High in the Andes sits Cuenca, a quaint, colonial city that still observes the planning guidelines set forth 400 years ago. This respect for heritage, and the scrupulous preservation of colonial architecture earned the city a UNESCO World Heritage designation, as well as the winning the hearts of visitors from around the world.

Many visitors are even enticed to stay. In addition to its rich pre-Incan, Incan, and Colonia history, Cuenca has become a melting pot of cultures, as it developed industry and modernity with grace.

Now the third largest city in Ecuador after Guayaquil and Quito, Cuenca is still an actively developing city due to its agricultural and industrial growth. The city enjoys a mild year-round climate with warm days and chilly evenings. It is located in the basin of four rivers that are part of the Amazon watershed and is surrounded on all sides by the Andes Mountains. Cuenca’s historic city center was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 for its multitude of examples of well-preserved colonial architecture. In addition, the surrounding region is full of many Incan and pre-Incan archaeological sites as well as opportunities to learn about the local indigenous cultures.

In addition to the historical touring and beautiful public spaces like Parque Calderón, Cuenca is the perfect place to get some shopping done. Surrounding the city are little handicraft villages, where you can buy authentic textiles and the distinctive Ecuadorean woven straw hats. Our guides know where the most authentic good are to be found, from classics like Casa del Sombrero Alberto Pulla, to the unknown boutiques and markets. They can also take you into the workshops of artists and artisans who have made Cuenca their home. You’ll discover the allure of this Andean city that has inspired so many.

Contact your Ker & Downey expert to discuss how you can include this charming city on your South American itinerary.