The small Cuban city of Trinidad is a firm favourite with travellers, and most visitors to the island make a point of visiting its colonial streets. Here are the top attractions that you should make an effort to see while you are there.
The main square is a safe bet as a starting point in any city, and Trinidad is no different. It’s a picturesque spot, and one that is surrounded by many other attractions. Before you start exploring, grab a drink at one of the cafés or bars and just soak up the atmosphere.
This museum is housed in the neoclassical Palacio Cantero, and locals will be able to help you find it if you use either name. The palace was built in the early 1800s and now houses exhibits on the history of the city and the wider region. After you’ve had a good look around, climb up the tower and enjoy the view over the city.
The biggest church in Cuba sits at one end of the Plaza Mayor, and hides plenty of treasures beneath a simple exterior. People come from far and wide to worship the statue of the Christ of the True Cross, which was left behind by a Spanish captain who was blown to shore near Trinidad en route to Mexico in the 18th century.
This colonial mansion was owned by the wealthy sugar baron Conde de Brunet from 1830 to 1860, and houses many of the family’s possessions in the Museo Romantico. There are also items from other wealthy families of the time, including glass, porcelain, furniture and artwork.
Colonial architecture is everywhere in the city, and this museum gives visitors the chance to learn more about the style. You can see items of distinctive features such as doors, locks, handles, windows and grills, or check out a recreation of a 19th-century bathroom. There are also guided tours of the city that set off from the museum, focussed on the architecture that is a constant feature.
This museum is housed inside the famous Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco, with its yellow and green bell tower. Before the exhibits were moved in, the building was a convent, then a church and later a jail. These days, the Museo Nacional de Lucha Contra Bandidos (‘National Museum of the Struggle against Bandits’) tells the story of counterrevolutionary forces known as bandits that operated around 1959. Climb the bell tower for a great view over the city.
This colonial mansion was built in 1809 for slave trader and former mayor of the city Ortiz de Zuniga. It is now home to the Galeria de Arte, which comprises an art school and a gallery that offers works for sale. It’s worth a visit to see the architecture, even if you’re not shopping for art.
Music is a huge deal in Cuba, and every city has a Casa de la Musica. The difference in Trinidad is that the venue is spread over the stairs that lead up from Plaza Mayor, and people hang around drinking, dancing and enjoying the views over the city. There is live music every night from 7pm.
Head 12 kilometres (seven miles) outside the city to this great stretch of sand, known as one of the prettiest on the south of Cuba. It’s a good day trip from the city, or you can choose to stay at one of the varied hotels. If you’re up for some exercise, you can hire a bike in Trinidad and make your own way to the beach.
Sugar made a handful of Cuban families incredibly rich, but their fortunes were amassed at the expense of thousands of slaves who were made to work in the fields. Just outside the city, you can visit the vast sugarcane plantations, see the disused sugar mills and slave dormitories and even climb the Manaca Iznaga tower, which was used for spotting runaway slaves.
If you want to get an idea of how Trinidad fits with the area around, make the 30-minute hike to the radio tower outside town. From here, you can look down over the city to the coast and see the Valle de los Ingenios. It’s best to set off early in the morning, before it gets too hot!
Around 25 minutes by car from the centre of town lies this impressive national park in the Sierra Escambray mountain range. It’s home to hiking trails, horse riding tracks, waterfalls and caves. Hire a guide and explore the park for a great day away from the crowds of the city.
This private restaurant sits on a terrace looking over the rooftops of Trinidad, and guests are given free cocktails at sunset. The Cuban fare is great, and there is a wide selection of wine available. Ask your waiter for advice on the cigar menu if you want to top off your meal in typical Cuban style.
If you want familiar comfort food, this is the place to go in Trinidad. Its varied international menu encompasses pasta, burgers and other favourites, and there is a communal central table that is great for solo travellers who want to meet people.
Many visitors to Trinidad will likely have heard whispers of a nightclub in a cave, and it turns out that it does exist. Disco Ayala, found on a hill outside town, charges a flat entrance fee that entitles you to all-you-can-drink mojitos once you’re inside.