As the largest island in the Caribbean, Cuba is home to the most scenic spots in the region. It bears the sultry tropical beauty that no one can resist. From pristine beaches to picturesque parks, this country dubbed as El Cocodrilo has a lot to offer. In this post, allow us to take you into a trip around the best places in Cuba to visit and its spectacular tourist destinations.
1. Old Havana
There’s no doubt why half of Camila Cabello’s heart is in Havana. Old Havana, also known as Habana Vieja, is a cobblestoned wonder and one of the best places in Cuba to visit. It’s home to Neoclassical and Baroque architecture, with some tracing back to 300 years ago.
When visiting Old Havana, it’s a sin not to stop by the Casa del Conde Jaruco as well as the camera obscura nearby where you can view the town at a height of 35 meters.
Aside from that, you should check the vintage cars displayed all over town. In fact, some taxis here are 1950s American sedans. What a way to go around this historic place! You can even book a tour on a classic car that comes in vibrant colors.
Old Havana is very family-friendly, with budget hotels dotting the town. Overall, Old Havana is the perfect place for some peace and quiet without missing out on Instagram-worthy snaps.
Trinidad is just a bus ride away from Havana. This is declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site, with many of the buildings here dating back in the 17th and 19th centuries. So for history geeks out there, Trinidad is a must-see.
Upon arriving in Trinidad, your eyes will be treated to its lively atmosphere – palm trees, old buildings, and a cobblestone plaza.
Some of the must-visits here are the Church of the Holy Trinity, a neoclassical church located at the central square. You should also stop by the Museo de Arquitectura Colonia as well as the Palacio Brunet, which was built as an upscale home in 1812.
If you want to see the very heart of Trinidad, head to Plaza Mayor. Here, you’ll find dozens of souvenir shops, breath-taking structures, antiques, and local artworks. And like Old Havana, this place has an air of peace for those who want to relax.
If you need a dose of Vitamin Sea, Varadero is the place to be. This is located in a narrow island strip east of Havana and near Cardenas.
At Varadero, you’ll never get tired of white sand and azure waters. It’s quite far from the capital, but worth the travel time if you want to experience the Caribbean luxury.
For those who love beaches. Varadero is one of the most popular resort towns in the region. It can get crowded during the peak season, but there are many options for accommodation as the best places in Cuba to visit.
Aside from the beach, there’s also a decent nightlife in Varadero as well as a myriad of water activities for a small fee.
Take note that Varadero isn’t just about its beautiful shores. You can also head to Parque Josone, a botanical reserve with lakes and bridges. The Bellamar Caves is also a must-see for thrill-seekers.
4. Santiago de Cuba
At the eastern tip of Cuba is Santiago De Cuba. This is a coastal city widely popular for its colonial history, 16th-century architecture, and a 17th-century fortress.
This is known as the Second City of Cuba where Fidel Castro declared the success of his revolution back in 1959.
Far from the noise of its past, Santiago de Cuba boasts the spectacular Parque Cespedes – the very heart of the city. And if you want to have a bird’s eye view of the port and the entire city, you should take a peek at Balcon de Velazquez.
If you’re in Santiago de Cuba, you should definitely experience the liquid taste of the country on Museo del Ron. Here, they serve the best rum in the world, which is a key player in Cuba’s culture.
On the shorelines of the city, you’ll see the 17th-century fortress that serves as the entrance to the Bay of Santiago.
Vinales is another UNESCO World Heritage Site where you’ll get to see the abundant valley of Sierra de Los Organos. This is home to limestone hills as well as a breath-taking landscape that will put every tourist in awe.
The park itself is an agricultural area where fruits, vegetables, and tobacco are grown. And for tourists, the best way to explore around is by riding a horse. You can also join local tours around the tobacco farm where you’ll be taught how to roll Cuban cigars. You can even buy some to bring home.
If you’re planning to go here, you can join day trips from Havana for a fee. However, make sure that you have a long vacation if you plan to tour Vinales. This is a very large place and rushing won’t allow you to see its entire beauty.
Baracoa is the oldest city in Cuba and located in the province of Guantanamo. This used to be cut off from the world until it opened in the ‘60s upon the completion of the La Farola Highway.
Even in the modern day, Baracoa still has a remote vibe perfect for those who want a peaceful respite. Here, you can relax by the beach or get close to nature as you explore its lush jungle.
Also, Baracoa is a favorite among hikers due to the dazzling El Yunque, which is the highest viewpoint on the area. It boasts a 589-meter summit as well as the hillside UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. You’ll get to see rare plants and birds during your ascent.
If you’re up for some sight-seeing, we recommend taking a road trip along the La Farola highway and visit the Museo Municipal, Fuerte Matachin, and Playa Maguana.
7. Playa Paraiso
If you’re headed to Cayo Largo del Sur, make sure that you spend a day at Playa Paraiso. True to its name, this is a paradise for those who want to indulge in the blue sea skirts and endless fine white sand.
This is a sheltered area and not many tourists can be seen. Still, there are many resorts, hotels, and restaurants around. Despite the commercial establishment, Playa Paraiso remains an idyllic destination for those who are willing to travel the distance.
And just like its shores, the underwater world in Playa Paraiso is equally beautiful. Sea turtles, schools of fishes, and coral reefs are ripe for discovery here as one of the best places in Cuba to visit.
If you want to stay away from the water, you can explore the lush vegetation near the playa. Bird watching is a fun pastime here as Playa Paraiso welcomes a wide range of birds, including rare ones.
8. Jardines del Rey
If you want to take the path less traveled, you should head to Jardines del Rey. This archipelago is situated in the north of mainland Cuba and home to an endless stretch of white sand beaches.
For those who want to take the ultimate island-hopping trip in Cuba, the chain of islands in Jardines del Rey will not disappoint. You can tour Cayo Paredon Grande, Cayo Romano, Cayo Guillermo, and more. Take note that most of these islands have only opened to tourists during the ‘90s so the surroundings are pristine.
The good thing about this chain of islands is it’s not yet highly developed. It offers raw and untouched beauty if you’re tired of noisy beach resorts.
Like Playa Paraiso, Jardines del Rey is home to various bird species. You can also go bird watching while resting from your tours.
9. Cayo Coco
Cayo Coco is one of the islands within the archipelago of Jardines del Rey. It’s a top spot for divers, though you’d have to arrive by air as this island is quite remote.
There are over 30 dive sites around the shores of Cayo Coco. And if that’s not enough, there’s a 20-kilometer coral strip waiting for you to see.
In Cayo Coco, you have two options: go for a terrain adventure or explore the underwater world. The temperature and weather on this island are fairly manageable throughout the year. However, you should avoid the months of June to October as hurricanes tend to batter this place.
Known as the Perla del Sur, Cienfuegos has quite a different root than the rest of Cuba. Instead of Spanish colonials, this city is founded by French people. You can visit the Playa Giron Museum in Pueblo Nuevo to know more about this city’s past.
Cienfuegos shares the same laidback vibe of Havana. Here, you can enjoy a cup of coffee in a café or learn French or Spanish.
For those who long for the waters, the Bay of Pigs is perfect for snorkeling while you can watch some pink flamingos at the Guanaroca Lagoon. After a tiring morning of walking around, you can head to El Nicho Falls to refresh yourself.
These best places in Cuba to visit will surely give you a relaxing tropical experience. This country is known for its rustic beauty that used to be locked away from the world.