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Trinidad is an absolute must-see when visiting Cuba. It’s one of the country’s best-preserved colonial towns. Trinidad was founded in the early sixteenth century and was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1988. Its colorful buildings, cobblestone streets, and Cuban cowboys will make you feel as though you’ve traveled back in time.
Trinidad may appear very touristic on the surface but it’s not difficult to find real Cuban life and culture. I recommend spending at least two days in Trinidad. It may be a small town but there is a lot to explore. Trinidad has beautiful architecture, great beaches, and tropical forests. Continue reading to discover the best things to do in Trinidad, Cuba.
Where is Trinidad, Cuba
Trinidad is a small town in central Cuba. It’s just fifteen minutes from the coast. Travel 15 minutes inland and you’ll find tropical forests, mountains, and incredible waterfalls. Trinidad is easily accessible from most of Cuba’s main cities:
- Havana: 196 mi (315 km) and 3 hrs 55 min
- Vinales: 308 mi (496 km) and 6 hrs 20 min
- Cienfuegos: 51 mi (82 km) and 1 hr 20 min
- Santa Clara: 61 mi (98 km) and 1 hr 55 min
How to Get to Trinidad
Trinidad is a popular tourist town so travel to and from is fairly easy. There are a few different options for transport when traveling to Trinidad. These are bus, taxi, and rental car. No matter what you choose, you will want to factor in extra travel time in reaching your destination. Plan an additional hour due to poor roads and possible mechanical issues.
Bus: The bus is the cheapest form of transportation to Trinidad but is also the most time-consuming. There are two government-run bus companies. These are Viazul and Astro. Viazul is the bus line that is used by tourists and Astro is used by locals. Tourists are not allowed to ride the bus designated for locals. However, locals can ride the tourist bus. Viazul buses are comfortable, air-conditioned, and safe.
Busses depart daily from most of Cuba’s main cities. You will want to book your ticket at least one day in advance as they often sell out. Tickets are available for purchase online but are cheaper when purchased at the ticket office. Below you will find the ticket price and travel time from the most popular cities:
- Havana: $25 CUC ($25 USD) 6 hrs 50 min
- Cienfuegos $6 CUC ($6 USD) 1 hr 35 min
- Vinales $37 CUC ($37 USD) 9 hrs 30 min
Buses rarely depart on time and some will make multiple stops. Make sure to factor this into your travel plans. All buses drop off at Plaza Carillo in Trinidad, which is about a five-block walk to Plaza Mayor, the town’s main center.
Taxi: A taxi is going to be your quickest option when traveling to Trinidad. If you’re traveling with a group, a taxi is your best option and may end up being cheaper than the price of a bus ticket for everyone in your party. A colectivo is a good option if you are traveling solo. A colectivo is a shared taxi and can be found around most cities. They are fairly easy to find, especially in Havana. The price per person for a colectivo is going to be about the same as a bus ticket, $25 CUC ($25 USD).
Rental Car: Renting a car is definitely an option and that’s why I’ve included it but I advise against it. Renting a car in Cuba can be a challenge. There are not the big rental car agencies available that you are used to seeing. There are a few small companies that are regulated by the government. Cars need to be booked well in advance, especially if you require an automatic. The roads are poor and parking is hard to come by. You likely won’t have cell service while in Cuba, making navigation difficult as well. Hiring a driver for the duration of your trip is an easier and much better option.
Things to Do in Trinidad, Cuba:
1. Explore the Colonial Town
Trinidad is fairly small and can easily be explored in a day. Start by walking around Plaza Mayor, which is located in the center of town. The park is surrounded by some fantastic little museums and shops. Some are closed on the weekend so make sure to take this into account when planning your trip.
The Museum of Colonial Architecture offers a quick tour with admission. The museum is housed in an old colonial home and demonstrates how buildings in Trinidad were constructed at the time. Iglesia Parroquial de la Santisima Trinidad is a beautiful Neo-classical church that’s located at the northeast corner of the plaza. Make sure to walk through the church interior; it’s stunning and has so many beautiful details. I also suggest climbing the stairs of the Convento de San Francisco bell tower for a great view of the town.
In the evening, people gather in the street near Casa de La Musica. The music starts around 7 pm and crowds sit on the steps surrounding the venue. You can purchase food/drink from the street vendors and join the locals or go inside the venue if you want to be closer to the action.
2. Dance at Disco Ayala
Disco Ayala is a dance club built into a natural cave. The disco, also sometimes called La Cueva, is located about 100 feet underground. It’s frequented on the weekends by a mix of both locals and tourists. It opens at 10 pm each night but a line starts to form before then. Admission to Disco Ayala is $5 CUC ($5 USD) and includes a drink.
