Cienfuegos: the quiet city
Cienfuegos is one of those passing cities in Cuba. It is strategically located between Havana and Trinidad, which makes it a good place to make a stop on the way.
In addition, we recommend you to visit and sleep for two nights in Trinidad and dive in the Bay of Pigs.
If you have to choose between Trinity and Cienfuegos, the former is much more exuberant. It is a colonial jewel in every rule, but also a very tourist place with jineteros that will try to sell you constantly all kinds of services. Also, Trinidad had one of the best musical environments on the island.
Anyway, we are going to explain you the beautiful city of Cienfuegos.
What to see in Cienfuegos, Cuba: an everyday city
Cienfuegos does not have the splendor of Trinidad or the charm of Old Havana. It’s a bit of a passing city, so it will allow you to see a more real and less touristic Cuba.
It is known as the “Pearl of the South“. It was founded by French colonists and owes its name to the Spanish soldier José Cienfuegos Jovellanos.
It’s a city you can visit in a day.
José Martí Park
It is the central park of the city and is located in the old Plaza de Armas. In the center you will find a monument to the Cuban politician José Martí.
The beautiful thing about this square are the colorful neocolonial buildings of pastel tone that surround it as the Palace of the Government of Cienfuegos and its great reddish dome well preserved.
It’s a pretty quiet part of town.
At one end of the park, you can see the Triumphal Arch erected by city workers in honor of the Republic.
Tomas Terry Music House and Theater
Currently, the music of Cienfuegos has its provincial choir, instrumental music bands, popular dance music orchestras and relevant music festivals such as Benny Moré and Alternative Music.
There is also a very famous dance club that takes its name from this musician.
The music centre in Cienfuegos is the House of Music. You will find one in each city and here we also recommend you to visit it to consult its programming.
The Tomás Terry Theatre is another cultural highlight and is located in the Plaza de José Martí.
Paseo del Prado: the wadis of Cienfuegos
The Paseo del Prado, which crosses the city to the Malecón and Punta Gorda, is the real heart of the city. It reminds a little of the typical wadis that exist in many Catalan villages.
There you will be able to see people all the time ramble: walking up and down, participating in lively debates on the promenade benches, taking wifi connection points, chatting in a group or playing ball.
Next to it you can see some buildings and emblematic places of the city like the Coppelia Ice Cream Store and several art galleries.
One of the most surprising curiosities about Cuba is the large number of artists’ workshops that you will be able to find in each city.
Royal Quay and alley in the surrounding area
The Royal Pier is a place to relax by the sea, listen to music and have a drink. We recommend it as a very Sunday afternoon plan. There are hardly any tourists.
We recommend you wander around a little before you get there. In Cienfuegos the streets are wide and there are many people who simply spend the afternoon sitting in the street.
They might come up to you for a little chat. In general, Cubans like to talk a lot and tourists always tell us what’s new.
Malecón and Punta gorda of Cienfuegos
The Malecón de Cienfuegos ends at an elongated end called Punta Gorda. It is an area with large buildings and hotels of neoclassical style.
You can walk from the center, it’ll take about 30-40 minutes. Another option is to get into the taxis or tuk tuk that run the walk.
One of the most significant buildings in the area is the Palacio del Valle, a historic town in Cienfuegos in Arabic style with a beautiful bar-terrace overlooking the sea.
If you decide to continue to Punta Gorda you will find a sought-after dining room practically on the sea.
It may be the most touristic area of Cienfuegos, but it is not overcrowded at all.
Eating at Los Complacientes
Los Complacientes is a home-cooked restaurant located in the center of Cienfuegos. It’s one of those places Cubans usually go to for dinner.
The food was simple based on meat, rice and fried banana. We liked it so much that we had dinner there two nights.
The price of this restaurant is well below that of the tourist establishments. A dinner can cost you between 4-6 CUC.
Another place with hardly any tourists is Pizza Pizza, a pizzeria very popular among the families of Cienfuegos. You can have a pizza for 5.50 CUC.
Reggaeton for teenagers at Benny Moré Club
You can go to celebrate something at Club Benny Moré, a popular party hall in Cienfuegos. If you ask yourselves what young people dance in Cuba I’ll tell you the same as in many places: reggaeton.
There is not much access to information from abroad, but the island sells USB with recorded commercial music videos that are played on televisions in bars and clubs.
The entrance to the disco costs 2CUC and you can drink a beer for 1CUC or order a whole bottle of alcohol for 9CUC.
Sleeping in a private house in Cienfuegos
Sleeping in Cuban houses made this trip something very special. We recommend it to you as an experience, since it will allow you to know them and listen to their advice and recommendations.
How to get to Cienfuegos
In general, in Cuba there are three ways to get anywhere.
- By bus Víazul: There is a line that runs from Trinidad to Varadero and passes through Cienfuegos. The ticket from Havana to Cienfuegos costs 20USD and departs at 07:00 and 10:40 from the Havana bus station.
- By collective: These are taxis shared by up to four people who will take you from door to door of your accommodation. You will pay 25CUC per person.
- By rental car: Another very common option. It is convenient to consult prices since the rents in Cuba are quite expensive.
We recommend you to visit Cienfuegos if you are in Cuba!