Trinidad is one of the prettiest places in Cuba. All the books and blogs we read during our preparations said the same; it is a must visit place! Therefore we decided to make Trinidad the highlight of our Cuban roadtrip and we booked four nights here. How we wished that we just booked one night..
Trinidad can be found in Central Cuba and from Havana you can reach it within five hours by car. This city has been on the Unesco World Heritage list since 1988 and thanks to this, Trinidad is one of the best preserved colonial cities in the world. When wandering around in Trinidad you feel the history and looking at the streets and architecture, you got yourself going back to 1850!
After we enjoyed our stay in pretty Viñales we head to Trinidad. This is a seven hours’ drive by taxi and up to eight hours by the Viazul bus. We started our trip with the collective taxi and we were supposed to travel with the four of us. For us this was the most horrible ride; the taxi was old, no airco, the seats weren’t “fluffy” anymore and it hurt a lot. We couldn’t survive seven hours in this taxi! When we heard that we would pass Havana, we called our previous host Etna to arrange a private taxi for us. It costed us 140 euros extra, but for us it was worth the money.
Our taxi driver was not happy with our new idea though. Just a few kilometers before we reached Havana he parked the taxi next to the highway, stepped out of the car, started to negotiate with another taxi driver and removed our bags from the taxi. Of course I stepped out of the car, no way that I trusted them with our bags! The other taxi driver started a discussion with me and he wanted to make sure that we would pay for this trip, even though we wouldn’t go by this collective taxi.
You’re standing there, next to the highway, in the middle of nowhere, no place to go to. Of course you agree with them and that’s what we did. And on the other hand, the taxi driver was probably very happy with his car and isn’t used to the cars we’re used to. So we couldn’t blame him either.
Our fellow travelers stepped out of our taxi and went with the other taxi driver. We went to Havana, paid our taxi driver and switched to the private taxi. Oh my.. this was heaven! The seats are comfortable, airco is available and we slept like babies. Six hours later we arrived in Trinidad!
Things to do in Trinidad
Trinidad is famous for its beautiful architecture and wandering through the streets of Trinidad was something which made us so happy. What a cute streets and a photogenic scenery!
Our favorite place in Trinidad was Plaza Mayor, the historic center of Trinidad. We bumped into a huge blue building with small balconies and two old men sitting in front of it, waiting for us to approach them for a picture. This building is home to several artists and they created this amazing museum. We were so lucky to see some artists working on their paintings. We loved to walk around in this museum and we enjoyed the view from the cute balconies too much!
But besides wandering around, there are a few other things to do in Trinidad as well.
Topes Des Collantes
Topes Des Collantes is a large nature reserve park and is famous for its waterfall named Vegas Grande. After a jungle walk you will be treated on a beautiful piece of nature and some fresh water from the mountains!
It is recommended to visit this waterfall with a tour guide.
Valle de Los Ingenios
Valle de Los Ingenios is very important to the Cuban history; it was home to more than fifty sugar mills and thousands of slaves. This place has been added to the Unesco World Heritage list and this makes it a must visit place for most travelers.
When the slavery was rescinded, this place turned into a ruin and this is exactly what you will see when you visit this place. This place was on our list but we decided to skip it. We have seen pictures and heard stories of our Cuban friends and we all concluded that this isn’t a must visit. It takes quite some time to explore (it costs you easily more than a half day) and it’s more focused on tourists than on the history. If you wish to go, you can book your tickets at Cubatur.
We couldn’t be happier with this beach. White sand, blue sea, palm trees everywhere.. we found paradise!
After exploring the city center of Trinidad, we decided to spend the rest of our days at the beach. Ancon Beach is only ten minutes away from the city center and can easily be reached by taxi. It is said that it is recommended to arrange the same taxi for your way back; otherwise the other taxi drivers might charge you more because they know you have to go back anyway. One time we arranged the same taxi and he was there right in time to take us back. The second time the taxi driver didn’t show up at the agreed time. We found ourselves a new taxi for the ride back home and guess what, we didn’t have to pay more! So it’s up to you if you want to arrange your taxi. It’s not necessary!
If you go to Ancon beach it would be good to take something to eat and drink. Food can be bought on the beach as well; they serve delicious Cuban pizza’s for three cuc (cash only), but you don’t see them that often.
It is possible to use the umbrellas at the beach. The only thing you have to do is to buy drinks from the beach bar. Don’t worry, you will be served!
Disco Ayala (Cave club)
Disco Ayala is probably one of the most unusual clubs; this club is located in a cave a few kilometers from the city center. Be careful when it’s a rainy day; the road to the cave can be slippery!
The clubs opens daily at 11PM, the entrance fee of the disco is five cuc and includes one drink. One tip: don’t go too early, since it can be so crowded and you have to line up. And of course, bring your camera!
Optional: Crab migration at the Bay of Pigs
On your way to Trinidad it is possible to pass the Bay of Pigs. It is approximately two and a half hour by car from the Bay of Pigs to Trinidad.
There is actually one special reason to go there and that’s the crab migration. Every year after the first spring rains, the crabs march from the surrounding forests to the sea. It must be awesome to see them go! Unfortunately not every taxi driver wants to go there; they believe that their tires will break down. We could imagine this!
Hopefully you are lucky enough or you have a rental car which easily takes you to this place to watch the crab migration.
