VINALES VALLEY – EXUBERANT LANDSCAPES AND RELAXED LIFE
It could be said that the most beautiful landscape in Cuba, the Viñales Valley, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is only three hours away from Havana. With impressive landscapes and rich cultural traditions, a visit to the Valley of Viñales is a wonderful introduction to rural life in Cuba and provides a beautiful contrast to the bustling capital.
The region is home to green valleys, vast farmland, rugged limestone outcrops and spectacular lakes. Horseback riding through the plains, discover a world of hidden caves, learn the history of runaway slaves and enjoy a trip to the incredible tobacco plantations.
Although nature occupies a central place, it is worth exploring the villages that dot the green landscape. They are the seat of a flourishing multicultural society, a mixture of traditions and peoples with indigenous, Spanish and African roots.
Viñales’ combination of cultural richness and natural beauty creates a truly spectacular setting that captivates visitors with the widest range of vacation interests and styles. It is the perfect complement for any trip to Cuba.
What to see in the Viñales Valley
The limestone caves, the Cueva del Indio and the Santo Tomás Caves are home to a fascinating variety of fossils, butterflies and albino bats that swim in rivers and underground streams. One of these underground rivers is big enough to take boat trips, an exciting experience that should not be missed.
The Casa del Veguero tobacco plantation, on the outskirts of the city, offers a fascinating insight into the tobacco production process. The masses of tobacco leaves are cured in their dryer from February to May. You can also buy loose cigars at reasonable prices.
The local House of Culture, located in a restored mansion overlooking the central square of Viñales, is the place to go to the deepest of art and culture. Along with exhibitions and regular shows, there is an excellent gift shop to buy souvenirs.
People tend to love or hate the Mural of Prehistory, a 120-meter painting that adorns one of the valley’s mountains. The mural, which took 18 people to complete four years, was designed in 1961 by Cuban artist Leovigildo González, a student of Diego Rivera.
Where to stay in Viñales
There are few hotels in Viñales, but we recommend staying in the private houses with charm that are located in the village in the heart of the valley.
All accommodations in Viñales offer breakfast, have air conditioning, in addition the rooms are equipped with private bathroom. The highlight of the experience in private homes in vineyards are often the owners, who will do everything possible to make you feel at home. Many will offer you homemade traditional Cuban cuisine at night.
Havaning book rooms in the best guest houses in the area.
How long should I stay in Viñales
In general, a stay of one or two nights in Viñales is enough to explore the valley and enjoy the most popular activities, such as venturing into the caves, going to the underground rivers and learning about the traditional cultivation of tobacco.
Several of our vacations in Cuba are based in Viñales (for example, cycling, horse riding, trekking holidays). If you are interested in one of these trips, talk to your Havaning vacation consultant to advise you on how long you should stay in Viñales.
How to get to Viñales
Our most popular itineraries include a stay in the Viñales Valley, which includes accommodation in a private home and a selection of transfer options, including the option of a private driver / guide. Adventurous travelers may prefer to rent a car and enjoy Viñales at their own pace as part of a truly authentic vacation. A bus or taxi from Havana is the cheapest way to get to Viñales.
Viñales is located just 180 kilometers west of Havana, so it is possible to visit the valley as part of a day trip from the capital. Havaning can organize this visit, ideal for those with little time.
Halfway between Havana and Viñales, between the mountains of the Sierra del Rosario, Soroa and Las Terrazas are an ideal place for a break in the trip. Stretch your legs, discover unique waterfalls and stroll through fragrant orchid gardens.
Where to eat in Viñales
Viñales is full of excellent restaurants, but it is worth eating at your private home at least once during your stay. To go out to dinner, these are our favorite places:
With a beautiful location on the hillside, Finca Agroecologica El Paraiso is a traditional family farm with beautiful gardens. The homemade food is delicious, the portions are large and practically all the product used is locally grown and organic. The owners also offer several vegetarian options.
To enjoy the best views in Viñales, as well as good food, we recommend the restaurant Balcon del Valle, which has tables on wooden balconies built on the hillside. Even if you do not come to eat, we recommend, at least, that you enjoy a drink, the views are always spectacular.
Hidden in a forest on the outskirts of the city, you probably need a car or taxi to find La Cueva restaurant, but it’s worth it. The food is cheap and tasty, the “Ropa Vieja” and the crabs are our recommendation.
Nightlife in Viñales
The nightlife in Viñales is far from the hustle and bustle of Havana. Having said that, there are some nice bars and a couple of places where locals and visitors gather to enjoy live music.
The most popular of these is the Patio de Polo Montañez located in the central square and part of the cultural center mentioned above. There is live music almost every night and the place has a lively and welcoming atmosphere. Nearby is the small Patio del Decimista, which can be a bit crowded when a popular band is presented.
In both places, do not hesitate to ask a local to show you some salsa steps. Cubans in general are excellent dance masters!
Things to do in Viñales
Havaning offers a series of excursions to explore the valley, such as cycling, zip lining and jeep safaris. Our Tobacco Trail Tour takes you to the most famous tobacco plantations in the region, where local experts will explain the secret of the perfect Cuban cigar. You will also visit a cigar factory and a cigar store with plenty of time to buy some souvenirs.
Viñales is one of the best places in Cuba for bird watching. If you are very lucky, you can even see the Cuban hummingbird; just the size of a bee, it holds the record for the smallest birds in the world.
One of our most popular excursions from Viñales is a day trip to the nearby paradisiacal islands of Cayo Jutia and Cayo Levisa, both with spectacular beaches.
In contrast to major cities such as Havana, life in Viñales moves at a languid pace. You can spend the day drinking rum with the locals in Central Park, dining leisurely with your local host, exploring the museums and caves, riding through the valley and learning to roll cigars by hand in the tobacco plantations.
Suggested itineraries in Cuba
For those who visit Cuba for the first time, we recommend a multi-center trip that includes at least Viñales, Havana, Trinidad and Varadero. This base itinerary can be adapted to your specifications by one of our specialists to match your interests, time and budget.
Viñales is one of the main destinations in Cuba and you will find that many of our holiday trips present the valley in one way or another.