Best Places to Visit in Cuba

By Mayté Solano Gómez

Travelling to Cuba mainly means, wherever you go on the island, meeting its jovial and helpful, but also very special people; enjoying the sun and beautiful natural landscapes and visiting heritage sites, to learn a little about the history and traditions of this country.

Discover here the best places to visit in Cuba, in the best-known destinations.

Best places to visit in Cuba: Havana

Havana is a destination that every tourist should visit. Being the capital of the country, it offers endless attractive places, ranging from beaches, heritage sites and countless nightclubs, to many other options.

It is also an excellent starting point, for visiting other destinations in Cuba, as well as for onward travel to other countries. The José Martí International Airport, 30 minutes from the city centre, is the main arrival and departure point for tourists. It also has domestic flights to and from the main provinces. This is the best way to visit the lesser-known destinations that are also the farthest from the capital.

However, from Havana, you can go, by car, to other destinations of more interest or popularity, such as Viñales, Trinidad and Cienfuegos. Collective taxis are the best-known and most used by tourists because they are cheap and comfortable. Private taxis are much more expensive.

In Havana, you will find many of the best places to visit in Cuba.

Historic Center of the city and its fortification system, a World Heritage Site

It consists mainly of 4 squares and a great variety of mansions, towers and fortifications built in the 16th and 17th centuries, today mostly converted into museums.

Among the main fortifications are the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, the Castillo de San Salvador de la Punta and the Walls of Havana. On the other side of the bay are the Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro and the San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress.

San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress. Best places to visit in Cuba
San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress.
Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro. Best places to visit in Cuba
Castillo de Los Tres Reyes del Morro
Castle of the Royal Force. Best places to visit in Cuba
Castle of the Royal Force

The main squares of the historic centre each fulfilled a different function: military (Plaza de Armas), commercial (Plaza de San Francisco de Asís), social (Plaza Vieja) and religious (Plaza de La Catedral). These differences are not immediately noticeable today, although some indications remain.

Plaza de Armas (Arms Square): surrounded since its inception by the most important public buildings of the time, today museums. These are the Segundo Cabo Palace and Los Capitanes Generales Palace, as well as the Castillo de la Real Fuerza (Castle of the Royal Force) and the “Templete”, which marks the site where the first mass was celebrated in 1519, and the construction of the first town hall of Havana.

Arms Square, Havana. Best places to visit in Cuba
Best places to visit in Cuba: Arms Square

Plaza de San Francisco de Asís: just 100 meters from the Plaza de Armas, it owes its name to the Franciscan convent that is located at one of the squares, the Convent of San Francisco de Asís. It is also known as the Plaza de las Palomas, given the large number of these birds that are concentrated here, and which it is possible to feed and photograph.

Plaza de San Francisco de Asís, Havana. Best places to visit in Cuba Cuba
Best places to visit in Cuba: San Francisco de Asís Square

Plaza Vieja (Old Square): unlike the other most important squares in the area, no church or town hall was built here. It was mainly used for social activities, such as markets, parties and bullfights. It currently has the largest number of tourist attractions, in addition to the historical or heritage ones, such as the Dark Chamber, the Planetarium, the brewery and the Escorial, where you can enjoy a wide variety of coffee recipes.

Plaza Vieja, Havana. Best places to visit in Cuba
Best places to visit in Cuba: Old Square

Plaza de la Catedral (Cathedral Square): it is one of the most beautiful places in colonial Havana. At one end rises the current Cathedral, seat of the Archdiocese of Havana, visited in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Cathedral Square, Havana. Best places to visit in Cuba
Best places to visit in Cuba: Cathedral Square

Of bars and canteens:

La Bodeguita del Medio is where the best mojito in Cuba is served. Close to the Plaza de la Catedral, it is famous for its walls signed by visitors, some of them are or were great personalities, such as the writers Gabriel García Márquez and Julio Cortázar, the poets Gabriela Mistral and Nicolás Guillén, the famous American singer Nat King Cole, the Spanish singer-songwriter Joan Manuel Serrat and the American writer Ernest Hemingway, a regular customer of the place.

