Published on August 16th, 2016 | by Mark Chesnut
7 Must-See Destinations in Cuba
Cuba has landed on the “must-visit” list for an ever-growing number of travelers, especially as diplomatic relations and travel restrictions thaw between U.S. and Cuban governments.
As more and more travelers around the world start planning Cuba holidays, it’s more important than ever to research and choose the best destinations that fit your vacation and travel needs on this fascinating Cuban island. Here are seven of the top places in Cuba that are worth putting on your itinerary (if you’re traveling from the United States, of course, be sure to follow the U.S. government guidelines for visiting; everyone else has a lot more freedom and flexibility to visit and do what they like while on a Cuba vacation).
This historic port city, Cuba’s capital, is the first stop for many visitors enjoying a Cuba vacation. It’s the place you’ve seen in countless photos – classic vintage cars cruise the streets, past beautiful historic architecture that ranges from the Spanish colonial days to the 1950s. It’s a great place to become familiar with Cuba’s intoxicating blend of Spanish, African, Caribbean and American influences. Top tourism sites include the broad waterfront boulevard called the Malecón, the giant fortress called El Morro and the beautiful Gran Teatro de la Habana, the refurbished theater. The large Havana cathedral is another must-see attraction.
Also popular with history and culture lovers is the city of Trinidad, which has a beautiful historic center filled with gorgeous mansions and lovely plazas. The Museum of Architecture and La Santísima Trinidad, a cathedral consecrated in 1892, are among the top attractions here.
Santiago de Cuba
Located in eastern Cuba, Santiago celebrated its 500th anniversary in 2015, and has played a major role in the island’s independence as well as the revolution. Top attractions here include the Basilica del Cobre, which was dedicated to Cuba’s patron saint in 1926, and the historic Santa Ifigenia cemetery, which is home to the mausoleum of José Martí, the Cuban independence hero.
This coastal town is where many people go for Caribbean beach vacations. Cuba’s most popular tourist destination, it’s lined with white-sand beaches and has multiple all-inclusive hotels that make life easy and relaxing. From Varadero, it’s easy to set out on scenic catamaran cruises, try your luck at sport fishing, and join side trips to Matanzas, Cárdenas, and the Península de Zapata.
Beautiful and unspoiled Caribbean beaches are also a draw at Cayo Largo, which has a long white-sand beach and postcard-perfect waters. A laid-back vibe, clothing-optional beaches and excellent marina are among the reasons to visit.
The third largest city on the island, Camagüey features a mix of architectural styles and colonial-era churches — the most photographed is the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Merced, a church first built in 1748, reconstructed in 1848 and renovated in 1998.
Cobblestone streets and historic architecture make this city a lovely stop on any Cuba tour. The most famous attraction here is the mausoleum of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, which has a large bronze sculpture of the revolutionary hero, and museum exhibits highlight his work in the Cuban revolution.
Cover photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/zedzap/3240194466/”>Nick Kenrick.</a> via <a href=”https://visualhunt.com”>VisualHunt</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-SA</a>