Cuenca City Guide Cuenca City Guide

Cuenca City Guide



The best travel guide to Cuenca: top things to do, hotel recommendations, best restaurants and tips by local experts

Cuenca is located in Castilla La Mancha, towards the center of Spain. The city of Cuenca is the capital of the province that shares the same name. The city was founded during the Moorish occupation of Spain when the invaders recognized the strategic importance of the area. The Moors built a fortress which they named Kunka, which would become the cities name. the city was built in a gorge between the Juncar and Huécar rivers and quickly became an agricultural and textile manufacturing hub and quickly began to grow.

Cuenca travel guide - Contents

Recomended Hotel In Cuenca

NH Ciudad de Cuenca: Excellent modern lodgings in Cuenca

NH Ciudad de Cuenca is located in the center of Cuenca, just a 5-minute drive from the Historic Center of Cuenca

The rooms are sleek, modern, and brightly lit and feature air conditioning, free WIFI, parquet floors, satellite TV, and a mini-bar, as well as central heating and a private bathroom.

The hotel houses a top-notch restaurant that specializes in traditional Manchego cuisine. A buffet-style breakfast is served every morning.

In the vicinity, you will find several shops, restaurants, and bars are available. Free public parking is available in the area, and buses to the historic center and Fernando Zobel Train Station stop right outside the hotel.


Bedrooms at NH Ciudad de Cuenca

All the rooms at the NH Ciudad de Cuenca are decorated in a modern style and feature wooden floors. The hotel offers the possibility of booking a room with connecting rooms, which is great for families. All rooms are modern an equipped satellite TV, air-conditioning, free WIFI, a minibar, central heating, and a private bathroom.

Restaurants and food

The hotel offers a breakfast buffet with fresh products prepared every morning, that includes a wide variety of fresh juices, pastries, cold cuts, cheeses, fruit, yogurt, loaves of bread and much more.

The hotel’s restaurant is located on the ground floor. The varied menu offers traditional Mediterranean cuisine prepared from seasonal produce, with a contemporary twist incorporating modern cooking techniques. 


The NH Ciudad de Cuenca is located in the quiet residential area of San Fernando, approximately 15-minutes on foot from the city’s old quarter, and the UNESCO World Heritage “Hanging Houses”.

The hotel is 25 minutes walk from the Cuenca Auditorium and Congress Center, 8 km from Zobel train station, and a half an hour’s walk from the old town cathedral and St. Paul’s bridge

5 Top Reasons To Visit Cuenca

hanging houses cuenca

The Hanging Houses

The hanging houses of Cuenca are located, as their name indicates in the city of Cuenca, a city about 2 hours southeast from Madrid. They are an iconic fixture of Castilla la Mancha as are, for example, the Don Quijote Windmills, and have been declared a UNESCO world heritage site.

The city of Cuenca is worth visiting, even if you don’t visit the hanging houses. The city is built high up on a cliff and features a spectacular old quarter, a majestic cathedral, and some of the best food you will taste in Castilla la Mancha.

History of the Hanging Houses of Cuenca

These peculiar houses get their name because they are built on the edge of a cliff with large balconies that project outward, suspended over the Húecar River below. The houses were first depicted by the Flemish artist Anton van den Wyngaerde in 1565.

The original hanging houses were built in the years between the XIII century to the XV century, making it all the more impressive. Over the years they have needed renovations and upkeep, of course, but the buildings have been standing for centuries. Only three 100% original houses still stand and can be visited.

One of the more modern buildings houses the Spanish Museum of Abstract Art. The museum displays an assortment of sculptures and paintings from the 50’s and 60’s belonging to the abstract movement. Artists like Antoni Tàpies, Eduardo Chillida, and Fernando Zobel are all featured in this wonderful little museum.

ciudad encantada cuenca

Ciudad encantada or the Enchanted City

There are many hiking trails near Cuenca. The stunning views from Mirador Barrio del Castillo of the Huécar River gorge are worth the trek and the scenic path along the Río Júcar is a good workout but well worth the sweat. But, the one place you should definitely set some time aside to visit is the Ciudad Encantada or Enchanted City, an other-worldly landscape created by millennia of erosion. The elements have been carved out over thousands of years of amazing natural sculptures that you can visit. The landscape is quite literally enchanting, the noise seems oddly muffled and everything is abnormally quiet and still. 

