Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Cuenca


By Abigail Lewis

If you’re planning a trip to Ecuador, Cuenca should definitely be on your list of must-visit destinations. Known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant culture, Cuenca offers a variety of top-rated tourist attractions that will leave you in awe.

One of the highlights of Cuenca is the historic city center, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. As you wander through the narrow cobblestone streets, you’ll be captivated by the colonial-era buildings and picturesque squares. Don’t miss the chance to visit the magnificent Cuenca Cathedral, an architectural masterpiece with its towering blue domes.

Another must-see attraction is the Pumapungo Archaeological Park, situated on the outskirts of Cuenca. This expansive park offers a fascinating glimpse into the ancient Inca civilization, with its well-preserved ruins, including the impressive Temple of the Sun. Take a stroll through the park’s lush gardens and enjoy the breathtaking views of the city from the lookout points.

If you’re a fan of art and culture, a visit to the Museo de Arte Moderno should be on your itinerary. This modern art museum showcases a diverse collection of contemporary Ecuadorian artwork and hosts regular exhibitions and cultural events. The museum’s stunning architecture alone is worth a visit.

To truly immerse yourself in the local culture, make sure to explore the vibrant markets of Cuenca. The Mercado 10 de Agosto is the largest market in the city, offering an array of fresh produce, handicrafts, and traditional Ecuadorian cuisine. Don’t forget to try the local specialty, “cuy,” a roasted guinea pig.

In conclusion, Cuenca has a lot to offer as a tourist destination. Whether you’re interested in history, architecture, art, or simply want to experience the local culture, Cuenca will not disappoint. Exploring the city’s top-rated tourist attractions will leave you with wonderful memories and a deep appreciation for this charming Ecuadorian gem.

Historical City Center

The historical city center of Cuenca is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Ecuador. With its charming cobblestone streets, picturesque plazas, and beautifully preserved colonial architecture, the city center offers a glimpse into Cuenca’s rich history and culture.

One of the main attractions in the historical city center is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, also known as the New Cathedral. This stunning Gothic-style cathedral is one of the largest in Latin America and features intricate stained glass windows and beautiful artwork. Visitors can explore the interior of the cathedral and climb to the top of its towers for panoramic views of the city.

Another must-see landmark in the historical city center is the Plaza Mayor, the main square of Cuenca. Surrounded by colonial buildings and lined with palm trees, this vibrant square is the perfect place to soak in the atmosphere and watch the world go by. The plaza is also home to the Old Cathedral, a historic church that now serves as a museum.

Walking through the streets of the historical city center, visitors will discover numerous museums, art galleries, and craft shops. The Museo de las Conceptas, located in a former convent, showcases religious art and artifacts from the colonial period. The Museo de Arte Moderno, on the other hand, features contemporary Ecuadorian art.

For a truly immersive experience, visitors can also take a stroll along the Tomebamba River, which runs through the heart of the city center. This scenic riverwalk offers stunning views of the colonial architecture and is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.

Exploring the historical city center of Cuenca is like stepping back in time. Its well-preserved colonial buildings and rich cultural heritage make it a top-rated tourist attraction that should not be missed.

Museum of Colonial Art

The Museum of Colonial Art in Cuenca is a must-visit for art enthusiasts and history buffs. Located in the heart of the city, this museum showcases an impressive collection of colonial art, providing a fascinating insight into the region’s rich cultural heritage.

The museum features a wide range of artworks, including paintings, sculptures, religious artifacts, and furniture, all dating back to the colonial period. The collection represents the artistic and cultural influences of Spanish colonialism in Ecuador, offering visitors a glimpse into the past.

One of the notable highlights of the Museum of Colonial Art is its stunning religious art collection. Visitors can admire exquisite paintings of saints and religious scenes, intricately carved wooden sculptures, and religious vestments adorned with elaborate embroidery.

In addition to its permanent collection, the museum also hosts temporary exhibitions that focus on specific themes or artists. These exhibitions offer a fresh perspective on colonial art and provide an opportunity to discover lesser-known works and artists.

Visitors to the Museum of Colonial Art can enjoy a self-guided tour, which allows them to explore the galleries at their own pace. Information panels and audio guides are available in English and Spanish, providing in-depth explanations of the artworks and their historical context.

Overall, a visit to the Museum of Colonial Art is a captivating journey through Ecuador’s colonial past and a chance to appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship of the region’s artistic traditions.

