the best things to do in Cuenca Spain

15 Best things to do in Cuenca Spain

Located in Castilla–La Mancha, the historic city of Cuenca is a paradise for culture and outdoor lovers! These are the best things to do in Cuenca Spain.

Please note that this article is about the city of Cuenca in Spain, not Cuenca in Ecuador.

About Cuenca

Cuenca is a city in central Spain, located in the Castilla-La Mancha region. The city is known for its historical and cultural heritage, especially the Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Cuenca is famous for its unique “hanging houses,” built on the steep cliffs above the Huecar River. The city also has an impressive Gothic cathedral, and many other historic buildings and monuments. In addition to its rich history, Cuenca also has a vibrant cultural life, with various festivals and events throughout the year, including the famous Semana Santa (Holy Week) festival.

Cuenca is popular not only for its beautiful old town but also for its location. The city is located in a mountainous area with many rocks, making it also a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts. There are numerous hiking trails, for example, but you can also go ziplining, rock climbing, and kayaking.

The best things to do in Cuenca Spain

What to do in Cuenca Spain? These are the most beautiful Cuenca sights and the best things to do in Cuenca.

Casas Colgadas de Cuenca

The Hanging Houses of Cuenca are iconic and perhaps the city’s biggest attraction. Built in the 16th century on the edge of a cliff, these houses offer breathtaking views of the Huecar River and the old town. They now contain the Museum of Abstract Art that you can visit for free.

Casas Colgadas de Cuenca

Catedral de Santa María y San Julián de Cuenca

The Cathedral of Cuenca is a Gothic cathedral that dates from the 12th century. It has a gorgeous facade and a distinctive blue dome. Inside the cathedral, you will find beautiful works of art, including a painting by El Greco.

Tickets are available starting at €5.50 and can be purchased through the official website.

Tip! Want to learn more about the cathedral? Book this guided tour!

Catedral de Santa María y San Julián de Cuenca

Puente de San Pablo

The Puente de San Pablo is a bridge over the Júcar River and looks quite spectacular. The original bridge was built in the 16th century and the current bridge dates from 1903, but it was built on the original pillars. It is 100 meters long and 60 meters high. The bridge is only accessible to pedestrians and offers spectacular views of the city.

Puente de San Pablo

Antiguo Convento de San Pablo

From the Puente de San Pablo you have a beautiful view of Antiguo Convento de San Pablo. This is a former monastery from the 16th century and belonged to the Dominican order. It is located on a cliff in a curve and it looks more beautiful as a result. Since 1993, the monastery has been a luxury hotel called Parador de Cuenca.

Book a room in Parador de Cuenca.

Antiguo Convento de San Pablo

Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor is the main square in Cuenca’s old town. It is surrounded by beautiful and colorful buildings and monuments, including the cathedral and Convento de las Petras. There are also several restaurants here where you can enjoy a tasty menu del dia in the afternoon.

Plaza Mayor in Cuenca

Torre de Mangana

The 28-meter-high Torre de Mangana stands in one of Cuenca’s most extraordinary places. It is located in Plaza Mangana, a square where many archaeological finds have been made. You will see several walls and there are signs with explanations that allow you to learn more about Cuenca’s history in an interesting way.

Torre de Mangana was originally built in the 12th century and served as a watchtower and defensive structure for the city. Later, the tower was expanded and used as a bell tower. Over the years, the tower has been rebuilt and renovated several times, most recently in 1970.

Now Torre de Mangana is one of the most iconic sights in Cuenca. You can climb the tower and enjoy a beautiful view of the city and its surroundings.

Torre de Mangana in Cuenca

Museo de Cuenca

Want to learn more about Cuenca’s history? Then you must be at the Museum of Cuenca. Here you will find an overview of the city’s history and culture, especially the prehistoric and Iberian periods, as well as Roman and medieval times.

Admission is €3, but you can also visit the museum for free on Wednesday afternoons, Saturdays, and Sunday mornings. Check the website for more information.


Because Cuenca sits on several cliffs, there are many viewpoints that offer breathtaking views of the city and the surrounding mountains. Some are easy to reach, some a little more difficult. These are the most beautiful viewpoints in Cuenca.

  • Mirador de Cuenca offers spectacular views of the cliffs with Antiguo Convento de San Pablo and the Puente de San Pablo. There are several hiking trails here where in just a few minutes you can get a completely different view. My favorite spot was in the plaza in front of Archivo Histórico Provincial de Cuenca. Hardly anyone comes here and the view is magnificent.
  • Mirador del Cerro del Socorro is located at an altitude of 1130 meters and offers breathtaking views of the city and the mountains surrounding Cuenca. It is located on a hill at the edge of town and can be reached by car or on foot.
  • Mirador de la Hoz is located just east of town and offers stunning views of the Júcar River gorge and surrounding mountains. You can get there by car or on foot. It is a 5- to 10-minute walk from Mirador de Cuenca.
  • Mirador del Rey is a slightly lesser-known viewpoint and can only be reached on foot. From here you have a beautiful view of the city and the mountains. It takes some climbing to get up here, but it is absolutely worth it. I myself sat here for over an hour without seeing other people (and that on a Sunday afternoon). As far as I’m concerned, this truly is a hidden gem! For an even more expansive view, you can walk up a bit more, where there are a number of cell towers.
View of Cuenca from Mirador del Cerro del Socorro
View of Cuenca from Mirador del Cerro del Socorro.

