A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999, the Viñales Valley in Cuba is famous for its stunning landscapes with traditional tobacco plantations, caves, and mogotes make it a must-visit destination in Cuba.
Follow the guide!
👉 Getting to Viñales
👉 Things to do in Viñales
👉 Excursions from Viñales
👉 Our top recommendations in Viñales
👉 Practical information
💡 Planning Your Trip to Cuba 💡
✈️ Flights: To find the best deals on flights, Captain Ulysses highly recommends using Skyscanner or Omio.
🇨🇺 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.
🛏️ Accommodations: To book your accommodations in Cuba, the Captain recommends Expedia. In Viñales, the Captain especially recommends 3 casas particulares/B&Bs with very good value for money (Casa Leyani y Osvedy, Villa Panchon (very affordable) & Casa Herenia y Pedro) and one casa with a small pool (Chef’s Cabins – Obel & Yoly).
📸 Activities: Horseback-riding, hiking, day trips to the beach… there’s plenty to do in Vinales. To book your activities, the Captain highly recommends Civitatis.
Getting to Viñales
Getting to Viñales is simple, as it’s a popular tourist destination with plenty of easy access. Viñales is the only real town in the valley, and it has all the tourist facilities you need, such as casas, restaurants, travel agencies, exchange offices, and more. Therefore, it’s the perfect starting point to explore the valley.
Where is the Viñales Valley located?
The Viñales Valley is located in the west of Cuba, in the province of Pinar del Río. The valley is in the heart of the Sierra de los Organos, and Viñales, the gateway to the valley, is easily accessible from Havana (around 180 km or 2.5 hours) and Pinar del Río, the capital of the province (around 30 km or 45 minutes).
Getting to Viñales by bus
To get to Viñales, you can take a Viazul bus, which runs from Havana to Viñales daily for 12 CUC. However, note that the bus station in the capital is a bit far away, so you may need to take a taxi to get there. Since buses are also popular with tourists, it’s best to book in advance to secure your seat.
Getting to the Viñales Valley by collective taxi
Alternatively, you can take a collective taxi, which you can arrange through your hotel or casa particular. The taxi will pick you up from your casa, and the cost is around 20 CUC per person for the Havana-Viñales trip.
Overall, Viñales is a beautiful destination that’s easy to reach, and it’s definitely worth adding to your Cuban itinerary!
🤔 Why is the Viñales Valley a UNESCO World Heritage Site? 🤔
The Viñales Valley has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999 and is well-known for its lush vegetation, traditional tobacco culture, and iconic mogotes. These are limestone hills covered with vegetation that rise to about 300 meters in altitude, making Viñales an essential stop on any Cuba itinerary.
The fertile red soil in the Viñales Valley and the mild climate during the dry season (when tobacco is grown) make it an ideal place for tobacco cultivation. Traditional agricultural techniques are still in use, and almost everything is done by hand, from sowing to harvesting! The “guarijos” of the region continue to preserve ancestral agricultural know-how, including cigar making.
Things To See and Do in Viñales
Hiking in the Viñales Valley
To experience the Viñales Valley, hiking is a must, and there are options for everyone, from walking to horseback riding and cycling.
Those who want to venture out on their own should bring a map or download the map of the region to their phone before leaving.
Guided excursions are also available in Viñales for those who prefer a more structured experience.
Captain Ulysses highly recommends checking out the Civitatis website, a specialist in online tourist activity reservations, which offers two hikes in Viñales:
During the hikes, travelers will pass through traditional tobacco plantations, get a closer look at the mogotes, and explore some of the region’s thousands of caves. So put on your hiking shoes and hit the trail!
Exploring the Caves in Viñales Valley
The Viñales Valley is home to a network of caves waiting to be explored. The Cueva del Indio and the Gran Caverna de Santo Tomas are two of the most popular and accessible caves to visit.
> Cueva del Indio:
This cave is more touristy and was discovered by a local farmer in 1920. Visitors can see rock paintings and archaeological remains that date back to pre-Columbian times. The San Vicente River runs through the cave, and visitors can take a motorboat ride through part of it.
Admission costs 5 CUC, and there is a restaurant on site.
> Gran Caverna de Santo Tomas:
With its 46 km of passages, La Gran Caverna de Santo Tomas is the largest cave system in Cuba. It is located in Moncada, 17 km from Viñales, and is better preserved than the Cueva del Indio. Visitors can explore part of the cave system accompanied by a caver. The tour lasts 1.5 hours and costs 8 CUC. There is also a small museum on site (an additional 1 CUC), and excursions from Viñales are available for 20 CUC.
