Cuba is really a singular vacation spot. The largest of the Caribbean Islands, Cuba will allure you with its charismatic vibe influenced by 4 centuries of African, Caribbean, and Spanish cultures. Everywhere you look there are reminders of its previous built-in with the current. To make it easier to immerse in Cuban tradition, we’re going to share the most effective locations to go to in Cuba to expertise an genuine and unforgettable trip.
Top Places To Visit In Cuba
Cuba transgresses the boundaries of time, spanning six many years concurrently. In Old Havana take in the mid-century ambiance of the UNESCO World Heritage Site mixed with its Spanish colonial structure. Hail a traditional American automobile, and whisk alongside the Malwcón with hair flowing in the wind. Outside town, there’s a bounty of pure magnificence to discover with hundreds of miles of Caribbean shoreline shielding glimmering coral reefs in tranquil turquoise waters.
If you arrive with an open thoughts, you’ll really feel the brand new winds of Cuba whispering between the tones of salsa, reggaeton, and mesmerizing Santeria tambores calling on the saints to descend in celebration. Here are the 18 greatest locations to see when visiting Cuba that you just’ll always remember.
1. Visit Mesmerizing Havana
Of all of the distinctive locations to go to in Cuba, the well-known capital Havana must be on prime of your listing! Often vacationers both immediately fall in love with Havana or don’t get it in any respect. But if you happen to give it time and wander its cobbled streets soaking in Cuban life and the totally different architectural kinds from the outdated city to the central enterprise district you’ll be captivated. We suggest at the least a day in Havana, but when you are able to do three days, you’ll actually give you the option to see all of it
There are so many distinctive issues to do in Havana, which is a metropolis crammed with music, artwork, tradition, and scrumptious meals in addition to Cuban historical past, museums, landmarks, noise, and rubble. Many must-see locations are additionally inside day journey distance from Havana.
The very first thing I like to recommend is that you just take a traditional American automobile tour across the metropolis, and take in the contrasts. This is a brilliant method of getting an summary of larger Havana and experiencing firsthand the totally different ambiances of town districts.
The second is to do a guided strolling tour of the historic Old Havana (La Habana Vieja). Learn in regards to the wealthy historic particulars of colonial Havana, revolutionary Havana, and Che Guevera. Make certain you go to the Plaza de la Catedral, Bodeguita del Medio (the place Hemingway frolicked), and the Castillo de la Real Fuerza.
My third advice is to e book a desk for dinner at Paladar San Cristobal (the place Obama had dinner) or the rooftop terrace at implausible La Guarida, each in Central Havana. Ask for a chambre separé in San Cristobal if you’re a bunch, it is going to be an incredible night. At La Guarida, stroll over to the opposite finish of the restaurant after dinner for a nightcap on the wonderful rooftop bar with beautiful night time views of Havana.
Vibrating in the distinction between the beautiful and decaying, the brand new, the classic, and the traditional, Havana’s distinctive environment is created by many years of solitude, a proud nationwide feeling, and a fading romantic concept in regards to the revolution.
With its Spanish colonial structure and the fierce Malecon boardwalk, a go to to Havana is an unimaginable expertise if you happen to hold your eyes and coronary heart open. Explore the centuries-old streets, peek past the facade, let town inform you its historical past, and take in the ambiance of Cuba’s capital.
Where to Stay in Havana
Planning on staying in Havana? The Iberostar Grand Packard is considered one of Havana’s most luxurious lodges with the most effective sundown view in town. Have a cocktail on the Sixth-floor bar overlooking the infinity swimming pool and the Malecon.
2. Feel Authentic Cuba In Guanabo Town
If you want to expertise the authenticity and uniqueness of a vacation spot when you’re touring, then the most effective locations to go to in Cuba is Guanabo.
Located simply half an hour’s drive east of Havana alongside the shoreline, Guanabo is a typical Cuban small city. It will not be freed from vacationers, however it’s a vacation spot a lot much less traveled than Havana or Varadero. There is a myriad of bars and small eating places with random self-appointed DJs alongside the principle avenue of Guanabo.
