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Trinidad, Cuba

Cuba's most beautiful colonial town

Trinidad, Cuba

The beautifully colonial architecture of the town of Trinidad in southern Cuba might be the main feature that compels hundreds of travellers to visit a year. But this colonial gem truly has it all. Flanked by the majestic Escambray mountains to the north, and kissed by the Caribbean sea to the south, Trinidad offers visitors every bit Cuba has to offer: a vibrant cultural scene, beautifully preserved colonial architecture, dramatic landscapes dotted with waterfalls, gentle rolling hills and exuberant mountains, powdery soft sand-beaches, and eye-opening history.

Trinidad, Cuba. Holidays and destination guide for visitors to Trinidad.
Playa Mayor (Main Square) in Trinidad, Cuba

Trinidad is known for its well-preserved colonial architecture. Sometimes referred to as Cuba’s living museum, the city’s cobbled streets, plazas, and majestic buildings constitute one of the best examples of colonial cities in the Caribbean.

“Shaped by the region’s 18th- and 19th-century sugar industry, the exemplary city of Trinidad owes to sugar its continued existence and its historical raison d’être, which is clearly legible in the existing built environment of the city and the nearby Valley de los Ingenios. The Valley de los Ingenios is a remarkable testimony to the development of the sugar industry and a living museum featuring 75 former sugar mills, plantation houses, barracks and other facilities related to this vulnerable industry.”

Source: UNESCO World Heritage List, Trinidad, Cuba

Trinidad at a glance

Trinidad, Cuba. Holidays and destination guide for visitors to Trinidad.
Trinidad boasts perhaps the best preserved colonial architecture in the Caribbean

Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the narrow cobbled streets and the Plaza Mayor (main square). Visit the Museum of Colonial Architecture and learn about the history of the city from local guides and traders.

Ride a steam train toward Valle de los Ingenios. Witness life as it was in the 1800s when the local economy was supported by the sugar and coffee industries. Visit a colonial Hacienda and learn how sugar was using manual tools such as the “trapiche” (a type of rustic sugar cane mill).

Visit nearby Ancon beach and enjoy the sunset sipping an authentic Cuban mojito.

Visit Canchanchara, a bar near the city centre, and learn about Trinidad’s signature cocktail of the same name. According to locals, a canchanchara (a mix of rum, wild honey, and lime) was invented by the mambises (Cuban freedom fighters against the Spanish Crown) to fend off the cold and exhaustion during the wars for Cuba’s independence from Spanish colonial control over the island.

Go on a leisurely trek towards the Escambray Mountains to discover endemic species and gentle waterfalls.

Visit El Cubano Natural Park, a truly magical place. A gentle waterfall over a cave and beautiful natural pools of fresh water invite visitors and locals alike to jump into the water and enjoy nature at its best.

In the evening, enjoy Cuban music and dancing at Casa de la Musica in the city centre.

For a more authentic experience, stay in a Casa Particular and take the time to talk to your hosts for some amazing, eye-opening stories.

About three hours by car from either Havana or Varadero, Trinidad is easily accessible by road. The nearest airport is the city of Cienfuegos, less than an hour away by car or coach.

As Trinidad grows in popularity, tourism infrastructure has improved over recent years. Spanish hotel chain Iberostar has a five-star property in the main square, the Iberostar Trinidad, but private B&Bs known as Casas Particulares remain the most popular type of accommodation in the village. Restaurants, bars, clubs, hand-craft markets, and local guided tours have also increased in number over the past decade.

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Trinidad is known for its well-preserved colonial architecture. Sometimes referred to as Cuba’s living museum, the city’s cobbled streets, plazas, and majestic buildings constitute one of the best examples of colonial cities in the Caribbean.

The city has learned to welcome foreign visitors making it one of the best and safest tourist destinations in Cuba outside Havana and Varadero. Despite its growing popularity, Trinidad has managed to preserve its authenticity and slow pace of life. Most of the city relies on agriculture and tobacco manufacture to keep its economy afloat.

Popular hotels and Casas in Trinidad

Hotel Iberostar Trinidad, Trinidad, Cuba

Iberostar Trinidad

Located at the heart of Trinidad, this five-star, adults-only boutique hotel is the best hotel in Trinidad.

Casa Particular Osmary Alberto. Trinidad, Cuba

Osmary Alberto

Friendly hosts, perfect location, and many years of experience working in tourism makes this casa particular an all-time favourite

La Casona, Trinidad, Cuba

La Casona

Styled as a colonial hacienda, La Casona in the outskirts of Trinidad exudes character and history. Our favourite casa in Trinidad.

Hotel Memories Trinidad del Mar. Trinidad, Cuba

Memories Trinidad

Right by the beach and a mere half-hour away from the town centre, Memories Trinidad del mar in Ancon Beach is the perfect choice for beach lovers.

