From Havana to Trinidad and visiting Cienfuegos: a guide for affordable transportation

Picture of Havana, Cienfuegos and Trinidad

In this post I will show you two affordable ways to make the transfer Havana > Trinidad while visiting Cienfuegos for a few hours in between. Both alternatives are based on combining two separate transfers: one from Havana to Cienfuegos early in the morning and another from Cienfuegos to Trinidad in the afternoon. The key is to make each of these transfers in the most affordable way possible. Here I show you how to do it…

If you have been doing your research for your next trip to Cuba for a while, you must have realized that you cannot miss Trinidad, the quintessential colonial city of the island.

It is very likely that you want to go directly from Havana (or maybe from Varadero), but did you know that on your way to Trinidad from Havana you will find another beautiful city that’s very worth visiting?

That city is Cienfuegos, a town founded by the French at the beginning of the 19th century (it shows a lot in its architecture) and known in Cuba as La Perla del Sur (The Pearl of the South).

There are very good guides on what to do in Cienfuegos, but so that you are inspired to look a little more, these are things that we can highlight:

  • Historic center: José Martí Park, Tomás Terry Theater, Ferrer Palace, Cienfuegos Boulevard.
  • Prado to Punta Gorda: Jagua Castle, Valle Palace.
  • Cienfuegos’ Malecon (seawall), with beautiful sea views.

Thanks to these attractions, one of the most common activities to do in Cuba is to visit Cienfuegos in the middle of the journey from Havana to Trinidad. The idea is to leave very early from Havana, arrive in the city of Cienfuegos for a few hours (some hours are enough) and then continue to Trinidad.

The overall itinerary is as follows:

  • Departure early in the morning from Havana
  • Arrival in Cienfuegos at about 12 noon
  • Continue to Trinidad in the late afternoon.

In Cienfuegos, mostly what you will do is walk to different points of the city, since everything is relatively close, so basically it will not be necessary to have a transport at your disposal all the time.

IT CAN BE TRICKY TO DO WITH A LOW BUDGET

The transfer from Havana to Trinidad can be done by multiple means: Viazul bus, private taxi, etc.

A private taxi has a big inconvenience: THE PRICE. A transfer to Trinidad directly from Havana costs around $150. Then with a stop in Cienfuegos for a few hours, another $10 – $20 can be added.

We will skip the private taxi option because this guide is about doing this trip affordably.

Let’s go ahead with the 2 most affordable option tourists have to go from Havana to Trinidad with a few hours stop in Cienfuegos.

1. Combine two rides in Viazul bus

The Viazul bus is the cheapest way for a tourist to make any transfer in Cuba, including from Havana to Trinidad.

What you want to do is combine two different rides in Viazul, one from Havana to Cienfuegos and one from Cienfuegos to Trinidad.

Good thing is, Viazul has you covered!

The schedules of these transfers in Viazul can be combined in the same day as the bus has an early departure from Havana to Cienfuegos , and late departures from Cienfuegos to Trinidad.

Take a look at the departure times (and arrival) of the routeHavana > Cienfuegos:

Viazul departures table from Havana to Cienfuegos

There is an early departure at 7 am with arrival at 11:40 am. That’s the one you want to book.

Now look at Cienfuegos > Trinidad:

Viazul departures table from Cienfuegos to Trinidad

You want to choose one of the late departures, at 14:55, 16:05, 18:10 or 19:10, depending on how long you want to stay in Cienfuegos.

And that’s it! It doesn’t take too much effort to realize how it can be done: you take the early bus from Havana to Cienfuegos and then take a late bus from Cienfuegos to Trinidad. It’s very simple.

Now take a look at the prices: Havana > Trinidad is $25 per person and Cienfuegos > Trinidad is $6 per person. That is cheap! And it works wonders for what you want to do.

So, if you are 2 people travelling together this is the budget you are going to need:

Transport budget for 2 people in Viazul:

  • Havana> Cienfuegos (7 am): $20 x 2 = $40
  • Cienfuegos> Trinidad (afternoon): $6 x 2 = $12

But that is not all the budget you will need.

Depending on where you are staying in Havana, you will need to arrive in the Viazul station (which is near the Revolution Square in Havana). Taking a taxi is the quickest way, and if you don’t know how to hassle a collective taxi for Cubans (almendrones), you will have to pay the tourist price, which could be $5 to $10 total.

So, add another $10 (the worst case scenario) and you have a budget of:

Total budget for Viazul: $40 + $12 + $10 = $62

Pretty nice compared to $150-160 for a private taxi!

