Cuba has had to face decades of bad press due to prevalent social-political scenarios, but things have definitely gotten a lot better now. It is a fascinating country with a rich history, a dynamic city life, and some of the most stunning architectural wonders. It really isn’t possible to prepare yourself for a trip to Cuba – for the country always manages to catch you off-guard. But, it is always good to have a plan! Here are the places you should explore while visiting Cuba, and some holiday tips and tricks to help you when you’re there.
Where to go in Cuba
- Havana: This is a capital like no other. It’s a colorful, ingenious mix of bustling city life and laid back people. Go on a walking tour of Havana, and explore the city and history, so that you can understand what Cuba has gone through in the past few centuries. You should definitely not miss The El Capitolio, Cathedral Havana, Castillo el Morro, the Malecon sea wall. After this, you can head down to the San Jose market to shop for your souvenirs as well!
- Viñales: Cuba is best known for its cigars- and the best cigars in the world come from Viñales. This small city is brimming with life, and is an ideal tourist destination for those who love being the center of attraction. Nestled amidst beautiful Cuban mountains, Viñales offers beautiful treks through tobacco farms, fun dance clubs, and the best Cuban lunches you will ever get!
- Trinidad: Trinidad is where a person should go to experience Cuba’s history. Trinidad is a UNESCO heritage site, and still maintains a lot of the old-timey charm. It’s not the most accessible city in the country- certain parts have to be reached only by foot, or through carts- but that just adds to the adventure. Once you’re here, head to the Old Town and the Plaza de Santa Ana to soak in the culture, before you head to the Playa Ancon beach to sunbathe and relax!
- Santiago de Cuba: This is the cultural capital of the country- one that has played a huge role in shaping Cuban history, literature, and art. Beautiful Caribbean beaches and amazing Cuban music is what draws people to Santiago. If you’re a music buff, you should definitely visit Trivoli, to hear the local musicians perform. For those more culturally inclined, the Santiago de Cuba museums, Cementerio Santa Ifigenia, and Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca del Morro await!
Tips for Traveling in Cuba
- Do not be too reliant on your smartphone while traveling in Cuba, as the connection will be notoriously spotty throughout the country. Carry a guidebook, or save your pages on offline mode!
- Before you head to Cuba, it will be wise for you to read up on how cash payments work. The confusing dual currency system consists of national pesos, and convertible pesos- so you should read up on how you can use both of them.
- Be careful about talking politics in Cuba, especially if you’re mingling with the locals. This is a sensitive topic, one that might land you or your conversational partner in trouble, so be mindful about what is being discussed.
- Tipping can be complex in Cuba, as some people own their own businesses, and do not require to be tipped, whereas the state employed persons should be. As a rule of thumb- tip waiters, attendants, tour guides, etc. Do not tip private taxis, after you’ve negotiated your price with them.
- Make sure you plan your nightlife adventures in Cuba. Enjoying the night without any plan might sound exciting in most destinations, but it’s certainly not something you’d want to do here. There just aren’t enough venues and it often takes a lot of time to get from one place to the other. If you’ve come to a venue that’s chic and happening, stick to it and have a blast there.