The Floridita is where the best daiquiri in Cuba is served, including the drink created in honor of Ernest Hemingway (Papa Doble), also a regular customer of the place and you can see, inside the bar, a sculpture and a bust in his honor.

La Bodeguita del Medio. Best places to visit in Cuba
La Bodeguita del Medio
El Floridita, the cradle of Daiquiri. Best places to visit in Cuba
El Floridita, the cradle of Daiquiri in Cuba

To live the emotion:

The Cannon Shot at 9 o’clock, in the San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress, is a spectacular ceremony that takes place daily at 9 p.m. and is very popular with locals and tourists. Soldiers, dressed in the style of the Spanish settlers, tell the story of this event and fire the cannon.

The Marina Hemingway is the largest of the marinas in Cuba, with a capacity of up to 400 vessels. It is the site where the Ernest Hemingway International Marlin Fishing Tournament takes place. It offers, in addition to the marina services, varied options, not only for those who own a yacht but for all tourists who visit it. Among them are restaurants (4), where you can enjoy Cuban and international food, including seafood; a pool to relax with the family; excursions and yacht trips; diving and sportfishing, with access to the necessary equipment.

It is located about 25 minutes from the city centre.

Marina Hemingway. Best places to visit in Cuba
Best places to visit in Cuba: Marina Hemingway

To dance at night:

Tropicana is the most famous cabaret in Cuba and has worldwide recognition. It is also known as the Moulin Rouge of the Caribbean. It has 4 main spaces: the “Under the Stars” Room, an outdoor terrace in the middle of a beautiful tropical garden where visitors can really enjoy fabulous and unique shows; the “Arcos de Cristal” Room, a covered room that recreates the effect that is obtained under the y starry in the middle of the field; Café Rodney, a bohemian corner of Tropicana, were simple but professional service, as well as original and varied entertainment, come together to surprise and captivate the visitor; and the Los Jardines restaurant, where the incidental music, the moonlight filtering through the glass roof, the panoramic view of the garden that surrounds the place, and the delights of its haute cuisine will make your dinner an unforgettable moment.


Tropicana Cabaret. Best places to visit in Cuba
Best places to visit in Cuba: Tropicana Cabaret

In Tropicana, you can enjoy a wonderful show, full of lights and colors, with the most typical of Cuban music and popular dances.

The Guajirito is the place that brings together the best of traditional Cuban music, performed by musicians and singers, with 14 Grammy nominations, 7 Grammy awards, 4 Latin Grammy awards, 2 Congo de Oro awards in Barranquilla, 1 Golden Bell award in Cali Colombia and 2 distinctions for the National Culture of Cuba. Coming from the Buena Vista Social Club, Afro-Cuban All-Stars, Cubanisimo, Buena Vista Bar, Orquesta Aragón and the Tropicana and Parisién Cabarets, they are grouped under the name Legendarios del Guajirito.

Taking into account the popularity of this place, it is advisable to have prior reservations, either for the show (without dinner, but cocktails offered by the house) or the show and dinner (includes cocktails courtesy of the house). This last option, although more expensive, is always the best, as it guarantees a better location to enjoy the show.

Contact the Cuba Casa team in Havana and they will help you book the places of your interest, as well as salsa classes.

Enjoying Cuban music: Havana terraces

On the outdoor terrace of the Hotel Inglaterra, where the Gran Café El Louvre is located, you can not only refresh yourself with cocktails but also enjoy excellent traditional Cuban music with small-format groups (from trios to septets), as well as on the exterior terrace of the Great Theater of Havana “Alicia Alonso”.

Similar wonders can also be found if you walk through the historic centre of the city. Places such as the terrace of the Ambos Mundo Hotel in the popular and central Obispo street, Santo Ángel and the Café Taberna in the Old Square and the Patio bar, in the Cathedral Square are also ideal for enjoying live traditional music and good Cuban cocktails.

Cuban music in snack bars and restaurants in Cuba

Cuban music in snack bars and restaurants in Cuba

The Gardens of the Nacional Hotel of Cuba, the emblematic hotel on the island, located in the central area of Vedado, offer visitors a view of the sea and the impressive Malecón, especially during sunrise and sunset. The ideal place to taste good Cuban cocktails while enjoying excellent live traditional Cuban music.

