Viñales Top Things to See and Do
It’s impossible for me to choose a favourite part of Cuba. However, Viñales is a strong contender. Beautiful landscapes, friendly people, and a relaxed, chilled out vibe made me just want to stay here forever. Although I easily could have whiled away the days in a rocking chair on the porch of our casa, we managed to compel ourselves into getting out and exploring the surrounding area. Here are my choices for Viñales top things to see and do…
Viñales Top Things to See and Do
1. Cycle through the surrounding scenery
The scenery around Viñales is simply stunning. The limestone karst landscape (yes, I had to google this) is characterised by flat fields punctuated by dramatic rocky hills. This landscape, coupled with green tobacco fields dotted with palm trees, makes for postcard-perfect scenery at every turn.
You can explore the local area by hiring a vintage car, on horseback, or on foot. We opted to rent bikes and to spend the day cycling around. The roads are mercifully flat, quiet and safe (if very pothole-laden).
Visit a Tobacco farm
Cuba is world famous for its cigars, and there’s nowhere better to see tobacco farming in action than in the Viñales area. Guided tours can be arranged in the town, though we simply cycled until we came across a farmer rolling cigars on his farm. He was happy to show us the process and even let us take a turn. And the resulting cigars made great souvenirs to bring home (well, maybe not the ones we rolled).
Stay in a casa particular
Casa particulares are the best way to experience Cuba. Throughout our time in this country, we experienced nothing but warm and friendly hosts, clean and comfy rooms, and amazing hospitality. And our favourite casa of all was in Viñales.
There is no need to book in advance, we simply arrived by bus to find a throng of hosts offering rooms. We opted to go with Mabel, a friendly woman who took us to her casa and made us feel right at home. That night, we enjoyed an incredible home-cooked meal, then sat on the huge porch in rocking chairs, watching the rain thundering down.
Explore the caves
Though the above-ground scenery is impressive, the cave system snaking below is also well worth exploring. Underground drainage systems with sinkholes and caves are a feature of the limestone karst landscape (thanks, Google!).
There are many caves to choose from, so either ask your host or simply choose wherever takes your fancy. We cycled until we saw a signpost, then parked our bikes and paid the small entrance fee to one of the caves. We walked on our own through the underground tunnels, and were greeted at the other side by performers who entertained us with dancing, music and fire juggling.
Indulge in traditional Cuban food
Food is my favourite part of most trips, and Viñales is no exception! The food is incredibly fresh and vegetarian friendly (Cuba is surprisingly suitable for veggie travel).
We sampled a few restaurants in the town, but by far our favourite meal was at our casa particular. For just US$10, our host, Mabel, provided us with a huge array of dishes. Highlights included bean soup, fried yucca, and cheese with relish. The only thing we didn’t like was how quickly we got full!