Stop for a mojito in one of many roadside bars, and purchase a typical Cuban lunch in the park subsequent to La Esquina de Los Caballitos (carry money) together with the remainder of the locals. Then head for Guanabo Beach, the place on the weekend every cluster of sunbeds homes a household with their subwoofer taking part in both reggaeton or salsa whereas sharing a bottle of rum with everybody!
Take a day journey to Guanabo, or go for staying right here for an evening or two if you would like a extra genuine Cuban expertise than partly polished Old Havana. You will discover casa particulares for hire in Guanabo throughout the spectrum from easy commonplace to luxurious, whereas experiencing a more true vibe of what Cuba 2023 is like, together with the nightlife!
3. Basque In Turquoise Waters At Playas del Este
Playas del Este is a series of small seashores mendacity like beads on a series unfold out to the east of Havana metropolis. Lots of Cubans come to Playas del Este to benefit from the sand and sea, particularly in the course of the weekends. The closest seaside to Havana is the small bay of Playa Bacuranao, whereas essentially the most lovely one in accordance to a lot of vacationers, is Playa Santa Maria del Mar.
On the latter, you may count on a lot of life and hustle and bustle, particularly on the weekends, from kiosks promoting every thing from conventional rooster with rice, rum, and ice cream whereas taking part in music on the nightclub stage.
Guanabo city is inside strolling distance of the jap seaside of Playa Boca Ciega, in addition to Playa Guanabo. Playas del Este are the most effective seashores to go to on a day journey from Havana. You can take the bus from Parque Central, hail a personal taxi to have a tendency to you all day, and even e book a seaside journey as an organized tour on-line.
4. All-Inclusive Heaven In Varadero
In 2019, Varadero Beach was voted ahead because the second most lovely seaside in the world on TripAdvisor. For anybody eager for a real Caribbean vacation with crispy white sand and blue oceans, resorts, and swimming pools, this is without doubt one of the prime locations to go to in Cuba.
The sandy string of seashores follows alongside your entire shoreline of the slim Hicacos Peninsula stretching into the ocean off Cubas’s northern coast.
The peninsula is especially the house of quite a few massive pampering all-inclusive resorts crammed with swimming swimming pools, eating places, and spas alongside the shoreline, solely steps from the white sands and the ocean. There is a small city heart the place you discover eating places, an artisan market, a wide range of outlets which you can take pleasure in, and even a mall constructed in the 90s, weirdly named Plaza America.
Varadero is ideal for a Caribbean getaway with swimming, snorkeling, boat journeys, scuba diving, or just absorbing some sunshine, and there’s a golf course with spectacular proximity to the Caribbean surf.
You may also go exploring close by caves, go to the Botanical Garden, a pure reserve, or enterprise out deep sea fishing!
Just know that if you happen to keep in a Varadero resort to your complete trip, you haven’t actually visited Cuba, as the actual Cuba may be very totally different. So it’s actually nice that Varadero is inside tour distance to different locations in Cuba, like Vinales, Havana, Trinidad, and Cienfuegos. Check it out.
5. Lush Green Valle de Viñales & Cuban Cigars
Mainly well-known for being dwelling to the coveted Cuban cigars, Vinales is a small agricultural city in a lush inexperienced fertile valley positioned in the western a part of Cuba, in Pinar del Rio province.
You can take a day journey to Valle de Viñales from Havana, and even from Varadero (though that could be a actually lengthy day) and expertise the highlights of the valley. See the Mural de la Prehistoria, the beautiful Cueva del Indio cave, go to a Cuban cigar farm, and have a standard Cuban lunch – all in at some point!
If you might have time to journey slower, it’s also possible to keep an evening or two in a casa explicit in the small however charming Vinales city heart.
There are a wide range of distinctive eating places and bars for you to discover providing conventional meals with native elements and scrumptious Cuban meals like ropa vieja or pollo con arroz morro. There is one particular factor about Vinales that has put the valley on the UNESCO World Heritage web site listing, and that’s the mogotes. Scattered across the valley small abrupt hills are mendacity like inexperienced sugar tops throughout the valley flooring; the mogotes.
Mogotes are remoted, steep-sided, and rugged hills composed of limestone, marble, or dolomite, with rounded shapes that tower above the flat plains round them.
