14 Best things to do in Cuenca Spain | Discover the hidden gems of Cuenca

If we tell you that we loved Cuenca more than Madrid, can you believe it? I know, it’s hard to understand, especially if you never heard about it, but don’t worry because in this guide you will discover all the best things to do in Cuenca Spain. By the end of this itinerary, you will fall in love with Cuenca and it will be added to your Spanish bucket list.

Cuenca is a lovely and hidden gem known only by a few people. We had the pleasure to discover every corner of this old town thanks to Paco, a school teacher known by everyone in the city. Now, if you are curious to know more about Cuenca, admire the beautiful places in the city and discover all the things to do in Cuenca Spain.

Top things to do in cuenca Spain - Views of Cuenca

What to do in Cuenca Spain

If you are thinking that Cuenca is just a small town outside Madrid and there is not much to do, you may be wrong. The below list will introduce you to a fantastic story, written through narrow alleys, steeped in history and magic. Don’t stop here and go forward discovering how many things there are to do and see in Cuenca Spain.

We will guide you through the most important sights and the hidden gems of the city. You can’t imagine that just an hour away from Madrid, there is a unique Unesco World Heritage Site. This is a small point in the map, perched on the rocky valleys of Castilla la Mancha, the region of the intrepid adventures of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.

Now, are you ready to discover all the best things to do in Cuenca Spain? Let’s be amazed by this amazing city!

  • Visit Hanging houses of Cuenca
  • Discover history at Museo de Cuenca
  • Take a walking tour
  • Step in Cuenca Cathedral
  • Walk across St. Pablo Bridge
  • Visit Castilla-La Mancha Paleontology Museum
  • Admire the Castle’s ruins
  • Enjoy the view from Mirador del Cerro del Socorro
  • Stroll around Plaza Mayor and Town Hall
  • Visit Posada San Jose and enjoy a breakfast with a view
  • Enjoy the stunning view from Mirador Barrio del Castillo
  • Visit Abstract Museum
  • Step inside the Science Museum
  • See Mangana Tower

Best things to do in Cuenca Spain

Las Casas Colgadas in Cuenca Spain
Casas Colgadas Cuenca Spain

Visit Hanging houses of Cuenca

Hanging House or Las Casas Colgadas are the most famous spot in Cuenca. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, those picturesque Hanging Houses of Cuenca are built on a rock overlooking Huécar River. These exceptional medieval buildings were restored in the early 20th century and today are a must-do in Cuenca

You will be surprised to see how this fantastic architecture is today one of the top sights in the city. Locals are very proud of this. In fact, you will see many of them strolling around and admiring these hanging houses.

You can get inside las Casas Colgadas and admire the interior. This place is today the main attraction hosting a Michelin awarded restaurant and also a hotel. However many houses are still inhabited and it’s the right occasion also to see locals in their daily attitudes in the old town.

Discover history at Museo de Cuenca

If you are a big fan of the archaeology of the Roman era, near the Hanging House you will find the Museo de Cuenca. (Cuenca Museum) 

It’s always nice to discover more about the city that you are visiting so we highly recommend you to add this Museum to your one-day itinerary in Cuenca.

A highlight of the collection is the first-century marble bust of Lucius Caesar but another fascinating presentation includes the restoration of an ancient Roman kitchen and a variety of antique Iberian dolls.

Cuenca Spain City

Take a city tour

As we always say, starting to know the city is the best thing that you can do. Book here your Cuenca city tour, visit the modern art museum, walk around the old town, visit the iconic Hanging House and get to know more about the history of this stunning city.

This tour will give you an idea of what to do in Cuenca Spain and will give you the chance to get to know Cuenca. Don’t miss this occasion and reserve this fantastic tour here.

We did our tour with Paco, a local friend of ours which took us in the remote alleys, proudly showing us the surrounding. Cuenca was even more beautiful thanks to him.

Step in Cuenca Cathedral

How stunning is this Cathedral? Inside, more than the outside look. This beautiful Cathedral was built from 1182 to 1270 and together with Avila’s one, it’s the first gothic style cathedral in Spain. Already for the outside, you will be impressed by the outstanding details of the facade. 

If the outside is stunning, wait to step inside and have a look to the best part. The details and the stunning art you will find inside, we’ll leave you speechless. 

You don’t need to buy the tickets in advance as you can easily buy them once you are at the cathedral. To highlight the magnificent pipe organ perfectly maintained and still working fine. To highlight that Cuenca was a precious worship place at the time of the Spanish Colonization of Ecuador, and there is a homonym city in the Latin American Country.