Where to stay
We highly recommend to stay in casa particulares booked through Airbnb or Mycasaparticular.
Hotels are state-owned and the money you spend here, goes directly to the state and not to the local people. Another good reason to stay in a casa particulares is the quality; this is much better than any state-owned hotel! Every casa particulares we stayed in was so clean, the hosts were amazing and the food was so good!
In Trinidad we stayed in the casa particulares called Enjoy Authentic Cuban Culture. The location of this place is perfect; it is less than ten minutes’ walk to the city center, the rooms are spacious and quite new, the food served by the host is delicious (when you arrive they welcome you with a fresh fruit juice)! The hosts (mother and daughter) are friendly, but we don’t have the feeling that they can be trusted.
The hosts tried to charge us much more than we agreed on, sold us bottles of water with chlorine (tap water instead of bottled water, even though the water was in the same bottles you buy in the stores) and they lied about several things. They wanted us to call their uncle to bring us to Ancon beach “which is approximately a two hours’ drive and costs only 35 cuc”. When we asked the taxi drivers in the street, it appeared that the beach is only a ten minutes’ drive and it costs eight cuc. There is also no WiFi like they state on their Airbnb page. Besides that, there is still work to do in the rooms and they don’t mind doing this while you’re exploring Trinidad..
Staying in a hotel
Trinidad is fully focused on tourists and welcomes yearly thousands of travelers. More and more locals are opening their own casa particulares so it isn’t hard to find a place to sleep (make sure you book in advance during high season). If you wish to stay in a hotel, there is a good but costly option; the Iberostar Grand Trinidad hotel.
Where to eat
Trinidad offers a lot of places to eat, drink, relax and dance. It can be compared to Havana but than in a smaller and more touristic version.
Walk around in the afternoon and everybody is trying to pull you in their restaurants and bars. We didn’t like this behavior and because of the quality of the food, we decided to have dinner in our casa particulares. The food in our casa particulares was freshly made for us and it was a big meal for only fifteen cuc. We got salads, croquettes, fish or meat, vegetables, fresh fruit juices, sweet potatoes or rice and a dessert.
If you don’t want to eat in your casa particulares, we do have two places we highly recommend:
Bar Cafe Restaurante Giroud
Giroud is amazing! We went there a few times because the food and drinks are delicious! The quality of the food and drinks is good while the prices are affordable. This restaurant serves also vegan options. WiFi is not available here, but there is a live band playing outside!
La Parranda is a typical Cuban restaurant and therefore perfect for tourists and travelers who want to learn more about the Cuban culture. The restaurant always serves roasted pig and most of the time there is live music as well. The vibe is nice, you can sit outside and enjoy the music and (good and affordable) food.
Our Trinidad experience
Trinidad was supposed to be our main highlight of our Cuban trip, but on the first day we already found out that this historical place has been turned into a touristic trap. Everybody is focused on making as much money as possible. The hosts we stayed with weren’t honest, locals sell tap water with chlorine, the cocktails are horrible and probably mixed especially for tourists. It is the only city where we have seen that stairs are free during the day, but if you wish to sit there in the evening (it’s a popular WiFi spot) you have to pay one cuc to sit there. It’s ridiculous!
The architecture in Trinidad is amazing, wandering around in the little streets (and taking a lot of pictures!) is a fun thing to do, but the locals pushing you to enter there restaurants or bars, asking you to buy WiFi cards or trying to get you in their taxi’s or tuktuks is just so annoying. It was like we were exploring the souk in Istanbul. We didn’t enjoy it all!
Havana was so relaxed, the vibe in Viñales was amazing and Trinidad was a place we just wanted to leave as soon as possible.
We decided to explore the city and the other two days we had left were used to chill at the beach. We have never been so happy that we could leave a place.
If you are planning a trip to Trinidad or you still wish to visit this place, we recommend you not to stay longer than two days. Cuba has much better places to visit which are worth the money!
Let’s give something back!
We decided to give something back every time we travel to a new country. As a tourist or traveler it is easy to “take” and it’s often forgotten to give something back to the country, nature, animals or locals. We would like to change this and decided to check what we could give back to Cuba!
In Cuba it’s not hard to give something back:
- Stay in casa particulares (hotels are state-owned) and support the locals.
- Bring old clothes and give them to the local people.
- Feed the street dogs (discuss this first with your host or restaurant owners, because sometimes there is already someone whom take care of the street dogs).
- Eat in local restaurants or at your casa particulares.
- Only buy products or souvenirs in local shops.
- Bring beauty care products like soap and shampoo to leave behind.
- Bring souvenirs from your country as a gift for the hosts you stay with.
- Share your pens with the locals. Some locals would love to receive a pen since this is something they could sell and make some money with.
- Follow salsa classes, cocktail workshops, join a horse riding tour, visit local tobacco- and coffee farms etc.
- Meet the locals on the street, in restaurants, bars etc. They will be more than happy to share information about their lives, culture and Cuba. Invite them for drinks and you will both have a great time!
We didn’t enjoy Trinidad as much as we thought we would. If you (still) have the feeling this is a must visit, make sure you reserve max two days; one day to explore the city center and one day to spend at the beautiful Ancon Beach.
We hope our tips help you with your planning. If you wish to see or know more, make sure you check our Instagram or contact us. For general Cuba tips, please click here.