Best things to do in Vinales Valley Cuba, home of the Cuban cigars

15 Best Things To Do In Vinales From A Cuba Expert (2024)

A few hour’s drive from Havana towards the west lies the amazing Vinales Valley, or Valle de Vinales, which is a green, fertile, and incredibly beautiful part of Cuba. So why should you go there, and what are the best things to do in Vinales?

Vinales was appointed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. The main reason for this is the particular mogotes scattered around the valley floor. Vinajes also has a plethora of cultural treasures to see, coffee to taste, caves to explore, and last but not least, Cuban cigars to sample. 

I have visited Vinales several times over the years, and I strongly recommend you make time for at least a day trip here or more if you have the time.

Affiliate disclosure: I only recommend tours, services and purchases I know and love on this website.

Best Things To Do In Vinales Valley Cuba

The lush green Vinales Valley with fields, trees, and flowers, stretching wide on a bright sunny summer day
Vinales overview mogotes

The main reason you want to travel to Viñales is, of course, to experience firsthand the rich and traditional farming of famous Cuban cigars (with local honey).

Not to mention sampling the steaming strong local coffee or trying a taste of sweet warming rum.

You can book an organized tour from Havana to Vinales and not worry about your itinerary at all. Choose a top-rated day trip or a two-day trip that will show you its highlights in a short amount of time.

15 Best Things To Do In Vinales!

If you don’t take organized tours, here are 14 fun things to do in Vinales to help you plan your itinerary.

1. See The Impressive Mural De La Prehistoria Viñales

The mural that is painted directly on the mountain side in Vinales Valley Cuba: Mural de la Prehistoria. A huge mural painted in the 60s, with a large green grass field in front

The Mural of Prehistory, or Mural de la Prehistoria, may sound like something of a relic from ancient times, but it is actually a painting on a mountain wall on one of the hills of Viñales, that was done in the 1960s.

This mural is painted on the wall of the Pita Mogote, in Sierra de Los Organos a few kilometers outside Viñales town.

It is 120 meters long and was made with a paintbrush. It depicts dinosaurs, snails, giant marine reptiles, and humans.

The artist’s intention was that this large piece of art on nature represents the evolutionary process of life, and after 50ish years of existence, it is currently being re-painted.

📍 EpicNomadLife Tip: Brand new tour from Havana to Vinales!

Civitatis has launched a brand new two-day tour from Havana to Vinales that already has great reviews.

With this tour, you will have more time to explore this amazing part of Cuba, including horseback riding, cave boat tour, and zip lining.

2. Amazing Horseback Riding Tours Viñales

Horseback riding in Vinales Valley in Cuba, a line of horses walking slowly across red mud paths with green fields on the on side and green forest on the other on a sunny summer day.

When pondering what to do in Vinales, Cuba, horseback riding is a super-slow country-life experience and a great way to explore the naturaleza up close. Giving you the opportunity to experience everything a little more intensely. 

You have plenty of time to look around and take in the stunning greens of hills and fields around you. 

A day on horseback may also take you to one of the caves in the area or take you to higher grounds to enjoy the view of the unique layout of the Viñales Valley. 

Often, a day-round trip will include visiting local tobacco farms to see how the famous Cuban cigars are produced, getting a whiff of one, and maybe buying a few to bring home. 

3. Day Trip To Cayo Levisa Island

The paradisiacal white beach with light blue water on Cayo Levisa in Cuba

Just touching on the Mexican Gold, a short boat trip from the shores of Cuba, you find the stunning Cayo Levisa island with paradisiacal beaches.

You will stay on the island for five hours, free to enjoy the intense crystalline waters, white sand, and a large row of mangroves.

Cayo Levisa is famous for its rich underwater diversity. One of the most popular activities on the island is a diving trip on the coral reef barrier—a unique experience!

You can also get your lunch (and some shade) at the Cayo Levisa Hotel when you need a break from the sand and the sea.

4. The Mogote Hills In Vinales Valley In Cuba

The small hilltop mogotes in Vinales valley on a hot sunny summer day, with a white tiny hourse in front of it

The Mogote Hills, or the Mogotes de Viñales, is the name for the green rock formations that look like vegetated sugar tops scattered around the valley floor of Viñales Valley. 

According to Wikipedia, a mogote is a “generally isolated steep-sided residual hill in the tropics.” It is composed of either limestone, marble, or dolomite and is normally surrounded by nearly flat plains, so now you know!

The green tops are all over the valley floor, like different-sized mushrooms popping up, and the most interesting ones have names.

Like the Dos Hermanas (two sisters) or Mogote del Valle (the Mogote of the Valley), in the latter one, there is also a cave with a natural pool inside under a ceiling of stalactites! 

