This detailed Cuba travel guide, prepared by the staff of Green Caiman, who are living in Cuba for a long time, includes the following:
I. Introduction: Cuban Revolution and general information about Cuba
II. Cuba guide by region
– Pinar del Río
– Isla de la Juventud
– Villa Clara
– Sancti Spíritus
– Ciego de Ávila
– Las Tunas
– Santiago de Cuba
III. Required information about Cuba
– Cuban weather
– Cuban custom rules
– Cuban rum and Cuban cocktails
– Electricity in Cuba
– Cuban cuisine
– Cuban health system
– Internet in Cuba
– Cuba’s official language
– Gay Cuba
– Hotel and casa particular system in Cuba
– Money in Cuba
– Museums in Cuba
– Cuba’s phone code
– Photography in Cuba
– Security in Cuba
– Shopping in Cuba
– Cuba’s time zone
– Transportation in Cuba
– Cuban visa
You can reach the most detailed and accurate information about Cuba in our Green Caiman Blog. Detailed articles on every subject in this Cuba visitor guide will be on our blog soon. Please click here to see our English articles.
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Christopher Columbus, who started colonizing Cuba, had once said that this place is the most beautiful place the human eye has ever seen. From that point on, Cuba has become an attractive destination. The Spanish, who controlled the island for about four hundred years, saw Cuba as the ‘Key to the New World’. And though they abandoned most of the other colonies with relative simplicity, they tried everything to keep Cuba in their hands. During the Independence War, which started in 1895, the number of Spanish soldiers in Cuba was a sixth of the country’s population. The war did not result in Cuba’s victory, because the USA claimed rights to the island and conquered Cuba. Then, through other governments under their supervision, the USA started reforming this precious catch as they desired –all up until Fidel Castro and his friends surprisingly came into power in 1959. In 1962, the insistence on taking over Cuba made the USA bring the world very close to nuclear war. Even after Cuba adopted the Soviet line in the early 1970’s, it always had a privileged position when compared to ‘Eastern Bloc’ countries.
Today, Cuba is a highly attractive country of tourism. Cuba, as the land of best cigars, rum, revolution, love, music and dance -with son, rumba, salsa, nueva trova and many others- welcomes millions of tourists per year. Why the world has their eyes on Cuba is no mystery. Varadero, Sirena, Ancón, Santa María, Pilar, Santa Lucía, Guardalavaca and Maguana are just some of the spectacular beaches and Cuba has the best diving spots of the whole Caribbean, too. What’s more, authentic and effective cures are for many illnesses -such as lung cancer, diabetes, vitiligo and psora- in time has led Cuba to become a health centre for patients from all around the world.
Cuba is actually an archipelago, a constellation of 1,600 different sized islands. Covering an area of almost 110,000 km2 and a 1,250 km length, it is by far the largest country of the Caribbeans. Cuba is surrounded by the USA and the Bahamas to the North, Mexico to the West, Jamaica down South and Haiti to the East.
Cuba is home to more than 8,000 types of plants, and it is one of the few countries left to keep their local plant life. The typical plant species of Cuba are Roystonea regia, a type of palm, and Saccharum officinarum or sugar cane, which was brought to the island by the Spanish. In contrast with the plant life, most animal species of Cuba have arrived from other countries. The national bird of Cuba is a type of trogon called Tocororo. Because they die in captivity, the Tocororo is seen as a symbol of freedom. There are no animals that may represent a live threat in Cuba.
Cuba’s population is 11,240,000 inhabitants. The female-male ratio is almost equal and 65% of the population is white, 22% is from mixed races, 12% is black and 1% is of Asian descent. Average life span of Cubans surpasses the 76 years. The 75.6% of the population lives in the cities. Cuba is divided into 15 provinces, containing a total of 168 municipalities, including Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth) that has a status of especial municipality. The 15 provinces are, from West to East, Pinar del Río, Artemisa, Havana, Mayabeque, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Villa Clara, Sancti Spíritus, Ciego de Ávila, Camagüey, Las Tunas, Granma, Holguín, Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo.
