The Top 10 Things to Do in and Around Cuenca

Flower Market, Cuenca | © amalavida.tv/Wikicommons
Flower Market, Cuenca | © amalavida.tv/Wikicommons
Photo of Angela Drake
Founder, Not Your Average American14 August 2017

Cuenca is the most popular city in Ecuador, with expats from both Europe and the USA. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its combination of historic buildings, pathways along the river, and quaint bridges make the city an absolute pleasure to walk around. Bring comfortable shoes and you should be able to get around to visit all of these great destinations.

Tour Incan Ruins

Located in the middle of town, the Parque Arquelogico de Pumapungo holds an impressive collection of ancient Incan structures. The archaeology site includes a multi-terraced pyramid structure that was likely a palace and the residence of a great Incan ruler. Ancient baths and a mausoleum have been identified underground. The park also includes extensive gardens, ancient aqueducts, and a small aviary of Ecuadorian parrots.

Museo Pumapungo, Cuenca, Ecuador

Smell the Roses

Located on the west side of the New Cathedral is the most colorful flower market in Cuenca. Even on a cloudy day, the vibrant colors of locally grown roses, orchids, and other beautiful flowers overwhelm the eye. This is one of the most picturesque spots in the city.

Flower Market, Cuenca | ©amalavida.tv/WikiCommons

Buy a Keepsake

There are several locations around town where you can buy keepsakes to take home with you, but the best artisans’ market is indoors, just off the Plaza San Francisco: the Centro Municipal Artesanal. Several vendors have small shops selling traditional dolls, colorful baskets, intricate jewelry, hand-loomed textiles, and the work of local painters and artists.

Centro Municipal Artesanal Arts and Crafts, Cuenca, Ecuador

Explore Ingapirca

The most impressive Incan ruins in Ecuador, at Ingapirca, are located an hour and a half outside of Cuenca. The Temple of the Sun, a golden-green edifice built in the style favored by the Inca for religious and ceremonial structures, stands as a centerpiece among an ancient city first built by the local Cañari tribe. The hiking trail outside of the main park leads to the best views of this impressive monument.

Ingapirca, Cañar, Ecuador