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Viñales is a tranquilo haven less than three hours from Cuba’s capital, Havana. Don’t get me wrong, Havana is a mecca for cocktail lovers and salsa dancing queens but after touring the streets of La Habana Vieja by day and joining in the fiesta at night, it may be time for some R&R among the lush green countryside of Cuba’s tobacco fields and mogotes at Viñales Valley. There isn’t an abundance of things to do in Viñales but that’s the beauty if it so here’s what not to miss during your Havana to Viñales day trip. We will also discuss how to take a day tour of Viñales from Havana and how to visit independently.
» You may also like: our first timer’s guide to Cuba
Plan a Viñales Day Trip From Havana
Where is Viñales?
Viñales National Park is a UNESCO Cultural Landscape of Humanity found in western Cuba. It is renowned for its colonial houses with large porches, limestone hills called mogotes and natural produce, tobacco and coffee.
Tourists visit every day independently and as part of group tours. Some make a stopover if doing a multi-stop tour of the island, others just visit on a day tour.
How to Get to Viñales from Havana
How far is Viñales from Havana? 183km apart, 2 hours 27 minutes drive according to Google maps.
Viazul, the most popular bus company in Cuba, buses depart every morning from Havana.
The journey takes around four hours and tickets can be booked online here. It is advised to pre-book to avoid disappointment.
We did this journey and it took around 3.5 hours with a twenty-minute comfort stop at an overpriced cafe.
Buses depart Viñales in the late afternoon, arriving back in Havana in the evening.
I strongly advise that you take a note of all the potential bus journeys you plan to make in Cuba and/or book ahead.
Locals rarely know the times of the buses but can offer a taxi colectivo (shared taxi) rides which sometimes works out the same price.
Buses often run on ‘Cuba time’ which is sporadic and WiFi is not easily accessible like you are accustomed to. You can read everything you need to know about WiFi and 4G in Cuba here.
Alternatively, you can let someone else do the driving during a one-day Viñales day trip!
Havana to Viñales Tours
Leaving Havana at 07:30, this Viñales tour from Havana really packs in an itinerary to ensure that you don’t miss the Viñales highlights.
The day starts by meeting your friendly Cuban driver at a local Havana spot. From here you drive to Viñales then spend the morning learning about the local produce, tobacco and coffee at Cuban plantation. Bring extra USD if you want to buy something.
A guide will meet with you at the plantation. Lunch at a finca (farm) is included, all of the food is locally grown. You will have the chance to interact with locals throughout the morning part of the tour.
In the afternoon, take a boat ride to Cueva del Indio, an indigenous cave popular with tourists and spend time at the botanical gardens.
This is a long day, leaving Viñales at 18:00, ticking off all the top things to do in Viñales. Reserve your spot here.
8 Epic Things to do in Viñales
So now we’ve covered how to get here, let’s take a look at what to do in Viñales if visiting independently.
1. Hire a Bike
One of my favourite things to do in Viñales is to cycle.
Hire a bike from the local tout at the main square and stretch the legs while biking through the tobacco fields, mogotes, and past those typical Cuban vintage cars.
Don’t be surprised when you see a cow-pulled cart, you are in the countryside after all!
The mogotes are large imposing hills made from limestone, smothered in vegetation and reminds me of a scene from Jurassic Park or Jurassic World for our younger readers!
I kept expecting to see a pterodactyl soaring through the sky. Instead, we saw turkey vultures, dogs and cows.
The Valley is not dissimilar to Halong Bay in Vietnam, just without the water and garbage.
- Bike hire in Viñales: 6 USD/$6 for 5 hours (no locks)
2. Visit a Tobacco Plantation
One of the main draws for visiting Viñales, and Cuba, is cigars. Many of the popular fields used for tobacco growth can be found in Viñales so if you are a visiting both Havana and Viñales and are looking to purchase cigars, wait until you get to Viñales.
This day tour includes a trip to a tobacco farm. Alternatively, if you are staying with a local overnight, they will be able to sort a tour out for you too.
If you don’t have time to visit a plantation you can always pop into the tobacco shop on the main street.
3. Hike Through Santo Tomas Cave
For 15 USD you can hire a knowledgable guide to help you hike Cuevas de Santo Tomas, Cuba’s largest cave network.