If you want to take a closer look at this natural phenomenon when you visit, there are horseback tours to the mogotes.

Also read: 19 Best Things To Do In Varadero Cuba

5. Vinales Sunrise (And Morning Coffee) Tour

Sunrise over Vinales Valley west in Cuba, the glowing golden sun is coming up behind the green trees and bushes behind a wooden gate
Sunrise in Vinales Valley

If you don’t mind getting up before dawn and all the roosters start singing, at least for one morning, taking a sunrise Viñales tour to the hills around the valley will be a moment to remember. 

On this tour, you will be picked up by a horseman with a carriage in the pitch black of night and drive into the hills before the sun even has thought of rising. 

From a drop-off point, you need to put on a headlight (or use your cell) for a short uphill hike of around half an hour before you get to a hillside farm with a spectacular view of the valley. 

Lighting a cuban cigar made in Vinales
Lighting a Cuban cigar

The lady of the house has been awake for a while already and is all set to welcome you to a front-row seating where the silvery rays will appear in minutes while offering a steaming and strong Cuban coffee to go with the experience. 

As you are seated on the porch on kitchen chairs in different shades of blue with your coffee, the first rays of sun peek over the horizon line, pouring the light silvery beams across the moist green valley floor. Pure magic. 

In the lucid light, the animals of the farm wake up as well, coming to curiously sniff you before they go about their day, which starts to get warmer. 

This is the kind of morning that, although you may be tired, will awaken your spiritual side even if you are not the slightest religious. A moment to remember!

6. Mogote Rock Climbing In Vinales Valley!

Vinales valley floor in bright sunlight, all green and beautiful, with several mogotes in the distance.
Vinales Valley

Although a sleepy rural town, Vinales offers many adventures, some of which are unique, like rock climbing on the inside of a mogote. There are no sky-high peaks to conquer, but the landscape is full of these small and larger rocks and hills

Because of this, rock climbing in Viñales, Cuba, is attractive to climbers from all over the world.  

One of the places mentioned as a great rock climbing experience in Viñales is the Mogote del Valle, which is also where you find the cave with the pool inside.

This mogote is very close to Viñales town, and with steep “mountain” sides that contain many exposed limestones and undercut caves, it is a popular climbing destination.

The Mogote del Valle has many different routes for connoisseurs, ranging from 4-5 up to 8b+. 

There is even a cave in the Mogote del Valle where you can climb the rock from the inside in a cave! Many visiting rock climbers find this place very interesting. 

7. Amazing Hiking Or Biking In Vinales Valley In Cuba

Tobacco hanging to dry in a barn in Vinales Valley in Cuba. The tobacco leaves looks like hanging bats from the ceiling!

If you are not into climbing on a horse to explore, you can choose to go hiking in Viñales instead or even join a bike tour visiting cigar farms or just exploring the countryside.

You can walk wherever you can ride, and there are several hikes to interesting destinations. The valley’s terrain is mostly very easy hiking terrain; the only thing you need to prepare for is the heat. 

You are not required to use a tour guide for hiking in Viñales, but if you go on your own, you should probably know how to use a map, a compass, or a GPS. 

Bring water, comfortable hiking shoes and clothes, and lunch if it is not included in the organized tour. 

8. Vinales Zipline Tour

Go ziplining in Vinales Valley in Cuba, and fly through the greenery while having a wonderful overview of the lush green valley.

You can even go on a zipline adventure tour in Vinales, in the zipline park in El Fortin. This adventure park has up to four zip lines in its circuit, and one of them is 400 meters (1300 ft) long!

Enjoy your aerial view of Vinales’s stunning landscape while flying through the treetops, lush vegetation, and breathtaking natural beauty of the El Fortín area.

9. Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

Along the main street in the center of Viñales, close to the Parque de Vinales, there is a bus stop where you can get on the hop-on-hop-off bus to take a tour of the area! 

The whole round trip takes around 90 minutes ($5) and makes around 18 stops. However, it is a return tour, so the actual number of places to visit is more like nine.

The bus departs the town every 90 minutes, so you can hop off at any stop to explore and then catch the next one when it passes by. 

The entrance to Cueva del Indio in Vinales, the stairs going into a wilderness of green bushes and plants before you enter the cave
the secluded entrance to Cueva del Indio

If you are short on time and want a quick look at everything, this could be a good spent few hours. 

In any case, it will give you an impression of the valley and maybe inspiration for what activities or areas you want to prioritize more time during your stay. 

