The drink comes from the Quechua word “Piti,” (little) and the Spanish word “mas” (more), which mean “a little more.” The red drink is really fragrant and has a unique taste. For 75¢ a cup, the prescription price is right.

Shop Local | Visit Handicraft Shops & Markets

Rotari Market, Mercado central commercial, artisan stand, pottery, Centro Comercial Rotari
In front of the Centro Comercial Rotari is another great artisan market in the form of small stands

Another “must” thing to do in Cuenca Ecuador is to shop in one of many artisanal markets and plazas!

Notice everyone rocking those ponchos and fun earrings, or how about those awesome and totally cliche llama sweaters? In the Plaza de San Francisco, satisfy all your ponchos, bags, sweaters, and textile souvenir needs here.

Plaza de San Francisco

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A rainy day in the San Francisco Plaza in Cuenca

Shop for anything and everything textiles at the Plaza de San Francisco. This popular Plaza also boasts that picturesque photo-opp of the red Cuenca signboard and the signature blue domes of Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepción in the backdrop. So, visit the lively square even if not in the mood to “shop til you drop.”

Find this Plaza @ The Streets of San Francisco and Padre Aguirre, only a few blocks from Parque Calderon

There are lots of little stands and shops around the whole square, but the shops on the actual street of Calle San Francisco have the feeling of stumbling upon a “hidden” shop. What appears like another tiny store opens into a large double storied handicraft shop. Look for “back-doors,” and be surprised by how many pants, sweaters, ponchos, purses, and so much more are present. A lot of these shops don’t accept credit cards, and most will be willing to bargain.

Fellow hippies, this is the perfect square to snag bags upon bags of Palo Santo, an aromatic wood that when burnt has medicinal and therapeutic healing energy. Look for those signature bottles of Agua de Florida and any other scented goodie your free spirit heart desires.

Speaking of Hippies…looking more for jewelry? Head to the Hippie Market just a few blocks from Parque Calderón.

Hippie Market

Another great market for everything jewelry is the “Hippie Market.” Search for all bracelets, earrings, and necklaces in a peaceful square. This market offers ear-piecing on demand.

Find this Cuenca Market @ Benigno Malo and Mariscal Lamar, only 3 blocks north of Parque Calderon

Enjoy Cuenca’s Plazas & Parks

Yes, Parque Calderon and Plaza de San Francisco are musts when it comes to things to do in Cuenca Ecuador, but there are other beautiful plazas and squares to relax, chill-out and people watch for the remainder of the afternoon.

Plaza La Merced is a small little square with a church and restaurants on the plaza. Grab a coffee, cocktail, or a snack from the popular cafe Goza Espresso Bar. This small plaza is a hub for the Cuenca bike rental program.

Plaza Cívica is a spectacular plaza that sits between the Mercado 9 de Octubre and the local Centro Comercial Rotari. The street car passes by and the area is always filled with children playing, vendors selling, and families enjoying a rest on a bench.

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The magnificent Parque San Sebastian

Parque San Blas has a more neighborhood vibe with benches, trees, and a nice green space with the focal point of the San Blas Church. There’s lots of local restaurants lining the plaza, including my favorite vegetarian spot, El Nuevo Paraíso. This place serves up heaping plates of tigrillo, an Ecuadorian traditional breakfast dish that is a mixture of mashed up green plantains, cheese, and eggs.

One of the most beautiful picturesque plazas in Cuenca is the Plaza de San Sebastian. Find lots of beautiful flowers, trees, and a fountain (currently not running), and the San Sebastian Church. This plaza boasts bustling restaurants with inviting outdoor seating, there’s even Jodoco Belgian Bistro, a popular Belgian brew-pub. This square also houses Cuenca’s Modern Museum of Art that is free to visit.

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Wood sculptures are scattered around Parque de la Madre next to the river

Finally, next to the River Tomebamba is Parque de la Madre, a popular spot for families to enjoy one of Cuenca’s best green spaces! Kids will love the playground, while adults can appreciate the wood sculptures, running track, and the exercise equipment. That modern looking building is the city’s own Planetarium.

Watch the Sunset at Turi | Mirador de Turi

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The Turi Mirador is a must when visiting Cuenca Ecuador

One of the top things to do in Cuenca Ecuaor is actually in the small hamlet of Turi, right above Cuenca, the Turi Mirador. Here, find a church and an observatory deck that shows off one of the best panoramic viewpoint in all of Cuenca.