Pinar del Río
Pinar del Río is known for growing the best tobacco in the world. The most famous Cuban cigar brands like Cohiba, Partagás, Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, Hoyo de Monterrey use the tobacco leaves coming from this province. Within the boundaries of Pinar del Río, there lies the third most visited tourist destination, Viñales Valley. With its traditional tobacco farms and steep round hills called mogote, this valley is listed under Unesco’s World Heritage Sites and it offers one of the most attractive views of rural Cuba. The second largest cave system of the Americas is in the Viñales Valley. Another outdoor sports centre in Pinar del Río is María la Gorda, located in the West end of the island. This place owes its popularity among divers to the fascinating coral reeves under the sea.
Vuelta Abajo: The region where the world’s best tobacco grows.
Mirador de Los Jazmines: The view point next to the Los Jazmines Hotel in Viñales.
Mural de la Prehistoria: A gigantic mural about evolution, made on a Mogote called Pita in Viñales.
Cueva del Indio: The most popular cave in Viñales. It offers a boat trip to the visitors.
Cayo Jutías: Including Cayo Levisa, the most important beach area in the province. Unlike Cayo Levisa, road transportation can be provided here.
Best hotels: Los Jazmines (Viñales), Cayo Levisa (Cayo Levisa), Vueltabajo
Best restaurants: El Paraíso (Viñales), Café Ortúzar, Casa Bárbaro (Viñales), Rumayor (Viñales)
Entertainment: Disco Azul, Café Pinar, Polo Montañez (Viñales)
Artemisa earned the province status in 2010 when the greater Havana province was divided into two. The main tourist sites are Las Terrazas and Soroa. Las Terrazas is the first ecological village of the country and Soroa, also known as ‘Cuba’s Rainbow’, where the oldest coffee plantations were established upon the island, which are no longer in production. These two regions are the most practical alternatives for nature tourism due to their close proximity to Havana.
Orquideario Soroa: The largest orchid garden in Cuba.
Salto del Arco Iris: The 22 meters high waterfall in Soroa.
Cafetal Buenavista: Cuba’s oldest coffee plantation, also the first major one in the Americas. It was founded in today’s Las Terrazas area by French immigrants who fled the Haitian Revolution.
Baños del San Juan: The natural swimming pools, part of the San Juan River, in Las Terrazas.
Best hotels: Moka (Las Terrazas), Soroa (Soroa)
Best restaurants: Casa del Campesino (Las Terrazas), El Romero (Las Terrazas)
Entertainment: Tío Cabrera (San Antonio de los Baños), Casa de la Música
Havana is the capital of Cuba. It is the most populated city and the main tourist centre of the island. Most tourists prefer to stay only in this area. Havana’s cultural environment and nightlife is much livelier when compared to the other cities. The most popular sightseeing is Old Havana, the historical city centre declared by Unesco as World Heritage Site. The atmosphere of the old city and Central Havana is clearly remnant of the Spanish reign, while the strong influence of the USA is reflected in Vedado and Playa –with privilege to Siboney and Miramar, the area of consulates. The buildings in Havana can be from various styles and periods in architecture, from colonial Spanish to baroque, neoclassical, art nouveau, art déco, eclecticism and modern movement. The most popular beaches in this area are found in Playas del Este, which is 20-30 km outside the city.
Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro: The castle at the entrance of Havana Bay. It was the main piece of Havana’s first defense triangle.
Castillo de la Real Fuerza: The castle at the Arms Square, where Havana was founded. There is a statue of La Giraldilla, which is the symbol of the city, on the top of the tower of this castle.
Convento de San Francisco de Asís: The monastery located in San Francisco de Asís Square. After the end of the eleven months of British occupation in Havana in 1763, it lost its religious importance.
Catedral de La Habana: The most important example of Baroque architecture in Havana. It was built by the Jesuits.
