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What to Do and See in Cuenca, Ecuador

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Christmas came in November when Trevor decided to take me to one of the TOP South American cities on my list, Cuenca!  Being so remote in our tiny beach town, we likely won't get into much of a holiday spirit, so he decided we should celebrate a month early (which is FINE by me!) 

What To Do and See in Cuenca, Ecuador

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

Driving to Cuenca from Guayaquil:

The 4,000 METRE Climb to Cuenca:

Did I mention this city was located in the heavens? It sure felt like it as we drove for 3 hours at almost a straight incline! Coming from Puerto Cayo where the temperature with humidity is around 38C (100F) we could SEE OUR BREATH when we got to the top peak of 4,000 metres, but then we descended again to 2,500 metres when we reached the city.  Cuenca is T-shirt weather in the day, but at night break out the sweaters, space heaters and socks!

Side note: we didn't plan on going to a place that got to 8 degrees celsius at night, so we had to get a little creative with attire!  Flip flops and cut-off's aint going to do the trick up there!  After a few days I caved and bought some local gear, including an alpaca wool sweater and shawl and some leather booties.

Alpacas in Cuenca Ecuador
Sierra Highlands Ecuador
Alpaca sweater wool Kashlee
cuenca Ecuador fashion clothing Kashlee Kucheran Cuenca

Where to STAY in Cuenca

The Penthouse:

First off, the rental we stayed in was phenomenal!  I mean, these people really have their **** together!  3 bedroom, 3 bathroom penthouse suite with a location you could only cross your fingers and hope for.  The owners had taken every detail into consideration from having a crazy amount of hangers in the closet (right ladies!!??) to conditioner in the showers.  The beds were fluffy, the towels where a crisp white and truth be told I did not want to leave.  I even snapped a few pics for myself to catch some of the decor and details that I would like to incorporate into a future home of our own! We found this baby on VRBO

Comfy bed with tons of pillows Kashlee Parmiter
real wood burning fireplace
Cuenca View

Cuenca Culture

Unlike the coast, Cuenca is more of a conservative business hub in the country.  Offices, buildings, meetings, markets, and just the general hustle and bustle of a growing city.  Around every corner you still see both men and woman in traditional Sierra clothing and attire (which is something you do NOT see on the coast at all)

Cuenca Ecuador
Museum in Cuenca Ecuador

The Churches in Cuenca

We took a bunch of church tours that spanned over a few days, but none stood out to us quite like The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepción).  This church is overwhelmingly breathtaking, in a way that just makes you sit quietly and reflect on life.  We went back a few times just to marvel at it's intense beauty.  For me, visiting these types of buildings are on the top of my cultural list and they fill my heart right to the top.  Such care, attention, detail, worship, skill and quality are put into these key monuments, something our modern generation has forgotten about.

White Church Cuenca Ecuador
New Cathedral Cuenca Ecuador
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Inside
South America Church Cuenca Ecuador

Where to EAT in Cuenca

Save the best for last right?  So if you have an appetite like me, and not a ton of money to spend on it; CUENCA has got you covered!

We wrote reviews on TripAdvisor for most of our favorite places, but that in itself was almost impossible to nail down!  We could get a FULL 4 course meal at ‘Don Colon's' for $4.  Not kidding!  An example of one would be: Garlic bread starter, butternut squash soup, grilled chicken in a mustard sauce with rice, salad and vegetables, with a honey glazed homemade donut for dessert.  $4!!!!!  Our other favs were the Nachos, guac, sour cream, beans and cheese for $3 at ‘Monday Blue' & the $2 Bruchetta and $3 glasses of vino at ‘La Vina'.  It was literally cheaper to eat out in Cuenca than it was to buy groceries and cook for ourselves, which I don't think has ever happened to us before!

Everything was delicious and delectable and I am literally drooling just thinking about it!  Cuenca is a ‘foodie on a budget's dream!

Lamb at El Mercado Cuenca
Beat Risotto at El Mercado Cuenca
Stuffed Burrito Monday Blue Cuenca

What I LOVED about Cuenca

My two favorite things about Cuenca: The culture and the prices!

Trevor went out to a local florist and had them make me this HUGE floral display of roses, lilies and other beautiful flowers. Something like that would have come to at least $150 in Canada, but it was a mere $6!

Other things we found super cheap were: accommodation, eating out, goods at the market, clothing, baked goods, tours, even the transportation TO Cuenca from Guayaquil! 

2018 Update:

Since travelling to Cuenca, we have been to dozens of other cities all over the world. Cuenca still comes in as one of the most affordable, even comparing it to places in South East Asia! 

Trevor and Kashlee Travel Cuenca Ecuador
El Mercado restaurant Cuenca Kashlee Kucheran
Flowers Cuenca Kashlee Kucheran
Trevor Kucheran view of city Cuenca vista

I fell deeply in love with Cuenca, Ecuador and it was such a pity to leave, but that is what travel is all about.  The wanderlust shall continue to take me to new places that I will fall in love with as well.  Would we go back?  I would count on it!  I already told Trevor that someday I would be convincing him we need to return, although somehow I don't think it would be that hard 😉

Cuenca Ecuador - The little european city

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