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Travel Guide Caribbean Cuba Pinar del Rio Vinales

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Introduction

Vinales/Cuba

Vinales/Cuba

© All Rights Reserved marlis

Vinales is a town located in Pinar del Rio Province, Cuba, and is among the highlights of any trip to the country with great scenery to offer. The town has about 30,000 inhabitants. The mountains are beautiful, the farmers grow the best tobacco, and tourists come every day by the busload.

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Sights and Activities

  • Horse riding - Some people in Vinales own horses and organize horse riding along the tobacco plantations. Price: 5$
  • Calle Salvador Cisneros. - The main street was named after Salvador Cisneros Betancourt, who was a leader in the war of independence (1868-1878) and later was President of Cuba from 1895 to 1897. Today it’s more and more covered with all sorts of restaurants that cater to tourists.
  • Casa de la Cultura. In the central plaza, the Casa de la Cultura puts on events every day (or night), including music, fashion shows, and children's events. cover charge typically - 1 CUC.
  • The Central Plaza. Also on the central plaza is an art gallery and the church. On Saturday mornings there's a farmer's market at the plaza.
  • Museo Municipal (further down the main street). The small museo municipal, former home of independence heroine Adela Azcuy.

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Events and Festivals

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Getting There

By Bus

Viazul has regular buses to Havana, Pinar del Rio, Cienfuegos and Trinidad.

You will likely be offered a collectivo already at the Havana bus station. They run to Viñales for 20 CUC per person. Transport back can also be found by taxi touts near the Viazul ticket office. One typically inquires at least a day before the intended departure to make a taxi reservation. The driver will then pick you up at your casa. It is easiest to find a transport for morning departures. Collectivos also run to other destinations such as Cienfuegos (40 CUC) Trinidad (40+ CUC) if there is sufficient demand. Beware that taxi drivers will sometimes claim to have transport to Trinidad or Cienfuegos, but in fact require a change of vehicle in Havana, which may involve re-negotiating the price for the remaining trip.

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Getting Around

The town is easily walkable on foot. Most amenities such as banks and restaurants cluster on the main street (Salvador Cisneros) and accommodation is found everywhere off this street, esp Calle Rafael Trejo which runs on south parallel to the main street essentially only consists of casas particulares.

There is a green minibus that takes tourists around the valley. For 5 CUC you can ride all day, with stops at the tourist hotels, in the village, at the caves and other sights.

Many sights are in the proximity of the city and not more than 4km away. As such it’s possible to walk, also riding on a bike or a horse may be less strenous esp. considering the often very hot weather. Other sights such as the Santo Tomás cave are further away and out of walking distance. To get there hire a cab, rent a bike or join an organized tour.

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Eat

If you’re traveling on a shoestring there’s some self-catering options. There’s also some cafeterias selling simple sandwhiches or pizza places. Most close before the evening, so make sure you get food in time.

There is a bakery that sells sweet bread or cake for pesos at the junction of Adela Azcuy (north) and the main road. Around the same area but again on the main road you can find pizza and sandwich shops (great for breakfast because they also have coffee) all selling for national pesos. But remember that in Viñales peso-venders quickly run out of ingredients so go there early and be fast when there is already a crowd.

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Drink

  • Patio Central Cultural Polo Montañez, Calle Salvador Cisneros (off the central plaza, between the Casa de la Cultura and the church). During the day a restaurant and snack bar serve food and drinks. At night salsa bands play here. Polo Montañez was a singer world-famous in Cuba. edit
  • Patio del Decimista, Calle Salvador Cisneros. A few blocks down from the plaza, a.k.a. the yellow bar. They also have live salsa music. edit
  • El Palenque de Los Cimarrones. The nearby Cueva de Viñales (Cave of Viñales) has a discotheque built into it. You just can't beat a discotheque in a cave (there's another one in Trinidad). Saturday night there's a cabaret espectáculo followed by dancing. Saturday night they host the hottest nightlife in the province - the place is packed, almost all Cubans. edit
  • bar in nature - Bar that you can reach by horse or by foot. Has great 360 degree view of the nature

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Sleep

Viñales has three tourist hotels: Hotel Las Jazmines, Hotel La Ermita, and Rancho Horizontes San Vicente. Each is rated three stars. Expect to pay about 50-70 CUC per night, plus meals.

