Why I Love Cuenca's Parque Calderon

Posted in: Cuenca Ecuador, Ecuador Travel

Culture in Parque Calderon Cuenca EcuadorParque Calderon is in the center of Cuenca, it’s a beautiful little park where we like to sit, relax and enjoy the atmosphere of the city.

What Is Parque Calderon Like?

Parque Calderon differs from some of the other parks in Cuenca like Parque de la Madre and Parque Paraiso. It’s mainly just for sitting, visiting and people watching. There is no playground equipment or green space for picnics or sports.

Sometimes there are public performances and other displays set up around the perimeter of the park.

Parque Calderon in the middle of Cuenca

There are a lot of benches, flowers, trees and plants. The trees and plants are all behind little low fences, you can’t walk in among them, but you can sit and enjoy them. I really like the big trees with benches around them. The sun can get really strong in Cuenca and it’s nice to sit in the shade of a big tree.

ParquemCalderon Cuenca Ecuador

Every time we are at Parque Calderon we see tourist police. This can add to the atmosphere in the way that you may feel a little more relaxed knowing they are there and keeping an eye on everything.

Parque Calderon tourist police

Why We Like Parque Calderon

We really like Parque Calderon because it’s peaceful and convenient. Although it’s in the middle of the city we can still enjoy a little bit of nature sitting there and listing to the birds in the trees.

It’s the perfect place to take a break while shopping in the center, whether it’s just for 15 minutes – or for an hour and a half.

Parque Calderon in Cuenca Ecuador

We like picking up some bread at one of the local bakeries, taking it to the park for a snack and sharing some with the birds.

Parque Calderon feeding the birds

It’s also fun to watch people walking by, selling ice cream, taking photos for tourists and other things.

Parque Calderon tourist pictures

The dog is looking for customers

Parque Calderon tourists buying pictures

… and it works

It’s also a great place for drinking in the atmosphere. Sitting in the park on a sunny day enjoying the architecture and culture of Cuenca is a beautiful thing to do. There is often soft music playing on the speakers set up around the park which also adds to the pleasant atmosphere.

Ice cream in Parque Calderon

Friends and family that come to visit always enjoy visiting the park. It’s a great spot for photos.

Culture in Parque Calderon Cuenca Ecuador

Have you been to Parque Calderon? What did you think of it? Please share your thoughts by commenting on this post.

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Meet the Author

Since moving to Ecuador in 2009, Dena and Bryan have made their living as bloggers. Dena is a partner at Storyteller Media, a content marketing company for Canadian travel brands. She is a contributor to Bryan Haines and is co-founder of Click Like This - a photo tutorial blog.

31 comments… add one
  • Kristi Black Jan 19, 2016, 11:42 am

    Last night was our first night in Cuenca. After a delicious dinner at Raymipampa, we strolled around Parque Calderon. It is a beautiful park that is frequented by locals and foreigners, young and old. I was happy to find that our lodging is walking distance to this lovely park. We plan to visit it frequently during our stay!

  • Dennis Feb 11, 2014, 6:13 am

    I stay out of the parque because it is replete with old(er) Americans with backpacks on they never open, baseball hats, with a stooped shouldered shuffle, none of which have any social grace. They frequent all the “joints” with the We Speaky English signs hung out and never venture beyond five restaurants. Someone said it looks a lot like Orlando but for people on a very low, fixed income. 99 reasons to stay, but 1 reason to leave. Want to find an American? Look for a pack (usually) on the front, a hat and who appear to be text god knows whom.

  • Dena Haines Feb 4, 2014, 5:35 pm

    Thanks for all the comments on this post!