El Cajas National Park

El Cajas National Park is a stunning natural area located just west of Cuenca. It is known for its beautiful landscapes, high-altitude lakes, and unique flora and fauna. The park covers an area of over 70,000 acres and is home to more than 200 lakes.

One of the main attractions of El Cajas National Park is its hiking trails. There are a variety of trails to choose from, ranging in difficulty from easy to challenging. These trails offer visitors the opportunity to explore the park and enjoy its breathtaking scenery. The most popular trail is the Laguna Toreadora trail, which leads to a beautiful lake surrounded by towering mountains.

The park is also a haven for birdwatchers, as it is home to a wide variety of bird species. Visitors can spot birds such as Andean condors, hummingbirds, and many others. The best time to go birdwatching is in the early morning or late afternoon when the birds are most active.

For those interested in camping, El Cajas National Park offers several campsites where visitors can spend the night surrounded by nature. Camping permits are required and can be obtained at the park’s visitor center.

In addition to hiking and birdwatching, visitors can also enjoy other activities in the park such as fishing, horseback riding, and boating. Fishing is popular in the park’s lakes, where visitors can catch trout and other freshwater fish. Horseback riding is a great way to explore the park’s trails, and boat rentals are available at some of the larger lakes.

Overall, El Cajas National Park is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Its stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, and wide range of activities make it a perfect place to immerse yourself in nature and enjoy the beauty of Ecuador.

New Cathedral

The New Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, is one of the most iconic landmarks in Cuenca. This magnificent structure is considered a masterpiece of Gothic Revival architecture and is a must-visit attraction for anyone in the city.

The construction of the New Cathedral began in 1885 and was completed in 1975, taking almost a century to finish. The cathedral is made entirely of local marble and boasts intricate stained glass windows, grand arches, and delicate carvings.

Inside the cathedral, visitors can admire the beautiful main altar, which is made of silver and gold leaf. The main nave is adorned with stunning statues and ornate decorations, giving the interior a sense of grandeur and beauty.

One of the highlights of the New Cathedral is its towers, which can be climbed to enjoy panoramic views of the city. The climb may be challenging, but the views from the top are well worth it.

If you’re interested in history, don’t miss the chance to visit the small museum located inside the cathedral. Here, you can learn more about the construction of the cathedral and its importance in the city’s history.

The New Cathedral is not only a place of worship but also a symbol of the city of Cuenca. Whether you’re interested in architecture, history, or simply want to admire the beauty of the cathedral, a visit to this iconic landmark is highly recommended.

Turi Viewpoint

The Turi Viewpoint is one of the most popular attractions in Cuenca. Located on top of a hill, it offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city and its surroundings. Visitors can enjoy a stunning vista of the red-tiled roofs, the historic downtown area, and the majestic mountains in the distance.

The viewpoint is easily accessible from the city center by car or by a short hike. Once there, visitors can relax at one of the many benches and take in the beauty of the landscape. It is a perfect spot to watch the sunset and capture memorable photos.

Highlight Details
Views The Turi Viewpoint offers unbeatable views of the city, including the iconic blue-domed Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and the Tomebamba River.
Monument A monument of the Virgen de Turi, the patroness of Cuenca, stands proudly at the viewpoint. Visitors can admire the statue and learn about its significance to the local community.
Gardens The viewpoint is surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens, with colorful flowers and manicured lawns. It’s an idyllic setting for a leisurely stroll or a picnic.
Local Crafts Visitors can browse the many stalls selling handcrafted items such as textiles, jewelry, and ceramics. It’s a great place to buy souvenirs and support local artisans.

Whether you’re a nature lover, a photography enthusiast, or simply looking for a peaceful escape from the bustling city, the Turi Viewpoint is a must-visit attraction in Cuenca. Make sure to add it to your itinerary and experience the beauty of this charming Ecuadorian city from above.

Abdón Calderón Park

Abdón Calderón Park, located in the heart of Cuenca, is one of the most popular and beloved parks in the city. Named after national hero Abdón Calderón, who fought in the Battle of Pichincha during the Ecuadorian War of Independence, the park serves as a tribute to the country’s history and culture.

The park is known for its beautiful green spaces, colorful flower beds, and towering trees that provide shade on sunny days. It is a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

Abdón Calderón Park is also home to several important monuments and sculptures, including a statue of Abdón Calderón himself. This statue serves as a reminder of the bravery and sacrifice of the national hero and is a popular spot for visitors to take photos.

