LivingTravelHow to get from Madrid to Cuenca and what...

How to get from Madrid to Cuenca and what to do there

Cuenca, in the Castilla-La Mancha region, is on the AVE high-speed train line from Madrid to Valencia, making it a perfect stop on the way from the capital of Spain to its third largest city, passing the day in Cuenca and ending with a paella in the city where it was invented.

It is also a convenient day trip from Madrid.

A note about Cuenca train stations

Cuenca has two train stations: the high-speed train station (called Cuenca-Fernando Zóbel Station) and the slower train station (simply called Cuenca Station).

Unfortunately, the Fernando Zóbel station is 6 km from the city center. To get to the city center you will need to find the bus or take a taxi.

Despite this annoyance, the high-speed train is much faster than the slow train, so it’s worth taking it if you can.

How to get from Madrid to Cuenca by train and bus

Travel times on the high-speed train are less than an hour, with departures throughout the day in both directions. Tickets can be as low as 16 euros, but they are usually at least double that. The high-speed train arrives at the out-of-town station (see above) in Cuenca and departs from the Atocha train station in Madrid.

There is also the slow train from Madrid to Cuenca that lasts about three hours. This leaves from the Chamartin station.

The Avanza bus company operates frequent buses to Cuenca from the Méndez Álvaro bus station. The trip takes two to two and a half hours.

There are also buses from Toledo to Cuenca, but only when the university is running. Check with the local bus station.

How to get from Valencia or Alicante to Cuenca

The best way to get from Valencia or Alicante to Cuenca is by AVE train. Prices vary a lot. The journey should take about an hour, while the slow train takes almost four hours!

What to do in Cuenca

  • Hanging Houses: The Hanging Houses are the most famous places in Cuenca. The buildings, one of which features the Museum of Abstract Arts, perch on the edge of cliffs.
  • Contemporary Art Museum: the second reason for modern art fans to visit Cuenca.
  • The Castle: the remains of an Arab fortress.
  • The Mangana Tower: The ever-changing Mangana Tower has been rebuilt several times over the centuries. Its origins are unclear.
  • Excellent paella: Paella of Real Posada de Santa María was named the best paella in the world at the 53rd International Paella Competition in 2013.
  • Cathedral: Neo-Gothic and French influence on the city’s cathedral.
  • Serranía de Cuenca Natural Park: Take a tourist bus to nature.

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