Are you going to the Caribbean to visit Cuba and wondering what are the best places to visit in Cuba? If you are planning to arrive in the capital of Havana, then we recommend that you only check out the Northern part of Cuba. Due to the size of the island, you would have to rush to see all the interesting places. Our journey around the Northern part of Cuba took us two weeks, but it was a quiet holiday with everything we wanted. Are you wondering what to do in Cuba?
1. Visit Havana – a city full of history and contrasts
During your visit to Cuba, you cannot miss Havana – the capital of the whole island, for which you should save more than a day. Havana used to have a very important strategic location in the past. The city was founded in the 16th century by the Spanish conquerors, and most of the conquest went throughout the Caribbean from this place. Havana has become a city of typical Spanish colonial architecture, so it is no wonder that its city centre is listed on UNESCO.
Among the best things to do in Havana is a pink vintage cabriolet ride. At each corner in Havana Vieja, you will get a driver/guide who will take you to Havana to show you the most interesting places. They will take you around Havana and show you the most interesting places. The omnipresent odour of gasoline accompanies you around the famous sights such as Plaza de la Vieja, Plaza de la Revolucion, El Capitolio, Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña and El Cristo de La Habana, with a magnificent view of the city. Don´t forget to visit San Francisco de Asís Square. Check out other activities you can do in Havana.
In the evening, you should check out the “Hemingway’s Bar” – La Bodeguita del Medio. The American writer spent 20 years in Cuba and a very luxurious business has become from a common bar where he liked to go to. When you travel around Havana, don´t miss the interesting museums, such as the rum museum – Havana Club, where you will be introduced to the entire production process of the most famous Cuban rum. Also, worth mentioning is the Museum of Revolution, which is in the building of the former presidential palace. Here you can see how the Revolution in Cuba has been going on from the point of view of the revolutionaries themselves, and visitors are also allowed to investigate the imperialist office of former President Batista, whom the revolutionists literally drove out of there. Check out all the practical information you need to know about travelling around Cuba.
In Havana, we stayed in Airbnb (use travel credit for Airbnb) or you can find Havana hotels and B&B on Booking.
2. The enchanting valley of Viñales
When you visit Viñales on your own, you will understand why this beautiful valley is listed on the UNESCO. The landscape is dominated by so-called mogots, which are limestone rock formations covered with dense vegetation. In some of them, there are caves that form an extensive cave system. Viñales is a very lush area, where tobacco, coffee and other tropical crops are grown. If you are going to visit the tobacco plantation, you won´t find a better place. The area is also unique in how farmers manage the landscape. The original way of working has not changed for centuries, so the Parque National Viñales remains a truly authentic trip to the past where you can see how farmers are cultivating fields with cattle.
What to do and see in Viñales Valley? The area offers a huge number of activities. A popular sightseeing tour is the Cueva del Indio stalactite cave, where you can ride a boat through the underground river that runs through the caves. A great way to get there is by bike that you can rent almost anywhere. If you want to admire Viñales, there is no better way than to book a horse ride that you can combine with seeing a farm. There is no more beautiful view of the country than from the saddle of the horse’s back. If you travel around Cuba, you shouldn’t miss the Viñales valley.
A very controversial painting was created in the 1960s on the rocky wall of Mount Mogote Dos Hermanas. The colour scene is to illustrate the evolution of life on earth from the Prussian to the present. The painting, stretching across the rocks, was created at the request of Fidel Castro himself and is now a frequent subject of speculation.
In Viñales we stayed in La CabaNa El Rubio or you can find some hotels and B&B on Booking.
3. Bay of Pigs – the Beautiful underwater world
Another popular destination for visitors on Cuba is the famous Bay of Pigs. History reminds us of the unsuccessful operation of Cuban exiles who attacked Cuba in 1961. The United States considered another try to assassinate Fidel, but eventually, the idea of landing Cuban emigrants in Bay of Pigs won and eventually it would become the whole-Cuban uprising against the Castro regime. The clash lasted for about three days when Castro himself was at the head of the Cuban units. The planned activities under the auspices of the American CIA eventually ended in a catastrophe, and Castro’s power was even stronger.
