Pinar del Río offers visitors the opportunity to discover a différent side of Cuba: welcome to the authentic tobacco region!
💡 Planning Your Trip to Cuba 💡
🇨🇺 Visa: Before you depart, be sure to apply for your tourist card (which is your visa for Cuba). You can easily order your tourist card online through CubaVisa.
📸 Activities: Horseback-riding, hiking, day trips to the beach… there’s plenty to do in Cuba. To book your activities, the Captain highly recommends Civitatis.
Getting to Pinar del Río
Viazul buses depart from the capital at 9:00 AM, 11:25 AM, and 2:30 PM (3 hours journey, 11 CUC). From Viñales, the trip takes 30 to 45 minutes and costs 6 CUC (departures at 6:45 AM, 8:00 AM, and 2:00 PM). Shared taxis are also available for a few CUC per person.
What to Do in Pinar del Río?
While Pinar del Río’s historic center may lack the colonial splendors of magnificent Trinidad, its few colonial buildings are still worth a visit. Left in their original state, they exude a charmingly dilapidated look that is part of Cuba’s unique charm.
Fábrica de Tabacos Francisco Donatién
Originally a prison built in the 19th century, the blue building that now houses the Fábrica de Tabacos Francisco Donatién offers visitors the opportunity to discover the secrets of Cuban cigar production. A guided tour of about twenty minutes (5 CUC) takes you through the different stages of the process, from fabrication to quality control, sorting, and packaging.
Dating back to the mid-19th century, Teatro José Jacinto Milanés was completely restored in the early 2000s. This neo-classical Italian-style theater, made entirely of wood, can accommodate up to 540 spectators. If you find yourself in Pinar del Río, Teatro José Jacinto Milanés is definitely worth a visit!
Casa Taller and Galería del Centro Provincial de Artes Plásticas
Located in Plaza de la Independencia, in the city center, Casa Taller and Galería del Centro Provincial de Artes Plásticas are two art galleries showcasing the works of local artists. From renowned artists like Pedro Pablo Oliva to undiscovered talents, these galleries offer a glimpse into the vibrant artistic scene of Pinar del Río. Artists often open their studios to the public, creating a unique experience for art enthusiasts.
Fábrica de Bebidas Guayabita del Pinar (Casa Garay)
While Pinar del Río is renowned for its cigars, there is another local specialty to explore. Founded in 1892, the Fábrica de Bebidas Guayabita del Pinar produces a guava liqueur known throughout Cuba as Guayabita del Pinar. Visitors can tour the factory (15 minutes) for 1 CUC per person, including a tasting. Bottles of Guayabita del Pinar are also available for purchase on-site.
Palacio de los Matrimonios
Dating back to the 1920s, the Palacio de los Matrimonios is a stunning display of opulence and extravagant decor. If you ask the guards, they might grant you a glimpse of the lavishly adorned interior.
Museo de Ciencias Naturales Sandalio de Noda
The Museo de Ciencias Naturales Sandalio de Noda is another architectural marvel, blending neo-Gothic and Moorish elements. While the exterior is impressive, the collections inside might not appeal to everyone unless you are a natural science enthusiast (entrance fee of 1 CUC per person).
Museo Provincial de Historia
Similar to the Museo de Ciencias Naturales Sandalio de Noda, the Museo Provincial de Historia is more captivating from the outside than its interior. The building, dating back to the 1870s, underwent a complete renovation in 2014.
Catedral de San Rosendo
While not the grandest cathedral in Cuba, the Catedral de San Rosendo charms visitors with its beautiful pastel yellow façade.
What to Do Around Pinar del Río?
The surroundings of Pinar del Río offer captivating attractions. The region benefits from a unique climate ideal for tobacco cultivation and is home to a diverse and endemic flora and fauna.
In the towns of San Juan y Martínez and San Luis, approximately thirty kilometers / 18 miles south of the city, you’ll find tobacco renowned as the finest in the country.
Finca el Pinar
A stone’s throw north of San Luis, Finca del Pinar (also known as Alejandro Robaina plantation, named after its former owner) stands as the most famous and prestigious plantation in the region. The Castro regime even honored Alejandro Robaina’s contribution to tobacco cultivation by creating the brand “Vegas Robaina.”
Guides at the plantation share the secrets of tobacco cultivation, harvesting, and fermentation with visitors (2 CUC per person).
Cocodrilos Sabanalamar is an experimental farm dedicated to the preservation of the Cuban crocodile, an endemic species facing threats. Visitors can explore the farm and meet both young and adult crocodiles under the guidance of knowledgeable guides (2 CUC per person, additional 3 CUC for photography).
Rancho la Guabina
Situated on the edge of a swamp, 15 kilometers / 10 miles north of Pinar del Río, Rancho la Guabina is a vast ranch covering approximately 1,000 hectares /2,500 acres. Originally an equestrian center, it now offers a range of activities for tourists, including horseback riding, boat tours on the lake, and rodeos on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
To reach Rancho la Guabina, you can hire a private taxi or book an excursion through Cubanacan or Infotur agencies in Pinar del Río (approximately 30 CUC per person).
Guanahacabibes Peninsula National Park
From Pinar del Rio, you have the opportunity to embark on an excursion to explore the Guanahacabibes Peninsula National Park, situated 95 kilometers / 60 miles southwest of the city. To reach the park, you can either take a taxi or join an organized excursion through the Infotur agency.
The landscapes, wildlife, and plant life within the Guanahacabibes Peninsula National Park have led to its designation as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
In this natural paradise, there are plenty of activities to enjoy, such as hiking, diving, cave exploration, and more.
Please note that as the park is a protected reserve, it is necessary to be accompanied by a guide (inquire at the visitor center).
The Captain’s recommendations in Pinar del Río
For those seeking a casa particular in Pinar del Río, Captain Ulysses highly recommends Villa Manuela (25 CUC/night). It is a beautiful, spacious, and clean casa with tastefully decorated gardens and terraces. Additionally, Manuela speaks French and prepares deliciously cooked lobster!
If you plan on bringing back cigars from Cuba, the Captain suggests stopping by the shop across from the Fábrica de Tabacos Francisco Donatién. They offer a wide selection to cater to enthusiasts and provide excellent advice!
Useful Addresses in Pinar del Río
Banks & Currency Exchange:
Banco Financiero Internacional: Calle Gerardo Medina Norte No. 46
Cadeca: Calle Marti No. 46
Bus Station (where you can find the Viazul agency): Calle Adela Azcuy, between Calle Colón and Calle Comandante Pinares
Tourist Office / Excursion Reservations:
Cubanacan: Calle Marti No. 109
Infotur: Hotel Vueltabajo, at the corner of Calle Marti and Calle Rafael Morales
Etecsa Telepunto: at the corner of Calle Gerardo Medina and Calle Juan Gómez
Post Office: Calle Marti Este No. 49
Also note that a Transtur shuttle bus (5 CUC per day) serves the various tourist sites in the region. You can buy your ticket directly on board the bus. For more information on the route, go to the Transtur stop on the central square of Viñales.