With its colorful colonial old town, classic cars and cobblestone streets, a lot of Cubans and foreigners describe Trinidad as “authentic”, “stopped in time” and “just like how it was back in the day” (all of which could be said for the rest of Cuba too). For some reason, I equated all this with Trinidad being untouched by tourism, but I was gravely mistaken. While it is undeniably beautiful and worth a visit, Trinidad is very touristy. I spent about a day and a half in Trinidad with the three other travelers I met in Havana.
Walk around. The town is very small and walkable.
Go to the beach. 12km south of Trinidad lies the white sand and turquoise water of Playa Ancón, which is considered the best beach on Cuba’s south coast. Take a taxi or rent a bike to get there.
Explore the waterfalls. To the northwest of Trinidad lies Topes de Collantes, which is a nature reserve park in Sierra del Escambray (Escambray Mountains) where you can find caves, rivers, waterfalls, grottos, canyons and natural pools amongst the lush greenery. Basically it’s a hiking and adventure playground oasis. My three new traveler friends and I chose to do one of the closer waterfalls, Javira, which has an easy, short walk to the waterfall where both locals and tourists go cliff jumping and swimming. It can be done roundtrip in a few hours. The four of us took a taxi, which cost $30CUC roundtrip and the driver waited for us at the park. The entrance fee to the park is $9CUC. For more information on some of the different waterfalls and their corresponding hikes, see here.
Eat at Taberna La Botija, a 24 hour restaurant and tapas bar that serves a mix of tapas, pizza, sandwiches, burgers, Cuban dishes and great drinks at reasonable prices. Happy hour is from 4-6pm with 25% off and they often have live music in the evening. The food is actually mostly good! This is unusual in Cuba and therefore quite exciting. I ate at La Botija a few times. The burgers and the chorizo spaghetti were really good. The grilled chicken is a miss. The tavern is decorated with historical artifacts from the slave-trading days. Go early for happy hour and dinner because it fills quickly.
Go horseback riding in the countryside in Valle de los Ingenios or to the waterfalls.
Climb the tower of La Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco for the view. The church is in the centre of town and it costs $1CUC to climb the stairs to get the bird’s-eye view of the tiled roofs of the colonial buildings in Trinidad.
Hike to the radio tower for the view of the countryside. From high on the hill you can see Trinidad and the sugar plantations in the Valle de los Ingenios. It’s about an easy 30-minute hike each way and it’s best to do early in the morning before it gets really hot, or later in the evening when it starts cooling down.
Party at Disco Ayala (or La Cueva/The Cave) which is a club 100ft underground in a cave. It’s literally an underground club and it’s pretty unique and awesome. The $5CUC entrance includes one drink (CUC is on par with USD), which will be served to you by bartenders wearing batman shirts. The entrance is at the top of a hill, which is an easy walk from the town. There are a bunch of pop-up drink stalls along the walk to the club with locals selling drinks for $1CUC. The club was even packed on a Sunday night when I was there in April. I met really great male and female locals. It was so much fun and it was my favorite memory of my short time in Trinidad and one of my favorite memories of my 11 days traveling Cuba.
Dance at Casa de la Musica. Or watch the locals dance because Cubans are amazing dancers. There seems to be a Casa de la Musica in every city in Cuba. They’re a staple and a classic in Cuba and you’ll always find tons of locals there, which is always a good sign. It’s $1CUC to enter the outdoor bar at the top of the steps in Plaza Mayor (the heart of the town and also where you will find wi-fi) and there’s live music every night. Or you can enjoy the music from the steps outside, where you can hang out and people will bring you drinks.
GOOD TO KNOW:
A taxi to or from Havana and Trinidad will cost $100-120CUC, depending on your bargaining skills, and it will take 5-6 hours. I took a taxi with 4 other people to split the cost. Or the bus is $25CUC and it takes 6.5 hours.
The bus to and from Varadero to Trinidad is $20CUC and it takes 6.5 hours.
As usual in Cuba, stay in a casa particular (which is like a homestay) for $20-25CUC per night.
For more information on traveling Cuba, see Traveling Cuba Independently – Facts, Tips and What to Expect