Like everywhere in the world, we’ve also seen feeding wild animals here. Local Cubans sell food for the fish to the tourists, the fish then swim in the sea around you and you can enjoy their beauty and quantity. Travel agencies also organize various snorkelling trips to fish and to attract animals. Few people realize, finally, that regular feeding of wild animals in the wild is bad for the animals. Fish are getting used to feeding, quickly becoming accustomed to humans and stop actively seeking food. The already disturbed balance in the seas and oceans is even worse. Please keep this in mind when you are travelling anywhere and don’t support this behaviour and don’t feed any wild animals. Read about our birdwatching on Langkawi in Malaysia, its great example how agencies should do animal tours.
At the local Playa Girón Museum, you can recall the entire event at Bay of Pigs, including a short documentary film. You should know that the entire exhibition in the museum is somewhat controversial, like all the museums in Cuba, and that is why it deserves attention.
Although Bay of Pigs is known for its history, it is now widely frequented by diving lovers. This area of Cuba is famous for its rich underwater caves, and there are dozens of them but also for breath-taking underwater life. One can admire that a few meters from the shore already. If you love scuba diving or just snorkelling, you won´t be disappointed. A huge flock of colourful fish, a beautiful underwater seafloor full of coral that inhabits a variety of animals, can be found in Playa Larga and Playa Giron.
In Bay of Pigs, we stayed in Hostal Aida y Miquel.
4. Trinidad – a sugar town with plantations
Other best places what to do and visit in Cuba include Trinidad. It is one of the most beautiful towns with a well-preserved colonial architecture in Cuba. It is no wonder, therefore, that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city was founded in 1514 by the Spanish colonizers and quickly became rich. Thanks to the extensive sugar cane plantations located around the city, Trinidad became the most important sugar city in Cuba. The historic centre has been preserved in a very good condition, the most visited is the famous Plaza Mayor, which offers a perfect example of colonial architecture. The centre is filled with plenty of intricate mediaeval streets that still retain its original form.
When you are planning what to do in Cuba, don´t miss places around Trinidad. Take a tour of the sugar factories and the former sugar plantations located close to the city. It is worth mentioning the visit of the Valle de Los Ingenios, which also belongs under UNESCO and is located east of Trinidad. This Sugar Valley offers a tour of the former sugar factories, plantations, and the wealthy Iznaga family. There was a great hacienda, where the family used to spend a lot of time and now it is used as a restaurant. Near the hacienda, the Torre de Iznaga Tower, which is 44 meters high, has a magnificent view of the countryside. This tower served as a watchtower to control the work of slaves on the plantations.
When you will feel full of history and old cities you can rest on the beach close to Trinidad. Its called Playa Ancon and locals say that it’s the best beach on the west coast of Cuba. It isn’t that nice as in Varadero, but the beach is an ideal place to chill from a hot city.
Plaza Mayor also houses the most important museums and galleries, such as the Museum of Architecture or the Romantico Museum. It is in a building called Palacio Brunet, which was a very palatial palace of the eighteenth century in which the Cuban elite lived. In the eighteenth century, sugar barons literally exaggerated in their wealth, so the palace is full of expensive pieces of furniture, porcelain, artwork and other rare objects.
Trinidad has retained its medieval beauty to this day. At the end of the 19th century, the boom of the whole city began to decline, and its significance began to be slowly extinguished. The reason was the beginning of beetroot growing in Europe, which has reduced the demand for cane sugar. Thanks to this, the city survived without any significant changes until today.
In Trinidad, we stayed in Hostal Gregorio or you can find Trinidad hotels and B&B on Booking.
5. Cienfuegos – city in neoclassical style
At the beginning of the 19th century, when the importance of the city of Trinidad began to fade, the main attention was transferred to Cienfuegos. The dominant feature was the port, which was of great importance for its strategic position in its time. The city was founded by French settlers, so most of the streets have French names. The streets are wide, the city is full of promenades, parks and beautiful monuments in neoclassical style. That is why the whole historical centre is listed on UNESCO.