Museo de la Revolución: The building built as the Presidential Palace. Granma yacht is displayed in the garden of the building, which is nowadays the Museum of Revolution.
Edificio Bacardí: Bacardí building, company from Santiago de Cuba, in Havana. It is known as the first and most important example of art déco in Havana.
Capitolio: The building was built with the income obtained during the “Dance of the Millions”, which occurred with the rise of sugar prices in the world market after the World War I. It was used as the House of Representatives and the Senate until 1959.
Universidad de La Habana: The oldest university in Cuba.
Malecón: The 8 kilometer breakwater from the entrance of Havana Bay to the Almendares River.
Edificio Focsa: The building that represents the beginning of tall buildings period in Havana. It is one of the seven wonders of civilian Cuban engineering.
Plaza de la Revolución: The square called Civic Square until 1961. The monument is 144 meters tall, the highest in Havana.
Necrópolis Cristóbal Colón: The cemetery is located on an area of 57 hectares and displays many marble statues. It is said to be the third most important cemetery in the world.
Parque Almendares: The park next to the Almendares River, also known as Havana Forest.
Parque Lenin: The park called “the lung of Havana”. Sculptures of Lenin and Celia Sánchez can be found there.
Best hotels: Grand Packard, Gran Hotel Manzana, Parque Central, Meliá Cohíba, Saratoga, Meliá Habana, Santa Isabel
Best restaurants: 5 Sentidos, La Guarida, La Fontana, Al Carbón, Café del Oriente, Vistamar, Mama Inés, El Cocinero, El Biky
Entertainment: Tropicana, Fábrica de Arte Cubano, Casa de la Música, Café Cantante, Don Cangrejo, Olalá, Jazz Café
Mayabeque has been given the title of province at the same time than Artemisa. This is both the smallest (after Havana) and the least interesting province in Cuba in touristic terms. The world famous rum Havana Club is produced in the city of Santa Cruz del Norte.
Estación ferroviaria de Bejucal: The destination of the first train ride in Cuba on November 19th, 1837. The first train journey in Spain took place eleven years later.
Escaleras de Jaruco: One of the most important centers of nature tourism in the Western area of Cuba.
Playa Jibacoa: The most beautiful beach on the coastline between Havana and Varadero.
Best hotels: Memories Jibacoa (Playa Arroyo Bermejo), Trópico (Playa Jibacoa)
Best restaurants: El Criollo (Jaruco), Plaza 1714 (Bejucal)
Entertainment: El Noy (Bejucal), Las Piedras (Melena del Sur)
Matanzas is the birthplace of many significant cultural aspects in Cuba. The music and dances of danzón and rumba have been born here, as well as the African descending religion Santería, which, after Catholicism, is the second most common religion in Cuba. Varadero is no doubt the most important tourist destination in Matanzas. Having a beach of 22 km, Varadero not only is the all time favourite beach of Cuba but it is also the biggest holiday destination in the Caribbean. In the southern part of Matanzas lies the Zapata Swamp. The Bay of Pigs (Bahía de Cochinos), once known for the failed invasion in 1961 by the US funded Cuban counter-revolutionary military, is now a major centre for scuba diving. This region is also home to the sightseeing village of Guamá, constructed to reflect the lifestyle of the Taíno, the most advanced aborigine tribe living on the island before the Spanish invasion.
Castillo de San Severino: The first building built in the city of Matanzas. Like many others, this castle is also a museum at the present times.
Puente de Bacunayagua: The bridge that connects Mayabeque and Matanzas provinces. It is considered one of the seven wonders of Cuban civilian engineering.
Cayo Blanco: One of the islands in the North of the country.
Criadero de Cocodrilos: The alligator breeding farm in Guamá area.
Museo de Playa Girón: The museum about the Bay of Pigs Disembarking.
