Things-to-do-in-Vinales

Things to do in Vinales, Cuba

Viñales Cuba is a small town nestled in the middle of the UNESCO World Heritage Viñales Valley.  It’s here in Viñales 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 Viñales has less than 30,000 permanent residents and regardless of whether you choose to visit with a day trip to Viñales or for longer, there are ample things to do in Viñales Cuba.

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

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The Viñales 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 Viñales focus around getting out into the countryside to the UNESCO World Heritage Viñales Valley and usually include:

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

The Best Things to do in Viñales

What you decide to do in Viñales depends very much on the time that you have here.  If you want to visit Viñales as a day trip from Havana, then we recommend that you read this article xxxx.  If you’re wanting to spend longer than just a day in Viñales, then carry on, this is the best post on the things to do in Viñales for you.

There are two ways to visit Viñales and the surrounding area – you can take the time to visit independently, or you can arrange a tour.  Tours can be arranged with car and driver from you Casa Particular, before you arrive, or even from where you’re staying in Havana.  

Take a free walking tour of Vinales. 

Youll need to be staying in Vinales to take this free walking tour of Vinales. It meets at 10am in front of the Parque José Martí statue, right in the centre of the city. You’ll learn about the origins of Viñales, and it’s agricultural traditions. The tour visits the local area of “downtown”, the botanical gardens and finishes at a tobacco farm. The Vinales free walking tour lasts 2 hours and you will need to pre-book your place.

Take a Viñales Valley Tour

The most popular thing to do in Viñales is to take a tour of the valley of Viñales.  The Valle de Viñales 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.

In a day in Viñales, you’ll be able to cover the main sites, attractions and reasons to come to the Viñales valley.  Here’s an awesome tour of the Vinales valley by classic car.

Vinales-Valley-View

Your options when it comes to tours of Viñales depend on whether you’re starting from Havana or Viñales itself.  Havana is approximately 90 minutes to 2 hours drive away.  The main sites to see here in the Viñales Valley Tour are

  • 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

A Viñales valley tour starting from Viñales will give you amply time to include a guided walking tour or a longer horseback tour too.  You can check out options for guided Viñales tours here or ask at your Viñales Casa Particular or Hotel.

Take the Hop on Hop off Bus in Viñales

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

Stops on this tour include Viñales caves, the viewpoint from the Hotel Los Jazmines, the Prehistoric Mural of Viñales and tobacco plantations.  Pick up the bus on the main street in Viñales 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, which is usually in 90 minutes or so.

Where to Get the Viñales Hop-on Hop-Off Bus

You can get on the Viñales Hop on Hop off bus in Viñales main street.  There are a host of other stops, but this is most likely to be the bus stop closest to where you are staying.

Cost of the Viñales Hop-on Hop-Off Bus

The Viñales Hop on Hop Off Bus costs the equivalent of US$3 or 72 Cuban Pesos.  One US Dollars is 24 Cuban Pesos (CUP).  You’ll have to pay in cash. 

See the Mural de la Prehistoria Viñales

This mural near Viñales is some 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) from downtown Viñales and 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.  The Viñales mural is said to represent the theory of evolution.

How to get to the Viñales Mural: 

  • You can walk to the Viñales Mural – the roads aren’t busy. 
  • You can cycle to the Viñales Mural from the centre of Viñales, rent bikes from Viñales.
  • You can take the Hop on Hop off bus from Viñales to the Viñales Mural
  • You can visit the Viñales Mural on a private tour from Viñales or Havana.
Mural-de-Prehistoria-Vinales

The prehistoric mural of Viñales 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 an entrance fee to get close up.  Your entry fee of 72 CUP to the Mural de la Prehistoria also includes a cocktail.

Where is the Viñales Mural?

You can find the Viñales Mural 2.5 miles from the centre of Viñales and see where this is on our map of the Viñales area.

Cost of Visiting the Viñales Mural

The Viñales Mural entry costs 72 CUP (US$3).

Take in the View at the Hotel Jazmines Viñales

As a place to stay in Viñales, 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.

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 Viñales.

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

Chill Out at the Hotel de Jazmines Pool in Viñales

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 Viñales 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 cover charge.

Jazmines-Pool-Vinales

Where is the Hotel Los Jazmines?

The Horizontes Hotel Los Jazmines is 1.75 miles (2.8 kilometres) from the centre of Viñales on the road to Pinar del Rio  See where this is on our map of the Viñales area.

Visit a Coffee Plantation in Viñales

While most visitors to the Viñales 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! Tailor this tour to include a Vinales coffee plantation tour.

Visit a Tobacco Plantation in Viñales

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 Viñales 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.

Making-cuban-Cigars-in-cuba

Where are the Tobacco Plantations that you can visit in Viñales?

We’ve marked several of the Tobacco Plantations that can be visited in the Viñales area on our map of the Viñales area. Or take a look at this tour of the Vinales Valley that includes visiting a tobaco plantation here.

Make Cuban Cigars in Viñales

On your tour of the tobacco plantations in Viñales, 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 Cigar and Rum experiences to expand on your newly found knowledge.