Hop-on hop-off bus stops: 

Viñales Plaza
Hotel Ermita
Las Cubanitas
Casa del Veguero
Centro de Visitantes
Hotel Jazmines
Centro de Visitantes
Casa del Veguero
Poblando de Viñales
Mural de la Prehistoria
Parque Viñales
Estanco del Tabaco (tobacco store) 
Palenque de los Cimarrones
Cueva del Indio
Hotel Rancho San Vincente
Cueva del Indio
Palenque de los Cimerrones
Estanco del Tabaco
Viñales Plaza

What are you going to do in Viñales?

10. Experience The Vinales Valley Cuba Cuisine

If you take a day trip to Vinales Valley in Cuba, or a multi-day trip, you will get to taste a traditional Cuban lunch table like this. It normally consists of rice, vegetables, chicken, salad, and fresh juices.

With a large supply of short-traveled food, Viñales is famous for its cuisine and high-quality fruit, vegetables, meat, and fish.

Despite being an inland destination, it is not many hours from the sea, and as far as meat, poultry, and veggies are concerned, it certainly has the best access in Cuba. 

In Viñales town, which is not a lot more than the main street and a few side streets, there is an impressive number of restaurants to choose from. 

Among the restaurants with the best overall reviews is Sunset Viñales, which has outdoor seating and impressive reviews for both food and service.

Other good options are Finca Agroecologica El ParaisoPaladar La Cuenca, and Tareco’s Bar. 

Viñales is not a very big town, however, so if you are feeling adventurous, you can also just take a walk along the main street and see what ambiance appeals to you. 

Also read: 43 Legendary Things To Do In Havana!

11. Exploring Caves In Viñales

Cueva del Indio, and underground cave in Vinales Valley, Cuba, where you can be impressed by these incredible stalakites, and take a ride on the underground river.

Around Viñales, there are several impressive caves that you can visit if you like to explore the ancient and dark interior of the planet.

Among the Viñales caves is The Great Santo Tomas cave in Cuba, the largest cave system on the island and the second-largest on the American continent.

In Spanish, it is called the Gran Caverna de Santo Tomas, and it is situated around 20 kilometers away from Vinales town and is over 46 kilometers long in total!

The famous Santo Tomas cave in Vinales, with sandy floors and rock formations on the walls and rugged ceilings, with light sifting in from the outside
Santo Tomas cave

Inside, there are indigenous Indian murals, and the cave was one of the most important refuges where runaway enslaved Africans used to go in hiding during the colonial era. 

You need a certified guide to access the Santo Tomas cave, and with a guide, you can explore around one kilometer of the cave structure on a tour that takes around 90 minutes. 

You can also do an organized tour to Cueva del Silencio, a tour that gets 10 out of 10 points on reviews!

Other nearby caves in Viñales are The Indian Cave (Cueva del Indio), and the Cave of Jose Miguel (Cueva de José Miguel).

12. Vibrant Saturday Night Street Fiesta In Viñales Town

Street party in Vinales at night, with lots of people, music, dancing and food
Street party in Vinales

On Saturday nights, the main street of Viñales closes off for car traffic on both ends and turns into a huge outdoor street party area! 

Thousands of people, including tourists and locals alike, must have attended. Along the street, vendors sell snacks and drinks, live music plays, and a large part of the street has turned into a dance floor. 

When we were visiting, I was invited to dance by a Cuban man who must have been in his 70s, but that did not stop him from rocking the dance floor!

The street fiesta in Viñales is a super fun happening, and if you are going for a weekend, you really have something to look forward to. 

13. Visit The Cayo Jutias Beach

The beautiful Cayo Jutias beach with white warm sands and crystal clear waters against the clear blue sky. Walk along this pristine beach to find peace of mind.

Even though Vinales is in the countryside, it is still not very far from the beach! 

After days of hiking, caving, or riding, you might enjoy a leisurely day on the Caribbean shores. The Cayo Jutias peninsula offers fine sand a little northwest of Vinales town, a drive of about one and a half to two hours. 

A bit of a drive, but the transport time here might be worth it, though, when you can stretch out on the sand of Cayo Jutia beach and bury your toes in the crystal waters! 

The beach is normally not very crowded. There is a beach restaurant and bar, and you can book a boat trip to go snorkeling on some of the close-to-shore coral reefs off the coast. 

A little closer to Viñales is a tiny village called Puerto Esperanza, Harbour of Hope, around 25 kilometers straight north. This is a coastal village with an extremely relaxed vibe.

Although it is super small and does not actually have a beach, you can take a dip in the ocean straight from the village harbor without anyone lifting an eyelid!

Puerto Esperanza is not all that touristy, but if you would like to spend a calm and quiet night, you will find casa particulares, bars, and restaurants here as well. 