The 2-hour tour is trekked using head torches to light the way but is suitable for hikers of all levels. Sensible footwear and a liking for heights are a must.
Cuevas de Santo Tomas is a 30-minute drive from Viñales so factor this into your itinerary.
4. Cueva del Indio
Cueva del Indio, mentioned above in the tours section, is closer to the main street in Viñales (10-minute drive) so if you are short on time but want to visit a cave this may be a better option.
This short tour involves a boat ride into a dimly lit cave.
5. A Hotel on the Hill
Hotel Los Jazmines is a short hike/quick taxi ride away from the heart of Viñales and has a swimming pool, cafe, and bar which overlook the UNESCO World Heritage Site Viñales Valley (Viñales National Park).
Even if you are not staying at the hotel, you can pay the day right and sunbathe surrounded by mogotes and breath in that fresh air, as we did with friends!
This feels like a true escape from the hot and sticky city of Havana. I mean, look at the scenery.
- Entry (non-guests): 3 USD/$3
6. Stay in a Casa Particular in Viñales
Casas Particulares are private houses owned and lived in by Cubans. These locals rent out their rooms to visitors.
Casas are popular forms of accommodation so don’t be nervous about staying in one if you have time to spend more than one day in Viñales as we did.
Many of these homes in Viñales are painted in pastel with comfy porches and rocking chairs. Hosts often put on a breakfast spread for an additional fee. Our breakfast or desayuno in Viñales was well worth the money.
Our host from Sara y Jorge.met us off the public bus which was super kind.
You can read more about staying in a casa particular in Cuba here.
See our accommodation advice below.
7. Dine at Viñales Restaurants
There is a strip of restaurants and bars on the main street in Viñales which cater to all budgets and serve decent meals.
We dined at Dulce Vida which serves tasty pizzas. Believe me, there are terrible pizzas in Cuba which you have to try from the ‘hole in the wall’ in Havana!
El Olivo is also recommended for locally produced food. Vegan and vegetarian options too.
8. Palenque de Los Cimarrones
If you are in Viñales over a weekend and you are looking for a fiesta why not join the Cubans and the local talent at Palenque de Los Cimarrones – a (not so wild) rave in a cave!
One of the mogotes just outside of the main stretch doubles up as a cabaret-style show displaying Cuba’s talent of dancing, singing, and comedy.
At the end of the acts, the dance floor opens up to the public.
- Entry: 2 USD/$2
- Taxi collectivo: 1 USD each (6 adults + the driver’s girlfriend who was also going)
- Bottle of rum: 6 USD/$6
Viñales Travel Tips
Accommodation in Viñales
I am assuming that you’ve come to Cuba to experience an authentic stay with locals?
If so, you will be looking to book into a casa particular. If you are still unsure, please read our guide to casas which outlines our personal experience of three weeks of travels in Cuba.
Our casa in Viñales was actually our first stay with a local so we took the advice of our hostel in Havana who recommended staying with Sara y Jorge.
It is ideal for solo travellers as the bedroom is set out like a dorm room with four beds.
This is not like our other casa experiences which were all private rooms.
Sara and Jorge’s house has a lovely porch with rocking chairs and a neighbouring pig that comes to visit!
Sara’s breakfast is outstanding, a true banquet that will make you forget that you are staying in a country that has rations.
- Casa price: 10 USD
- Breakfast: 4 USD which is expensive for Cuba but there was lots of it
- Reserve your bed at Booking.com or read more reviews at TripAdvisor
It is not necessary to pre-book casas in Cuba, when you step off the bus you will be inundated with locals selling you their space! It is your role to barter for your bed.
If you are uncomfortable with this, you can now check out reviews and book casas through Booking.com, TripAdvisor or Airbnb.
Airbnb in Viñales
There are a variety of casas available via Airbnb in Viñales, Cuba and the average price for a private room in Viñales is 22 USD.
However, a few areas I need to make you aware of using Airbnb in Cuba.
