Cienfuegos

Cienfuegos is located in the southeast of Havana. Although the city still is twenty kilometers away from the coast you can enjoy the beach. The city lies on the Cienfuegos bay which eventually flows into the Caribbean Sea. Cienfuegos is one of the more popular destinations in Cuba, but to be honest I don't think you need more than a half a day to explore the town. Outside the main square there is not much to see. The Malecon and the many markets fill half a day, maybe a full day, but there are nicer places to spend your days in Cuba. From Cienfuegos you can easily take the bus or the taxi collectivo to travel to other places in Cuba.

The Jose Marti Plaza in Cienfuegos. The main square of this city.

The Jose Marti Plaza in Cienfuegos. The main square of this city.

  Average costs

Be sure to read the article on Cuba which explains terms such as “CUC”, “CUP” and “casa particular”.

Stay – In Cienfuegos you can stay in a state hotel or a casa particular.
A government owned hotel is most certainly not better. For three stars you pay between 30 and 40 CUC per night. Four stars start from 70 euros and five stars from 90 euros.
Please note that these stars are distributed by the Cuban government and are therefore not the same as the stars we are used to.

You can also stay in a casa particular. These are the Cuban bed and breakfast where you stay with a Cuban family.
You can find them in all price categories. The cheapest casa’s start at 8 CUC per person (if you are willing to share a room with someone else). Otherwise, a double room costs 15 CUC.
A more luxurious casa starts at 20 to 30 CUC. For breakfast you pay about 5 CUC extra.

Eat – Around the more touristy part of Cienfuegos, the food and drinks are a little more expensive. For a toasted sandwich with cheese, you pay 1.5 CUC. For a decent lunch or dinner expect to pay between 5 and 10 CUC. Soft drinks are 1 or 2 CUC.
If you walk a little outside the center, you can already find food from 3 CUC.

Transportation – There is public transport in Cienfuegos, but you don’t need to take this really. Everything in Cienfuegos is very easy to get to. If you still want to take the bus (for example to the beach) you pay 1 CUC per journey. The taxi will cost you 2 to 3 CUC per person (if you are traveling in a small group) or 5 CUC if you are traveling alone.

In Cienfuegos you can also take the taxi collectivo or Viazul bus to other locations. From Cienfuegos it’s very easy to travel to Trinidad. In just two hours, and only 6 CUC, you’ll be dropped off.

The Rancho Luna beach, close to cienfuegos.

The Rancho Luna beach, close to cienfuegos.

 

 Saving money

Eat outside the city center – The tourist part of Cienfuegos requires slightly more money when you eat out. The quality is therefore not better. Walk a little along the Malecon to find cheaper restaurants.

Share a taxi – If you can, try to share a taxi. With two or more persons, the price of the taxi will drop significantly.

A couple of beautiful buildings next to the Malecon.

A couple of beautiful buildings next to the Malecon in Cienfuegos.

  Do’s

Plaza Jose Marti – This is the central square of Cienfuegos. You can’t miss it. Just keep following the large dome which dominates the city and you’ll get there in no time.
The entire square is surrounded by beautiful buildings, including a beautiful theater and hotel.
To the left of the square you’ll find a back street with souvenir stalls.

Palacio de Valle – Almost at the end of the Paseo El Prado (the Malecon) you can find this beautiful building, transformed into a classy restaurant. On the roof you get a great view while sipping from some expensive drinks.
Remember to wear evening attire. Shorts and tank tops are not allowed. After your visit, continue to La Punta Gorda. A small beach where all the locals watch the sunset.

El Nicho waterfalls – To see these waterfalls, you’ve got to count an extra day. The ride is a little while away and of course you also want to explore the waterfalls while you’re there. You can swim in the refreshing clear water to cool off a bit of the caliente Cuba!

Rancho Luna – The nearest beach is located about twenty kilometers from the center of Cienfuegos. To get there you can take an uncomfortable bus (1 CUC), or a taxi. Depending on the number of persons you can fit in a single ride you pay between 2 and 5 CUC per person.
On the beach you will find many umbrellas that are free to use. If your stomach starts to growl, you can always buy a snack from the many vendors who walk down the beach.

 

Another part of the Malécon in Cienfuegos.

Another part of the Malécon in Cienfuegos.

  Don’ts

Long stay – Cienfuegos is listed in pretty much every travel guide from Cuba, but personally I found that there were a lot more beautiful cities in Cuba. If you would like to see the city, you can see all the important buildings and places in half a day. One day is certainly plenty to explore the whole city of Cienfuegos.

Drinking tap water – Always be careful with tap water in foreign countries. Some of my fellow travelers had an uncomfortable feeling in their intestines because they drank tap water. Even if they were experienced backpackers…

The Palacio de Valle in Cienfuegos. The best place to watch the sunset or sundown!

The Palacio de Valle in Cienfuegos. The best place to watch the sunset or sundown!

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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.
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