It is my firm belief that one can’t visit Cuba without going to Trinidad. Sure, it is the most touristy place in the country, and there is no way to avoid the hordes of visitors. It is also the most expensive city in Cuba, where one may blow one’s budget. But it is a beautifully kept colonial city, where one literally gets lost in time, and the atmosphere is magical. The center has been declared UNESCO World Heritage Site, so cars can’t access it – although it is not uncommon to see a cart pulled by donkeys! With all this in mind, I decided that for as expensive and touristy as it may be, I would still want to visit it.
There are enough activities there to keep anybody busy for a while. Here is a list of what I consider the top five things to do in Trinidad, Cuba.
Taking a stroll around town and eat at one of the museum-like paladares
The closure to traffic of the center of Trinidad makes it a great place to walk around. Strolling on the pretty cobbled streets, admiring its gorgeous colonial buildings, resting in the main square (Plaza Mayor), taking a look at the artesania market and at the art parlors are all very relaxing activities and I surely enjoyed them when I visited the city. Each corner reveals a lovely square, where somebody just improvises some salsa tunes to which passersby dance along. The bonus? Top a walk around town with a drink and a dinner in one of the great paladares (privately owned restaurants), some of which are located in incredibly well kept colonial homes with lush patios, so much so that they really do look like a museum – I remember looking around the antique furniture and exhibit while I waited to be seated! My favorite paladar was Sol y Son – perhaps a bit expensive but the food was so tasty. Don’t forget to try canchanchara, the local cocktail which contains agua ardiente, rum, honey and lime. I admit I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but one has to try new things, right?
Visiting the Museo Histórico Municipal and climbing up the tower
Trinidad is packed with good museums, but the most interesting by far is the Museo Histórico Municipal. The museum exhibits lots of objects belonging to the slave trade period, but the top thing there really is the tower from which an incredible view can be admired. I climbed it, and took amazing pictures!
Touring Valle de los Ingenios
Not far from Trinidad, Valle de los Ingenios is one of the best places to visit in the area. This is where most of the sugar plantations used to be, and from which the whole region profited for centuries. It is where the slaves used to work. From the 44 meters high tower of the Manaca Iznaga, one of the old haciendas, it is possible to get a feeling of how the slaves were controlled. A visit also includes a demonstration of how sugar is extracted from the canes – I even got to push the huge wheel to press some fresh juice. There are more haciendas in the area, some of them hardly visited. A good guide usually also goes to the less visited ones.
Hiking Topes de Collantes
Topes de Collantes is a nature reserve in the Escambray mountain range. The area is packed with caves, rivers, falls, canyons and natural pools with crystal clear water. Nature is at its best here. My favorite hike in the area is that to the Salto de Caburni. It goes through coffee plantations and traditional farmers houses, and eventually leads to the waterfalls of the rio Caburni, which are 62 meters high. I swam in the natural pool. Warning: the water is really freezing, but worth a dip considering that on the way back up it will be really hot!
Enjoying a day at the beach in Playa Ancon
Playa Ancon is perhaps the best beach in Southern Cuba. It is only 12 km far from Trinidad, and can be reached via the regular buses, a coco taxi or even by bike. The only downside of this beach is the many sandflies that are particularly aggressive at sunset and sunrise, so it is better to wear insect repellent.
Have you ever been to Trinidad? Do you have anything to add to the “5 things that we should all do in Trinidad, Cuba” list?
Photo credit – Playa Ancon