Cuenca, Ecuador


Cuenca is the third largest city in Ecuador and considered by many to be the most attractive. Founded on the Inca site of Tomebamba, it is a designated UNESCO World Heritage City.

With cobblestone streets, flower filled plazas and many old buildings constructed in the marble quarried nearby, the city retains its traditional and colonial atmosphere

Ingapirca Ruins, Cuenca, Ecuador
Ingapirca Ruins, Cuenca, Ecuador

A little more about Cuenca

Highlights of any visit to Cuenca should include the old El Sagrario constructed on the foundations of a former Inca site, the newer Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepcion crowned by sky-blue domes and a visit to the flower market on Plaza de las Flores which fills the square with bold colour and fragrance daily.

A short distance from Cuenca lie the historic Inca ruins of Ingapirca (meaning Wall of the Inca). This excavated area displays fine Inca masonry and provides a fascinating insight into this remarkable civilisation.


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Cheese, Hacienda Zuleta, Otavalo region, Ecuador

Sample Local Cuisine

Tuck in to delicious, home-made food at one of the popular Cuenca eateries serving hearty maize pancakes with tasty toppings.

Lake and Mountains, Cajas National Park, Azuay, Ecuador

Hike in Cajas National Park

Explore the stunning landscape of more than 200 lakes in the National Park that supplies the majority of Cuenca’s drinking water.

Cuenca, Ecuador

Explore Cuenca

Watch the local women weaving iconic Panama hats, take in a birds’ eye view of the city from Mirador de Turi, or simply amble around the historic centre.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Cuenca Flower Market, Ecuador

Plaza de Las Flores Flower Market

Discover the bustling flower market, brimming with colourful and scented floral displays – the ideal spot for people watching.

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Browse our Ecuador holiday ideas.

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Where to stay

Some of the wonderful places to stay that we frequently recommended.

Santa Lucia Hotel £££££

  • Ecuador
  • City

A sympathetically restored boutique property, Santa Lucia Hotel is well-placed for discovering the bustling colonial city of Cuenca with its UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity status. Originally built in 1859, a lengthy refurbishment has seen the creation of 20 uniquely ornamented rooms and suites that overlook a central patio, each decorated in red and gold and furnished with antiques and tapestries.

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Mansion Alcazar £££££

  • Ecuador
  • City

Positioned in central Cuenca, a vibrant UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity town, Mansion Alcazar is a boutique hotel set within a historic 19th-century colonial building. Within ambling distance of architectural marvels, churches and art galleries, the property evokes old-world charm and elegant modernity all at once. Its 19 cosy rooms and suites are tastefully decorated with fine antiques, traditional touches and hanging artwork, all overlooking either a quiet interior courtyard or colourful external gardens. Gourmet cuisine is served at the in-house restaurant and there is also a delightful lounge and chandelier bar.

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Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Rachael Tallents

Adventure, discovery and my curiosity for people and the natural world is what drives my love of travelling.  I am grateful for my parents’ desire to explore, and from an early age my eyes were open to diverse landscapes, cultures, and underwater worlds.

For the last 16 years, I have worked for a leading luxury tour operator designing incredible journeys for discerning clients and travelled to some magical places. I am excited to have joined Steppes Travel, and to be working for a company with such strong ethical and sustainable values.

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  • 1 800 571 2985

Paul Bird

From quaint Andean villages and colourful markets to staggering volcanic landscapes and the Amazon Rainforest, Paul has explored the length and breadth of Ecuador.

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John Faithfull

John rode the railways of Ecuador on the carriage roof before it was outlawed, but still recommends a jaunt along the Devil’s Nose – an engineering marvel that can still be enjoyed from inside a carriage.

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  • 1 800 571 2985

Roxy Dukes

I love to squeeze as much out of my day as possible. An outdoors fanatic, I love to delve into harsh environments having summited numerous mountains and trail running into the unknown whenever I get the chance – whether at home or overseas. Funnily enough, it didn’t start like that. It took a few years for the burning fire of adventure to truly take light with my eyes opened by the adventures travel could afford.

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  • 1 800 571 2985

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