Trinidad Travel Guide : Essentials
Trinidad Travel Guide
No need to introduce Trinidad, this small colonial town in Cuba that charms all travelers with its colorful facades, cobblestone streets and peaceful atmosphere.
Let’s discover one of our favorites of the island.
Trinidad is located on the south coast of Cuba, about 315km from Havana.
A city with a colonial history, Trinidad has retained some of its old-fashioned charm; certainly thanks to the salsa that resounds in the bars, the warm and pastel-coloured facades of its houses and the irregular cobblestones of its streets.
The historic centre of the city has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988.
More info : Trinidad Wikipedia
Very popular with tourists who come to discover it, it is however very pleasant to walk there to discover the Plaza Mayor, its small cafes of oasis of freshness, its art shops, its street atmosphere with peddlers and musicians giving an atmosphere to the city both soft and caliente.
You can easily stay there for several days because there are plenty of little things to see in the surroundings and it’s a good place to settle down.
Trinidad developed thanks to the sugar cane production developed by settlers, using the most economical labour force, the slaves.
The city was therefore a major centre of the slave trade and this had a strong influence on the region.
From the city, you can visit the valley of the sugar cane factories but also the different parks located in the surrounding hills with “Topes de Collantes” or “Parque El Cubano” and of course the beaches of “Playa Ancon” and “Grill Caribe”.
During the day, start by strolling through the streets of the city and observe the life of Cubans.
The shopping streets are located south of Plaza Major.
The Plaza Mayor, which is the main square, is the heart of Trinidad in Cuba.
Like many Spanish colonial cities, the Zocalo is the center of the city with green spaces in the form of gardens and colonial churches.
As is the case everywhere in Cuba, it is not uncommon here to see long queues in front of butcher shops, bakeries but also banks in this country that still operates with a ration ticket system.
Fortunately, the streets are also the scene of street peddlers who sell fruit, vegetables, flowers, brooms and other products of all kinds in the streets where horse-drawn carriages, old American cars and taxis live side by side.
A real treat for the scenes of life.
On the outskirts of the historic centre, you will find a lot of accommodation with special casas and hotels installed in old colonial mansions that have survived over the years.
The closer you get to the city centre, the more trendy cafés and restaurants as well as bars that come alive at night.
We arrived in Trinidad with many expectations, or rather with very high expectations.
All the people we met along the way spoke to us really well about this place.
The image of one of the most beautiful cities in the country was in our heads.
We arrived, and of course I can say that it was one of the most beautiful places in the country, although I have to say that I found Havana the most beautiful.
Trinity is all color.
Color in the facades of colonial houses, almost all in perfect condition.
Trinidad is music, we arrived just when the mourning for Fidel Castro’s death was over.
Trinidad are the mojitos I drank on a night of music at the Casa de la Música, and not only there, but in other bars where music was the protagonist.
But Trinidad is also full of tourists, what can you do! If you go to the most beautiful place in the country, the chances of a lot of tourism are very high.
In any case, this city, a small place, I loved it.
Stepping on its cobbled streets and seeing that every corner, every nook and cranny, no matter from the heights, is photography.
In spite of the hordes of tourists, the inhabitants carry out their daily life as if it were not that party with them, that of tourism in the Casa de la Música (long queues to get in).
Perhaps it’s this image that I liked the most, that of the inhabitants of Trinidad unaware of the hustle and bustle of tourism.
For them life has a different rhythm, beach, music, sun, colors and rum are theirs every day, not just three nights that may never be repeated.
Where to eat in Trinidad
- Sanjosé : On the restaurant side, test the “San José” which seems to be the institution of tourists passing through Trinidad. This warmly decorated restaurant is equipped with an air-conditioned room and serves Cuban cuisine with a focus on seafood, especially lobster, not forgetting meat dishes such as Ropa Vieja, which I can’t recommend you enough. You will also find a more western menu with pizzas & pasta. A beautiful address in Cuba with reasonable prices, a very pleasant and professional team.
- Another address, at “Obbatala” in the historical centre at the foot of the Casa de la trova. Take the small door on Fernando Hernández street and go directly to the nice roof-top of this restaurant. Do not hesitate to make a reservation in order to enjoy this beautiful and popular space. On the menu are local recipes, simple and tasty food and a very good Canchanchara, the cocktail of Trinidad.