- The app doesn’t work in Cuba
- Cuba has had its own form of Airbnb since the 90s! Casa owners create a network throughout the island and call ahead to book for you, they get commission in return
- It is not uncommon for the casa booked for you to get a better deal (a longer stay) so you are moved elsewhere and you might not know it. You will know it if you book via Airbnb
- Read the Airbnb reviews to check whether amenities promised are provided. Hot tubs?…
- Casa owners are now advertising over different search engines like Airbnb, Booking, TripAdvisor, Hostelworld, etc and since WiFi is not as readily available the response may be slower than accustomed to
- Casa owners may be slow to update when rooms are booked/casas are sold out because of WiFi availability
Reasons for booking with Airbnb
- Peace of mind – you can see images, reviews and a picture of the owner
- Pre-pay by credit card, less cash required – read our guide to currency in Cuba here
- Airbnb is a popular app, we trust the resource and customer service is generally on the side of the customer
Hotels in Viñales
If our guide can’t convince you to stay with locals, no stress! There are a handful of hotels in Viñales such as:
- Hotel Horizontes La Ermita: Busy swimming pool, friendly staff, views
- Horizontes Los Jazmines: Popular swimming pool, great bar, views
Getting Around Viñales
There are plenty of taxis in the main square and street. Your casa owner can also help you out with requests. You do need a level of survival Spanish to get by.
Bikes can be rented from the main street too. Some casas may have some for rent also.
Viñales to Trinidad
The next stop on our Cuba itinerary was Trinidad with a stopover at Playa Larga to dive.
We opted for a taxi colectivo shared ride which cost us 25 USD each, five members in the car. Halfway during the journey, we swapped cars. This is totally normal so don’t be spooked.
Playa Larga to Trinidad cost another 25 USD per person. Moving between stops does get expensive but the distance is far.
There is a bus which goes from Viñales to Trinidad. It leaves at 06:45 and gets to Trinidad around 16:35. You can reserve tickets here for 37 USD.
WiFi in Viñales
Is there WiFi in Cuba? Yes, my article will explain everything in detail here.
To summarise, there is an ETECSA telecommunications centre in Viñales where you can purchase a card which you use to log on to using your own device. Many casas now offer this service as well.
You can log on using the card anywhere there are WiFi points like the store itself, some cafes or parks. You’ll know the points by the large groups of locals looking at their phones.
Cuba Travel Costs
Cuba is not as cheap as the likes of Colombia or Bolivia in South America, where we left for Cuba from.
The total budget for 3 weeks in Cuba: 1903.50 USD.
Our Cuba daily budget was 90 USD per day for two people with limited activities and one week in an all-inclusive resort.
Full details of our Cuba travel costs can he found here: 3 weeks in Cuba.
I wouldn’t advise Cuba as a part of an around the world trip. We felt the pain of being restricted by our budget as this was month four of 18!
We were also suffering from major travel burnout, backpacking around Cuba is not easy. I’d love to return with more funds and less pressure to save.
Learn from my mistakes, here’s what I would do differently:
- Download the bus times. Locals do not know the times and are quick to offer taxi colectivo services which starts to add up at 25 USD per ride, per person
- Screenshot recommended restaurants for each stop. Some restaurants are pretty poor and even Cubans will tell you this
- Build a loose itinerary. Remember you can’t just log on to 4G like you can elsewhere
- Think about the activities you’d like to do. Don’t be me and plan nothing
- Consider renting a car? You may have to wait a few days in Havana for one to come in but having that flexibility to move around will be liberating
- It is highly unlikely you won’t have a kitchen during your trip. I know this can be difficult for vegans and long-term travel fans
- Accept that the Cuban hustle isn’t going anywhere! It’s tiring but this two-tier economic system has allowed Cubans to survive and thrive
Going to Cuba? Pin to board for later
I really enjoyed our time in Viñales. The rural town is wildly different from Havana which makes it an ideal day trip or overnight stay. I always say Cuba is a country of contrasts and by visiting Havana and Viñales you’ll see why too.
Let us know what you think in the comments below.
35 thoughts on “Havana to Viñales Day Trip: Plan a Trip or Book a Tour”
We opted to skip Viñales during our whirlwind 2 week Cuba adventure.
That gargantuan pink hotel looks a little too tacky (and a little too government) for my tastes!
Casa Particulars can be pricy, but they mean a hell of a lot to the local people, even more so the meals as the aren’t required to give any % of that income to the government.
Interested to read your perspectives on other bits of Cuba…
Just to clarify, we didn’t stay at the Hotel Jasmine! We just used the facilities but the views were outstanding and the place is more about the tobacco plantations and mogotes. It’s strange because hardly anyone offered us dinner, only breakfast!
