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Best Areas to Stay in Cuenca Ecuador

Planning to visit one of Ecuadore's most beautiful cities and wondering which is the best area to stay in?


I have you covered! From safety to convenience, I will share with you the best areas to stay in Cuenca.


  1. Best areas to stay in Cuenca

  2. Safest areas to stay in Cuenca

  3. Areas to avoid in Cuenca

Best Areas to Stay in Cuenca Ecuador Explained

El Centro is the historic heart of Cuenca and the top choice for visitors, especially if you're in town for a short stay and want to see all the main sights. Right in the city center, it's where you can really feel the buzz of Cuenca.


This area is packed with things to see and do, from beautiful old churches and museums that share Cuenca's history to lively squares where locals and visitors mingle. El Centro is where Cuenca's past and present meet. You'll find everything from traditional Ecuadorian shops selling local crafts to modern cafes.


Staying in El Centro means you're within walking distance from the best attractions, and it's easy to get around to other parts of the city too. It's perfect for those who want to dive into Cuenca's culture, taste the local food, and explore without needing to travel far. For a real taste of Cuenca's life, El Centro is the place to be.


el-centro-cuenca-ecuador

Ideal for: Short-term travelers that want to be close to all the sites and be in the heart of the city.

Safety: This area is fairly safe. There is a police presence and no major crimes. Said this, in general in South America, wherever you are in the historic tourist areas there will be pickpockets. So just be aware of your belongings and do not wander around in the late hours.

Pricing: As the historic center offers cheap hostels and lovely boutique hotels the prices really vary from what your preferences are. Note, that you will definitely save on transport as everything is within walking distance and you really won't be using public transport or taxis.


Here I want to add a comment, that you might be hearing about the San Blas area. This area is basically a part of El Centro. Some people might differentiate it from El Centro, but within a 1-minute walk, you are in the historic center, so I include San Blas as part of the El Centro. The same rules for safety and pricing apply.


Another thing you have to consider when visiting Cuenca is the altitude. The city's average altitude is 2,560 meters so if Cuenca is the first city you are visiting after being at sea level, you might experience headaches, fatigueness, and even some sickness.

San Sebastian situated a 20-30 minute walk away from El Centro, offers a quieter, more relaxed vibe while still being close to the heart of Cuenca. Its standout feature is the beautiful San Pedro Del Cebollar Park located right behind the area, blending urban convenience with a touch of nature. This makes it an ideal spot for digital nomads planning to stay in Cuenca for a month or longer, who appreciate a serene environment but still want easy access to the bustling city center. With its combination of tranquility, green spaces, and proximity to El Centro's vibrant cultural and social scene, San Sebastian provides the perfect balance.


san-sebastian-cuenca-ecuador

Ideal for: Digital Nomads looking for a base for a longer period of time.

Safety: This area is safe as it is a popular area for expats.

Pricing: As the area is more suburb-like, there will be fewer hotel options and more Airbnb and apartment options. Renting long-term is always budget-friendlier. Note, that although the area is fairly safe, in general in Ecuador I would not wander around in the late hours, so you might be spending some extra budget for taxis and public transport.


Again, you might be hearing people using names like Puertas del Sol and Ordonez Lasso. These two are smaller areas within San Sebastian. Again, the above rules apply the same as per San Sebastian.


A 20-minute walk across the Tomebamba River from El Centro takes you to El Vergel, a neighborhood that contrasts with the historical charm of El Centro by offering a more modern living experience. It's particularly appealing to expats due to its blend of contemporary conveniences, though it does come with a higher price tag.


The area is well-equipped with amenities, including close proximity to major supermarkets and a variety of restaurants and cafes. Parque De La Madre, a large green space perfect for leisure and outdoor activities, is also right on your doorstep.


El Vergel is known for being a safe, secure location that's conveniently close to El Centro, offering the best of both worlds: modern amenities and easy access to Cuenca's city center.


el-vergel-cuenca-ecuador

Ideal for: Digital Nomads who like convenience. People who want to explore the city's history and culture but stay in a convenient modern location.

Safety: This area is safe as it is a popular area for expats.

Pricing: This will be the most expensive area among the 3 mentioned ones.


Safest Areas to Stay in Cuenca Ecuador


cuenca-ecuador

I chose the 3 best areas also based on safety matters as it is usually the main concern when traveling Ecuador and South America. The above 3 areas are safe to stay in. Just as always, be aware of your belongings, and as a general rule, do not wander alone in the late hours. I always opt in for a taxi to get from A to B without issues. I personally used Uber in all South American countries and had the best experience. I find Uber safer than local taxis, as specific cities have a bad reputation with local taxis.


But I would like to mention another area where you can stay that is fairly safe. I would not put this as my top choice as it is not particularly the most attractive area. It is a more practical area with great access to public transport, the biggest supermarkets, etc. It is a great area to live in but not for those visiting. But if you are considering your accommodation options then all the area on the other side of the Tomebamba River is safe to stay:


safest-areas-in-cuenca-ecuador

Areas to Avoid in Cuenca Ecuador 

While Cuenca is widely regarded as one of the safer cities in Ecuador, especially in comparison to larger cities, it's important to be cautious in certain areas, particularly after dark. The city's lower crime rates and community-oriented atmosphere contribute to its overall safety, but like any urban area, there are places where one should be more vigilant. A few specific areas that were brought to my attention while visiting were:


cuenca-ecuador-dangerous-areas

La Merced Area. Also, the Bus Station Terminal Terrestre is located in this area so be extra cautious when traveling with the bus as pickpockets are especially active in the La Merced area and around the bus station.



I have to mention the Cayambe area. In case you do decide to opt in for San Sebastian. Cayambe is an area within San Sebastian located more in the North part. Although you as a tourist won't be targeted there have been mentioned some drug and gang-related crimes. So the red circle is the Cayambe area and then the green zone is safe to be:


safe-zones-cuenca

The above-mentioned locations, Puertas del Sol and Ordonez Lasso are in the green zone, so you can do your accommodation search around those two spots!


It's important to note that specific "unsafe" areas can vary over time due to changes in local law enforcement efforts and community initiatives.

In this guide, I focused on travelers and short-term visitors who are visiting Cuenca for tourism but Cuenca is quite popular for expats too! For people that are moving over, there are even more options. I have listed them below. Those areas will require you to have a car but might be better for long-term stays as the rental prices are lower.


  1. Turi

  2. Ciudadela de los Ingenieros

  3. Machangara

  4. Challuabamba

  5. Colinas de Challuabamba

  6. Cebollar

  7. San Joaquín


If you wish to travel without worries, consider opting in for travel insurance with SafetyWing. They offer great rates for South American countries compared to other insurance companies.

I had an amazing time in Cuenca as there is so much to see and do! If you are planning a trip to Cuenca, make sure to check out my Cuenca Travel Guide or watch the video below for some inspiration ⬇️


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