St. Paul Bridge Cuenca - Best views in Cuenca Spain

Walk across St. Pablo Bridge

Between all Cuenca’s most important sights, Saint Paul Bridge is one of the most popular ones. Connect San Pablo convent to the old town over the river Huécar. While walking across the bridge don’t forget to admire the beautiful view of the Hanging Houses.

The current bridge is made of wood and iron and it was built in 1902 as the original one, made of stone, which collapsed. You can find many analogies with the Eiffel Tower. In fact, the Bridge has been inspired by the Paris Icon and made of the same metal by a votary of Gustave Eiffel.

As said you will have an incredible view over the old town, with a perspective unique. The bridge connects the two sides of the gorge, which can be seen as unsafe and actually pretty unstable. We crossed it and it was incredible.

Visit Castilla-La Mancha Paleontology Museum

This impressive Paleontology Museum is home to a remarkable collection of fossils from the Castilla-La Mancha region. If you have children and you are visiting the city, this is one of the top things to do in Cuenca. In fact, one of the most popular exhibitions among visitors is the dinosaur one. 

What makes this museum special is the way that the exhibits on the outside are integrated into the one inside the museum.  The best thing is that many of the fossils are made from real-life. Apart from dinosaurs, you will be able to learn more about earth’s earliest known life, such as Mesozoic, Paleozoic, and many more. 

Best views of Cuenca - What to do in Cuenca Spain

Enjoy the view from Mirador del Cerro del Socorro

Spain is very famous for its Miradors, which could be natural Terrazas or incredibly made viewpoints. If you are in Cuenca for one day, you have to check Mirador del Cerro del Socorro

You can easily see from the city centre, the statue of Jesus which is overlooking down across the gorge. The hike is not that bad but if you feel uncomfortable, you can drive up there and enjoy the breathtaking view especially if you are going to admire the sunset.

Stroll around Plaza Mayor and Town Hall

Also, Cuenca has got Plaza Mayor. This is one of the most picturesque and famous places in town. Locals enjoy spending their afternoon while strolling around Plaza Mayor. 

In fact, Plaza Mayor is the place where you will find the famous Cathedral which combines Gothic and Romanesque style. Visiting Cuenca in September means that you will assist to the popular bullfight with young bulls which take place in Plaza Mayor. 

“This festivity is called San Mateo and it’s one of the most important ones in Cuenca. Its origins date back from the conquest of the city by Alfonso VIII.”  Together with the Town Hall, those are the best things that you can do in Cuenca Spain. In fact, don’t miss visiting the stunning baroque-style building of the Town Hall which was built during the period of King Carlos III.

Visit Posada San Jose and enjoy a breakfast with a view

One of the best things to do in Cuenca is to enjoy a delicious breakfast with a gorgeous view of Cuenca. Thanks to our personal guide, we had access to Posada San Jose terrace and admired their view. This place is an authentic gem in Cuenca and during the San Mateo Festival, it tends to be always fully booked.

If you wish to have an amazing stay and enjoy breakfast with a view, book your room here.

Mirador of Cuenca Spain
One of the best things to do in Cuenca Spain, admiring the beautiful view.

Enjoy the stunning view from Mirador Barrio del Castillo

Remember that, if you are visiting Cuenca in one day, you need to find the time to admire the breathtaking view from Mirador Barrio del Castillo. It’s one of the best things to do in Cuenca and for us, it’s one of the best views ever. 

If you wish to enjoy a gorgeous sunset there are some seats available beyond the castle ruins. But, for a better view, we suggest you walk in front of the platform so you can have a better view of the city.

Visit Abstract Museum

If you are still thinking of what to do in Cuenca in Spain, remember that inside of Casas Colgadas there is the Museum of Spanish Abstract Art. The museum is home of the exceptional collection focusing on Spanish Abstract painting and sculptures of the 1950s and 1960s. 

The collection includes more than 700 artworks and it’s worth stopping by and checking them out. 

Step inside the Science Museum (Museo de las Ciencias)

Another amazing attraction in Town is the Science Museum which is ideal if you are visiting Cuenca with kids. The amazing thing about this Museum is that you can explore every aspect of science, starting from the “big bang” and ending to earth sciences such as climate, weather, geology and many more. The main attraction of this beautiful museum is the Planetarium with its huge blue dome, 6000 starts and planets. You will feel like you are in space watching the stars.