Opened in December 1930, it is distinguished by its luxury, elegance and first-class service. That is why it is considered a National Monument and has been declared a Memory of the World by UNESCO.

Good Cuban food:

Havana has many very good restaurants or “paladares”, as they are popularly called on the island. However, it is convenient to have reviews or a guide of which ones may be the best to visit.

Among the best restaurants in the Old Havana area are O’Reilly 304 and El del Frente, which enjoy great popularity among tourists, due to the good atmosphere and the quality of the food. At El del Frente, the terrace is super popular. Los Nardos, in front of the Capitol of Havana, is famous for its delicious and abundant food, at really cheap prices.

Los Nardos, in front of the Capitol of Havana. Best places to visit in Cuba
Los Nardos, in front of the Capitol of Havana, is famous for its delicious and abundant food, at really cheap prices.

In Centro Habana, La Guarida, surprisingly beautiful, once you overcome the road that leads to it, is one of the most recommended restaurants in Havana. La Vitrola, for its part, offers the visitor a more intimate atmosphere and a decor that refers to Cuban tobacco and its different brands. It includes a lounge for smokers, where you can buy and taste the best Cuban cigars.

In the Vedado area, Café Laurent, La Catedral, El Decamerón and HM7 restaurants offer a pleasant and refined atmosphere and excellent food.

Finally, I must mention the Otramanera restaurant, in the Playa municipality, very close to the Music House of Miramar, with international cuisine dishes that are not only delicious to taste but beautifully presented. It also has a bar where you can enjoy great drinks and a cosy atmosphere.

If it’s about art …:

The Cuban Art Factory (FAC) is a nocturnal space exhibiting the best exponents of contemporary art in Cuba. The building was an old oil factory, transformed into a multi-purpose space, which includes concert halls, a theatre, a cinema, spaces for dancing to the rhythm of recorded music and for fashion shows, in addition to the exhibition rooms for paintings, graphic design and architecture. You can also eat and drink, or simply hang out with friends.

The FAC holds the 2020 Travelers Choice award, awarded by TripAdvisor, and has been internationally nominated for the World Greatest Places 2019, World Travel Awards and Excellence 2017. It was also included in the list of the 100 best places in the world that every tourist should know.

Next to the FAC, in the part of the old factory that served as a chimney, is the beautiful El Cocinero restaurant, where you can enjoy a delicious dinner.

Fusterland is an artistic project that represents the best of urban art in the country. It is located 30 minutes from the city center, in a coastal neighborhood called Jaimanitas. It started at the home-studio of the artist José Antonio Rodríguez Fuster and has spread to the walls and facades of neighbouring houses. Here you can see sculptures, paintings, murals, ceramic mosaics, all very colourful and showing countries from Latin America, Cuban personalities and the world and passages from the history of Cuba or nature, such as palm trees and animals.

The tour of this place is free, but you can also visit the artist’s studio-house, which is open to the public during office hours, and buy some of his works. Finally, the beach is very close, so you can cool off in the water off the coast.

The Alley of Hamel is named this way due to Fernando Belleau Hamel, an American who bought this land at the beginning of the 20th century and where he built houses for the blacks and Chinese that worked in his business. Street expression of Afro-Cuban art and culture, here you can find works made from the remains of old bicycles or abandoned bathtubs and colourful murals that adorn the walls of the houses, in which the “Orishas” or deities of the island are represented, accompanied by legends, phrases and poems.

It is also a space for Afro-Cuban music and dance. Mainly on weekends, starting at noon, artists and the general population converge to offer a show that tourists and locals all relish.

To buy souvenirs:

Almacenes San José is the ideal place in Havana to buy souvenirs and gifts for friends and family, at affordable and negotiable prices. It is big enough to spend between 2 and 3 hours touring it. You can find handicrafts in clay and other materials, musical instruments, paintings, tobacco and rum. It is located close to the brewery and near the cruise terminal and the ferry, with which you can go to the other side of the bay. The tourist bus in Central Park takes you right there.

A tour in an American convertible car or even by bicycle, if you are a lover of physical exercise, will allow you to know other places of interest in the capital, such as the Malecón Habanero, the Revolution Square, and the Rum and Tobacco museums.