The beautiful Parque José Martí square, which is surrounded by beautiful historic buildings in a quite good condition, is worth visiting. Don’t forget to visit the house of wealthy Baron Pallacio Ferrer, whose dominant feature is a small turret at the top of the building. There is a beautiful view of the entire city centre of Cienfuegos. Another interesting stop should point you towards Castillo de Jagua fortress, built to protect the city against pirates.
In Cienfuegos, we stayed in Hostal Amanecer or you can find Cienfuegos hotels and B&B on Booking.
6. Varadero – beautiful Caribbean beaches
If you are curious about what to do and visit in Cuba, besides visiting historic towns, then head to the Varadero peninsula. Here you can find exactly what most tourists travel to Cuba for – typical Caribbean beaches with white sand and azure sea. Varadero is located not far from Havana and is one of Cuba’s largest beach resorts. If you look at Varadero from the height, you will find out that the peninsula has the shape of a very narrow noodle and at the widest point is less than 1.2 km. As Varadero is one of the most visited places in Cuba, there are many activities you can do.
If you don’t know which Carribien island has the nicest beaches you can compare Varadare with our photos from the Dominican Republic.
The town was founded in 1887 when a few holiday homes were built here. Gradually, holidaymakers started to go for recreation and the place became an elite resort. For example, Al Capone spent a lot of time here. After the Cuban Revolution, all properties were confiscated, and the luxurious Cuban villas soon became museums. The 90s brought liberation, and with the collapse of the Soviet Union, large hotels for visitors were built here. Currently, the Varadero area boasts luxury resorts, which mainly belong to foreign companies. The area is so significant that an international airport was built here.
In addition to beach recreation, the area also offers natural beauty and attractions such as caves, virgin bays and cultural towns. It would be a great pity to spend the whole Cuba holiday in one resort and to miss the opportunity to discover the beautiful cultural and natural monuments Cuba offers. Check out what you should know before going to Cuba.
Do you know other places to visit in Cuba? Let us know in comments.
What a diverse place with so much beauty. City, green paths for biking, and the water! Your photos are lovely!
Thank you Sharon for nice comment, Cuba has a lot of places with different activities to do !
Would realllllly love to visit one day and I think it would be so interesting to visit the Bay of Pigs, especially knowing the history during the Cold War! Always nice to see places you learn about in history books! Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard!
Hi Califonia, exacly how you say. If you visit the place and you see the museum and you can imagine the historical facts happened on the place where you are, it is something different than if you learn it just in the book sitting at home.
Wow! I want to go to them all. Cuba has been on my list for awhile. Your photos are amazing. I especially like the one with the hair flip! Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard
Hi thank you Anisa for nice comment, Cuba is very beautiful and amazing county, I hope we will come back one day.
I have never been to Cuba and hopefully one day, I’ll have the pleasure to experience. Love your photos!
Thank you Sandra, I am happy you like our photos, I hope one day we will come back, it is paradise.
Cuba is definitely on my list! It looks so nice, and absolutely up my alley 🙂 #theweeklypostcard
Thank you for comment, I wish you to visit it soon.
Beautiful photos. Two thoughts: I feel like Hemingway got EVERYWHERE… he has bars everywhere. It’s like Mozart’s houses in Austria, lol. 😉 Second, I’m amazed that AirBnB is already taking over Cuba. That’s incredible. I expected tourism to open it up quickly, but that wasn’t something I expected to see yet! Wow.
Hi Sara, yeap, Hemingway was probably old alcoholic. Or they just named everybar where he visited after him. 😀 Yeah, the country is opnening to the tourism, but it is have own atmosphere.
So many wonderful places. We’re thinking of Cuba for Christmas. Yout post has convinced me further #FarawayFiles
Hi Pixie, I am happy you plan to visit Cuba. I think you will enjoy it at any time of the year.
Cuba is one of the most fascinating countries in the world – I’ve been twice! Good list of things to do – there is so much to see from city life to beautiful countryside to exquisite beaches. Take me back now! Thanks for linking up with #farawayfiles
Thank you Corey for comment, Cuba is very amazing country and there is a lot of thing to do and visit. We eould like to travel again once..