I have some family in town here in Madrid, and I wanted to show them someplace special. Someplace beautiful. Someplace enchanted.
So we went to Cuenca.
Cuenca is a bit further from Madrid, about 2 hours by car or 1 hour by train. It makes for a great overnight trip to escape the hustle and bustle of Madrid. This 16th century town is made up of twisty cobbled streets, a quaint Plaza Mayor, a beautiful Cathedral, and, most impressive, amazing views.
The Abstract art museum is located inside the renovated Casas Colgadas (Hanging Houses), just off the Plaza de Ronda. A suspension bridge, just behind the abstract art museum, will take you to the convent across the gorge. This 16th century convent has been turned into a luxury parador.
We spent our time in Cuenca wandering the town, getting lost on little side streets, and taking advantage of endless photo opportunities. You need good shoes to explore these windy streets! Your calves will get quite the workout from the incline. I recommend eating at the top of the town, in the Castillo barrio. There was a nice grill restaurant with an outdoor patio, a perfect place to get a glass of wine or a beer and indulge in some panceta a la brasa and a side of asparagus with lemon. The location at the top of the town is a great place to watch the sunset.
How to get there: There are Avanza buses that leave from Mendez Alvaro that take 2.5 hours (the express service is 2 hours). 11.25Euro each way. There is also a new high speed AVE that will take you to Cuenca in under an hour, but the cost is higher (33Euro one way). When you arrive in Cuenca by bus or train you will be in the more modern part of town, and it’s not particularly special or attractive. But keep walking, the old quarter is where all the sights are.
Where to Stay: We stayed at Hotel Alfonso VIII, which was just outside of the old quarter of the city, by the Parque de San Julian (the saint of Cuenca). The rate was very good at 66 Euro for a triple room, and the rooftop restaurant and bar had a picturesque view of the town. There were many small hostels, hotels, and pensiones in the old town as well.