Things to Do in Vinales Cuba – Take a Vinales Day Trip & Longer


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Viñales Cuba is a small town nestled in the middle of the UNESCO World Heritage Vinales Valley.  It’s here in Vinales in the Pinar del Rio region of Cuba that you’ll find tobacco plantations, unique rock formations called mogotes.  These limestone rock formations – mogotes – are the reason for the UNESCO World Heritage status.    The area of Vinales has less than 30,000 permanent residents and regardless of whether you choose to visit with a day trip to Vinales or for longer, there are ample things to do in Vinales Cuba.

So come on then, – and explore this glorious region of Cuba and find out what to do in Vinales, Cuba.

Top Things to do in Vinales

The Vinales Valley is a lush green, tranquil paradise – and it’s a great escape from the bustle of Cuba’s cities – the top things to do in Vinales focus around getting out into the countryside to the UNESCO World Heritage Vinales Valley and usually include:

  • Visit the ancient La Cueva del Indios in Vinales Valley
  • Take a photo of the Mural de la Prehistoria in Vinales
  • Cool down in the Jasmines’ Hotel Pool in Vinales
  • Visit a Vinales Valley Tobacco Plantation
  • Visit a Vinales Valley Coffee Plantation
  • Take a horse-riding tour of the Vinales Valley.

Vinales Valley View

Where is Vinales

Vinales is located in the Pinar del Rio region of Cuba.  Vinales is in the west of Cuba and is known for the limestone rock formations, the mogotes as well as the plantations of both tobacco and coffee.   Pastel coloured old colonial-style houses with large porches line the streets of the small downtown area and the entire area exudes a calmness that you’ll find welcoming after the bustle of Havana.

How to get to Vinales

Many people visit Vinales on a day trip from Varadero or Havana, and this is a great way to see more of the Cuban countryside.  (Check out day trip tours to Vinales here).  However, if you want to spend more time in this region of the Pinar del Rio, here’s how to get to Vinales Cuba.  The Viazul timetables are now (finally, in February) updated for 2020 – our guide here explains it all.

How to get to Vinales from Varadero

There is one Viazul bus a day from Varadero to Vinales.  It leaves at 0800 and arrives at 1515.  You can book the bus to Vinales from Varadero online here.  Alternatively, look at the quicker option of a colectivo to Vinales from Varadero here.

How to get to Vinales from Trinidad

There is one Viazul bus a day to Trinidad from Vinales.  This leaves Vinales at 0645 and arrives in Trinidad at 1635.  This costs 37 CUC if you are able to book directly with Viazul.  If there are no online tickets available, then our partners can buy tickets in person for you, check here.  A shared colectivo will cost around 50 CUC and take at least 2 hours less than the Viazul Bus.  Check your options here.

How to get to Vinales from Havana

The Viazul bus service runs thre times daily buses from Havana to Vinales.  You can check out the schedule here Online booking through Viazul is available, but a very small percentage of tickets are made available this way.  Our partners in Cuba provide a service enabling you to buy Viazul bus tickets online with them, while they make the trip to the Viazul bus offices and personally buy tickets for you.  Check out your options here.  If there are no tickets available, there are also taxi colectivos available for this journey.

The bus to Vinales from Havana takes around 4 hours and you will also need to get to the Viazul bus station in Havana.    A taxi colectivo from Havana to Vinales takes around 2.5 hours.  You can book through you casa particular and pay cash for the journey, or book online here and prepay by card.

Where to Stay in Vinales

We generally don’t recommend staying in hotels in Cuba, unless you’re particularly looking for an all-inclusive beach resort in Varadero.   However, if you’re looking for a hotel in Vinales, then you can’t go far wrong with the Hotel Jazmines – complete with amazing views of the Vinales Valley and a great swimming pool that empties out of day-trippers when they head back to Havana.  Check prices and availability here .

However, the best place to stay, in our opinion, in Vinales and in Cuba generally is in a casa particular.  There are LOTS in Vinales.  Pre-book for the best options, but if you don’t prebook you’ll likely find somewhere to stay, as jiniteros, (hustlers) and casa particular owners who have space will meet incoming Viazul buses, or your taxi colectivo driver will likely know someone who has a room available.

Read more about Casa Particulars and how they operate in our expert guide here and when you’re ready to book your room, here are our recommendations for where to stay in Vinales.