  • Hal/Kathy Moneymoney Jan 27, 2014, 1:41 pm

    Love to read your updates about Cuenca. Have been playing with the idea of a move to Cuenca for years. I believe my wife is more, let’s just do it, and I’m more of the research person. I hear a lot of good things about Cuenca and I have heard my share of bad things too. The economy in the US seems to be getting worse all the time and I AM ready for the move. However, neither of us speak Spanish or even enough to get our way from point A to point B. I recently read an article from a couple in Panama (that lived in Cuenca too) that you DO NOT move here unless you know Spanish well, along with the different dialects and inflections per country. The decision has been made, we will leave the US and either end up in Ireland, Italy or Ecuador. The climate and cost of living in Ecuador are really the sweet spot for the both of us. If my wife doesn’t land a job this week, then we will both be heading down for the first visit (several weeks) to get a taste of Ecuador. I’m still scared to death of being a stranger in a strange land and I don’t even speak the language. This is daunting to me, but I can’t make excuses any longer. I want to come down.
    Next are the questions about how I get from Quito airport to Cuenca –puddle jumper, bus, rental car?, What reasonably cheap hotel can we stay at and how to hook up with expats that can really be a little compassionate with us while were visiting. I will take Spanish lessons, I will hire a private tutor, I will go out of my way to be accepted by Ecuadorians, but I will not be treated like leper/gringo by rip off artist and con men everywhere. Let me know of any advice you can offer me. I can be down there within 30 days, if not earlier. Hal Money, Kathy Money

    • Bryan Haines Jan 29, 2014, 2:14 pm

      You should just fly from Quito to Cuenca. The flight is fast and cheap. Yesterday morning we flew Quito to Cuenca and is a good route. The flight is less than an hour and you’ll likely see snow-capped volcanoes out the left side of the airplane.

    • TerryDarc Feb 1, 2014, 8:44 pm

      Hal,
      I think you’ll do fine in Cuenca. Keep an open mind and your sense of humor. You might want to travel about for a week or so when you first go – Cuenca is not everyone’s cup of tea – we love it and are buying a place there, but some people would prefer a warmer climate, smaller city or whatever. So, you might want to set aside a couple weeks to travel to the coast, to the Oriente (small cities like Macas) or, Vilcabamba, Otavalo or Quito, wherever. They’re all different and all worth visiting. There’s a great bus system (and even trains!) that will take you around in much greater comfort than the buses you might be used to in your home country.

      We absolutely love Cuenca and are buying a place in the historic district – yippeeee! You may hate the cold, overcast of 8200′ elevation. We find it invigorating. If you keep that “sense of humor” thing going for both of you, you won’t NEED Spanish (maybe a phrasebook or a well-trained smart phone).

      People in restaurants, hotels, and may other businesses are going to want to practice their English on you. But let me suggest for both of you: get yourself into a Spanish language school – we went to Amauta on Hermano Miguel and I can personally recommend it. Check 123teachme.com for reviews of Cuenca Spanish schools.

      I recommend Amauta on Hermano MIguel but you may like another school. But, here’s the thing: the school (rather than private lessons) will get you associating with other student, teachers, staff and the area. All a good thing and the language lessons don’t hurt, either. Generally it’s one on one with breaks taken with other students & teachers PLUS after school activities. Treat it as more than just school – as a chance to meet other people including Ecuadorian teachers at the break. You can learn a tremendous amount about Cuenca in the bargain.

      Amauta’s very good at that. They called us back after we were done with classes and we went to a “paseo” in the country – free of charge and a blast. My teacher was there as were plenty of Ecuadorians. We played games, did stupid things together and had a great time and no big $$’s. In fact, the “paseo” out in the country – after we were done with classes – cost us exactly nothing.

      I guess my point is that the school will get you out-and-about and talking to/working with other people. Whichever school you choose, treat it as more than a language school. You can learn about the culture, the city, where to go/eat/get you laundry done, etc.

      On the housing front – allow me to recommend airbnb.com. This is a service that will put you in touch with people in Cuenca (and around the world) who rent out apartments and, more commonly, rooms in their house. This is a great way (and a lot cheaper than a hotel) to mix with an Ecuadorian (usually) family. Lots more fun than a hotel! Great place to practice your Spanish and a bunch cheaper. We’ll be using a couple places located in Cuenca when we visit in March. Might see you there!