The cave is located on the outskirts of town along the north edge. A dirt path can be found off ofJuan Manuel Márquez. The walk is about 10 minutes uphill and the disco can be found directly behind the old cathedral.
3. Swim at Playa Ancón
Playa Ancon is one of the nicest beaches in the area and is a short distance from town. It’s 7.5 miles (12 km) south of Trinidad and is just a 15-minute drive. Playa Ancon is the perfect place to spend the afternoon relaxing. It’s a beautiful stretch of white sand beach that is 2.5 miles long (4 km). Its calm, turquoise waters are great for swimming.
There are three hotels along the beach that provide umbrella-like palm shades to beachgoers. Tours leave daily from town or you can arrange a taxi to take you there. You can expect a taxi to cost about $8 CUC ($8 USD) each way.
4. Hike Through Parque el Cubano
Trinidad has a few easily accessible and beautiful waterfalls right outside of town. Tours can be arranged to Parque el Cubano via horseback or you can hike the trail. It’s 16 km (10 mi) to the popular Javira Waterfall from the center of town. Motorized transportation to the trailhead will shorten your journey and can be booked through your Casa Particular.
I suggest hiking the trail. I chose to go horseback and it was something I quickly regretted. I wish I had done more research before booking my tour. Our guides were extremely friendly and went out of their way to make sure we had a great day but the horses were malnourished and underwatered. I believe it was more of a cultural difference and they honestly didn’t see anything wrong with the way the horses were treated. To them, horses are just working animals. However, it did put a damper on the day and is not an activity I would participate in again.
I would dedicate the majority of your day toParque el Cubano. The trail leading to the falls is beautiful and has a couple of great stops along the way. There is a sugar cane farm where you can sip on fresh-pressed sugar cane. There’s also a ranch that offers traditional Cuban meals with much of the food grown onsite. The waterfall is just 3.6 km (2.2 mi) from the ranch. Make sure to wear or bring a swimsuit so you can spend the afternoon swimming in the falls.
5. Eat Delicious Cuban Food
Trinidad is hardly a foodie’s paradise but as far as Cuban food goes, it did have some of the best food of my trip. Vista Gourmet is a great choice for dinner. It has a lovely outdoor rooftop with great views of the town. It’s the perfect place to watch the sunset.
The restaurant offers both buffet and a la carte options. It has plenty to choose from including vegetarian and even vegan options. I highly recommend making a reservation as it can get very busy. Another great choice is the restaurant Sol y Son. It also offers outdoor dining in its lovely courtyard.
6. Take a Day Trip to El Nicho
El Nicho is a gorgeous series of small waterfalls located in Topes de Collantes National Park. It should be a must-do on your list of things to do in Trinidad. I stopped there while en route to Cienfuegos, but it can be done as a day trip from Trinidad. El Nicho is 48 km (30 mi) from Trinidad and takes about 2 hrs to reach. The drive to El Nicho is up a very steep and windy mountain road, so although it appears fairly close on a map, it does take some time to get there.
I suggest arranging transportation to the park at least one day in advance. The roads can be challenging for the older cars of Cuban taxi drivers. My taxi had to pull over a handful of times due to mechanical issues but luckily most taxi drivers in Cuba are able to make necessary repairs quickly.
The falls are accessed as part of a tour which is included in the admission fee. The admission cost is $6.50 CUC ($6.50 USD) and is payable at the front gate. A guide will lead you on a short hike through the park with stops at a few different pools, where you will have the opportunity to swim. The hike is somewhat steep in areas but is fairly easy and the views from the top are worth it. Make sure to bring water and eco-friendly sunscreen so you don’t pollute the water.
Where to Stay in Trinidad, Cuba
Americans are restricted from staying at most Cuban hotels. If you are traveling under the category of “Support for the Cuban People” it is best to stay at a casa particular. A casa particular is a Cuban homestay that is similar to a bed and breakfast. It can be a private accommodation, such as an entire apartment or guesthouse, or simply a room in a private home. The casa owner is required to have a license to operate by the government, to which they pay taxes.
Staying in a casa particular is one of the best things to do in Trinidad. It’s a wonderful way to experience Cuban life. You’ll have the chance to interact with Cuban people and practice your Spanish, and most casa owners can easily arrange activities and transportation for you. Casa particulars can be booked through Cuba Junky or through Airbnb.
Have you been to Cuba? What are your favorite things to do in Trinidad?I’d love to hear about your experience. If you’ve enjoyed this post, please leave a comment or share using the social media buttons below. Interested in exploring other parts of Cuba? Discover the beautiful town of Vinales in my post, “The Best Things to Do in Vinales, Cuba“.