Cuba is an island country where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean meet. Adjacent to The Bahamas and Florida in the northern side, Haiti in the eastern side as well as Jamaica and Cayman Islands in the southern side, The Republic of Cuba is one of the popular holiday destinations. it is a part of Latin America with Spanish as their mother language and Havana as their capital and largest city. Aside from the major Cuba island, it also has archipelagos that were dispersed along the coastline and one of them is the large Isla de la Juventud. That’s why Cuba has many beaches and is good for underwater activities. From the old town of Havana, artworks showcases, town festivals, parks and historical castles, you can experience it all just like local Cuban. Check out all of these most popular tourists attractions below and get ready to make the most out of your next holiday to Cuba.
1. VARADERO BEACH TOWN
Hop on a bus to Varadero and you’ll finally reach this beach resort town! With 20 km long, this island stretch from the northern side of Cuba to the Atlantic Ocean, just right across Florida, one of the prominent reasons to visit Cuba. This is where you’ll get to stroll along the coastline with inclusive hotels, spas and many other attractions in the town.
Playa Varadero is the name for Varadero’s stunning sunset beach. There, you can do water activities such as scuba diving, fishing, swimming or just to get sunbathe. The beach is the most popular tourists attraction in Varadero, but if you decide to stay there for a night, you can also saunter at the Josone park. The park has a lagoon and pedal boat rentals completed with bars & eateries. Some other places like the Old Tower Varadero, Varadero Golf Club, La Casa del Habano cigar and rum shop and Cueva de Ambrosio historical cave are also there to make your stay even worth to remember.
2. HAVANA CITY
As the biggest and busiest city in Cuba, Havana obviously has a long history that raises the city until now. This is why Havana has so many tourists attractions which will let you step back into the ancient time. One of the most popular itineraries to do in Havana is to explore the city with a classic car, go around Plaza Vieja (old town Havana) and look around for some old books, search for local foods at Cuban cafeterias (such as Cafeteria El Juany and many more), try daiquiri at the famous El Floridita Bar, sip local rum at Havana Club, visit Museo de La Revolucion to learn the history of Cuba or Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes to have a look at Cuban artworks and end your day by revel in the lively Tropicana Club! You’ll get to try every Cuban experience by just visiting Havana, so make sure you include this city into your bucket list!
Travel tips: Search for Cuban cigar class and learn to roll them if you have free time in Havana.
3. VINALES COUNTRYSIDE
After a full exhausting day in Havana, you’re bound to get some refreshing time and the town of Vinales can easily give you those retreats! From the Vinales Valley that is actually a tobacco farm and is good for hiking and cycling, the botanical garden of Jardin Botanico that has Cuban flora and tropical fruits and a nice Vinales church to pray. Try the famous Guava Rum while you’re in the town (the taste surely won’t disappoint you), listen to the local music from Centro Cultural Polo Montanez at night and have a fun outdoor salsa dance. Let loose your wild side because you can never go wrong at this place!
4. TRINIDAD SPANISH TOWN
Going far to the southeastern side of Havana (about 4 hrs drive), you’ll finally arrive at the town of Trinidad that is geographically located in central Cuba, not too far from the Caribbean coast. it is another most popular reasons to visit Cuba. Trinidad was the first land in Cuba to be visited by The Narvaez Expedition (Spanish journey of exploration). That’s the main reason why the town is famous for its colonial old town. From the year of 1988, Trinidad has been listed to UNESCO World Heritage site as a preserve of ancient time. In Trinidad, most of tourists attractions can be found at Plaza Mayor.
At this city square, you can wander around the open space that is being surrounded by historical colourful building such as Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra Bandidos (local military museum during the revolution), Palacio de Cantero (mansion that is open for the public to display antique furniture), Museo de Historia Municipal (neo-classic museum with beautiful decorations and murals. The place is famous to see town view from the tower) and Casa de la Musica (a place to enjoy dance shows, Cuban live music, cocktails and mojitos). Listen to the music that spread along with the town and have a vibrant tour!
5. TOPES DE COLLANTES NATIONAL PARK
Only 30 minutes away from Trinidad, Topes de Collantes National Park is a huge nature reserve and a popular tourist attraction, that is worth to visit during your way back to Havana. This park offers you a scenic view of waterfalls and natural pools to swim, tranquil landscape, cave, coffee plantation and some hiking trail through the river and forest (one of them is La Batata trail). Two of the well-known waterfalls inside the park are Vegas Grande Waterfall with turquoise blue water and El Nicho Waterfall with refreshing-cold water.
You’ll also have a chance to try coffee at a garden coffee shop down the road. Now, it’s time to get off the beaten track and have an adventurous excursion! Topes de Collantes National Park is open for public from 8 AM – 5 PM with an entrance fee differ from one trail to another. Expect to pay 9 CUC for Vegas Grande, 6 CUC for El Nicho and 4 CUC for La Batata.