  • Sara y Jorge’s Casa Particular is one of the top-rated in Vinales – you’ll find a porch with rocking chairs and a great breakfast for an additional charge. – check availability and book now

Best Things to do in Vinales

Take a Vinales Valley Tour

The most popular thing to do in Vinales is to take a tour of the valley of Vinales.  The Valle de Vinales has been a protected UNESCO world heritage site since 1999 and it’s the rustic, quiet, unspoiled nature of the area that draws people here.

Most of the visitors to Vinales come on a day trip from Havana – and, if your time is limited, that’s a great way to visit Vinales.  In a day in Vinales, you’ll be able to cover the main sites, attractions and reasons to come to the Vinales valley.

Vinales VAlley View (2)

Your options when it comes to tours of Vinales depend on whether you’re starting from Havana or Vinales itself.  If you begin from Havana, then you’ll need to factor in 90 minutes to 2 hour trip in both directions and while you may want the benefit of an air-conditioned car, there’s simply nothing like opting for a classic American car with bench seats to see the country in.

 

Vinales Tours from Havana

If you’re taking a tour from Havana, make sure to include the main Vinales sights in your day

  • La Cueva del Indios
  • La Mural Prehistoria
  • The View from the Jazmines Hotel
  • Visiting a Tobacco Plantation
  • Visiting a Coffee Plantation
  • Taking a horseback tour through the fields

Vinales Tours starting in Vinales

If you’re taking a tour from a start point in Vinales, then you’ll likely want to include a guided walking tour or a longer horseback tour too.  You can check out options for guided Vinales tours here or ask at your Vinales Casa Particular or Hotel.

Vinales Valley

Take the Hop on Hop off Bus in Vinales

While it’s not the red double-decker bus that you expect of other hop on hop off buses, this is still a great way to see the major Vinales viewpoints.  The Vinales hop on hop off bus tour will take you around the primary things to see in Vinales for just 5 CUC..

Stops on this tour include Vinales caves, the viewpoint from the Hotel Los Jazmines, the Prehistoric Mural of Vinales and tobacco plantations.  Pick up the bus on the main street in Vinales and check out the current timetable there.

There is just one bus here providing this tour, so the driver stops for an appropriate length of time (don’t worry, there’s no rush, you’re on Cuban time now), at each stop lets you take your photos and then you hop on again).  If you want longer in a particular location, then you’ll have to wait until the bus comes round again.

Mural de la Prehistoria Vinales

This mural some 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) from downtown Vinales is not, despite its name, prehistoric.  It was designed by Leovigildo Gonzales Morrillo in 1961.  It then took 4 years and 18 people to complete it.   The Mural de la Prehistoria is painted on the site of the natural formation that is Mogote Pita and the reason for the name of the mural is the content of it.  It is said to represent the theory of evolution.

Mural de Prehistoria Vinales

The prehistoric mural of Vinales valley is bright and gaudy, and somewhat out of place in the natural environment.  It stretches more than 100 metres (328 feet) and it’s open from 1100 until 1700.  You can see it from the road towards it, the path that runs around the site or you can pay 3 CUC to get close up.  Your entry fee to the Mural de la Prehistoria also includes a cocktail.

 

Take in the View at the Hotel Jazmines Vinales

As a place to stay in Vinales, the Hotel Jazmines is pretty lovely – when all the day-trippers have gone home.  You get access to the pool which is the second attraction here, but the main attraction, which you don’t have to access the hotel for is the view.

Vinales Valley from Jazmines lookout

From the parking lot of the Hotel Jazmines, and where you’ll find a convenient café with cold and hot drinks, coffees, cocktails and beers, you get an amazing view of the valley of Vinales.

The public viewpoint at the Hotel Los Jazmines gives you a glorious panoramic view over the Vinales Valley, mogotes and tobacco plantations that bring so many visitors to Vinales.

Chill Out at the Hotel de Jazmines Pool in Vinales

If you’re not staying at the Hotel de Jazmines, you can still use the pool here.   It’s a great place to relax and chill out and cool down after a day of sightseeing around the Vinales valley.   There are sunshades here, a great large pool to chill out or swim in and sun loungers on which to enjoy the cocktails that are also available.  If you are not a guest at the Jazmines hotel, then entry to Jazmine’s pool comes with a 3 CUC cover charge.