If you keep some time, you’ll have time to go on hikes to discover the mogotes up shut, a few of them have caves the place you may go swimming or mountaineering inside.
Or attempt mountaineering on the skin, stroll the various trails across the valley, go horseback using, and go to the close by limestone caves. Maybe go to the pristine seashores on Cayo Jutias up north on a day journey?
6. Ruggedly Untouched Island Cayo Jutias
Cayo Jutias is an exquisite island you may attain by driving north throughout a causeway on the verge of Pinar del Rio province, off the northwest coast of Cuba.
Here you discover nothing however a quiet seaside with a slim strip of crispy sand separating the mangroves from the comfortable sea.
You can take a taxi up to this tranquil island for the day (there are not any lodges right here), a few hours from Vinales. It is ideal for anybody in search of a calming getaway, with beautiful seashores, clear blue waters, and easily chill.
Most vacationers instantly fall in love with the pristine rugged fantastic thing about Cayo Jutias. Unlike different locations in Cuba, the untouched Caribbean seashores right here haven’t been developed like Varadero or a number of the different Cuban keys.
There is a restaurant and a few bars on the seaside the place the costs are first rate for cocktails and sandwiches. Spend the day snorkeling, swimming or just doing nothing on the seaside earlier than you come to mainland Cuba in the afternoon.
7. Sustainable Las Terrazas in Pinar del Rio
Las Terrazas is a picturesque, serene group that focuses on sustainable improvement in Pinar del Rio, and permits its guests to grow to be one with nature.
Located 46 miles west of Havana, this tranquil oasis is located in the Sierra del Rosario which was appointed a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1985. In the late Nineteen Sixties, Las Terrazas was created to restore an space that had been severely broken by intensive espresso manufacturing in the nineteenth century.
Millions of timber had been planted, terraces for agriculture excavated, and a small city was constructed to hold nature as its focus. Now the land is protected moderately than exploited; its cycles are revered and appreciated in excellent concord with nature.
Las Terrazas is without doubt one of the locations in Cuba that has attracted a vibrant group of gifted artists. It additionally offers an unimaginable out of doors setting for nature fans from open public workshops and studios to limitless alternatives for out of doors actions. Spend the day in the attractive river oasis, with layered cascades working from one stage to one other of crystal clear swimming pools the place you may take heavenly dips in the waterfalls.
From the luxurious vegetation of the Sierra del Rosario mountain vary, additionally, you will discover beautiful viewpoints, and tropical mountain surroundings round Las Terrazas, the place you may gaze on the hazy shoreline!
8. Colonial Living Museum Of Trinidad
Trinidad is usually referred to as “the museum of Cuba”, a singular colonial metropolis positioned on Cuba’s southern shores round 4 hour’s drive from Havana.
The motive Trinidad is protected by the UNESCO World Heritage Site listing is that its historic heart appears nearly an identical as we speak because it did on the top of Cuba’s sugar period when Trinidad was the sugar capital of the island. When Cuba was priced out of the sugar commerce by different nations, town grew to become a forgotten backwater, a spot that was not developed like different Cuban cities in the nineteenth and twentieth Centuries.
Trinidad as we speak is without doubt one of the most well-known locations to go to in Cuba for its well-preserved colourful colonial buildings and cobblestone streets. Here historic telltales from the colonial period in the Caribbean and Cuba are discovered in the main points.
Visit one of many numerous museums(don’t miss the Museum of Colonial Architecture aka Museo de Arquitectura Colonial) and artist’s studios in Trinidad’s historic heart, stroll round Plaza Mayor at dusk, and revel in a meal on the balcony of Los Conspiradores reverse Casa de la Musica.
Travel the brief distance to the Valle de Los Ingenios, or Valley of Sugar Mills, as soon as dwelling to huge sugar plantations. From Trinidad, it’s also possible to discover the Topes de Collantes nationwide park, or just head out to paradisiacal Playa Ancon seaside simply quarter-hour from Trinidad city heart.
9. Cienfuegos City With The French Heritage
The particular factor about Cienfuegos is that it’s the solely metropolis in Cuba that was based by the French, not the Spanish (though below the Spanish crown).
