10 Best Things To Do in Viñales, Cuba
For a tiny town with just a few main streets on the edge of a national park, Viñales, Cuba packs a huge punch for travelers. While it’s one of the most popular day trips from Havana, Viñales has more than enough to offer to keep you busy for at least three days, or even longer if you’re looking to disconnect among one of Cuba’s most impressive natural landscapes.
Our ultimate guide to the best things to do in Viñales, Cuba shares all of the best attractions in Viñales, hidden spots to take in the gorgeous scenery, and even how to best enjoy the national park on foot, horseback, and from above. We love Viñales – here’s how to enjoy it like we do.
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Things To Do in Viñales, Cuba
Whether you’re looking to sit back and relax or have a super-adventurous escape, there are a LOT of great things to do in Viñales, Cuba.
If you can only make it to Viñales for a day trip from Havana, you’ll still absolutely love your experience, but if you can add at least two or three days in Viñales to your Cuba itinerary, you’ll be even more impressed with what you find. These are the very best things to do in Viñales!
1. Visit a Tobacco Plantation
If Viñales is best known for its gorgeous scenery, its second most famous attribute is as one of the best spots for growing tobacco in the entire country. This is the spot where the world-famous Cuban cigars get their start, and excursions to tobacco plantations are among the most popular things to do in Viñales.
Visit a local farm and meet with farmers who’ve been working there for generations and are masters in the process. You’ll learn all about the cultivation of tobacco (and how the Cuban government tightly controls the crop) while you see where tobacco is hung and dried after harvesting and how cigars are made. Plus, purchase the freshest cigars directly from the source.
Even if you’re not a smoker, it’s a fascinating window into rural life in Cuba and a great way to see a side of Cuba that not many travelers get to experience. Take a horseback riding tour through the valley to visit the farms – it’s one of the most popular ways to enjoy Viñales.
Remember, if you’re traveling to (or through) the United States, you won’t currently be able to bring any Cuban cigars home with you – the regulations have changed on this over the years, though it’s currently not permitted. So enjoy your cigars while you’re still in Cuba!
2. Hike Through the National Park
While many visitors to Viñales take the classic horseback riding tour to the tobacco plantations as a way to take in the lovely scenery, hiking in Viñales can be an even better option if you’re looking to get further off the beaten path.
As a national park, it’s open for visitors to explore freely – no guide needed. While you’ll find plenty of local guides willing to give you a tour (who do an awesome job!), you can also explore guide-free. Here are some of the guided hikes you can enjoy through the Viñales Valley:
- Viñales Valley + Cueva del Silencio Cave Hike
- Viñales Sunset Hike
- Viñales Tobacco and Coffee Plantation Hike
Make sure to download Maps.Me and AllTrails before visiting (and the other apps for travel in Cuba we recommend!) as visitors frequently add new paths and trails and give advice to others about the best routes.
Read More: Hiking in Cuba: 5 Best Destinations for Cuba Hiking
3. Explore The Caves of Viñales
Hidden in the base of the towering mountain-like limestone karsts (called mogotes) that dot the Viñales Valley are countless caves, so many in fact that locals still discover new caves and wonder if they’re the first to ever find them. From tiny chambers with stalagtites and stalagmites to gigantic cave systems with underground lakes, these incredible spots are among the must-visit destinations of Viñales!
While there are too many caves to mention, some of the most famous include Cueva del Indio and Cueva de Santo Tomás, which are among the area’s biggest and most-visited cave systems, though smaller caves like Cueva del Palmerito are popular with hiking excursions.
Cueva del Indio was an important burial ground for local indigenous populations and today visitors can take boat rides through the cave’s lake system. Cueva de Santo Tomás is thought to be Cuba’s largest network of caves. Both are popular stops on full-day or half-day excursions to the Viñales caves.
Looking for a really cool, more off-the-beaten-path cave experience in Viñales? Take the guided hiking excursion to Cueva del Silencio and descend hundreds of feet to the subterranean lake. It’s an incredible experience, one of our favorites in Viñales!
Whichever cave you visit, you’re bound to have an incredible time – these are just spectacular natural spots, and are a great place to cool off during a hot Cuban day.
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Check out our Ultimate Cuba Packing List to help you pack for your trip – we’re sharing exactly what to bring to Cuba and what we never travel without.
4. Go Horseback Riding
In Viñales you’re in the heart of the countryside, meaning getting around on horseback is one of the easiest modes of transportation you’ll find! For travelers looking to explore the national park and walk amongst the mogotes, taking a horseback riding excursion is one of the most enjoyable ways to do it.
Kill two birds with one stone by taking a horseback riding excursion to one of the tobacco plantations among the mogotes. It’s a great way to see the area and one of the most popular excursions in Viñales (the Civitatis excursion heads through the Valle de Silencio, which is one of the most gorgeous areas of Viñales).
Remember, the dirt here is bright red, so many sure to bring some clothes and shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty! Especially if you’re traveling in the rainy summer, you might get muddy if you’re not careful.