Jazmines Pool Vinales

Visit a Coffee Plantation in Vinales

While most visitors to the Vinales valley will opt to tour a Tobacco Plantation you can also opt to check out a Cuban coffee plantation.  Corazon de Valle is the most popular to visit.  You’ll learn about coffee growing, processing and get to taste local coffee and even rum and honey too.  Take home a sample of the coffee you’ve just tasted too!

Visit a Tobacco Plantation in Vinales

I’m not sure what’s more famous Cuban cigars or Cuban cocktails.    Either way, whether you smoke cigars or not, you can’t but fail to enjoy learning about the history of Cuban tobacco.  You’ll learn how tobacco is cultivated here, which leaves are picked and why.  Explore a tobacco drying shed and how the tobacco leaves are rolled into cigars.  It’s a hands-on tour and provided in both Spanish and English.

Tobacco drying shed Vinales Cuba

If you’re taking the hop on hop off tour, then you’ll also get the opportunity to stop at several Tobacco plantations too.  Taking a Vinales Valley Tour from Havana?  Be sure to book one – like this one – that includes a trip to a Tobacco plantation too.

90% of the tobacco grown at these plantations must by law be sold to the Cuban government.  The remaining 10% is for the farmer to sell directly.  So if you want to REALLY help the local community here, be sure to take one of the farmer’s deals and buy cigars directly from him.  That money goes straight into his pocket and your stories when you get home will be so much the better for it.  It may not have the fancy label and brand on it, but it’s the same tobacco for a fraction of the price.

TRy cigars in Vinales

Make Cuban Cigars in Vinales

On your tour of the tobacco plantations in Vinales, you’ll likely be offered an opportunity to learn how to roll Cuban cigars.  Take the opportunity, learn all you can – this is a unique time and place and you won’t find anything like it in any other country in the world.

When you head back to Havana be sure to check out some of the Cigar and Rum experiences to expand on your new-found knowledge.

Making cuban Cigars in cuba

Visit Vinales Caves

The Vinales Valley is famous not just for the rock formations above ground but those underground as well.  There are several caves here that are open to visitors.  The most popular is the Cueva del Indio (the Indian Cave) and the Palenque de Los Cimarrones, both of which you can reach on the hop on hop off bus.

Visit La Cueva del Indio in Vinales

The Cueva del Indio is just 10 minutes’ drive from downtown Vinales and is likely to be the cave that you visit if you’re on a day trip from Havana.  Visiting the Cueva Del Indio starts with a level 200 metre walk and then involves a short boat ride through the cave as you follow the 400-metre track of the underground San Vincente River.  This cave was rediscovered in 1920 and was originally the homes of the Guanajatabey Indians.  Cave paintings, remains, fossils and relics of ancient times have been discovered here.  You’ll find some bats and albino fish in the tunnels here.  The entry cost of the Cueva Del Indio is 5 CUC and the Cueva Del Indio is open from 0900 until 1730.  Try not to be put off by the very cheesy native Indian dance at the entrance to the cave.  There is, of course, a gift shop at the end of the trip.

Visit Palenque de Los Cimarrones in Vinales

Where else but Cuba would you find a cave with a bar outside?    This cave, the Palenque de Los Cimarrones is just a few hundred metres long and costs 3 CUC to enter.   It gets its name from runaway slaves, the Cimarrones, who escaped a nearby sugar can plantation and hid in the cave.

As you exit the cave, there’s a performance of the history of Cuba – fires, drums, dancing and the story of the African slaves who escaped from the sugar plantations and mills and hid in the caves here.  Cheesy, but fun.  And worth a small tip.

Cimarrones Cave

There are occasionally – usually weekend – parties in the cave – for more parties in caves be sure the visit the Disco la Ayala in Trinidad – which comes complete with 5 dance floors and 3 bars! . (Read about La Ayala and other things to do in Trinidad Cuba here)

Go Caving at Santo Tomas in Vinales

The Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás is Cuba’s largest cave system.   The Caverna de Santo Tomas is around 30 minutes’ drive from Vinales and you will want to visit it with a guide.  Entrance to the Santo Tomas cave will cost 1 CUC and a guide for the 2-hour trek through the cave requires head torches and sensible footwear.  It is not a difficult hike.  A guide will cost around 20 CUC.

