Cuenca Transportation and Orientation
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Officially known as “Saint Ann of the Four Rivers of Cuenca,” it’s not surprising that the city sits among four rivers. The river Machangara serves as the city’s northern limit, the river Tomebamba – which means “River Valley of Knives” – runs through the historic district, and the river Yanuncay and the river Tarqui flow through the southern suburbs. The most visible of the four is Tomebamba, which separates Cuenca’s colonial heart from several new residential areas, the stadium, and the city’s main university.
Plazoleta del Carmen – many come to take a look at the daily flower market in the church’s plaza. Also a main bus stop.
Most travelers spend the majority of their time in the historic area between the river Tomebamba and the street Gran Colombia to the north, General Torres to the west, and Hermano Miguel to the east. This area’s compactness, grid-like layout, and numerous readily identifiable monuments make it easy to navigate. Outside this area you may find the city confusing, as there are dozens of narrow colonial streets with similar buildings.
Cuenca’s inter-provincial bus station, called the Terminal Terrestre as it is in most cities, is well organized and clean, much more so than the central bus station in Quito. It is located on Avenida España in the northeastern corner of the city, a twenty-minute walk or a brief taxi ride from the historic center. Also, buses to the station leave frequently from Avenida Padre Aguirre by the flower market.
The airport, named Aeropuerto Mariscal Lamar, is located due east of the Terminal Terrestre on Avenida España. It’s a 5-minute walk from the bus station and buses run regularly from Avenida Padre Aguirre by the flower market to the airport and from the airport to downtown and other locations around the city. TAME usually offers three daily flights to Quito, and Austo Aereo and TAME offer three daily flights to Guayaquil, though the schedules and frequency change from time to time. For a full list of destinations, times, and prices, call the airlines.
Austro Aereo: 07-848659
Cuenca’s local bus network is not nearly as expansive as Guayaquil’s or Quito’s, and locals frequently opt to walk or take taxis. Having said this, buses do run regularly from the inter-provincial bus station and the airport to downtown and vice-versa. The buses from downtown leave from Avenida Padre Aguirre by the flower market.
There is a station southeast of town that used to connect Sibambe, Guayaquil, and Cuenca. This railway was closed in 1995 but there is occasionally talk of reopening it. You may inquire locally about the possible reopening but don’t bank on it.