14. Maria la Gorda Beach Day Trip

If you are staying in Vinales for a few days, you might want to skip the countryside one day in exchange for the beach.

You can do a day trip to the amazing Maria La Gorda beach, an amazing oasis around three hours away from Vinales town.

On this tour, you will be picked up at your casa, you can relax on the transfer, and once you get there, you can enjoy five hours of lounging or activities in the Bay of Corrientes.

Coral beds and reefs full of life are found under its waters. The area belongs to the Guanahacabibes Biosphere Reserve, which is also a scuba diving paradise.

From this tour, you will return to your casa in Vinales by 5 pm at the latest.  

15. Classic Car Tour In Vinales

blue classic american car driving in the sunlight
Classic car tour

This Classic American Car tour takes around 3,5 hours, and you can agree with the driver when to start.

You can also influence the sights of the day. The recommended route passes the Mural of Prehistory, the Cueva del Indio, the Palenque de Los Cimarrones, and the Botanical Garden.

You’ll also get great views from Cuajaní and Los Jazmines over Viñales Valley, and if you have not already, you can visit a tobacco plantation.

A Quick Intro To Stunning Vinales Valley!

Small wooden countryside houses in Vinales with charming porches painted in pastel blue
Small countryside houses in Vinales

Vinales is a town and municipality in the Pinar del Rio province of Cuba. The population is just around 27,000, and Vinales town has a small-town vibe. 

The town is super charming, with mostly one-story wooden houses and cute little porches in front. It is very different from the busy and eclectic Havana and so worth a visit if you have the time.

Viñales town in Cuba consists mostly of one-story wooden houses with porches, all in different pastel colors. It is like entering a Wild West American city in miniature, only more colorful.

Typical street in Vinales, with cars, horse and carriage, bikers, a myriad of electrical cords, and houses under the blue sky
Vinales street

The main street is wide and quiet, with no high-rises around. Horses and carriages frequently pass on the streets just like that, almost as normal as the large American cars.

A lot of the farming here is done in an old-fashioned way. The farmers often use farm animals as labor instead of machinery, and the pace of the valley life is tranquil, slow, and relaxed. 

In Vinales Valley, farm animals run around freely with shiny fur or feathers; the colors are incredibly green and lush.

FAQ’s About Vinales Valley In Cuba!

While researching what people wonder about Vinales, Cuba, as a destination, I found that travelers have a variety of questions while planning and making an itinerary.

Here are the answers to most of the frequently asked questions about Vinales

What Is Special About Vinales?

Farm life image from Vinales, with a sparkling rooster, a pig roaming, a red wheel barrow, and lots of green plants
Farm life in Vinales

What is special about Vinales is its particular scenery.

Viñales was appointed to the UNESCO World Heritage list mainly because of the particular green sugar-top’ ish rock formations called mogotes scattered around the valley.

The fertile, flat valley floor with the green sugar-top’ish mogotes that lie scattered around the fields are quite unique. 

The town square is in the center of the city, and of course, it is also a Wi-Fi park. You can take a break here on a bench, in the shade under the trees, to connect, or just relax. 

Along the main street, you will find shops, restaurants, and bars, many of which open in the mornings and stay open till late at night. 

Tourism is a growing industry in Viñales because of several things.

The farmers here are allowed to host private tourist groups, show them the ropes on how to make rum and roll cigars, and sell a portion of their products directly to tourists for private income.

Where To Stay In Vinales Valley In Cuba?

The pink building and outdoors structures, blue water in the hotel pool surrounded by green grass, trees and bushes with the hilly forests in the backgrund
Los Jazmines Hotel

There are plenty of places to stay in Vinales, so finding a place to sleep will not be a problem.

When you arrive, a lot of buses or taxis stop at a viewpoint outside and above the city, close to Hotel Los Jazmines.

This is probably the only large hotel or resort I have seen in the valley. So if you prefer the resort life, here there is a restaurant, bar, pool, and not least a stunning view over the valley. 

There are plenty of casa particulares available in Viñales, so finding a place to stay will not be a challenge!

What Is A Casa Particular?

A casa particular is a privately owned home rented out by a Cuban family, where you can live like a Cuban, closer to the real Cuba!

You can easily book beforehand online. However, if you like to keep your options open or just are the adventurous kind, finding a place upon arrival will not be a problem. 

How To Get From Havana To Vinales?

Vinales Town center square and the white community building in the back, shaded by trees and flowers.

If you want to travel from Havana to Viñales, you have several options.

The distance between Havana and Viñales is around 180 kilometers, but the travel time varies a bit depending on how you choose to get there.