The entire cave system of Santo Tomas runs for 46 kilometres (28 miles and there is also a small museum detailing the history of the use of this cave system.

Rent a Bike and Explore Vinales

Of anywhere in the main touristed areas of Cuba, the Vinales Valley is the best place to rent a bike and explore.  The roads and pathways are quiet here.  Bikes are plentiful and available pretty much everywhere and the landscape is also pretty flat – you are, after all, in the Vinales valley.  Check the bike before you rent it and make sure the brakes work.  Ask in downtown Vinales or your Casa Particular owner for rentals, which should cost around 6-8 CUC for a half-day rental.

Go Horse-riding in Vinales

You’ll find friendly, easy to ride horses here in the Vinales Valley.  Meandering through the valley on horseback is a great way to see the main attractions, or simply just to see a bit more of the valley.   You can take tours of any length and they will cost around 20 CUC per hour.  Book your Vinales Horse-riding experience online here (this 3 hour experience is just 40 CUC!) or with your Casa Particular or guide.

Go Rock Climbing in Vinales

The group at Cuba Climbing (Cuba Climbing ) are best placed for the most up to date information on where to climb, where to find guides and how to hire equipment.  You can also arrange a tour or a guide via your casa Particular in Vinales.

Hike to Los Aquaticos Vinales

In 1943 a small community of local Cuban people was formed as a result of having no access to regular medicine and pharmaceuticals.  Los Aquaticos used the healing power of water. There are directions in the Cuba Lonely Planet Guide (check it out here) as to how to hike here.  There are no signs on the route, but lots of spots along the way to ask directions.  The blue house at the halfway point on the mountain is your destination where the owners will happily talk to you about the curing powers of the water.   Buy the Lonely Planet Guide to Cuba here.

Visit the Jardin de Caridad Botanic Garden in Vinales

The Jardin de Caridad, Vinales is a mother and daughter run private operation.  Vinales’ Botanical Gardens offer a free guided tour (although tips are expected). You’ll find it located in a casa particular and with an onsite restaurant.  This isn’t a formal botanical garden, more the personal garden of local Cubanos, but you’ll find a mix of medicinal plants, flowers and ornamental displays.    It’s open from 0800 until 1700 and is found around the corner on the opposite side of the Cupet petrol/gas station.

Take a Cooking Class in Vinales

Learning to cook in Cuba is an awesome way to understand more about the culture and challenges of Cuban society.  While there are many Cuban cooking classes you can take in Havana (check out details here), the best way to take a cooking class in Vinales is to ask at your Casa Particular.

Visit the Casa de Cultura and take a Dance Lesson in Vinales

Music brings communities together in Cuba like nothing else and if you’re staying over in Vinales for a night or longer, it’s the Casa de Cultura that you’ll want to head to on an evening.  The Vinales main town square hosts the Centro Cultural Polo Montanez where you’ll find cocktails and salsa dancing lessons to live music.  Sure the locals might have more rhythm and experience than you, but it’s an awesome opportunity to learn to dance.  Music and dancing kick off around 2100.

Stay at a Casa Particular in Vinales

The best type of accommodation to stay in while you’re visiting Cuba is a casa particular.  Theses homestay options let you stay with a local Cuban family in private rooms and with private bathrooms.  They’re a great way to give to the local community and also to experience a more Cuban experience.   Your host will offer additional services, such as breakfast, sometimes dinner and will be able to help with arranging transport and tours of the area if you haven’t already booked.

Want to know more about Casa Particulars in Cuba?  Read our full guide to them here

How to Get Around Vinales Valley

Depending on where you want to visit in the Vinales valley you have several options for Vinales transport.

  • Taxis and Colectivos – the best place to find these is either by asking your Casa Particular owner or by going to the taxi drivers who congregate outside the Viazul bus station in Vinales.
  • Rent a bike: again ask at your casa particular, or check out the options on the main street of Vinales
  • The Vinales Hop on Hop off bus can get you to the main sites.

Where to get Wi-Fi in Vinales

There are increasing numbers of places in Cuba and Vinales to get internet access.  This is still primarily in public places, like parks and main plazas and square in Cuba.  In Vinales there is also an ETECSA centre (that’s the communications company of Cuba).  Find out all the Vinales Wi-Fi locations in our guide to the internet in Cuba here).

