havana to vinales day trip

Havana to Viñales Day Trip: A Local’s Guide [2024]

Just a few hours west of Havana, the gorgeous Viñales Valley is one of the most dramatic landscapes in Cuba, its towering limestone “mogotes” making an immediate impression jutting from the valley below.

As locals, we’ve taken the Havana to Viñales day trip countless times – using public transport, private drivers, and everything in between. Read on for the best ways to enjoy a day trip to Viñales from Havana (plus the best organized day trip from Havana to Viñales that we always recommend – local guides included).

vinales cuba

This post contains affiliate links that may reward me monetarily or otherwise when you use them to make qualifying purchases – at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, please read our disclosure policy.

Havana to Viñales Day Trip

Cuba’s best tobacco plantations, breathtaking views, gorgeous sunsets, and great food await in Viñales. Easily one of the best places to visit in Cuba, Viñales offers so much in addition to being a relatively affordable spot and a completely laid-back, country vibe that is a welcome change from the frenetic energy of Havana.

If you’re looking for a day trip from Havana and debating whether a Havana to Viñales day trip is the right one for you, let me assure you, Viñales is impressive. Its landscapes are stunning and some of the most unique and dramatic you’ll find in all of the Caribbean.

Combined with all the incredible things you can do in Viñales – even in just one day – it promises an action-packed day trip that will show you a completely unique side of Cuba.

How To Get From Havana to Viñales

There are plenty of ways to get from Havana to Viñales, though if you’re looking to return to Havana on the same day, you’ll have fewer options. Most travelers looking for a Havana to Viñales day trip choose a small-group excursion (or a private excursion with just your family and friends). For just one day, it’s the easiest (and usually most affordable way) to travel.

These are the four main ways to get from Havana to Viñales:

  1. Take the Bus from Havana to Viñales
  2. Take a Day Trip Excursion
  3. Take a Shared Taxi
  4. Take a Private Taxi

If not booking a small-group excursion, most other travelers head to Viñales via private or shared taxi. You can either find a shared taxi filling near the Havana bus station or connect with your hotel or guesthouse (casa particular) host to search for taxi-sharing options.

However, keep in mind that if you’re just booking a taxi to and from Viñales, you’ll still need to plan or book activities for the day. Most travelers choose the horseback riding tour to a tobacco plantation or a guided day trip to Viñales’ caves. Alternatively, hike through the heart of the valley and among local farms, or take a free tour of the town of Viñales.

Generally, it’s more affordable to just book an inclusive excursion rather than booking things piecemeal.

How Far Is Viñales From Havana?

Viñales is just over 100 miles (180 km) from Havana and about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Havana via private car. The bus ride from Havana to Viñales is longer, about three and a half to four hours.

It can be a bit far to travel for a day trip, so we strongly recommend travelers find space in their Cuba itinerary for at least one overnight in Viñales, if possible. This is even more necessary if you’re planning on taking the public bus between Havana and Viñales; current bus schedules don’t allow for much of a visit at all in just one day.

best things to do in vinales

Recommended: Havana to Viñales Day Trip Excursions

For a day trip from Havana to Viñales, most travelers prefer to book a small-group Havana to Viñales excursion. This offers a complete, hassle-free trip to Viñales and around the valley to enjoy the best parts of the Viñales.

These are the Havana to Viñales day trips we recommend:

On our past Havana to Viñales excursions we’ve loved the variety of activities we’ve been able to do in just one day. Touring a tobacco farm and learning how to make cigars, taking in some of the best viewpoints of the Viñales Valley near Jazmines, eating delicious local food, touring caves – it’s all definitely possible on an excursion from Havana to Viñales.

We always recommend travelers use the Civitatis excursion to Viñales, as it’s an incredibly well-done Viñales tour from Havana – we’ve had friends and family rave about it. This Viñales tour from Havana is all day and includes all the best things to do in Viñales, including the obligatory tobacco plantation visit, time to explore the caves of Viñales, great food, and much more.

Read More: 12+ Best Things To Do in Viñales

Take the Bus from Havana to Viñales

While you can take buses between Havana and Viñales, their current schedule doesn’t quite allow for this to be your mode of transportation for a day trip from Havana. The daily bus from Havana to Viñales arrives at around 10:30 AM, and the departure to Havana leaves at 11:55 AM, meaning you would barely have any time in Viñales.