Best hotels: Princesa del Mar (Varadero), Iberostar Varadero (Varadero), Royalton Hicacos (Varadero), Meliá Las Américas (Varadero), Vista Azul (Varadero)
Best restaurants: Varadero 60 (Varadero), El Chiquirrín, Mallorca, Litoral Matancero
Entertainment: Casa de la Música (Varadero), Cueva del Pirata (Varadero), La Rumba (Varadero), Havana Club (Varadero), Galaxia
Isla de la Juventud
The only special status city of Cuba, Isla de la Juventud, is the second largest island of the Cuban archipelago. Cayo Largo del Sur, one of the eastern islands, is considered by many to be the best beach area in Cuba.
Presidio Modelo: Where Fidel Castro and his friends were in prison for twenty months after the attack on the Moncada Garrison.
Cuevas de Punta del Este: The caves that contain many wall paintings from the Caribbean aborigines.
Punta Francés: One of the best diving spots in Cuba.
Playa Sirena: Unquestionably, one of the best beaches in Cuba. It is located to the Southwest of Cayo Largo del Sur.
Playa Bibijagua: A beach known for its black sands. It is located in the Northeast of the island.
Best hotels: Sol Cayo Largo (Cayo Largo del Sur), Iberostar Playa Blanca (Cayo Largo del Sur), Sol Pelícano (Cayo Largo del Sur)
Best restaurants: Ranchón Playa Sirena (Cayo Largo del Sur), El Cochinito
Entertainment: La Rumba, El Pinero, El Patio
Cienfuegos is the capital city of the province with the same name. It is quite different than the other Cuban cities because it was established by a Frenchman in the service of the king of Spain. The neoclassical style in its architecture is a result of this French influence. Cubans call Cienfuegos the ‘Pearl of the South’ and its centre is one of the four Cuban city centres listed under Unesco’s World Heritage Sites. The city is also home to one of the main jetties (malecón) in the country. Cienfuegos is one of the prettiest and cleanest cities of Cuba.
Teatro Tomás Terry: A famous theater building opposite José Martí Park.
Palacio de Valle: A flamboyant building where Andalusian architecture meets gothic and baroque styles.
Castillo de Jagua: The castle at the entrance of the Bay of Cienfuegos. It is known as the most important stronghold of the island after the ones in Havana and Santiago de Cuba.
Central Electro-Nuclear de Juraguá: The only nuclear power plant in Cuba. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, its construction was stopped.
El Nicho: A mountainous region with many waterfalls and ponds.
Best hotels: Jagua, La Unión
Best restaurants: El Ocaso, Aché, Pelícano, Te Quedarás
Entertainment: Benny Moré, Club Cienfuegos, Tropisur, Casa del Danzón
The capital of the Villa Clara province is Santa Clara, whose name is almost always pronounced together with Ernesto Che Guevara. Che’s mausoleum is found here in memory of his commandership in the Battle of Santa Clara against the Batista regime. One of the first cities of the island, Remedios and the very attractive Santa María Beach are found in the northern region of this province.
Hotel Santa Clara Libre: The building connected to the Hilton hotel chain before the Cuban Revolution. Traces of conflict from the Santa Clara War can still be seen at the hotel.
Monumento al Tren Blindado: The monument to the attack on an armored train belonging to the Batista regime.
Plaza Che Guevara: The square where the Ernesto Che Guevara monumental tomb is located.
Parroquia de San Juan Bautista de Remedios: One of the oldest churches in Cuba.
Best hotels: Royalton Cayo Santa María (Cayo Santa María), Meliá Buenavista (Cayo Santa María), Iberostar Ensenachos (Cayo Ensenachos)
Best restaurants: Florida Center, El Benyamino, La Aldaba
Entertainment: El Bosque, La Marquesina, Club Boulevard, Club Mejunje
Trinidad, the third city of Cuba, Valley of the Sugar Mills (Valle de los Ingenios) and Ancón, the most beautiful beach of the southern shore are found in the southwestern area of Sancti Spíritus. Among the many colonial towns in the Americas, the old city centre of Trinidad is one of the best preserved. Trinidad is a tourist town, like an outdoor museum. This town, together with the Valley of the Sugar Mills -which used to serve quite a central function in sugar production and in slave trade- are both listed as Unesco World Heritage Sites. In northern Sancti Spíritus, the museum of Camilo Cienfuegos -a highly noted commander of the Cuban Revolution- can be visited.