Outdoor activities in Cuenca

Cuenca is a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Not only because of all the hiking trails, but you can also kayak on the Río Júcar, go mountain biking, rock climbing, and ziplining. Enjoy!

Climber in action at Cuenca

La Ciudad Encantada

Although located just outside Cuenca, this one La Ciudad Encantada is a must-see. It is a unique landscape of limestone rocks and formations, resembling sculptures formed by nature. It is a popular spot for hikers and nature lovers.

It is about a 30-minute drive from Cuenca (not reachable by public transportation). You can also book a day trip and visit Ciudad Encantada and Nacimiento del Río Cuervo accompanied by a guide.

Hiking in Cuenca

The reason why I visited Cuenca itself is that there are an immense number of beautiful hiking trails. Several trails have been established in the city, both for beginner and advanced hikers.

Hikes in Cuenca

There are three different routes laid out in and around the city, and you’ll come across the signs all over Cuenca. You can also get a map from your accommodation or the tourism office.

These are the three routes in Cuenca, a blue, red, and green route.

  • The Blue Route (SL-CU 11). This route follows the Río Júcar and passes a small church. It is a beautiful trail to check out the steep cliffs, the green river, and the breathtaking views of the green landscape. The blue route is a circular walk of 7 kilometers, it’s not too difficult and takes about 2.5 hours.
  • The Green Route (SL-CU 10) is a route that goes right through the historic city. Be prepared for quite a few elevation changes. The route is a circular walk 4 kilometers long and takes just under two hours.
  • The red route (GR 66) combines several viewpoints and because of this, there are substantial climbs. It has several branches, therefore you can make the route as short or long as you want. This is not a circular hike, but a linear one, so you walk the same path there and back.

Wear good shoes when hiking in Cuenca, the paths can sometimes be slippery due to the many loose rocks. The trails are well-marked with blue, green, and red signs and arrows.

Hiking in Cuenca
Cuenca is a hiker’s paradise.

Long-distance hikes

There are also several long-distance hikes that pass through Cuenca. These include the previously mentioned GR66, as well as Camino Natural del Júcar. This is an approximately 500-kilometer route that takes you through the provinces of Cuenca, Albacete, and Valencia in 26 stages.

It is a fairly new route (I believe it opened in 2022) and not much is known about it yet. But from what I’ve seen of it so far, it certainly tastes like more. The scenery here is beautiful and it is an undiscovered part of Spain!

Camino Natural del Jucar

Where to stay in Cuenca

If you not only want to see all the beautiful sights of Cuenca but also take some of the cool hikes, it is recommended to stay a few nights in the city. I myself stayed three nights in Cuenca and it was really perfect. These are some great places to stay in Cuenca.

  • Green River Hostel: dormitories (6 beds) for budget travelers and nicely furnished family rooms. Very affordable and very friendly owners. The hostel is in a perfect location between the old and the new city.
  • Hospederia Seminario Conciliar de San Julián: a guest house with beautifully decorated rooms in a building from the eighteenth century. You sleep in the middle of the city’s historic center.
  • Parador de Cuenca: one of the city’s most luxurious hotels in a former monastery. Beautiful views of the cliffs and the old city center. And thanks to the beautiful outdoor pool, you can also relax here after a long day of hiking and exploring.

Check for more options, prices, and availability.

Book a trip to Cuenca

Cuenca is located between Madrid and Valencia, making it an easy destination to combine with either of these two cities.

✈️ Airline tickets

To reach Cuenca, you can fly to Madrid or Valencia. Check WayAway to find the best deals and get cashback on plane tickets.

From these airports, you can travel to Cuenca by rental car or by train. By car it takes about two hours, by high-speed train you can be there in an hour.

🚆 Travel to Spain by train

Spain is very well accessible by train from other European countries. Check Rail Europe for train times and tickets.

🚘 Rental Car

Although public transport is quite well organized in Spain (I traveled through Spain by train), it is still useful to have a rental car. This makes it even easier to get to really special places. Check Rental Cars to find the best deals.

💊 Travel insurance

Having good travel insurance will give you peace of mind. Check Insubuy (general) or Safetywing (for nomads) to find the best travel insurance that fits your needs.

🎡 Tours and activities

There are a lot of fun tours and activities in the south of Spain. Check Viator and Get Your Guide to find the best guided tours and activities.

Read more about Spain

Want to read more about traveling to Spain? Here are some great travel guides:

The Rough Guide to Spain

Lonely Planet Spain

I myself travel to beautiful Spain almost every year, which is why you can find a lot on this website about traveling in Spain. You might like to read these articles as well:

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The best things to do in Cuenca Spain


As a girl from a small town in the Netherlands, I always dreamed of traveling. I thought it would always be a dream, but nowadays, I travel 6 to 8 months a year and I hike thousands of miles on the most beautiful hiking trails. On this website you can read all about my favorite destinations.

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