Turi is the perfect way to end day one of this Cuenca itinerary. How spectacular is that view, to see Cuenca sprawled out across the Andes Mountains. As the sun dips down behind the mountains, the city literally changes colors. The city begins to light up, and see the Cathedral radiate its bright blue domes, a reminder of the importance of religion in Cuenca.

Soak in the views, watch the sunset, and if feeling inclined, stop at one of the many mirador (viewpoint) bars and restaurants to enjoy a beverage. Turi village at sunset is one of the best things to do in Cuenca Ecuador.

Don’t know which viewpoint bar to choose? Hell’s pours off local tap beers and offers a happy hour drink menu. However, the high prices match the elevation of the view.

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One of the best things to do in Cuenca Ecuador is watch a sunset from Mirador Turi

3 Way to Reach Turi Mirador

There are three ways to reach the Turi Mirador. Either take the climb up hill from the center of Cuenca, taxi, or use the efficient public bus system.


From Parque Calderón, it’s pretty much a straight walk to the mirador. The walk goes through the city, over the river, down the busy road of Fray Vicente Solano, but then becomes more enjoyable as it continues past a few more parks and rivers.

Be prepared to climb the hill, so get ready for a bunch of stairs! At one point, the stairs felt as if they would never end. The higher you climb, the more you can appreciate that Cuenca city view!

To walk to Mirador Turi from Cuenca, leave before 16:00 to have amble time to catch the sunset.


Don’t feel like tackling all those stairs? Hail a taxi. Verify they have a meter and make sure they use it. The taxi price should be less than a couple of dollars.


If you are using the hop-on hop-off bus method, the bus stops here directly. City buses L11, L4, and L7 stop at Turi. To ride the Cuenca city buses you will need a Movilizate Card (initial fee $1.75, 30 cents per ride), or hop on the bus and pay someone with a card 30 cents!

Fun Things to Do in Cuenca Ecuador | Day 2

Cuenca street art, things to do in Cuenca Ecuador
Street art is found all around Cuenca. This woman is sporting a “Panama Hat”

Wake up and smell the coffee! Day 2 offers more fun things to in Cuenca Ecuador. Grab a coffee from one of Cuenca’s top coffee shops, or go right to the source and find a roaster. Delve deep in to Cuenca’s history and visit at least one of the FREE museums.

For lunch, do as the locals do and grab lunch on the busy almuerzo street. Take a stroll along the River Tomebamba and admire the colonial buildings and look for some funky street art.

Here’s all the fun things to do in Cuenca Ecuador on your second day exploring this colonial city.

Visit a Coffee Roaster or Cute Coffee Shop

One of the best things do in Cuenca Ecuador is to stop in at a coffee roaster and spend time in a coffee shop.

Ecuador is famous for its chocolate and cacao, but the coffee in Ecuador is also a treat. It’s easy to lose track of time while sipping on some fresh roasted cup of coffee all while sitting in an ambiance rich coffee shop.

Cafe de Ñucallacta is serving up their very own roasted coffee. This is a trendy little place with lots of delicious pastries. They offer lovely seating spaces and quick Wi-Fi. There’s lots of windows that provide inviting natural lighting.

Palier Café Libro is an eclectic bookshop that also serves up coffee, cocktails, and snacks. There are comfy couches to relax on or browse through the unique selections of book. Sit on the cute little terrace and feel like you’re somewhere else, even though its located on a busy street in the heart of Cuenca. The bustling streets makes the people watching fun. There are lots of funky wall paintings around the building, giving it a real hipster feel.

The trendy restaurant of El Mercado has a small coffee shop in the front of their main dinning restaurant. They offer a wide range of delicious coffees and yummy pastries to accompany them. The coffee shop only has a few tables, but is oh, so cute!

One of the best things to do in Cuenca Ecuador is to sample and sip on coffee in one of the many charming cafes!

🍽 Cuenca Food Guide | 35+ Best Cuenca Restaurants, Coffeeshops, & More Culinary Treats

Walk Along the River Tomebamba (Rio Tomebamba)

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Stopping for a photo while walking along the River Tomebamba

Cuenca, Ecuador has recently invested a lot of money into beautifying the area along the Tomebamba River. This has made strolling, relaxing, and enjoying the area one of the best things to do in Cuenca Ecuador.

The most scenic area is from the stretch off of Av. 3 de Noviembre, from Puente el Vergel to Plaza El Otorongo. From there, move to the foot path for bikers, runner, and walkers. Along the way, look for funky street art on colorful buildings. There are some stunning viewpoint of the homes and businesses that face the river. This walk includes views of ancient ruins and adorable bridges to walk along and take some brilliant photos. One of the most photographed points along the river walk is Puente Roto, a stone arched bridge.

