Viñales: what to eat & drink (and see in between)

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1. The Valley of Silence. Wander through the mogotes – uniquely shaped limestone hillocks – taking in the peaceful countryside and beautiful flowers along the way.

2. Piña Colada at Jardin Botanico de Viñales. The best in Cuba. Fact. Fresh coconut milk, just-squeezed pineapple juice, local honey and lashing of rum served with spectacular views of the valley.

3. Fried plantain. Buy them for pennies from one of the street stalls bordering the square and enjoy them with a rum or two at a local bar. No Scores on the Door ratings at these stalls so probably not for the weak stomached.

4. Sunset at Hotel Los Jazmines. Flag down a crumbling Chevrolet and take the 10 minute drive out of town and up to the car park of Hotel Los Jazmines. Skip the hotel bar and instead pay 1 CUC for a Cristal at the outside kiosk and watch the sun set over the mogotes. Watch out for tour busses!

5. Restaurante la Casa de Don Tomás. Apparently the oldest house in Vinales Don Tomás is a lively place with decent Cuban food (your usual fish or chicken, rice and veg but done well) and lively local music. The cocktails aren’t half bad either.

6. Jardin Botanico de Viñales. Stop and take in the breathtaking scenery over Viñales and the valley, before having a shot at grinding flour and hearing about the organic farming methods.

7. Tobacco plantation. Learn how the tobacco is planted, harvested and rolled before taking a puff on a cigar (dipped in local honey if you’re lucky). Hang around and chat in the hope you’ll be offered one of the best mojito on the island: rum, fresh orange juice, honey and mint rustled up and you watch.

8. Centro Cultural Polo Montañez. Tucked into a corner of the main square this place comes alive in the evening when the whole town gathers to be entertained. First with a floor show of traditional (ish) music and dancing – think Club Tropicana without the price tag – then a salsa vibe with pumping bass. Don’t forget your dancing shoes.

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