Loja is a wonderful colonial town, similar in style to Cuenca but with very little international tourism.
Founded in 1548, Loja is one of Ecuador's oldest cities, and is a lovely base for a few days with traditional colonial architecture and elegant streets and squares. Wandering the streets is a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon, as you pass colonial homes and official buildings, all crumbling grandeur. Often there are festivals in the main square with singing and dancing.
The university has done much to generate revenue for the city. Amongst the many initiatives is its Yapacunchi ceramics factory (university entrance San Cayetano, Sucursal), where you can pick up a wide range of beautiful ceramics direct from the producer for the most wonderful presents (they are accustomed to wrapping them well!).