In addition to the statues, the park features a well-maintained walking path that is perfect for a leisurely stroll or a jog. The path is lined with benches, allowing visitors to sit and enjoy the serene atmosphere of the park.

Within the park, there is a small lake where visitors can rent paddleboats and enjoy a relaxing ride on the water. The lake is surrounded by lush greenery and provides a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city.

Abdón Calderón Park is also a common gathering place for community events and festivals. Throughout the year, the park hosts concerts, cultural performances, and art exhibitions, attracting locals and tourists from all walks of life.

Whether you’re looking to enjoy a picnic, take a leisurely stroll, or simply soak up the beauty and history of Cuenca, Abdón Calderón Park is a must-visit destination. With its tranquil atmosphere and stunning natural beauty, it’s easy to see why it is one of the top-rated tourist attractions in the city.

Remigio Crespo Toral Museum

The Remigio Crespo Toral Museum is a must-visit attraction in Cuenca, Ecuador. Located in a beautiful century-old house, this museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the life and works of Remigio Crespo Toral, a renowned Ecuadorian writer, journalist, and politician.

The museum showcases a variety of exhibits that tell the story of Crespo Toral’s life and accomplishments. Visitors can explore his personal belongings, including furniture, clothing, and manuscripts. The museum also features a collection of photographs and paintings that depict important moments in his life and the history of Ecuador.

One of the highlights of the Remigio Crespo Toral Museum is the library, which houses an extensive collection of books, manuscripts, and documents related to Ecuadorian culture and history. Scholars and researchers are welcome to access this valuable resource for their studies.

In addition to its permanent exhibits, the museum frequently hosts temporary art exhibitions, lectures, and cultural events. It is a hub for artists, writers, and intellectuals, making it an important cultural center in Cuenca.

Location Calles Hermano Miguel 6-10 and Gran Colombia, Cuenca, Ecuador
Hours Tuesday to Saturday: 9:30am-5:30pm
Admission $2 for adults, $1 for students and seniors, free for children under 12
Contact Phone: +593 7 283 2757

Visiting the Remigio Crespo Toral Museum is a wonderful way to learn about the rich cultural heritage of Cuenca and Ecuador. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply looking for a unique cultural experience, this museum is definitely worth a visit.

San Francisco Market

The San Francisco Market is a vibrant and bustling market located in the heart of Cuenca. It is one of the oldest markets in the city and offers a diverse selection of goods and products.

Visitors to the San Francisco Market can experience the rich culture and traditions of Cuenca. The market is known for its fresh produce, including fruits, vegetables, and herbs. You can find a wide variety of local foods, such as cheese, meats, and bread. Don’t forget to try the delicious Ecuadorian coffee while you’re there!

In addition to food, the San Francisco Market also features a wide range of crafts and artisanal products. You can find beautiful handmade jewelry, traditional clothing, and unique souvenirs. It’s a great place to find gifts for friends and family back home.

The market is divided into different sections, making it easy to navigate and explore. You can wander through the bustling food stalls, admire the colorful handicrafts, and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of the market.

When visiting the San Francisco Market, it’s important to keep in mind that it can get crowded, especially on weekends. However, the vibrant atmosphere and the opportunity to interact with locals make it worth a visit. So put on your walking shoes and get ready to discover the unique and lively San Francisco Market in Cuenca!

Broken Bridge

The Broken Bridge in Cuenca is a fascinating sight that attracts both locals and tourists. Located in the city’s historic center, this bridge has a unique history and provides visitors with a glimpse into the city’s past.

The bridge was originally constructed in the 18th century and served as a crucial link between two parts of the city. It was built using stone and had a series of arches, giving it a characteristic and aesthetically pleasing design.

However, over time, the bridge fell into disrepair due to natural wear and tear as well as neglect. The arches crumbled, and the bridge became impassable. Today, its broken and incomplete structure is a testament to the passage of time and the impact of neglect.

Despite its dilapidated state, the Broken Bridge is still a captivating sight, and many visitors come to admire its unique charm. From the riverbanks, you can see the remnants of the bridge, with its weathered stones and exposed foundations. It is an ideal spot for photography enthusiasts looking to capture the essence of Cuenca’s history and architectural heritage.

