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Safety Tips

Cuenca is a safe city, but like in any other city, you should observe some commonsense practices so that you are not a target for pickpockets.  This is especially true in markets or in crowded streets during the fiestas.

  • Do not put any valuables in your back pocket or outside jacket pockets.
  • Women should carry a purse that they can sling across a shoulder so that it hangs in front.
  • Do not put valuables in backpacks as they can be opened without detection.

Credit Card Purchases

You will need a government-issued picture ID to make credit card purchases in some stores.  Although they will ask for a cédula or passport, most places will also accept a driver’s license.  Make a photocopy of your passport and leave your original passport at home.  There are shops everywhere that make photocopies.

When making large purchases, some stores have a different price for credit card purchases than for cash purchases.  You can typically save about 5% if you pay in cash. 

Return Policy

Please remember:  Once you buy something it is yours.  Most shops do not take returns.  However, some of the larger department stores do, but only if the item is defective.


Tía Mini-Market

When you exit the main entrance, one block to the left on Calle Larga is the Tía min-market.  This is directly across the street from the large Mercado 10 de Agosto.  There you can find groceries and a large variety of other merchandise.


This large and modern supermarket has three locations in Cuenca.  The closest location is the “SuperMaxi Vergel”, which is just a 15-minute walk to the other side of the river, on the other side of Parque de la Madre.  There are taxis waiting just outside the supermarket if you need to return with a big load of groceries. 

Indigenous Produce Markets

Mercado 10 de Agosto

Just one block from the main entrance on Calle Larga, is the large Mercado 10 de Agosto.  This market is filled with all sorts of inexpensive fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, and fish.  Upstairs, there are many tasty food stands, as well as fruit juice stands.  Both upstairs and downstairs, the market is divided into sections based on the type of food.

Feria Libre (El Arenal)

This huge market is the largest in the city, located at on Avenida de Las Américas at Solano.  Spread over acres of land, it is open every day of the week.  It is a fabulous place, full of bustle, color and atmosphere.  The biggest days for the market are Wednesday and Saturday mornings.  Because pickpocketing is common, do not wear jewelry and watch your camera and wallet.  Numerous bus lines go there or take a $2 - $3 ride taxi ride.

Other Markets

Casa Yangoe

This is an organic market that includes groceries, two restaurants, as well as Ecuadorian arts and crafts.  It is a great place to go shopping, eat, or have a glass of wine.  Sometimes they offer live music.  Casa Yangoe is located at Benigno Malo 5-16 y Calle Larga, second door to the right off Calle Larga.


El Batán

Located in the center of Cuenca, at Av. Remigio Crespo and Calle Santa Cruz, not far from Feria Libre.  The main store is a large Coral department store and supermarket.  The mall features, a food court, and a multiplex movie theater.  However, if you want English language moves with Spanish subtitles, go to the Milenium Plaza.

Mall del Río

This is the largest shopping center in Cuenca.  It is a North American style shopping mall complete with movie theater and food court.  You can just walk across the bridge to the other side of the river and take the number 7 bus.  You can also take a taxi form $2.50 or $3.00.  All taxi drivers know where it is.

Milenium Plaza

Just across the river, between Parque de la Madre and SuperMaxi is the Milenium Plaza mall.  You will find a variety of shops, a food court, and a multiplex movie theater that shows many current movies in English.  Just look for the movies that indicate that they have subtitles (subtítulos).

Wayra Plaza

Cuenca’s newest shopping center.  Located not far from the city center, on Av. 24 de Mayo, adjacent to Parque Paraíso.  The shopping center is 52,000 square meters and has several floors.

Some of Wayra Plaza’s popular stores include:

  • MegaMaxi – a huge supermarket.
  • Sukasa – a huge two-story store with everything for your household.
  • MegaKiwi – a huge hardware store.
  • MaxiTec – an electronics store.
  • Tatoo – a clothing store.
  • Playful – a toy store.
  • Sweet and Coffee – a popular place to enjoy coffee and sweets.

There are several bus lines that you can use to get to Wayra Plaza, or it is a very short trip by taxi.


El Francès

Delicious bread and French pastries.  The owner is a Frenchman who loves to bake fresh croissants and macarons.

Honorato Vásquez 6-26 y Hermano Miguel.  Tel. 096-705-5690.

María’s Alemania Bakery

German bakery with lots of wonderful bread, pastries, and cookies.

Calle Hermano Miguel 8-13 y Mariscal Sucre.  Tel. 07-283-4684.

Panadería Cuatro Ríos

Pastry shop with delicious bread and pastries.  Go early in the morning for the best selection.

Padre Aguirre 9-40 y Simón Bolívar.  Tel. 099-830-2764.


Supermarket with some quite good bread.  See the description above under Supermarkets.


San Francisco Market

An outdoor market at Presidente Córdova, between Padre Aguirre and General de Torres.  Many interesting handcrafts.

Municipal Arts Center

Next to San Francisco Market, on General de Torres, has indoor shops with beautiful handcrafts.

Rotary Market (Mercado de Artesanías Rotary)

On Gaspar Sangurima between Mariano Cuervo and Vargas Machuca is another place to shop for handcrafted goods.  Most shops close between 1PM and 3PM.


There is an outdoor flower market, located just south of the new cathedral on Mariscal Sucre and Padre Aguirre.  You can bargain for the prices.

Although it is worth visiting, keep in mind that it is a tourist attraction, so you may pay higher prices.  Often you can find better bargains in the many little flower shops you will find throughout the city.


If you are looking for English language books, Carolina Book Store has a decent selection of new and used books and maps.  It is located on Hermano Miguel between Calle Larga and Honorato Vásquez.


Almost every street in Cuenca has a pharmacy that sells medical drugs and personal care items.  You can purchase many drugs over the counter in Ecuador that require a prescription in the United States.

Alcoholic Beverages

You can purchase alcoholic beverages in local supermarkets and liquor stores.  You cannot purchase alcoholic beverages within a few days before general elections!

Imported alcoholic beverages carry a remarkably high tax.  To save considerable money, purchase brands produced in Ecuador or South America.  Ecuador produces some very good rum and beer, as well as certain types of whiskey.  There is a wide variety of wines from Argentina and Chile for a reasonable price.


Excellent selection of wines.
Av. Fray Vicente Solano y Aurelio Aguilar. Tel. 099-527-9191

Spas and Haircuts

Piedra Ámbar Spa

Massage, acupressure, chiropractic adjustments, jacuzzi, pedicure, manicure, facial.  The owner, Betty Molina, is a chiropractic doctor.  Located right next door to Casas del Nogal.

Calle Larga 10-11 y Padre Aguirre.
Tel. 098-396-1442

Hilda’s Spa

Cut, color, pedicure, massage, facial.  Both men and women.

Av. Americas 29-127 (across from SuperMaxi)
Tel. 098-195-6056