Bus from Quito to Cuenca and Bus from Cuenca to Quito
Without a doubt, taking a bus through Ecuador is the best possible way to witness the phenomenal landscape for which it is so famous.
By traveling via bus from Quito to Cuenca (or vice versa), you’ll feel as though you are one with the beautiful and varied terrain of this stunning country, as you go from one location within it to the next.
True, a plane would be quicker, but it’ll also be much pricier and you won’t have made a real journey. Not like you do, when you go via the road.
That’s why at AndesTransit we truly believe that bus travel is the most authentic way to get about. It’s how locals travel and it’s how you should too!
You can use the Reserve Now button above to book your bus from Quito to Cuenca now, or maybe you would prefer to first check out our epic “Quito to Cuenca Bus Journey Guide” below!
https://andestransit.com/Search?q=sZbOXUkJMWOfUYRWFoKvFQ%3d%3d https://andestransit.com/portal/en/bus-from-lima-to-paracas-and-bus-from-paracas-to-lima https://andestransit.com/portal/en/bus-from-lima-to-arequipa-and-bus-from-arequipa-to-lima https://andestransit.com/portal/en/bus-from-lima-to-trujillo-and-bus-from-trujillo-to-lima 09 hours 00 mins. Frequent departures daily $ 21
What are the buses in Ecuador like?
It’s worth noting that the quality of buses in Ecuador varies notably. The cheapest buses are older model diesel-burning war horses and are admittedly quite uncomfortable.
Prepare yourself for exceptionally basic seating; which you may not get to use at all since passengers normally outnumber seats.
With regards to air-con, toilets or on-board entertainment facilities. Well: there won’t be any. Not to worry. The view will still be spectacular.
That said, if you’re after a more comfortable experience - one with a guaranteed seat and in a reclining chair at that, with air-con, clean windows, and functional internal lighting -- you should book yourself on the higher-priced carriers.
Fortunately, in Ecuador, the better buses are still surprisingly cheap. More on that later.
How long is the bus ride?
The ride from Quito to Cuenca is 469 km (291 miles) and should take roughly 8 hours if you take Executive Direct Shuttle (not actually a bus, but a private car service, taking up to four passengers) or 10 hours if you go with a bus carrier such as Flota Imbabura.
Of course, be willing to expect some potential variation in time, due to factors such as weather and any unforeseen incidents on the road.
We’ll assume you go with the stellar Executive Direct Shuttle (our top recommendation, more on this later!) and it takes you 8 hours.
That’s not too bad! There will still be enough of the day left to explore your destination after arriving there (or your departure destination if you prefer). Additionally, it shouldn’t eat into precious sleeping time!
And we really want to stress - the journey itself will be an incredible experience. Out your window, you’ll view blue and green hills, draped in rugged, windswept eucalyptus forests.
Pass through picturesque little villages containing houses that jostle for space amidst the ever-rising and falling terrain, their exteriors decorated in every color imaginable.
The entire time, upbeat Andean music will fill the bus, which will have made the exact same journey hundreds of times. You may even get some live musicians strumming their guitar and singing local folk songs.
In our airplane-dominated era, without a doubt, you’ll end up experiencing Ecuador in a way that fewer travelers will be able to say they have done: up close and personal.
What is the cost of traveling by bus from Quito to Cuenca?
The bus ticket from Quito to Cuenca can cost anywhere from $11 - $30.
Do take note of the fact there are several factors which affect price variation:
When you go
Most of the time with travel, weekends and holidays are a little more expensive. In the case of bus tickets between Quito and Cuenca, tickets are a better deal on Monday - Thursday & Saturday, whereas they’re slightly pricier on Friday and Sunday.
When you book
If you book these tickets way in advance, you won’t have to pay quite so much for them. Easy peasy!
Which Bus Carrier you Choose
As we said, there’s considerable variation between the quality of buses in Ecuador. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for! If you’re after a more luxurious experience - think air-con, reclining seats, toilets & more - you’ll need to pay a bit more. Considering how the largest price difference between buses is a mere $19, we think it’s pretty fair!
What are the bus schedules from Quito to Cuenca?
Latin American bus systems have improved significantly over the last ten years, but you’ll still need to bear a few things in mind.
