Trinidad is simply gorgeous. Located on Cuba’s Caribbean side, this colonial town has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988, and deservedly so. Its cobble-stoned streets are lined with colourful houses and stunning colonial-era buildings. Trinidad is also fringed by natural wonders, including lush green mountains and pristine beaches. However, what truly makes Trinidad an amazing place to visit is its lively Caribbean ambiance. The streets are bustling with activity day and night – street musicians, artisan markets, domino players and the occasional horse-drawn carriage. You can also find various music venues where you can enjoy live music and practise your dance skills.
Whether you enjoy hiking, have a passion for Cuban music or want to take some stunning photos while in Cuba, Trinidad is a definite must-see. Here are our suggestions for top things to do in this exciting town.
1. Explore the cobbled streets on a walking tour
Trinidad has a cosy, compact centre, which means you can see the town’s main attractions in just a few hours. The beautiful Plaza Mayor, which is the heart of the city, is possibly the most photogenic place in Cuba. Ringed by grand colonial-era buildings, including Iglesia de la Santísima and Palacio Brunet, Plaza Mayor is a great starting point if you want to explore Trinidad on foot.
If you want to get a glimpse into the town’s colonial heritage, step inside Museo Romantico (Palacio Brunet) to admire the building’s well-preserved features, including frescoes, marble flooring and painted tiles. From there, head to Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco and climb up the bell tower for panoramic views over the town and the surrounding green hills. You can also admire beautiful vistas from the tower of Museo Historico Municipal, a museum housed in a large 19th-century mansion.
While joining a guided tour is highly recommended, Trinidad is also a great place to explore at your own pace – especially if you plan to take loads of photos. You might also want to pop into the town’s quirky art shops and take a stroll through the street markets to find the perfect souvenir.
2. Hike through a rainforest
Just outside Trinidad lies a green oasis – a large nature reserve that is home to a tropical rainforest and several natural wonders, including waterfalls, canyons and natural pools. Topes de Collantes is a hiker’s paradise. If you want to go on a small adventure while visiting Trinidad, there are plenty of scenic trails that you can explore. For instance, the Guanayara trail offers an introduction to native plant life, where you can see banana and coffee bean trees. You might also be able to spot local wildlife, including the Tocororo – Cuba’s national bird. The trail passes along the beautiful El Rocio waterfall and a natural pool with turquoise waters, so you can end your hike with a refreshing dip.
Another equally beautiful hike is Salto del Caburni. This trail cuts through lush greenery and runs along a rugged cliff face. The highlight of the hike is a 62-metre waterfall – the highest of its kind in Cuba. You can wash away the sweat with a swim in the pools at the bottom of the waterfall.
3. Visit Sugar Mill Valley
Sugar Mill Valley, locally known as Valle de los Ingenios, used to be the hub of Cuba’s sugar industry during the colonial era. Nowadays, the ruins of the sugar refineries serve as a reminder of Cuba’s slave trade, which was abolished in 1886. Around 30,000 slaves were brought in from Africa to work on the sugar plantations in Trinidad. Sugar cane was introduced to Cuba by the Spanish colonisers and by the 18th century sugar production had become the country’s main industry.
If you want to learn more about Cuba’s slave trade, you can take a tour of Sugar Mill Valley, where you can see the ruins of milling machinery, the slave quarters, and a steam train. The colonial mansion that belonged to the plantation owner is the most well-preserved part of the plantation, along with a 45-metre high bell tower that signalled the start and end of the work day and prayer times for the slaves.
4. Dance the night away at music venues
Trinidad becomes a magical place at night, when the sound of Cuban music fills the streets and local people go out to dance. One of the best places in Trinidad to enjoy live Cuban music is Casa de la Trova. This lively bar hosts traditional bands who play popular Cuban music genres, including son and salsa. Dancing is encouraged!
Another great place for live music and dancing is Casa de la Musica. Many tourists and locals come here to dance salsa in a spacious outdoor area overlooking the beautiful Plaza Mayor.
5. Go for a swim at Playa Ancon
If you find yourself in the mood for a nice swim while you’re in Trinidad, take a trip to Playa Ancon. This idyllic beach is just a 15-minute drive from Trinidad and treats visitors to pristine waters and a long stretch of white sand. Get there early in the morning to beat the crowds and enjoy a refreshing swim in the Caribbean sea. The clear, turquoise waters make the beach a great place for snorkelling.
Alternatively, you can rent a bike and cycle to Playa Ancon, passing through the small fishing village of La Boca along the way.