There are a few little bars and coffee shops along the way, but my favorite thing to do is look up at the long stairwells. The stairwells are usually splashed with artwork on colorful buildings. Walking along the River Tomebamba almost has the feeling of an interactive art walk.

This section of the River Tomebamba walk takes around 35 minutes.

Grab Lunch with Locals

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Mercado 9 de Octubre is a well-lit market and an excellent option to eat a traditional almuerzo

After that river walk, you might be hungry! Lunch is the biggest meal of the day in Ecuador, and many restaurants offer cheap “almuerzos.” Almuerzos are a lunch time special that usually include a drink, a starter, a main, a dessert, and sometimes a little surprise!

Almuerzos rotate daily, but the prices are usually under $3. This is a great way to eat delicious, traditional, fast, and filling food. Portions are large and the price is always right.

One of the most delicious things to do in Cuenca Ecuador is enjoy an almuerzo with the locals!

Street of Almuerzo

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Colmbiian inspired Moliendo Cafe has a delicious menu del dia for under $3

Why not eat an almuerzo on the street nicknamed “the Street of Almerzos” Follow the street of Honorato Vásquez between Presidente Borrero and Hermano Miguel and have your pick from a variety of restaurants offering their best lunchtime menu of the day.

😋 Where to Eat in Cuenca Ecuador

Two of the best almuerzos spots in Cuenca can be found at El Tunel and Moliendo Cafe.

El Tunel is a popular place to try typical Ecuadorian food. With a drink, starter, main, and a dessert, this menu is filling and usually runs around $2.50. An added bonus is the popcorn with fresh aji sauce to dip-in. The portions are large, and the food is on point. This is one of the most popular places in Cuenca, so grab a table right at noon!

Find them here: Calle Honorato Vásquez | Hours: Mon – Friday, 12:00 – 16:00, Saturday until 17:00 | Cash Only

A local favorite, Moliendo Café, dishes out Colombian dishes and serves up a basic almuerzo for $3.00. Choose a meat or veg, with rice, and a small salad, and soup, with a juice.

Find them here: Calle Honorato Vásquez 6-24 | Hours: Mon – Sat, 9:00 – 21:00

Take Advantage of Cuenca’s Excellent FREE Museums

One of the best things to do in Cuenca Ecuador is visit one of the many FREE museums. Here are some of the top free museums to visit in Cuenca.

Museo Pumapungo

Museo Pumapungo is Cuenca’s most popular museum and boasts both interior and exterior exhibits. The interior focuses on the history and construction of Cuenca, and the conquest of the Incas. There are lots of interesting artifacts that were found in the outdoor Archaeological Site. A majority of the exhibitions are only in Spanish, but a few sections have English plaques

The museum also does an excellent job of showcasing the many Indigenous communities that still inhibit Ecuador and how they differ by region. Follow along with great visuals of regional clothing, lifestyles, and cultures of the many Indigenous people of Ecuador. The section of the museum with shrunken heads from the Amazon tribes has lots of information in English.

Outside of the museum is a beautiful and well maintained Inca Archaeological Park. The ruins are right in the middle of the city, so it makes for a fun self-guided few hours to discover the museum and wander through the sprawling Inca site.

I’ve heard there are often llamas here, but they must have been enjoying their day off when I visited. Museo Pumapungo is one of the best cultural things to do in Cuenca Ecuador.

Find it here: Calle Larga | Hours: Tuesday- Saturday: 10:00-16:00 | Admission: Free

Museo Municipal de Arte Moderno

Located in one of my favorite plazas in Cuenca, Plaza de San Sebastián, the Museo Municipal de Arte Moderno is a quite small, but interesting quiet museum. There are several small exhibitions, and the building itself is nice to walk around. Make sure to head out the back and check out some of the street art on the back wall.

Find it here: Coronel Guillermo Tálbot | Hours: Mon-Fri: 9:00-16:45, Sat & Sun: 9:00 – 14:00 | Admission: Free | Facebook Page

Instituto Nacional De Patrimonio Cultural

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Instituto Nacional De Patrimonio Cultural is a small, but stunning museum

An incredibly small building, and only a few blocks from Parque Calderón, is the colorful Instituto Nacional De Patrimonio Cultural. This little museum is beautiful with picturesque pastel coloring and frescoes on the wall. The home is well maintained and although it only takes a few minutes to walk through it, the detailed murals on the walls and the colorful building warrants a quick detour.

