The city of the Hanging Houses is much closer than you think and is easily accessible by both road and train (just 50 minutes by AVE from Madrid).
Millions of people have had their picture taken in front of the Hanging Houses, without a doubt, one of the most iconic sights in old Cuenca. However, this travel destination has so much more to offer if you take the time to enjoy a leisurely tour of the city and surrounding area. And be sure to bring your thirst for adventure! Shall we begin?
Day 1: Hanging Houses and incredible bridges
One of the spots which will undoubtedly ring a bell, as you have probably seen it in thousands of photos of the Hanging Houses, is San Pablo Bridge, located just below the famous houses. This footbridge will take you to the Parador de Cuenca, formerly San Pablo Monastery, dating from the 16th century. The hotel offers one of best views of the city, as you will see for yourself.
If you arrive at dusk, drop your bags off at the hotel and hurry to snap a photo of one of the houses just as the lights come on. The change is spectacular, with the lights lending the city a fairytale quality. The perfect spot from which to photograph this famous sight is at the halfway point on San Pablo Bridge.
Day 2: Exploring the World Heritage City
You mean you didn't know? Well it's true, Cuenca is a World Heritage City, giving you all the more reason to explore its ancient streets. Surrounded by the Huécar and Júcar river gorges, for centuries this special site gave ancient Conca a strategic defensive position.
The old town was recognized by UNESCO in 1996. It is a perfect destination for discovering how cities were laid out centuries ago. If you are one of those people who enjoys a good wander through a new town, we offer a suggested route for keen walkers.
Take full advantage of the Parador's buffet breakfast. Then set off from the Parador, cross San Pablo Bridge and take path that heads off to the right, running along the base of the ancient city. As you follow it, make the most of this chance to get your fill of taking photos, because the views are incredible. The path is safe, a moderate difficulty trail that can be done with children. We recommend comfortable shoes (and of course, always carry some water and trail mix in a bag or backpack, just in case you run into difficulty).
After a 45-minute walk, you will reach the spot once occupied by the imposing Cuenca Castle. Today, all that remains are two towers and the entrance arch, known as Bezudo Arch).
This part of the city offers a number of restaurants where you can grab a bite and recover from your walk. Or if you have time, take a seat in one of the sidewalk cafés and enjoy the magnificent view.
And now that the climb is behind you, it's time to head back down to the center of Cuenca's old town. Walk through Bezudo Arch and continue along the street for about 10 minutes. It will lead you direct to the Plaza Mayor (Main Square), where the cathedral is located. Be sure to pay a visit to this example of the early Norman Gothic style. The light entering through the stained glass windows is extraordinary, making the interior of this magnificent religious building even more beautiful. (General admission is 3.50, subject to possible change.)
Spend the rest of the day enjoying a leisurely stroll through the streets. Cuenca is filled history, which can be found around virtually every corner.
Cuenca is a city of contrasts. If you continue heading downhill after exiting the cathedral, you will come to Alfonso VIII Street, where the façades of the houses are painted a variety of colours. As evening falls, the light reflects on them, offering wonderful contrasts.
After this intense day, take advantage of the opportunity to dine at the Parador and enjoy the cuisine prepared for you by our kitchen team. Be sure to try the house specialty: ajomortero (cod and potato purée).
Day 3: Ciudad Encantada
Outside the city itself, within just a few kilometers you will find a number of options to enjoy on this travel experience.
The Ciudad Encantada (Enchanted City) is well worth a visit on this getaway. If you enjoy nature and all of its creations, you will find this place truly fascinating. Located in the heart of the Cuenca Mountains, it features spectacular formations that emerged from the ancient Tethys Ocean. If you are traveling with children , they are going to love this excursion, which is a great chance to spend hours and hours exploring the rocks and describing their shapes.
So, what do you think of the plan? As you can see, it's perfect for a getaway with your partner, friends or even the little ones. Come discover Cuenca!