It’s been 24 years since I last visited the city of Cuenca, when my father was stationed there in the Ecuadorean military. As a 4-year-old, I don’t recall the majority of my time in Cuenca so when I went back for the long carnival weekend, it was like going for the first time. It’s Ecuador’s third largest city and it’s noted for having a historic center listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site with beautiful and well conserved old buildings.

One of the city’s well conserved buildings

Luckily through my dad, my travel buddy (Britt) and I, received free accommodation just a 15-minute walk from Cuenca’s historic center! We started our first day with a nice little breakfast in a place called Windhorse Cafe. Try the Guatemala Sunrise for a cheap but great morning start! Just across the street from this place is the well-known “Tomebamba River”. Carnival in Ecuador means throwing lots of water and foam to strangers and kids from the nearby school were having an awesome last day of classes splashing water on this river.

Kids playing carnival in Tomebamba River

After that, we headed to Pumapungo museum, where you can learn some native Ecuadorean history and find some interesting arqueological artifacts. It’s a big museum that has it all, from modern art of local artists to an outside garden that includes a bird centre! The best part? It’s a free admission museum! One of the things that I liked the most about this city, are the murals that you find while walking around downtown. They are well made by artists and sponsored by the city government!

Cool downtown mural

The usual spot that you can’t miss if you visit Cuenca, is the new cathedral. Make sure to pay the $2 that cost to go all the way up as you will have views of the city that are well worth it! And wrap up your day with the traditional “mote pillo” at Raymipamba restaurant, located in the main square! Cuenca is known for being the most beautiful city in Ecuador and I can see why it has that perception. It might be small but there is plenty to do, I’ll be back to try your famous “cuy” Cuenca!

View from the New Cathedral
Mote Pillo

Next Stop: Cajas National Park