Discover Cuba – Much more than a country, a history
Cuba is the Caribbean’s largest island, drips with history and culture. In the old towns, vintage cars still cruise the streets, and the beautiful old buildings of Cuba’s colonial cities evoke the feel of a country frozen in time. Cuba also abounds in natural beauty. This vast island ha more than 3,000 kilometres of coastline, much of it rimmed by dazzling beaches. Coral reefs glimmer in the turquoise waters and superb diving and fishing places.
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982, Havana was is one of the most beautiful places in the world. You can walk in the old city and see much of its fine Spanish Colonial architecture. Explore the churches and reconstructed Spanish-style mansions found in and around the three stunning plazas of Catedral, Armas and Vieja.
Visit the Nacional Jardin Botanico JARDIN BOTANICO NACIONAL that has a well-kept collection of tropical plants that includes poinsettias the size of Christmas trees, hibiscus, bromeliads, coleus and bougainvillea. Don’t miss the Museo de la Revolucionin Habana Vieja, to learn a bit about the country’s history, visit the housed in a huge, ornate, dome-topped building which was once the presidential palace. Visit the Capitolio and also the Partagas Cigar factory, a national treasure in Havana’s main square, Partagas – formerly the second largest cigar factory in Cuba – is worth a visit. Have a walk on the antic Malecon and feel the ambient of Havana in each small street of the capital. But Havana is also the nice beaches like Santa Maria del Mar, Playa Boca Ciega or Playa Guanabo. Most famous cities of Ciego de Avila Province : Aroyo, Boyeros, Centro Havana, Guanabacoa, Habana del Este, Playa and San Miguel del Padron.
As with other peripheral cities and towns, Camagüey is not a hotbed of tourist activity. However, the city does have a number of attractions that make it well worth a visit. Principal among these attraction would have to be the Ballet of Camagüey – the city’s well renowned dance company, which is a must see if you are taking the trouble to visit this part of Cuba.
Also of interest are the Las Clavelinas Monument and the Quinta Amalia Simoni museum and Muso de la Lucha Estudiantil. The Casa Natal de Ignacio Agramonte is a museum named after one of Cuba’s leading generals during the War of Independence from Spain.
Most famous cities of Camagüey Province: Camagüey, Esmeralda, Florida, Guaimaro, Minas, Najasa and Santa Cruz del sud.
Ciego de Avila
Ciego de Avila is more like the suburb of a larger town than an urban centre in its own right.
A friendly though pedestrian place set in the plains of the province, it is surprisingly young for a provincial capital – established only in 1849 – and features few tourist attractions save a couple of museums, and precious little nightlife. Often bypassed by visitors en route to Morón and the Jardines del Rey, this small city is not without charm, and an afternoon here will reveal a close-knit, slow-moving, unaffected place, its streets lined with whitewashed modern houses where families hang out on their verandas, old men relax in rocking chairs, and corn fritters and fruit juice are sold from roadside peso stalls. Refreshingly, Ciego de Ávila also has much less of a problem with hustlers and jineteros than bigger towns.
Most famous cities of Ciego de Avila Province: Baragua, Chambas, Florencia, Majagua and Venezuela.
It is the city where you want to stay longer. Cienfuegos is the city where there are so many things to do in Cuba. Cienfuegos is a charming waterfront city situated on the bay of the same name. Its picturesque nautical setting has earned it the title, the Pearl of the South. Diving enthusiasts rave about the reefs along the coastline, where a formation of coral columns known as Notre Dame provides an undersea maze to explore. The region’s calm waters are also ideal for sailing, boating and kayaking. The unique culture in Cienfuegos is attributed its ancestry as a French enclave. City highlights include an architecturally noteworthy group of buildings that were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. Be sure to stop by the stunning Cultural Centre, a palatial home that now hosts after-school activities like dance and music for local students. Castillo de Jagua, an imposing fortress built to protect Cienfuegos from menacing pirates, is widely recognized as one of Cuba’s most important military structures.Legend has it the castle is haunted by ‘the Lady in Blue,’ a ghost in a blue brocade gown. Most famous cities of Cienfuegos Province : Abreus, Aguada de Pasajeros, Cienfuegos, Cruces, Cumanayagua, Lajas, Palmira and Rodas.