Torre de mangana Cuenca - What to do in Cuenca Spain
Visit Mangana Tower, one of the best things to do in Cuenca Spain.

See Mangana Tower

Another best thing to do in Cuenca Spain is visiting a famous landmark which is Torre de Mangana, originally built during the 16th century. Since then, this famous tower has been renovated many times. 

Thanks to its prominent clock, it’s today considered the symbol of the city. 

How to reach it? Very easy. From Plaza Mayor, you can simply walk uphill to Mangana Tower.

Things to do near Cuenca Spain

Ciudad Encantada

If you loved this city so much, there are still a couple of things near Cuenca.

The enchanted city will leave you speechless thanks to its fascinating geological structure. 

Apart from that, you will be fascinated by its structures, these rocks are shaped differently due to chemical erosion across different geological eras. 

Each rock resembles animals, objects, humans in fact, the rocks are named after animals to teach us about the flora and fauna discovered in the area.

Ruta de las Caras

Located close to the Enchanted City, you will find Ruta de las Caras which is a collection of sculptures which have been carved into the rock faces. Compared to the Enchanted City these have been created by human artists and it’s absolutely one of the best things to do in Cuenca Spain.

Where to stay in Cuenca Spain

Hotel Posada San José

Located in the Old town, Posada San Josè will be ideal for your stay in Cuenca Spain. Enjoy your stay and have an amazing breakfast with a view over Cuenca.

Posada San Jose Cuenca Spain

Parador de Cuenca

Close to St. Pablo Bridge, Parador de Cuenca is another place where you can stay. Enjoy this old style but unique hotel in Cuenca.

Parador de Cuenca Spain
Tinto de Verano Spain

Cuenca Spain restaurants

Food in Spain is amazing, everywhere you will go, you will find delicious typical Spanish food. Below you will find our favourite suggestions which we tried thanks to our local friends. 

You can’t leave Cuenca without trying them out. Trivio, Posada San Jose and La Ponderosa!

You can thank us later as all those restaurants are super delicious! Some typical food to try in Cuenca is Croquetas de Jamon. Keep in mind Trivio if you wish to try one of the best Croquestas ever. We love all the Spanish food but on the top of the list, there are those yummy and delicious croquetas. Try them and thank us later 🙂 

Oceanografic and Science and Culture museum of Valencia Area are the most instagrammable spots

Day trips from Cuenca Spain

MADRID | As mentioned before, from Cuenca you can easily reach Madrid or vice versa. We’ve been to Madrid many times and from the big capital, you have easy access to Cuenca. If you want to know more about Madrid, check out our ultimate guide.

BY CAR | About 1 hour away by taking the highway

BY TRAIN | About 3 hours from Madrid Atocha (Check the itinerary)

BY BUS | About 2 hours with Avanza (Check with Omio)

VALENCIA | If you have a couple of days extra and you wish to visit a new city, head towards the south and visit Valencia. The journey by train will take around 4h but don’t be scared about these long routes because time will fly admiring the beautiful landscape. To know more about Valencia, check out our itinerary here.

Q&A about things to do in Cuenca Spain

Is Cuenca Spain worth visiting?

Yes. Cuenca is absolutely worth a stop. This incredible and picturesque town will leave you speechless. If you are visiting either Madrid or Valencia check Cuenca, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What is Cuenca Spain known for?

Cuenca is known for its famous hanging houses which are recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s always known for being home of outstanding festivals and museums.

How far is Cuenca from Madrid?

From Madrid to Cuenca the distance by train is 138km (86 miles) You can easily plan a day trip from Madrid to Cuenca Spain and buy the tickets here. 

How far is Cuenca from Valencia?

From Valencia to Cuenca by train is approximately 167km (102 miles) 

Where in Spain is Cuenca?

Cuenca is a city in the autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha. To give you a better idea is to consider the Iberian Peninsula. Now, point your finger right in the centre of the figure, there is Cuenca. Jokes apart, this community is in the very centre of the country, making it an easy hub to reach and a good point where to go to other destinations too.

How do you get to Cuenca?

There are two ways to get to Cuenca. Either from Madrid or from Valencia you can easily get the train towards Cuenca. The journey is very easy, and you won’t have any problems reaching this gorgeous city in central Spain. There are fastest trains which connect the two cities, those are expensive but can take you from A to B in about an hour from Madrid and 2 from Valencia.

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Things to do in Cuenca Spain
What to do in Cuenca Spain

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