If you’re heading to Cuba for the first time, you’ll most likely start in the country’s captivating capital of Havana. Arguably one of the most picturesque and instagrammable cities in the world with its vintage old town, iconic buildings and colourful classic cars. This is probably everyone’s first idea about Cuba…
But the Cuban countryside adds a different vision of the country and there’s no better place to experience that than in Viñales.
Epitomised by its towering mogotes, tobacco fields and sleepy farmers riding horse and cart, Viñales is a different world from the hurrying streets of Havana… And that’s why you have to visit!
Hike in Viñales Valley
El Valle de Viñales is a National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage site. However, Viñales doesn’t have any particular signed trails to follow, but that’s the beauty of the place – it almost has uncharted territory. However, there is a hike to Los Aquaticos that is seen as the most common.
Surrounded by the lush green and the thick humid heat, if you love to hike then Viñales will be a real treat for you.
There is one hotspot that many visitors tend to make a checkpoint too and that’s the viewpoint at Los Jazmines Hotel.
Marvel At The Mogotes
Mogotes are towering limestone rocks with a circular top covered with flora and fauna. Quite simply, they are stunning. If you’ve ever wandered the north of Vietnam, you’ll know exactly what we mean.
One of the best things to do is to walk alongside these thundering limestone cliffs as they become closer than a backdrop and marvel in your own echoes.
Go Horse Riding
With all the natural surroundings in Viñales, sometimes getting around can be a little difficult. Horse riding is the Uber of Viñales and is a popular activity for many visitors who make it here.
Whether you’re galloping to visit some farms or finding a viewpoint for sunset, taking a gentle ride on some of these incredible creatures really lets you see inside the heart of Viñales.
Cuba is famous for its high quality cigars but have you ever wondered where they come from? Well, in the fields of Viñales is one place tobacco is grown on farms and is detrimental to the local farmers income.
Being in Viñales you’ll have multiple chances to go visit a local tobacco farm, try a puff on a traditional cigar and even to buy.
Viñales doesn’t grow just tobacco for Cuban cigars, it also grows some of the best coffee beans you’ll ever find. Take a trip, by walking or horse riding to some of the local coffee plantations to see how its grown and produced.
Unlike tobacco, coffee is good for you. It’s been scientifically claimed recently that three cups a day is recommended.
Mural de la Prehistoria
Rumoured to be a gift to his daughter, former leader Fidel Castro commissioned a giant dinosaur mural painted on the side of the cliffs in Viñales back in the 1960’s. Colourful and grand in its appearance, if you venture into the Viñales fields and mountains you’ll pass it on the left.
In all honesty, it’s a bit of a novelty. Take a few looks, maybe a quick snap and continue your journey…
Natural Cave Pools
With the heat that the Cuban countryside can make you endure there’s no doubt you’ll break a sweat or two. If you’re making your way to the viewpoint Hotel Los Jazmines then about five minutes past that you’ll come to a small, fairly hidden natural pool.
When we say pool, it’s more like a bathtub that can fit two or three people in. Still, it’ll be rather chilly because of its enclosed location, but we assure you at the time you won’t want it any other way.
A little further afield from the centre, Cuevo del Indio, now a National Park, is an illuminated cave popular to visitors staying in Viñales. Discovered by a Cuban farmer back in the 1920’s, there has been numerous archaeological findings here including cave paintings and relics.
Stay In A Traditional Casa Particular
You won’t fit any luxury hotels or hostels in Viñales – well if you do we don’t know about it. Casas Particulares are the Cuban version of AirBnb. You pay for a room owned by a family.
In Viñales however, the standard price is $30USD per night and you pay for the room, not the person. This suggests it is better to travel in a small group if you want to budget so you can share the room if necessary.
Eat Lobster For $10
If you stay in Cuba’s famed casa particular then you’ll have the luxury option to eat lobster for dinner!
The Cubans know how to eat, so when you do get fed you’ll get multiple dishes to go with. And for the small price of $10USD per head, it’s definitely a bargain.