A small city positioned on the southern coast of Cuba simply west of Trinidad, the heritage of Cienfuegos is detectable in structure and even metropolis planning. You discover a miniature model of the Arc de Triomphe in the principle metropolis sq.; Parque Jose Marti.
Along Boulevard avenue in Cienfuegos is a wide range of outlets and small eating places, and when the Boulevard closes, the Paseo del Prado wakes up. This is the place the Cienfuegos nightlife is discovered, because the solar units, the doorways and home windows open alongside the Prado and the music begins.
You may also go to sights just like the wonderful botanical backyard, or go kayaking or horseback using exterior town. And then head out to Camila’s restaurant out on Punta Gorda, throughout the Malecon, for an incredible sundown and dinner.
10. Infamous Bay of Pigs & Playa Giron
The Bahia de Cochinos, extra generally generally known as the Bay of Pigs, and the small village at Playa Giron seaside are the locations in Cuba that had been the middle of dramatic world occasions in 1961.
The failed US invasion of Cuba occurred right here, the place greater than a thousand troopers landed on the seashores, the place they had been defeated by Cuban forces, and ended up being prisoners of warfare for over a 12 months in Cuba.
Today Playa Giron is a sleepy little village on the sting of the deep Bay of Pigs. It is price a go to due to the Bay of Pigs Museum, which tells the story of Cuba earlier than the revolution, in addition to the failed US invasion from a Cuban standpoint.
There are additionally a wide range of eating places and bars in the world, so you may take pleasure in native Cuban delicacies for lunch or if you happen to keep the night time. After visiting the museum and the small market, there may be not much more to uncover right here.
If you head additional north to Playa Larga you may take a look at a number of the greatest diving on the island. With 17 various kinds of coral and nice visibility, you want to go to this place if you would like to discover the underwater world.
11. Heart Of The Revolution Santa Clara City
Santa Clara is a small metropolis positioned in the central a part of Cuba about two hours north of Trinidad. It is dwelling to a college, and probably the scene of an important incident main up to the Cuban revolution in 1959.
This is the place Che Guevara and his males defeated Batista troopers in December 1959 in a dramatic combat, earlier than conquering town, which led to president Batista fleeing the nation on New Year’s Eve. Today this is without doubt one of the locations to go to in Cuba with essentially the most memorabilia, monuments, murals, and indicators in regards to the revolution throughout, together with in the principle plaza Parque Leoncio Vidal.
Santa Clara can be dwelling to the final resting place of Che Guevara; he has been honored with an enormous mausoleum on the verge of the Plaza de la Revolución. Santa Clara as we speak additionally has an honest nightlife, a lot of casa particulares, and a wide range of eating places and bars. After mountaineering to the highest of La Loma hill to watch the sundown you may take pleasure in tasty Cuban dishes for dinner in this residing and respiratory museum of the revolution in Cuba.
From Santa Clara, there may be a couple of one-hour drive north to Cayo Santa Maria, one of many paradisiacal Cuban keys that exist just for all-inclusive resort life.
12. Secluded Paradise Island Cayo Santa Maria
Cayo Santa Maria is the identify of a surprising island triplet, and a part of essentially the most well-known locations to go to in Cuba, the Cuban keys. Located off the north coast of Cuba, it lingers simply the place the Jardines del Rey coral reef system begins; the King’s Garden.
To get right here, you want to cross over a causeway on the northern coast of round 28 miles earlier than you arrive on the island mangroves, hiding a secluded paradise consisting solely of fantastic all-inclusive resorts and luxurious.
In Cayo Santa Maria, there is no such thing as a metropolis heart or native inhabitants, the entire island triplet is a resort heaven. A vacation right here actually is the place you go for the Caribbean paradise getaway, and solely that.
What there may be an abundance of in Cayo Santa Maria, is seashores, swimming pools and pool bars, meals, mojitos, and plenty of water actions. It is an ideal place to go snorkeling, take a day journey on a catamaran, scuba diving, and even deep sea fishing from Marina Gaviota.
You can go to different elements of Cuba from Cayo Santa Maria like Santa Clara and Trinidad, however be ready to cowl some distances for different adventures.
