Viñales

North of Pinar del Río, the road leads across pine-covered hills and valleys for 25 km to Viñales, a delightful, small town in a dramatic valley in the Sierra de los Organos. Viñales itself is a pleasant town, with single-storey houses with red-tiled roofs and wooden colonnades along the main street. The once-impressive avenue of pine trees along the main street was sadly destroyed by the hurricanes in 2008. Visitors come here to relax, hike in the hills and maybe visit a beach on the north coast. The valley has a distinctive landscape, with steep-sided limestone mogotes rising dramatically from fertile flat-floored valleys, where farmers cultivate the red soil for tobacco, fruits and vegetables. As in so much of rural Cuba, horses, pigs, oxen, zebu cattle and chickens are everywhere, including on the main road.

Ins and outs

Getting there

There is no
airport
, but the one at Pinar del Río is not far away. The nearest train station is at Pinar del Río.
Víazul
has a daily
bus
service from Havana via Pinar del Río and there are local buses between villages.

Getting around

The town is little more than a village and it is easy to
walk
around. A tour bus goes round the hotels and town which you can hop on and off. Many visitors hire a
car
or
scooter
to get around the nearby attractions, although there are also
horses
for hire.

Best time to visit

The mountains attract a fair amount of rain and you can expect wet afternoons, particularly from September to November. Carnival is in March.

Tourist information

There is a visitor centre,
La Casa del Visitante
, on the main road heading out to Pinar del Río, near Hotel Los Jazmines.

Sights

The main street is Salvador Cisneros and a walk along it will reveal nearly all the attractions Viñales has to offer. Streets running parallel or across it are residential and contain many
casas particulares
.
Víazul
drops you off half way along the street, opposite the main square with a little-used church. There is also a little municipal museum on Salvador Cisneros and a
Casa de la Cultura
on the square with an art gallery. An informative curator here speaks English. There are several bars and restaurants along Salvador Cisneros, but hardly of the quality to warrant the thousands of visitors who come here every year.

On the edge of Viñales is
Caridad's Garden
. The garden was first planted in the 1930s and contains a beautiful collection of flowers from Cuba and around the world and fruit trees. A guide will show you around, pointing out all the different species and you will be invited to try all the different fruits. They are generous with their produce but appreciate contributions to the upkeep of the garden.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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