Hotel E La Calesa, Trinidad, Cuba

E La Calesa

A hugely popular hotel boasting charming colonial decor and a premium location in Trinidad

Casa Particular Vivian y Pablo. Trinidad, Cuba

Vivian y Pablo

A beautiful, 8 bedrooms casa particular in the city centre. Friendly hosts and fantastic home-cooked meals are a definitive plus

Recommended Excursions in Trinidad

Hotel Iberostar Trinidad, Trinidad, Cuba

Walking tour of Trinidad

Located at the heart of Trinidad, this five-star, adults-only boutique hotel is the best hotel in Trinidad.

La Casona, Trinidad, Cuba

Catamaran Cruise to Cayo Blanco

A beautiful, unspoiled little island off the coast of Trinidad where iguanas spend their days sunbathing in the white, powder-soft sands and time seams to stand still. Beautiful beaches, incredible snorkelling and diving spots.

Hotel E La Calesa, Trinidad, Cuba

Sugar Mills Valley

Once occupied by dozens of sugar mills and Spanish Haciendas, a visit to the Sugar Mills valley is a must. Climb up the Iznaga tower for breathtaking views over the valley, learn about the sugar-making process, and discover the local myths about gold treasures and murders surrounding the Iznaga family

A few history facts about Trinidad, Cuba.

From gold miners to smugglers and slave traders, to world’s largest sugar producer

Trinidad is one of the oldest towns in Cuba. It was the third Spanish villa founded by Spanish explorer Diego Velazques in 1514. Only Baracoa (1511) and Bayamo (1513) are older.

Since the very beginnings, Trinidad’s strategic location made it a valuable asset for the Spanish Crown. It was in Trinidad where Spanish conquistador gathered its forces before departing to conquer the lands of modern Mexico.

The lands and rivers around Trinidad were rich in gold at the time. The first Spanish settlers devoted themselves to mining the precious ore. But it was quickly exhausted. From that point onwards and for several centuries, trading with pirates and corsairs became the main economic activity for Trinidad’s families.

The Spanish Crown turned a blind eye to these activities for some time. But ultimately Trinidad’s dealings with pirates became an issue. Trinidad then turns to agriculture and livestock to continue thriving.  Francisco Iznaga, a basque settler and successful entrepreneur that at one point was appointed Mayor of Bayamo, was a prominent figure in turning Trinidad into a very successful sugar producer. By 1827, the Guaimaro Sugar Mill in Trinidad was the largest producer of sugar in the world.

A colonial Hacienda in Trinidad, Cuba. In the 18th century Sugar Mills valley in Trinidad was the world's largest exporter of sugar. Sugar mills had on average 100 slave workers, and Trinidad had 10 schooners exclusively devoted to slave trade.

A colonial Hacienda in Trinidad, Cuba.

In the 18th century Sugar Mills valley in Trinidad was the world's largest exporter of sugar. Sugar mills had on average 100 slave workers, and Trinidad had 10 schooners exclusively devoted to slave trade.

Trinidad. Once a pirate, always a pirate.

In spite of its good fortunes as tobacco and sugar producers, Trinidad’s love affair with Caribbean pirates continued well into the 18th century. During that century, Trinidad’s wealth came not from producing sugar, but again from trading with Dutch, French, and English pirates and privateers. Smuggling tobacco, particularly during the American War of Independence, became common practice.

Smuggling from Trinidad created frictions with the Spanish seat of government in Havana. At least four Mayors of Trinidad and several members of the Spanish aristocracy were prosecuted by the Crown during those years.

Trinidad’s wealth also attracted a bit of unwanted attention. The village was raided twice, in 1639 and again in 1642, by English fleets.

Colonial times galleon off the coast of Trinidad, Cuba

A Spanish Galleon sails along the Cuban coast.

Ships like the one in the picture (now a tourist attraction, of course) used to sail in their hundreds around Cuba. The Spanish navy records 249 shipwrecks in Cuban waters alone, some as a consequence of bad weather, but most due to confrontations with British, Dutch, and French armadas and pirates

Let’s be loyal to Spain for once. At least against the English 😉

When in August of 1762 the English navy successfully sieges and occupies Havana, Trinidad sent forces to help fend off the invasion. The Trinidad army was defeated in their attempt to regain control of the Cabana fortress in Havana, losing some 400 men in the fight. Trinidad also became a supply chain for the Spanish army in Havana until their capitulation.

In September the same year nine English warships blocked Casilda Bay in the shores of Trinidad with the intent of taking the city. However, local militias successfully fended off two attempts by the English forces to disembark troops and ultimately the English fleet moved on.

Trinidad, Cuba, is one of our favourite destinations in the Caribbean, perhaps in the world. Many of our suggested itineraries like 14 Day Best of Cuba and 9-Day Cuba Explorer feature Trinidad.

If you would like to know more about this fascinating colonial town, enquire about accommodation, prices, and available activities, do not hesitate to contact us anytime

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