Trinidad, a town in central Cuba in the province of Santi Spiritus, had been reported as a favourite by just about anyone who I spoke to that had visited Cuba. Roughly 3-4 hours from Havana, it’s not hard to get to, and totally worth the journey. It is near to everything you could want from a holiday – beaches, mountains, waterfalls. It’s a beautiful, colourful town, where music echoes through the cobble-stoned streets and €1 cocktails before dinner are a must.
We spent 4 days in Trinidad, and never tired of wandering around the UNESCO World Heritage town, with its neo-baroque main square and maze of colourful cottages.
Trinidad bucket list
HIKE at Guanayara Park, Topes de Collantes
We organised to get a private car to Guiyanara through our casa owners. We paid 70CUC for the half day- perhaps a tad too high – but I had a language fail and mixed up sesenta (60) and setenta (70) so we paid him a nice lil tip – in any case I’ve read a taxi should cost 20-25 one way, and the tour through the travel agencies was 47 each on a bus. We were collected from the casa at 09.00am, he brought us to a view point en route to look out from the mountains over the whole province. He dropped us at the park entrance after a 1hr30min journey where we paid 10CUC each to enter, and he waited for us there. The hike had 2 options – one which was about 3-4 hours all the way around, and the other which was 30 mins each way – down to the waterfall, where you could swim, swing across the waterfall on bamboo rope and chill out – we opted for the shorter route as the track was quite muddy following a storm (and blackout!) the previous night. El Nicho was not much further away, and is supposedly more impressive, but we were satisfied with our two waterfalls, which were largely kept to ourselves – with very few others interrupting our tranquility.
SAIL to Cayo Blanco
Owing in large part to the fact I was born a water-baby, we organised a Catamaran trip to the island off Trinidad one day. The beach near Trinidad is called Playa Ancón and can be reached by taxi (10CUC) or bus. We forked out 50CUC each for the Catamaran trip through Cubatur – which included a 1hr20min sailing to Cayo Blanco, snorkeling on the reef, lunch on the island (paella, chicken or vegetarian options) with iguanas roaming around the beach side restaurant, an hour’s beach time on the beautiful Caribbean island, and an open bar and great atmosphere on the Catamaran for the day. If you’re budget is tight, I recommend hanging out at Playa Ancón and renting kayaks or snorkels – but this was a nice day trip with a difference. Petting the iguanas was definitely a highlight!
ENJOY music and cheap cocktails at Plaza Mayor
There’s a great buzz at all hours around Plaza Mayor, but especially in the evening – where live music resonates from Casa de la Música. There’s a market nearby if you want to pick up some souvenirs and trinkets and plenty nice restaurants to choose from.
Book tours and transfers via Cubatur
Fantastic tour concierge provided by the Cuban government- very helpful for booking tours (we did the Catamaran tour from Trinidad to Cayo Blanco) and she also helped us book a collectivo from Trinidad to Havana airport for 35CUC each (we shared with two others). Although the wonderful lady who helped us (which I could recall her name) was surprised to be tipped, she really went out of her way to help- firstly, she told us to come back after hours so she could sort us, as it was v busy, and then the morning of the tour, the taxi couldn’t find our hostel, so she came with him in the taxi to find it. Couldn’t recommend them more!
Where to Stay
We stayed at a casa which was highly recommended by a friend and it did not disappoint. Jesus at Bistro Trinidad was the best and most endearing host we had whilst travelling in Cuba and Mexico. He gave us a map and orientation chat on arrival and helped us organise tours to the waterfall and hammered ice every morning for me to fill my thermos with cold water for the day. The casa is just amazing – the rooftop terrace a hidden gem- where a hearty breakfast is served every morning (omelette, pancakes, fruit, bread, muffins, juice, coffee).
The location of the casa is perfect- tranquil yet just a short walk (5mins) from the main square and a wifi zone. The rooms are traditional Cuban style but comfortable. The air con takes a little while to cool down but works well (it was extremely hot the first day we arrived). The terrace is home to bee hummingbirds- the smallest bird in the world, which Jesus pointed out to us, amongst the avocado and mango trees that line the terrace. (Tip: if you are booking tours and being collected, tell them the name of the casa is Bistro Trinidad, not Casa de los Hospedajes).
Where to eat
- La Redaccion is an Irish-Cuban restaurant in Trinidad, with absolutely delicious food – try the chicken curry or pulled pork flatbread (the veggie burger looked great too) and the Mulata daiquiri was incredible (the friendly waitress recommended).
- The creperie to the right of Plaza Mayor does GREAT Mexican food – the quesadillas, although they were on crepes rather than tortillas, were delish.
Traveling to Trinidad
Varadero to Trinidad – options
For the Varadero to Trinidad link, we spent 25CUC each on a second class bus. A private car would have cost 120CUC with a porter from our hotel who was offering to bring us on his day off- or 235 officially. However, there were collectivos at the Viazul bus station offering to bring us to Trinidad for 35 each (but he needed 2 more people or it would cost 120), he seemed a little dodgy (although it’s hard to judge!) and we didn’t wanna miss out on seats on the bus so after 10mins waiting, we bought bus tickets. The bus took 6-7hours, a car would have taken 4hours- certainly worth it if there are 4 of you travelling together! And if you get the bus,I sure hope your AC is working (*squirm*). On the plus side, the bus made regular stops (every 2-3 hours) – a relief for those with tiny bladders!!
Varadero to Cienfuegos
From Varadero, we were supposed to go to Cienfuegos but a bus would have taken 6 hours and we would have had to get up at 6am and miss out on half a day at our beautiful all inclusive hotel (which by then I had fallen head over heels in love with). A car would have cost 120CUC, we’d then only have spent one night in Cienfuegos and spend more on the transfer to Trinidad the next day- and to this the nasty headcold I had and the delicious piña coladas. The choice was easy – we elected to spend the money on another night in the hotel instead – no regrets, though we have heard Cienfuegos is beautiful and quite different to Trinidad, as it is a former French colony. Better planning would have enabled us to go, but there’s always next time 😀
(Edit: We did the reverse – but I’m sure costings should be similar for Havana-Trinidad). Trinidad-Havana: if I had one tip, it would be to do this by collectivo! It cost us 35CUC each and was easy to arrange via Cubatur – sharing with two others (two Chinese guys :D) the morning of our lunchtime flight to Mexico. The trip took 3-4 hours, saving us an extra 2-3 hours on a bus, and I gather it wasn’t much more than the Viazul (which I believe costs 25CUC and leaves early morning), the bus can also be purchased via Cubatur. They won’t recommend or quote for a collectivo unless you ask- but they have a local company they can call to arrange it for you (I felt this was more reputable than buying off the street). A 10CUC deposit was required, and they collect you from your casa (which is handy when backpacks / luggage is involved).