Things to do in Trinidad Cuba

6 reasons you’ll love Trinidad, Cuba + 2 you won’t

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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 Sunset | Trinidad, Cuba

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.

Trinidad Cuba Colourful HousesHoliday 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.

Casa Particulare Trinidad Cuba | Casa Yaquelin

Desayuno / breakfast typically costs around 4 CUC / $4 (try to get it included)

Church of the Holy Trinity | Trinidad, Cuba

Church of the Holy Trinity at Plaza Mayor

The Salsa

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.

La Canchanchara Trinidad Cuba

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!

Cocktails Trinidad, Cuba

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.

Playa Ancon Trinidad, Cuba

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.

Cycle to Playa Ancon from Trinidad

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.

Playa Ancon near Trinidad Cuba

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
The Food

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.

Trinidad Restaurants

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.

Trinidad - Salsa and Cycling

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…

Don’t be a victim – Cuban scams information here. Need help with currency? Read this.

Safety in Trinidad Cuba

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.

Trinidad 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 as 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 beforehand 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.

Iberostar Trinidad Cuba + WiFi_Lottery winners + WiFi users, here is the Iberostar dining area!

You don’t have to arrange casas before you arrive, we took a 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 login 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.

Internet and WiFi in Cuba I Trinidad

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

Where next?

Brisas del Caribe (resort), Varadero to relax for one week before Havana for three more nights then Canada. Craig’s birthday is coming up!

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Trinidad, Cuba Travel Guide - Trinidad Cuba Travel Tips

Are we being too hard on Cuba?
Ever felt this way in a country?

Gemma and Craig are full-time workers with a life-long travel habit. Flirting with 30 and let loose on the world! Gemma writes, Craig looks good in the photos.

Comments 62

  1. I love all the tips sprinkled throughout—I’ve never been to Cuba but I’m sure you’re doing it justice, despite being tired!
    I didn’t realize that it would be so expensive there. A week of relaxing in Cuba sounds heavenly—enjoy!

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      I honestly think if you are going as one off trip and not as part as long term travel you may not feel the expense as much. If you are stretching a one year budget to eighteen months on the other hand…

  2. Great post and an honest look, I say. I’ve had similar feelings while traveling and have had my fair share of frustrations, with everything just not working out.

    Though the food and coffee were absolutely amazing, my wife and I had a bit of a rough spell during our first few days in Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh) and were just blown away by the hustle and bustle of the place. Keep in mind that we were fresh off the boat after living in Korea for some time where safety and security are rarely an issue. After a few ripoffs here and there and eventually getting grazed by a car, I broke down and wanted to give up. Luckily, we moved on to Cambodia for a few days before returning and came back refreshed. I think that helps, and I don’t know if I’d have taken a full week there without a break.

    I appreciate you being real about this place and looking back on it objectively. Great post Gemma and Craig! Thanks for sharing:)

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      We left the exact same in Hanoi! It felt like hard work and just very different from our normal pace of life. The escape to the Sapa Valley was just what the doctor ordered so sounds similar to your situation. Thanks for sharing Duke.

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  3. Hustle burnout is a very real thing and it happens to all of us. Sometimes you are too tired to even play the game! The best thing I find (when travelling long term anyway) is just take some time off from your travels and take a ‘holiday’. Get a private room somewhere (if you really want to splurge and flashpack try and find somewhere with a pool) and just take some time out for yourself. Relax, get your mojo back and then head back out on the backpacking trail again. Even travellers need holidays sometimes! ;D

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      We did end up doing that at an all inclusive which is not normally our style but saved us a couple of hundred pounds and peace!

  4. As American citizens, we wouldn’t even be allowed on the beach (yet). But I hear you on destination fatigue. We couldn’t abide Fuerteventura and will never return to the Canary Islands. Yet, legions of Brits give it accolade after accolade. Different strokes.