Visit to Cigar Factories
The Viñales Valley is the top producer of tobacco in Cuba, and the traditional agricultural techniques used by the guarijos, or peasants, produce higher quality cigars than mechanized agriculture. Visitors can learn about the meticulous process of cigar making and even taste the local production.
Mural of Prehistory
The Mural of Prehistory may not be an accurate name! It’s a 120-meter tall and 180-meter wide fresco painted on a mogote by Leovigildo Gonzales Morillo, a student of the famous Mexican painter Diego Rivera, in the 1960s. The Castro regime commissioned this mural to represent the evolution of Cuba from ammonites to humans.
The admission fee for the mural is 3 CUC. Alternatively, you can pay 15 CUC for a meal at the restaurant on site, which includes the entrance fee. For an extra fee of 5 CUC per hour, you can go horseback riding in the area around the mural. Hiking trails also lead to the top of the mogote, where you’ll get a spectacular view of the Viñales Valley.
Take in the View from the Terrace of Hotel Los Jazmines
If you’re looking for a magnificent panoramic view of the valley, Hotel Los Jazmines, located 3 km south of Viñales, is a great place to visit. You can enjoy the view with a drink or take a swim in the pool for 7 CUC. A taxi ride from the center of Viñales costs around 3 CUC.
If you want to spend the night, room rates range from 50 to 90 CUC per night.
Casa de la Caridad – Viñales Botanical Garden
Nature enthusiasts will be thrilled by the Viñales Botanical Garden, which showcases beautiful orchids and various fruit trees. Admission is free, but they appreciate donations.
Los Acuáticos Community
Antoñica Izquierdo, a peasant who discovered the healing properties of water in the region, established the Los Acuáticos community in 1943, 6 km west of Viñales. Only two families still reside in the area.
A 3-hour guided tour (10 CUC) allows you to explore the community and its surrounding areas, which are perfect for hiking. The sunrise view is breathtaking. You can also book an excursion to Los Acuáticos from Viñales.
Excursions from Viñales
Viñales is an excellent starting point for exploring many other extraordinary places. Pack your backpack, and let the exploration continue!
Cayo Levisa is a small paradise island off the coast of Pinar del Río Province.
You can take a day trip or stay overnight at the only hotel on the island, Hotel Cayo Levisa.
👉 Book your day tour to Cayo Levisa
If your budget is too tight for an escape to Cayo Levisa or if you still have some sunscreen left to use, head to Cayo Jutias. Less confidential but easier (and cheaper) to access than the former, this island is connected to the mainland by road. If you haven’t rented a car, you can book a transfer to Cayo Jutias on site or online in advance.
👉 Book your transfer to Cayo Jutias
A spearhead of sustainable development in Cuba, Las Terrazas is a community created in the 1970s in the mountains of the Sierra del Rosario. Classified as a biosphere reserve and inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, it is now equipped with eco-tourism facilities.
Soroa is a mountain village located in the heart of the Sierra del Rosario. The climate, characterized by heavy rainfall, promotes the development of particularly lush vegetation and feeds the waterfalls and natural pools of the region.
The Guanahacabibes Peninsula, at the extreme west of the island, is home to a national park classified as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO. This is also where María la Gorda is located, a small paradise for divers! It is a welcome break from the tourist hustle and bustle. Few venture so far west.
👉 Book your day tour to María la Gorda Beach
Top recommendations in Vinales
If you are looking for a casa, the Captain recommend two addresses with very good value for money:
- Casa Leyani y Osvedy
- Villa Panchon (very affordable)
- Casa Herenia y Pedro
If you’re looking for a casa with a (small) pool, the Captain highly recommends Chef’s Cabins – Obel & Yoly.
Most of the facilities can be found along the main street:
Bank & exchange offices:
- Banco de Crédito y Comercio: Salvador Cisneros n°58
- Cadeca: corner of Salvador Cisneros and Adela Azcuy
- Viazul Agency: Salvador Cisneros n°63A
Travel / excursion agencies:
- Infotur: Salvador Cisneros n°63B
- Cubanacan: Salvador Cisneros n°63C
- Etecsa: Ceferino Fernández n°3
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.
👉 Book now:
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