- Guitarra Mia restaurant (19 Calle Alameda) for its cuisine, its duo of gifted and enchanting singers and its atmosphere.
- Paladar La Marinera on Jovellanos 178 e/Iglesia y Perla
- For a romantic tête en amoureux : Los Conspiradores just for the little table on the balcony. It’s unmistakable because it’s right next to the Casa de la Musica.
- The Real Café
- Vista Gourmet on Callejón de Gallegos
- Sol Ananda (Real 45 opposite the Plaza Mayor)
- Paladar la Nueva Era (Simon Bolivar, 518 (between J.M. Marquez y Echerri)
- La Redaccion on Antonio Gutierrez, 463
- Paraito, a small and cheap cafeteria (Marti Numero 181B, between Lino Perez and Camilo Cienfuegos)
- Cafeteria Don Borrell to enjoy good pizzas
Where to get a coffee / a drink?
It is imperative to taste the local cocktail: the Canchanchara.
Traditionally served in a terracotta cup, this delicious cocktail is made from honey, lemon, water, ice cubes and Aguardiente, a brandy from Central and South America.
- Bistro Trinidad for its rooftop and pretty view of the bell tower.
- La Taberna La Canchanchara
- El Rincon de la Salsa
- Cuba libre: café with roof terrace
Where to Stay in Trinidad
As everywhere in Cuba, you will find all kinds of casas, ranging from 5 CUC at night to about 40 CUC at night.
The difference in price is made by the service, the quality of the reception, the breakfast, the location, the cleanliness of the rooms…
During my trip to Cuba, I have selected some very nice casas in Trinidad that I keep preciously for my clients who will have booked a trip to Cuba with our agency.
You will find below some addresses of casas which were recommended to me for the kindness and the reception of these Cubans, the cleanliness or the generous cooking:
Close to the Plaza Mayor, the Casa Zenia Ana…
Casa D’ Lirio in central Trinidad
Casa Gran Cana
Casa Busquando a Caniqui
Casa Gil Lemes
Beaches Around Trinidad
What is interesting about Trinidad is its ideal position between sea and mountains.
So, if you want to make a small beach stop, you will have the choice between Playa Ancon, 11 km from Trinidad, and Caribe grill, a little closer but two places famous for their long warm sand beach and the colour of the turquoise water.
Count approximately between 2 CUC and CUC by taxi to get to Playa Ancon from central Trinidad.
Go there early enough to enjoy this small corner quietly and the rather family atmosphere.
We opted for Caribe grill due to lack of time and we loved this small charming beach, its warm waters and its open-air restaurant that serves well cooked seafood: squid, fish, shrimp but you can also eat good grilled lobsters with their accompaniment.
Open from 8am to 8pm.
If you are looking for another nice beach, there is Punta Maria, a little smaller and less beautiful than Playa Ancon but still nice.
- Ð The parking is paying: 1 CUC/scooter and 2 CUC/car.
- Ð The banana leaf parasol is 1 CUC and the deckchair is 2 CUC/p
- Ð Bring children’s shoes as there are plenty of rocks by the water’s edge.
How to get to Trinidad
- Distance Havana -> Trinidad: approx. 4 hours drive without stopping
- Distance Trinidad -> Moron: 3h drive
- Distance Cienfuegos -> Trinidad : 1h drive
- Trinidad -> Playa Ancon = 15 minutes
- From Havana, there are daily buses to Trinidad. Count approximately between 6h to 6h30 of road and approximately 25 CUC/p.
- From Cienfuegos, count 1h30 of journey for approximately 6 CUC/p.
Beware as everywhere in Cuba, buses are often late and leave when they decide… if they are not full, they can wait!
Many collective taxis also make the trip. Ask about sharing the cost.
Getting to Trinidad from Havana
If you want to go to Trinidad from Havana, the best option is to take the Viazul buses, depending on the number of people travelling.
If you are going with three or four people, it will be cheaper, more comfortable and faster to negotiate with a taxi driver.