Parroquial Mayor: The second oldest church of country, located in Sancti Spíritus.
Museo de la Lucha Contra Bandidos: The museum of the struggle against the counter-revolutionary groups operating between 1960 and 1965 in the mountains called Guamuhaya or Escambray. This building, one of the most important symbols of Trinidad, was used as a monastery until 1892.
La Canchánchara: The tourist attraction in Trinidad with the same name cocktail. Although the origin of this cocktail with rum, honey, lemon and water is the east of the island, today Trinidad comes to mind when canchánchara is mentioned.
Torre Iznaga: The 45 meters high tower built in 1816 at Manaca Iznaga Sugar Refinery. It was built to watch on the slaves of the sugar refinery.
Salto de Caburní: The 62 meter high waterfall in Topes de Collantes National Park.
Best hotels: Iberostar Grand Hotel (Trinidad), Brisas Trinidad del Mar (Trinidad)
Best restaurants: Vista Gourmet (Trinidad), Plaza Mayor (Trinidad), Papos Boulevard, Éxtasis (Trinidad)
Entertainment: Casa de la Música (Trinidad), Disco Ayala (Trinidad), Palenque de los Congos Reales (Trinidad), Casa de la Trova
Ciego de Ávila
There are some minor islands in the North of Ciego de Ávila, where Pilar is located, one of the best beaches in Cuba and the Caribbeans. These islands that attract so many tourists today were introduced to the world by the famous author Ernest Hemingway. In addition, Ciego de Ávila is home to the country’s largest natural lake, Laguna de la Leche and the largest archeological site that gives clues about Taíno culture, Los Buchillones.
Parque de la Ciudad: Ciego de Ávila’s city park.
Trocha Júcaro-Morón: The gigantic line of defense the Spanish government built between Júcaro (on the South coast) and the Morón (in the North) to prevent Cuban independence fighters from trespassing.
El Gallo de Morón: The rooster statue of bronze, symbol of the city of Morón.
Best hotels: Iberostar Playa Pilar (Cayo Guillermo), Meliá Cayo Coco (Cayo Coco), Pullman Cayo Coco (Cayo Coco)
Best restaurants: Don Ávila, La Casa Cubaquoise, Blanco y Negro
Entertainment: El Batanga, La Cueva del Jabalí (Cayo Coco), La Cueva (Laguna de la Leche), Patio el Gallo (Morón)
Cuba’s largest province is Camagüey and its capital carries the same name. The old city centre is listed as Unesco World Heritage Site which was built to have a quite intricate structure, aiming to protect the city from pirate attacks. Camagüey is an ideal destination for Cuban cuisine because the culinary culture has been well preserved here. To the North, the 20 km Santa Lucía Beach takes second place in the world with its beautiful coral reef area.
Iglesia de San Juan de Dios: The only church in Cuba where the “Holy Spirit” is depicted in human form. It is located in San Juan de Dios Square in Camagüey.
Casa Natal de Ignacio Agramonte: Where Ignacio Agramonte, who is the first name that comes to mind while saying Camagüey, was born. He was one of the most important heroes from the first independence war against Spain.
Casa Natal de Nicolás Guillén: The home of the national poet of Cuba, Nicolás Guillén, in Camagüey.
Cangilones del Río Máximo: The natural pool of limestone in the Máximo River. This rare occurrence has a history of twenty eight million years.
Cayo Sabinal: One of the islands in the North of the country.
Best hotels: Brisas Santa Lucía (Playa Santa Lucía), Camino de Hierro, Avellaneda
Best restaurants: Mesón del Príncipe, Lucky, Casa Austria, El Paso, El Edén de Santa Teresa
Entertainment: Centro Cultural Caribe, Gran Hotel Bar Terraza, La Bigornia
Las Tunas is called the ‘Balcony of the East’ since it is the most western of the eastern provinces. The northern region is known for Puerto Padre, which used to be the busiest port for sugar trade. The popularity wave has not yet hit the shores of the fine beaches in Las Tunas.
