From the softness of Caribbean waters to the rhythms of salsa, from warm beaches to frozen mojitos, from colonial splendor to the passion of a revolution, from Cuban cigars to American cars from the fifties.
It is the largest island in the Caribbean, with the most character. In Cuba, you can attend a baseball match, the national sport, or a boxing match; be captivated by a classical dance ballet; indulge in magnificent luxury hotels or choose to stay with locals; go to the mountains where Fidel Castro plotted his revolution or drive a 1957 Pontiac through the streets of Havana; stroll through the alleys of colonial villages in the four corners of the island or indulge in the sweetness of idleness on the white sand beaches.
But what to do in Cuba? What are the must-sees on the island? Here are the places to visit in Cuba that promise you a one-of-a-kind trip.
A mythical city steeped in history, Havana is unquestionably the number 1 destination of the travelers it inspires. To visit Cuba is, therefore, to discover it to capture its entire atmosphere. To immerse yourself in it, let yourself be carried through the old town through the narrow streets, meet locals renowned for their warm welcome, walk in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway (author of the book “The Old Man and the Sea “), visit its key monuments such as San Cristobal Cathedral or the cemetery of Christopher Columbus, taste local specialties during a gastronomic visit and indulge in a few salsa steps in one of the Cuban dance schools. As you will have understood, Havana is lived rather than told, so if you are wondering what to do in Cuba, you will find many answers in the capital.
2. Playas del Este
On the beaches east of Havana, head to the warm waters where the local culture welcomes you again with open arms. And for a good reason, these are locals’ favorite beaches, while most tourists flock to better-known destinations like Varadero or Cayo Coco. The Playas del Este include the beaches of Bacuranao, Tarará, El Mégano, Santa María del Mar, Boca Ciega, and Guanabo. If they remain popular all the same (don’t expect deserted beaches), they have this little something that the others, more bling, don’t have: a certain authenticity that will plunge you into Cuban life, the real one.
What if visiting Cuba was like traveling back in time? Direction Trinidad for good few years. Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this city is often voted the favorite by travelers who meet it. Renowned for its historic center with colorful houses and typical horse-drawn carriages, the colonial town symbolizes Cuban life in all its splendor.
Here, the music punctuates the cobbled streets with a local refrain, street musicians always give it the LA, and local music concerts from Casa de la Musica and La Trova fill up every night. For a historical and heritage overview, go to the Architecture Museum in the Plaza Mayor or the Convent of Saint Francis of Assisi. Finally, for a nature excursion, the Topes de Collantes waterfalls, the El Rocio waterfalls, and the Valley of the sugar mills promise you a break as paradisiacal as it is luxuriant.
4. Vinales Valley
What to do in Cuba to discover its natural treasures? Popular with hikers and other nature lovers, the Viñales Valley is home to the most beautiful landscapes in the Pinar del Rio region: lush and unspoiled, it offers an entirely different face to the destination amidst tobacco and coffee plantations. . During a hike or a horseback ride, discover the botanical garden of Viñales, learn about the origins of the legendary Havana cigars and above all, enjoy the splendid panorama of the famous mogotes, the famous mountains. Of limestone, which is part of the symbols of the valley.
Few people know the treasures of Baracoa. Baracoa is a small fishing town located in the Oriente, 4 hours from Santiago de Cuba (on the other side of the island), which is an address for the moment preserved from mass tourism. Nestled in the middle of lush nature, the city is a rough and authentic diamond that makes it a must on a trip to Cuba.
Its tranquil living environment, archaeological sites, breathtaking view of Mount El Yunque
, Boca de Yumuri, small preserved beaches, and terraces with appetizing smells diffuse a particular atmosphere of those who call to let themselves be carried away. In short, Baracoa promises, above all, to visit Cuba through a little corner of paradise.
6.Santiago de Cuba
Santiago is the city that breathes life. The former capital of Cuba is the portrait of a whole heritage where energy flows to the rhythm of the cultural scene. If it hosts its carnival every year, Santiago does not wait for the event to make its inhabitants sing and dance. The theater of concerts is popular with the local population and visitors, so people come here to immerse themselves in this unique life.
In addition to its artistic talents, Santiago is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will discover why when you visit it: the House of Diego de Velazquez, the Cathedral of La Asunción, the cemetery of Santa Ifigenia (where Fidel Castro and José Marti) or the Cespedes Park are enough in themselves to testify to the richness of the place. To the east are the picturesque ruins of French coffee plantations nestled in the high mountains, while the Castle of San Pedro de la Roca and the Moncada barracks are also part of the island’s checkered history.
7. Les Cayes
I’d like to know what to do in Cuba for a relaxing break. A cay (or cayo in Spanish), in the plural cayes, is a small low island mainly composed of sand and coral, several of which were discovered at the same time as the New World. Los Canarreos, Jardines de la Reina, Jardines del Rey… Perfect for a few heavenly days, they each promise, in their way, white sand, turquoise waters, snorkeling sessions, and of course, superb sunsets.