Booking Things Online From Within Cuba!

When you ARE IN CUBA, you need to know that you, too, will be subject to the online sanctions that anyone surfing via Cuban servers encounters.

That means you cannot access certain services and pages from within Cuba without a good VPN service. This is why I recommend travelers to Cuba download a VPN before their trip.

Having spent the majority of my time in Cuba the last couple of years working online, I recommend using Express VPN, which gets me close to 100% of all the services I need to access from Cuba.

How To Find a Bus Or Taxi From Havana To Vinales?

The viazul bus goes between a variety of destinations in Cuba, including between Havana and Vinales

The budget option would be taking the Viazul bus ($12). Although the cheapest option, this is also the slowest option, with around three and a half hours, as they have scheduled stops.

If you don’t mind the time, the bus is a great budget option and also a nice way to see the countryside on the way. 

You can book the Viazul bus easily and securely online.

If you are a small group, it is also very easy, and faster, to book a taxi collectivo. It is a bit pricier than the bus, but as all passengers split the bill, it is still a good option.

The taxi collectivo will pick you up at your hotel or casa, drive straight to your destination, and only stop when you need it to get underway.

You can book a seat in a taxi collectivo even if you are traveling solo.

Then, you will share it with other travelers, and the driver will pick you all up and drop you all off at your respective hotels or casas in random order (so it takes a bit longer).  

The “luxury” option is also the most expensive, a taxi privado. A car only for you that will pick you up at home, drive directly, and drop you off outside the door of your destination.

It is super convenient if you don’t mind paying for the speed and the actual convenience. 

Someone Will Help You With Your Booking!

Your hosts or hotel will gladly assist you in making a booking on either option and help you with tickets and departures.

Also, all Cubans always have contacts and will know someone they trust who is driving either category of the taxi. 

If you are staying at a casa particular, ask the host if they have a trustworthy driver to recommend, and they will probably have a dozen on their phone list already. 

All you have to do now is enjoy your adventure!

What To See In Vinales Cuba?

There are plenty of things to see in Vinales, as well as things to do.

One of the most spectacular sights, in my opinion, is to explore the Cueva del Indio, the Indian Cave!

Apart from that, you can explore mogotes up close, see the Mural de la Prehistoria, watch the sunset or sunrise over the beautiful lush green valley, and last but not least – see how the famous Cuban cigars are made!

How Many Nights In Vinales?

You can opt for a day trip to Vinales, and with a tight schedule, you will be able to get the most important highlights like Cueva del Indio, the Mural de la Prehistoria, and the cigar farms.

If you really like to explore your destinations and prefer traveling slowly, you can easily find super fun and interesting things to do in Vinales for three or four days.

With a few extra days in Vinales, you can opt for rock climbing the mogotes, horseback riding, swimming in caves, or heading out on a sunrise or sunset tour to the hills, where you will be rewarded with spectacular views!

There is also a very short distance to the northern shores of Pinar del Rio province and the main island of Cuba, where you can explore the beaches or take a trip to Cayo Jutia!

Must Do Activities In Cuba?

For Cuba in general, my best advice for must-do activities is to spend a few days in Havana, go to Vinales, Trinidad, and Cienfuegos, and if you are a bit of a history nerd like me – visit Santa Clara city and the Bay of Pigs as well!

Distance From Havana To Vinales?

The distance from Havan to Vinales is 112 miles or 180 kilometers. The journey in a car normally will take around two hours and 45 minutes.

Weather In Vinales Cuba?

The weather in Vinales is similar to the rest of Cuba, with a wet season running from May through October or November and a dry season from November through May.

Temperatures in the winter months will be around 25-28 degrees Celsius and for the summer, 35-40. The period with the highest risk of hurricanes hitting is in August and September!

Check Flights To Cuba Here!

Wrap-Up Best Things To Do In Vinales Cuba!

Such a small place with such a big heart!

If you are short on time, you can experience the best of Vinales Valley in Cuba on a one-day trip from Havana, but you will also find fun things to do in Vinales for several days if you can stay for a while.

Vinales Valley in Cuba has great restaurants, a beautiful landscape, fun adventures, hiking, climbing, even beaches close by, and lots of history to teach you.

Related blog posts:

Three Ways To Travel From Havana To Vinales (And One To Avoid)

Is Female Solo Travel In Cuba Safe? A Local Woman’s Advice

Cuba Trips From US: How To Travel To Cuba From US

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Best things to do in Vinales Valley Cuba, photo from a freshwater source with beautiful caves and deep green water you can reach only on horseback
Best things to do in Vinales Cuba photo collage

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