Cuba is the biggest island in the Caribbean and offers many attractions to visitors, who can enjoy its excellent beaches, its historic towns and architecture, and its natural beauty. To explore the colonial cities of Cuba is to take a step back in time, while beachgoers can enjoy the dazzling coastline and turquoise waters. Nature lovers will find plenty to see in Cuba’s national parks. Some of the best sites to visit are listed below.
1. Explore Old Havana (Habana Vieja)
The Old Town of Havana was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and offers a well-preserved view into the island’s history. Its cobbled streets and Baroque and Neoclassical architecture take visitors back in time. A few of the major attractions in Old Havana are the Plaza de la Catedral, where the Cuban Baroque Catedral de San Cristobal is located; the legendary Hemingway hangout, Bodeguita del Medio; and the military fortress of Castillo de la Real Fuerza.
2. Visit Varadero
This is one of the island’s premier beach destination and once of the most famous in the Caribbean. The beach is located along the Peninsula de Hicacos, which juts out into the sea near a drawbridge links it to the mainland. There are more than 50 hotels along the palm-lined strip. Some of its attractions include a natural park reserve with a nice beach and two caves for exploring. A small lake in the area gives visitors a chance to explore via rowboats, while the Cayo Piedra underwater park is perfect for diving and snorkeling.
3. Tour the Town of Trinidad
The town of Trinidad is also a UNESCO World Heritage site that offers a glimpse of Cuba’s history through its restored buildings and cobblestone streets. The architecture dates from the 17th century through the 19th century when the town saw its most prosperous times, the result of a lucrative trade in sugar and slaves. Trinidad is home to the Neoclassical Church of the Holy Trinity, the Church and Monastery of Saint Francis. the Museum of Colonial Architecture, the art gallery at the Casa de Aldeman Ortiz; and the Palacio Brunet, a mansion built in 1812.
4. Enjoy the Beach at Guardalavaca
This location features several beaches in Holguin province and is much more remote and quiet than Varadero. There is lush tropical foliage that lines the sweeping expanse of beach, offering shade from the sun. A good place for divers and snorkelers, it also offers the opportunity to explore the jungle, take sailing trips, and routing Santiago de Cuba. Nearby is the popular Dolphinarium, which provides up-close interactions with the gregarious species.
5. Take a Stroll down the Malecon in Havana
This famous seafront promenade was built in the early 19th century and gives visitors the opportunity to walk through Havana’s historic past. The promenade is seven kilometers in length and offers a variety of architectural styles, including Art Deco and Neo Moorish buildings. The buildings are painted in pastel colors of pink and yellow and are irresistible to photographers. Watching the people strolling by is one of the most popular activities on the Malecon.
6. Feel like Hemingway at Cayo Coco
This isolated beach was the location in several of Ernest Hemingway’s novels “Islands in the Stream” and “The Old Man and the Sea.” It is part of the Jardines del Rey, an archipelago of Sabana-Camaguey, the beach is linked to the mainland by a bridge, but most visitors arrive via air. The beaches here are the chief attractions, with the Playa Los Flamencos standing out with a five-kilometer expanse of sand.
7. Experience the Wild at Parque Nacional Viñales (Valle de Viñales)
This lush, verdant valley in the Sierra de los Organos is located north of Pinar del Rio. It features steep limestone cliff known as “magotes” that are located throughout the valley and create a dramatic landscape. On the valley floors, agricultural areas grow tobacco, fruit, and vegetables. Outdoor adventurers can enjoy excellent hiking, horseback riding in the hills, and visitors also have the chance to explore the charming settlement of Vinales nearby.