Best places to visit in Cuba: Trinidad

After Havana, this is the second most famous tourist destination on the island. Considered the most colonial of the Cuban cities, it seems stopped in time. It has two sites World Heritage Sites, as well as one of the most beautiful beaches in Cuba and the Great Topes de Collantes National Park, with its many waterfalls and beauty spots.

Conveniently located in the centre of the country, it allows the visitor to enjoy all its attractions and then finish their trip to Cuba or continue the journey to the other provinces. It has the Alberto Delgado International Airport, although transportation to and from this beautiful tourist destination is mostly done by the Viazul bus line or with taxis, either private or collective. This is one of the best places to visit in Cuba.

Heritage sites:

The historical centre of the city dates from the 16th century when the town was founded. It has cobblestone streets and the houses are authentic examples of colonial architecture, with their immense and cool interior courtyards, high ceilings and spacious rooms. Among the best places to visit in this city are La Plaza Mayor, presided over by the current Iglesia Mayor de la Santísima Trinidad; the Colonial Architecture Museum, the only one of its kind in the country; the National Museum of Fight Against Bandits and the Romantic Museum.

The historical center, in Trinidad. Best places to visit in Cuba
The historical center, in Trinidad

The Valley of the Sugar Mills is located halfway between the historic centre of the city and Ancón beach. It consists of an extensive plain of more than 250 km². A corner of nature and history in Cuba, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988. Among the best places to visit here are the House of Red Ceramics, where you can see the process of making molasses; the Mirador del Valle, from where you can enjoy the natural beauty of the San Luis Valley and the ruins of the old Manaca Izaga sugar mill, with its original kettles and bells. The Manaca Tower is the main attraction of the place. At Hacienda Guáimaro, with its relics from archaeological excavations, also has the chapel with the original bible written in Latin and covered in gold threads and plated in emeralds. The walls of the house are covered with wall paintings from floor to ceiling with romantic and neoclassical themes of the time.

Los Ingenios Valley in Tinidad. Best places to visit in Cuba
Los Ingenios Valley in Tinidad

It is also possible to travel through Los Ingenios Valley in one of the 100 steam trains that remain in Cuba, travelling the route from the sugar cane to the mill; and canopy or zip-line, a unique and safe experience for adventure lovers, to add to the emotion experienced contemplating the beautiful landscape.

Nature in action:

The Protected Natural Landscape Topes de Collantes is located 800 meters above sea level and is part of the Sierra del Escambray, in the centre of the island. With a microclimate due to the high mountains, it also has a varied flora and fauna, which can be seen walking through the many parks that exist in this place. Among them are the El Cubano Natural Park, with one of the first sugar mills built in Trinidad: El Ingenito. By visiting it you can get an idea of ​​what life was like for slaves here. The Salto de Javira, in this same Natural Park, is another of the places where you can go hiking, take photographs, birdwatching and bathe in the refreshing waters of a natural pool.

The Caburní Natural Park is located in the heart of Topes de Collantes and has among its main attractions the Caburní waterfall. And although the access involves a short trek, it has very difficult sections of steep slopes, so it might not be convenient to go with small children.

Topes de Collantes in Trinidad. Best places to visit in Cuba
Topes de Collantes in Trinidad

On the way to the Vegas Grandes Trail, you can visit a coffee plantation, the home of peasants in the area and, at the same time, listen to and photograph native birds of Cuba. All this, before reaching a beautiful natural pool where you can dive. It also has a small cave, protected by the waterfalls like a curtain.

As a plus, in various points of the Great Natural Park, you can find restaurants and cafeteria bars, as well as artisans who sell crafts made with natural resources such as ferns and quartz (a type of stone that is abundant in the area and which is reported to have healing qualities). On one of the access roads to Topes de Collantes, it is possible to stop at the Mirador, from where you can see the Ancón peninsula and its beaches, as well as the surrounding mountains.