We arrived in Trinidad from Camagüey in a night bus, also from the company Viazul, since it is the only one that allows tourists to travel.
It was very comfortable, so much so, that I was asleep the whole way, and I woke up when we were entering Trinidad.
Going to Havana from Trinidad
In our case, we went from Trinidad to Havana, since it was already the last destination of our trip around Cuba.
We went by collective taxi for two reasons, the first being that it cost us as much to go by bus as by taxi.
We were told in our accommodation that from Trinidad, the price to go to Havana is the same in both taxi and Viazul.
How to get to Trinidad
We arrived in Trinidad on a night bus from Viazul, the bus company for tourists (we can’t use the same ones as the Cubans).
These buses are more expensive than those used by Cubans, but these buses are also used by Cubans.
We arrived from Camagüey, and I have to say that I fell asleep as soon as I got on the bus, and for some strange reason, I woke up just as I was entering the Trinidad bus station.
If your next stop is Havana, you will find it more convenient to take a taxi, because strangely enough, the price is the same.
This is due to the high demand of travelers going from Trinidad to Havana.
The price is 25 CUCs.
The street names of Trinidad
The streets of Trinidad have two names, and it is usually indicated on the signs.
This leads to confusion all the time, but don’t worry, in such a small place, someone will know both names of the street you want to go to.
The origin of these two street names comes from the names given by the Spaniards, and the name given by the Cubans after the War of Independence.
So, to give you an example, let’s talk about the street where our private house was located.
The name of the street was Julio A.
Mella, and the one given by the Cubans is Guásima, so you can see both names, almost always, on the street signs.
What to see in Trinidad
From any city in Cuba I would give the same advice, get lost in its streets and alleys.
Find Cubans to talk to quietly, enjoy the time, don’t wear a watch.
Let the color of their buildings invade your pupils, enjoy an incredible country, incredible people.
So, because of the size of Trinidad, getting lost is more than difficult, at the second or at most third street you would find yourself again.
This is good, as it indicates that you won’t need any kind of map.
Just see where your feet are headed.
Of course if there is something that will fascinate you are the houses, colorful, with those windows with huge white bars, as if they were bird cages.
This architecture is due to the importance that Trinidad had at the time that its nearby port served to fill ships heading for Spain.
Gold stolen from the mines in Mexico and other places in South America.
This fleeting wealth made Trinidad a rich place, and its most powerful inhabitants built authentic palaces.
Plaza Mayor (Main Square)
It’s the quasi-centre of this little village.
And I say quasi, because the center of it all is the House of Music.
The Plaza Mayor is surrounded by colour, the Casa de los Sánchez Iznaga, the Iglesia de la Santísima Trinidad, the Casa Padrón, the Museo Romántico.
Everywhere you look you see light, colour and tall palm trees.
Casa de la Musica
I’ve named her several times but I haven’t talked about her yet.
This place is the meeting place during the day and at night.
During the day, dozens of people gather on its stairs to watch the day go by, perhaps reading, some with music.
And that the mojitos never miss.
During the night its stairs give way to long lines, especially of tourists, looking to get in, a place to hear and dance salsa or whatever the musicians are playing that night.
And around the Casa de la Música there are other small bars, which make your wait easier by selling mojitos at really cheap prices.
If I heard music I liked, it was on this street.
Parallel to the aforementioned House of Music.
Many palates, the most important ones, to attract customers hire musicians who play live salsa, habaneras, any music that makes everyone feel at ease, enjoy Cuba.
And it is in this street where the music is more protagonist.
There is no need to enter the palate, in fact, the musicians are on a balcony, outside, delighting anyone who passes by.
But of course, this only happens when the sun goes down.
Plazuela de Cristo
If we leave the Plaza Mayor looking towards the Church of the Holy Trinity, and go left along Cristo Street, we will reach the square of the same name.
It is a small square, a meeting place.
Overlooking this square is the National Museum of the Fight against Bandits.
It looks more like a church than a museum.
During the afternoon, at least when we were there, three musicians of a certain age played Cuban music, better than any of those who tried to liven up the night in the Casa de la Música.
Sitting in the plaza and enjoying the music is something you have to do if you go to Trinidad.