Plaza de la Revolución: The revolution square of Las Tunas. It was named after Vicente García.
El Cornito: Also known as Cucalambé. The statues of Taíno chiefs Maniabo and Jibacoa are located in this park in Las Tunas.
Fuerte de la Loma: The castle in Puerto Padre.
Playa Covarrubias: The most well-known beach in the province.
Best hotels: Brisas Covarrubias (Playa Covarrubias), Cadillac
Best restaurants: La Patrona, Ristorante La Romana
Entertainment: El Taíno, Casa de la Cultura
The province Granma has been a key location for Cuba’s political history. This is the place where Carlos Manuel de Céspedes began the war against the Spanish in 1868. Cuba’s national hero José Martí lost his life here during the War of 1895. The province is named after the yacht Fidel Castro and his friends used when they came to Cuba from Mexico, because they landed here. Their revolutionary struggle against the Batista regime took place in Sierra Maestra and large part of these mountains is within the province of Granma today. All these events make Granma an inviting spot for tourists keen on history. The province capital, Bayamo, was the second city established in Cuba.
Casa Natal de Carlos Manuel de Céspedes: The place where Carlos Manuel de Céspedes was born in Bayamo. He is regarded by the Cubans as the Father of the Homeland.
Cuartel Carlos Manuel de Céspedes: The barracks that were attacked by another group under the command of Fidel Castro, the same day the attack to Moncada Garrison occurred, in Bayamo. Its name was changed to Parque Museo Ñico López.
Glorieta de Manzanillo: An arbor inspired on the Lions Garden at the Alhambra Palace. It is located in Céspedes Park, in Manzanillo.
La Demajagua: The farm where Carlos Manuel de Céspedes rang his bell for the last time on October 10th, 1868, freed his slaves and started the War of Independence against Spain. It is located near Manzanillo.
Comandancia General de La Plata: Fidel Castro’s headquarters at the Sierra Maestra.
Best hotels: Royalton, Santo Domingo (Santo Domingo)
Best restaurants: San Salvador de Bayamo, Plaza
Entertainment: Bayam, Casa de la Trova, Café Literario
Fidel Castro’s birthplace Holguín, is one of the three provinces in Cuba with a population of more than one million inhabitants. Christopher Columbus first set foot here in Cuba and he was mesmerised by the sight of it. There are many stunning beaches in Holguín, including Guardalavaca. With a height of 127 metres, the Guayabo Falls is located to the North. In terms of archaeological sites, Holguín is the richest province in Cuba.
Mural de Origen: The statue on the west side of Peralta Park in Holguín.
Loma de la Cruz: The hill overlooking Holguín, 261 meters above sea level.
Conjunto Histórico de Birán: The large farm founded by Ángel Castro Argiz, who left Galicia and settled in Cuba. His sons Fidel and Raúl Castro were born here.
Aldea Taína: The village built in Banes to reflect the Taíno culture.
Bariay: Where Christopher Columbus landed in Cuba.
Mezquita de Colón: The elevation that in his diary Christopher Columbus compared to a mosque. It is located in Rafael Freyre.
Cayo Saetía: A preserved wilderness park.
Best hotels: Paradisus Río de Oro (Playa Esmeralda), Playa Pesquero (Playa Pesquero), Memories Holguín (Playa Yuraguanal), Ordoño (Gibara)
Best restaurants: 1910, La Parrillada de la Música, La Torre
Entertainment: Nuevo Nocturno, Casa de la Música, Disco Cristal, Salón Benny Moré, Disco Havana Club
Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba is Cuba’s second most crowded province. Its capital city, with the same name, used to be the island’s capital before Havana and it has been awarded with the title of ‘Hero City’, in recognition for its political support during the Independence War and the Cuban Revolution. Fidel Castro’s and José Martí’s mausoleums are found in the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery. Fidel and his friends started the Cuban Revolution here with an armed attack to the Moncada Barracks and the name of this revolutionary group comes from the date of the attack (26th of July Movement). The other part of Sierra Maestra, which was also a field of struggle, is in Santiago de Cuba. The highest peak of the island, Pico Turquino is also in this national park area. The Caribbean culture is most evident in Santiago de Cuba, also known as ‘Capital of the Caribbeans’. The most important carnival in the country is held here and many genres of music have been born here, such as son, bolero and trova.
