Cuenca used to be a sleepy, provincial city, but local young folk and visiting tourists have turned this into a respectable little party city. For quiet drinking and conversation, Wunderbar Café (tel. 07/2831-274), right off the stairs below Calle Larga and Hermano Miguel, and La Parola (tel. 09/9910-234), on Calle Larga and the Escalinata, are both popular spots. Early birds will appreciate the Wunderbar Café's happy hour, which begins at 11am and runs until 7pm, while you really can't beat the views from the open-air patio of La Parola. You also can't go wrong at the bars at either the Hotel Santa Lucía or the Mansión Alcázar, which are much more refined and mellow.

Cuenca's top bar and hangout is Eucalyptus, which has a popular Ladies' Night every Wednesday and a rowdy salsa night every Saturday. Other good spots for mingling with the local crowd include Tal Cual (tel. 07/2801-459) and Sankt Florian (tel. 07/2833-359), both located on Calle Larga, near the Hotel Crespo; and Tinku (tel. 07/2838-520), on Calle Larga at the corner of Alfonso Jerves.

For live music, head to the San Angel (tel. 07/2839-090), on Hermano Miguel at the corner of Presidente Córdova, or Blanco & Tinto (tel. 07/2455-196), on Av. Jose Peralta 2-132 and Cordero. On any given night, both of these places might have anything from a folk singer or small combo to a DJ spinning electronic dance tunes. La Mesa Salsoteca (tel. 07/2833-300), on Gran Colombia between Machuca and Ordóñez, is the best place in town for dancing, with a heavy mix of salsa, merengue, and other tropical rhythms.

Note: Many venues are open only Wednesday to Saturday. Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday are very quiet nights in Cuenca, and hardly anybody ventures out late. Covers are sometimes charged and usually range from $2 to $6 (£1.35-£4), which may include a drink or two.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.