"This is probably my favourite Latin American city; it is full of character and not over run by too many tourists. I bought two lovely Panama hats here and they customised one of them there and then for me."

Founded by the Spanish in 1557, Cuenca is the third largest city in Ecuador and no doubt the prettiest. The old centre has many churches and homes dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. The city is proud of its colonial-style architecture with its narrow cobbled streets, houses with wrought iron balconies and flower-filled patios.

Cuenca is also the biggest production centre of the panama hats. Shopping here is wonderful, especially for traditional wears. A visit to the famous ceramic artist Eduardo Vega’s workshop and gallery will also give you the opportunity to enjoy stunning views of the city. Stay for a few days to relax and explore this beautiful city, in many ways similar to Cusco in Peru.