10 Must See Things in Cuba

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Lluis Enric Mayans
@lluisenricmayans
SOURCES CONSULTED:

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

Among the Caribbean destinations, Cuba is certainly at the top of the ranking, both for the beauty of the seascapes and more, and for the particular atmosphere that reigns in the colonial towns, with elegant buildings, bright colors and a festive spirit. The climate between November and January is particularly attractive, with temperatures that hardly drop below 27 ° during the day.
Cuba is also the largest island in the Caribbean, and you need to carefully plan each move.
For this reason, here are the unmissable attractions to visit in Cuban land.



Index

  1. Havana (Havana)
  2. Trinidad
  3. Pico Turquino
  4. Casas Particulares Baracoa
  5. Los Canarreos
  6. Casa Particular in Santiago de Cuba
  7. Valle de Vinales
  8. Casas Particulares Cienfuegos
  9. Desembarco del Granma National Park
  10. The Keys
  11. User questions and comments

1 - Havana (Havana)

You cannot think of visiting Cuba without visiting its beautiful capital, Havana, the main port and important historical-cultural center of the country. Thanks to the nearby international airport, the Cuban capital is perfectly connected by air with the main European capitals and can be the ideal starting point for a possible stroll around the island. Among the most interesting areas to visit in the city, we suggest you stop mainly in the old part of the capital and in the center, where, among Baroque religious buildings (such as the splendid Cathedral) and civil-military architecture (including the Fortaleza and the National Capitol), we are sure you could lose a whole day.

On the other hand, it is very romantic to follow the Malecòn towards sunset: this avenue that extends along the entire north coast of Havana is directly overlooking the sea and at the end it is filled with both tourists and locals, in ecstasy in front of it. in the setting sun.
A good way to explore the capital could be to get around it in a vintage car (from € 50,00): there are many around the city, especially along the Malecòn. Maybe a little touristy, but certainly impactful!



  • From José Marti International Airport (only 18km from the city), you can get to Havana by taxi, public transport (Association of Omnibus Transport) or your own means (cars can be hired directly outside the airport). The railway network does not guarantee good connections either to the capital or to other places on the island - Get directions

2 - Trinidad

Not far from Havana is the city of Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. Founded by Diego Velazquez in the early 1500s (the time when sugar was the basic commodity for trade with Europe), Trinidad is one of the best preserved towns in all of the Caribbean, as well as being the best representative of that colonial period of which numerous remains still remain.

If you have little time to dedicate to the city, it is better to limit yourself to the downtown area since it is the most aesthetically interesting: the outlying areas are in fact often decadent and neglected and, unless you follow an organized tour, we advise you not to stop there. for too long (among other things, there are many free walking tours through the city streets, inquire at the tourist center).
Just outside Trinidad is also the Ancòn peninsula, equipped with tourist complexes and beaches.

  • from Havana, you can easily reach Trinidad by bus (check the Viazul transport company) which will take you to your destination in about 6 hours. The cost of the ticket is approximately € 16,00. If you travel by your own means (scooter, rental car), just follow the National Highway which will take you to your destination in less than 4 hours - Get directions

3 - Pico Turquino

Not much known compared to other Cuban locations, Pico Turquino is nothing less than the highest point on the island, with its 1.900 meters of height. Located in the heart of the Sierra Maestra, the mountain is surrounded by enchanting green landscapes, rich in streams and lush vegetation: from its peaks, of course, you can admire an incredible panorama!

If you plan to venture along its slopes or plan to follow a trekking route, do not forget your shoes and suitable equipment at home and, even better, rely on a local guide to avoid getting lost and / or taking the path less safe for your safety.
Little curiosity: Pico Turquino is the only place in all of Cuba where it snowed (The date is February 14, 1900)!



  • If you are autonomous, follow the signs to Santiago de Cuba and then from here to Pico Turquino. If you are not, we recommend that you reach Santiago de Cuba by public transport and then reach the area near the mountain by taxi - Get directions
  • Always accessible
  • Free, free visit

4 - Baracoa

Traveling around Cuba undoubtedly means stepping into the past, but also immersing yourself in landscapes that still seem for the most part (and thankfully!) Untouched. One of these is undoubtedly the area surrounding Baracoa, located in the province of Guantanamo: the city remained isolated until the early sixties, when the road was built which today crosses the dense forest and which allows the direct connection between Baracoa and the rest of the island.

What is most surprising of the place is in fact the presence of the original tropical forest, so much so that cocoa, bananas, coffee and other local export products are still grown in this area. If what you are looking for is a quiet destination, where it seems to be light years away from the rest of the world, we advise you not to miss it!

  • To get to Barracoa, you can only go through the Farola, which is the road that connects the town with the rest of the island. If you don't have your own transport, the only reliable alternative is to reach the town by taxi. Not too far away is a medium-sized airport: you can call a taxi from there or rent your own vehicle - Get directions

5 - Los Canarreos

Los Canarreos is an archipelago made up of more than 300 small islands located in the south-west of the main island of Cuba. Famous for their seabed, crystal clear waters and lush nature, these islets are ideal for anyone who wants to switch off and recharge by living in close contact with the sea.

Among many, the best known and largest is the Isle of Youth, probably discovered and baptized by Christopher Columbus in 1494, or during his second voyage of exploration in the New World. Once known as the Island of the parrots and, subsequently, for having hosted Castro prisoner after the assault on Moncada, today the island is highly sought after by tourism (as well as basing its economic activity on agriculture and the production of ceramics ).



