Cuba remains a communist country with many of its own struggles. At the same time it presents an incredible diversity of opportunities for travelers of all types: amazing cities, like Havana and Trinidad, beautiful national parks and superb beaches, plus salsa and rum, and a wide range of sports… And this is just the beginning. However, always be ready for the unexpected if you are visiting Cuba for the first time.
When you arrive at the airport, you’ll probably want to get into the city itself. So, just step out of the airport and you’ll be greeted by your first amazing site in Cuba; an entire parking lot filled with the most beautiful selection of classic cars you’re likely to ever see. All these are taxis that will take you into the city center for a set fee of 25CUC (1 CUC is 1 US Dollar). These exclusive vintage cars feature in almost every photograph of the country, and have become the cultural icon of Cuba, providing an unsurpassed way of seeing all the grand architecture, historic squares, and other attractions Cuba has to offer.
About 25 miles of pure white sandy beach, fringed by turquoise water, luxurious hotels and tourist shops – Varadero is a place to be. The most developed tourist center in Cuba that is fast becoming one of the Caribbean’s leading vacation resorts, the area is often compared with the hotel zone of Cancun (Mexico). Besides being a sun worshipper’s dream and a magnet for vacationers looking for a fun, Varadero is also a nature lover’s paradise. You can explore caves and cliffs, and a well preserved natural landscape found at the northern tip of the peninsula. And if you prefer a cultural or historical vacation, from Varadero, it’s possible to visit the cities of Cardenas (and Mantanzas), the Zapata Peninsula and San Miguel de los Baños, a cultural and historical center.
The capital of Cuba, Havana City is a place of great beauty and infectious vitality. The past and the present are closely interwoven all over this sprawling metropolis, making it one of the most striking cities in the world.
The most famous tourist areas in the city are mainly three, including Old Havana or Centro Habana, Vedado or Nuevo Vedado, and Miramar. Old Havana, which most likely will be your entry point into Cuba, is by far the most interesting part of the city, with the most things to see and do. In this relatively compact area you can spend your days walking around aimlessly looking at all the magnificent old buildings and amazing architecture. The Old Havana area has been done up nicely for tourists, but do not miss out exploring the surrounding neighborhoods as well.
Vedado is the modern political and cultural center of Havana, while Miramar is the most elegant quarter, with the main tree-lined avenue Quinta Avenida flanked by splendid villas, many now home to foreign embassies.
In the early 16th century, Spanish conquistador Diego Velazquez founded seven colonial settlements, known as villas; Trinidad Cuba was the fourth of them. Although other villas, such as Santiago de Cuba, or Havana, have changed greatly, Trinidad continues to be by far the best-preserved colonial town on the island, offering visitors many small museums and historical buildings, which will surely appeal to history buffs. Another attraction that is a worth a mention is Playa Ancon, the main Trinidad beach, some twenty minutes from the town, where you can experience ultimate vacations, full of sea, sand and sun.
The World’s Largest Car Museum
What will also amaze you in Cuba is the world’s largest open-air car museum, featuring about 110 000 sq km of exhibition place that is home to over two hundred cars. In the heaps of fantastically preserved old-timer cars, you’ll come across with many American-made cars dating to 50s and 60s, as well as plenty of communist era Russian-made cars, including classic Ladas.
Hike or cycle through the spectacularly beautiful landscapes around Vinales, a town that is some 5-hour drive west of Havana. Apart from picturesque valleys filled with interesting flora and fauna, in Vinales you’ll also meet a tobacco farmer to learn about the tobacco-planting and cigar-making process.
Santa Clara is the provincial capital of Cuba, and the most popular revolutionary city, affectionately nicknamed La Ciudad del Che, in honor of national icon Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara. Consider a layover in Santa Clara for some Che Guevara sightseeing: see his embalmed body at the mausoleum, marvel at his monument, or spend some time at the Che Guevara Museum.
Another great destination that it’s truly worth to pay a visit in Cuba is Sancti Spiritus. This is a whole region, blessed with picture-perfect beaches, rivers, and abundant mountains, offering great outdoors and lots of fun.
From food to music to dance, from its culture to history, and from the amazing attractions to the adventurous things to do, your trip to Cuba will very soon bring you to ‘stop dreaming and start living your best vacation ever!’