      • Hal & Kathy Money Feb 3, 2014, 1:01 pm

        Dear Terry Darc,

        Thanks for all the great information, I will really put everything you said to use. I’m not much interested in Quito because it has a large population and I’ve read that it’s big, dirty, unplanned mess. Now that was just a few comments I read, there were other’s who loved it. However, Cuenca seems like the size city I’m use to living in and I don’t really know, it may be too big for me. I’m from Wilmington, Delaware–small state, small cities, but I am right outside of Philadelphia (30 minutes).
        One of my biggest concerns is that you mentioned the weather and that you prefer the cooler/colder weather (8200 elevation). Everything I read about Cuenca said it has a San Diego climate year round. The temperature can go a low as 45 degrees and as high as 85 degrees. Those temperatures don’t bother me at all, but what your saying doesn’t sound anything like that. I also notice almost every time I see a video and pictures of Cuenca it is overcast and cloudy. If the temperature is fairly consistent that OK, but I’m not into cloudy and overcast. Have enough of that on the east coast of the US.
        Like I said, I’m from Philly/Delaware and am sick to death of the cold, wet and damp weather. The humidity in the summer season is close to hellish too. I was under the distinct impression Cuenca was the perfect climate. I know nothing is perfect and I’m pretty flexible (and have a great sense of humor), but if the climate is not what is being advertised then I am concerned. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Vilcabamba. However, I was told to stay clear of the coast in the off season. Great place to be in the summer, but I was told it never stops raining in the winter season. Flooding, small population, endless rain and no economy.

        There is nothing more than I would like in this world is to settle on the Pacific coast, but not with comments made by visitors. If you could answer me back regarding the weather concerns I mentioned, I would greatly appreciate it. Everything else (transportation, learning the language and the people sound great). Thanks again.

        Best regards,

        Hal Money

        • TerryDarc Feb 4, 2014, 2:20 pm

          Hal,
          We’ve only been to Cuenca for a couple months in Mar/Apr which I think is supposed to be the cooler/rainier season. We had to pick a compromise b/c we visited the Amazon region on the Napo river (loved it!) as well as the Galapagos (a must see) – you cannot find perfect weather for all regions at the same time.

          We actually have NOT visited the coast but will spend 3 days there this March, in Guayaquil. I’ve got the impression that Cuenca is safer than either Quito (not a bad place at all, but much, much bigger for this country boy) and also considerably safer than Guayaquil (my impression, anyway). No idea about the coastal weather there unless it’s like the Galapagos – which I doubt.

          I think I may have oversold the “cold” part of Cuenca. We were never cold (but the record low is 29 F and the record high is 81). Here, check wikipedia as they have a nice temp/rainfall/sun chart: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuenca,_Ecuador

          Hmmm…according to that chart, we were there for the rainiest two months. I’m from Oregon where it certainly rains, but/so we honestly didn’t notice the rain. It did rain but more often than not, we had lovely white clouds, blue skies and all that. Cuenca’s never hot during the day and coolish at night, sweater or long sleeve shirt weather. Very intense sun, however – wear a “Panama” hat or sunblock.

          The weather chart says 179 cloudy days, which is pretty much half the year. But you’d have to ask a long time resident (Bryan?) about the endless cloudy skies – I’m not under the impression that that’s ever the case in Cuenca. Also not simply blindingly blue skies day after day either (my impression, anyway).

          Vilcabamba is lower and so, warmer but much smaller than Cuenca. We spent a couple days there and did not have a real chance to check out the restaurants and other amenities, but it’s certainly a beautiful place.

          Think south of Cuenca they’ve got various gated communities (which would leave me out) but if you’re uncomfortable with the language, might be just the ticket. Probably more $$’s, too.

