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Cuenca

Trip Planner South America  /  Ecuador  /  Azuay Province  /  Cuenca
(4.2/5 based on 7,000+ reviews for top 30 attractions)
Things to do: nature, museums, sightseeing

Athens of Ecuador

Packed with impressive colonial architecture and a historic town center, Cuenca stands as perhaps the most charming city in the nation. Known colloquially as the "Athens of Ecuador," Cuenca certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to its wealth of old-world charm. Though home to pre-Columbian indigenous cultures for close to 3,000 years, the Cuenca seen by visitors has its roots in the 16th century, when the conquering Spanish began to remake the city in their European image. The skyline here consists of a gorgeous array of spires, domes, and steeples of the many cathedrals and churches, while cobbled streets wind lazily through the old town core. You'll also notice while sightseeing in Cuenca that the city in the 21st century--thanks to its safety, quality of life, and historical delights--has drawn increasing numbers of foreign retirees and expats from outside of South America. Find what you're looking for from your Cuenca holiday, by planning the whole thing with us using our handy Ecuador tour planner.
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Where to stay

Extremely popular with international visitors and expats, Cuenca features the sizeable range of hotel options you might expect from a renowned tourist destination. Scores of hotels and bed and breakfasts line the streets of the city's old town, many of them occupying historic mansions and homes restored to their former glory. The larger, more upscale hotels in the city center tend to offer onsite restaurants and other amenities, while cheaper hostels feature little more than bunk beds in exchange for much lower rates. However, keep in mind that Cuenca's popularity has a flip side, as the large foreign presence makes for higher prices than elsewhere in Ecuador and also large fluctuations in cost depending on the season.
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