Cuba is literally a different world and Trinidad is its open-air museum city. Only seeing some gorgeous pictures of the brightly colored houses can make you decide instantly to spend two or three days there on your Cuba itinerary. Pastel colors everywhere you turn, winding cobblestoned streets, music at any corner all day long, surroundings with scenic nature and buzzing nightlife make Trinidad a priority for any first-time Cuba traveler.
History of Trinidad, Cuba
Trinidad was founded in 1514 in honor of the Holy Trinity. The sugar trade flourished in the nearby Valle de los Ingenios in the 18th century and changed it into a wealthy town that attracted many immigrants. Thousands of slaves were also brought from Africa to work on the plantation. Visitors can still see their barracks, as well as old estates in poor condition and luxurious pieces of Spanish architecture from that prosperous era. Trinidad is one of the best-preserved colonial towns in the Carribean. This window into the past was inscribed on the UNESCO heritage list since 1988 and rightfully so. To protect it, no cars can get into the city center, just donkeys and horse carriages. On the other hand, its charm is no longer a secret and the streets of Trinidad are flooded by tourists.
Where is Trinidad?
Trinidad lies in the center of Cuba, just 15 minutes away from Playa Ancon on the Caribbean sea. It is surrounded by the Escambray Mountains, that can offer weeks of hiking opportunities.
How to get to Trinidad from other towns in Cuba?
The town is easily accessible from any of the main cities by Viazul.
By Viazul you can get to Trinidad daily from:
- Havana/Varadero – 6h 30m;
- Bayamo – 10h 30m;
- Camagüey – 5h 40m;
- Cayo Santa Maria – 5h 30m;
- Cienfuegos – 1h 30m;
- Holguín – 9h;
- Playa Giron – 3h;
- Sancti Spíritus – 1h 20m;
- Santa Clara – 3h;
- Santiago de Cuba – 13h;
- Viñales – 9h 30m;
You can also share a taxi with other travelers. If the car is full, the price will be the same as for the bus ticket.
Things to do in Trinidad, Cuba
- Stroll through Playa Mayor. As this is the heart of the city, it is a great place to start your adventure. Enjoy the green spaces, the stunning church that overlooks it and the music that always shows up in the square. If you need to check anything on the Internet, it is one of the few places where you can do it. If it is open, enter the Holy Trinity Church.
- Explore the side streets of the beautiful town. Take in the rows of brightly colored houses, the vintage American cars, and the colonial architecture. Enjoy the live music that comes out of any restaurant or bar.
- Visit Palacio Cantero (Museo Historico Municipal). For only 2 CUC you’ll get to explore a neoclassical jewel from the 1800s, step into the city’s past through documents and maps and the best views in Trinidad if you climb the steep spiral stairs of the tower. Dotted around the museums there ladies selling coins (that you can get at any time from the bank for a far lower price) and crocheting things for tourists.
- Learn more about the counter-revolutionary movement of 1959 at the National Museum of the struggle against bandits for 1 CUC. The museum is hosted by San Francisco Church, the building with the famous yellow bell. You can also climb up the tower, even if the view is not as great as the one from Palacio Cantero.
- Spend a day at the beach. Take advantage of the fact that Playa Ancon is only minutes away. Four kilometers of white sand and turquoise waters await you. To get there, rent a bicycle and ride the scenic route, take a local bus or taxi collectivo for 2 CUP each way, the touristic bus for 5 CUC/day or a taxi for 8 CUC each way.
- Go on a trip to one of the waterfalls in Topes de Collantes Natural Park. You can choose between Salto de Caburni, El Nicho, and Vegas Grande. Usually, the trip ends with a swim.
- Take a train ride in the sugar cane green fields in the Valle de Los Ingenios. Learn more about the sugar industry that developed in the 18th and 19th century in the area. The train only runs once a day, in the morning. You can find tickets at the Teleferico in Trinidad. You can book them directly there for around 10 CUC. If you book them through an agency in town it will get much more expensive.
Where to stay?
Your best bet is one of the many casa particulares, cuban B&Bs. A room costs around 25-35 CUC/night and comes with a bath, air conditioning, hot water and sometimes with the option of home-cooked meals. Staying in with locals is interesting, fun and cheap.
We stayed at Hostal Malbelys that we chose on Airbnb. The hosts were friendly and we got a wonderful terrace just footsteps from Plaza Mayor. Breakfast was 5CUC/person/day, as in all the casas particulares we stayed at in Cuba. If you are tempted to do the same, click here to book and get 40$ Airbnb travel credit.
Where to eat?
You’ll definitely not run out of options to eat in Trinidad. As it is extremely touristy, there is a high concentration of paladares and diverse cuisine to choose from. Unfortunately, the prices are usually European and the quality is poor. The best food we ate was in an Italian restaurant.
Whatever you eat, make sure to try the local cocktail canchanchara, made out of rum, honey, lemon and water.
The nightlife of Trinidad has something for everyone. You can enjoy the music for free outside Casa de la Musica, while you contact your loved ones using the wifi there and sip a cocktail. For 1 CUC, you can also go up the stairs and see the band and the show.
To dance the night away, head to Disco Ayala, a club inside a cave. Follow the crowds up the hill and you will get right there. It costs 5 CUC to get in and you also get one beverage. Strange enough, you are expected to pay extra in order to use the bathroom. Contrary to what I expected (lots of salsa), the music was mostly modern, from house to electronic and reggaeton. There is no air-conditioning in the cave and it can get hot quickly. Get there early in order to secure a table.
Even if it is extremely touristy, Trinidad still has its charm and it should stand high on the list of anyone planning their first itinerary in Cuba. As time is usually short and the desire to learn as much as possible of a new culture is what drives most tourists to Cuba, Trinidad is one of the best places to do it. On a small area around the beautiful colonial town, you can hike in the mountains, go to the beach, take a scenic train ride and find out about the sugar cane industry, tobacco and coffee plantations. I can’t think of a better place to do all this.
Did you visit Trinidad? What did you like the most? Would you visit it? Tell me more in the comments!
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