Read More: Havana to Viñales Day Trip: Ultimate Guide
5. Take a Day Trip to the Cays
While the beaches on Cuba’s central and eastern cays tend to be the most famous for their white sand and warm waters, the island’s western side has its own gems worth visiting. For travelers looking to combine a visit to Viñales with a visit to some of the island’s pristine beaches, Pinar del Rio’s hidden gems Cayo Jutias and Cayo Levisa are both dreamy options.
Each of these idyllic islands are located just over an hour from Viñales, making them perfect day trip spots. Unlike some of Cuba’s other cays, both maintain a largely wild and truly untouched character, with mostly empty stretches of perfect white sand. Whichever beach destination you choose, you’re in for one of the best things to do in Viñales!
Cayo Jutias is more easily accessible, with its causeway connecting it to the mainland for easy access. Cayo Levisa is only accessible from the mainland via a ferry from the tiny town of Palma Rubia, however, it has more beach amenities, including a small hotel, making it a more popular overnight option.
Transport to either spot will cost around $60, though you can split the transport cost with other travelers in Viñales, or book online ahead of time. Day trips to Cayo Jutias generally tend to be more popular (and more affordable) due to the ease of transport, though day trips to Cayo Levisa are just as dreamy.
Read More: 8 Best Day Trips from Havana
6. Eat at a Farm-to-Table Restaurant
Viñales is by no means a culinary capital, but as a city located in a rich agricultural region of Cuba, it has super fresh ingredients and some incredible farm-to-table restaurants that show them off well.
One of the best restaurants in Viñales is El Olivo, which has a great combination of Cuban and Mediterrean dishes, while La Berengena has a great mix of vegetarian options and unique takes on Cuban classics.
For the very best farm-to-table experience in Vinales, look no further than Finca Agroecologica El Paraiso. Set a bit outside the city on its own farm, the restaurants serves up delicious food and great drinks, while offering absolutely stunning views of the valley. Whether you’re looking for a healthy meal or not, don’t miss this spot – it’s a dining experience in Viñales you won’t forget.
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.
7. Take in the View From Balcón del Valle
Viñales is all about the views of the mogotes in the National Park – you’ll find many places claiming to have the best views. However, overlooking the park on the road into town there is one particular viewpoint worth visiting above all others: Balcón del Valle.
Many visitors tout the views from Hotel Los Jazmines just down the road, but trust us, visiting Balcón del Valle is a much better option if you’re looking for these second-to-none views over the valley. This tiny, family-run restaurant with a massive porch makes the most of the views while serving great food and coffee.
We enjoyed breakfast here, which was a fantastic choice, and one that I highly recommend. We got a front-and-center view and the best seat in the house on the restaurant’s terrace and watched the clouds roll away as the sun came up over the mogotes. Simply stunning, and a must for any visitor to Viñales.
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8. Visit the Mural de la Prehistoria
Painted on one the side of one of the towering mogotes of the Viñales Valley, the Mural de la Prehistoria (Prehistory Mural) is a colorful mural painted in 1961 by Cuban muralist Leovigildo González Morillo, a student of Diego Rivera. In fact, this mural demonstrating the prehistoric past of Cuba is one of the largest open-air paintings in the world.
While there isn’t much to do here other than see the mural, snap some photos, and appreciate the stunning scenery with the classic mogotes of Viñales, it’s an obligatory stop on a trip through the valley and a touristy if popular “must” among the things to do in Viñales. The little restaurant and cafe here serve good food and drinks.
9. Go Ziplining
One of the newer installations for travelers here in Viñales is the ziplining course. Even if you’ve ziplined before, this spot is a real treat, with a relatively easy hike through the forest among several different ziplines all boasting spectacular views of the valley and the famous Viñales mogotes.
The final zipline is quite long – over 1,000 feet in length! – and has the most incredible views imaginable of the valley. It’s located quite close to town and is a fun way to add some thrill to your day, totally unique among the other things to do in Viñales!
10. Visit Maria La Gorda
Located a few hours west of Viñales, Maria La Gorda is a white sand beach destination far too few travelers ever get the change to visit. Hidden away among palm trees slung with hammocks you’ll find perfect white sand and clear, shallow waters, making for the Caribbean island beach getaway of your dreams.
Known for spectacular snorkeling and scuba diving, this remote spot is home to just one hotel but an incredible beach and stunning coral reef just off shore.
If you’re just looking for a day trip to the beach, I’d recommend choosing Cayo Jutias or Cayo Levisa over Maria La Gorda. These cays are just over an hour away from Viñales, while Maria La Gorda is more than three hours away, making for a long day of travel if you don’t plan on spending the night.
While it’s distance from Viñales doesn’t quite make it among the best things to do in Viñales itself, it’s absolutely worth a mention on this list if you’re still planning where to visit after Viñales. For an off-the-beaten-path beach getaway in Cuba, Maria La Gorda is one of the best spots – try to squeeze it into your itinerary if you can! It’s absolutely one of a kind.