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      Different stroke Betsy, good way of putting it. I don’t even like the sand! Now Canadian lakes on the other hand…

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  5. Now that sounds really good. Mojitos, Cuba Libres, Daiquiris, Piña Colada and those perfect beaches. I envy you guys because you made it to Cuba before it changes to a commercial tourist island. Hope I can as well.

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  6. The beaches do look beautiful, but thank you for posting tips for others to not go to a government run restaurant, for instance. That’s also a bit annoying about people trying to sell you cigars left and right! I’d be a bit bothered by that. It does look like a really gorgeous place though and I’m glad you were able to enjoy some parts of it!

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  7. Good honest post on Cuba. Im thinking about going but it’s down the list…still the pics make it look pretty awesome! Cheers – Will

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  8. I was able to spend Christmas in Havana many years ago, but I never got to Trinidad. The place looks beautiful.

    I was lucky because I stayed with the relatives of a good friend of mine. They did all the negotiations so of course they got the good deals.

    Great post! I wish you guys luck on the rest of this trip!

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  9. It’s refreshing to read such posts on Cuba. I am seriously fed up of people always loving a country, no matter what, and never writing anything bad about it.

    I HATED Cuba – or shall I say Cubans – when I travelled there. I had a really hard time dealing with them. So much so that the trip is what ultimately inspired me to start blogging. I actually have a post coming soon on this. Yes, travelling in Cuba can be frustrating. It takes a while to digest and metabolize all of it and eventually start reconsidering and wanting to go again. I feel this way now, actually.

    I was talking to my best friend yesterday and she’s been to Cuba years ago (it must have been 2004) and she had a horrible time. It does take some skills to travel there.

    BTW, I did not have problems with food (except in state owned restaurants!) – I found it good, actually.

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      Glad it wasn’t just us Claudia but we definitely felt after a few days of leaving Trinidad we could look at it from a far without totally tearing into it.

      We ate in one government restaurant that we know of and it actually become Craig’s favourite meal – ropa vieja (shredded beef), I just stuck to rice!

    2. Really interesting perspective here! I agree, it’s not realistic to love every country or everything about a country, so I really appreciate your honest opinions!

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        Thanks Francesca, I did worry that I was being too hard but happy with the overall vibe of the post! Loving life in Canada!

  10. I’ve never been to cuba but would like o step not the history one day, to see the old cars etc. but it sounds like it is a bit of a frustrating place to visit! thanks for the info. we plan to stay away from the “hustle” type place for a bit. they are just so exhausting sometimes!

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  11. Hi guys,

    I was recently in Cuba as well and was reading some of the stuff you wrote.

    Although I don’t agree 100% with it to the point to say I hated Cuba or Cubans, I must say that I really understand what you went through.

    Hustlers and Jineteros are a major issue and I believe the problem is only going to get worth with the growth of tourism.

    Yes, I was bothered countless times, even insulted and followed a couple of times in more remote towns. It sucks. On the bright side I speak Spanish as well and that was the easiest way to keep them from insisting any further. They obviously target more the English speaking tourists.

    It’s one the topics from the highlights I wrote about road tripping in Cuba.

    I also think Cuba has a tremendous potential as a destination. I visited incredible places and also met lots of honest and genuine people.


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      Thanks for stopping by to read our post Hugo. I would never say we hated Cubans, our tour guide was awesome in Havana! It was just tiring. Our travelling friend did speak fluent Spanish and was sucked in a lot more than us but then that’s personality trait, she’s a self confessed lover of latin men!

      1. It’s her fault then! 🙂

        One thing I forgot to say and since you mentioned Havana, is that I found it to be far more easy on the hustling side compared to other places we went to. Maybe because it’s where 90% of the tourists go.

        Oh, and driving in Cuba is also a very interesting experience! I also found Cuba to be a safe country.

        Happy travels!

