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Places to visit in Cuba this 2023. Cuba is one of the most interesting and surprising countries on the planet. This Caribbean island is known for its paradisiacal beaches and for its incredible history. It is a special country in many ways, but one that captivates you from the first second. . There are many beautiful places to see in Cuba. Visiting the island you will have the opportunity to go back to the 60s: its classic cars, the absence of technology and its beautiful colonial architecture make you fall in love. In Cuba you live! We tell you 10 amazing places to see in Cuba this 2023.
Cuba is, without a doubt, one of the most fun trips we have made in our lives. The great variety of landscapes it has, its beautiful cities steeped in history and its paradisiacal beaches are some of the essential places to see in Cuba. Definitely, one of the main attractions when stepping on this Caribbean country, is that it seems that one travels to the past, as if we were getting on the DeLorean from Back to the Future and we arrived at the 50s, surrounded by pastel-colored houses, cars from the decade and Spanish colonial architecture.
Like history, Cuban culture is unique and from my point of view one of the main reasons to visit Cuba. No matter what artistic manifestation you seek to enjoy, almost all of the art that is made in Cuba comes loaded with that touch of Cubanness that only we know how to put on it. There are not a few Cubans who are known in the musical world, Compay Segundo, the Buenavista Social Club, Los Van Van, El Trío Matamoros, even Silvio Rodríguez with his protest song. The Son, the Cha Cha Chá, the Salsa, the Rumba, are part of those dances that do not allow you to sit down when you listen to them. Not only music, painting, sculpture, photography, letters. I could mention works of literature such as “Paradiso” by Lezama Lima, the poetry of Nicolás Guillén (our National poet), José Martí, even the most current of Leonardo Padura with novels such as “The novel of my life” or “Como polvo en wind”. In the cinema we are not far behind either, iconic films, “Strawberry and Chocolate”, “Memories of Underdevelopment” or “The Death of a Bureaucrat”.
1. Havana, the capital of Cuba
Havana is the main tourist destination in the country. The main international airport is located in the capital of Cuba, so it is very likely that it is the place where you set foot on Cuba for the first time. Old Havana is the oldest area of the city and its most touristic part. Walking through there you will have the feeling of having gone back in time: you will be able to enjoy an interesting architectural mix.
But do not limit yourself to knowing only that part, Centro Habana, it is the most authentic. This is where you can appreciate the life of the locals the most and if you are lucky enough to spend several days there, you will feel like one more Cuban. Without a doubt, one of the best places to see in Cuba.
Tour the boardwalk, rent an almendrón (old car) on Paseo de Martí, visit the Plaza de la Revolución, go to Callejón de Hamel on a Sunday morning, have a drink at the Hotel Nacional, a mojito at the Bodeguita del Medio or a daiquiri in La Floridita, visiting the Capitol or walking the lively Obispo street are some of the things to do in Havana that you cannot miss on your trip.
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2. Varadero, one of the best beaches to see and visit in Cuba
Surely you have heard this name a thousand times on television or in travel agencies. Together with Punta Cana and Cancun, it is the great tourist destination in the Caribbean. In Varadero there are 22 kilometers of crystal clear water where you can enjoy a beach vacation. The main advantage is that it is only a little over 2 hours from Havana. So you will have a paradisiacal beach very close to the Cuban capital. In addition, you can stay in private homes or hotels according to your preference and economic condition. Don’t worry! There are for all kinds of pockets.
The tourist area of Varadero differs quite a bit from the general Cuban style; rather it resembles the Californian summer areas and, to a lesser extent, the Canary Islands. The main chains have built luxurious all-inclusive hotels on the beach, equipped to satisfy any desire that may arise, which makes this destination the ideal place for those seeking a well-deserved rest where the beach, cocktails and life prevail. night. But Varadero is much more than that, if you are looking to rest surrounded by exuberant and virgin nature, Cayo Blanco or the Bellamar Caves are just what you were looking for.
The best hotels to stay in Cuba:
3. Trinidad, the most attractive colonial city to visit in Cuba
Trinidad is one of the most interesting places to visit in Cuba. It is the best preserved colonial city in the country and one of the best on the continent. Trinidad has a lot of history. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the city prospered greatly thanks to sugar production, which was its main economic engine. During that period, most of the buildings that we can see today were built, including its beautiful palaces. But Trinidad is not worth only its historic center. The city is surrounded by nature and very interesting excursions can be made to enjoy its natural wealth.
