If there’s one city I’d highly recommend you to visit, aside from Havana, in Cuba, it would be Trinidad. No, I’m not talking about the many museums the city can offer but the various activities you can do here and it’s neighboring places. From the cobblestoned streets to the mountains and to the beach, is, no doubt, your ideal holiday getaway where you can experience the beach, nature, history, music, nightlife and culture.
1. Stroll around.
The whole city is like a museum itself. Rainbow-colored colonial houses, cobblestoned alleys, classic cars, horse carriages and clay-made roofs are a sight to behold that would leave an indelible impression in your mind.
If you bought a , follow the Photographic Walk map of the city.
2. Find love at Museo Romantico
Museums in Cuba are boring, really. Things are labeled in one-liners and sometimes offer no English translation. And most of the time, they rely on the natural light that comes from the windows. In rooms where there are no windows, they turn the lights on when someone curious comes in. Museo Romantico is no exception but, as the name suggests, it’s quite a unique museum you have never been to before—and perhaps the only museum of this kind you’ll ever go in your lifetime. So, go!
3. Jam at Casa de la Trova
It’s the place to listen to local troubadours belting out traditional songs and music with their traditional musical instruments.
4. Drink or sit on the concrete stairs of Casa de la Musica
These stairs are where tired tourists sit in the afternoon with a glass of mojito or Cuba libre. At night, this space becomes the center of entertainment and is crowded. There’s live traditional music, cultural performances, too much dancing and drinking, people-watching and of course, negotiating and flirting.
5. Party inside a natural cave
When the night entertainment at Casa de la Musica (see #4) ends at midnight, and maybe you’re a bit drunk already, join some people on their way to Disco Ayala, a club/bar inside a natural cave. Weird? See the stunning photos here.
6. Learn about Santeria
A religion of African origin, Santeria has many followers in Cuba. At Casa Temple de Santeria (between Simon Bolivar and Piro Guinart), you can talk to a Santero who is well-versed in his script on what to say to tourists. Don’t interrupt when he’s talking. Leave a donation after you are enlightened.
7. Ride a horse carriage
I did this because I thought it’s a different experience to be in it traversing the cobbled streets in early morning. There’s that feeling of going back in time. When there were 4 people on the carriage, I paid and got off quickly. My heart bled for the young mare. It cost me two pesos.
8. Watch the sunset and see the panorama of the city
There are two towers where you can admire the sunset and at the same time see Trinidad’s panorama: Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra Bandidos and Museo Historico Municipal. From atop, you can also see the magnificent view of Sierra Escambray.
9. Eat at Guitarra Mia
This is my favorite place to eat. Cheap (because it’s a bit away from the tourist/central area) and food is as good as the ones you order from the expensive restaurants in the city. And it’s better than the buffet in Cuban hotels. There’s music here (as the name suggests) and people are nicer. When you’re tummy is happy and you’ve paid your bills already, write a comment at the door before you leave.
10. Go horse riding
At the city center, especially around Plaza Mayor, horse riding tour hawkers disrupt your stroll from time to time. If you fancy it, they’ll pick you up at your hotel on the scheduled time and bring you to the countryside where the unspoiled beauty of nature plays with your senses.
11. Be a beach bum at Playa Ancon
It only takes 20 minutes by car to get to Playa Ancon where the turquoise water of the Caribbean awaits you. You can also go scuba diving and snorkeling here.
12. See the sights at Valle de los Ingenios (Sugar mills)
Before the Spanish-Cuban-American war, Trinidad is a place of immense amount wealth due to its sugarcane plantation that made the country a major exporter of diabetes (just joking, eh!). Around this valley, tourists can see the sweeping view of the plains and mountainous terrains, visit sugar mills and old living quarters of the slaves who toiled lands all their lives.
Though it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Valle de Los Ingenios offers no sugarcane plantations. Not anymore. As in no more. Nada. However, the area is still surrounded with a dozen ruins of sugar mills, old communities, sugar warehouses and milling machineries.
In this hacienda, a 44m tower stands like it was in ancient times. And yes, you can still go up there (if your legs are strong enough) and enjoy the panoramic vista of the plains where the sugar plantation used to grow. When you go down, visit the casa below the tower and go to the back where an old sugarcane mill is waiting for your hand/muscles to try.
MIRADOR DE LA LOMA DEL PUERTO
This 192-meter high lookout is the best view you can get overlooking the valley with Sierra Escambray as the backdrop. Imagine that long time ago, this was a sugar cane plantation. Grab a drink and enjoy the bucolic view and the fresh air you have always wanted in the city.
SITIO SAN ISIDRO
In this village, you’ll see the ruins of an old community where slaves used to live. Everything around here are ruins of old yore. When I visited there, there’s one guy working/restoring the ruins piece by piece. In the same compound, you’ll also see the ruins of the casa where the Chief of the sugar cane plantation used to live. Nearby, you’ll see the remnants of the sugar mills.
And of course, don’t forget to hug a 500-year old Ceiba tree.
How did I get to these places?
Call Vladimir at 53592297 (local number). He has a classic car that will bring you anywhere outside Trinidad. He brought me to Playa Ancon and picked me up three hours later. He then brought me to the sights listed in #12. I paid $15 only, including tip.