Travel tips: Make sure you are fit enough to walk along the hiking trails. Bring your water bottle and snacks in case you get hungry during the activity.
6. ALMACENES SAN JOSE ARTISANS MARKET
Visiting a new country is absolutely a chance for tourists to bring some memorable things that may become a remembrance of their unforgettable trip. One of Cuba souvenirs that is unique and easy to buy is their artworks. At Almacenes San Jose Market, you are free to look around for some souvenirs such as paintings, t-shirts and any other items of clothing, leather goods, jewellery, key chains, shoes, hats and many more. Facing the Ensenada de Antares bay, this huge open-air fair is a must-visit when you’re in the area because it also a favourite place for locals and is considered as one of the best markets in Havana. Search for unique exceptional things, haggle the price and bring the best Cuban art to your home! The market opens daily (closed at Monday) from 10 AM – 6 PM.
7. CUEVA DE LOS PECES (BAY OF PIGS)
Travelling 192 km away to the southeast of Havana, you’ll find the clear water of Bay of Pigs and a cave pool Cueva de Los Pieces. Heading to the Caribbean Sea, you are meant to do snorkelling or even diving from the shore. When you go further down the water, you’ll see some marine life consist of colourful corals, lobsters, lionfishes and more. So what are you waiting for? Take a leap and have fun underwater exploring in Cuba!
Getting pleased by the seawater, you may also want to try swimming at the iconic cenote (freshwater pool) or even do scuba diving throughout the cave of Cueva de Los Peces. Completed with a restaurant and bar, you won’t get hungry during the activities. The distance from Bay of Pigs to Cueva de Los Peces is just hundred metres away so make sure to pay the cave a visit even just for a dip because you won’t get a chance to find this enticing all-inclusive site anymore in Cuba!
Travel tips: The restaurant has some diving equipment for rental, in case you don’t have it/forgot to bring it.
8. FABRICA DE ARTE CUBANO
Culturally impacted by Europe, makes Cuba rich of artworks and music. That’s why Fabrica de Arte Cubano exists. At the very place, they opened a modern art exhibition as well as club and bar lounge at one cultural centre. This new concept of the club is very popular among locals and tourists because of its art and music mixture along with good foods and drinks. You are very likely to see a lined-up queue outside the venue and if you’re curious about how is it like to be inside, then you need to be in line as well.
DJs and live bands performance are common things at Fabrica de Arte Cubano. Now, let the music flows around you and merges with Cuban nightlife. Who knows this may be one of your chance to blend in with locals. This tourists attraction opens daily (except Mon-Wed) from 8 PM – 2 AM with an entrance fee of 2 CUC that will be refunded at the end if you don’t buy anything.
9. MORRO CASTLE & LA CABANA
Located in Havana, not too far from the old town, you will find the awesome Morro historical castle dated since the 16th century. The castle is the best place to get a scenic sunset view as it’s headed to the open Straits of Florida. With a comprehensive site including a lighthouse, some old gunpowder cannons that are still used for cannon ceremony at night (upon closing the city gates) and cigar & rum shop, this castle is now open for public especially for visitors who are curious about how forts are used to defend pirate attacks in the past. Morro Castle opens daily from 10 AM – 7 PM with an entrance fee of 5 CUC before 4 PM and 8 CUC after 4 PM.
Walk 1 km to the southeast and you’ll find the famous La Cabana fortress complex. The place was used as a military prison once before but now is popular for a museum of weapons, arts and crafts as well as a host for many cultural events including the International Book Fair. La Cabana is also a place where you can witness the nightly cannon ceremony just like Morro Castle. People said the cannon firing was so amazing that it can’t be forgotten, so be prepared to get wonderstruck when you see the show! La Cabana opens from 10 AM – 10 PM with an entrance fee of 6 CUC before 6 PM and 8 CUC after 6 PM.
10. STAY AT CASA PARTICULARES
Staying at Casa Particulares may be the one and only experience to live like Cuban locals. It’s actually a house where local families live with a room that can be rented for a night or more (depends on your deal with the house owner). Tourists said it’s the easiest and cheapest way to stay in Cuba rather than booking a hotel in advance. During your stay, you can try their handmade local foods, follow their activities and more. This attempt to become familiar with Cuban lives may be one of your best lifetime experience!
Travel tips: Be careful not to cross the line as the local families have their own privacy too.
11. CAYO COCO
Go forward to East Cuba and find this tranquil island of Cayo Coco! The island is famous for its white-sand beaches, clear water with colourful fishes and corals under the feet, as well as the bright skies that are astonishingly good for stargazing. This island is suitable for you who are searching for a luxurious-serene trip because Cayo Coco has it all! Enjoy a morning walk along the beaches, bask in the sun, swim along the shore and enjoy your night with rum in your hand and stars upon you.
All the above reasons to visit Cuba make it one of the popular holiday destinations to add in your bucket list.