Plaza Mayor in Trinidad

Trinidad, Cuba Travel Guide: Planning Your Visit

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The clip-clop of horses’ hooves on the 500 year old cobbled-stone streets is one of its many charms – our Trinidad, Cuba Travel Guide will show you why this World Heritage City is in a league of its own!

Trinidad, Cuba Travel Guide: Overview

With elegant plazas & pastel-coloured buildings, we here at DIY Travel HQ believe that Trinidad is Cuba’s best-preserved colonial settlement.

There are many museums in the city, especially around Plaza Mayor, but we didn’t go in any of them – who needs stuffy rooms with old artifacts & no English explanations when the streets outside are living outdoor exhibitions?

Plaza Mayor is the heart of the old town but it’s well-worth exploring outside of the city centre too, for a taste of real Cuban life.

The local residential quarters are quite a contrast to the affluence of the historic areas, with small ramshackle dwellings & horse carts replacing lavish colonial buildings & classically restored American cars.

Horse cart & neighbours in Trinidad

Gossiping neighbours & horse carts in the local streets

In these neighbourhoods, you’re unlikely to see many, if any, tourists.

They’re more likely to be enjoying the good life in any of Trinidad’s increasing number of fashionable restaurants, bars or cafes, located well away from the gritty authenticity of suburbia and local street food in Cuba.

Trinidad Nightlife in Cuba

There’s great nightlife in Trinidad with lots of restaurants, cafes, bars & live music

We don’t really recommend it but the beach escape of Playa Ancon is 15km from Trinidad.

If you’re travelling to the island nation, Trinidad is one of the top destinations in Cuba.

We fell completely in love with Trinidad – it’s like nowhere else we’ve ever been.

You really do feel like you’ve stepped back in time, way way back…

* Trinidad, Cuba Travel Guide Top Tip: Beware, this city will leave you feeling like you never want to leave the 19th century…

* Don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before any trip to Cuba. We’ve been using World Nomads for over 10 years – it’s the best-value provider we’ve found & we’ve also never had any issues on the few occasions we’ve had to make a claim.

Living Outdoor Museum of Trinidad

Unesco World Heritage streets of Trinidad

Trinidad, Cuba Travel Guide: History

Trinidad’s riches come from the 19th century, in the middle of the sugar boom from the nearby Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills) plantations.

Introduced by the Spanish in the early 1500’s, sugar quickly became Cuba’s main industry.

The soil & climate were ideal for cultivation & by the late 18th century, Cuba had become the biggest producer of sugar in the world – no wonder the Hershey Train was built near Havana.

Horse Carts in Trinidad

Horse carts are a still a major form of transport

Thousands of African slaves were brought to the island to work in the sugar mills & in the fields (many descendants remain today).

However, after the Spanish abolished slavery in 1820, the Cuban slave trade decreased significantly.

Together with slave revolts, the depletion of arable land & the rise of the European sugar trade, Trinidad’s economy came crashing down.

Historic streets of Trinidad

Historic neighbourhood streets of Trinidad

These days, tobacco processing is Trinidad’s most important industry, followed by tourism. We recommend checking out the Alejandro Robaina Plantation Tour in Pinar del Rio if you have time.

The city has been growing in popularity since its historic center was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988.

* Trinidad, Cuba Travel Guide Top Tip: Trinidad celebrated its 500-year anniversary in 2014 – there’s no better time to visit than now!

Model in Trinidad Cuba

It’s tough being this beautiful in Trinidad!

Trinidad, Cuba Travel Guide: Attractions

  • Plaza Mayor

Begin your Trinidad visit in Plaza Mayor, that’s if you can tear yourself away from the enchanting streets on the way there…

White iron-picketed fencing separates the paved central courtyard from the cobble-stoned streets. This is in turn divided into 4 smaller squares with manicured gardens nurturing towering palm trees.

Surrounding the courtyard are lovely, colonial buildings – many of them converted into museums:

  • Museo Romantico
  • Museo de Arquitectura Trinitaria
  • Museo de Arqueología Guamuhaya

They all charge CUC$1-2 – we didn’t pay for any but you can sneak a peak & get a good feel inside for each one.

There is also a church, Iglesia Parroquial de la Santísima Trinidad.

* Trinidad, Cuba Travel Guide Top Tip:  Plaza Mayor is Cuba’s most romantic & photogenic square. The quietly dignified air & elegance is every reason to fall head over heels in love with Trinidad.

Plaza Mayor in Trinidad

Iglesia Parroquial de la Santísima on Plaza Mayor

  • Museo Historico Municipal

Pages were torn out for Trinidad in our Lonely Planet so we missed out on checking out this building.

Apparently, it’s the best museum in the city, showcasing the treasures of past wealthy dynasties, with an excellent view from the top of the tower.

Museo Histórico Municipal (also known as Museo de Historia) is located just off Plaza Mayor.

Museo Historico Municipal Trinidad

Museo Historico Municipal is the tall yellow building on the right

  • Galería de Arte

This 19th century building on Plaza Mayor is home to quality Cuban art, most of which is for sale & affordable.

Take your time looking around, there are many interesting & impressive works, a great insight into Cuban life & culture.

The artworks are displayed over 2 storeys.

