If you happened to come across my post on active vacation destinations, you’d probably remember that I mentioned Galapagos Islands in Ecuador on the list. But, what if you want to go to Ecuador, but you’d rather enjoy a city life somewhere in the country?
Today on this week’s $10 series, Megan of Packing Up the Pieces will share with us how far you could get around the city of Cuenca in Ecuador.
So, what could you get in Cuenca for $10?
What to Do When You’re in Cuenca on the Budget
The beautiful colonial city of Cuenca is located in the southern region of Ecuador, surrounded by the lush and fertile Andes mountains. Ecuador uses the US dollar as their currency, and $10 USD goes a long way in the city.
A Taste of Cuenca for $10
Start the day at a pharmacy?! Yes, many Cuencanos head to the pharmacy to drink a pink Soda Water.
This fizzy drink is used to help alleviate altitude sickness, dehydration, and even cure that pesky hangover. The pharmacists serve it up counter-side, so drink it fast for the best results.
Try Botica Y Drogeria Central, one of most beautiful pharmacies in Cuenca.
Cost: $1.50 USD
Museum-Hopping in Cuenca
After that bubbly wake-up call, visit one of the many diverse museums. All of the museums in Cuenca are free!
Museo Pumapungo is the most popular, showcasing the diverse groups of indigenous people. This impressive museum allows you to travel by region throughout the entire country. Don’t miss the Inca ruins outback that overlook the city.
Enjoy Your Lunch Like the Locals
Head back into Cuenca via the beautiful River Tomebamba. Notice all the street art lining the river.
For lunch, “do as the locals do” and eat an “almuerzo, a hearty daily menu.” Many almuerzo’s include a starter, main course, beverage, and dessert. Honorato Vásquez is a popular street to snag a filling almuerzo.
El Tunel serves up hearty plates of authentic Ecuadorian food.
Mercado 10 de Agosto
Next, tour the traditional Mercado 10 de Agosto. This local market has fresh produce, “mama’s” selling plant remedies, and plenty of food stalls.
A visit on a Tuesday or Friday is a must, due to the Limpia women conducting energy healing ceremonies. The cleaning rituals entail some unique and alternative means. Diagnosis comes in the form of a cracked egg.
Limpia Cleaning: $3 USD
Catch the Sunset at Parque Calderón
Around mid-afternoon start making the pilgrimage to Turi, an impressive vista to catch the sunset. The walk takes about an hour from Parque Calderón, but the views are worth it.
There’s a small church and a simple observatory deck. There are plenty of little restaurants, bars, and cafes serving up happy hour prices if you care to catch the sunset with a beverage. If you don’t want to walk down, a taxi is only a few dollars.
Total Cost for the Day: $7.00
Want More of Cuenca?
There’s so many more ways to experience the authentic side of Cuenca for under $10.
Participate in a Free Walking Tour (tip of course!), visit more free museums, wander into hidden plazas, sample homemade chocolate, sip on artisanal coffee, or even visit the local thermal baths for under $10.
Here is my complete 3 day itinerary on Things to See and Do in Cuenca, Ecuador.
Contributor: Megan from Packing Up the Pieces
Megan has been traveling the world for over 10 years, sharing her most authentic and budget-friendly travel experiences. She’s obsessed with hiking adventures, soaking in thermal waters, eating with locals, and providing itineraries that help fuel local economies.