Find it here: Benigno Malo 6-40 | Hours: Mon-Fri: 8:00-16:30 | Admission: Free

Homero Ortega Hats

Get the lowdown on the “Panama hats” that are in fact originally from Ecuador. Here in Ecuador, the straw hats are known more commonly referred to as “toquilla hats.” While this is technically an actual shop to purchase the toquilla hat, it’s possible to walk through a small museum and get a peek inside the onsite premise where they are made.

These hats have been in Ecuador’s history for a long time. Like since when the Spanish first made their appearance along the Ecuadorian coast line. The toquilla, or straw hats were worn during the Inca times, but without that signature hat brim.

These straw hats were given the nickname of “Panama hats” in 1906 when Teddy Roosevelt was sporting one when he scoped out the construction of the Panama Canal. Believe it or not, this hat was an export item from Ecuador!

Get a better understanding about one of Ecuador’s biggest exports!

Find it here: Av. Gil Ramírez Dávalos, Cuenca, near the Terminal Terrestre Bus Terminal | Museum Hours: Mon-Fri: 8:00-12:30, 14:30-17:30 Sat: 8:30 – 12:30 | Admission: Free | Official Website

Delve into Cuenca’s Foodie Scene

With all this touring around Cuenca, you’ve probably stirred up an appetite. End the day at one of excellent Cuenca restaurants, cafes, bars, or brew pubs.

The city has excellent traditional options and some new modern establishments. The old and new merge into these eateries that value fresh market food, seasonal ingredients, all based on traditional methods. Not only is Cuenca’s foodie scene on-point, but the city has some excellent craft beer options and some trendy bars that are popping up around the city.

One of the best things to do in Cuenca Ecuador is to simply, EAT!

Foodie Guide | The Best Restaurants in Cuenca Ecuador

More Things to Do in Cuenca & Cuenca Day Trips Inspiration | Day 3

Cuenca building, streets of Cuenca Ecuador
On Day 3, slowly stroll the streets of Cuenca, or take a day trip outside the city

On Day 3 in Cuenca, either slow down and enjoy the city, or head up to Baños de Cuenca and soak in the city’s own hot springs.

Ambitious travelers may want to discover nearby charming artisan villages that offer more handmade products, Cañari ruins, and authentic markets with typical food.

Adventurous travelers can spend the day exploring the breathtaking Cajas National Park, which has a plethora of diverse hiking trails that twist through the Andes Mountains. Nature enthusiast can explore treasure like the Giron Waterfall. There are Inca ruins at Ingapirca and multi-day trekkers can explore a section of the Ecuador Inca Trail.

For a super long day trip, visit Alausi to see the Devil’s Nose, or stop by the magical village of Saraguro.

Day 3 is a perfect to slow it down a bit and enjoy more of Cuenca. Visit another museum, discover more markets, or just get lost on the beautiful streets of Cuenca Ecuador.

Relax at the Hot Springs in Baños

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Best things to do in Cuenca Ecuador… splurge on a spa day at Baños de Cuenca

The best way to unwind and let’s be real, one of the best things to do in Cuenca Ecuador is spend the day lounging around at one of the many hot springs in Baños. The little hamlet know officially as Baños de Cuenca is conveniently located just 7.5 miles from Cuenca’s city center.

Baños sit right on an old volcano crater, so the termales are a product of an actual fault line. This is the man source of all the mineral rich curative waters of the thermal pools. There are multiple hot springs to choose from, ranging from budget friendly to luxury. Spend the day detoxifying your body in a beautiful setting, nestled along the old volcanic crater. Baños also has a picturesque blue church, which can be seen from the termales, or can be visited via a 20 minute walk uphill to the Plaza.

The mountains and hillside hamlet provide a stunning backdrop for all of the bath facilities, so it really doesn’t matter which facility you choose. With the close proximity to Cuenca, these baths are incredibly easy to visit independently by city bus or taxi.

➯ Detailed Travel Guide | How to Spend the Day Relaxing at the Baños de Cuenca Hot Springs

Worthwhile Villages near Cuenca

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Chordeleg is an artisanal village not far from Cuenca that makes ornamental jewelry using the filigree method

Cuenca also makes an excellent home-base to explore some of the surrounding villages and valleys. Each village is known for an artisanal handicraft or typical specialty dish. If seeking a more immersive cultural experience, don’t miss a stop in the village of Gualaceo, Choordeleg, SigSig, or Paute.

