Here are my top ten plus to dos and not to dos, in random order:
- Make sure you check in to the right casa. Touts are very tricky and smart here. Do not let them tell you, that the casa you have booked is full.
- First of all, say farewell to the prices you might have encountered elsewhere in Cuba, especially if you got used to paying food and snacks in moneda nacional. Viñales is very touristy and you can not find places that offer street food for moneda nacional.
- Walking and hiking tours: Do it yourself on foot or rent a bycicle. Some casa owners are so eager, they will try selling you walking tours, before you have put your luggage down. Many attractions can easily be found – and if not, just ask someone on the way. People are very friendly and helpful.
- Hike to Aquaticos and enjoy the incredibly beautiful view into the valley and have a freshly brewed coffee with Antonio and his wife. On the way you might meet an old man named Juan. Say hi to him for me and drink a cold coconut at his tiny stand. He will be sitting beneath a tree, before the walk leads to Las Hermanas.
- Enjoy a cold beer or a mojito at Hotel Ermita, while watching the sunset or do so on the rooftop of one of the casas. Also beautiful to view the sunrise with the last beer of the night.
- Do not go to Playa Jutia. This beach is overcrowed. If you intend to go, do so with a taxi driver, that offers the trip on the mainroad. A roundtrip per person should not be more than 15CUC. When you arrive at the beach, keep walking to the right, there are a few more remote and less crowded little bays.
Alternatively: go to Playa Maria la Gorda fahren and spend a night there. This beach is further away from Viñales but it is more remote and tranquilo.
7. Dance Salsa in Centro Cultural with Live-Music. There is a live music band almost every night and it is a nice mix of locals and tourists.
8. For advanced Salseras and Salseros: do not book a dance teacher via Infotur, next to the little bookstore. The teachers might be okay for beginners but not for advanced salseros.
9. Drink rum on Plaza Central and enjoy some „people watching“. The place gets lively in the evening and has a nice vibe.
10. Book your casa at least three, four or five days in advance – especially in high season. You might almost always find something when you get there but around x-mas and new years it is very difficult. My favorite area in Viñales is the street Adela Azcuy, north of street Salvador Cisneros. Adela-Street leads directly into the gorgeous valley, it feels very remote and the center is in only 5 to 10 minute walking distance away. It is worth staying there. I suggest it because of the sweet owners, who do not pressure you into booking anything.
Adela Azcuy 55 A.
Fon: +53 53 36 45 92
11. Go horsebackriding in the valley – and book directly by one of the cowboys you will see in the valley.
12. Take a dip in the refreshing pool of Hotel Ermita and enjoy the view. It is better to get there around noon, later on it gets busier.
13. Special-Tipp (for the girls): zip you morning coffee and watch the cowboys riding to work.
14. Last but definetely not least…SURVIVAL-TIPP: If you find bottled water – buy it and stock up. Or bring a water filter. Every day there a many tourists walking from shops to bars to restaurants on the hunt for a big bottle of water, or at least a small one. I have never been to any place, where it has been so difficult to find something as existential as a bottle of water. Many casas do have water but you end up paying twice as much as anywhere else in Cuba.