Casa de Diego Velázquez: The residence of Diego Velázquez, Cuba’s first Hispanic manager and the founder of the first eight cities, located on the corner of Céspedes Park in Santiago de Cuba. This building is known as the oldest house in South America.
Casa Natal de Antonio Maceo: The birthplace of Antonio Maceo, called by Cubans as the Bronze Titan.
Plaza de la Revolución: The revolution square in Santiago de Cuba. An approximately 90 tons Antonio Maceo statue is found in the square.
Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca: The fortress built in the entrance of the bay to protect Santiago de Cuba from pirate attacks.
Santuario de la Virgen del Cobre: The most important religious place in Cuba. The Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, “the patron saint of Cuba” is located here.
La Gran Piedra: A 51 meter long, 30 meter high rock at a height of 1225 meters above sea level. At night, the lights of Jamaica can be seen from this landscape point.
Valle de la Prehistoria: 11 hectare park with real-sized sculptures representing Jurassic period animals.
Best hotels: Meliá Santiago, Imperial, Casa Granda
Best restaurants: Salón Tropical, St. Pauli, Arizona, Rumba Café, Compay Gallo, Madrileño
Entertainment: Casa de la Trova, Tropicana, Casa del Caribe, San Pedro del Mar
Known for the illegal US marine base located in its bay, Guantánamo is the most eastern province of Cuba. The vast mountains in this area make home for an almost untouched wildlife and to the 305 meter high Fino Falls. This area was the main place where the Taíno could hold up against the Spanish conquest. Guantánamo’s most popular tourist destination, is Baracoa town, Cuba’s first city and capital. Baracoa is famous for the magical beauty of its natural habitat and the stunning atmosphere of the city. The best beach in the province of Guantánamo is Maguana, in the northern coast.
Plaza Mariana Grajales: The magnificent square of revolution in the city of Guantánamo.
Busto al Cacique Hatuey: The bust of the Taíno chief Hatuey, called “America’s first rebel”, in Baracoa.
Cueva del Paraíso: A cave transformed into an archaeological museum in Baracoa.
Río Toa: A river flowing into the sea in the Northwest of Baracoa. It is known as “Cuba’s Amazon”.
Faro de Punta de Maisí: The lighthouse at the eastern end of Cuba. Its construction was completed in five years.
Best hotels: Maguana (Playa Maguana), El Castillo (Baracoa), Martí
Best restaurants: La Terraza (Baracoa), El Buen Sabor (Baracoa), Sabor Melián
Entertainment: Casa de la Trova (Baracoa), El Ranchón (Baracoa)
Cuba is in a semi-tropical climate region. Almost all throughout the year, the temperatures are quite high. Choosing summer clothing is crucial when visiting Cuba. However, from October to March, the temperatures can occasionally drop below 15 degrees, due to cold waves. Tourists visiting during this period are advised to pack accordingly. Raincoats and umbrellas must also be on the list, especially between May and October.
Tourists traveling to Cuba can take their personal belongings such as photography equipment, computers, instruments, bicycles and fishing rods with them. There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency that can be introduced into the country, but if not declared, it is forbidden to leave Cuba with more than $ 5,000 in cash. If an invoice cannot be presented, no more than 50 cigars can be legally taken out the country. Oil paintings to be purchased must be certificated.
