Whether you’re a tourist or a resident, a perfect day in Cuenca totally exists. After living here one year, I still relish in the beauty of the city and take the chance to play tourist from time to time. Each day I fall more and more in love with this beautiful city of Cuenca, Ecuador. On the other hand, if you are a tourist sometimes it is nice to experience an average day in the life in the city. If I had it my way, here is what I would do on my perfect day in Cuenca.
To start the day I would prioritize coffee. Head to Café Nucallacta, San Sebas Cafe or Windhorse Café for breakfast. Each cafe has great coffee and breakfast (sweet and savory). If you are willing to go out of centro and have breakfast like a true local try the Ecuadorian classic ceviche or encebollado for breakfast (my fave spots are on Av. 10 de agosto y Solano).
10:30AM Morning Walk
Take a morning walk along the Rio Tomebamba. Depending on the length of the walk you could make it to the beautiful Parque Paraiso (like to read? Bring a book!)
12:30PM Turi + Swing
Head to Mirador Turi (long walk, bus, or taxi) to take in the views of the city. Enter the small kid’s park ($1 to enter; pass the mirador and the entrance is on your left), and head up to the swing ($2)! No matter how many times I’ve swung, it never gets old. I usually try to do the swing in the morning rather than the afternoon given Cuenca’s tendency for afternoon rain showers.
There are some restaurants at Turi (in fact I would highly recommend grabbing a classic Canelazo to warm up if its a chilly day!) but I would head back to my favorite lunch spot in centro – Moliendo Café. Order the almuerzo for $2.50 or one of the yummy Colombian arepas off the menu.
2:45PM Afternoon Coffee
If you can’t tell already, I’m one for cafes. My absolute favorite café in the city is Puro Café, located on an outdoor patio behind Iglesia Todos Santos on Calle Larga. Order the best specialty coffee in the city and the pastry of the day, and take in the gorgeous views of the mountains and city!
4PM Afternoon City Walk
Walk from Calle Larga to Parque Calderon to take in the gorgeous views of the Cathedral and the Flower Market. Cut over to Calle Simon Bolivar and walk all the way up this historic street until you hit Parque San Sebas on your left. Walk around the small park and head into the Museo de Arte Moderno, which has a great history to it.
6PM Afternoon Beer
While you’re in Parque San Sebas treat yourself to an afternoon beer at the Belgian Jodoco brewery. Sit outside on their patio and enjoy!! I also really enjoy Becken on Calle Larga for cervezas artesanales!
I’ll give two recommendations depending on your mood. If you’re looking for a nice dinner and traditional Ecuadorian food check out Tres Estrellas on Calle Larga. Order a cuy (call your reservation order ahead – there is a 4 hour preparation time for the cuy!) and some classic Ecuadorian plates (another great alternative for classic dishes is Raymipamba in Parque Calderon). Or, if you’re looking for burgers and sandwiches my favorite spot in town is Crossroads on Miguel Morena, just a few blocks from Supermaxi El Vergel – it won’t disappoint! Again, Moliendo Café is another favorite for dinner – any of the arepas or the $3.50 merienda!
10PM After Hours Drinks
Looking for something chill and outdoors? La Bamba is an open air balcony bar along Rio Tomebamba (one block from escalinatas, next to Inca Lounge) and has my favorite mojitos in town – Mojito de Fresa or Maracuya highly recommended!! Or, for something more fancy the cocktails at El Mercado on Calle Larga are to die for. Again if you’re in the mood for beer, I highly recommend Jodoco or Becken, or for a chill vibes at La Cigale, a hostel that
The earliest you’ll see a party start is 11pm, and the bars/clubs are open until 3am Thursday-Saturday. If you’re looking for chill, hippie dance vibes check out the hole in the wall, Zoociedad (no cover, $2 beers and cheap canelazos only). If you’re looking for a classic Cuencano party, our favorite are the clubs next to Millenium Plaza such as Rolings or Laos (usually on weekends a $15 cover, including $10 consumption). If you get there a little early, don’t miss out on the classic empanadas of town located at a little stall just next door! If you’re headed out on a Thursday another favorite is La Mesa – the only classic salsateca in the city, open Thursdays only.
Honorable Mentions: Other Favorite Spots in Cuenca
- Museo Pumapungo + eat Belgian waffles in the Archeological Park out back
- Eat the classic Ecuadorian afternoon snack foods, or as we like to call it the “snack food walk” – humitas, tamales, quimbolitos – along with a coffee or tea! You must try them all. You can find them at any hole in the walls around the city, or neighborhoods that are traditional for these are on Av. Las Herrerias and Av. Loja.
Does your favorite day include exercise? Read this post on the best exercise options in Cuenca. Or how about Cafe Hopping? Shopping? Getting out of the city? Hiking?
Did I miss any of your favorites? Let me know in the comments! 🙂