13. Paradisiacal Beaches And History In Cayo Coco
Cayo Coco is one other beautiful Cuban key positioned off the north coast of Cuba, essentially the most well-known one of many Jardines del Rey coral reef system, from the place it’s also possible to attain tiny Cayos Guillermo, Paredon, and Cruz. You want to cross one other lengthy causeway throughout the Bahía de Perros (Bay of Dogs) to attain Cayo Coco and Guillermo, because the keys are related to the principle island of Cuba by a 17-mile pedraplen.
These lovely islands are recognized for beautiful seashores and crystal clear waters, the 5 most well-known seashores on Cayo Coco being Playa Los Flamencos, Playa Prohibida, Playa Larga, Playa Colorades, and Playa la Laula.
There are in fact loads of water sports activities to do on Cayo Coco, together with wonderful diving in the Jardines del Rey, and kite browsing. On dry land, it’s also possible to go mountaineering on the Rocarena Climbing Center, or take a jeep tour. Cayo Coco can be an all-inclusive resort territory, the one exception is Sitio La Guira the place you may hire rooms in a really particular historic surroundings.
Sitio La Guira is an enthralling ecological and historic space the place you may discover the area’s myriad biodiversity whereas touring again in time. Learn in regards to the tradition, customs, and life-style of its early colonists right here in the course of the 1900s.
14. Capital Of The Carnival Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba as we speak is the second largest metropolis in Cuba, located on the jap facet of the island. The distance from Santiago de Cuba over to Haiti is shorter than to the capital Havana.
For a number of many years centuries in the past, Santiago was the formal capital of Cuba, and as we speak it nonetheless holds the title capital of the carnival in Cuba. Although most locations in Cuba have a carnival, they aren’t just like the one in Santiago.
The metropolis is legendary for its extremely energetic and considerable carnivals yearly in July, and Santiago additionally has a bit extra Caribbean affect from the islands additional east due to its location.
Some distinctive sights in Santiago are the majestic El Morro fortress guarding the slim entrance to Santiago bay, San Pedro de la Roca Castle a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, which is the final resting place of Cuban nationwide hero Jose Marti, in addition to Fidel Castro.
Santiago can be the birthplace of the twenty sixth of July Movement, the identify of Castro’s resistance group, which was based after a failed assault on the Moneda Barracks in Santiago in 1953.
After this assault, Castro was sentenced to jail and spent a number of years incarcerated in a jail on Isla de la Juventud which is now the museum you may go to on Isla de la Juventud. Santiago de Cuba additionally has some well-known eating places just like the Bodeguita del Medio on the principle avenue, the place they serve killer Camarones (shrimp).
15. Biodiverse Isla de la Juventud
Isla de la Juventud, or the Isle of Youth, is the second largest island in the Cuban archipelago (there are round 4000), located in the Caribbean Sea south of western Cuba. It is without doubt one of the locations in Cuba which are the trickiest to go to.
The capital metropolis is Nueva Gerona, which is extra like a village with a number of casa particulares, bars and eating places, and a few museums. There is just one resort on the island,
Particularly well-known for distinctive scuba diving websites, additionally it is shut to the southern coral reef exterior Cuba, the Jardines de la Reina. Make the journey from the principle island port of Batabanó in about three hours, and you’ll expertise wonderful scuba diving off the southwestern tip of Punta Francés.
Isla de la Juventud can be a paradise of biodiversity defending endangered species reminiscent of crocodiles, parrots, sharks, and turtles. One spectacular sight on Isla de la Juventud is the Presidio Modelo, the enduring prison-turned-museum the place Fidel Castro was imprisoned after the failed assault in Santiago de Cuba in 1953, an eerie-looking place as we speak.
Isla de la Juventud will not be for metropolis lovers, it is a vacation spot for vacationers who take pleasure in venturing off the overwhelmed tracks, discover bizarre stuff fascinating, and love to discover nature reserves and wildlife.
16. Vast Mountain Range Sierra Nevada
The Sierra Nevada is an enormous mountain vary east of Santiago de Cuba, beginning by the ocean and stretching inland. The space has a number of nationwide parks like Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra and Parque Nacional Pico Turquino.
