Took AVE from Sorolla station in Valencia to Cuenca and arrived in 50 minutes! It was fantastic! However, know that the AVE station is rather far from the historic town of Cuenca. At the Cuenca station we took the free bus to the center of the new town. Got off at the first stop where there was an incredible pastry shop at the corner. Fueled up there before we hopped on the #1 (1.30e) bus to the center of the old town. Or if you prefer you can walk heading up the main avenue where the bus drops you off until you reach the green space areavwhere there are taxis stationed. I believe a taxi to the "hanging houses" is about 5 euros.
To leave the city center of the old town you can catch the #1or #2 (going down hill) bus and ask them to let you know where the stop is to catch the free bus to the AVE station. Note: it is difficult difficult to find a taxi in the old town. You may want to take the number of the taxi you used or of a general taxi service in Cuenca.
We took the 10am train out of Valencia and left Cuenca on the 4:30 train and got to see three museums, have coffee, ate an incredible lunch at Las Brasas and took wonderful leisurely strolls. The old town of Cuenca was lovely!
I would definitely drive, as there are some nice towns and villages to call in at on the way.
Cuenca's photo gallery
Google maps is very useful for basic trip planning. For more specific driving information, make a customized map on viamichelin.com.
From this Google map, you'll see that Cuenca is NOT along the driving route.
By typing in the city names, you can answer your 2nd question. For example, Valencia to Cuenca = 2 hr 37 min on A3.
Cuenca to Madrid = 2 hr 8 min on A3 and A40
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