Sun and beach:

Ancón beach is considered one of the most beautiful on the southern coast of Cuba. There you will enjoy warm, crystalline and transparent waters, white and very fine sands and a burning sun, which you can enjoy, but at the same time take care to avoid getting burnt. It also offers excellent conditions for snorkelling. Indeed, the whole area is perfect for lovers of snorkelling or diving, with more than twenty dive sites. Besides, it has an important archaeological reserve in which there are countless ships and galleons from the colonial era when corsairs and pirates prowled the city and tried to attack the town of Trinidad.

Ancon beach, in Trinidad. Best places to visit in Cuba
Ancon beach, in Trinidad

To eat, dance and drink:

Among the best restaurants or “paladares” in Trinidad are Bistro Trinidad and Adita Café, in the very centre of the town. Both are distinguished by the excellent service, the delicious food and the careful attention that the staff offers to the visitors. With very good prices there is the San José restaurant and La Redacción, while the Sapori Italiani restaurant is one of the favourites for international (Italian) food.

The Casa de la Trova and the Casa de la Música are the ideal places to listen, live, to authentic Cuban music in Trinidad, while enjoying a good canchánchara (delicious typical drink of the region) and the excellent company of the locals that also frequent them.

The Casa de la Trova building was built in the 18th century. It is also a museum showcasing the region’s cultural heritages, as well as a valuable collection of national and local discography.

The House of Music is an excellent Cultural Center, belonging to the Egrem (Company of Recordings and Musical Editions) and was also built in the 18th century.

Despite the current health crisis caused by the coronavirus, you can follow what is happening with Cuban music on the Facebook page of the Casa de la Música de Trinidad.

Best places to visit in Cuba: Viñales

The Viñales Valley is located in Pinar del Río. Since 1999 it has been National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Landscape Site. It has distinctive rock formations with rounded tips, known as mogotes and is also known as the land where the best tobacco leaf is grown in Cuba.

Although the region does not have an international airport, it is easily accessible by car from Havana or Varadero.

World Heritage:

Viñales Valley is the ideal place for cycling, hiking and enjoying natural attractions. Among the main places to visit are the Mural of Prehistory, which includes a pictorial work on a vertical rock wall, open to the sky, 120 meters high and another 160 wide; as well as various farms where you can taste coffee and good Cuban tobacco while learning about the process of production and elaboration of both products.

From the Mirador Los Acuáticos you can enjoy beautiful sunsets, together with natural juices made from delicious tropical fruits of the region. The path to reach the viewpoint covers a distance of between 1 and 4 km, depending on the route taken. The tour can be done on foot or horseback, either on your own or with the help of a guide.

Viñales valley, a World Heritage Site. Best places to visit in Cuba
Viñales valley, a World Heritage Site.

Nature in action:

The Indian cave was a refuge for the first indigenous inhabitants of the island, so inside you can see, in addition to stalactites and stalagmites, cave paintings and archaeological remains from pre-Columbian Cuban cultures.

An underground river runs through it, which allows visitors to travel through a section of the cave in a wonderful motorboat and experience the magic of this place.

Soroa is not technically in Viñales, but very close. There, the Orquideario and the Soroa waterfall attest to the natural beauty of the island. The Orchid is one of the 13 existing botanical gardens in Cuba and has more than 700 species and varieties of this beautiful plant. In this place you can also see other species of plants and animals, some of them endemic to the region.

As for the Soroa waterfall, it is 22 meters high and is considered one of the wonders of Cuban geography. It is recommended to visit it between May and October when the rains favour the flow of its waters. It has 279 steps that allow you to reach the top, enjoy the wonderful view, and then descend to immerse yourself in the refreshing waters.

Sun and beach:

In Cayos Levisa and Cayo Jutías there are some of the most beautiful beaches on the island, some of them practically virgin. Diving, snorkelling and riding on water bikes are some of the recreational activities that can be done in these paradisiacal keys. The Cayo Jutías lighthouse, one of the oldest in Cuba, is another attraction. Among the fauna and flora of the place, you can see small forests of pines and mangroves, pelicans and other large birds.

Among the beaches of Cayo Levisa, Punta Arena is considered among the best beaches in Cuba. Fine white sands, starfish and amazingly clear and blue-green waters characterize this place, little frequented by the mass of tourists.