Pico Turquino can be the very best level of the Sierra Maestra and the very best level in the entire of Cuba with its 1974 meters above sea stage. A fantastic vacation spot in Cuba for avid hikers, and nature lovers who might be rewarded with wonderful views of the mountains and the ocean after a trek up right here.
Visitors may also discover its many trails, breathtaking waterfalls, and panoramic mountain views. Sierra Maestra is dwelling to a wide range of distinctive wildlife, and greater than 80 chicken species, so be certain that to hold a watch out for native birds and different animals! The Sierra Maestra can be well-known for being Fidel Castro’s secret guerilla hideout in the Fifties.
17. Fidel Castro’s Secret Headquarters Comandancia de la Plata
Comandancia de la Plata probably is essentially the most intriguing of all locations in Cuba you may go to. This was Fidel Castro’s hidden jungle headquarters in Sierra Maestra in the Fifties, and it nonetheless appears the identical as we speak.
Here Fidel Castro and his comrades ran their resistance marketing campaign and guerilla warfare in opposition to Batista in the final years of the Fifties, earlier than the Cuban revolution. Here he hid for lengthy intervals, made plans, and ready for assaults.
Today there’s a small museum right here telling a number of the tales of individuals and incidents that occurred in the course of the 50s. You may even give you the option to see the key home of Fidel Castro, the place he ate and slept – and even his exterior rest room.
An interesting vacation spot you may attain on a day journey from Santiago de Cuba, a number of hour’s drive and a brief however sizzling and steep hike from the place the highway ends in the mountains.
18. The Secluded First City Baracoa
Situated on the jap tip of Cuba, Baracoa is the place the primary Spanish colony was based in Cuba and is named the “Ciudad Primada”, or “First City”, the primary place in Cuba to be visited by Christopher Columbus. The city lies alongside the Bay of Honey, and has a lush tropical rainforest local weather, whereas surrounded by a mountain vary shielding it from inland Cuba.
Before the Cuban Revolution, you can solely journey to Baracoa by boat, however in the Nineteen Sixties a 120-kilometer-long highway generally known as La Farola was constructed to join Baracoa with the inside of Cuba.
Having been protected against crowds of vacationers by the distant location, Baracoa has a tranquil vibe untainted by over-tourism. Unique issues to do in Baracoa as we speak are the hike to the El Yunque mountain, and go to town cathedral and the Parque Independencia.
Also take a look at the Cueva del Paraiso which is an archeological museum with artifacts from the indigenous Taino tradition, Casa de la Trova (home of troubadours), or hire a motorbike to discover by yourself.
You can take the four-hour-long bus trip right here from Santiago de Cuba to attain this traditionally necessary vacation spot in Cuba with wonderful nature experiences as effectively.
19. Cayo Largo del Sur
Cayo Largo del Sur is a comparatively unknown journey vacation spot that’s usually overshadowed by extra widespread vacationer spots like Havana and Varadero. However, Cayo Largo del Sur is a hidden gem that provides a singular and unforgettable journey expertise.
The seashores listed here are unimaginable. There is greater than 20 kilometers of white sand seashores and crystal-clear waters which are excellent for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. The seashores are comparatively uncrowded, so you may benefit from the tranquility and fantastic thing about the island with out feeling overwhelmed by massive crowds.
Cayo Largo del Sur additionally has an enchanting historical past that’s price exploring. The island was as soon as a haven for pirates and smugglers, and it performed a major function in the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Today, guests can study in regards to the island’s historical past by visiting museums and historic websites, such because the El Torreon lighthouse and the Mural de la Prehistoria.
Overall, Cayo Largo del Sur is a singular and unspoiled place to go to in Cuba that provides a mixture of pure magnificence, historical past, and tradition.
Wrap-Up 19 Amazing Destinations In Cuba
With somewhat luck, you now really feel tremendous motivated to go go to Cuba, and hopefully, your solely drawback for the time being is selecting locations in Cuba to go to, and what to do!
I really feel you, after being primarily based in Havana for over two years there are nonetheless issues I’ve not been ready to discover but. But discovery is step one on the best way, a step you might have simply taken. Enjoy your Cuba journey planning, and the reply to any of your Cuba questions is barely an e-mail away.