(…)

There is an intermediate alternative which we want to present here, which allows you to enjoy Cienfuegos for a little over 4 hours and continue to Trinidad on the same day. It also has the convenience that you don’t need to go out of your accommodation to catch your transport.

This alternative consists of combining 2 separate rides in Collective Taxis (aka. Colectivos)! These taxis pick you up at your accommodation. We explain this in the rest of the article, including the budget, schedules and itineraries.

So…

How to go from Havana to Trinidad and make a visit in Cienfuegos with a low budget in a shared taxi?

2. Combine two rides in Collective/Shared Taxi

Collective taxis are becoming one of the most popular options available to tourists visiting Cuba, due to the conveniences they offer (it is similar to a private taxi but 4 passengers always travel in the taxi), but especially for their prices.

On our own website we offer collective taxi transfer reservations for several destinations in Cuba, including the two that you will need: Havana > Cienfuegos and Cienfuegos > Trinidad.

FUNNY FACT

We actually adopted the idea of ​​combining 2 collective taxis to make the route Havana > Cienfuegos > Trinidad in the same day precisely from our customers.

Several travelers had been using this combination for some time by themselves in our website, because they realized it was doable due to schedules of our taxis.

It is awesome what creativity can do!

Therefore, we will describe how to do Havana > Cienfuegos > Trinidad on the same day by booking two transfers separately.

WARNING

This option is affordable only if it is no more than 2 people travelling.

For 3 people onwards the best option is to take a private taxi as 2 separate collective taxis would be more expensive than a private taxi for the whole day.

The interesting and crucial thing to be able to combine them are the schedules we have available:

  • Havana > Cienfuegos leaving 8 am, arriving in Cienfuegos around 12 noon
  • Cienfuegos > Trinidad leaving 5 pm, arriving in Trinidad around 6 pm

Here you don’t have to think much, it’s easy to realize that you’re going to have at least 4 hours in Cienfuegos, which are enough to see everything you need (except maybe a nice sunset on the Malecón).

Budget you will need:

We will make the budget assuming that you are 2 people, as we already made clear above that this option works well if you book 2 seats, but NOT for 3 or 4.

Transport budget for 2 people in Shared Taxi:

  • Havana> Cienfuegos (8 am): $34.50 x 2 = $69
  • Cienfuegos> Trinidad (5 pm): $20 x 2 = $40

Total: $109

You don’t need to add anything else to this budget because the taxi goes picks you up at your accommodation.

The savings with respect to a private taxi is of around $50.

Is it worth it? We think it is. Saving on your trips to Cuba consists in saving consistently throughout your stay. If that day you save $50, it is enough for 2 nights of stay in a private Cuban home!

Furthermore…

WE HAVE A GIFT

At PickoCar we want to give you $10 if you book and make this transfer Havana > Cienfuegos > Trinidad with us.

The $10 discount would be made on the second transfer, from Cienfuegos to Trinidad.

It’s not much, but at least the coffee of that day is on us ☕

With this discount, the budget you will need is only $99 to get from Havana to Trinidad with a 4-5 hours stop in Cienfuegos. It is a very cheap budget.

To book this route, you can do it by booking each transfer separately here:

A NOTE ON WHERE TO EAT IN CIENFUEGOS

No matter the option you choose, you will arrive in Cienfuegos by 12 noon, so you must eat something for sure. Our suggestion is:

Avoid spending 1 hour or more having lunch at a restaurant.

At the very historical center (Cienfuegos Boulevard) there are multiple local offers; there are pizzas, pastas, sandwiches and drinks. Many offers are in CUP (Cuban Pesos, NOT CUC), which are cheaper.

Using these local cafeteria options will give you more time to enjoy Cienfuegos and it will be much cheaper – which is what we are talking about in this article.

CONCLUSION

As a summary, there is an economic alternative to doing the journey Havana > Cienfuegos > Trinidad in the same day: combine two transfers in Collective Taxi or Viazul bus.

For this you will need a budget of $62 in Viazul or $99 in Shared Taxi (if you travel with PickoCar). In a shared taxi it is only convenient if you travel as a couple (2 people).

The itinerary is:

  • Departure early in the morning from Havana
  • Arrival in Cienfuegos at about 12 noon
  • Continue to Trinidad late in the afternoon

So, I hope that you enjoyed this guide and that the suggestions are useful!

Have you done something similar to this or on a lower budget? Let me know in the comments.

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