Overview

Cuenca, set in the southern sierras at 2,550m, is a quintessential Spanish colonial city. It has the cobbled streets, leafy plazas, baroque churches and whitewashed façades with heavy wooden doors that you’d expect, but the pale-stoned centre is particularly beautiful.

This university town is also a centre for artisan work, notably the panama hat, which originated here, but also ceramics, basket ware, jewellery and ponchos. A quiet, somewhat conservative place, it is the tranquil base for a number of language schools; foreign students can be spied indulging in the many cake shops and cafés. Outside town in the lake-dotted moorlands of the southern sierras is the lovely Cajas National Park.

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Where to go when - our guide to Cuenca

Cuenca

The weather in Cuenca is wide and varied

The culturally rich colonial city of Cuenca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, sits at an altitude of 2550m at the southern end of the famed Avenue of Volcanoes. Ecuador’s prettiest city enjoys year round spring-like temperature of around 20°C, although nights are considerably cooler due to the altitude and there are of course some hotter days. The driest months, when there is only ever occasional light afternoon rain, are June-August. The long sunny blue sky days of these months are perfect for exploring the city’s flowery plazas, beautiful churches and narrow cobbled streets. Mid Feb to Apr is the wettest time, but during the rest of the wet season mornings can still be sunny, although gathering cloud and rain in the afternoon should be expected.

View our Cuenca weather guide

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    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Expert

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

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    Maggie Wilson - Travel Expert

    Maggie visited Latin America on her first backpacking trip when she was 19. Since then, she has taken every opportunity to travel, and has managed to explore a lot of the region in subsequent trips.

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    After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.

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    Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Head of Sales.

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    Heloise started her Latin American journey as an exchange student in Santiago, Chile. With extended summer holidays this was the perfect opportunity to backpack through Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Brazil.

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