Cuenca is one of Ecuadorâs most elegant and beautiful cities. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural site, a fact of which the locals are immeasurably proud. The easiest and most obvious thing to do in Cuenca is to simply stroll around the historic downtown, marveling at the architecture in and around the well-kept central park, Parque CalderÃ³n.
You can not walk far without running into a colonial church; Cuenca supposedly has 52, one for every Sunday of the year. The number of churches you visit will depend on your level of interest, but the La Inmaculada (the New Cathedral) and El Sagrario (the Old Cathedral), both on the central park, should not be missed. There are also several museums of note, including the Pumapungo Museum complex (also known as the Central Bank Museum), which has very good exhibits for those interested in the complete history of the region and city.
No trip to Cuenca is complete without a trip to the Mirador Turi (Turi Overlook), where you can get an overview shot of the city. The lookout point is on a modest hill to the south of the city and on a clear day, the view is spectacular. There is a small church there and some coin-operated binoculars.
Outside of town, you can visit the spectacular El Cajas National Park, or visit the nearby artisan towns of Gualaceo, Chordeleg and Sigsig. Each of the towns has a unique market or artisan product, and all three can be visited in one day. In Gualaceo, stop by the large produce and animal market; in Chordeleg, peruse the many stores selling fine silver products; and in Sigsig, visit one of the Panama Hat cooperatives.