Trinidad, Cuba is a UNESCO World Heritage site in the centre of the island, located in the province of Sancti Spíritus. You know the famous pastel coloured buildings that Cuba is known for? Yeah, that’s Trinidad! The nearby Playa Ancon deserves a shout out too because it is a postcard perfect beach.
Trigger warning: in the beginning we did not love Trinidad, Cuba. By this point in the trip we had hustle burn out and were pretty fed up with Cuba in general, however, we can now look at our six days in Trinidad objectively. OK! Get your legs and liver ready, we’re going to salsa and cycle…
Brunet Palace + Plaza Mayor at sunset
The Highs of Trinidad, Cuba
The Colours + Casas
Trinidad has a cute array of coloured housing and the casas particulares are unreal! Want to live with locals in Cuba like we did? Check out our guide to Cuban casas.
Holiday in freedom, why Cuba all – inclusive when you can casa?!
Many of these homes are beautiful colonial buildings with stunning gardens. We ate breakfast every morning amongst the flowers at Casa Yaquelín.
Desayuno / breakfast typically costs around 4 CUC / $4 (try to get it included)
Church of the Holy Trinity at Plaza Mayor
These Cubans can dance! Every evening at Casa de la Música there is an outside show which travellers can one-two-three until they sweat their socks off. We were gobsmacked at the talent at the local club next to Casa de la Música (1 CUC / $1 / 65p cover charge, if they try to charge you more tell them you were there last night). Expect to pay 3 CUC / $3 / £1.96 for a cocktail in the club. Craig is convinced the writers of Dirty Dancing got the idea for their story from Trinidad! It’s his favourite film, sorry, I mean soundtrack (… film).
The famous Canchánchara cocktail of rum, honey, lemon, and water can be bought at La Canchánchara, it’s the simple things in life in Cuba that matter. Don’t be alarmed when live music explodes here.
More Cocktails + Partying in Trinidad
I love the drink in Cuba. Mojitos, Cuba Libres, Daiquiris, Piña Colada, as a spirit drinker I was in liquid heaven. There is a man who sells 1 CUC cocktails just down from the steps of Casa de la Música. The street lights go out every so often, ideal for topping up your 1 CUC Colada with your contraband (half bottles of rum are 2.80 CUC / £1.83 in local shops).
We had a great night drinking and laughing with our travelling ‘family’ Annie, Sarah and Sarah’s Dad, Geoff (we became Two Scots, Two Brauds and a Dad in Cuba!) As well as our new friends, Dr Megan, Anaise, Enders, and the Two Andreas. Oh and how could I forget our street perro, Mango the Dog!
Cycling to Playa Ancon
This beach is perfection, it’s exactly what you would expect of Cuba with its blue waters, white sand and palm trees.
How to get to Playa Ancon
In attempt to miss the strong sun, we left our Trinidad casa at 09:00 to collect our pre – booked bikes (5 CUC / $5 / £3.27 each) which we had organised with a taxi man who then put us in contact with a lady with bikes the day before. This is pretty standard business behaviour, the taxi man gets commission in return for our custom. The 6 mile ride from Simon Bolivar street took less than an hour, with a few photo stops. An old man in charge of the beach charged us 1 CUC / $1 to have our bikes on the beach and locked up (scandal, typical of Cuba charging you for everything). He did let us leave our bikes at his side of Playa Ancon when we went to meet our friends at the busier side.
We ate a disgusting meal (grease) for 5 CUC / $5 / £3.27 but washed it down with two ‘Che’s’- Craig’s invention; a drink with rum, a dash of cherry rum, and lemon slush, perfect in the sun.
The 6 mile cycle back was a killer! I felt like my face had undergone a facelift by the time we got home, partly down to sunburn and dried sweat! It’s common for people to hurl their bikes into taxi cabs when leaving the beach.
Public Transport to Playa Ancon
There is a local bus from Trinidad if cycling isn’t your thing. It costs 1 CUC / $1 and leaves hourly (check with locals). There is definitely a bus a 11am and returning at 15:30 or 18:00 from Playa Ancon.
Cuba: The Lows
Don’t get me wrong although Cuban food gets a terrible write-up, we did eat well in Havana and our Cuban casa breakfasts were usually pretty decent but unfortunately our review of meals in Trinidad is not as positive.
In Cuba there are private restaurants and government-run restaurants. The government-run ones are notorious for slow service, poor quality and a lack of variety of food. We, unknowingly, ate in one government-run restaurant for lunch and it became apparent which type of restaurant we were dining in after an hour wait for rice (which Craig did actually enjoy). Cuba time is not the same as Western time! You just have to go with flow, tranquilo.
