With its narrow cobbled streets, its colourful historical buildings and its art galleries, Trinidad truly is a colonial gem! The city fully deserves its inclusion on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Not to mention that Trinidad also boasts an amazing extra bonus: its beautiful location, comfortably tucked between the sea and the mountains!
Trinidad in a few words
Trinidad is located on the south coast of Cuba, in the province of Sancti Spíritus, approximately 180 miles southeast of Havana. The city, which didn’t partake in the island’s industrial development, has barely expanded since the golden age of sugarcane cultivation in the 19th century and its historic center has remained unchanged. It now counts a little over 50,000 inhabitants.
Trinidad was created in 1514 by the conquistador Diego Velázquez, who had already founded the cities of Baracoa and Bayamo, west of Cuba.
The city first prospered thanks to the gold mines, before fully thriving with the trade of slaves and sugar.
Funny fact: when famous Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés set to conquer Mexico in the early sixteenth century, he left from Trinidad.
Today, Trinidad is the most famous and best preserved colonial city in Cuba. Listed as a Unesco World Heritage site since 1988, the city’s magnificent historic city centre has recently undergone full renovation works.
How to get to Trinidad?
As one the most touristic cities in Cuba Trinidad is fairly well connected to the rest of the island.
Buses for Trinidad depart daily from Havana (6 to 6.5 hour drive, 25 CUC) and Cienfuegos (1,5 hour drive, 6 CUC) and many collectivos, shared taxis, are available as well.
If you’re going to Trinidad from Cienfuegos, we highly recommend a Cubanacan excursion that leaves Cienfuegos in the morning, stops at El Nicho and arrives in Trinidad in the early afternoon (44 CUC per person including the minibus drive from Cienfuegos to Trinidad, entrance fees to El Nicho and lunch).
Exploring Trinidad: what to do in Trinidad?
Trinidad’s city centre is a colonial jewel. One piece of advice: take the time to get lost in its charming maze-like cobbled streets. You will surely run into horse riders casually wandering the streets of the city. Visiting Trinidad feels a bit like travelling in time!
In the heart of Trinidad’s old town, Plaza Mayor was built in 1856. With its lovely flower beds surrounded by wrought iron gates and royal palms, this charming square is a harmonious haven of peace. A statue of the Muse Terpsichore, in the centre of the square, symbolizes dance and music, which are both dear to Cubans’ hearts.
The buildings around Plaza Mayor were built by 18th and 19th century magnates who made fortunes in the sugar industry. Today, most of them were converted into museums.
Plaza Mayor’s main monuments and attractions are:
- the Iglesia Parroquial de la Santísima Trinidad
- the Casa de la Música
- the Casa de los Conspiradores
- Palacio Brunet (which houses the Museo Romántico)
- Palacio Cantero (where you’ll find the Museo de Historia Municipal).
Iglesia Parroquial de la Santísima Trinidad
On Plaza Mayor, the Iglesia Parroquial de la Santísima Trinidad is a neoclassical building dating back to the late 19th century. It is one of the largest places of worship in Cuba.
The church also owes its reputation to the “Señor de la Vera Cruz” statue, a wooden statue of Christ dating back to the eighteenth century. This statue was originally intended to be sent to Veracruz in Mexico. But the boat transporting it was prevented from leaving Trinidad three times because of severe thunderstorms. Interpreting it as a sign of God, the inhabitants of Trinidad decided to keep the statue, which has stayed in the Iglesia de la Santísima Trinidad ever since.
Trinidad boasts a rich cultural heritage, as evidenced by the large number of museums in the city. History, art, archeology: there’s a museum for everyone!
Trinidad’s Museo Romántico (2 CUC), located in Palacio Brunet, is the oldest museum in the city. The palace, which is one of the most beautiful in Trinidad, was originally the home of a wealthy Creole man, Count Brunet. Brunet had the palace built in the 18th century, and it was later enlarged in the early 19th century. Palacio Brunet’s architecture displays a mix of Andalusian and neoclassical styles. The museum now exhibits collections of 19th century decorative art.
Museo de Arquitectura Trinitaria
Located on Plaza Mayor as well, Trinidad’s Museum of Architecture (1 CUC) invites visitors to discover 18th and 19th century Cuban architecture and crafts. The building itself, Casa Azul, is a fine example of 18th century colonial architecture.
Museo de Arqueología Guamuhaya
Even though Cuba counts a good few museums of history, most of them place relatively little emphasis on pre-Columbian indigenous cultures. The Guamuhaya Archeology Museum (1 CUC) stands therefore as a bit of an exception. Located in Casa Padrón, a beautiful 18th century colonial mansion, the museum retraces the history of the indigenous people who lived in Cuba before the conquest of the island by the Spanish.
Museo Histórico Municipal
Palazzo Cantero, a colonial mansion dating from the first half of the 18th century, is home to the Municipal Museum of Trinidad (3 CUC).
The museum traces the city’s rich history, from its foundation in the 16th century to the wars of independence, from the sugar cane trade to the slave trade. Even if you are not a big fan of history, the museum is worth visiting if only for the view: from the top of the tower, you will have a beautiful panorama of the city!
Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra Bandidos
You’ll find the Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra Bandidos (1 CUC) inside the Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco de Asís, on Plaza Mayor. And if this lovely yellow steeple rings a bell, that’s probably because it appears all the postcards of Trinidad!
This former convent is now home to a museum retracing the struggle of the Castro fighters against the counterrevolutionary groups who opposed the government in the 1960s.
Iglesia Santa Ana
Built in 1719, Iglesia Santa Ana was at the time of its construction one of the most important places of worship in Cuba. Now in ruins, the church is still beautiful to behold. Eerie and mysterious, Iglesia Santa Ana is well worth a visit!
Parque Céspedes (formerly Plaza Carrillo)
More modern than Plaza Mayor, Parque Céspedes, located in the south of the city, is a meeting place for the inhabitants of Trinidad. Built in the 19th century, it is a fairly spacious and wooded square where Trinitarios and visitors alike come to chat or simply rest beneath the shady trees.
Casa de la Trova
Casa de la Trova (1 CUC after 8pm) is the epicentre of musical culture in Trinidad. Its aim is to preserve and promote Cuban music. Locals and tourists gather around a drink every night to attend daily concerts. Israel Moreno, the best-known trovador in the city, performs here regularly.
Casa de la Trova also features a small museum promoting Cuba’s musical heritage.
Excursions around Trinidad
Parque El Cubano
Located in the Sierra del Escambray, 3 miles north of Trinidad, Parque El Cubano (9 CUC) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A 1.8 mile hiking trail (Las Huellas de la Historia) leads to the Javira Waterfall, where visitors can take a dip in the water.
You’ll also find in the park vestiges of the colonial era and slavery, including an ingenio, a sugar mill.
If you’re motivated, you can walk to Parque El Cubano from Trinidad (3,7 miles). Otherwise, the travel agencies in town organise excursions to the park. You call also take a taxi from the city centre (30 CUC roundtrip).
Onsite, you’ll find a ranchón, a ranch-restaurant, where you can have lunch.
The Valley de los Ingenios
In the 19th century, the Valley de los Ingenios was the epicentre of the sugar activity in Cuba.
With the decline of the sugar industry, the “ingenios”, the sugar mills, were abandoned. The valley’s old factories are now the best preserved in the Caribbean.
Topes de Collantes
Perched in the Sierra del Escambray 700 meters above sea level, Topes de Collantes Nature Park is a paradise for nature lovers. It is crisscrossed by several hiking trails that run through lush landscapes before reaching waterfalls and natural pools.
Salto de Caburní and Vegas Grande are the two best known hiking trails in the park. Further away from Trinidad, El Nicho Natural Park, enclosed in Topes de Collantes, is also definitely worth a visit!
7 miles north of Trinidad, the white sand beaches of Peninsula Ancón run along the Caribbean shoreline. The seaside resort counts three all-inclusive hotels but the beaches remain much less crowded than in Varadero or Guardalavaca. It’s the perfect place to spend a relaxing afternoon on the beach.
The beach is public but you will be asked to pay a few CUC to use the deckchairs and parasols.
The drive in taxi from Trinidad amounts to more or less 6 CUC.
Our recommendations in Trinidad
Casas Particulares in Trinidad
If you like to meet new and interesting people, we highly recommend Casa de Norberto y Acelia :
Francisco Peterssen (Coco) #1O4 entre les rues Colón et Franciso Javier Zerquera
tel. : (+53) 41 994802
cell phone : (+53) 53 809059.
The casa isn’t luxurious (no air conditioning nor hot water), but the generosity, warmth and incredible kindness of the owners is well worth all the 5-star hotels of the world. Norberto’s guacamole is absolutely delicious and Acelia will gladly pamper you. Norberto is the former mayor of the city. He will happily tell you his stories around a beer, on the rooftop!
Other casas particulares that we recommend:
Hotels in Trinidad
If you want to treat yourself to a luxurious stay in Trinidad, we highly recommend the Iberostar Grand Hotel. While most hotels in Cuba are rather old-fashioned, the Iberostar Grand Hotel is quite an exception!
The hotel is located in a stunning colonial building on Parque Cespedes, the rooms were carefully-designed and are very spacious.
Find out more: Iberostar Grand Hotel.
For those who want to enjoy beautiful views on Trinidad, we recommend Hotel Cubanacan Las Cuevas: the bungalows may not be the most luxurious but the panorama completely makes up for it.
Find out more: Hotel Cubanacan Las Cuevas.
Services in Trinidad
Banks & currency exchange agencies:
- Banco de Crédito y Comercio: José Martí n°264
- Cadeca: José Martí n°164
Bus station & Viazul office: Piro Guinart n°224
City information desk / Excursions & tours desk:
- Cubatur: Antonio Maceo n°447
- Infotur: Calle Gloria
Etecsa Telepunto: Lino Pérez n° 274 between José Martí and Miguel Calzada
Post office: Antonio Maceo n°418
One last word on Trinidad
Trinidad really is everyone’s favourite in Cuba! The city has it all: a charming old town, the mountains and the beach a few miles away! It is the perfect recipe for a successful stay in Cuba: so we can only recommend that you include Trinidad in your trip itinerary!
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