Things to do in Matanzas
If you stay a couple of days in one of the resorts in Varadero, maybe you would like to do more things and visit more places than only in Varadero (described here). In this case you can rent a car and drive to Havana, Trinidad, Santiago de Cuba or other well known spots in Cuba. But in case you would like to something in the vicinity of Varadero, I can recommend you to visit the town called Matanzas and the pharmaceutical museum, called “Museo Farmacéutico de Matanzas”. If you ask me, this museum is an absolute highlight and if you like historical things, this will be the right place for you.
What is the pharmaceutical museum?
The Museo Farmaceutico was originally a normal pharmacy and it belonged to a doctor named Dr. Ernesto Triolet and Juan Fermín de Figueroa. For that reason this museum is also called the Triolet Pharmacy or in spanish: Farmacia Triolet. The pharmacy opened in the year 1882 and was shut down in 1964 due to the Cuban Revolution in the year 1959. After that it was turned into a museum.
The whole equipment here is in the original condition and takes you to a nostalgic journey into the past. When you walk through the rooms, you will feel the spirit of the history and will see things, which are hard to find elsewhere.
Check out these pics, folks:
More pics of the pharmaceutical museum you will find in my Cuba gallery.
How to get to Matanzas?
Well, actually the easiest possibility for tourists to get to Matanzas is to rent a car. I’ve seen a railway station there but when your hotel is in Varadero, you cannot use the train because there is no train station in Varadero. I also don’t know if there are buses travelling frequently to this place. But when we drove to Havana, we had to pass through Matanzas and we saw a lot of people hitchhiking between Varadero and Matanzas. So my presumption is that the public traffic there is very poor like probably everywhere in this country. So the best way for you as a tourist is really to rent a car when you would like to visit Matanzas. When you decide do this, please read my article about driving car in Cuba.
Where is the museum located?
The Triolet Pharmacy is located in the Parque de la Libertad and is a kind of a “hidden place”, so you need to walk a little bit around the park to locate the pharmacy between the other buildings.
But when you come from the direction, I marked in the map, you will find it at the left side of the park.
You can park your car close to Plaza de la Vigia. But be aware of so-called city guides which just want your money and in reality they don’t have any clue about Matanzas and its history. Read more about scammers in Cuba in this article. Also be prepared to be addressed by some guys who offer you to take care of your car while you visit the town. It is not a big deal, I asked them, how much they want and remind me giving one them about 2,- or 3,- CUC. But remember to ask before you agree. Otherwise, they might desire 5,- CUC or even more.
What do to else in Matanzas?
Matanzas is also called Athens of Cuba because in the 19th century this town was a real prospering place and was a home of a lot of intellectuals, musicians and writers. Due to this fact, Matanzas has a lot of interesting historical buildings. But as I have been there, I was quite disappointed as the most of these buildings are in a very, very poor condition. So don’t expect a lot. But maybe you will have a little bit more luck and when you visit Matanzas now, you will find some of these buildings restored, who knows. Check out this website about Matanzas and maybe you will find some interesting spots you would like to visit.