For those who visit the Broken Bridge, it can also be a contemplative space. The bridge invites reflection on the transience of human creations and the resilience of nature. It serves as a reminder that even structures built to last can succumb to the passage of time.

The Broken Bridge is one of the many historical landmarks that showcase Cuenca’s rich cultural heritage. As you explore the city, make sure to include this charming site in your itinerary. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an architecture lover, or simply seeking a unique experience, the Broken Bridge will not disappoint.

Important note: While visitors are allowed to observe and photograph the Broken Bridge from a safe distance, it is important to respect the barriers and refrain from attempting to cross the bridge due to its unstable condition.

Plaza de San Francisco

Plaza de San Francisco is a historic square located in the heart of Cuenca. The square is surrounded by beautiful colonial buildings and is filled with vibrant energy. It is a popular gathering place for locals and tourists alike.

One of the main attractions in Plaza de San Francisco is the San Francisco Church. Built in the 16th century, the church is an architectural masterpiece with its intricate designs and stunning artwork. Visitors can explore the church and admire its rich history.

Another highlight of Plaza de San Francisco is the San Francisco Market. This bustling market offers a wide variety of local products and handicrafts. Visitors can find everything from fresh produce to traditional Ecuadorian souvenirs.

A visit to Plaza de San Francisco is not complete without trying the local cuisine. There are several restaurants and cafes around the square that offer delicious traditional dishes. Visitors can enjoy a meal while taking in the lively atmosphere of the plaza.

In addition to the church and market, Plaza de San Francisco also hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year. These events showcase the rich culture and traditions of Cuenca and are a great way to immerse yourself in the local community.

Plaza de San Francisco is a must-visit tourist attraction in Cuenca. Whether you want to admire the beautiful architecture, shop for local products, or experience the vibrant culture, this historic square has something for everyone. Make sure to add it to your itinerary when visiting Cuenca.

Mirador de Turi

The Mirador de Turi is one of the most popular attractions in Cuenca, Ecuador. Located on a hill overlooking the city, it offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside and the city itself.

This viewpoint is a must-visit for any tourist coming to Cuenca, as it provides a unique perspective of the city’s beautiful architecture, colorful rooftops, and picturesque landscapes.

At the Mirador de Turi, visitors can take in the panoramic views while enjoying a delicious cup of Ecuadorian coffee or sampling some traditional local dishes at the onsite restaurant.

In addition to the stunning views, the Mirador de Turi is also home to a beautiful church called “Iglesia de Turi.” This church is known for its impressive architecture and intricate decorative details. Visitors can explore the church and admire its religious artifacts and artwork.

For those interested in learning more about the history and culture of Cuenca, the Mirador de Turi also features a small museum. This museum exhibits a collection of artifacts and photographs that showcase the city’s rich cultural heritage.

Whether you’re interested in photography, architecture, history, or simply enjoying beautiful views, a visit to the Mirador de Turi is a must when exploring Cuenca.

Amaru Zoological Park

The Amaru Zoological Park is a must-visit attraction in Cuenca for nature enthusiasts and animal lovers. Located on the outskirts of the city, the park is home to a diverse range of wildlife species from Ecuador and around the world.

Explore Nature:

Visitors can explore the park’s lush green landscapes, which provide the perfect setting for observing the wildlife in their natural habitats. The park is divided into different sections, each dedicated to a specific animal group, such as mammals, birds, reptiles, and more.

A Variety of Animals:

The Amaru Zoological Park houses a variety of animals, with some being native to Ecuador and others from different parts of the world. Visitors can witness the graceful movements of jaguars, admire the vibrant plumage of macaws, and get up close and personal with giant tortoises.

Animal Encounters:

For a truly unforgettable experience, visitors can opt for the park’s animal encounter programs. These programs allow guests to interact with some of the park’s friendly animals under the guidance of experienced handlers. From feeding a sloth to getting to know playful monkeys, these encounters offer a unique opportunity to learn about the animals up close.

Conservation Efforts:

The Amaru Zoological Park is committed to the conservation and protection of the planet’s wildlife. The park actively participates in breeding programs for endangered species and conducts research on animal behavior. By visiting the park, visitors not only have a great day out but also contribute to the conservation efforts.

If you’re in Cuenca and looking for an enriching and educational experience surrounded by nature, the Amaru Zoological Park is a must-visit destination. Whether you’re passionate about animals or simply enjoy being in the great outdoors, this park offers an unforgettable adventure for all ages.