Best places to visit in Cuba: Matanzas

Nature in action:

The Bellamar Caves, with more than 23 km of underground galleries, and the Saturno Caves, with a natural pool ideal for swimming and diving, are located a few hours from Varadero. Both have stalactite and stalagmite formations, being of great interest to tourists who visit this area.

The Varahicacos Ecological Reserve was opened in 1974, with caves containing 2,500-year-old human remains and ancient pictographs. It includes an unguided tour, although documented, through trails and caves with different specimens of the native flora and fauna of the region.

In Playa Larga / Ciénaga de Zapata / Bay of Pigs, numerous natural sites exist. There is also a site of historical interest in Matanzas, as it is the place where North American imperialism was defeated for the first time in Latin America, following the failed landing at Playa Girón.

Here you will find the largest wetland in the Caribbean, a Biosphere Reserve, a bird observatory and a Crocodile Farm where the native species is protected. It is possible to take a boat ride through the Laguna del Tesoro and contemplate the replica of the dwellings of the Tainos, aborigines who inhabited the area. If you are a lover of snorkelling and diving, you can do it in the Cueva de Los Peces (Fishes Cave).

Sun and beach:

Varadero is the best-known sun and beach destination in Cuba and, although very touristy, it never ceases to surprise visitors with the beauty of its beaches and its various recreational options.

Ideal for lovers of diving, snorkelling, sport fishing and yachting, Varadero also fascinates for its extraordinary marine biodiversity, among which different types of corals, molluscs and multicoloured fish stand out.

Josone Park, Varadero Golf Club, Dolphinarium and Cueva Ambrosio, are other attractions of interest.

To eat, dance and drink:

Among the best restaurants in Varadero are the Bistro Bar Atlantida, La Gruta, Varadero 60 and the Waco’s Club. All of them are recognized for their delightful atmosphere, excellent service and delicious cuisine.

For the evening hours, there are numerous cabarets, bars and clubs in Varadero, some of them located in the main hotels, as well as the Tropicana de Matanzas, 20 minutes from Varadero.

Best places to visit in Cuba: Cienfuegos

This central city of Cuba, a World Heritage Site, is a destination to visit in one day, given its small size. However, the beauty of its landscapes and the architectural design of its buildings and streets (it is considered the city with the best urban layout in the country) make it worth visiting.

It has the longest Paseo del Prado in Cuba, in which there is a life-size statue of the famous Cuban singer and composer Beny Moré and the Reina Cemetery, unique in Cuba, where there is a beautiful statue of Sleeping Beauty, who has a sister in Genoa, Italy. There is also the Botanical Garden, a National Monument; the Tomás Terry Theater, notable for its beautifully preserved architecture and decoration; and the Fortress of Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles de Jagua, strategically located at the entrance to the Port of Cienfuegos, to defend the city from the assaults of pirates and filibusters.

Rancho Luna beach and the Dolphinarium is an ideal place for young and old to have fun. To close, you should not miss a sunset on the Malecón Cienfuegos.

Nature in action:

El Nicho Natural Park is a site located in the Sierra del Escambray, between the provinces of Cienfuegos and Trinidad. It has, among its main attractions, a waterfall, on a natural path of approximately 1 km known as the Kingdom of the Waters. Besides, there are numerous caves and abundant flora and fauna to appreciate.

Best places to visit in Cuba: El 
Nicho
Best places to visit in Cuba: El
Nicho

Best places to visit in Cuba: Santiago de Cuba

It is the second-largest and the second most important city in the country. It is famous mainly for the Sanctuary of Caridad del Cobre, Patron Saint of Cuba, and for its carnivals, considered the best on the island. But none of this compares to the human quality of its inhabitants and the warmth and joy they give off.

Popular festivals:

During the first week of July, Santiago de Cuba hosts La Fiesta del Fuego, associated with the Caribbean Festival. Dedicated each year to a country in this region, this event overflows with colours, languages and rhythms. In this festival, various shows are performed, most of them outdoors, and different activities are held. “Congas”, played mainly with trumpets and drums, flood the streets of the city. The celebrations range from the Procession of the Serpent to the Burning of the Devil on the shores of the bay.

