Don't Miss Places In Cuba
Cuba is one of the largest islands in the Caribbean that has an underlying 1,500 smaller islands. Much of the island of Cuba consists of fertile plains and gentle hills. Thick forests cover the mountainous regions of the southeast. Most Cubans are descended from the Spanish settlers or African slaves. Many share a love of sport, music, and dancing. Popular Cuban dances include the mambo, rumba, and cha-cha.
Discovered in 1492, Christopher Columbus claimed Cuba for Spain, which stayed in control until 1898. After years of unrest, Fulgencio Batista seized control in 1933 and ruled as a dictator during the 1940’s and 1950’s. In 1959, he was overthrown by the communist rebel Fidel Castro.
Here are the top ten not to be missed places in Cuba.
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The Old Havana is a treasure trove of wonderful colonial mansions, ancient cathedrals, hotels and vintage cars, beautiful squares, monuments, markets, and restaurants that are always cheered by rhythmic music. It is very fascinating to see street performers, stilt walkers, and local bands that entertain tourists in every corner of the district. The cobblestone streets make it unique, unfortunately as you turn the corner of a busy street you will come across some buildings that are in the process of degradation but this also makes the city unique. The Havana is very safe anytime of the day.
Strolling through the old Havana takes you back in time and makes you enjoy the charm of the past with its colonial buildings, (although some are in poor condition) the ingenious inhabitants always armed with a smile and their dignity. You can visit the old buildings and newly restored alternating cobble stoned streets that connect the four main squares of the capital. There is a whole street full of places and bars to party both day and night. It is an absolute must to visit the historical part of Cuba with its contradictions that distinguish it from the great western metropolis. Do not be afraid to walk the roads less traveled by tourists, and there you will find out the genuineness of the Cuban people, their availability and simplicity.
Iglesia Parroquial de la Santissima Trinidad
The church of Trinidad city overlooks the Plaza Mayor and helps to create the stunning architecture of the whole. Built in 1514 by Diego Velasquez, the old church has retained its original facade and interior. It is busy during days of obligation and Catholic celebrations. The Iglesia Parroquial de la Santissima Trinidad tower over the city and as a caring mother observes everything in silence. It is acknowledged as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and majestically stands in the heart of the city amidst the beautiful and colorful colonial houses.
Located in the central square of Trinidad it has a much nicer view from the outside than the inside. The acoustics reverberate inside the church to strengthen the bond between the sacred and the faithful devotees. The simple interior contains a few sacred statues and religious icons. The central altar shows exquisite workmanship that is made from wood and gold. The real magic happens during sunset, when the sunlight strikes making an impression of an intense golden yellow color highlighting the details on its impressive façade. Illuminating the exteriors of this church and its square in front instills a sense of peace and beauty. Trinidad is located just a few miles from Playa Ancon, the most popular beach in the south coast of Cuba. To reach the church, you must take from Trinidad the buses that also depart in the direction of Havana or Varadero.
Valle de Vinales
If you look for a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Havana, the Valle de Vinales is the perfect place. Here, life flows slowly and follows the rhythms of the sun. The whole valley is famous for the production of tobacco and the people live almost exclusively on agriculture. Do not miss the excursion that will tour you to the cultivation and manufacture of tobacco.
Get immersed in nature by taking a horseback ride in the middle of the tobacco plantations with a view of the tall and impressive limestone mountains. Try a glass of mojito and smoke a cigar in the company of the hard working tobacco farmers. You can visit the places where the leaves are dried and the chance to learn how to make the famous Cuban cigars. Women workers here hand roll a Havana cigar expertly. Visit the Mogoles Village that is located in the green region of the Pinar del Rio.
The valley opens immediately with its tobacco fields, lush and verdant. You can also make a nice hike to visit and swim in the caves (Cueva del Indio). You can also visit the beautiful Orchidarium. The breathtaking view of the valley is dotted with Mogotes, grazing cows and flowering trees. The best cigar from Cuba comes mostly from this region.
The Beaches of Varadero offer a unique opportunity to see how nature has been good in time with the Caribbean paradise. Located in the Matanzas province, the 140 miles of white, fine sandy beach, surrounded by palm trees and the seven colors of the water is like heaven on earth. The sea looks like a warm pool and swimming can be done in any time of the day.
Varadero is a small town that offers many opportunities to enjoy your holiday as you see fit. You can completely roam the town on foot, go to the market to buy what you want, eat in the street, and stand quietly in contact with the Cuban people, ask them to do things that most tourists are curious to learn and you will be happy to educate yourself with the Cuban culture. You will instantly like everything. Varadero has a long beach where you can crouch beside the pelicans. The people are happy, but not annoying or intrusive. If you feel like having a fresh pineapple, a Daiquiri or a Pina Colada, there are vendors that pass and without being greedy prepare instantly what you want. There is no shortage of bars or restaurants for a good price.
