Following our post about Havana, if you are interested to visit Cuba we encourage you to add Trinidad on your must see places.
Many travellers see this country more as a beach destination, but the cultural experience is really what makes Cuba stand out from its neighbouring Caribbean islands.
And Trinidad is the kind of place that can fully prove this.
Here are our top 10 reasons to visit Trinidad
It is a jewellery of colonial architecture
Trinidad is included in the UNESCO patrimony and its most special characteristic is the wonderfully conserved colonial architecture. The style of the houses shows ingenious solutions to the heat and lack of artificial ventilation in the past centuries. The houses are painted in different vibrant colours that are a delight for the eyes. We recommend you to visit the impressive houses of the sugar lords, all very centrally located, near the main square and with a rich content.
Don’t miss visiting the Municipal History Museum (Palacio Cantero), right near the central square – Plaza Mayor. The impressive house tells the story of family life for the rich and also has an observation tower that offers charming 360 degrees views of the center. Very close by, also in a rich villa you should visit the Colonial Architecture Museum, former house of the Sanchez Iznaga family, where you can learn very interesting information about the techniques and crafts used to build such architectural jewels. But depending on your time we encourage you to visit as many sites as possible (museums, churches and even restaurants or shops) because each place is full of history and value.
You can get a true insight into the life on sugar plantations
Trinidad was the heart of the sugar industry, home of the sugar lords and located just between the sugar plantations and the port that ensured trade of both sugar products and slaves. From Trinidad you can explore the Valley de los Ingenios (Valley of the sugar mills), where you can see exactly how sugar plantations were organised, what were the living and working conditions for both slaves and supervisors, as well as hearing more about the sugar industry processes. The plantations are no longer in use, because the development of the area is now focused on Tourism, but the locals are doing an amazing job in offering this realistic insight into the previous core industry of Trinidad and also Cuba.
Trinidad has a very special vibrant atmosphere and music
Although it’s such a small village, Trinidad is a very cosmopolitan place. Tourists constantly visit Trinidad and are welcomed with open hearts, wonderful stories, but most of all with the enchanting Cuban music and atmosphere. We have never imagined that on such a small surface there can be so many talented musicians, dancers or entertainers. Almost every single place has its own live singers. It’s like there is no other way of living here than enjoying life, singing and dancing. Don’t miss a drink near Casa de la Musica and listen to their live band, it’s a very vibrant place.
There is a unique cave disco
A hidden gem of Trinidad is the cave disco, Disco Ayala. That’s right, you can party and dance in a cave. Don’t worry, there is no bass, so no risks of the wall cave collapsing as a result of vibrations. Just get your dance shoes and head to a special disco night.
You can have an exciting horse ride in the natural parks
The natural environment of Trinidad is very rich and locals know how to show it to their guests. If you are keen on some exciting time and have a good physical shape for riding a horse, Trinidad offers a great full day schedule. You don’t need to have any experience, but you do need to expect staying on the horse for some good 5 hours, with long breaks of course. This was definitely one of our favourite days in Cuba, but we have to be honest and say the evening was a bit difficult, since we were not really used to riding horses. The route starts with riding through local roads and fields into the mountains, there are stops on the way in local small organic farms where you can drink guarapo (sugar cane juice) with rum. Then you continue through rivers and narrow trails to reach the natural park and a waterfall. Here you can cool in the perfect waters and then head back for a delicious healthy lunch at local farms. We really liked the horses, very calm and used to tourists, as well as the interesting discussions we had with our guide during the day. You can book this day activity with your host or with the locals.
It also offers lots of trekking trails
As previously mentioned, Trinidad has wonderful natural parks. You can explore them not only by horse riding, but also on foot or by bike. There are more trails with different lengths and difficulties and you can arrange to take a taxi to the starting point of any of the trails. Again ask your host or locals for detailed information and trail maps.
You can swim under beautiful waterfalls
Irrespective of how you want to visit the natural parks, we recommend not missing the chance to swim in the green waters right under the waterfalls. The water temperature is perfect and gives you the feeling of being in a natural paradise. If you are lucky, there won’t be many people around. But if it is crowded and you are not in a hurry, try staying a longer time to get the space you would enjoy. Many come with organised groups and have a tight schedule to keep up to. We decided to stay a bit longer than the majority around (1h) and we did have the natural pool almost only to ourselves.
Charming white sandy beaches are very close by
Only 15 km from Trinidad, travellers can reach Ancona beach. The beach is long with both some modernised parts and some more wild areas. There are also hotels around, as well as some cafes and food places. The sea is not the clearest, depending on season and weather, but you still get to feel the charm of a white sand Caribbean beach. So it’s a very nice and relaxing way to have some lazy beach time on a hot sunny day. We recommend taking a taxi or renting a bike from Trinidad, as the local buses are very unreliable, and even if they are cheap you can end up waiting for 1 hour.
Lovely restaurants and delicious local food
Trinidad is privileged to be in a very rich agricultural area and this is reflected on the quality of food available. Most restaurant and private boarding houses (casas particulares) will offer delicious and carefully prepared food. Some of the places have their own secret recipes, from simple local products, but with incredible taste. The local cuisine is in general quite healthy, as it is based a lot on seasonal fruits or vegetables.
Trinidad offers picture perfect views
The best pictures we took in Cuba are from Trinidad. Every corner of the city offers vibrant colours and charming details. For example, the observation tower of the Municipal History Museum or the tower of Convento de San Francisco de Asis (housing the Museum of the struggle against bandits), make ideal places for panoramic images. Although we left it last in our Top 10 reasons to visit Trinidad, if you do love to take beautiful pictures Trinidad is perfect; just get your camera ready and with the battery fully charged.
How to get there
You can reach Trinidad by car or bus. We recommend taking a shared taxi (taxi colectivo), arranged with your host. In Havana this can be booked also at the tourist information center. For departure from Trinidad you can arrange it with your host in Trinidad. There are also local buses, but we do not recommend them as they are not that cheap and really unreliable.
Where to stay
There are just very few hotels around, usually fully booked and expensive, so we really recommend staying with a casa particulara (private boarding house). You can find many options on Airbnb for example. Check the reviews, but majority of the hosts are wonderful and they would go above and beyond to make your stay perfect. Just have in mind that Trinidad is a very small village and the local accommodation will reflect that.
If you are now convinced by the Top 10 reasons to visit Trinidad and are looking to include it in your Cuban itinerary then make your own perfect experience locally and you will surely treasure the memories.