I can recommend dinner at the Tripadvisor #1 rated restaurant in Trinidad, Restaurante San José as well as lunch at Taberna la Botija (which has a live band in the evenings) so there are some options available for tourists, it’s just frustrating paying near North American prices for poor quality meals.
We felt trapped many times in Cuba. Trapped by the (short-term) rain, the inability to cook for ourselves, the WiFi situation and of course, the hustle!
The Cuban Hustle
Cuba is a communist country but the Cubans run their own private network in their communist country. Nearly every house on the gringo trail of Cuba is a casa particular, there were hundreds of rooms to rent in Trinidad. Many Cuban men have taxi cabs too and lots sell cigars. Unfortunately with this two tier economic system and ‘black market’ comes the constant hustle and fleecing of travellers. You can’t walk for two minutes in Trinidad without someone offering you a service or product. Walking down the street from our casa we heard ‘hello’ coming from a house.
We looked over and through the bird-cage like bars of a house window was a man standing with an open box of cigars looking us in the eye like some sort of cigar flasher! It’s great if you need a bike as someone will find you one and the sense of community is nice but remember it’s all commission based so don’t be naive, you are part of the market so barter! Our friends who spoke fluent Spanish managed to get dinner down from 12 CUC / $12 / £7.85 to 5 CUC / $5 / £3.27 in a restaurant! Play the game with them…
How Much Does it Cost to Travel in Cuba?
We are now just short of two weeks into our three week travels of Cuba and we’re tired! It’s hard work being here so maybe Trinidad isn’t getting the best of our attention and you may have an entirely different perspective from us, do tell us!
We have done the sums and are averaging at £80 (between two) on travelling days (our budget is £45) and £51 on stationary days (£63 ended up being our daily average). The money man (Craig) thinks we’ll save £400 by staying in an all-inclusive Cuban resort for the week. Cuba is expensive and we have 15 months left on the road! Here’s a full breakdown of our Cuba travel costs: 3 weeks in Cuba.
Check out Getting Stamped’s posts on Trinidad Cuba for more ideas on what to do in and around this colourful town!
Accommodation in Trinidad, Cuba
I know this comes a surprise but Cuba is not cheap. Hotels in Trinidad, Cuba are not the exception. Iberostar starts at $400 (U.S) for one night to put things in perspective for you. The cheaper alternative to Trinidad hotels is to stay with locals in a casa particulare, which is extremely common.
Hosts are now advertising on Airbnb, if reading a review and seeing images before hand puts you at ease. New to Airbnb? Sign up using our referral code and you receive money off, in return we’ll get money towards our next booking – thank you for helping us travel and share our stories! Airbnb average price for a private room is 28 CUC / $28 – you do not need to pay this, we never paid more than $10 each.
Lottery winners + WiFi users, here is the Iberostar dinning area!
You don’t have to arrange casas before you arrive, we took recommendation from our taxi driver in Trinidad (Havana, and Playa Larga!)
WiFi in Trinidad
Now the burning question, is there WiFi in Cuba? Yes, and my most popular article (#1 on Google!) will explain how to gain access in detail here. In short, there is one ETECSA telecommunications centre in Trinidad where you can purchase a card which you use to sign in on using your own device.
You can logon inside the centre or just outside (you’ll see lots of people doing this, Cubans and tourists). The plush Iberostar also has WiFi access but like with every hotel who offers WiFi in Cuba, you must buy a drink so it’s an expensive browse on Facebook! I have heaps of tips on how to save time and money in the article mentioned above.
How to get Trindad from Playa Larga
- Taxi collectivo (cab) from Playa Larga – 25 CUC / $25 / £15.99 per person
- Bus 12 CUC / $12 / £7.67 leaving Playa Larga before 10am (this will change so find out before you get to Playa Larga) <—- our friends nearly did not get on this because the bus was full. Check the bus times here (print them out before you fly)
How to get out (to Varadero or Havana)
- We took a taxi to Varadero (for one week at an all inclusive resort) 25 CUC / $25 / £16.35 per person, door to door (approx. 3 hours)
- Bus from Trinidad to Havana leaves at 08:15 (be there for 07:30am) for 25 CUC / $25 per person
Brisas del Caribe (resort), Varadero to relax for one week before Havana for three more nights then Canada. Craig’s birthday is coming up!
Are we being too hard on Cuba?
Ever felt this way in a country?