What to see in Cienfuegos, halfway between Playa Larga and Trinidad

What to see in Cienfuegos, halfway between Playa Larga and Trinidad

Our time in Cienfuegos was fairly brief, as we had opted to spend just one day there and stay longer in Trinidad or Playa Larga.


Located 228 km southeast of Havana and about 1h15 drive from Playa Larga, the town of Cienfuegos is inscrite in Unesco World Heritage. It’s not one of the highlights of this trip, but it’s considered the one of Cuba’s most beautiful colonial cities. Personally, I found the city lacking in life and bustle, preferring Havana or Trinidad, which have an authentic charm all their own. If you’re passing through, you’ll get a great overview of the city in just one day. With a bit of hindsight and depending on what you want to do, we recommend a maximum of 2 days to discover the major attractions of Cienfuegos and the surrounding area.

What makes this city such a popular stopover for travelers? because Cienfuegos, nicknamed the “Pearl of the South”, is located in the Bay of Jagua and boasts a historic city center. Cienfuegos was founded in 1819 by immigrants from France and Louisiana. When you arrive here, you can still feel the French roots with its 19th-century colonial architecture, quite inspired by French architecture.


Did you know? When Christopher Columbus discovered the Gulf in 1494, it was inhabited by the Jagua Indians. The town’s original name was Colonia Fernandina de Jagua. The town was then named Cienfuegos, the name of Cuba’s governor general at the time, José Cienfuegos, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of its foundation.


Cuba | Cienfuegos | what to see | what to do





  • El Bulevar with its street lined with shops and colorful facades that descends to the Parc José Marti, a pretty colonial square in the heart of Cienfuegos that invites you to relax with its many benches, kiosks and gentle atmosphere. The square is surrounded by the Tomás Terry Theatre, a beautiful colonial building, but also the Musée Provincial and The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.


  • The Paseo del Prado lined with pretty, colourful houses, and further south, the Malecon and the waterfront for a stroll around the bay, or to meet Cubans who have come to relax here for a beer. The Malecon leads to Punta Gorda, which we couldn’t get to for lack of time, but which would be nice for a swim and a rest.


  • Away from the center, the Palacio Azul recognizable by its blue color and transformed today into a hotel and the Palacio del Valle which is now a restaurant.


  • If you like exotic plants, the botanical garden located 17km from the town of Cienfuegos has a very good reputation, boasting over 2000 varieties of plants ranging from palms and fig trees to cacti and bamboo. Excursions from the city are available if you don’t have your own transport, or ask for a cab.


  • Rancho Luna located 18km from Cienfuegos, is a small seaside resort with a lovely beach. It’s not the most beautiful of course (I prefer the one from Cayos Levisa) but it may be worth it if you want to dive and discover coral reefs.


  • El Nicho: we would have liked to stop at el Nicho, a 1-hour drive from Cienfuegos, before heading for Trinidad. This natural park in the Escambray massif boasts a series of magnificent waterfalls and natural pools, but it takes time to discover this magnificent place. We realized it was too late and didn’t have time to spend on this natural site, which is very popular with the locals. Admission costs 10 CUC/p to stay for the day. From Trinidad, El Nicho is really too far and not worth the effort.


Cuba | Cienfuegos | what to see | what to do

Cuba | Cienfuegos | what to see | what to do

Cuba | Cienfuegos | what to see | what to do


  • Avoiding scams in Cienfuegos


  • As everywhere in Cuba, there are a few scams to avoid. Many touts want to take you to their brother’s or cousin’s restaurant. They take a commission for taking you there, and they’re not necessarily the best restaurants in town!
  • When you receive change, check that it’s in CUC and not CUP. Coins and banknotes look alike, but on CUC banknotes there are no portraits, only monuments.
  • This scam is often found elsewhere, such as in Trinidad, but many cabs will tell you that your casa no longer exists or that the reservation has been cancelled… obviously they want to take you to someone they know in order to earn a small commission.


As in most of Cuba, you’ll find all kinds of casas, ranging from 5 CUC a night to around 50 CUC a night. The price difference comes down to service, quality of welcome, breakfast, location, cleanliness of rooms… During my trip to Cuba, I selected some very pretty casas that I’ll keep carefully for my customers who book a trip to Cuba with our agency.

Below are some addresses of casas particulares and hotels in Cienfuegos:

  • Restaurant Villa Lagarto
  • Casa Prado : first-floor terrace (Paseo El Prado)
  • Big Bang Cafeteria
  • Restaurant 2212 (calle 39)
  • We tested the café Paulina around the paseo del Prado, the food is simple but good.
  • Las Mamparas : good food and not too expensive
  • The restaurant Camila’s by the sea (Calle 35 Nro. 4 | between Ave. 0 & Litoral)


  • La Punta Gorda Viewpoint : to admire the sunset over the bay. After 5pm admission is free, so take the opportunity to relax.
  • El Palatino
  • Paladar Ache
  • Jardines de la Uneac


Cuba | Cienfuegos | what to see | what to do


Practical information about Cienfuegos


  • Havana -> Cienfuegos: Cienfuegos takes around 3 hours by car and between 4 and 4.5 hours by bus. Buses and shared cabs make the trip daily for 20CUC/p
  • Viñales -> Cienfuegos : about 6 hours’ drive and 15 CUC/p the bus journey. Remember to book your tickets in advance, either on site or directly on the Viazul website
  • Cienfuegos -> El Nicho : 1h drive
  • Cienfuegos -> Trinidad: 1h drive
  • Cienfuegos has a very small airport located between 5 and 10 minutes from the city. Ask your airline for more information Cubana de Aviacion.


Sachez que Cuba, n’est pas une destination bon marché et qu’il vous faudra un petit budget pour visiter l’île. Si vous souhaitez un devis pour la destination, merci de m’envoyer votre demande à contact@mademoiselle-voyage.fr. Pour tous ceux qui veulent y aller en août, il faut vous y prendre à l’avance, on commence souvent les réservations pour nos clients à partir de janvier car cela nous permet d’avoir du choix en terme de casas et de trouver rapidement une voiture. Nous vous invitons à lire également tous nos autres articles sur Cuba:



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Cuba | Cienfuegos | que voir | quoi faire





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