It is currently considered a city-museum with a great colonial architectural heritage from the 18th and 19th centuries, including narrow cobbled streets, precious restored buildings, majestic churches and fantastic patios, which give it that typically colonial atmosphere. Walking through its streets you will feel the authentic Cuban spirit. You will go back in time, when the streets were not crowded with cars and life was much calmer. Let the spell of this town turned city run through your body.
Oddly enough, this city did not always enjoy this spirit of tranquility. Learn about the legends and myths that originated from the countless Dutch and English pirate attacks that devastated the city. Not only that, the African slaves who supported the sugar industry have also left a unique imprint.
4. Topes de Collantes National Park, one of the most magnificent places to see in Cuba
This natural park is only 20 kilometers from Trinidad. If you enjoy outdoor activities, there you will find paradise in the form of rivers, caves and waterfalls. It is an ideal place to disconnect and breathe fresh air. The Salto del Caburní is the most famous thing in the park. With 62 meters, it is one of the most spectacular waterfalls to see in Cuba. You can get there through a hiking route of about 5 km (round trip). You will pass by beautiful tea plantations, natural ponds and other beautiful sites.
One of the most visited attractions in Topes de Collantes is its spa. A tourist center for rest and health located in the Sierra del Escambray where patients come for anti-stress treatments, rehabilitation, massages, etc.
Although without a doubt, Topes de Collantes is known for its mountain routes. The Vegas Grandes Trail is the most popular hike among visitors to the area, it runs through coffee plantations for about two and a half kilometers, seeing traditional houses, cliffs and ending at Salto del Caburní, a spectacular waterfall where you can cool off at the end of the walk Continuing with the theme of the Topes de Collantes area, you can walk the Gruta La Batata Route, a route with which the flora and fauna will leave you speechless. Although the best is at the end, a cave in which there are different natural pools where you can bathe and enjoy the healing properties of these waters.
5. Viñales, one of the most spectacular places to visit in Cuba
Along with Havana, Trinidad and Varadero, Viñales is one of the main tourist destinations in Cuba. Many know about the beaches of this island, but not all about the incredible nature and green of the country. One of the most beautiful places to see in Cuba is the Viñales Valley. It’s amazing! In the valley there are several caves, the best known is the Cueva del Indio. But the best thing is to have a perspective from one of its viewpoints: these karstic formations surrounded by green form a postcard landscape.
It is a valley declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1999; an exclusive landscape nestled in the Sierra de los Órganos, where you can see the famous mogotes, small steep limestone mountains with rounded tops, a perfect place whether you are a lover of climbing or if what you want is to contemplate the emblematic plantations of Cuban tobacco.
Viñales has the best example of a karstic valley that exists on the entire island. This enviable landscape has its origin during the Cretaceous, about 100 million years ago. Since then, the water has been modeling the rock, both on the surface and in the subsoil, forming a characteristic orography provided with large caves and the mogotes themselves, which are one of its main hallmarks. Much of these caverns ended up collapsing, leaving only the characteristic worn walls that can be seen today. Here is the Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás, the largest cave system in all of Cuba.
6. Cienfuegos and its neoclassical architecture
Just one hour from Trinidad, Cienfuegos is another city that is very worthwhile. Its main attraction are the neoclassical buildings that it preserves in its historic center. In fact, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the surroundings of the Jose Martí Park there are the most beautiful buildings of the third largest city to see in Cuba.
Cienfuegos is known as the “Pearl of the South of Cuba” and it is not surprising, since this small city has managed to seduce travelers from all over the world thanks to the mixture of the elegance of its cultivated French spirit and its affable Caribbean style. . In the bay itself you can read a sign that says “The city that I like the most”, citing the words said by the famous singer Benny Moré.
7. Santiago de Cuba, the first Cuban capital
Santiago is the second largest city to see in Cuba. It is located at the eastern end of the Caribbean island. It is a historic city, since it was the first capital of the country and one of the first eight towns founded by the Spanish. Its geographical location favored being in the easternmost part, where the colonists arrived after crossing the Atlantic.
In this marvelous city you can visit the Museum of Cuban Historical Environment, located next to Céspedes Park and very close to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, the Balcón de Velázquez and the Diego Velázquez House to learn more about the colonial era. In addition, the city has a privileged location located in the Bay of Santiago de Cuba that allowed it to be the first capital of the country for a while. Through it, the first black slaves arrived in Cuba and, with them, their traditions that are still preserved and that are tried to be maintained in places like the Casa del Caribe and the House of Popular Religions.