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Casa de la Trova
This house is deep blue.
It is a house that pretends to be like the House of Music but in small, in an enclosed place, not outdoors.
It is a building that makes you feel that you are in Trinidad, if there is any image that has remained engraved on this villa, it is this Casa de la Trova.
It is located in a small square, also very beautiful, quiet, like the whole city of Trinidad.
El Mercado (Market)
There’s a market that starts in the morning and ends in the afternoon, before nightfall.
It’s the perfect place if you want to buy some souvenirs.
There are dozens of stalls with totally different things.
Wooden crafts, painting, textiles, really nice.
It seems obvious to say that this market is local, but for tourists
What to See and What to Do in Trinidad
The visiting points are very central and everything is easily and quietly done on foot.
There are two museums to visit, simply for the high vistas they offer over the heart of Trinidad and for the real quality of the contents offered.
Museum of the history of the city
The most interesting at this level is the Museum of the History of the City of Trinidad for the ornaments still present on its ceiling, the kitchens in the back of the patio and the old objects from the everyday life of the notables of the time.
Luckily for him, the building housing the Revolution Museum has a tower that allows for great photography as the museum featuring the great revolutionary army is a bit outdated.
Casa de la Musica
At night, don’t miss the chance to discover the salsa culture of Cuba.
The Casa de la Musica overlooking the main square at the top of the stairs is the most popular place.
The atmosphere is animated by an orchestra every evening from 9pm, but you can also go to the Casa de la Trova, which aims to preserve and promote Cuban music, or to El Rincón de la Salsa.
In any case, you will have to pay an entrance fee of 1 CUC/pers who has the unfortunate power to reserve the place for tourists.
On the other hand, the atmosphere is very nice with music bands playing and salsa dancers inviting you to take to the dance floor.
For those who are less comfortable, just enjoy the atmosphere of the place.
Entrance fee of 1CUC/p required to enter the music casas.
Coffee at Don Pépé’s
We recommend a stop at Cafe Don Grandpa.
Sitting in the shade of a tree in the garden, you can taste the Turquino coffee for which the establishment is famous or one of their freshly squeezed fruit juices.
The setting of this café is really nice, relaxing and above all refreshing.
Count 2,50CUC the coffee.
Views of Trinidad
It’s the prettiest lookout in town.
Go to the top of the tower of the national museum against bandits located in the convent of Saint Francis of Assisi.
The panorama from the view from the bell tower is really beautiful and worth the detour just for that.
There is also a beautiful view of the Plaza Mayor, the church and the streets of the city from the Palacio Cantero in the heart of Trinidad.
It’s a bit of a disappointment but in August, Trinidad is quite cloudy in the late afternoon so we didn’t see any sunsets over the city.
It would have been very nice but you have to go there from December to April.
Several locals told us about this nightclub hidden in a cave.
I admit that we were not interested in going there more than that, but why not with friends.
We went past it during the day by climbing the hill on the side of calle Simón Bolivar and Ermita de Nuestra Se-ora de la Candelaria de la Popa but be aware that the place is quite famous among the local youth.
of its little name is a discotheque with 5 dance floors, 3 bars and open 7 days a week.
Around 1am, a show of acrobats and fireworks is proposed but there are few tables inside so don’t come too late.
We were told to go there around 11pm to avoid the queue.
The entrance is around 5 CUC/p including a drink and no bags are allowed inside.
For the small anecdote, the club is really called Carlos Coco Ayala, name of a serial killer who kidnapped children, then took them to a cave and killed them all.
Don’t thank me, it’s a gift! Have a nice evening.
The Park of Tope de Collantes
Now let’s go discover the parks around Trinidad.
These were for a long time the refuge of the revolutionaries, but above all, they have proved to be a refuge for many animal and plant species.
Today, perched at an altitude of 700 metres, it is a paradise for nature lovers.
We chose to discover the immense park Topes de Collantes for its waterfalls and its proximity to Trinidad.
To get there, once again, the ideal is to be driven because the taxis have understood the business and impose really restrictive conditions.
They ask you an average of 30CUC round trip and leave you only 4 hours maximum on the spot, which is just if you want to take the time to enjoy quietly.
