How to get there from Havana (HAV)
Via Bus/Coach Viazul (3.5 hours journey) which is the national bus company for locals and tourists or traditional cuban car (2 hours journey) which you can get from any city around Cuba.
Where to stay
For an authentic experience of course chose a Casa Particular. I personally stayed at Hostal Leonel Millo: such a lovely and welcoming family. The father, Leonel, arranged every single tour for us optimising our time there (which unfortunately wasn’t long: only 3 days). But we managed to do a lot thanks to his efficiency: from the horse riding experience, visit to the tobacco farm, coffee fields, cave exploration, day-excursion to Cayo Jutias to a personalised tour by car to authentic places by a local.
Alternatively you can explore more options for B&B and/or suite at CasaVinales. Lovely family also offering personalised taxi services and guided tours around Viñales and Pilar del Rio region. Check them out/write to them on instagram too: @vinales_gallery
WHERE TO EAT
Villa El Mojito – just off one of the side street of Vinales main road (Salvador Cisneros).
Bar De Tapas – located in front of Vinales’s bank/ATM – special for its delicious food and friendly atmosphere.
For the most breathtaking view of the valley, head to Horizontes Los Jazmines: a luxury residence with a swimming pool overlooking the valley. However what you want here is not the residence in itself but the view from the public terrace. Here’s a video of what to expect once there. I still dream about this place.
A MUST-do tour is the horse riding one around the coffee and tobacco’s plantation in Vinales Valley. Ask to visit the hacienda Omar for a genuinely unique explanation and tasting of Cuban cigars. Buy them off here for a better deal and handmade product!
I was lucky to have had such an amazing local cow-boy guide (Miguel, now a friend of mine) who gave us an extended and detailed tour of the valley. You can contact him via phone once there: Miguel (+5355025874) – However, note he speaks little English. How’s your Spanish? 🙂
and Miguel (our private tour guide) was a bit of a poser too… But he will take you EVERYWHERE and tell you all the most bizarre stories!
A DAY AT THE BEACH
As part of the Viñales experience, spend the day in the most picturesque beach off the Caribbean sea. A mere 1.5h drive. I recommend to arrange the trip with a local driver who can pick you up early in the morning. They would drop you on the beach, show you where to get some food and will pick you up where they dropped you mid-afternoon. Make sure to head back at 4pm before sunset due to the rocky and uneven route to/from.