Hey there Gemma and Craig,
I loved that shot of you guys cycling on the road and even if you hadn’t mentioned it, I definitely would’ve likened that green to Jurassic World. That must’ve been some great scenery to accompany your ride. I feel ya on escaping your own country and not really bothering to repeat things found back home. That’s an easy thing to fall into here in Korea so I get what you’re saying there. Haha.
To answer your question at the end, we don’t really live in a big city but are surrounded by tons of “escapes” here in the South of South Korea. I prefer going to any given beach along the south coast and trying to find a place that isn’t totally crowded by tour groups. Hiking is a big thing here so that can also get kind of crowded, though Saturdays are better than Sundays.
So yeah, my escape would have to be the beaches or mountains here in Korea, as long as they’re not overcrowded by everyone else who’s got the same idea as me that day.
Thanks for sharing this. I’m happy to have found your blog!
Thanks for the kind words Duke! Man, your town sounds amazing. We have just arrived in Robert’s Creek, BC which is on The Sunshine Coast of Canada and it sounds similar. We have a beach at the end of the road (I don’t really like sand though) and forest all around us, feel very lucky. And a hammock on the porch! South Korea has never really crossed my path before until now, score!
Great post! It’s SO true that one of the often unspoken benefits of travel is not having to watch that rubbish on a Saturday night – your cabaret cave sounds like a much more enriching experience (especially with the cheap rum involved!) Definitely see what you mean about the Valle de Viñales looking like a scene out of Jurassic Park… very pleased to hear you didn’t get eaten by a giant Turkey vulture though.
Looking forward to reading your post on casas when you write it. Will keep my eyes pealed :). Hope your fuzzy head has eased now. Safe travels!
Thanks Gabby, we are one week booze free! Much needed after the multiple cocktails in Cuba (gotta be done!)
Looks like you had a nice time on this trip. Maybe not my style, though. Still, some beautiful views.
It was a much needed escape from Havana!
Did you get to visit a tobacco plantation? I’d like to see one and learn about the process. Do you think that something we should do or not? Don’t want to waste any of our precious little time in Viñales.
We bought cigars are gifts at the shop (!) but didn’t take a tour. I honestly think you would get the vibes of the place by hiring a bike. It’s very outdoorsy as it’s so beautiful! We only had three nights there (two days really) and the bike ride was the best part of it.
Cuba is right at the top of my wishlist at the moment. I really want to go before it gets too touristy.
I hate to say it Bethaney but it may be too late! I think we are 25 years too late to be honest. It’s very geared up for tourists (fleecing).
I like how cozy that casa looks from the outside! But pigs?? The photo of the Cuban men doing some “sexy” dance had me rolling!!!
Another pig from down the road waddled over to see how that pig was doing to. Standard!
Hiya! Great Read!! I’m headed there next month- traveling solo!
Would love to get the contact of Sara y Jorge for the casa particular
I don’t unfortunately. We actually just found that property through a tuk tuk driver. It’s a vibrant city, check out our scams post too! Come back to me and tell me about your trip 🙂 Oh and here’s our full Cuba guide.
Hey, I’m leaving for Cuba on Monday (so excited). My boyfriend and I also wanted to bike around Vinales, without a tour guide, but I’m having a hard time finding any maps or routes to take. Do you have any advise!
There’s a guy that rents them on the main high street. He’ll point you in the right direction, you can’t really mess up! Everything is pretty relaxed in Cuba. Do you need any other advice? Be sure to check out everything we have here.
That’s such a brilliant post, I wish I knew about the Hotel on the Hill was available to non-guests for a price of a pina-colada in a cocktail bar. We went in January 2017 and it was packed with tourists, all bicycles were rented out so we went hiking instead. It was still pretty incredible, but I really want to go back and sit by that pool though
So January looks like prime time or maybe the tourism boom outside of Havana has hit? It’s so different to other areas in Cuba eh? So lush. Where else did you get to?
January is definitely super busy, we had a brief tour around the most popular destinations, just to have a taste of the country- so we’ve also visited Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Havana. Having a better understanding/impression of the country I’d love to go back again at some point, but I need to work on my Spanish first, haha
Agree on the language front for sure! We were very lucky to have met our Spanish speaking friend, Sarah! Thanks for reading.
