Cuenca, where the f*ck is Cuenca might you ask. Well so did I when I found out I had a job opportunity there to work at the UIMP with students learning English in the summer of 2013. I had a little look on Google Maps (my favourite app ever), and managed to get myself a summer job in this small Spanish city. I got on a bus from Madrid and made my way through the beautiful Spanish countryside on a warm day in the middle of July.
I’d already managed to find myself a couchsurfing host who also happened to be working in the same school and agreed she’d help me for the first couple of nights. After that I managed to persuade a lovely Spanish family to host me for the following weeks while I helped them practise English. I was lucky to have had free accommodation during my time in Cuenca as I was only working during the evenings and not earning much money.
Cuenca is a small city and also part of a sexual Spanish joke ‘ponerte mirando cuenca’. The look on most peoples faces when I tell them I lived in Cuenca is a sight, usually followed by ‘pero por que??’.
I really enjoyed my time in Cuenca, it’s a lovely quiet town with gorgeous countryside and a university. Perhaps if I was there for a very long period of time including in winter, it could get a bit boring and lonely. However I had a great time during my summer here and I would certainly recommend Cuenca for a weekend trip if you enjoy hiking, architecture and nice bars and of course to see the hanging houses!
What to do During the Day
If you are a big fan of Hiking, rock climbing, swimming outside, nature, architecture, you will love Cuenca! So remember your hiking boots and swimming costume.
Breakfast! Head to Cafebar martina for the biggest toastada you ever ate in your entire life!
Cuenca actually has a “beach“, yes it’s a fake beach, but its still a beach, located on the riverside. It costs around 2 euros to go inside and is owned by the council, there are some nice sun loungers, a swimming pool, a bar restaurant and sand! I would recommend going there if you don’t fancy sitting on the rocks by the river and want to be somewhere more comfortable.
However, of course there are times when you simply want to jump into the Rio Jucàr and sit in the grass beside it without making the effort of going inside the fake beach. I spent many days drinking beers by the river, jumping off the rocks, enjoying the sun and the nature. One of my favourite bars is also along side the river and away from the main town, head to Terraza Del Jucar for some great drinks and amazing amounts of free tapas to go with them!
There is an old tunel, Tunel de Alfonso VIII which starts right under the small river waterfall if you follow it you end up on the other side of town. I thought it was maybe a little creepy but there are guided tours in the tunnel or go it alone (bring a torch and I hope you aren’t scared of bugs).
As I said, Cuenca is amazing for Hiking and for me it was really nice to be around a different atmosphere than the big city life of Madrid or Valencia. It’s fairly hot but there is a lot of shade from the trees and so many beautiful walks around the city. Here are some of my favourites.
The old town of Cuenca is definitely the most important part, and don’t be put off by the steep walk up to it (it’s good for your thighs) as the view at the top is definitely worth it. You can see most of the city from there and the buildings are incredible to see, especially the famous Hanging Houses which were built over a steep drop and have an overhang, a little scary to say the least!
What to do During the Night
I went for dinner in the pizza restaurant Piccolo at the bottom of the old town and it was a really nice place.
There is this amazing bar Grotte Del Huesca which is totally cool as it’s built into the rock and is basically inside a huge cave! It was very spectacular to be in and the prices were pretty reasonable considering its such a special place. Even if you decide to sit outside there are some nice views of the old town. They also played some really cool alternative indie music which for me, made it even better!
My favourite Part
I walked up to “Jesus” (Statue at the top of the hill) and it was one of the best parts of Cuenca for me. It wasn’t too far maybe 1 hour walk from the centre and possible in flip-flops although you may find it easier in proper shoes. I really enjoyed the walk, it was around 9pm (in August) so there were not too many people around and it meant we managed to see the last of the sunset from the top. It is a really chilled place to sit and a place I would probably like to go and sit and think or talk about the meaning of life with someone.
I enjoyed this walk the most and I would certainly recommend it! The best way to get there is to go over the old Sant Paul bridge (also a nice way to see the old town) and up the path to the left. This site explains more on how to get there.
I lived in Cuenca in 2013 and returned for a weekend in 2015, some of the photos and events are a mixture of both occasions.
If you want to ask me anything else about life in Cuenca, feel free to leave me a comment 🙂