We stayed in Vinales for 5 days and packed in everything we could from horse riding, cave tours, day at the beach, botanical gardens and the views of Vinales. Read about all the things to do in Vinales here.
Vinales was the first stop on our road trip around Cuba. We were really looking forward to getting out of Havana and into the country side. Vinales is a small village of around 10,000 and dominated by the big mogotes (Pin Cushion Hills) all around. .
Vinales has an awesome micro climate of moist nights, cool mornings and rich red soil which makes for the best tobacco growing in all of Cuba. The town itself is small but quite pretty with Casas everywhere you look, infact I think every single house in Vinales is a Casa! We were travelling our of season in September so things were pretty quiet, but were told in peak season its chocka block with tourists.
There is just so much to see in Vinales you need at least a couple of days. Please dont try and pack it all into one of those day trips, it takes the bus over 3 hours one way just to get there, then they rush you around then back on the bus again for another 3 hours home.
Where is Vinales?
Vinales is approximately 180km from Havana and takes around 2.5 to 3 hours to get to by car. We picked up our rental car from Mirimar (in Havana) and took the coast road down until La Boca then through Mariel and onto the main motorway. The road was pretty good, we got to travel at around 85ks.
How to Get to There
Havana to Vinales
$12 USD — departs at 9:00am and arrives at 12:40pm or 2:30pm departure and 6:20pm arrival
Varadero to Vinales
$12 USD — departs at 11:25am and arrives 3:15pm
There is only one bus company you can use from Havana or Varadero to Vinales which is called Viazul. The bus station is not very convenient and will cost in a taxi ride to get to it, but its your cheapest mode of transport unless youre travelling in a group.
Book and pay for your tickets at least a few days in advance online at www.viazul.com or go to the bus terminal to book. Arrive 30mins before your bus departs. All Viazul busses are modern and air conditioned.
We asked a yellow cab driver how much it would cost to take us to Vinales for the day and back again and were quoted $160 CUC. We decided against this option as there was only the 2 of us making it too expensive.
If youre only going one way and staying in Vinales then this could be a good option, especially if you can share the taxi with another couple, its way quicker than the bus and you can leave at a time to suit you.
Taking an old American car shared with locals will be cheaper again, but theres no air con and you can be packed in, not to mention the high risk of a breakdown.
We rented a car and drove ourselves to Vinales, which is a great option at only $60 CUC per day including full insurance. There were so many things to do in Vinales we wanted the freedom of having a car.
Install the app MAPS. ME before you leave home and download the map of Cuba. Once in Cuba make sure your location GPS is always turned on and youll get fantastic directions using this map. It even works with voice directions. This map works perfectly offline.
In the middle of Vinales town youll find a small square with a monument of Jose Marti, this is your WiFi hotspot area. If you need an internet card youll find an ETECSA shop on a side road to the square.
Best Time to Visit
We were in Vinales September and the weather was great, even though its meant to be raining season, it only rained for a few hours on one day. Its also low season which makes for a very lovely trip to Vinales. Apparently in high season you cant move in Vinales, this would make all the things to do a real pain I would think.
Where to Stay
It seems that just about every house in Vinales has a “Casa” sign on it, meaning they have a room for rent. In the low season I’m sure you can just knock up on the day and get a room no problem at all. But I wouldn’t chance this in high season as the place is packed. Even though Airbnb has a number of casa’s in Vinales it’s still missing loads of them. There are more on Homestay, however still not all of them are listed. I’m sure as time goes by the list will grow on both these websites.
You’ll only find a small number of hotels in Vinales which you can book here: All these hotels are owned and run by the government. They are all self star rated, to get the true rating always knock off at least one of the stars.
Where to Eat
There are loads of restaurants in Vinales, unfortunately they all seem to sell the same dishes with nearly all of them being Italian. On our first night as we were unsure of what sort of meals our casa would provide we opted to eat at El Olivo Restaurant.
The meal was nice, but a bit salty, which seems a common theme with Cuban food. After that we ate all our breakfasts and dinners at our casa add link to this page and loved it. We did try the bakery on the corner a block before the square, super cheap huge crossiont with ham plus 2 bottles of water and a slice of cake all for $3 CUC. Wasn’t too bad, bit dry.
There are 2 little supermarkets in Vinales selling very little except the usual excellent selection of cheap booze and cigarettes.
Best Things to Do & See
Here is our pick of the top best things to do in Vinales to make your holiday there special. Weve personally visited each of these activities and taken all the photos and video. Youll find a full page on each excursion, just click on the photo to find out more information on what to do in Vinales and go directly to the page.