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Why Fly to Cuenca?
Cuenca is located in the scenic highlands of Ecuador, 8,200 feet above sea level. Mountains surround the mid-sized South American city, which is the third largest in Ecuador. Formerly colonized by Spanish explorers in the 16th century, Cuenca still retains much of its colonial charm Particularly, its downtown features many elegant buildings that date back from these Spanish settlement days. One of these buildings is the Old Cathedral, also known as the Iglesia El Sagrario. Currently operating as a museum, this cathedral was originally built in 1557. The compact downtown district can easily be navigated on foot, making sightseeing convenient. If you're looking for a place to rest, the tranquil Park Abdon Calderon, an urban green space in the middle of town, is a great place to relax and people watch. The city also claims several museums that detail the culture and history of the Ecuadorian people. As for lodgings, tourists can frequently find Cuenca hotel deals at one of the many colonial-style establishments near downtown. For breathtaking vistas of the nearby mountains, travel outside the city to the surrounding rural zones. One popular destination is El Cajas. Located about 18 miles west of the Cuenca, this national park is known for its rivers, streams and lagoons. You can compare flight prices using Travelzoo's SuperSearch.
Which Airlines Fly to Cuenca?
The Mariscal Lamar Airport (CUE) serves Cuenca. Few airlines actually use the facility, and none offer direct flights from the U.S. In fact, there are only two departure cities with flights to Cuenca: Guayaquil and Quito. You can search for airfare from Quito and Guayaquil on Aerogal, LAN Ecuador and TAME.
There are several airlines that provide direct flights from the U.S. to Quito. You can find low-priced fares from Houston to Quito on Continental. Or buy plane tickets from Miami on American Airlines and LAN Ecuador. Meanwhile, Aerogal provides flights from New York, while Delta flies from Atlanta. You can find flights to Guayaquil from New York on AeroGal and LAN Ecuador. Or you can search for flights from Miami on American Airlines. Delta provides seasonal flights from Atlanta.
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Quick Travel Guide to Cuenca
The main attraction within Cuenca is its bustling downtown district. Here, tourists can stroll past buildings and parks first established when the Spanish colonized the land and founded the city. Located within blocks of one another, the Old Cathedral and the New Cathedral are two of the city's most popular attractions and important landmarks. The New Cathedral replaced the Old Cathedral in the 19th century as the townspeople's central place of worship. It's Neo-Gothic style and blue and white facade have become symbolic of the city. Other sites of interest include the Monastery of El Carmen de Asuncion, a 17th-century church that boasts a vibrant flower market in its atrium. Or visit the Monastery and Museum of La Concepcion, which exhibits religious art and artifacts.
Shoppers can purchase handmade crafts from local artisans throughout the downtown district. One market in the city's center specializes in clothing. Here, tourists can purchase authentic handmade sweaters, hats and ruanas, a poncho-like garment. Nearby, travelers will find vendors selling leather goods, wooden and metal crafts, musical instruments and jewelry. The Mall del Rio is Cuenca's largest shopping mall. The mall sports a cinema, food court and many international stores.
Nightlife in Cuenca is also centered around its downtown district. Here, within hotels and hostels, you will find a number of places to grab a beer or sip on a cocktail. If you're in the mood to dance, visit one of the town's popular salsa bars. These dance clubs feature live salsa bands throughout the week.
For those looking to take a trip outside of Cuenca, head to the nearby town of Jima. Located at the base of two mountains, Jima is a popular place for hikers. Experienced hikers should consider the Andes trail, a three-day excursion that takes travelers to the peak of the Andes and down into the Amazon basin.
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