Tourism in Viñales is skyrocketing and as such accommodation options are increasing by the minute. Everyone who can afford it is building another guest room in their house as quick as they can. In fact, nearly every house you’ll see in Viñales is a casa particular. In 2015 there were more than 300 of these. As such, competition is very tough, which makes it easy for travelers to get a good deal. The typical default price is 25 CUC per night for a double room (sometimes for up to 4 people), but even in high season it is fairly easy to bargain this to 15 CUC. Breakfast is normally 4 CUC per person, dinner 10 CUC, but it is worth not to eat in the casa every day, since Viñales has a variety of fairly good restaurants.

If you’re coming by bus beware of the tout-crowd that will expect the incoming visitors. There will be 20-50 touts or house owners offering their casas. This can be troubling. The easiest way to get through this is to say you already have a reservation at (any spanish sounding first name will do here)’s house. However, since these people are competing hard and have available rooms, this is also a good place to catch a cheap room. Inspect it first before agreeing on anything though.

If you want a true Cuban experience, stay in Los Jazmines 3-4km west of town. Los Jazmines is Viñales' hidden gem. In the countryside tucked away there are virtually no tourists, casas with everything they serve being 100% organic and from their own gardens, quiet and the person to person interaction. The city center of Viñales is becoming more and more crowded with the rise of tourism. The town is reasonably small so you’ll never have to walk much more than 15 minutes anyway. There’s a hill to the east of the town and some houses have rooftops with great views. Few casas have swimming pools, however note that in the dry season, these are typically not in use due to the water scarcity.

View our map of accommodation in Vinales

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Keep Connected

Internet

In many cities the only way for tourists to access the internet is through the government's communications centers. Look for buildings bearing the name "ETECSA", which stands for Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S.A. ETECSA also has internet stations in some of the larger government hotels and resorts. The connection speed is comparable to analog dial-up speed in Havana or slower in smaller locations, at a cost of 6 CUC/hour. This is payable by purchasing a prepaid scratch card with a PIN code granting you access for one hour. The same card can be used throughout the country at any ETECSA terminal, allowing you to disconnect after your session and use the remaining time on the card further at the next hotel/city you go to.

WI-FI in hotels and restaurants is certainly uncommon if not non-existent and tourists should not rely on this being available when planning their means of communication.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Cuba is 53. To make an international call from Cuba, the code is 119. The emergency number is 116 and information number 113.

GSM cell phones will work in Cuba (900 MHz). Cuba is one of the most expensive countries in which to communicate. When bringing your own cellphone, incoming phonecalls to Cuba cost about $1/minute. Outgoing calls from Cuba are similarly expensive, and can be as high as $5 per minute for making international when roaming with your cellphone from overseas.

A better way is to rent cellphones, which is possible at several stores in Havana, including one in the airport. The rates are 9 CUC per day (6 CUC for the phone and 3 CUC for the SIM card), plus about 36 cents a minute for prepaid cards. If you bring an unlocked GSM phone operating at 900 MHz (or quad-band world phone) you can buy a SIM card for 111 CUC, plus your prepaid minutes. If you're staying two weeks or more it makes sense to bring a cheap phone, buy a SIM card and prepaid minutes, then give the phone to a Cuban friend when you leave. Cellphones are among the most desired items for Cubans (bring a case for the phone too, Cubans are very fussy about keeping their phones scratch-free). You will have to go to a cellphone store with your friend and sign a paper to give the phone to your friend.

Post

Correos de Cuba operates the Cuban postal service. They are generally quite slow, and delivery is never guaranteed. Mail is read by Cuba’s censors; avoid politically sensitive comments. Also, never send cash! Post offices (correos) usually are open weekdays 8:00am to 6:00pm and on Saturday 8:00am to 3:00pm, but hours can vary widely. Most tourist hotels accept mail for delivery as well, which might be a better option. International airmail (correo aereo) averages from at least 2 weeks to over one month, and even domestic posts might take 1-2 weeks. When mailing from Cuba, write at least the country destination in Spanish (as well). International postcards, cost CUC 0.50 to all destinations; letters cost CUC 0.80. Within Cuba, letters cost from 15 centavos (20 grams or less) to 2.05 pesos (up to 500 grams); postcards cost 10 centavos. Stamps are available in US dollars as well (if buying at hotels, this is actually your only option) and can be bought at hotels and blue and white kiosks labelled Correos de Cuba. Parcels from Cuba must be unwrapped for inspection. It is far better to send packages through an express courier service, like DHL or the Cuban local one (called EMS), although the same regulation applies.

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Accommodation in Vinales

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Vinales searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Vinales and areas nearby.

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This is version 12. Last edited at 9:10 on Aug 2, 17 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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