When I knew I was visited Cuba, to be honest I was all about Havana. The Americana cars, the Tropicana Club and everything in between. And, speaking truthfully, it was all I really knew about Cuba. I hadn’t done my research. I got on that plane, got on the beach and made it up as I went along.
But the most surprising aspect of my time in Cuba, was visiting Trinidad. It was everything Havana wasn’t (which was good, because it turned out, Havana was not my vibe at all). The quiet cobbled streets, the colour bursting from every building and the colonial feel grabbed me by the eyeballs, and actually by the time I left, it had held on to my heart too.
Don’t know much about exploring Trinidad in Cuba? You will soon – and you’ll definitely want to add it on to your Cuba bucket list.
Take a walk around the Plaza Mayor
The Plaza Mayor is the beautiful beating heart of colonial Trinidad, with it’s symmetrical square garden and benches for you to relax and watch the world go by. From here, you can visit many of the main sights and pretty buildings in the city, but you can also soak up the history of this less explored part of Cuba.
Sitting there, it was no surprise to me that Trinidad is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a rich culture spanning hundreds of years. Coming into being because of the 19th Century sugar and slave trade, Trinidad had an incredible sugar cane haul in 1827, using the riches to build the fabulous colonial buildings you can wander by at every corner. And the Plaza Mayor is right at the heart of it.
Visit la Iglesia Parroquial de la Santisima Trinidad
Probably the most famous building in Trinidad (or at least the most photographed), La Parroquial Mayor church sits firmly on the Plaza Mayor, all sunshine coloured and perfect. Some may think the building is unremarkable in looks, but its colour and its shape were beautiful to me and such an amazing example of the sort of look that has put Trinidad on the map.
The version you can explore today is actually the 3rd construction of the church, and if you can, it’s worth popping in to mass to look inside.
Arguably the most colourful city in The Caribbean, here's the best of Trinidad in CubaClick To Tweet
Explore the Museo de Historia Municipal
Housed in one of the grandest mansions in Trinidad, the exhibits might be a little dated but the views are perfect. Head up some rickety wooden stairs to get panoramic views across Cuba, including right out to the Escambray mountain range.
It’s worth the entrance fee alone for that, but it’s also an interesting example of how well the other half lived – this was a sugar baron’s residence passed down through generations, and inside it’s all neo-classical glamour. You can learn about Trinidad’s past and take a stroll around a beautiful closed courtyard.
You’ll be asked to pay a little extra to take photos (something we found to be common in Cuba), but it is worth it, especially for that view from the three storey tower!
Dive down side streets and enjoy the riot of colour
Trinidad really is a riot of colour, and my favourite way to spend time there was just to walk around the side streets and watch the world go by amongst the beautiful colours buildings. It was all pink and blue and green and yellow, with white iron gates set against the clearest sky I’ve ever seen. Coming from central London, I’d never clapped eyes on such colour, and everywhere I looked there was a different shade.
Trinidad moved much more slowly than Havana – with groups of men playing music on every corner, and the horse and cart being more prominent than cars tooting their horns. It meant that Trinidad was far more peaceful and easy going, and I felt close to the real Cuba here than anywhere else I visited.
Enjoy colonial architecture
Colonial architecture is common in Cuba, particularly in Cienfuegos and of course Trinidad. The Spanish colonial style, built off the back of the sugar trade is de rigour here, and it has been completely preserved from the 1800’s. Everywhere you look, there is another incredible building to look at, rich with history and beauty.
In fact, there is even a Museum of Colonial Architecture in Trinidad, which shows how important this part of its heritage is. Displaying interior and exterior decorating examples from the 19th century, you can really appreciate how this city was developed and built to become the beauty it is to visit today.
Trinidad was such a surprise. A gorgeous, colourful surprise which more than made up for my disappointments in Havana. It’s everything I never knew I needed from Cuba but I got in spades, and I’m so glad we made that unplanned, last minute decision to visit. With music seeping from every corner, wandering the cobbled streets was a perfect way to spend a day (and there are plenty of places to cool down with a beer if the midday heat gets a little much for you).
This is one place I’d love to visit twice. Or more times, as Trinidad has so much to offer a repeat visit. A hike up the Escambray Mountains, a stay at the much quieter Ancon beach and an evening spent in Cuba soaking up salsa (and maybe even trying it for myself) are all on my list.
For me, this is the top place to visit in Cuba – so make sure if you get the chance to go, you add the little gem to your list.
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