CUBA, an island country tucked away in the Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean meet. A part of Latin America, Cuba represents that beautifully in it’s multi-ethnic and diverse origins through which its customs and culture derived. It is also the only country to meet conditions of sustainable development in the world WWF which is visible throughout the country. An inroad journey into the culture of Cuba, its dazzling beauty can be witnessed by visiting these tourist attractions of Cuba below. Check out our list of top places to visit in Cuba:
- VILLANES VALLEY
A karstic depression in Cuba, also a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a verdant valley, filled with tiny towns, stick with straight pine trees, limestone cliffs towering over tobacco farms. Time seems to slow down over here as you enjoy the slow-paced life around the valley by a bike ride, hiking or horseback riding. Cultivation of tobacco is extensively carried out in the valley, an idyllic rural Cuban life supplying tobacco for the biggest makers of cigars in the world so make sure to take a whiff of that experience. While you stroll through, do not forget to drop by a Cuban dance club, lunch at El Olivo or just hike through the tobacco fields and organic farms to experience the regional life up close.
The country’s capital, Havana boasts of narrow streets and alleyways, brimming with life as the crumbling buildings portray a fascinating picture. Abundant in historical sights, the culture is best represented here which can be done justice by taking a walking tour of the city. Don’t miss the best places to visit in Cuba Havana during our tour to this amazing country.
- EL CAPITALIO – NATIONAL CAPITOL BUILDING
One of the most visited sites, this is a public edifice, built on a land that was previously a railroad terminus. It has one of the architectural marvels with its dome and the garden having European influences highlighted by Royal Palm trees. The Cupola is a stone-clad around steel. It also has artworks by Italian sculpture cast in bronze and covered in gold leaf, a sight to marvel for enthusiasts.
This is a road that stretches for 7kms offering a place to walk from Habana Vieja to Vedado along the sea that provides a view of 20thcentury building coloured in pastels. There is not much to do besides lounging by a seawall to mixing with musicians and dancers, but the experiences itself is so warm that it makes this place so popular.
Another Cuba places to visit when you happen to stay in Havana is Almacenes San Jose market and Castillo del Morro– providing an insight into the history and an iconic castle on the other side of the harbor which was converted into a fortress providing impressive views.
- OLD HAVANA
Having visited Havana, Old Havana becomes a must to see the influences change over time and something that distinguishes the two towns. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is lined by cobbled street, with grand Baroque and Neoclassical buildings. Renovations are taking place while still representing the 200-year-old history of the place while visiting places like the Bodequita del Medio or La Floridita, an old restaurant Earnest Hemingway used to dine in. Don’t miss the Castello de la RealFuerza, a military fortress of Plaza Vieja where you could just enjoy a mojito in the sun while strolling the town with its stunning squares, churches and leafy courtyards.
UNESCO World Heritage site, having a quaint colonial feel with most of its architecture dating back to the 17th to 19th centuries, having its roots in slave trades and sugar trading. Now, in contrast, this city provides a lively ambiance in the city’s central square, Plaza Mayor, a cobblestone pathway. It also houses the Neoclassical Church of Holy Trinity, Church and monastery of Saint Francis, having a distinct bell tower, the Museum of Colonial Architecture, an art gallery at the Casa de Aldeman Ortiz besides Palacio Brunet, a home featuring frescos and marble floors. Playa Ancon is a beach on the southern coast or experience the beautiful views of the city and get lost in the local food by dining in at rooftop restaurants. With its old town accessible only by foot or horse, you can get a view of iconic, bright, pastel houses, street markets and a picturesque delight at every corner.
Do not miss- Casa de la Musica– an open-air bar and square for dinner during the day and dancing at night with live salsa band every night as you sip chilled Bucanero beer or a muddled mojito or DiscoAyala– a nightclub in a cave!!