The park of Topes de Collantes is composed of several sites including the waterfalls of Cabo del Caburni, Vegas Grandes that we have discovered but it also includes the Park of Guanayara as well as that of El Nicho accessible from Cienfuegos.
After a break at the Mirador del Caribe to see the beautiful view of the valley, you will have to pay your entrance tickets at the price of 10CUC/pers/waterfalls at the tourist information center of Topes de Collantes.
Please note that the entrance is obligatory.
There are checkpoints even on the way of the hike!
Salto del Caburni Waterfall
Here you go to explore the Cuban jungle and it is first of all the Salto del Caburni waterfall that we choose to discover.
Arrived at about 10 am on the spot, we start the hiking trail full of enthusiasm although the mercury starts to rise.
The outward journey is all downhill, on terrain that can be slippery at times.
We therefore advise you to take good cramped shoes.
As you go deeper into the jungle, you may come across birds, lizards and perhaps a few small, colourful, non-poisonous snakes, which we do not advise you to tickle all the same.
After a good hour’s walk, quite steep slopes and a few centilitres less sweat, we arrive at the waterfall and discover a first pool where a few people are already swimming.
We continue on the path by the left, to arrive on the top of the site as close as possible to the waterfall which is not so impressive.
On the other hand, the place with its big rocks allows us to have a good time and bask in the sun.
You will be able to have a picnic, alternate swimming and sunbathing times before heading back home which is far from being easy as the climb is continuous.
A wooden guinguette-style house will be waiting for you at the beginning of the hike and on the way back.
Hydrate yourself with a good lemon juice.
- Sufficient water
- Asnack, fruit or a picnic according to your wishes Ð good walking shoes
- Rafting/canyoning shoes if you have, rather handy for walking between rocks and in the water
- 7km of outward/return walking which only go down on the outward journey and only go up on the return journey, i.e.
1h15 of outward walking and about 1h30 on the return journey minimum.
Good plan: we advise you to arrive early on the site because you will be really quiet.
Be aware that this waterfall requires a good physical condition because the heat but especially the slope of the paths leading to the waterfalls does not allow everyone to make this trek.
The return is more difficult because it climbs quite a bit but by taking the time and stopping, it is feasible.
Vegas Grande Falls
Back from our journey, soaked as never before by the effort we had just made, we stopped to drink a juice of zapote, a much appreciated local orange fruit, at the small hut at the beginning of the path.
We were clearly in the spirit of returning to Trinidad, but suddenly we were crazy! Indeed, starting from the fact that we were not in Cuba every day and that we wanted to tell you as much as possible to help you make a choice between the two stunts, we were motivated to do the Vegas Grandes stunt.
No need to thank us!
After being paid 10 CUC/p, we leave on the way to the waterfall which is very affordable at the beginning to the small country house offering refreshments.
Afterwards, the path becomes very steep and a bit slippery for the last 400 meters.
But it’s worth it because the waterfall is really very pretty.
There is little or no room to lie in the sun, but a beautiful natural pool where you can bathe under the waterfall for a strong but natural massage.
On the way back and at the end of the day, remember to look at the sky because the weather is very changeable in Cuba, especially in August and we had a nice shower and thunder just when we arrived on the parking lot.
- Enough water
- A snack or a picnic according to your desire
- Good walking shoes
- Rafting/canyoning shoes if you have
- 3.6 km walk there and back.
- 40 minutes downhill and 45 minutes return.
- Good plan: we advise you to arrive early on the site because you will be really quiet.
The hike can be done with children who are used to walking.
If you pass the controls after 4pm, there is often no one at the entrance so it is a possibility not to pay the 10 CUC/p but then you will enjoy less time on site.
El Cubano Waterfalls
These are the closest waterfalls to Trinidad (count 30 CUC the return taxi) so there are necessarily more people to go there in August.
A hiking trail (Las Huellas de la Historia) 3.6 km long leads to the Javira waterfall, where you can take a dip.
Again the entrance is 10CUC/p and it takes 2 hours round trip on foot to reach the waterfall.
On the spot, there is a small restaurant to eat.
For us it was not essential so we did not do it! You should know that some people reach the site by foot from Trinidad, it is a 6km walk.