Save public transportation for an itinerary where you spend at least one night in Viñales, and opt for private transportation for a one-day trip.

Travel Essential

Don’t think about traveling to Cuba without a good VPN (Virtual Private Network). Using a VPN while connecting to the internet is an easy way to keep your personal information safe from hackers and trackers. We’ve used NordVPN for years and couldn’t recommend it more – it’s a must for safety online, especially in Cuba. 

vinales cuba

Things To Do in Viñales (In One Day)

You’ll be surprised how many things to do in Vinãles you can pack into one day without feeling like you’re hopping from one activity to the next.

With all the best of Viñales close together, it’s easy to get around and explore in a short period of time (another reason it’s a great day trip destination). There are some of the best things to do in Viñales on your Havana to Viñales day trip.

1. Horseback Riding Tour To Tobacco Farms

By far the most popular thing to do in Viñales is taking a horseback riding excursion through the national park to visit Viñales’ famous tobacco farms, responsible for the world-famous Cuban cigars you’ve certainly heard about.

These excursions are super comprehensive and include a full farm tour, a visit to the structures where tobacco is hung and dried, and a tutorial about how to roll the cigars and smoke them the Cuban way (Che Guevara had a special trick for this!). All the while you’ll be among the most impressive parts of the valley for stunningly beautiful views of the famous Viñales mogotes.

Not into horseback riding? You can also take a spin around Viñales in a vintage American car, which includes a visit to the tobacco plantation areas and valley viewpoints as well. It’s definitely a way to see the stunning valley in style.

2. Take in the View From Balcón del Valle

Viñales is all about the stunning valley views, but there’s just no place in Viñales with a better view than Balcón del Valle. This local restaurant is located on the road into town and boasts a giant patio to make the most of the views (and has great, affordably priced food).

We came here for breakfast on our last Havana to Vinales day trip and let me tell you, the view was unbelievable. When we arrived, haze was covering the valley, but as the sun rose further and burned off the clouds, the valley was revealed in all its splendor. Wow!

Travel Insurance

Cuba requires that all travelers have proof of a comprehensive travel insurance policy in order to enter the country. Check out our guide to travel insurance for Cuba for more details. We recommend these brands for Cuba travel insurance:

  • Visitors Coverage: Coverage for Cuba travel available to citizens of all countries, though not currently available to residents of New York and Maryland in the United States.
  • Insubuy: Coverage for Cuba travel available to citizens of all countries and states of the United States.

3. Explore the Caves

Hidden through the Viñales Valley and among the mogotes that have made it famous, Vinales is home to hundreds (or thousands!) of caves, big and small. Whether you want to hike to a few caves in the valley or take a proper cave tour to famous spots like Cueva del Indio and Cuevas de Santo Tomás, you’ll be impressed with the number and size of these spots.

Some are filled with water similar to the cenotes in Mexico – at Cueva del Indio, you can even take a boat ride through the underground lake system.

4. Enjoy Home Cooking (Cuba’s Best)

Viñales isn’t a real foodie capital, but at the heart of this agricultural region, it has some incredible farm-to-table restaurants worth checking out.

Balcón del Valle can’t be beaten for its views, but if you’re looking for something super special food-wise, try out these spots: El Olivo, which has a great combination of Cuban and Mediterranean dishes, and La Berengena has a great mix of vegetarian options and unique takes on Cuban classics.

For the very best farm-to-table experience in Viñales, look no further than Finca Agroecologica El Paraiso. Set a bit outside the city on its own farm, the restaurant serves up delicious food and great drinks while offering absolutely stunning views of the valley.

Read More: 12+ Best Things To Do in Viñales

Viñales Day Trip

Whether you only have time for a few hours in Vinales or can extend your Havana to Viñales day trip into a full day or two in town, you’ll love your excursion to this small town with so much to offer. One of Cuba’s most popular inland destinations, Viñales is just the start of the impressive gems Cuba has to offer; no wonder a visit here is one of the best things to do in Cuba.

Carley Rojas Avila

Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Home to Havana and Explorers Away. She is a serial expat and traveler, having visited 40+ countries and counting. Carley has written for publications like Travel + Leisure, MSN, Associated Press, Weather Channel, Wealth of Geeks, and more. Find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.