Destinations in Cuba

Havana

Cosmopolitan capital with a swinging nightlife.

1950's Chevvies, Pontiacs and Buicks growl past, music blares, salsa, rumba, son and more. “Habaneros” and visitors alike sit in the Caribbean sun, enjoying lunch, a Cuban coffee or a “Mojito” rum cocktail. Endless words have been written describing the image of Havana. This is a city of vivid contrasts, from exquisite but faded Spanish architecture, narrow cobbled streets and leafy squares, to the dramatic Revolution Square and famous mural of Che Guevara (Caribbean Destinations, 2017).

 

Cienfuegos

Known as the “Pearl of the South”, Cienfuegos is a harbour city, overlooking a picturesque bay with a distinct French neoclassical influence in its shaded squares and tree – lined boulevards. Cienfuegos is one of the most beautiful cities in the country, capital of the Province of the same name (Caribbean Destinations, 2017).

 

Baracoa

A quaint beach-side town, and Cuba's first capital.

Anyone visiting Baracoa will be treading on different ground in Cuba, where the imposing Farola mountain highway with its crags and pronounced curves announces that the end of the road is really just the beginning of your trip to a corner of the world that has been frozen in time. Called the “First City of Cuba,” Baracoa patiently awaits its visitors, bathed by the waters of the Caribbean Sea and guarded by the mountain massif studded with coffee plantations, coconut palms and cacao trees. People who travel a lot will tell you that fishing towns follow a different rhythm, more easygoing than big cities, and this eastern port city certainly confirms that.

The word “baracoa” comes from the Arawak, meaning “sea existence.” The town has gone by many names, something that can be expected from a settlement dating back over 500 years: First City of Cuba, Landscape City, City of the Waters and City of the Mountains. It was founded on August 15, 1511 by Governor Diego Velázquez and it has survived through the ages as a town that brings together the past and the present.

Walking along Baracoa’s malecón, or seawall, something that is a must when you are there, visitors will run across the wonders of 15th-century military engineering, still standing as the Matachín Fort, La Punta Fortress or Seboruco Castle. The fortifications were built by the European conquistadors to defend the city from pirates and today the buildings have been transformed into museums (Pastrana, La Habana Magazine, 2017).

YourOwnCuba, 2017

 

Pinar del Río

Centre of the cigar industry.

Easily accessible to the west of Havana, Pinar del Río, and especially the famous Vinales Valley, possess some of Cuba’s most dramatic natural landscapes in the world’s best tobacco growing region. The area is characterized by rolling tropical countryside, small fertile valleys, dramatic limestone flat topped mountains called mogotes, UNESCO preserved nature reserves, untouched beaches and mangroves with a number of small uninhabited islands blessed by beautiful beaches. Pinar del Rio is a must for visitors to Cuba and there are a number of fascinating places to visit (Caribbean Destinations, 2017).

 

Santa Clara

The resting place of Ernest Che Guevara, Santa Clara is a typical Cuban town with memories of the revolution. The mausoleum and Museum dedicated to Che Guevara are worth a visit, as is the nearby Colonial town of Remedios (Caribbean Destinations, 2017).

 

Santiago de Cuba

Coastal city rich in Caribbean influence.

Santiago de Cuba is Havana’s rival in literature, music and politics, and is regarded as the ‘cradle of the revolution’ because of the pivotal role it played in overthrowing the Batista regime. It’s the second biggest city in Cuba and unlike other Cuban towns, has a noticeable Caribbean fl avor due to the infl uence of the French planters and Haitians who settled there in the last century (Caribbean Destinations, 2017).

 

Trinidad

World Heritage Site with charming, colonial-era buildings.

Often referred to as the “soul of Cuba”, the central region of the island offers some excellent beaches, dramatic mountain scenery, important historical sights and picturesque colonial towns. Trinidad, the delightful UNESCO preserved museum city, is one of the main highlights of Cuba and acts as an excellent base from which to explore the region. Founded in 1514, Trinidad is one of Cuba’s earliest settlements and has striking examples of preserved architecture dating back four centuries. Within a short distance are some excellent beaches and the Escambray mountains (Caribbean Destinations, 2017).

 

Varadero

Popular beach area, east of Havana, filled mostly with tourists.

Varadero has been attracting visitors since the turn of the century, primarily to enjoy over 20 kilometres of beautiful white sandy beaches, shaded by picturesque palms and lapped by clear warm waters. Many argue that Varadero Beach is the best in the Caribbean, and with our carefully selected hotels, Varadero is and excellent beach destination that can cater for both the most relaxed and the most energetic visitor (Caribbean Destinations, 2017).

 

Other destinations

Viñales

You can feel the energy flowing from Viñales’s fossils and its magical past, albeit renovated by the omnipresence of its overflowing natural scenery. The Cueva del Indio, the Caverna de Santo Tomás and the Palenque de los Cimarrones have all survived the hurricanes of time.

The Mural of Prehistory depicts the evolution of this most unique region since prehistoric times. After visiting these sites, the smart traveller penetrates the heart of the land, the huge and mysterious valley. Little by little, the highway narrows down and becomes a trail. The smell of freshness, of greenery, of moisture is ever-present and the valley opens up before you.

The mogotes, or karstic hummocks, resemble small islands of rock and earth where hundreds of songbirds find shelter. Odd-looking fish became fossilized on the walls of the caves that served as dwellings for the aborigines, as well as hiding places for runaway slaves. When there’s a hurricane, everybody takes refuge in the rocky interiors. It feels like if the entire valley shifted and then went back to its original position. If you go beyond the valley’s horizon, you find El Palmarito, one of the longest cave systems in Cuba with underground lakes whose waters are very cold.

The valley’s community is composed of farmers, people for whom hospitality has not yet become an illusion. They are innate hosts and hostesses. It is customary to offer the traveller cool water that is filtered through a stone from an earthenware jar called tinaja. It quenches the thirst and inspires confidence (Fernández, La Habana Magazine, 2017).

 

Sources

Caribbean Destinations, 2017

La Habana Magazine, 2017

Wikitravel Cuba, 2017