If you are looking for adventure and culture for your next vacation, Cuba is a great destination. This remarkable island offers the perfect combination of white sandy beaches, lush rainforests, and incredible architecture, all steeped in a complex cultural and political history.
With so much to see and do, it can be a challenge to experience it all. To help you make the most of your trip, here are our top five places to visit in Cuba.
Your first port of call must be the capital city of Havanna. Cuba’s capital is a vibrant place full of color and culture and located only 30 minutes from the international airport.
See the sights in the back of an original classic American car, or wander and mingle with the locals along the Malecon, the seawall overlooking the Caribbean. Don’t forget to try authentic Havana rum at one of the incredible distilleries just outside of the city.
Check out some of the historical and political monuments, including El Capitolio, the current seat of the Cuban government, and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. The Gran Teatro de La Habana is one of the world’s largest and most ornate opera houses, and the Plaza de la Revolución is filled with rich Cuban history. Overlooking the spectacular plaza is the 100-meter tall Jose Marti Memorial, a towering tribute to Cuba’s national hero. Surrounding the plaza is the Ministry of the Interior, adorned in images of another Cuba’s hero, Che Guevara.
2. Vinales Valley
The island of Cuba is dotted with spectacular national parks, but none are so beautiful as those found in the Vinales Valley. Vinales is one of the primary tobacco-growing regions of Cuba and is renowned for producing some of the best Cuban cigars in the world. You can take a tour of the tobacco plantations on horseback or hire a guide to take you from Havana to Vinales and show you the sites along the scenic drive.
One of the must-see attractions for the intrepid traveler is the network of caves in the mountains surrounding the Vinales valley. The most famous of these caves is the Cuevas del Indio, where you can take a guided boat ride inside the entire cave system.
The colorful colonial town of Trinidad is the hub of history and architecture in central Cuba. Surrounded by pristine sandy beaches, the central town of Trinidad has some great activities and attractions for you to get a glimpse of authentic Cuban life.
Climb to the top of the bell tower above the Revolutionary War Museum to get the best view of the town and surrounding beaches and mountains. Relax on Playa Alcon, considered one of the best beaches in Cuba with fine white sand and crystal-clear turquoise water. Take a horseback ride or go biking through the Topes de Collantes National Park, where you will find stunning waterfalls to cool off in at the end of the day.
4. Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba is Cuba’s second city and is known as the cultural capital of the island. Santiago de Cuba is the place where the Cuban revolution is said to have begun with Fidel Castro attacking the Cuartel Moncada. The city is home to a huge variety of cultural and political monuments.
Visit the stunning Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion adjacent to the central Parque Céspedes. The current structure of the cathedral was built in 1922 after pirate raids, and natural disasters destroyed two previous versions.
Wander down the colorful colonial streets of Jose A Saco. Take a boat ride around the harbor to see the incredible stilted fisherman’s village and Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca del Morro.
5. Cayo Largo del Sur
Cuba is made up of multiple islands, and just off the mainland is a picture-perfect island of Cayo Largo del Sur. Cayo Largo del Sur is the ideal spot to soak up the sun and enjoy your favorite water activities, including snorkeling, surfing, and kayaking without the crowds found on the mainland beaches.
The biggest of the beaches is Playa Sirena and features a small resort where you can stay or enjoy some of the local food and drink. Head over to the Marina to check out the sea turtle hatchery.
Tips for Travelling in Cuba
- Convert Your Currency
Cuba is not only one of the most interesting places to visit, but it is also one of the most affordable places to stay and explore. You can find places to stay in the heart of Havana for as little as 6,500 NGN per night and enjoy authentic Cuban cuisine for around 2,000 NGN per person.
Convert your NGN to pounds or Euros, which are more readily accepted. Also, pay attention to the different types of Cuban money. Cubans have two different currencies, and one is worth significantly less than the other.
- Be Careful Buying Souvenirs
Cuba is one of the safest destinations to travel with a low crime rate and friendly locals. However, it is always a good idea to take precautions while traveling or buying souvenirs.
Many travelers find that they are offered cigars by every local vendor only to find out that they are counterfeit. To avoid disappointment, you can buy Cuban cigars online. This also means that you can avoid the limitations of Nigerian customs taxes on tobacco products.
- Pack the More than Essentials
Because of the previous trade embargo and communist political regime, finding basic goods can be tricky for locals. When packing your holiday essentials, add a couple of extra bottles of shampoo or soap that can be used as gifts or for bartering with locals while traveling.
Cuba is a place full of culture and history and is an unforgettable destination to visit. Pack your bags, book your flights, and get ready for an unforgettable vacation on the Caribbean’s premier island.
Daniel Stauffer is a blogger and devout cigar enthusiast who first developed a love for fine tobacco after receiving a box of cigars from a grateful client. He has continued to refine his palate and explore the art of cigar smoking gaining valuable experience, which he enjoys sharing with other cigar lovers across the globe.