Around 2 weeks later, in the middle of July, the Carnival of Santiago de Cuba begins a Cultural Heritage of the Nation, and considered the most famous on the island. Each year it attracts numerous locals and tourists. Throughout the day music, dances and joy fill every space in the centre of the town, which was founded in 1515. At night, the troupes, floats and dolls enliven the evening. The typical food of the region and drinks are enjoyed by all.

To close the festivities in Santiago de Cuba, there is the celebration of July 26, the day of the National Rebellion, in commemoration of the Assault on the Moncada Barracks. Although this festival takes place in all the country’s provinces, it is in the east of the island where the hubbub and pride are greatest.

World Heritage:

The Castillo del Morro San Pedro de la Roca was declared by UNESCO in 1998 a World Heritage Site. This Renaissance military fortification was built in 1638 to protect the city of Santiago de Cuba against a naval attack. It has been rebuilt on numerous occasions, the most important after being almost destroyed by two earthquakes in 1758 and 1766, a remodelling that gave it its current appearance. It is considered an architectural gem of indisputable aesthetic and historical value.

The Castillo del Morro San Pedro de la Roca. Best places to visit in Cuba
The Castillo del Morro San Pedro de la Roca was declared by UNESCO in 1998 as a World Heritage Site.

For its part, the Archaeological Landscape of the first coffee plantations in the southeast of Cuba has been a World Heritage Site since 2000. The remains of these coffee plantations from the 19th century are a unique sample of a pioneering form of agriculture in difficult terrain, virgin forest, whose traces have disappeared in the rest of the world.

Other sites of interest:

The Sanctuary of the Virgen del Cobre, Patron Saint of Cuba. Oshun in the Yoruba religion is the deity that reigns over the fresh waters of the world, the streams, springs and rivers, personifying love and fertility. Also known as Santa María la Virgen, or the Virgin Mambisa, according to tradition, her image was collected by three fishermen. Her main shrine is located in the sanctuary built at the top of the mountains, near the Santiago del Prado mines, very close to the town of Santiago de Cuba, where one of the largest open-pit copper veins in America was located. Every September 8 she is honoured.

Nowadays, people who visit the church of the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre often return home with tiny stones in which the copper from the mine shines. Those who put them in glasses of water, pockets or bags, have special protection against evil.

The Santa Ifigenia Cemetery is the main cemetery or necropolis in eastern Cuba and Santiago de Cuba, and it is the second-largest cemetery on the island after the Necropolis of Christopher Columbus, in Havana. It was declared a National Monument in 1979, due to its rich historical, architectural and cultural treasures. In it lie the remains of the Cuban national hero, José Martí, as well as the ashes of the historical leader of the Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz.

La Gran Piedra is another of the places of interest in Santiago de Cuba. This is a gigantic mass of volcanic breccia rock (the largest in the Caribbean), 51 meters long and 25 to 30 meters wide, with a calculated weight of 63,000 tons, which is located on top of a mountain 1,225 meters above sea level. Here, lovers of nature tourism enjoy hiking, mountaineering, cycling and the contemplation of flora and fauna, among other options.

Finally, the keys …

Any of the keys that surround the island of Cuba are an earthly paradise that every visitor should know. Some of them figure on the lists of the best beaches in the world, thanks to their warm crystalline waters in shades of green and blue and fine white sands. They offer endless luxury options for lovers of the sun, the beach and nautical sports.

The hotels, mostly in the 4 and 5 stars category, invite you to relax and enjoy a quiet and restful vacation. Their facilities include buffets and speciality restaurants and bars, swimming pools, gyms and tennis courts and facilities for snorkelling, diving and other nautical activities. Options for children are also guaranteed.

The flora and fauna of these keys are equally beautiful and varied so that it is possible to appreciate starfish, fish of multiple colours, turtles, iguanas, pelicans and flamingos. Most of the keys to the north of the island are protected by the second-largest coral reef on the planet. It is also possible to appreciate the many sunken ships.

Among the best-known keys are:

Jutías Cay

Cayo Levisa

Cayo Saetía

Cayo Las Brujas

Cayo Santa Maria

Ensenachos Cay

Cayo Largo del Sur

Cayo Coco

Cayo Guillermo

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