Most importantly, try to maintain a good sense of humor as you remember that bus schedules in all of South America, not just Ecuador, are sometimes prone to change.
In addition, not every online booking system has schedules that are up to date; sometimes even the bus carriers websites are out of date!
That said, if you use AndesTransit, you’ll never have any issues with bus schedules. This is due to the fact that we pride ourselves on a safety check system that involves personal relationships with all the carriers, so you will always get up to date bus schedules and a personal assistant checking with the bus carriers on your behalf to get the word of any rapidly changing conditions.
Where can I book bus tickets from Quito to Cuenca?
There are two options you have here:
Without any doubt, this is the fastest, cheapest and most reliable way of booking a bus ticket these days, making it a total no-brainer.
If you want to book yourself a ticket from Quito to Cuenca, just click the Reserve Now button at the top of this page to get your reservation done and out of the way in just a few clicks. Nice!
To be quite frank, we don’t really vouch for this option. Yes, it’s doable, but you could easily drag yourself down to the bus office only to find out that the bus time you wanted is no longer available. That involves you getting a taxi back and forth multiple times to get to the far end of the city when you should be spending that time enjoying the sights and your own R&R.
And unless you plan on leaving it to the last minute to find out, you’ll have to go twice, once to buy your tickets and later to get the bus.
Why book with AndesTransit?
At AndesTransit we truly believe in providing great customer service. That’s why, unlike South American travel agencies, our digital platform provides the most up to date bus schedules, while offering tickets and courier services at prices that work in your favor and respect your time.
You can tell that we make customer satisfaction our number one priority because we show you all the bus carriers, not just the ones that can be booked online through us.
Because really at the end of the day, what we want more than anything is to help you have the best possible journey, so you get the most out of your travels.
We truly believe that slow travel means better travel - it’s the journey, not the destination, after all! When it comes to traversing the ruggedly beautiful landscape of Ecuador, this is particularly true. You will not want to miss it.
When it comes to providing the most comprehensive bus route information and making booking as easy as pie, we’re fully committed. We’re like the Indiana Jones of the bus route world, exploring and unearthing treasure so you can more easily get there too!
What is the best bus from Quito to Cuenca?
When it comes to our all-time favorite bus carriers running the Quito to Cuenca route, we have two:
1. Executive Shuttle Direct. This isn’t actually a bus, but instead a shared car service, capable of taking up to seven people. Despite the car being modernized and having air-con, it’s just $30 - which is infinitely less than you would ever pay for a taxi running this service. It is able to make the route in just 8 hours, 2 less than a bus would take. You’ll have all the perks of the bus, at less than twice the price, with faster travel time and maximum privacy.
2. Express Sucre. Our all-time popular choice bus service between Quito and Cuenca, the buses of Express Sucre have reclining seats, AC, fun music and/or a movie! At only $18 and taking 10 hours to make this route with a tried and true winner.
What to see in Quito
Ecuador’s magical capital, Quito is the country's second-largest city (barely behind Guayaquil) and sits at a mighty elevation of 9,350 ft (2,850 m) above sea level, making it the second-highest official city in the world and also the one closest to the equator.
Sitting right within the Andes mountain range, on the eastern slopes of Pichincha, an active stratovolcano, it has spectacular views of Pichincha and the other ring of snowy capped volcanic summits that surround it.
With stunning colonial architecture, bustling nightlife and a rich tapestry of the historical and modernized culture surrounding it, there are countless things to do in Quito.
So many in fact, it made choosing our favorite three, somewhat difficult. But, here goes:
#1 - Marvel at the Basilica del Voto Nacional
The Basilica del Voto Nacional is the largest neo-gothic church in Latin America. Without a doubt, it’s most defining trait is the ferocious-looking gargoyles that keep watch over it, their designs inspired by native species such as iguanas, caimans, and tortoises.
That said, the stained glass windows are also truly impressive, along with the twin clock towers, with their countless jutting spear-like tips.
From the view standing on its many graceful balconies, you get a spectacular view of the entire city... provided you can brave the long climb up the winding exterior staircase to get there.
Because the Basilica is located in the old town, it’s also a great place to start a historical tour of the city.
#2 - Ride the TeleferiQo
You can ride the Quito Cable car (TeleferiQo) all the way up to 12,000 ft (4000m!) that place you right on the kneecaps of mighty Pichincha and from where you can get utterly unparalleled vantage points overlooking the city of Quito in all directions.