Love this site… very helpful in planning my trip. I do have a question (or two):
I’m going with 3 other folks and we are going to be in Cuba for 10 days. Is this a reasonable and achievable itinerary?
2.5 days in Havana
1 day in Varadero (overnight)
3 days in Trinidad
1 day in Vinales (overnight)
2.5 days in Havana
Also, just curious, do you have any idea what we should plan to spend on transportation if we choose to go with this itinerary?
Thanks for documenting your journey so well. Love love love your site!
Thank you Greg!
That sounds like a great itinerary. If you want a day to relax I’d add it to Viñales. Definitely check out Playa Ancon near Trinidad, postcard perfect beach!
It always seemed to be $25 USD each to move about using the taxi collectivos or the bus [the taxi matched the bus price Trinidad to Varadero].
We have lots more information on Cuba [like our budget] at our Cuba guide here just in case you middedt it.
Let me know how you get on!
Hello Gemma and Craig! Great advice, I’m planning to spend some time in Vinales myself soon. When it comes to biking, were you able to go around on your own or a guide was needed? Do you recommend any maps? Are the trails marked?
Lovely! Great way to get around. No guide required, guy rents them from the main street. Everyone kind of goes in the same directions towards the fields and caves so you can’t go wrong.
Thanks for the super fast response!
Love these tips. We arrive in Cuba 16 March and will head right to Viñales for 3 nights. We found a casa on Air BnB. It is a farm stay outside of town. We have an option to do a 4th night at another place next door to the Hotel you were poolside. Would you recommend a 4th night or should we do 4 nights in Havana? We have 7 nights total for this short trip.
That’s exciting! Definitely the fourth night in Havana, we spent a week overall in Havana (split by travelling in between) and still missed out attractions. Make sure you check out our Cuba cheat sheet and guides to Havana too! Let me know how you get on please Ann!
This was a great read, thank-you! I will be solo travelling Cuba in January, where I have 3.5 days of making my own plans then I start a tour from Havana – Baracoa – Havana. I was going to spend my arrival day (which is the half day) exploring Havana, staying there one night then heading to Vinales. If I went ahead with this I would really only have one full day in Vinales as the other two would be spent travelling (I had planned to catch the bus). Do you think this is realistic or would I be better off staying in Havana for the full 3.5 days? My tour spends one day exploring Havana.
I also noticed you had stayed in a hostel when you first arrived in Havana. Would you recommend a hostel or Casa? I would like to have the opportunity to meet other travellers, as it would ease my anxiety of travelling a non english speaking country by myself, but also wanting to get the best experience.
Many thanks in advance!
Hey Cherie! Thanks for your questions. If you want to meet friends, go to a hostel, especially if you were looking for onward travel buddies but it sounds like you are sorted if you are joining a tour anyway. In this case, I’d got for a casa.
You could definitely spend 3.5 days no problem however one day would be enough for Vinales. Check out this tour which takes one day and returns you to Havana.
Thank-you for your advise! I have decided to stay in Vinales for 2 nights, with one full day to explore. May I ask how you went about getting your bus tickets? Pre-book or buy at the station? I had planned to book online before arrival however have learnt that you are required to enter your passport details which makes me a little hesitant due to security reasons. But also it will be peak season and I may risk not getting a ticket if I purchase at the station.
Of course! We arrived on the day, just went a bit earlier than the bus departure time. Let me know how you get on?
Hi! Great article. I was hoping you could help me with some advice re Cuba, please. I am trying to book accommodation via Air BnB but it requires a ‘purpose of travel’ that ‘The US Department of Treasury requires this info from travellers.’
However, ‘tourism’ isn’t one of these options although I am European and am flying directly from Europe and won’t be passing through the US. Air BnB say they ask for proof for whatever reason I put, and as I’m only travelling for tourism, I’m reluctant to falsely select something and book through Air BnB, but this has the best listings for lots of types of accommodation by far! Do you have any advice for what I should do, please? I don’t understand why I even have to answer that question on Air BnB when I’m not American and not passing through US?
Hi Kirsty, we never actually used Airbnb so I wouldn’t know, sorry! The only accommodation we had booked for landing was a hostel in Havana and we weren’t asked about the purpose of travel.
Worth asking hosts on Airbnb maybe or trying this Cuba Facebook group.
Let me know how you get on! Have a great trip when it comes.