El Nicho Waterfalls
The tour begins with an exciting walk in the thick forest until you reach the beautiful Caribbean cascades that convey the joy with their fast flowing water and illuminated by the sunshine. The El Nicho Waterfalls is a corner of the world where nature truly reigns supreme. The charming scenery is the main reason why tourists flock to this famous attraction in the city of Cinfuegos. The ponds formed by the waterfalls provide a crystal clear pool where families can enjoy a good swim along with their children. However, it is not easy to get to this place because there are not enough directions and landmark.
It is better to rely on arranged tours with good guides to take the lead. It is accessible by a one a half hour drive from the winding roads of Trinidad, passing through the Topes de Collantes all the way to the city of Cinfuegos to arrive at this beautiful nature park. It's a kind of nature reserve with a well-marked path through a forest. Do not miss the view at the top of the walk where you can find time to admire the panoramic scene and contemplate. It is an enchanting place and a must see attraction in Cuba.
San Pedro de la Roca del Morro Castle
The San Pedro de la Roca del Morro Castle is an ancient fortress located in the capital city of Santiago de Cuba. It is located about 10 km south-west of the center. The castle has a beautiful landscape with an amazing view of the broad bay. It is considered one of the best preserved monuments of the Spanish-American military architecture and awarded a UNESCO World Heritage Site recognition. The fascinating sea fortress overlooks the entire ocean and the pristine white beaches of the city. Inside the museum you will know the history of the pirates, the founding of the Morro, a display of their guns, swords, and various articles and items about the early Spanish colonizers of Cuba.
The fortress has several rooms where prisoners were once held. It also has an infantry hall where the loading of the cannon balls was once active. The castle is an ideal example of Spanish military engineering in the Caribbean. On the road leading to the fort there are several stalls selling handmade craft especially those of fine wood products. Aside from admiring a breathtaking landscape from the castle, you can see iguanas that inhabit the reef and scurrying for safety to reach the algae rich side of the fort.
Bahia de Naranjo Nature Park
The tour of the Bahia de Naranjo starts with a catamaran trip to experience the wonderful world of the dolphins. You can do some snorkeling at the nearby Playa Esmeralda, feed the fishes and uncover many species of tropical fish but to swim with the dolphins is a once in a lifetime event. At the Park, you will be given instructions on how to hold and pet these wonderful and trained dolphins for the occasion. Initially you will be in a pool with two dolphins where they will obey the instructions of their trainer and nothing is left to chance.
Instructors ensure safety of dolphins foremost so be respectful of the wild animals. The activity with the dolphins is something that can be enjoyed by families and their children. Do not miss the additional exercise in which the dolphins pull you over by your feet. The dolphin caress time is worth all the effort. It is a great experience, especially for children to be in the water with the dolphins for more than 20 minutes filled with lots of kisses, caresses. and swimming. Paying an extra you can also swim clinging to the fins and be launched by the dolphins upwards. The family photo beside the dolphins is a beautiful memory.
Mausoleo del Che Guevara
The Museum and tombstone dedicated to the late guerilla leader is situated on a small hill in the city of Santa Clara with a staircase and a huge square in front. On the outside you can see 2 concrete walls with slogans and faces of the revolution. At the center of these 2 walls stands a very high pillar ending with a huge statue of Che Guevara.
On the back going down a few steps, you enter directly (leaving everything outside at the security; bags, phones, cameras, etc.) in perfect silence, (the guards will warn you) you will start in a room, fresh and semi-dark containing the remains of Che Guevara and his guerrilla compañeros buried in a wall of gray stone with faces carved on the stone. In every niche there is a fresh red carnation, they tell me that is delivered every day. Not far from the pavement is a little patch with an oil lamp that is kept lighted on the day the corpse of Che was found.
El Yungue – Baracoa
The El Yungue is a mountain reserve that takes tourists on a hike through a tropical garden. You can walk through the farms with every imaginable tropical fruit and sample every variety. The Eco - tourism tour is quite an experience.
A dip in the crystal clear river is one of the highlights as well as the stone path and the muddy trail. The path is slippery and sometimes blurred by rain. You also need to cross the river ford. On the way up you will pass through cocoa trees. The view from the top is incredible.
Playa Paraiso Beach
The color of the sand at the Playa Paraiso Beach is compared to a talcum powder. It is like having “powder in the foot" all white and pristine. The sea is beautiful on this almost deserted beach. It is absolutely worth a visit if you are on vacation in the Cayo Largo region. It can be reached either by taxi or train.
The light is very strong and almost blinding. The white beaches are so white that you have to wear sunglasses as it reflects the light of the sun. The postcard-perfect Caribbean attraction is worth a visit because of its extensive sandbars, natural pools, Turquoise and transparent sea.