Aside from strolling around this somewhat attractive city and visiting its few parks and churches, there's not much of interest for tourists in Latacunga. The majority of travelers use Latacunga as a base to tour surrounding areas. However, the main plaza, Parque Vicente León, has pretty gardens, including some topiary sculptures. On the south side of Parque Vicente León is the city's main cathedral, a rather unspectacular large church that is most notable for the tile mosaics atop its spires and domes.
Los Molinos de Monserrat (tel. 03/2813-248) is the city's main museum. It features a modest collection of Inca and pre-Inca artifacts, as well as colonial-era art. This place is housed in the ruins of an old river-powered mill, and has a beautiful setting just above the river. Reached by a footbridge is the museum's sister institution, the Casa de la Cultura. The art gallery and theater make this a good place to check for any music, theater, or dance performance. You'll find Los Molinos de Monserrat and Casa de la Cultura on Antonia Vela 3-49 and Padre Salcedo. They're open Tuesday through Saturday from 8am to noon and 2 to 6pm. Admission is 50¢ (35p).
The Casa de los Marqueses de Miraflores is a colonial-era mansion -- one of the few that has survived -- which has been converted into a small museum, with various rooms dedicated to exhibits ranging from archaeological finds to religious art. There's a good display and explanation of the city's Mama Negra festival and celebrations. The museum, located on Sánchez de Orellana and Abel Echeverría, is open Monday through Saturday from 8am to noon and 2 to 6pm. Admission is free.
Tuesday and Saturday are market days in Latacunga, when the already substantial Plaza El Salto market swells with vendors who take over Plaza Chile and every bit of sidewalk and alley nearby. This is a working local market heavy on fruits, vegetables, housewares, and clothing, but you can find some artisans' wool clothing as well as assorted handicrafts.
On a clear day, and if you're feeling energetic, head out to the east end of town on Calle Maldonado, to the Mirador de la Virgen del Calvario, a high lookout point with great views of the city, countryside, and snowcapped peaks. Several blocks east of the small Parque Bolívar you'll see a steep flight of steps, and above and beyond that the sculpture of the Virgin of Calvary. Another good place to walk during the day is on the paved walkway that runs along the river.
Several tour agencies in town offer guided tours and expeditions to Cotopaxi National Park, the famous Saquisilí market, Lake Quilotoa, and the Quilotoa Loop . The best local operators are Expediciones Tovar (tel. 03/2811-333), on Guayaquil 5-38 and Quito; and Metropolitan Touring (tel. 03/2810-334), on Guayaquil 5-26 and Quito. Both these agencies are excellent. Tovar is probably better for climbing and adventure tourism, while Metropolitan is best for traditional tourism, soft adventure, and onward travel arrangements.
Fiesta de la Mama Negra -- Latacunga is known across Ecuador for its celebration of the Virgen de la Merced (Virgin of Mercy), better known locally as Mama Negra (Black Mama). Each year on September 23 and 24, Latacunga's streets host a wild party, with dancing and parades, street food, fireworks, and carnival rides. The festivities exhibit a mix of indigenous, Spanish, and even African influences. Mama Negra is also celebrated, to slightly lesser extent, every November 11, which is Latacunga's Independence Day.
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.