If you are dreaming of beautiful valleys full of tobacco farms, corn fields, and beautiful views, look no further than Viñales. It is a small town about 2 hours west of Havana and it is definitely worth exploring for couple of days.
Where to stay
Being a small town, Viñales is an easy place to get around by foot. Pretty much every house is a casa particular, and you won't have any trouble finding a place to stay for around $20-$25 a night. Assuming you took a taxi collectivo, as soon as you're dropped off in the city center you'll be greeted and approached by a crowd of locals offering their casas. Feel free to walk around and ask questions and choose the casa that's right for you.
Our host in Havana actually gave us the address to the casa that we stayed in.
Where to eat
A super quaint Mediterranean restaurant with reasonable prices.
Eat at your casa!
Like we mentioned, eating at your casa in Cuba is almost always a great experience. Let your host know in advance that you're interested in breakfast or dinner, and they will take it from there!
The Churro Stand - on the corner of Adela Azcuy and Camilo Cienfuegos
We're talking $1, freshly fried churros. Stuff it with chocolate! :)
What to do
This valley is gorgeous and not to be missed. Let your casa know that you're interested in horseback riding (if you are), and they can hook up the adventure where you'll ride horses into the valley and explore the local tobacco farms along the way. Around $25 per person. As I mentioned before, Many people will try to sell you cigars on the streets in Havana. It is illegal and most of the time those are fake and are made with banana leaves or other ingredients that are not tobacco. This tour in Viñales will be your best chance to buy the highest quality cigars for the best price. You will get to meet the farmers and learn about the process first hand, and smoke hand rolled cigars (sometimes dipped in honey or whisky, which is an amazing tradition). Cost is about $3 per cigar and they will usually have a minimum purchase of about 20 cigars, but everything in Cuba is negotiable. They say it is legal to come back to the U.S. with up to $100 worth of cigars per person.