Park of Guanayara
The Park of Guanayara is located 35 Km from Trinidad and 15 Km from Topes de Collantes.
We didn’t make this park because we didn’t have the time but we met a French couple who did and they loved the place.
This park is still preserved from tourism.
The hike is about 3km.
You will be able to swim in natural pools like the one of El Venano and in the El Rocio waterfall.
You also need a good physical condition because there are many descents, climbs and walks in the forest but the scenery is worth the detour.
- The visit of this park is apparently done in groups, with a local guide specialized in eco-tourism.
- Early morning departure in a jeep or a truck.
- Stop at the watchtower to enjoy a panoramic view of the city, then you will visit the café house.
Cascades del Nicho
If you don’t have a good physical condition, opt for the El Nicho Park on the coast of Cienfuegos.
At 1h30 from Trinidad and 1h from Cienfuegos, this park is very accessible because there is little walking, it is possible to swim in the waterfalls and the path is arranged.
We did not do it but all those we met in Cuba told us that they had appreciated this site and the waterfalls despite the greater number of visitors at that time.
Count 10 CUC/entry.
You can reserve your tickets at the office of the Cubanacan agency in Cienfuegos.
Valley of los Indigenios
Also called the Valley of the Natives, this small green area 15km from Trinidad and on the road to Sancti-Spiritus is quite charming but not a must-see.
As it was on our way for the rest of the trip, we stopped there for a few hours.
The valley is exactly located in Manaca Iznaga, 15 minutes drive from Trinidad.
It is famous for its 7-storey tower, 45 meters high, which was once used to watch over slaves in the cane fields.
The view on the Escambray massif is rather beautiful but what I liked the most is finally the craftsmen who met at the foot of it to expose their beautiful embroidered lace tablecloths.
The Valley of the Natives can be discovered especially in a steam locomotive.
This one leaves the Trinidad train station around 9 am, then makes a first stop at the Manaca Iznaga tower and continues to the sugar museum.
Lunch in the hacienda of Guachinango before returning to Trinidad around 3pm.
It is impossible to get on board once the train has left so I invite you to inquire in advance about this trip.
Count approximately between 10CUC and 15 CUC/p.
You can also go to the Valley of los Indigenios by renting a scooter at 20 CUC/day with a permit to show.
It can be a nice early morning with a lunch in front of the tower at the restaurant El Barrancon de Manaca.
We ate well there in a not very touristic setting.
- The entrance of the tower is paying 1 CUC/p and the view at the top is rather nice.
- Train tour: the excursion is worth 15CUC/p and is done if you are a locomotive enthusiast.
- You will be able to see the train passing in front of you at a very precise time, it seems to me that it was around 1:30 pm but check with the restaurant which did not make a mistake on the schedule when we were there.
Where to Party in Trinidad
Trinidad is music, joy, rum, color and more music.
Trinidad nights are worth it.
And you don’t just have to go to the Casa de la Música, there are more places to listen to live Cuban music and drink some mojitos, or daiquiris, or beers, or whatever you want.
To find those places in such a small village, you just have to walk around and get lost, even at night, don’t be afraid Trinidad is a beautiful and quiet place.
Accommodation in Trinidad
As we did in Havana, Caibarién and Camagüey, we stayed in a private house.
We chose this house on the advice of some travelers we met on the way, and I have to say that it was a very good choice.
It was a house for the three of us.
Huge, with a terrace where we could enjoy the sunsets looking at the Caribbean Sea.
The house is called Hostal Chino y Maria.
They are a charming Cuban couple.
She cooks in a delicious way.
In fact, two of the three nights we spent at their house, we had dinner with them.
One day, lobster, how delicious, and on top of that, very cheap.
It is located in Julio A. Mella Street (Guásima), number 324, between Lino Pérez and Agustín Bernal Streets.
Communication in Trinidad
The wifi works very badly in Trinidad! Connections in the square where the Casa de la Musica is located are just jumping with the number of people sitting on the steps. Therefore, we invite you to go to the side of the José Marti Park for a better connection.
To buy your internet card, Etecsa Telepunto: address Lino Pérez n° 274 between José Martí and Miguel Calzada.