Cienfuegos is often called the Pearl of the South due to its beautiful bay and french architecture. This town was founded by the French in 1819 and feels very different feel to the rest of Cuba.
If you are visiting Cuba and are branching out from Havana then I highly recommend you visit Cienfuegos, especially if you are going past on the way to Trinidad.
Cienfuegos is on the southern bay of Bahía de Cienfuegos and a 4 hour 30 minute bus journey from Havana. The town centres around the Cienfuegos Boulevard, which is the longest in Cuba.
The Central Plaza (Parque Jose Marti) is the best place to relax, walk around and take some amazing photos. Much like other older towns in Cuba the square is filled with lots of classic cars and grand, colourful colonial buildings.
Statue Benny More
Benny More was a band leader and song writer who was born in Cienfuegos. Located on Paseo El Prado along from Parque Jose Marti this statue honours the popular Cuban singer with his trademark cane.
Parque José Martí
Palacio de Valle
From the Central Plaza we walked to the Palacio de Valle building. This lovely walk down the Malecon de Cienfuegos was made even better by the classic cars cruising by and teenagers playing Reggaeton music on their boomboxes.
The intricate details of this building make it unique and add to the french colonial feel to the town. It is also possible to go to the rooftop on certain days for free and watch the sunset over the bay.
We ended up having lunch here which was nice but turned out to be one of the most expensive meals we had in Cuba. However it was still relatively cheap compared to prices we are used to in London. We didn’t realise that all the meals we ordered came with a portion of rice, so we ordered a side of rice… each. This resulted in what we refer to as ‘the meal of many rices’.
This sculpture park was my favourite accidental find in Cuba. We stumbled across it on the way back from Palacio de Valle. Esculturas park has lots of different modern art sculptures and my favourite park bench ever!
El Nicho Waterfall
El Nicho is a beautiful series of waterfalls and natural pools. It is only accessible by car and is a 1 hour drive from Cienfuegos. We asked our Casa to call us a taxi and this turned out to be one of our favourite taxi rides ever!
The car was old fashioned but the owner has installed a sound system. Our journey through the beautiful surrounding hills was filled with Spanish songs blaring out of the speakers and stops at different scenic areas to take pictures.
At the entrance there is a booth where we payed the 10 CUC entrance price. The walk from there to the waterfalls is only a short distance and the taxi driver waited for us as we explored the falls.
The walk from the entrance isn’t very difficult and I managed it my sandals. Make sure you take a towel and something to swim in. We somehow forgot so ended up just paddling but the pools were still amazing and the water is so clear and refreshing.
We stayed at Hostal Cuba Linda which is owned by a very friendly and helpful couple. They organised taxis both to El Nicho and to the bus station for us and answered any questions we had. The rooms were comfortable, the breakfast was delicious and the house had an amazing, colourful living room.
Visited: early May 2018
For more guides to Cuba see my article on Unusual things to do in Havana.