Let´s explore all the must-see places in Cuenca, Spain. After my previous post full of magical rock formations from The Enchanted City of Cuenca, I just couldn´t resist sharing with you more amazing places in this lesser-known Spanish region.
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Visiting Cuenca, Spain
Where is Cuenca
The city of Cuenca is the capital of the Castilla La Mancha region in Central Spain.
Cuenca´s biggest advantage
Thanks to the touristy side of Spain, I´ve learned to appreciate places off the beaten path.
Even though those often end up being not the best choices in terms of price vs. quality. For instance, it was much harder to find nice hotels and restaurants in Cuenca than it was in Cadiz. Note, that Cadiz is the lesser-known part of Andalusia, I´m not even talking about Malaga or Marbella over here.
But it was still such an interesting experience to explore all of the must-see places in Cuenca.
When to visit Cuenca
Cuenca Province is one of those central regions in Spain with hot days and chilly nights in summer. I´d suggest avoiding a visit in July or August. The temperature might rise to 30-35°C during the day, but you won´t have a fresh Mediterranean breeze to cool you off. It honestly feels really hot during the day, especially as the region has many plain areas and there´s nowhere to hide. At night you might have 10-15°C during the summer months, which is quite a drop if you keep in mind the daily average. In winter, the temperature mostly rolls around 10°C during the day and 0°C at night.
So my favorite time is April-May and September-October. But besides this – Cuenca is a great destination all year round.
How to get
By car: Cuenca is a more or less 2hrs drive from both Madrid and Valencia. Therefore, it could even be a Valencia day trip idea. However, I´d suggest you plan a few days to explore the region of Cuenca. Another big city nearby is Zaragoza, but here we are talking about 3-4 hours of driving.
By train: There are a few train options from Madrid´s Puerta de Atocha running on a daily basis towards Cuenca Fernando Zobel train station. The best one is a high-speed AVE train (but that´s also the most expensive one). It will take you only 1 hour to get from Madrid to Cuenca with AVE (ticket cost: 25-40 euro one way). While with the regional train, you´ll have 2h40min and 15 euros respectively. The train options from Valencia to Cuenca are similar.
Also read: Top Valencia Day Trips by train
By bus: Visiting Cuenca by bus is more budget-friendly than traveling by train. The Madrid-Cuenca route is run by Avanza bus company, and Valencia-Cuenca by MonBus. Tickets cost from 12 to 20 euros.
Must-see places in Cuenca
Following our recent weekend getaway, I´m sharing with you a brief recap of must-see places in Cuenca. Note that by Cuenca I don´t only mean the capital city of Cuenca, but the region of Cuenca itself (e.g. Cuenca Province).
We traveled by car, so it gave us the flexibility to drive around the region in search of the lesser-known gems. If you travel to Cuenca by public transport you will be able to visit just the first two places from my list.
1. The Hanging Houses of Cuenca (or Casas Colgadas)
One must-see place in Cuenca is the Hanging Houses of Cuenca ( or Casas Colgadas in Spanish). This place is one of Spain´s most famous national landmarks and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Only three of the Hanging Houses remain nowadays, carefully restored in the 20th century. You get the best view of the Hanging Houses from the San Pablo Bridge (especially impressive at night).
Artsy visitors can check the Spanish Abstract paintings at Museo de Arte Abstracto Español, located inside one of the Hanging Houses.
2. Cuenca´s City Center and Santa María la Mayor Cathedral
Despite numerous beautiful cathedrals built in Spain, Santa María la Mayor Cathedral in Cuenca absolutely deserves your attention. It is one of the must-see places in the whole of Castile La-Mancha.
Built in the 12th-13th centuries this cathedral represents a unique mix of Gothic and Norman architecture. Nearby, you can find Palacio Episcopal which houses the cathedral´s impressive art collection, including a few paintings of El Greco.
Another building right across the San Pablo Bridge that you can´t miss in Cuenca is Convento de las Carmelitas. It was home to the Carmelite order in the 17th century. Although, the building currently houses a modern art gallery, called Fundacion Antonio Perez.
3. The Enchanted City of Cuenca
Once you are done with your city explorings – set your eyes on The Enchanted City of Cuenca, one of the most fairytale places in Spain and a cool natural setting to visit with kids. There´s even more to the story here – this place also has a fascinating Spanish legend behind it.
Although it´s not fully adopted for baby strollers, we used a front carrier. While many locals would still opt for the stroller (I have no idea how they managed it all with the occasional stairs).
This natural phenomenon Of the Enchanted City is located 28 km from Cuenca city.
It is a circular walking route full of impressive rock formations, sculpted over the centuries by ice, wind, and water. You can check the full story and photo gallery from our visit here.
4. Ventano del Diablo / The Devil´s Window
You might already know that Spain is full of mysterious local legends and haunted places. How about a viewpoint with a touch of magic? – The Devil´s Window is one of the must-see places in Cuenca. It is a natural cave with views of the Jucar River. Ventano del Diablo is located close to the Enchanted City of Cuenca.
Also read: Must-See Magical Forests in Spain
According to the local legend, the Devil practiced his magic and witchcraft here. He also threw to the river all those who dared to look out of the windows at the viewpoint. Not as creepy as the Bride´s Jump Waterfall I visited recently, but still, there´s something alarming about this place.
5. The source of Cuervo River
Well, The source of the Cuervo River was supposed to be a beautiful waterfall. In Spanish, this place is called Nacimiento Del Río Cuervo. If you google it right now, you will see that it actually looks stunning in winter.
Unfortunately, in our case, it´s been a while since the last rain, so there was no water at all – it was just rocks.
Other interesting things to see in Cuenca are the Route of the Faces or La Ruta de las Caras in Spanish (one of the coolest hikes in Spain) and The Castle of Belmonte, one of the most beautiful castles in Spain. History geeks can´t miss Segobriga, one of the coolest Roman ruins in Spain.
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