Best places to stay in Cuba? Sights to see wherever we look – this is what you will experience if you visit any part of Cuba. Inspiring towns, amazing nature and exciting historical memories. You can enjoy all this if you accept our guidance and explore the island with our help.
This articles gives you an overview of the following topics:
- The best place to stay in Cuba: Explore Havana
- What to see in Western Cuba
- Sights to see on the eastern shores of Cuba
- What to see in Cuba: The “City of a Hundred Fires” and the “White City”
You can already feel the grand old atmosphere of the city upon arrival at the bay in Havana. If you look around, you will spot the Castillo del Morro, which is one of the largest forts of the American continent. It was built to protect the town from pirates. The O’Donnell Lighthouse, which is part of the group of buildings, is one of the symbols of the city, providing a wonderful view of the whole bay. The tower is open for visitors every day between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.
If we go further, we get to the Old City where we meet history step-by-step. Beside the Spanish impression, there are a lot of Art Nouveau buildings, and the city has a Jewish quarter with several old and cozy constructions. Part of the Old City is a UNESCO World Heritage. We can experience a more detailed view of the sights if we try the Camera Obscura. This is a structure that is unique all across Latin America: it provides us with a 360° view of the city with the magnification of 30 times. It can be found inside a 35-meter-high villa called Edificio Gómez. There is an admission price, but we receive English guidance as well.
Havana has several places worth visiting, but there is one spot that we should definitely not miss. It is the Rum Museum that is located directly opposite the port on the San Francisco de Asis Square. It’s not only old skippers who are passionate about rum; the museum will surely provide an interesting experience for those who don’t even like alcohol. We can get to know the production process during the interesting tour that is offered in several languages. We even have the opportunity to taste the beverage; it’s included in the fee.
There are two things that will surely draw our attention while sailing along the western shores: Countless tobacco plantations and the unique formations of a residual hill, mogotes. Both are typical features of the Pinar del Rio province, which is actually the home of the finest Cuban tobacco. The environment itself is unique as well; the natural treasures make the area a favoured destination amongst travelers. The Viñales Valley has been declared as a national park. It’s been a World Heritage Site since 1999, along with the unique rocks and caves. We can also find a protected area on the Guanahacabibes Peninsula, in the western part of Cuba. This is a biosphere reservation which is an ideal spot for scuba-divers as we have written here.
Have you ever heard of the “Venice of Cuba”? The coastal city of Matanzas has a special atmosphere; the place is named after its 17 bridges. The town is also famous for its museums and buzzing culture. It’s a fun fact that the old French quarter is called Versailles. We can, of course, relax on many local beaches such as the Playa al Tenis and the Playa Allende.
If we want to see more, we only have to go 25 kilometers further to reach the most famous Cuban beach, Varadero beach.
As we continue our journey towards the east, we find more and more places where we might be tempted to anchor and spend a few days. Surprises lurk in every corner. Gibara is a peaceful little fishing town, struck by hurricanes two times during the last few years. Still, the city has recovered and welcomes visitors. Gibara is famous for the delicious fish, crab, and lobster. Movie enthusiasts can visit the Cine Pobre film festival every April and choose from several independent movies.
Special places to visit
Baracoa is a small town as well, but its importance is far bigger. As the saying goes Cristopher Columbus set foot on the New World in 1492 where Baracoa was later established. This is where the nickname “The First City” comes from.
Guantanamo – usually associated with the military base – can be found near the place. A Cuban province and a city bear the same name. The latter is near Yatas, famous for its zoo carved from stone. The “Stone Zoo” exhibits 400 – mostly life-size – animals. As incredible as it may sound, the artwork was made by two people; the sculptures were carved by Angel Iñigo Blanco and his son.
Santiago de Cuba
There are many artists working in Santiago de Cuba as well. This is one of the centres of Eastern Cuba, and a real symbol of Cuban music life, as we write here. The town used to be the capital city of the country for a short period of time; the San Juan National Historic Site with the Peace Tree inside reminds visitors of the rich history of the place. Siboney is 19 kilometers to the east from here. This small coastal city is a recreational village with wonderful natural treasures. We can find a botanic garden, a garden of cacti and the Baconao lagoon here. You can not swim here because there is a crocodile farm. We can also admire more peaceful animals nearby. Enjoy the playful performance of dolphins in the Baconao Aquarium; use the opportunity to swim with them!
There is a city on the southeast, in the Guacanayabo bay, which has an Andalusian-Moorish atmosphere. It is Manzanillo, one of the centres of Cuban dance and music life. The local theatre, built in the 19th century, is also very popular; it is one of the symbols of the city.
Cienfuegos is one of the most significant cities on the southern shores. We don’t know much about the origins of the unusual name; it means “a hundred fires”. If we choose to dock, even spending a week there might not be enough to see all the things the town has to offer. Similarly to other Cuban coastal cities, Cienfuegos was protected from pirates and other invaders by a fort that is hundreds of years old. This is the Castillo de Jagua, a fort from the Renaissance period, which mostly functions as a museum these days. If boats are your passion, you should definitely visit the maritime museum here. The decorative building that has a pink tinge to it exhibits the whole naval history of Cuba.
We find mountains and some beautiful waterfalls near the city, too. This is El Nicho which offers us dozens of waterfalls and natural catchment areas to visit. It won’t be easy to access all the places by yourself, so it’s probably better to arrive with a tour guide. The place is a bird paradise. This is where the natural bird of Cuba, the Tocororo lives.
The “White City”
Caibarien, a city with a romantic name and nickname can be found on the northern shores. The name “White City” comes from the fact that wonderful white sand covers the beaches here. The fishing town, which is located on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, hasn’t been spoiled by tourism. You might get a better taste of authentic Cuba here than in any other places. The “Frutti di Mare” is cheap and delicious. Locals really enjoy living here. They host a festival called the Parrandas two times a year, at the end of summer and in mid-December.
We have presented a great amount of information about this amazing country. If you are interested in reading more about the activities as well, you can read on here.
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