          • Hal Money Feb 5, 2014, 1:48 pm

            Terry,

            Thanks for all that information. I’m going to try to plan a trip for March depending on affordable flights and places to stay. I am from a city that (Wilmington, De.) that has a population of 100,000, so stepping up to 350,000 and Cuenca proper 500,000 is a sizable difference. However, Wilmington proper/New Castle County is basically 500,000.
            I will also plan to Vilcabama, which sounds right up my alley. I’m not into gated communities and I get along with everyone. I know I will trip and stumble with the language and culture, but I learn pretty fast and always respect different cultures. No ugly American attitude here.
            The weather sounds great considering the fact that Philadelphia gets only 3 inches of rain less than Seattle and is unusually cloudy. Cuenca sounds like a very acceptable climate. I’m always happy to hear that it is a clean city and people dress nice. No big deal about dress, I live in jeans and light weight shirts, or in shorts, t-shirt and flip flops/sandals. If I can find a city where I don’t have to wear socks everyday, that’s just fine with me.
            Your comments and other’s I just read convinced me that it’s time for a visit. Please feel free to contact me (anyone and everyone) if you would like to provide me additional info. Love to hear it all, good with the bad too.
            Thanks again,

            Hal & Kathy Money

      • Harry Beaon Mar 27, 2014, 9:39 am

        You’re all over the place, TerryDarc. I bet that’s a cute conjoined name of you and the missus. You’re a regular troll on all blogs. And you’re telling people how to enjoy Cuenca? Oy vey! You must just watch the CDs and YouTubes. HB

  • AL Jan 26, 2014, 10:52 pm

    I enjoyed the peacefulness. It’s very clean and a friendly atmosphere. Enjoy the sunshine or the shade…your choice.
    It’s a great place for learning some of the local culture by just people watching and enjoying all the surroundings.

  • Peter Karwacki Jan 26, 2014, 8:19 pm

    Nice images, thanks for sharing.

    Pete

  • Graham Jan 26, 2014, 4:30 pm

    Dena: Good post. Not having (yet) been to Cuenca – have however spent
    a short time in San Miguel, Mexico, where there are similar parks. Agree –
    spending a bit of time sitting on a bench on a nice afternoon and engaged in
    one of my favorite pastimes – people watching, is indeed both relaxing and
    – good for the soul. It surely appears the Pargue Cauderon there in Cuenca
    provides just the place. Great photos. Graham.

  • TerryDarc Jan 26, 2014, 3:03 pm

    Parque Calderon is indeed the heart of Cuenca, heart of the historic district. It’s also a great piece of civil engineering for Latin American cities to have: a quiet, green space in their middles. Cuenca is fortunate to have such a little jewel in its midst, surrounded on two sides with the old cathedral (read the Mapmaker’s wife to learn more of the older) and the beautiful blue domes of the new cathedral bordering.

    Lively and alive is the parque. Look forward to visiting in a month for a month and renewing our acquaintance with the parque, expats and Cuenca. Appreciate the newsletters plus pics, Dena.

  • David Jan 26, 2014, 1:27 pm

    been to park several time. It is indeed a nice place to relax. I enjoy watching the people and checking out the architecture of old buildings. Coffee shop is area is nice too. Several modern shop in area as well which really does not appeal to me, but good for lot of folks.
    If you get a chance got to top of hill over looking city, it is great.

  • Eric Jan 26, 2014, 12:58 pm

    OK friends I know you enjoy writing about Cuenca and surrounding places, I enjoy reading what you write very educational indeed. I also know you had a holiday in Canada and the US, excellent!! . Now could hear some information on the Canadian tour, especially NS. (No place like Home) . It was truly nice to see both of you and your sweet little girl . (Not so little any more) She is a young lady already. the south air must agree with you both, I personally thought that both of you looked super. Looking forward to some good info. soon love Rae & Eric

  • Rudy Sauter Jan 26, 2014, 11:53 am

    I love the architecture on the old buildings and the great care and thought that went into the layout of the parks. Also impressive is the cleanliness and the dress code of native Ecuadorians. thank You Rudy

    • Dena Haines Feb 4, 2014, 5:33 pm

      That is a point I forgot to mention, it is a clean city. There are always people dressed in green walking around with rolling garbage cans and brooms cleaning up.

      People do dress very smartly in Cuenca, both the modern and cultural dress.

      Thanks for commenting.

  • Barbara Jan 26, 2014, 10:59 am

    Hi guys
    Your posts never fail to entertain and delight me. The photography is always so beautiful, it puts me right there, wherever “there” is.