These four villages can be combined in a tranquil, but full day trip from Cuena. This is one of the best cultural things to do in Cuenca Ecuador.

Gualaceo is known more famously for the production of leather shoes. The village is also known for its beautiful orchids, especially those that grow at higher than normal elevations. The Azuay region of Ecuador has over 2,500 species of orchids! Finally, Gualaceo is known for its typical dishes, especially their corn tortillas and cuy, or guinea pig.

Chordeleg is most famous for their intricate silver jewelry using the filigree method, a time consuming jewelry making process of twisting fragile metals. Don’t miss the street lamps, they are even wearing decorative earrings!

SigSig is another famous village that is known for making toquilla straw hats. There’s a great authentic museum to see how they naturally dye the straw. This village also has a few points of interest to visit like Cueva Negra and the crumbling ruins of Cañar. On weekends, visit the Museum that is associated with the above Archaeological Sites.

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Lunch overlooking the garden patio at Restaurante Corvel in Paute

Paute is overlooked by most tourists, but has two great markets, including a food court with lots of traditional almuerzo dishes for $2. The main market is booming with people coming down from the mountains on Wednesdays and Sundays. The Corvel Restaurant is a culinary destination with an inviting garden that is actively trying to promote the “la Ruta de la Caña de Azucar,” or the sugar route. Sample some of their own distilled sugar cane liquor.

➯ Detailed Guide | Charming Villages Near Cuenca That You Must Visit

More Day Trips from Cuenca

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Strolling along Laguna Llaviucu, a trip to Cajas National Park is one of the most popular things to do in Cuenca Ecuador

There’s also great day trips from Cuenca like the jaw-dropping Cajas National Park, which has a plethora of hiking trails less than an hour away from the city. This is one of Ecuador’s best natural parks with hundreds of alpine lakes speckled across the Andes Mountains. If looking for a tranquil way to explore the Cajas, try taking the scenic Laguna Llaviucu trail.

Nature lovers may also want to visit the Giron Ecuador with the stunning El Chorro Waterfall. This Giron Waterfall is nestled in a lovely cloud forest. Visit the primary falls, but adventurous hikers may wish to climb uphill to the second tier of the falls, located at a breathtaking 10,200 ft!

Temple of the Sun, Ingapirca ruins, Inca ruins in Ecuador, Sun Temple
Entrance to the Temple of the Sun at Ingapirca Archaeological Complex

History buffs will want to visit Ingapirca Archaeological Complex, the largest Inca ruins in all of Ecuador. However, this site focuses more about the Cañari culture, who inhibited this area long before the arrival of the Incas. There’s even more Archaeological Sites with stunning views in the small village of Cojitambo Ecuador.

✈ Ecuador Travel Planning | 10+ Unmissable Day Trips from Cuenca Ecuador

There are so many incredible things to do in Cuenca Ecuador and the surrounding region that 3 days may not be enough!

Ecuador Travel Inspiration

Conclusion | Awesome Things to Do in Cuenca Ecuador over 3 Days

cuenca street vendors, cuenca terminal terrestre, beautiful cuenca
Cuenca street vendors seen near the main Cuenca Bus Terminal

This three day itinerary gives a sampling of all the top things to do in Cuenca Ecuador. This beautiful colonial city has so much to offer. Explore the city with a free walking tour, visit one of many local Cuenca markets, browse the artisanal shops, and wander the picturesque streets. Visit the many Cuenca attractions, appreciate a free museum, savor the local cuisine and specialties. Don’t miss a sunset at Turi, or a casual walk along the Rio Tomebamba.

On top of all the awesome things to do in Cuenca Ecuador, take at least one trip away from the city. Explore the natural wonders, historical treasures, or one of the nearby authentic villages.

Have you visited the wonderful colonial city of Cuenca Ecuador? Have you done any of these top “things to do in Cuenca Ecuador?” Is there something missing from this best things to do in Cuenca Ecuador list? Let me know in the comments below!

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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.


  • Susanna
    November 6, 2021 at 10:13 am

    This looks like such a great itinerary for Cuenca! I love the look of day 2 – coffee and nature walks are right up my alley, but I would definitely want to watch the sunset atop the hill. What a lovely area!

  • Krista
    November 6, 2021 at 6:11 pm

    This looks like such a pretty and unique city to visit. I’d love to take a stroll along its historical streets and learn more about the culture here.


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