The province of Granma is renowned for its history and breathtaking natural beauty. It is home to the spectacular stretch of the Sierra Maestra mountains, as well as the country’s longest river, Río Cauto. Some of the most pristine coastal marine terraces in the Americas are situated along its rugged southern coastline. The province boasts two national parks, the Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra and the Parque Nacional Desembarco del Granma, habitat of botanical wonders including dwarf orchids and an ancient giant cactus and indigenous wildlife such as the tocororo and zunzun bird species.
Granma is the birthplace of Cuban hero Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, who is considered the Father of the Homeland because of his role in the country’s fight for independence. Granma is also the site where Fidel Castro and his rebel soldiers famously disembarked from their yacht, the Granma, in 1956. The province contains a remarkable number of museums documenting its history. Most famous cities of Granma Region; Bartolome Maso, Campechuela, Guiza, Manzanillo, Pilon and Yara.
Its name might be famous (for all the wrong reasons), but the true nature of the city of Guantánamo is little known outside the people who live here. Rare is the traveler who gets off the twice daily Santiago-Baracoa bus and tests the water in this neck of the woods.
Most famous cities of Guantanamo Province : Baracoa, el Salvador, Guantanamo, Maisi, san Antonio del Sur and yateras.
Holguin is a lovely place where the beautiful flora leaves no one indifferent! A major attraction point in the province is the ecotourism excursions. For those who will visit Cuba or Holguin for the first time.
The beaches are made of fine and tight sand, which is perfect for walkers, but they are not exceptionally long. Playa Pesquero is the longest (1 km length) in the western area of the hotel zone.
Although Holguin is not considered as a paradise for snorkeling, there are still some decent places like the Eastern part of the Playa Esmeralda and the North area of Playa Pesquero.
Most famous cities of Holguin Province : Antilla, Baguanos, Gibara, Mayari, Urbano and Holguin.
Isla de la juventud
Isla de la Juventud is a hidden treasure of Cuba.
This large,tear-shaped island droops 60 miles off the south coast of Cuba. In the 16th and 17th centuries, its coves and caves were the sites of battles between the Spanish empire’s convoy ships and privateers such as Sir Francis Drake and Wales’s Henry Morgan, and other European buccaneers.
Playa Paraiso – This beach is near Nueva Gerona and you can get there by horse buggy or bicycle.
Playa Bibijagua – This is the only black sand beach in Cuba, about five miles outside of the city.
Presidio Modelo – This is the prison where Fidel Castro was incarcerated after his attack on the .There is also Cocodrilo and the town of La Fe to see.
Most famous cities of Ciego de Isla de la Juventud Province : La Juventud
Las Tunas province, located about 700 kilometers east of Havana, is known as the Balcony of Eastern Cuba by its geographical location and a culture that treasures features of the plains in the center of the island and the mountains of the east. There are more than 35 beaches in its northern coast, most of them look virginal and are recognized for the quality of the sand, the beauty of the landscape and proximity to coral reef and platform ecosystems, very suitable for diving, fishing and ecotourism. The city of Puerto Padre, near this marine paradise, contains archaeological, architectural and cultural evidence of the presence of Aboriginal world, the arrival of the Spaniards and the colonization process. The protected area of Monte Cabaniguán, south of the territory, is the largest reservoir of acutus crocodile (American) in the world with over 200 thousand specimens, and its mangrove swamps and forests are inhabited by other native species of Cuban flora and birds. In the north it also highlights La Isleta Key, where a variety of migratory birds nest and is possible to see endangered species such as the manatee. Its flora exhibits a high endemism. Most famous cities of Las Tunas region : Amancio, Colombia, Jesús Menéndez, Jobabo, Las Tunas, Puerto Padre.
Matanzas, which means « killings, » takes its unfortunate name from the slaughter in 1510 of survivors of a Spanish shipwreck by an indigenous tribe.Despite its rather gruesome name, the city today has an optimistic energy about it, with tidy streets lined with elegant pastel-hued facades of Neoclassical buildings, many under restoration.