Along with the bay, the relief of the area offers many opportunities to enjoy wonderful landscapes while carrying out activities related to ecological and mountain tourism. In this way, you will be able to contemplate the incredible landscape of the Caribbean Sea from Pico Turquino, the green views that can be seen from the Gran Piedra or the beautiful images of the bay of Santiago de Cuba from Cayo Granma or from the Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca, declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1997.
8. Cayo Largo del Sur y sus playas
If you are looking for a beach vacation, then you should consider visiting Cayo Largo del Sur. As its name indicates, the key is long and is in the south of the island. Unfortunately, it can only be reached by air from Havana, Varadero or Trinidad, the three most important destinations in the country. Near the airport there are spectacular beaches and its hotel zone. Many go on a day trip, although we recommend going solo if you can stay longer. Cayo Largo del Sur has some of the best beaches to see in Cuba such as Playa Paraíso or Playa Sirena.
The curious name of Key Largo is due to its elongated shape and its first allusions appear in the reports of the island’s captains-general from the 17th century. Instead, it has been shown that the first discoverers were already pre-Columbian aborigines in the 14th and 15th centuries. In addition, due to its strategic position, this exciting island in the Caribbean Sea has a certain historical attraction, having been a transit point for the most famous pirates and corsairs of the seas and even for Christopher Columbus on his way to San Juan Island. Even so, until its tourist development in 1980, there had been no permanent settlement, although today it has all kinds of amenities that will make your stay there a unique experience.
9. Cayo Coco, one of the most visited in Cuba
This key is one of the most popular in Cuba. Unlike Cayo Largo del Sur, it is accessible by car thanks to a causeway. Cayo Coco has a great hotel infrastructure and, most importantly, paradisiacal beaches. We believe that it is an ideal destination to spend a week in the same hotel and discover all its beaches. Playa Las Coloradas or Playa Flamencos are two of the best known, although there are others that are also beautiful. Without a doubt, one of the best places to see in Cuba.
Cayo Coco is conceived as a natural tourist park and concentrates its urbanization to the north, conserving the rest of the territory in its natural state, which is why it will meet your expectations whether you are a lover of the purest nature or if what you are looking for is to recover forces at the edge of the sea.
10. Camaguey, places of hidden stories in its magical corners
Camagüey is the most eastern, extensive and flat province in the center of the island of Cuba. Its economy grew during the 17th century thanks to the production of sugar and livestock. It has few mountain groups and is flanked by the two largest archipelagos in the country: to the north, Sabana-Camagüey, known as Jardines del Rey; and to the south, Jardines de la Reina. Both still have virgin areas in which to seek tranquility. The temperature does not vary excessively throughout the year, with an annual average of 24.7 ºC.
Most tourists arrive at the Ignacio Agramonte International Airport, or by road if they come from other regions of the country. The biggest tourist attractions in the province of Camagüey are undoubtedly Playa Santa Lucía, in Cayo Sabinal; and Cayo Cruz. The color of its waters and the fine sand form a tropical attraction that few visitors to the island can resist. The hotels in the area add incentive to the beauty of the beach by offering numerous activities with which to spend the days.
When you travel to Cuba, you will see that music is omnipresent. You will find music in every corner, in the houses, in the bars and in the restaurants; it will almost always be live and you will be able to see citizens of all ages dancing feverishly together. The musicians are usually good and even amazing. There is no doubt that the typical music of Cuba is the famous salsa, but you can also discover other styles. It is usually best to stay away from excessively touristy places, where the same bands play the same Cuban classics every day. Find out more about what is the hottest place and you will discover contemporary groups.
Cuba is the perfect destination to travel, whether alone, with family or friends. It is one of the safest places in Latin America and the world, with very low rates of violence compared to the rest of the countries in the area. There is no armed violence, no mafias, gangs, organized crime, it is very difficult to see assaults and there is no drug problem given its low consumption. A place where you can walk its streets, squares, paths or coasts with the feeling that everything will be fine. In any of the places you visit, you will feel the strong human warmth, the flexible grace of the Cuban and the feeling of belonging to this land. Seeing children and adolescents running around parks and avenues, often without adult supervision, rather than under the protection of neighbors and trust in public order, is very common in Cuban streets and squares.