Traveling to Trinidad, the third city founded by Spanish colonists in Cuba, is a trip through Cuban history and the country’s present-day reality. The first thing you sense is a city that is prospering. Its inhabitants are constantly involved in something productive. The city’s enchantment has facilitated the development of its tourist industry, and private initiative is in the lead: taxis, horseback rides, accommodations, diving, restaurants…. The city is being restored and construction is underway everywhere. Every corner is used to the maximum and terraza fever has invaded the new architecture. There are many customers and many more options.
Carlos Hugo Mata Pichs
The Painter of the Night is the nickname that has been given to this visual artist, who graduated from the National School of Visual Arts in 1974. He is a recent winner of the Extraordinary Arts Prize, during the celebration of the 500th anniversary of Trinidad. His paintings capture the magic of his surroundings; when you approach them, you can smell the early morning and the aroma of coffee, and hear the crickets chirping. Knock on his door and plunge into the enchantment of his world, or leave a message in the Letter Box of Secrets, at the entrance to his home.
Alejandro Lázaro López Bastida
Local visual artist, painter, sculptor, and ceramicist. A 1990 graduate of the National Art School (ENA) in Havana. In his gallery on Antonio Maceo street, we find an excellent sampling of his work in ceramics: lamps, masks, and vases that the artist makes using the raku, engobes, and pojado techniques. He also has large-format paintings on display, in oil, acrylic, and mixed media. A number of hotels in Cuba exhibit his excellent interior decoration and design. If you want to take home a very special memory from Trinidad, his gallery is a must-see.
Orbeín Licor Zayas
The workshop/gallery of Orbeín (silversmith, painter, and sculptor) is just 150 meters from the Plaza Mayor. His jewelry has the charm of a caress. The sound of his tiny hammer as he crafts his pieces merges with the din of everyday life outside his door. Whimsical shapes that reveal the artist’s inner riches. Ancient coins take on a new form, captured in a choker or converted into a money clip. His designs bring to mind the natural surroundings of Trinidad, as if King Midas had touched a liana or a seed and turned it into jewelry.
Yudit Vidal Faife
Visual artist. A 1998 graduate of the Oscar Fernández Morera Professional School for Visual Arts and a 2008 graduate of the Higher Arts Institute (ISA). Trinidad is the center of her work. Her paintings feature phantoms of the city, women who inhabited it. Her creations take Trinidad’s traditions as their own and the result is a metaphoric interpretation of the city’s reality. In 2010 she received the title of Universal Ambassador of Peace, granted by the Swiss/French Universal Circle of Ambassadors of Peace.
Life in Trinidad bursts forth from the tableaus of his wooden carvings. This is the inevitable outcome when combining the magic of a city frozen in time and the mastery of an artist. Aged wood is rejuvenated with the colors and life endowed by the skillful hand of this sculptor from Cienfuegos, a graduate of the Oscar Fernández Morera Visual Arts School in Trinidad. The only thing that the pieces carved by this Trinidadian Gepetto need is the touch of a fairy to come to life and recount the stories and legends hidden within them. Here we see part of Niebla’s series Fábulas del Cedro (Cedar Fables), made using the technique of polychrome wood relief.
Hostal colonial El Patio
This house was built in 1745 (18th century) and still retains its splendor. In this three-room hostel, just a few steps from the Plaza Mayor, every room is spacious and cool. You will be left admiring the skilled craftsmanship of its ceilings, furniture and antique collection. Everything in this house has a history. Its interior courtyard is a winner of the Courtyard of National Reference prize, due to its gardening design. In the shade of this beautiful garden, you can have breakfast, lunch and dinner or just relax in a hammock. In 2013 and 2013, this hostel won the Traveller’s Choice certificate granted by the TripAdvisor website.
Casa Osmary Alberto
A modern space in the heart of the city’s colonial district. Just 150 meters from Parque Céspedes, this hostel features five comfortable rooms of varying sizes, attractively decorated in different colors. The host family will treat you like an old friend. Breakfast, lunch and dinner to each guest’s taste. You can choose to dine outside on the terrace, in the dining room, or in the wine cellar. From here, you can arrange excursions to sites outside the city. In 2013, Casa OsmaryAlberto won the Traveller’s Choice certificate granted by the TripAdvisor website, and in January of this year, TripAdvisor granted it its Certificate of Excellence.
Sol y Son
The layout of the large property that constitutes the Sol y Son Paladar/Hostel ensures that both spaces are truly autonomous.
