Viñales is a perfect example of the rural Cuban life in a nutshell. It is very different from the close Havana or from the farer Cienfuegos or Trinidad. A quite place, low key, laid back. There are almost no historical buildings in the town although there are plenty of nice cafes and restaurants to pass the time and relax yourself. The laid-back atmosphere is in front of your eyes. During the evening you can lay in one of the roadside cafes and appreciate samples of rums and see the old colored of 1950’s vehicles you prefer.
Another resource of this land are the Cuban cigars that are known all over the world. Here you can see where they are grown. Anyway, the place is nice also because of the magnificent landscape.
Despite being one of the most visited destinations outside of the Havana/Varadero hub there are almost no hotels in Viñales. In the town the accommodation are almost all “Casa particular”, where local families convert their free rooms to nice chambers. You can also ask for the dinner included, typical one and maybe you will have it with the locals that hosted you! Nice experience….
So what is there to do in the Viñales? The real gems of Viñales are outside the town.
VALLE DEL SILENCIO
Valle de Silencio, al Mogote la Esmerelda: a name that may you think that some fairy tale novelist came up with some of the places in Viñales. Although it is no fantasyland, it is a trip to the past. This land is covered by tabacco fields, and green vegetation. It is nice to walk or ride an horse.
For tobacco, Viñales is one of the best area of Cuba. The world famous Cuban cigars come almost exclusively from the Viñales area and yet life here is not much different to the way it was 100 or even 200 years ago.
The perfect time to Spend is 2 days. To really soak in the smell of tobacco, you can also stay 4 days.
You can also climb here and visit some natural caves inside the rocks.
HIKE TO LOS AQUATICOS
High up on the mountain slopes, a small community of Aquaticos was founded in 1943 when the local people used the power of water instead of regular medicines, because they didn’t have access to them. You can walk alone up to the mountain. “Although no signs mark the path, there are plenty of homesteads where you can ask the way. From the main road follow a dirt road for approximately 400m before branching left and heading cross-country. You should be able to pick out a blue house halfway up the mountain ahead of you. This is your goal. Once there, you can admire the view, procure grown-on-site coffee and chat to the amiable owners about the water cure.”
Viñales is embraced by tobacco fields. When I arrived, the tobacco had already been harvested, so the fields were a more brown compared with the lush green of the rest of the valley. You can visit the farm with horseback tour or guided walk from Viñales that will include a visit to one of the tobacco farms, where you can see tobacco leaves drying in barns, and watch an expert roll some cigars. You can also buy cigars there to take home, they will let you know what the regulations are regarding exporting the cigars.