Cuban cities may be exciting, but one thing is for sure – nothing leaves you more breathless than the divine Cuban nature. In a beautiful lush valley, you’ll find Viñales and the laid back atmosphere it offers. This relaxing little town is a perfect stop after busy Havana streets. Here, you can feed your body and your mind while riding a horse, hiking or just wandering through the endless valley. On top of that, you’ll have a chance to meet real Cuban farmers and learn how Cuban tobacco is produced. One day may not be a long time, but you will enjoy it nevertheless.
What’s the best time to visit Viñales?
The subtropical climate means hot temperatures all year round accompanied with two main seasons. The rainy season runs from May to October and can bring daily showers and, at times, hurricanes. It’s also the part of the year with an almost unbearable humidity level. The dry season, November to April, is the more preferable time to visit. However, it’s also the busiest time in Viñales. During Christmas and Easter, the town gets literally full of tourists. This means that if you’re traveling during that period you need to make sure to book a hotel or a casa particular in advance. To avoid crowds, pick early May or November.
A few facts about Viñales
Viñales is an agricultural town, located in a lush valley of the same name, in the Pinar del Rio province of Cuba. Because of its outstanding landscape and traditional agriculture, the valley was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. No wonder even Fidel Castro considered it his favourite place in Cuba.
Fruits, vegetables, coffee and tobacco are grown and produced here by using traditional methods and techniques. The natural landscape is accompanied by traditional vernacular architecture – multicolored and bright one-storey houses which truly make Viñales one of the most picturesque places on Earth.
One Day in Viñales Itinerary
Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Viñales.
Breakfast at Casa
Viñales may have a few amazing restaurants, but nothing is more delicious than having breakfast in Casa particular. If you sleep in a casa, make sure to arrange your breakfast one day in advance. It will cost you extra 4-6 CUC per person, but it will be oh-so-worth-it. Fried eggs, avocados, fresh fruit juices and a fruit salad can be found in almost every casa. It will surely prepare you for a whole day of wandering.
Pick your preferred guided tour
Viñales valley can be explored on your own, but you may miss a lot of interesting stuff that way. There are dozens of amazing guided tours that can be booked in a tour agency just across the main square.
Pick yourself the most suitable one, whether that’s a horseback riding tour through the valley, a bicycle tour or a walking tour. Make sure to visit a tobacco farm where you can learn the process of growing, drying and rolling tobacco. You’ll get a chance to try it as well, and since they are completely organically grown and pesticide free, you will enjoy the taste of the cigar even more. At the end of your tour, you can even purchase a box of those cigars.
Apart from the farms, there are two amazing caves that can be explored on tours as well – Cueva del Indio and Cuevas de Santo Tomas.
Depending on the tour you choose, wear the right shoes and comfy clothes. All the tours, even if it’s just a walking tour, can be exhausting, so it’s important to have super comfortable walking shoes on.
Coffee and tapas at 3J Bar de Tapas
You may be pretty exhausted by now, especially if you pick a tour that’s more adventurous. Therefore, this is a perfect time to chill on the terrace of 3J Bar and have some mojito or coffee. This relaxing place also offers a variety of tapas, so you can grab something before your lunch. It’s also a perfect spot to meet fellow travelers, since it’s one of the most popular bars in the whole town.
Visit the Plaza Jose Marti
The main square and the central point of this little town is the Plaza Jose Marti. It’s both the cathedral square and a favourite gathering point for locals. Since it’s one of a few places where you can connect to the Wi-Fi, the place is always packed with people surfing on their phones. The cathedral Iglesia del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus may be built in a simple manner, but it’s indeed very beautiful.
Take a Hop-on-Hop-off bus through the valley
Actually, you can even grab a taxi, but the bus is a way more affordable option. The Hop-on-Hop-off bus runs every 90 minutes from the bus station just across the Cathedral square. Keep in mind it only runs until 7 PM. The bus has several stops, so you can get off whenever you decide to. It’s a great way to see the rest of the valley, especially if you’re already super tired of walking from your morning tour.
Walk and Lunch at Balcon del Valle
You’re definitely starving by now, and the most beautiful place to have an amazing lunch with the most spectacular view of the valley is Balcon de Valle. It’s also a super affordable place to eat. Don’t forget to order amazing season salads and season fruit juices. Wait for the sunset when the landscape starts to change its color and the whole atmosphere gets super romantic.
Dinner at the Barrio
There may be other recommendations for a nice dinner place, but they can hardly beat Barrio. Food in here is super delicious, the plates look amazing and they’re still pretty affordable. Start with some seasoned or tuna salad and don’t miss the chance to try their grilled lobster. Make sure to reserve a table, since it can get pretty busy during the night.
Night at the Square and Centro Cultural
Plaza Jose Marti gets really packed during the night. The vendors sell super cheap cocktails, and the Cuban rhythms coming from Centro Cultural make for a great vibe. It’s an amazing place to meet both locals and other travelers and afterwards watch the great live performances at Centro Cultural and ultimately hit the dance floor and learn some salsa moves. Pretty cheap entrance, reasonable drinks and loads of fun make this place the ultimate destination for a fun night out.
Where to stay in Viñales?
Casa particular (private rooms) are the best and often only choice you have when it comes to staying in Viñales. Their prices are very reasonable and they serve breakfast (for an few dollars more), so the stay is very pleasant. Just make sure you book in advance because there aren’t many of these around.
Extra tips for visiting Viñales
– Keep in mind that accommodation capacities can easily be filled during the busy season. To save yourself from that hastle, book your accommodation in advance.
- – Most people go to Viñales from Havana, so if you are one of them check out this guide on how to get to Viñales
– Viazul buses are the most convenient and the cheapest intercity transport in Cuba. Whenever you can, travel with Viazul, but make sure to book your ticket at least a day in advance.
– Don’t have a car with you, but you don’t want to take the bus? Not a problem! ZunZunCar will take you wherever you need to go! Simply go to their website, fill out the form with all the info, and they will set everything up. Smooth, safe and very convenient. Absolutely everything is done online, so you can organize things ahead of time and then just hop in.
– Mosquito repellent can be a saver, especially during the wet season. Bring one from home, since those in Cuba are not that effective.
- – In Viñales, there are only a few small shops with quite reduced assortment. Buy everything that you’ll eventually need in advance.
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