    I was in Cuenca on el dia de la independencia last year as part of a Road Scholar tour. I fell in love with Cuenca and all of Ecuador and am returning this Friday and staying till mid April. Going to learn Spanish (I live in California and I figure that if half our population speaks Spanish, it behooves me to dive in and join them). I’m traveling alone (a single woman of a certain age) and after a couple of weeks at a hotel, I’ll try to find a family to live with or a studio apartment.

    I’m very excited about my upcoming adventure and would like to meet your beautiful family when I get there. You’ve given me so much reading pleasure, I would like to say thank you in person.

    Hasta luego!

    Barbara
    barbnjohn@gmail.com

  • Judy Booth Jan 26, 2014, 10:44 am

    Parque Calderon is my favorite place to go, sit, people watch and marvel at the beauty of El Centro. The music they sometimes piped throughout the parque is soothing and the trees flowers and plants are just beautiful. It is a nice break after shopping or a meal or just to sit and think of how lucky we are to be here.

  • Willy Jan 26, 2014, 10:37 am

    I enjoy your posts about Ecuador and in particular Cuenca, this captures the true meaning of respite.
    Thank you,
    Willy

  • Mike Jan 26, 2014, 10:37 am

    Wow what a lovely park can’t wait to see it one day, we don’t have anything like that in Toronto.

  • Paul Jarr Jan 26, 2014, 10:35 am

    Hi Dena ++ I’ll look for a more appropriate blog site, but while I’m here…I’m visiting a friend here in Vilcabamba for a month…I’m from NC. Since I’ve been here I’ve experienced severe leg pain, we’re thinking it may be a circulation problem. It’s been suggested I go to Cuenca for a “vascular work-up”. Any suggestions on clinics or physicians? Any help from you or your friends would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. paul jparr1400@gmail.com

  • valentine Jan 26, 2014, 9:53 am

    hi DENA & BRYAN
    yes we have been to parc Calderon and love it for 18 days in november 2013 whish to return

  • Bill Koch Jan 26, 2014, 9:11 am

    My wife and I loved hanging out in Parque Calderon. Most every day during our stay in Cuenca, we begin our day after breakfast by sitting in the park for awhile soaking it all in. You can really tap into the energy there and feel the vibe of the city. Your pics make me wish I was there right now. I’m looking forward to my return.

  • Mom Jan 26, 2014, 8:08 am

    We always go to Parque Calderon when we are in Cuenca. We love the people watching, from the school children in their school uniforms to the hard working men & women carrying their loads, to those that are on their lunch breaks, as well as the many tourists from so many lands. We love the beautiful trees, flowering shrubs & all the beautiful birds, especially the hummingbirds. Dena, you have really captured the feeling of the park. Good job.

  • Bob and Barb Beaulieu Jan 26, 2014, 7:57 am

    We have been in Ecuador for 5 days now. We have been to Quito, and are now in Banos. We are having such a wonderful experience. We will arrive in Cuenca on Thursday and will be staying in a hotel by Parque Calderon. We chose this location for just the reasons you mentioned. We are also hoping to meet some people who have retired in Cuenca. We are in Ecuador not only to have a great vacation, but to investigate the possibility of retiring here. If anyone has any advice we would be happy to receive it. Someone already told us that we should visit the immigration office while in Cuenca. Wish us luck!

  • Mark Thomas Jan 26, 2014, 7:42 am

    Dena,
    Thanks for all the great posts and information about Cuenca. My wife and I are planning a trip there soon and if all goes well, will be retiring and living in Cuenca. Any and all information with these sites has been EXTREMELY helpful, informative and enjoyable. We cant wait.

    Thanks,
    Mark

    • Graham Feb 5, 2014, 3:19 pm

      Mark Thomas: I hope to get to Cuenca later this year as well
      (short post above, January 26th). Should you care to converse
      directly – compare a few notes on a parallel adventure … or
      perhaps at a later time – any case, best of luck on your planned trip.
      Graham ( Lobrutto@aol.com )

  • Arlene Jan 26, 2014, 7:38 am

    The park is a lot of fun during fiesta. I like to watch the young kids dancing

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