Cuenca, Ecuador © Alex Proimos
The Spanish founded the charming colonial city of Cuenca in 1557. Despite being Ecuador's third largest city, it is quaint and pretty, and a favourite for photographers, with its cobblestone streets and 16th-Century buildings in the old centre. It is a good idea to spend a few days relaxing in this special city, where old-world colonial elegance meets colourful Ecuadorian culture. There are a number of museums and churches to see, as well as bustling plazas and markets that can be visited during a leisurely ramble of the city. Nearby are the country's only major Inca ruins, the fortress of Ingapirca, which make for a popular excursion. The ruined fortress can be found in the town of the same name, situated a two-hour drive from Cuenca.