Cuenca Car Hire
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Known as the ‘City of Hanging Houses’, Cuenca is one of Spain’s most impressive cities. Brimming with historic and cultural charm, it boasts a UNESCO-listed historical centre, two showstopping art galleries and a rich culinary scene. With the sprawling Parque Natural Serranía de Cuenca right on the city’s doorstep, outdoor adventures abound too.
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Guide of Cuenca
Cuenca is located right in the heart of the country, in Castilla-La Mancha. It sits on a rocky spur on a high plateau called the Meseta Central, surrounded by soaring mountain ranges. The deep gorges of the Júcar and Huécar rivers run alongside the city and have inspired Cuenca’s unique architecture.
Climate in Cuenca
Cuenca enjoys a continental Mediterranean climate, with hot and dry summers and cold winters. Temperatures between June and September range between 28°C and 34°C, though heatwaves are not uncommon and temperatures soar. Winters tend to be cold in Cuenca, with temperatures of between 4°C and 11°C. Occasional snowfall can occur too.
One of the most pleasant times to visit Cuenca is in late spring when temperatures are milder and the region begins to bloom. Rainfall tends to increase during the autumn, though this is still comparatively low.
Cuenca boasts a rich cultural heritage and is renowned for its unique and well-preserved architecture, vibrant festivals and lively art and music scene. The historic centre is now a Unesco World Heritage Site and has been recognised as an exceptional example of a medieval fortress town, with its famous casas colgadas (hanging houses) suspended from the cliffs.
Beyond medieval sights, Cuenca has established itself as a hub for art and creativity. Two of its most iconic buildings house renowned modern art galleries: the Museum of Abstract Art and the Fundacion Antonio Perez. The city also hosts a wide variety of arts festivals and events that attract prolific global artists and local emerging talent throughout the year.
Things To Do in Cuenca
Explore the Casco Antiguo
These striking houses hang precariously over the flowing Rio Huecar below. Dating back to the 14th century, the houses are made from layers of wood. Head to the Puente de San Pablo bridge for the best views (and photo opportunities).
See masterpieces at the Museo de Arte Abstracto Espanol
The Museum of Abstract Art is housed inside a refurbished casco antiguo. The gallery boasts some of the country’s finest abstract art, with works from Eusbio Sempere, Antonio Saura, Fernando Zobel and Antoni Tapies.
Visit the Cathedral of Cuenca
Built in a neo-Gothic style in 1902, the original Cathedral de Cuenca was built on the sights of a mosque in 1177. Visitors can book an audio tour for insights into the jaw-dropping 20th-century stained glass window, Renaissance doorways and lofty bell tower.
Take a trip to the Serrania de Cuenca Natural Park
This 187,000-acre protected park encompasses stunning rock formations, caves, cascading waterfalls and flowing rivers, all just outside of the city centre. The park is also home to rare endemic plant species and a range of native wildlife, including roe deer, golden eagles and griffon vultures.
Eating Out in Cuenca
Cuenca’s culinary scene has been heavily influenced by its location and many of its most traditional dishes showcase local ingredients and flavours. Popular dishes include zarajos (grilled lamb wrapped around vine shoots), ajoarrier (codfish stew) and gazpacho manchego (meat and vegetable stew). The wider Castilla-La Mancha region is famous for its manchego cheese, which you’ll often find served as a tapa or as part of a hearty dish in restaurants across the city.
Cuenca is part of the La Mancha wine region, one of the largest wine-producing areas in the world. Popular local wines are made from grape varieties like Tempranillo, Bobal and Airen.
The city is brimming with brilliant tapas bars, cafes and restaurants. For Michelin-approved fine dining, Raff San Pedro is an excellent option. The restaurant is housed in the former stables of an aristocratic stone mansion, which is part of the Leonor de Aquitania hotel group. Other popular local restaurants include Oleo Comedor and Casa de la Sirena.
The nearest airport to Cuenca is Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD), which is located approximately 102 miles (165 km) northwest of the city. As Spain’s largest and busiest airport, it offers a wide range of international and domestic flights from European, US and Spanish cities.
The easiest way to get from the airport to Cuenca is by car. The drive takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes, depending on the traffic conditions. There is also a direct bus from the airport, operated by ALSA. The journey takes 2-2.5 hours. Or, you could take the train. If you do choose this option, you will need to take a taxi, bus or metro from the airport to Madrid-Chamartin station. The train journey takes between 1.5 and 2 hours, depending on whether you are on a fast train.
Getting around Cuenca
Most of the main attractions in Cuenca are within easy reach of each other and can be explored on foot. Casco Antiguo (the historic centre) is now a Unesco-listed World Heritage Site, so it’s easiest to explore this neighbourhood by walking. If you’re staying in another neighbourhood, there is a local bus network and a tourist train, which offers guided tours of the city’s main attractions. It’s worth noting that Cuenca is a bike-friendly city too, with a handful of urban bike paths and trails.
However, if you’re hoping to get out of the city to explore surrounding towns and rural attractions, we recommend hiring a car. Driving around the city (outside of the historic centre) is relatively easy and stress-free. Most hotels and apartments offer parking too. Plus, it will give you more flexibility and freedom to explore at your own pace.