Visit Viñales Caves

The Viñales 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. You can also reach these caves on this tour of Vinales.

Visit La Cueva del Indio in Viñales

The Cueva del Indio is just 10 minutes drive from downtown Viñales 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 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 Viñales

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.   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 to 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 Viñales

The Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás is Cuba’s largest cave system.   The Caverna de Santo Tomas is around 30 minutes drive from Viñales and you will want to visit it with a guide.  Entrance to the Santo Tomas cave will cost a small amount 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 US$20

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 Viñales

Of anywhere in the main tourist areas of Cuba, the Viñales 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 Viñales valley.  Check the bike before you rent it and make sure the brakes work.  Ask in downtown Viñales or your Casa Particular owner for rentals, which should cost around US$8 for a half-day rental.

Go Horse-Riding in Viñales

You’ll find friendly, easy to ride horses here in the Viñales 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 US$ per hour.  Book your Viñales Horse-riding experience online here (this 4-hour experience is just 40 US dollars) or with your Casa Particular or guide.

Go Rock Climbing in Viñales

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 Viñales.

Hike to Los Aquaticos Viñales

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 to Los Aquaticos.  There are no signs on the route, but lots of spots along the way to ask for 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.  Alternatively you can take this incredible guided sunrise hike to Los Aquaticos.

Visit the Jardin de Caridad Botanic Garden in Viñales

The Jardin de Caridad, Viñales is a mother and daughter run private operation.  Viñales’ 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. You’ll visit the botanical gardens in Vinales on this FREE walking tour of Vinales.

Take a Cooking Class in Viñales

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 Viñales is to ask at your Casa Particular.

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

Music brings communities together in Cuba like nothing else and if you’re staying over in Viñales for a night or longer, it’s the Casa de Cultura that you’ll want to head to on an evening.  The Viñales 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 Viñales

The best type of accommodation to stay in while you’re visiting Cuba is a casa particular.  These 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 the Viñales Valley

Depending on where you want to visit in the Viñales valley you have several options for Viñales 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 Viñales.
  • Prebook transfers and transport in Vinales here
  • Rent a bike: again ask at your casa particular, or check out the options on the main street of Viñales
  • The Viñales Hop on Hop off bus can get you to the main sites.

Where to get Wi-Fi in Viñales

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

How to get to Viñales

Many people visit Viñales on a day trip from Varadero or Havana, and this is a great way to see more of the Cuban countryside however if you want to spend more time in this region of the Pinar del Rio, here’s how to get to Viñales Cuba.  The Viazul timetables are here and our guide here explains it all.

How to get to Viñales from Varadero

There is one Viazul bus a day from Varadero to Viñales.  It leaves at 0800 and arrives at 1515.  Alternatively, look at the quicker option of a colectivo to Viñales from Varadero.

How to get to Viñales from Trinidad

There is one Viazul bus a day to Trinidad from Viñales.  This leaves Viñales at 0645 and arrives in Trinidad at 1635. A shared colectivo will take at least 2 hours less than the Viazul Bus. 

How to get to Viñales from Havana

The Viazul bus service runs three times daily buses from Havana to Viñales.  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.  If there are no tickets available, there are also taxi colectivos available for this journey.

The bus to Viñales 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 Viñales takes around 2.5 hours.  You can book through your casa particular and pay cash for the journey. It is much less hassle to pre-book a transfer to Vinales from Havana – you’ll save a lot of time and effort – check prices and book here.

There’s more about other forms of Cuban Transport in our guide to transport in Cuba here.

Where to Stay in Viñales

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 Viñales, then you can’t go far wrong with the Hotel Jazmines – complete with amazing views of the Viñales Valley and a great swimming pool that empties of day-trippers when they head back to Havana.  Check prices and availability here.

However, the best place to stay, in our opinion, in Viñales and Cuba generally is in a casa particular.  There are LOTS in Viñales.  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 Viñales.

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

Where is Viñales

Viñales is located in the Pinar del Rio region of Cuba.  Viñales 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.

Where to Go After Viñales

Most visitors to Viñales will have come here from Havana, either as a day trip to Viñales or for a longer stay.  If you’re using the Viazul bus service for your transport in Cuba, then the easiest places to head to after Viñales, 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).  These are the most popular places to travel to from Viñales.

Viñales to Havana

Viñales 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 Viñales to Havana with Viazul. Alternatively take a colectivo and shorten your travel time immensely. 

Viñales to Trinidad

There is a direct bus from Viñales to Trinidad each day.  The Viazul bus to Trinidad from Viñales leaves at 0645 and arrives around 1635.  

Viñales to Varadero

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

Taking Taxi Colectivos for Your onward journey from Viñales.

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. 

Final Words on The Best Things to do in Viñales, Cuba

We hope you enjoy your trip to Viñales – the scenery, and tranquil nature of the UNESCO World Heritage Viñales Valley is a gorgeous retreat for a while.  This valley of tobacco, of coffee and unique rock formations, is a sleepy place, where if you stay rather than just day trip here you’ll get to experience rural Cuba at its very best.  We just want to know how long you plan to stay!

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