Are you looking for a walking tour Cuenca? As one of Ecuador’s most picturesque cities, Cuenca is a destination for local and international travelers and, more recently, foreign retirees. It’s a must-see if you’re traveling to the south of Ecuador and want to explore a city apart from Quito.
Not only is Cuenca an excellent jumping-off point for other nearby sights, like Parque Nacional Cajas, it’s also a beautifully conserved, pedestrian-friendly town, often described as a living museum. One of the best ways to explore it is by joining a Cuenca Walking Tour.
What is a walking tour
Over the past decade, walking tours have become increasingly popular.
A walking tour usually entails meeting at a designated point where a group of random travelers gather until the departure time, at which point a guide begins a pre-designed tour, leading the group to different parts of the city and making several stops along the way to see specific sites or locations and to taste local delicacies.
During the tour, you’ll visit landmarks, learn about local history and discover hidden gems that you would otherwise never find on your own.
Most walking tours last about 2-3 hours, which may seem long to some, but is largely due to the fact that it involves walking from one point to another. There are, however, other tours around Cuenca that you can do by bus or bicycle if you prefer not to walk.
Finally, a walking tour may very likely be free, though some tours charge. For the free walking tours, it’s customary to leave a tip. If your guide was particularly entertaining and informative, show your support for their work by leaving a generous tip!
Reasons to participate in a walking tour
When first exploring a city, a walking tour may very well be the best activity for Day 1 of your trip. Here are a few reasons why you should participate in a walking tour exploring Cuenca Ecuador culture during your visit.
Though Cuenca is a relatively small city compared to Quito and Guayaquil, it’s still a new city to you! Orient yourself better by joining a walking tour that will give you an overall picture of the city, its layout, and main landmarks. This is especially applicable in Cuenca, which is a pedestrian-friendly city and easy to explore on foot.
For solo travelers among you, a walking tour is a way to meet other travelers and make friends. After spending 2-3 hours wandering around Cuenca, laughing at the same jokes and stories by your guide, and likely eating together, you’ll gravitate towards another person or group and, once the tour is over, you might even be making plans to hang out that same evening!
Walking tour guides are almost always locals and know the best places to eat, the best places to party and which activities to do. During the tour, they’ll be throwing suggestions around left and right – make sure to be attentive! You can also ask specific questions and, if they don’t have the answer, they might know where to look or who to ask.
Local guides will know what is customary in terms of pricing (to avoid getting ripped off) and security (for example, which neighborhoods to avoid). If you’re concerned about either of these, ask your walking tour guide for more information.
No planning is necessary
After planning buses and other activities, a free walking tour is an enjoyable, planning-free activity. All you have to do is follow your guide around, listen and…walk.
Is usually free
Finally, and best of all, walking tours are normally free! In fact, to be competitive, a walking tour should be free. On the tour, your guide might also point out other free activities to do around the city so, in that sense, a walking tour is a budget-friendly way to start your trip.
Best walking tours in Cuenca
In Cuenca and Quito, walking tours have been popularized and there are a few options to choose from in both cities. Small businesses have realized that they’re a great way to draw clients and get sponsorship from other companies. That said, not all walking tours are worth your time. In fact, in Cuenca, we suggest you stick to the highest-rated experience, Free Walking Tours Cuenca.
With nearly 80 reviews on Trip Advisor and a 4.5-star rating, Free Walking Tours Cuenca is one of the most popular walking tour companies. They offer two tours a day from Monday to Saturday and provide tours in English and Spanish, as well as German and French (upon request).
On GuruWalk, you’ll find a few local guides that offer personalized walking tours of Cuenca. Though not as popular as the Free Walking Tours Cuenca group, this might be a good option if you want to explore with a smaller, or completely exclusive, group, or if you want a tour on a specific topic, like Ecuadorian gastronomy.
As mentioned earlier, Cuenca is an easy city to explore on foot, on a tour or not! If you’d like to explore on your own, check out this Self Guided Walking Tour of Cuenca.
Note: The walking tour you select might also notify you of this, but make sure to bring sun and rain protection on your tour. Though it might start off as a sunny day, the Andes’ weather can be unpredictable and, especially in the afternoon, you might get an unexpected rain. As for the sun, on the equator and at 2,550 m (8,370 ft), make sure you wear sun protection (hat, sunglasses, sunscreen). The Ecuadorian sun is no joke!