The vast majority of visitors to Sancti Spíritus province head directly for the attractive and colourful sixteenth-century town of Trinidad, one of the country’s most perfectly preserved and restored colonial settlements. Situated close to both beach and mountains, in the southwestern corner of Sancti Spíritus and just 13km from the provincial border with Cienfuegos, Trinidad is justifiably the single most-visited destination in central Cuba, and has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. But despite this protected status, Trinidad is far from being a lifeless architectural showpiece. One of the most touristy places in the country, the town is well set up to receive visitors, with a fantastic selection of casas particulares, two memorable hotels right in the centre, a burgeoning set of very good paladars and some popular, lively music venues.
There are several more hotels on the Península de Ancón, 15km south of Trinidad and with one of the best beaches on mainland Cuba’s less spectacularly sandy south coast. In the opposite direction, the mountain resort of Topes de Collantes makes an excellent base for hiking around the steep, lavishly forested slopes of the Sierra del Escambray. A few kilometres northeast of Trinidad is the beautiful Valle de los Ingenios, home to the sugar estates that made Trinidad’s colonial elite so wealthy. Further east, the provincial capital of Sancti Spíritus, though larger than its more famous neighbour, attracts fewer visitors. For some, this is the source of the city’s appeal: comparatively free of tour groups, it boasts a long history of its own and a subdued pace of life.