Day Trips from Vinales

If you’re making Vinales your base for one or more nights, and you exhaust exploring the Vinales valley, then you might want to head out to a stunning beach for a Vinales day trip.

Take a Day trip from Vinales to Cayo Jutias

Cayo Jutias is a stunning white sandy beach to be found 65 kilometres (40 miles) to the North West of Vinales.  It takes around 90 minutes to drive there on not particularly good roads.  You can take a day trip from Vinales to Cayo Jutias for around 20 CUC per person, or simply negotiate with a local taxi or colectivo driver to take you there.  Check with your casa particular owner for more details, ask the drivers outside the Vinales Viazul offices.

The beach is white sand, surrounded by mangroves, this is a peaceful beach with few visitors, apart from the Jutias tree rat, which is more guinea pig than rat and cute rather than scary.   They won’t bother you unless you want to feed them (don’t!).  You’ll also find several places to eat here as well as kayak and snorkel hire.

Where to Go After Vinales

Most visitors to Vinales will have come here from Havana, either as a day trip to Vinales or for a longer stay.  The easiest places to head to after Vinales, especially on the Viazul Bus system are those on a direct bus route.  (Viazul isn’t great at timetabling connecting buses – check out more on the Viazul bus system here)

Vinales to Havana

Vinales is 180 kilometres from Havana – this takes around 2.5 to 3 hours to travel in a colectivo or taxi.    There are 2 buses a day from Vinales to Havana with Viazul – you can book them online through our partner here.  Alternatively take a colectivo and shorten your travel time immensely.  Book a taxi from Vinales to Havana here.

Vinales to Varadero

There is no direct bus from Vinales to Varadero at this time.  To go to Varadero from Vinales you’ll need to travel from Vinales to Havana and then from Havana to Vinales if you want to go by bus.  If you leave Vinales at 0800 you can catch a bus from Havana to Varadero.  Its a much easier option just to take a colectivo, there’s much less hanging around!  Check options here.

Vinales to Trinidad

There is a direct bus from Vinales to Trinidad each day.  The Viazul bus to Trinidad from Vinales leaves at 0645 and arrives around 1635.   You can book this bus online even when there is no Viazul availability by using our partner to book that for you – check out your options for it here.

Taking Taxi Colectivos for Your onward journey from Vinales.

You can also, of course, arrange taxi colectivos to your next destination.   To do this, you can arrange it through your Casa Particular and pay cash for your journey.  You can also book online, with our partners in Cuba and pay using a card, saving the need for additional ATM withdrawals – check out your options here

 

We hope you enjoy your trip to Vinales – the scenery, and tranquil nature of the UNESCO World Heritage Vinales Valley is a gorgeous retreat for a while – we just want to know how long you’ll spend here?

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About Sarah Carter

Sarah Carter is an avid reader, writer and traveller. She loves hiking, sailing, skiing and exploring the world through food. She left a successful career in IT security and compliance in both the UK and US to travel the world with husband and partner in adventure, Nigel.

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2 thoughts on “Things to Do in Vinales Cuba – Take a Vinales Day Trip & Longer

  • Jake Williams

    Hey Sarah,
    I’ve tried numerous times to get the Cuban travel checklist,recently and before, without success. I have been receiving your travelogue for over a year now, (possibly 3-4yrs.) so maybe that’s the problem (that I’m already in your system). I’m returning to Cuba for the third time, to the rural area around Baracoa, though I’m always interested in any and all things about Cuba. At your suggestion, i am carrying the Express VPN this year. Would you please send me the list & anything else that’s easy to forward about Cuba? For the most part, I avoid the tourist enclaves like the plague, given an opportunity. I have had the good fortune to have travelled between the Lighthouses of Punta El Cajon (NE), Cabo Cruz (SW), and Punta De Maisi (SE). I have found the Baracoa area and the Vinales region to be my favourites in the 8 weeks I’ve been on the Island so far. I much appreciate the info that you send on a semi-regular basis. Thanks!
    Sincerely, Jake

    • Sarah Carter Post author

      Thanks so much for comments Jake, I’ll look into why you haven’t been sent the checklist – and will send it by email and answer some questions specifically. We did really love Baracoa and surrounds. The other area that I really liked was Sancti SPiritus, for the primary reason that we saw no other tourists! Sarah