A gorgeous city filled with historic architecture, Cuenca is one of the best places in Ecuador to study English
Cuenca is a city located in the Andean mountains at 2560 metres above sea level. It is well known for its stunning colonial architecture, its mild climate and its friendly people.
Many say that it looks like a European city, due to the elegant Spanish colonial architecture. The buildings within the centre have red-tiled roofs and lovely little wrought iron balconies lined with flowers.
With its rich Spanish and Incan heritage, Cuenca receives more than one million visitors per year, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ecuador. It is a very pleasant place to live and a great location to study. If you study Spanish in Cuenca, you’ll enjoy a high quality of life and you’ll be able to explore much of Ecuador from this base.
What to do in Cuenca
Lower in elevation than the capital, Quito, Cuenca offers pleasant temperatures all year round. It is one of the most attractive cities in Ecuador and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its unique architecture.
It’s easy to explore Cuenca. Take a walk along the river, which starts in the downtown area and heads all the way uptown to Avenida de Las Americas. There’s a lovely paved walking trail that is perfect for a leisurely stroll or a run. To reward yourself after all that exercise, you could stop at Tutto Freddo’s for ice cream.
For a more strenuous adventure, hike up into the mountains of Caja National Parque. There’s a lovely lake, a camping area and some stunning scenery and it’s only about 45 minutes outside of Cuenca. You could also take a day trip to the town of Banos, which is a 15-minute bus ride from Cuenca. It is located near natural mineral hot springs, where you can bathe in the geothermal pools and enjoy their healing properties.
At weekends, explore some of the nearby villages for handicrafts. Cuenca itself is a centre of different craft traditions, including ceramics, metalwork and the world-famous Panama hat.
When it comes time to eat, there are many excellent high quality restaurants, cafés and bars in Cuenca. The city’s strong European influences are evident in the many Italian restaurants - check out the Jazz Society Café which offers authentic Italian cuisine and pizza as well as live jazz. You’ll also find traditional Andean cuisine, seafood, steaks and many other types of food in Cuenca, all at very reasonable prices.
To understand more about in the history of the Inca people, visit Ecuador’s largest Incan ruins at the nearby Ingapirca. You can take a tour around these stone structures and learn about the culture and customs of the Inca and Canari people. A typical Incan home has been reconstructed, so that you can experience what daily life would have been like for the people who lived here many centuries ago.