[[Image:VinalesValley.jpg |thumb|350px|Viñales valley, from the Hotel Los Jazmines]]
'''Viñales''' is a beautiful and lush valley in [[Pinar_del_Rio_%28province%29|Pinar del Río]] province of [[Cuba]], with a population of around 10,000. It's about 26 kilometers north of the city of Pinar del Río, and was declared a [[UNESCO World Heritage Site]]. This article also covers the town by the same name.
Viñales is said to be Fidel Castro's favorite place in Cuba
. It also is one of the only places where Cubans seem happy. The mountains are beautiful, the farmers grow the best tobacco in the world, and tourists—who come every day by the busload—are allowed to mingle with the Cubans and spread money in a nice even sugar-coating.
'''Viazul''' [http://www.viazul.com/] runs buses twice a day from [[Havana]] and [[Pinar del Rio]].
They also run buses to [[Cienfuegos]] and [[Trinidad]].
Perhaps the worst tourist attraction in Cuba is the Mural de la Prehistoria. In 1961 Fidel Castro visited a beautiful valley a few kilometers west of Viñales. He commissioned that the cliff should be painted with snails, dinosaurs, and a family of cavepersons, in garish colors!
There's a restaurant, bar, and gift shop. To be fair, the guidebook says that the food in the restaurant is excellent and the live music is good. Also there's horseback riding. So consider visiting the mural and doing something other than looking at the mural.
You can rent a motorbike (a scooter) for about 20 CUC per day and ride it either to Cayo Jutias or to Cayo Levisa. The road is magnificent and you may even enjoy it more than the beaches. You will need your passport and driving license in order to rent a scooter. There's no need for a motorbike license.
===Tobacco Farm Tours===
[[Image:CavernaSantoTomas.JPG|thumb|200px|Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás]]
* '''Cuevas del Indio''' The Cuevas del Indio ("Indian Caves") is five kilometers north of Viñales. The cave is well-developed for tourists, with lights and a boat tour. The price is 5 CUC.
Nearby is a restaurant, gift shop, etc.
* '''Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás''' For real caving, drive 15 kilometers west to the Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás, near El Moncada. This is the biggest cave in Cuba. Basic tours are two hours and you must hire a guide. Helmets and headlamps are provided, although you might want to bring a more powerful flashlight, if you have one. Also you're required to wear shoes, which is a problem for female Cubans, who seem to own nothing but sandals. The cave is spectacular, especially where the roof has collapsed and you walk into a green jungle paradise sunk into a mountaintop. The cave has 45 kilometers of galleries on eight levels. Also, the town of El Moncada was another of Fidel's ideas, and the streets are laid out to form a C, U, B, and A.
===Hiking and Horseback Riding===
[[Image:IMG_4470x.jpg|thumb|200px|Viñales National Park excursions information #2]]
The national park building (near the Hotel Los Jazmines) has maps and exhibits showing fourteen excursions (see the photos below). The main hike everyone does circles behind the mogotes closest to the town. You can hire horses for this. You may be able to hire a hiking guides at the Museo Municipal Adela Azcuy (Calle Salvador Cisneros #115).
The restaurant at the Patio Centro Cultural Polo Montañez (on the central plaza) is good. There's a restaurant where the locals eat on the street heading north, towards the Cuevas del Indio. It's a typical Cuban restaurant, serving pizza and spaghetti, with remarkably slow service. There's a little store selling snacks and ice cream on the main street, across from the plaza.
If you're hoping to socialize with Cubans, not elderly Canadians, stay in town at a <i>casa particulares</i> (licensed bed & breakfast). Every other house in Viñales is a <i>casa particulares</i> and homeowners are adding rooms as fast as they can scrounge up concrete blocks. Expect to pay 25 CUC per night (based on double occupancy), plus meals, which will be better than the hotel food.
* <sleep name="Villa El Rinconsito" alt="" address="Calle Séptima, No. 22" directions="" phone="+53 48 69 5478" url="http://villaelrinconsito.zxq.net" checkin="" checkout="" price="10-15 CUC" lat="" long="" email="[email protected]
" fax="">The house is very nice and welcoming, with all amenities. It has 2 double and triple rooms, spacious, bright, good ventilation, air conditioning and private bathroom in each. The house has a large porch, lounge, kitchen, a terrace exquisitely decorated shack that serves delicious meals and a garage to park your car. Cuban friends are welcome and are offered all kinds of services for tourists forget everything and relax. Ideal for tourists looking for quiet and rest.</sleep>
* <sleep name="Casa Ernesto y Marlen" alt="" address="Calle Salvador Cisnero, No. 20" directions="" phone="+534 8 79 32 61" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">Wonderful hosts (best mojitos anywhere), great homecooking, and a convenient location a five minute walk from the town square and bus station. http://casa-ernesto-y-marlen.posterous.com/</sleep>
* <sleep name="Casa Grether Carlos" alt="" address="Calle Orlando Nodarse, No. 26" directions="" phone="+53 48 695460" url="http://casagrethercarlos.wordpress.com/" checkin="" checkout="" price="15/20 CUC" lat="
" email="[email protected]
It offers one comfortable and clean room with all modern facilities. The room is equipped with a air conditioner, private bathroom and private entrance. It’s possible have breakfast, dinner and salsa lesson with professional teacher.</sleep>
It is possible to stay in a private house with his Cuban friend. The only requirement is that the Cuban passenger take your documentation to be recorded with his friend tourists.
'''Viazul''' [http://www.viazul.com/] runs daily buses to [[Havana]] and [[Pinar del Rio]] [[Trinidad]].
* '''Cayo Levisa''' The boat dock is about 1 hours drive away from Vinales, from there its a half hour boat ride to the island. The island features stunning white sand beaches and there are some watersports available. There does not appear to be any coral reefs close to the island, so snorkling is not recommended.
[[Pinar_del_Rio_%28province%29#Cayo Jutías|Cayo Jutías]] is the closest beach to Viñales, 60 km on mountain roads. There are two roads—before you leave Viñales ask which road is better. In 2008 the road via Minas de Matahambre was good, and the road via the Baños de San Vicente was bad.