We cycled for a month in Cuba with a Tandem bike, and Valentina and I decided this was one of our favorite sections. After 5 days visiting La Habana staying at the super recommendable house of Jose y Lourdes we started our trip towards Viñales. We did stop in Cabañas and Palma Rubia with a day trip to Cayo Levisa. For sure there are other options to break it into more days but definitely we wouldn’t recommend less than that.
1. La Habana – Cabañas. 78km 522m elevation gain. Google map path. Our own ride is here on Strava. We recommend to exit La Habana from El Malecon (if you can, play some Buena Vista Social Club music on your bike speakers while you do that) and then continue through 5th ave, this will become the highway later. Just be careful of not taking the tunnel at the start of 5th ave. The highway starts flat and nicely paved as you exit the urban area. You will be flanked on your right side by the sea -Strait of Florida- and there are always choices to stop along the highway shoulder for a break. Shortly after leaving La Habana you will find yourself surrounded by nature, almost on your own with no traffic. Some American cars from the 50’s, trucks, bicycles, horses, will be with you at some point. Before Cabañas it becomes hilly and the road is full of holes but still manageable. Cabañas doesn’t offer much to see around, just a place to eat and sleep. At the time this post is written there is only one place to sleep in Cabañas called Villa Luis Montesino y Anabel. From the town center this place is a 10 minutes super hilly ride, so be ready for your last leg stretch. There may be people at the plaza trying to get you there for some coins but with the above link you will find your way there.
2. Cabañas – Palma Rubia. 70km 236m elevation gain. Google map path. (sorry, we did not record Strava but the Google link is very close). Its a win-win situation to hear recommendations of places to stay at your next destination -Casas Particulares- if you like the place you are staying at. In this case we asked for recommendations for Palma Rubia and conveniently they recommended a place they also owned but it was even better than the Cabañas’ one so we can safely recommend it too, Villa Luis Montesino – La Curva. The road continuous not in the best shape -consider mountain bikes- and you will start with two hills right away. You’ll continue to be surrounded by amazing jungle like vegetation going through small villages. Super recommendable to stay two nights there so you can go on a day trip to Cayo Levisa. Cayo Levisa was our favorite beach in Cuba. Very easy to find an empty beach area, water is not polluted, and the sand is super clean. Check our post on Cayo Levisa.
3. Palma Rubia – Viñales. 50km 875m elevation gain. Google map path. Our Strava recording. You’ll pass again little villages and the road will be kind of hilly. A further away from Mina la Constancia -3km-, you will start climbing, around km 45 will have the highest slope (100m elevation in less than 1km), then you’ll be rewarded with a similar downhill. We did not have the great experience in Viñales with our Casa Particular so we can’t recommend it but there are a lot to choose from. Check our Viñales post for more info. On the way you’ll have kids asking for chewing gum or school materials. At least for us it was way more fulfilling having ready some notebooks and pencils or colors than candies.
If you have any questions about planning this or other parts please do not contact us!