Pumapungo Inca Ruins

The Pumapungo Inca Ruins are a remarkable archaeological site located in the heart of Cuenca, Ecuador. This ancient Inca settlement dates back to the 15th century and offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into the rich history and culture of the Inca civilization.

The name “Pumapungo” means “Door of the Pumas” in the Quechua language, and it is believed that the site was once an important administrative and religious center for the Inca Empire. Today, visitors can explore the extensive ruins and marvel at the impressive stonework and engineering skills of the Inca people.

One of the highlights of Pumapungo is the Inca museum, which houses a collection of artifacts and displays that provide further insight into the daily life and customs of the Inca civilization. Here, visitors can see pottery, textiles, and tools that were used by the Inca people, as well as learn about their agricultural practices and religious beliefs.

Additionally, the site offers beautiful gardens and walkways that are perfect for leisurely strolls and picnics. Visitors can relax and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere while taking in the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the Tomebamba River.

Overall, a visit to the Pumapungo Inca Ruins is a must for history enthusiasts and anyone interested in exploring the ancient Inca culture. It is a fascinating and educational experience that offers a unique glimpse into the past and the opportunity to appreciate the remarkable achievements of the Inca civilization.

Mirador de Cruz del Vado

The Mirador de Cruz del Vado is a popular viewpoint in Cuenca that offers stunning panoramic views of the city and its surroundings. Located at the top of a hill, the viewpoint is easily accessible by foot or by car.

Once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of Cuenca’s historic center, with its red-tiled roofs and narrow cobblestone streets. On a clear day, you can even see the distant mountains and countryside.

The Mirador de Cruz del Vado is a perfect spot to capture some amazing photos or simply relax and take in the beauty of Cuenca. There are benches and shaded areas where you can sit and enjoy the view. You can also bring a picnic and have a meal while admiring the scenery.

Visiting the Mirador de Cruz del Vado is especially magical during sunset when the sky is painted with vibrant colors. The city comes alive with golden hues, creating a truly unforgettable experience.

Before or after your visit to the Mirador de Cruz del Vado, you can explore the surrounding area and discover other attractions such as the nearby El Vado Park or the San Sebastian Church.

If you are looking for a peaceful and serene place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy breathtaking views, the Mirador de Cruz del Vado is a must-visit destination in Cuenca.


What are the top tourist attractions in Cuenca?

Some of the top-rated tourist attractions in Cuenca include the Cuenca Cathedral, the Plaza Mayor, the Hanging Houses (Casas Colgadas), the Abstract Art Museum of Cuenca, and the San Pablo Bridge.

How can I visit Cuenca?

You can visit Cuenca by flying into Madrid and then taking a train or bus to Cuenca. Alternatively, you can also rent a car and drive to Cuenca from Madrid.

What is the best time to visit Cuenca?

The best time to visit Cuenca is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to November) months when the weather is pleasant and there are fewer tourists. However, Cuenca is also beautiful to visit during the summer months, although it can get quite hot.

How much time should I spend in Cuenca?

It is recommended to spend at least a full day in Cuenca to explore its main attractions. However, if you have more time, you can easily spend two to three days in Cuenca to fully experience its rich history and culture.

What can I expect to see at the Abstract Art Museum of Cuenca?

The Abstract Art Museum of Cuenca houses a collection of abstract art from Spanish artists, including works by Antonio Saura and Gustavo Torner. Visitors can expect to see a range of sculptures, paintings, and installations that showcase the evolution of abstract art in Spain.

What are the top tourist attractions in Cuenca?

Cuenca, Ecuador is known for its rich history and stunning architecture. Some of the top tourist attractions in Cuenca include the Catedral Metropolitana de Cuenca, the New Cathedral, the Cajas National Park, the Pumapungo Archaeological Park, and the Barranco neighborhood.


Top 10 Best Places to Visit in Ecuador | Travel Video

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Abigail Lewis

Abigail Lewis, a valued Cancun resident since 2008, skillfully combines her extensive knowledge of the region with her travels across Mexico in her engaging TravelAsker pieces. An experienced traveler and dedicated mother, she brings the lively spirit of Mexico to her articles, featuring top family-friendly destinations, dining, resorts, and activities. Fluent in two languages, Abigail unveils Mexico's hidden gems, becoming your trustworthy travel companion in exploring the country.

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