The architecture, museums, and restored churches make the city well worth investigating. The San Juan and Yumurí rivers cut through the city center and empty into the vast Bahía de Matanzas, still an important sugar port. Breezes off the bay cool and freshen the city streets and there are panoramic views from high above the city. During the day, the city is fairly quiet, but comes to life at night when the residentscome home. Head for the Parque de la Libertad where most of the action is in town.
Most famous cities of Matanzas region : Calimete, Jaguey Grande, Limonar, Varadero and Union de Reyes.
Mayabeque & Artemisa
The artemisia province is characterized by fertile plains where you can visit the Sierra del Rosario an Mountain. Las terrazas immerse yourself in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This area is characterized by the cultivation of coffee and the possibility of hiking in the Sierra del Rosario. Trails leading to breathtaking waterfalls and natural pools.Landscapes are sprouting like mushrooms.
The province of Mayabeque is famous for the cultivation of citrus, tobacco, grapes and sugar cane are the main activities of the province.
Playa Jibacoa is the Varadero of Cuba with white sand beaches and crystal clear waters.
We recommend a trip back in time on the TRAIN ELECTRICO HERSHEY, admiring the picturesque plains. Also on the train you can see a former sugar factory, now a national monument, the Camilo Cienfuegos Central.
You can also relax yourself in a picturesque village of Jaruco. Most famous cities of Artemisia & Mayabeque Province : Artemisia, Mayabeque, Jibacoa, Jaruco.
Pinar del rio
Pinar del Río is one of the provinces of Cuba. It is at the western end of the island of Cuba.
The Pinar del Río province has one of Cuba’s three main mountain ranges, the Cordillera de Guaniguanico. The mountains are divided into the easterly Sierra del Rosario and the westerly Sierra de los Organos. These form a landscape characterised by steep sided limestone hills and flat, fertile valleys.
The province relies on tobacco farming, with Pinar del Río producing 70% of Cuba’s crop, used to make the cigars that are so prized overseas. The best tobacco, used for more expensive cigar brands, is grown in the flat lands of San Juan y Martínez. Tourism in the Viñales Valley is another important part of the economy.
Sancti Spiritus is maybe not as beautiful as Trinidad, but the villas in Sancti Spiritus have not lost their beauty of the past. The old center of the city was build from until 1514 where you can see the « Iglesia Parroquial Mayor del Espiritu Santo » build in 1522, and rebuild in the 17th century with the same materials because the church has been a victim of pirates several times. The church and the picturesque houses on Calle El Llano, as well the Puente Yayayo bridge are national monuments …
Most famous cities of Sancti Spiritus Province: Cabaiguán, Fomento, Jatibonico, La Sierpe, Sancti Spíritus, Taguasco, Trinidad, Yaguajay.
Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba is the second biggest city after Havana and plays a very important role in Cuba’s history and culture. This is the place where the Cuban Revolution started and again this is the place where almost all Cuban Music genres were born.
Walking around this busy city can be challenging thanks to its steep narrow streets. Even though I loved Santiago de Cuba’s lively and busy streets which offer a different facade of Cuba, I’d recommend you to think twice before adding Santiago de Cuba to your Cuba itinerary. The reason I’m saying this is only because Santiago de Cuba is located simply too far away, well it is at the other end of the island. You need to ask yourself if the 15 hours bus drive is worth it.
Villa Clara is one of the provinces of Cuba. It is located in the central region of the island bordering with the Atlantic at north, Matanzas Province by west, Sancti Spiritus Province by east, and Cienfuegos Province on the South. Villa Clara shares with Cienfuegos and Sancti Spiritus on the south the Escambray Mountain Range. Its main cities are Santa Clara (the capital), Remedios, Sagua La Grande, Camajuani, Caibarién, Ranchuelo, Placetas, and Manicaragua. After Castro’s revolution in the 1960s it still led in sugar production on the island, but in the late 80s and 90s after the collapse of the Soviet Union and lack of support thereof, most of the already inefficient mills were closed down, some of them disassembled, while others became museums. Only the most efficient mills are still producing sugar. Since then the province concentrated its efforts on building beach resorts.