  • the islands can only be reached by sea (the catamaran, however, can only be booked on site) or by air (in this case, the island has a small airport that makes daily connections with the Cuban capital. The ticket price is usually around € 70,00).
  • Always accessible
  • Free, free visit

6 - Santiago de Cuba

With its half a million inhabitants, Santiago de Cuba is the second most populous city on the island, as well as being a fundamental historical-religious center for the country. Once the capital of Cuba (replaced by Havana around 1553), Santiago today preserves several traces of the Iberian colonization, including the Cathedral, the most visited monument in the city that attracts crowds of faithful every year.

Another of the main attractions of the place is the San Pedro de la Roca Castle, a fortress built for defensive purposes by frequent pirate attacks, which has become a World Heritage Site in recent years.
The best time to visit the city is during the celebration of the Carnival which falls around mid-July, when Santiago is filled with traditional demonstrations, songs and dances.

  • the city has its own rather busy airport; from there, reaching the center is quick and easy thanks to the public transport links (shuttles, the cost of the ticket varies from € 13,00 to € 20,00 depending on the route)

7 - Valle de Vinales

The Valle de Vinales is located in the westernmost part of the island of Cuba. It is a rather extensive karst depression near the city of Vinales, mainly occupied by tobacco crops but also by green hills and caves very popular with tourists.
The area is also popular with trekking and climbing enthusiasts and it is certainly a valid alternative to the usual Caribbean destinations and / or a break from days spent in seaside resorts. In addition to being a place of incredible beauty, the Valle de Vinales is the ideal habitat for many species of fauna and flora unique in the world, which contributes to making it one of the most interesting places on the Cuban island.

  • to get to the Valley using your own means, just head towards the town of Vinales and then follow the signs that lead to the Valley. If, on the other hand, you do not have your own vehicle, we recommend that you rely on a local guide: there are many, many of which make excursions starting from Havana (which is about 180 km away) - Get directions
  • Always accessible
  • access to the Valley is free. On the other hand, organized excursions can cost from € 40,00 upwards, depending on the starting point.

8 - Cienfuegos

On the southern coast of the island of Cuba, capital of the province of the same name, there is a city nicknamed the Pearl of the South: it is Cienfuegos, one of the main ports in the whole country, founded by French immigrants from Louisiana in the nineteenth century. It soon became famous for the sugar and tobacco trade, today the city is sought after above all for its historic center, since we are talking about historic center with the greatest concentration of neoclassical buildings not only in Cuba, but even in the whole Caribbean.

Among the most important monuments of Cienfuegos, we point out the Castle, the Cathedral and the Arc de Triomphe (the only example of a triumphal arch on the island).

  • if you leave from Trinidad, Cienfuegos is only 45 minutes by bus (transport is managed by the Viazul company, the cost of the ticket is about € 7,00). By car and / or taxi, it takes about an hour to get to your destination following the Circuito Sur / Strada 12 (the signs are well marked) - Get directions

9 - Desembarco del Granma National Park

Also in the south of Cuba, towards the eastern side, there is a protected natural area that takes its name from the boat with which Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and Raul Castro landed on the island from Mexico (one of the episodes at the base of the Cuban revolution): Granma, in fact.

The park is one of the most beautiful in the country, characterized by high cliffs and unforgettable seascapes, so much so that it was the first officially recognized national park in Cuba ... It is really worth a visit!

  • follow the signs for the province of Granma and, once there, for the park entrance. For inland excursions, however, we recommend hiring a local guide so you can enjoy the best the area has to offer - Get directions
  • park hours vary depending on the season. We advise you to first consult the local Tourist Offices.
  • the cost of local guides varies depending on the tour proposed, usually around € 20,00 / 30,00 per person.

10 - Los Cayos

What would a Caribbean vacation be without a few days spent under an umbrella, lying on pristine white sand beaches and a dream sea? If you are undecided about where to go to find all this, head without thinking twice to Los Cayos: these are paradisiacal corners, in many cases rather small islands and not far from the coast, where you can finally experience the relaxing holiday you dreamed of so much!
Among the most beautiful, Cayo Blanco, Cayo Largo (once a land of pirates), Cayo Guillermo and Cayo Coco.

  • it depends on the Cayo you choose to visit: some are well signposted, others less so. To make no mistake, ask the locals for advice - Get directions to Cayo Largo
  • Always accessible
  • Free access by land. For those reachable only by sea, the cost depends on the company you rely on.

Plan your stay in Cuba: interactive map + info on flights, hotels and tours

Cuba is a very safe place, just use common sense: do not leave your personal effects and any valuables unattended. Cuba is a country where poverty still reigns in many areas, so thefts and / or tourist traps can still be quite widespread. For the rest, make sure you always have the emergency numbers with you to contact in case of need, both light clothes and some warmer clothes for the evening, comfortable shoes.

Finally, take that into consideration public transport is not the best in terms of punctuality and efficiency. The best option for traveling around the country is to hire your own vehicle (scooter or car) to run around in absolute freedom, without time constraints and / or possible delays. However, drive carefully: the penalties can be very severe for both serious and small infringements of the highway code and certainly there is no need to ruin the whole holiday ...


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