On a clear day, you can even spot the even more active Cotopaxi volcano as well as several of the other volcanos looming above the city in all directions.
There are trails that you can go on a hike to get closer to the Pichincha summit or grab a coffee as you continue to marvel at the utterly mesmerizing panoramic viewpoints.
Do bear in mind that the elevation climb is accompanied by steady winds and cooler temperatures, so take appropriate clothing!
#3 - Plan a day trip from Quito
There’s a number of fantastic day excursions just waiting to be embarked upon from Quito. One of the best is Mindo, Ecuador's cloud forest for epic hiking, zip-lining, mountain biking, and river rafting. You’re free to go alone or with a guide.
Or, you can check out National Park Cotopaxi, which as the name may suggest, is shadowed by Cotopaxi looming overhead. You can hike or bike up the volcano or even horse ride around the national park.
Perhaps you would prefer to take a day hike at Quilotoa to marvel at the turquoise lake that fills the crater, formed from when a volcano collapsed in on itself, many hundreds of years ago.
The best thing about a day trip? You can easily do them all, back to back in just a short space of time.
What to see in Cuenca
A smaller city set in Ecuador's southern Andes mountains, Cuenca also boasts a mighty elevation, almost as high as Quito at 8,400 ft (2,560 m) above sea level.
Amazingly, there is archaeological evidence of human habitation in Cuenca that goes all the way back to 8060 BC when nomadic hunters lived in the area living off everything that the land offered to them.
Cuenca has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its many beautiful historical buildings. But that’s not all it has to offer. Let’s take a closer look at our top three activities in Cuenca.
#1 - Explore Museo del Banco Central Pumapungo
Pumapungo houses spectacular modern art downstairs, but it’s true gems undoubtedly lie upon the second floor.
Here, you’ll begin a fascinating voyage through Ecuador’s diverse indigenous cultures with colorful animated dioramas and reconstructions of what life was once like for the Afro-Ecuadorians of Esmeraldas province, Montubios (coastal farmers) of the western lowlands, several rainforest groups and all major highland groups.
The finale features tzantas (shrunken heads) from the Shuar culture of the southern Oriente, who supposedly shrunk the heads of their slain enemies to harness their spirit for strength in future battles.
You’ll also get to visit the archaeological park out in the back, where you can walk the extensive ruins of buildings believed to originate from the old Incan city of Tomebamba. You’ll walk away knowing a great deal more about the many peoples who have called Cuenca (although not always by that name!) home, over the ages.
#2 - Visit El Sagrario
Located across the park from the "New" Cathedral (which you should also definitely check out!) is the much older, El Sagrario, known as “old cathedral”.
That’s because its construction first commenced in 1557, the same year Cuenca was founded. In the year 1739, La Condamine’s expedition actually used its towers as a triangulation point to measure the shape of the earth.
A beautifully whitewashed, colonial-era building, with two twin towers reaching towards the heavens, now it serves as a museum and recital hall. In the back of the cathedral is the courtyard, where there are some remarkable photos of colonial Cuenca life.
#3 - Hike around Las Cajas National Park
Less than an hour out of the city is Las Cajas National Park, a stunning ecological reserve of tundra vegetation on a jagged hilly landscape, spattered with valleys and over 270 lakes and lagoons, which provide 60% of the drinking water for Cuenca.
There are a variety of fascinating animal species that make their home here, including the giant hummingbird (the largest hummingbird in the world), pumas, raptors, coatis, foxes, bats, cats and amphibians.
There’s also archaeological evidence of interregional roads from the Inca period as well as from the even earlier Canari Period.
The area offers fantastic hiking with eight easily identifiable trails available, most of which take around four hours to complete. It’s easy to climb up the sloping hills for spectacular panoramic views and often you won't even encounter anyone else here.
And that concludes our epic guide on everything you could possibly know about the bus route from Quito to Cuenca!
We’ve covered why you should embark upon it, the best way to book it (with Andestransit!), prices and travel times, our favorite bus carriers as well as our top three picks in each of the truly remarkable cities of Quito and Cuenca.
We hope you enjoyed this article and wish you a stellar trip upon the road.