A city, once a trading port for sugarcane, tobacco and coffee with European-style grandiose architecture also dubbed as the “Paris of Cuba” has French influence in all its style and customs, with the town full of art, culture and history. This is so known as the “Pearl of the South” due to its bay, Bahia de Jagua. Taking a stroll is the best thing to do here. Although this provides a unique experience different from other towns due to the colorful mansions, art galleries amongst many others, like a dive to its west lies Bay of Pigs. Plaza de Armas is one fo the must-visit Cuba tourist attractions to see the monument dedicated to the country’s national hero, Jose Marti or people walking on Paseo del Prado, the longest boulevard in Cuba. Also, hike up a tall building to enjoy the sweeping view of the city and make it a point to have dinner at El Tranvia.
The oldest city in the country located in the eastern front Baracoa has a remote feel to it, being cut off from much of the outside world until the 1969’s. It is a place to admire the colonial architecture, lush countryside surrounded by banana and coconut trees, crashing waterfalls and beaches where you can explore and bathe in, which adds to the harmony of the steamy jungles. El Yunque, a flat-topped peak presides over this tropical beauty, providing a delight to all hikers or non-hikers taking a guided tour to its 589m summit, with almost a vertical hike. Its hillside being a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve where rare plants and birds thrive. The scenery is best admired by taking a dive down a Farola. Fuerte Matachin, a military fortress provides a glimpse into the fascinating history with its breath-taking views over the bays. If you’re adventurous enough you can rent out a bike to Playa Maquana, which is one of the best places to visit in Cuba with friends. Coming back to town don’t forget to savor some of the freshest mangoes and papayas in the area.
This is one of the best and beautiful beaches on the island of Cayo Largo delSur. A powdery white sand and baby blue sea skirts the island and merges with Playa Sirano. It has a dry sunny climate which makes it perfect for lounging by the beach’s crystal clear water and serene atmosphere, thus rightfully known as the “Paradise Beach.” All these reasons make it one of the best tourist attractions in Cuba that you shouldn’t miss at all.
Also known as the Zapata Swamp, this little wetland is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve biggest in the Caribbean, which is home to about 150 different species of birds including waterhens, parrots and heron and to spot some crocodiles, one can safely go to Ciadero de crocodrilos, a crocodile farm. It also has Las Gran Parque Natural de Montemar, where creatures live in their natural habitats. Thus with such diverse landscapes, it is a haven for bird watchers and nature lovers.
Once you’ve soaked up the rich history, Cuba stands proof to offer more. So make sure to visit Guardalavaca, which includes jungle adventures, sailing trips and a side trip to Chorro de Maita, with its Native Indian burial area, also a quieter alternative to Varadero, one of Cuba’s famous beach destinations. An art lover’s paradise do not miss the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes with its vast collection of international and Cuban art housed in two buildings clad in Italian marble with works by masters of arts from Greece, Rome, Egypt, Asia, United States, and Latin America. If not anything Plaza de la Revolucion deserves a brief stop, being an important place in Havana’s history where Castro delivered speeches attracting millions. There also stands a 109mgrey tower, a memorial for Jose Marti, while a marble statue of him stands below. Ascend this memorial for incredible views of Havana and include Caya Coco, a rural beach featured in Hemingway’s novel where you can view turtles, crocodiles, flamingos or Las Terrazas, where there is a small community of just a 1000 inhabitants which also boasts of 5000 ha of reforested land planted on terraced hills having hiking trails as you enjoy the peaceful scenery while dogs are yapping and roosters crowing.
Best Time to Visit Cuba
Visit Cuba between the months of December and May, with the best celebrations taking place between 25th-27th July wherein locals take to the streets to celebrate the success of Cuban Revolution as you indulge in local delicacies such as Tamales, Ropa-Vieja, Comido Criolla-a roast or fried pork dish, Ajiaco– rich stew, dried beef, enchiladas or rice and beans which is a staple along with plantains, boniato, green bananas, salad as locals also enjoy a game of chess and dominos, you can also visit the Copellia ice cream joint or sip on rum, the national drink while dancing your heart out to cha-cha and salsa music.
The above-mentioned best places to visit in Cuba will help you to know exactly where you need to go in Cuba. Thus, time and again when you look at Cuba, you’re reminded of the amalgamation of cultures and history with modernization sweeping in providing a perfect blend, yet so far removed that time seems to stand still and getting lost in time is the perfect thing you can do.
About Author: Payal Pal