Entrance fee: Free

* Trinidad, Cuba Travel Guide Top Tip: There’s a fantastic view of Plaza Mayor from the top balcony.

Galeria de Arte in Trinidad

Excellent artwork to browse for free in Galeria de Arte

  • Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra Bandidos

This is a museum relating to the counter-revolutionary groups that operated illegally out of the Sierra del Escambray mountain ranges between 1960-1965.

There are maps, photos & weapons on display.

It’s red cupola-topped yellow & white bell tower is a landmark of Trinidad – you can climb to the top for good views of the city.

Museo Nacional Lucha Contra Bandidos

Museo Nacional Lucha Contra Bandidos stands tall

  • Casa Templo de Santería Yemayá

This museum/home is dedicated to Santeria, the main Afro-Cuban religion on the island.

Santeria is a mix of African mythology, Christianity & Indigenous American traditions. It evolved in Cuba during the 16th century when African slaves were brought over to work in the sugar plantations.

This is an interesting place & worth a quick look. There’s only 2 rooms – the front room has a black baby doll seated in a wooden chair in the corner & the back room has a large altar for worship.

Entrance fee: free

* Trinidad, Cuba Travel Guide Top Tip: There are no explanations but your might be able to listen in on a visiting tour group or ask around for more information.

Casa Templo de Santeria Yemaya

Casa Templo de Santeria Yemaya

  • Plaza Santa Ana

Plaza Santa Ana is a dilapidated square located outside the city centre.

The equally run-down Iglesia de Santa Ana stands forlornly in one corner.

Besides that, there’s nothing much here but the local streets around it are very colorful & fun.

Church on Plaza Santa Ana

Dilapidated church on Plaza Santa Ana

  • Taller Alfarero

This small pottery studio is in a residential home outside the historic centre – you can watch artists at work, see a traditional clay oven & browse & shop for ceramics.

Entrance fee: free

Taller Alfarero pottery studio

Taller Alfarero pottery studio

  • Loma de la Vigia mirador

This is a lookout spot on a hill overlooking Trinidad & its surrounding mountains.

It’s located north of the Plaza Mayor, follow the uneven stone & dirt paths leading uphill or ask locals for directions.

Along the way, you’ll pass the ruined church of Ermita de la Popa as well as a cave nightclub, Disco Ayala.

Head to the antenna on the top of the hill. From here, there’s an ok view of low-lying Trinidad on one side & lush green mountains on the other.

Mountain view from Loma de la Vigia

The lush mountain view from Loma de la Vigia

Accommodation in Trinidad

We stayed at Hostal Manuel y Maria – it was a casa despite the name, with a couple of rooms for rent.

For CUC$15 we got a room with private bathroom – and breakfast! This was one of the best-value budget casa particulates in Cuba which we stayed in.

This was one of the few places we stayed at in Cuba which included breakfast in the low prices we negotiated & it was such a luxury!

Hostal Manuel y Maria was a bargain in Trinidad with a great location in the city centre.

Casa Breakfast in Trinidad

Breakfast was included at Hostal Manuel y Maria for CUC$15!

How to Get to Trinidad

From Cienfuegos, camiones depart from inside the bus station.eThere are blackboards that shew schedules & destinations but double check these with multiple people as the truck we waited 2 hours for was cancelled, despite numerous people telling us it was departing.

So we asked around & ended up making our way to a medical (?) university.

From here, we waited an hour for a camion to Yaguanabo, via the slow coastal road – teis ride cost 20 pesos / $0.80. Then we waited another hour for a bus to Trinidad for 1 peso / $0.04.

Yaguanabo beach Trinidad

We ended up on Yaguanabo beach on the way to Trinidad

It took us all day to travel the 82km from Cienfuegos to Trinidad, including finding out where the camiones’ were & dealing with touts in the morning.

On this occasion, Viazul would’ve been a lot more convenient – but we got to Trinidad in the end, for less than $1!

There are many colectivo shared taxis at the Cienfuegos camion/bus terminal travelling to Trinidad – from memory, the price is CUC$8, close to the same price as Viazul.

This price is extremely high for a colectivo but the drivers/touts do not budge – elsewhere in Cuba, you would be paying CUC$2.50-4 for the same distance.

Colectivos, Viazul buses & camiones are just few different ways of getting around in Cuba.

Camion to Trinidad

Camion from Cienfuegos University to Yaguanabo (for Trinidad)

How to Get Out of Trinidad

From Trinidad, we took a colectivo taxi from the CUPET gas station on Circuito Sur, south of the city (you can it this on Maps.Me) – the shared ride to Sancti Spiritus cost CUC$2.50.

Camiones also depart from here but for they wanted to charge us a ridiculous amount – this was a first for trucks in Cuba but many people in Trinidad are always on the lookout to rip-off a tourist.

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The clip-clop of horses’ hooves on the 500 year old cobbled-stone streets is one of the many charms of Trinidad – find out why this UNESCO gem is in a league of its own! Trinidad is the best colonial settlement in Cuba. The city is filled with plazas, museums, churches, & everyday Cuban life.

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*** The Final Word – Don’t miss the most charming city in Cuba! ***

Which is your favourite city in Cuba?

5 Shovels-2

Super easy DIY travel around city centres

Visited in June 2016

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