The Spanish Museum of Abstract Art 

No one currently lives in the hanging houses, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing interesting inside. The Casas Colgadas are now home to a surprisingly amazing little museum, the Museo de Arte Abstracto Español. The museum displays works of some of Spain’s most important abstract artists like Eduardo Cillida, César Manrique, and Gerardo Rueda. As an added bonus, you get to enjoy the views from the actual hanging houses, which is almost worth the price of admission. 

cathedral of cuenca

Cathedral of Cuenca 

Located in the heart of the historic city center of Cuenca, in their Plaza Mayor, you will find the Cathedral. This majestic edification was built from 1196 to 1257 hand has been the spiritual heart of the city ever since. The cathedral offers a self-guided audio tour that covers every detail and hidden secret of the Cathedral. 

Top Attraction Near Cuenca

Belmonte castle in Cuenca

Belmonte Cuenca

Comprising three squares buildings, the Belmonte Castle is the quintessence of what a castle should be like. The three buildings form a courtyard in the shape of an equilateral triangle. In the middle of this triangle, there is a fine gothic fountain.

The walls of the Belmonte castle descend to the town. They have towers, embrasures, and parapets.

The castle of Belmonte was declared a national monument and it is one of the best-preserved buildings of its sort in Spain. The rooms, windows, chimneys, parapets, and courtyards are all very interesting.

Located on the top of the hill known as the Cerro de San Cristobal just next to the village of Belmonte, from where the castle takes its name. Belmonte is a historic village located in the province of Cuenca (home of the hanging houses, one of Spain´s top attractions). Belmonte is also part of the route of Don Quixote and a great stop whilst you may enjoy the beautiful Don Quixote windmills.

Built as a palace and fortress, the Belmonte castle was a royal residence, but also in later times, a jail.  This is without a doubt one of the most impressive castles to visit in Spain: it is a travel to ancient times, and you will be delighted by the grandeur of its rooms, with special attention to its ceilings.

Don Juan Manuel, a famous writer, and warrior was responsible for building the defenses of the castle.

The Belmonte castle can be visited. The tours are very interesting. You may also prefer to opt for a tour from Madrid which includes also the route of Don Quixote.

Many famous Spanish films have used the Belmonte castle to shoot: The Lord of the rings, the Cid, Juana la Loca or El Caballero don Quijote have all made use of this fantastic castle. Once you visit it and get inspired by its shape far in the horizon you will understand what has taken so many directors to get in love with it.

How to get to the Cuenca?

If you are traveling from Madrid, the simplest way is by car. The drive takes about 2 hours and it will take you through some beautiful country. You can even choose to take a slight detour and visit the Royal Palace of Aranjuez as you travel south from Spain’s capital.

If you are staying in Barcelona,  Cuenca might not be the best option for a day trip. Whether you are traveling by car or by train, it will take about 6 hours, and there is no good connection. If you are up to the trek or you are on your way to another region of Spain, then go right ahead.

It will take you under 2 hours to get there by car from Madrid, and slightly longer from Valencia, and is one of the best options if you are looking for a day trip if you are visiting Madrid or Valencia. 

Another great option is to take the train. There are trains that leave from the Atocha train station in the center of town practically every hour. It will take about an hour to get there and cost about 50€ round-trip. the Cuenca train station is located in the center of town so this is a great option as well. If you choose to walk from the station to the hanging houses it will take about half an hour but it will allow you to stroll through town and get a taste of what Cuenca is all about before you reach your destination.
ave map spain 2023

Best Time To Visit Cuenca

If you want to avoid Cuenca at its busiest, May, February, and March are the months to avoid. Hotel prices are at their highest at this point. June seems to be your safest bet since the weather is still great and prices go down a bit. June can get a bit toasty, though, so keep that in mind. 

As a personal suggestion, and if you are not averse to the mild cold of the Spanish winter, December is a magical time to visit this already magical city.

Weather In Cuenca

Cuenca enjoys continental weather with very hot and dry summers.

Video tour of Cuenca

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