The Paladar, whose principal facade connects to the street Desengaño, is one of the oldest and best-known in Trinidad. It is located in the main part of a mid-19th century home with the typical layout of a central courtyard surrounded by rooms.
The Hostel is located in the rear, in the space that was once the coach house and adjacent areas to the main house. It is the outcome of a postmodern design that incorporates elements of traditional architecture in the contemporary language of large terrazas and comfortable rooms.
As a whole, the Sol y Son is a harmonious combination of the colonial and the modern, based on choice, diverse cuisine that includes traditional and international dishes and beautiful local music.
This restaurant stands in the shade of an ancient and leafy ceiba tree. The tree’s ancestral magic, venerated equally by the indigenous people and Africans, is shared among the diners who have the privilege of touching its branches. The terrace features several levels and a spectacular wine cellar with a glass ceiling. La Ceiba, which has a seating capacity of 90, has three bars. As a special choice, chef Luis Benítez recommends the Pollo Meloso (Sweet Chicken), made with honey, lemon and a few drops of mustard.
Located in the heart of the city’s busiest district, this restaurant/gallery is owned by visual artist Yami Martínez. From the Los Conspiradores balcony, you can enjoy a view of the Plaza Mayor. Decorated in antique style, the upper part of the restaurant is reached by a narrow staircase that evokes the privacy needed by “los conspiradores” (“the conspirators”). Another of its spaces is outdoors, under a shady tree. The food is traditional and the products are fresh daily. This is a great place for “conspiring” on your next stop through the city.
An essential restaurant for a fine meal. Located on a centrally-located street, just 300 meters from the Plaza Mayor. Its décor, subtly rustic, evokes ceramics from a modern perspective. The presentation of its dishes is simple and elegant, and the flavors are unforgettable. It stands out for its cleanliness and the quality of its service, which make you want to linger. We recommend the paella.
If traveling back in time sounds tempting, then Sol Ananda is the restaurant you should visit. Time has stopped in this 18th century mansion built by the family of Sergeant Major Don Martín de Olivera, a leader of the militias organized to combat invading English troops from Jamaica. The décor, tables, crockery and cutlery all seem to have come from a museum. You can dine next to an antique bed and wardrobe while a trio warbles traditional music from Trinidad. The menu features international dishes, including Japanese, Indian, Swiss, U.S., and Italian, with the hallmark of local products that allow you to have the experience of a newcomer to these parts. This dream-like spot is right by the Plaza Mayor. The word Ananda means happiness or good fortune in Sanskrit.
Across from the Plaza Mayor, you can sit down and be refreshed from the heat of Trinidad. El Mojito is a small, welcoming establishment that serves excellent cocktails. From a table here, you can watch life go by in the plaza. Simple food and arts and crafts make a perfect combination; while you decided on a souvenir, you can make a brief stop and check your map while you have a refreshing drink. The crockery, made out of local ceramics, is very attractive, and you might even want to take home a piece as a keepsake.
One of the few locales in the city that is open 24 hours daily. Meals, snacks and cocktails are offered at this eatery, which is located on a corner that is practically an obligatory stop when coming or going from the historic district. Fando Brothers serves long drinks and its walls feature photographs of local music and art celebrities. This is an ideal place for late-night revelers and after-partiers. We recommend the Don Cuchi, an oyster cocktail with rum, and the Coco Rumba, made of mint, coconut liqueur and Añejo Reserva rum. At dawn, ask for breakfast and then take a taxi to the beach.
Taberna La Botija
A place for traveling back in time. Its walls feature an extensive collection of antiques that create an ambience of the colonial past. Sitting at its rustic wooden tables, you can enjoy exquisite modern dishes in a historic setting. This bustling restaurant features live music and is open 24 hours daily. Happy Hour (two for one) is from 4pm to 6pm. One of its dishes, the combination skewer, served on an unusual metallic structure, won a prize at the recent First Trinidad Regional Food Festival.
Taberna El Barracón
This tavern can be found in the heart of the historical district. With its traditional, restrained ambience, it is ideal for lunch or dinner. It is an almost obligatory stop for having a refreshing canchanchará, the traditional eastern Cuban cocktail made from aguardiente (sugar cane spirits), honey and lemon juice. Live music and a small terrace with a view of the little plaza. Its owner, Felix, suggests that we try the Pollo del Barracón, a chicken dish made with beer, raisins and peanuts. A featured dessert boniatillo con coco (sweetened sweet potato with coconut) won the Best Dessert prize at the First Trinidad Regional Food Festival in January.