        *obviously meant “get worse” on the previous comment*

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  12. I definitely agree with many of your pints. I travelled Cuba solo for three weeks in January and was surprised at how expensive it was, especially as a solo! A room at the casa is the same price for a single that it is for a couple! Trinidad was charming, but I had to move casas twice because it was so busy with tourists and everything seemed to cost, even getting a decent table at a restaurant (as a single female they always tried to get me to sit at the worst tables, eye roll)

    Of course the music and drinks? On point! I drank the strongest mojito of my life in Trinidad after a day in the sun on Ancon and cut myself off after that one! I felt pretty safe in Trinidad as a solo lady, much more so than in Havana. I definitely got burned out by the end of my three weeks and was ready to either go home or just lay on a beach. Tried to do to Isla de la Juventud via boat, tried many times, never managed to buy a ticket, this was enraging! I would love to go back to Cuba and see more of the Eastern side of the island as well as the Isla, but have roundtrip flights booked well ahead of time! And don’t worry Craig, I thought of Dirty Dancing constantly!

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      It sounds like we had a similar trip bar the solo seating! I can’t deny how beautiful Playa Acon was. I don’t think I’ll be rushing back to Cuba mind you, not my favourite place to travel (and I hate saying that!) That’s really useful to hear about solo safety, we met a group of travellers in Viñales and travelled with them then another group in Trinidad who we met again up north (and hopefully in Scotland next April!)

  13. Hi! Going to Cuba in April and wondering about a few days at a beach all inclusive but there’s so many … would you recommend brisas del Caribe as a relaxing but budget friendly place?! Thanks

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      I would for a few days, the first few days were great but then the masses came and the getting into the food area was harder and they ran out of large towels. Nice staff and great sunsets though! Let me know what you think.

  14. Loved the article! We are heading there for three nights during our two week holiday in June. How did you find a taxi so cheap to get from Trinidad to Varadero???

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      In true Cuban style we went to investigate how much the bus was and the customer service rep suggested we just got a taxi collectivo from his pal. We shared with another couple. This is very typical for Cuba!

  15. Woow, this looks really amazing,
    This is really on my have to do list before i get into my 40’s

    Keep posting,
    Kind regards

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      Thanks Stefanie – before I’m 40 I want to see the NC500 in Scotland, a lagoon in Iceland and get back to Asia for some decent food!

  16. I traveled from Havana all the way to Holgin., and back. It is very difficult to travel independently in Cuba due to lack of reliable state run buses or trains. In fact, you can’t even make a reservation for a bus or train, unless you are leaving from the start point. You are asked to arrive one hour before the scheduled departure hoping that there will be an available seat. So, private taxi drivers are preying on this system and offering overpriced rides in they old cars. I refused this and traveled on local massive dump trucks called “camiones”. Those are trucks that are converted to carry people instead of cargo. They are very crowded with zero comfort. The biggest challenge is that it difficult to find were to board those “monsters”. Even with my descent Spanish, I was getting confusing answers. Many Cubans that are using them say it is a matter of good luck. After a trip on one of those “camiones”, I was very tired.
    The other think that annoyed me, was difficulty of finding a descent restaurant with food I would enjoy. Authough, those places exist, but it may take a lot of leg work to locate one.
    I love Cuban music and dance so much and traveled there to experience it the first hand. I learned a lot about Cuban culture particularity music and dance. Nevertheless, those basic necessities as a backpacker independent traveler, make me sometimes wonder , should I have gone somewhere else in Latin America?

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      I really felt the same about public transport. No one could tell you when the buses came in our experience but they were all to quick to recommend their friend who ran a collectivo company. It ended up costing us $25 each every time we needed to move on. Appreciate your comment. Cuba was the hardest country for me to backpack around for sure!

      PS. I love Colombia if you are looking for inspiration check out our guide.

  17. Good article! We didn’t like Trinidad as much as we thought beforehand, as everything is so tourist oriented. Compared to India or Indonesia however, the hustling was at an acceptable level for us. On the food I have to agree though! We had some excellent meals in Havana and Cienfuegos (affordable too), amazing fresh shrimps at our casa particular in La Boca near Trinidad, but did not find any decent meals in Trinidad.

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      Mmm shrimps! I did really like Playa Ancon near Trinidad, really was a postcard (or Instagram I suppose now!) beach. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Where’s next?

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