As a sugar cane producer country, Cuba’s most popular drink is the rum elaborated from this plant. The major Cuban rum brands include Santiago de Cuba, Havana Club, Caney and Legendario. Cuban cocktails such as mojito, cubalibre and daiquirí are also famous worldwide.
The electric sockets in Cuba are designed for 110V 60Hz, while in most hotels and rental houses a 220V 60Hz socket may be found. Nevertheless, visitors are advised to obtain a converter if they are coming from a country that uses 220V 60Hz system.
The Cuban food culture consists mainly on a synthesis of Spanish and African cuisines. Ajiaco criollo, a kind of soup, black beans whose origin is based on Caribbean aborigines and rice with black beans called moros y cristianos are the main national dishes of Cuba. The menus of the touristic restaurants include pork steak, fried chicken, ropa vieja made from beef and seafood, such as lobster and shrimp. Mango, mamey, guava, papaya, banana, pineapple and coconut are the most popular tropical fruits of the island. The attractiveness of Cuban cuisine comes not from the development of food culture, but from the insistence of the country on natural nutrition. On the other hand, the Cuban food culture, which has reached the point of extinction during the economic collapse of the ‘90s (Special Period in Time of Peace), is in serious development thanks to the increasing number special restaurants (paladar).
Cuba is also famous for its health system. In case of a health condition, international hospitals are totally safe to get treated. There is also a large network of pharmacies available in Cuba.
Wi-Fi spots are increasingly becoming popular in Cuba. Hourly internet cards can be used in parks, hotels and central avenues. It is also possible to use internet cafe services in hotels and ETECSA offices.
Cuba’s official language is Spanish.
As a result of the efforts of Raul Castro’s daughter Mariela Castro, LGBTI rights in Cuba have increased dramatically, and this situation has been widely accepted by the public. The entertainment venues where LGBTI culture is represented are Humboldt 52, Cabaret Las Vegas in Havana and Club Mejunje in Santa Clara.
The normalization of US-Cuban relations between December 17th, 2014 and June 16th, 2017 results in the acceleration of the upward trend in tourism in Cuba. For this reason, hotel prices have already reached astronomical levels and the room capacity has become inadequate. This last situation is particularly evident in tourist cities such as Havana and Trinidad. The quality of rooms and service remains low.
Although it is not enough to cover the capacity gap, there are also rental houses for tourists in Cuba. These houses under state guarantees are called casa particular. This house rental system started with Cuban families renting air-conditioned rooms with private toilets for tourists and this is preferred by tourists who are looking for an affordable accommodation alternative and/or want to observe the everyday Cuban life and develop real relationships. However, detached villas even more comfortable than five-star hotels can be rented in modern-day Cuba.
You can visit caimanverde.net to see the hundreds of houses spread across the island.
Cuba has a parallel monetary system. CUC (Convertible Cuban Pesos) are indexed to USD, and Cuban Pesos, which are less valuable than CUCs also circulate in daily activities. Tourist products and services have prices in CUC.
Various currencies are accepted at the exchange offices in Cuba, like US Dollars, Euros, Canadian Dollars, Pounds and Swiss Francs. Due to the ongoing US embargo, US Dollars are exchanged with 10% deduction. Daily exchange rates are the same throughout all exchange offices in the whole country.
Bank cards and credit cards are valid in Cuba, unless they are related to a bank in the USA. Visa cards work flawlessly, both for shopping and in ATMs.
Most museums in Cuba are open from Tuesday to Saturday between 09:30-17:00, and until noon on Sundays.
The international telephone code for Cuba is 119.
The best hours for colour photography are between 09:30-11:30 and after 16:00.
Cuba is one of the safest countries in South America. Cases of assault are very rare, however, one should still be careful wandering off of tourist destinations at night.
On the other hand, fraud is very common. The Cubans called jinetero are trying to deceive the tourists in order to get money from them. They come from the lowest strata of society and constitute the highest criminal potential.
In Cuba, cigars and rum are the main products that tourists buy to take to their countries. Oil paintings and coffee can also be included in this list. Cuban souvenirs can be found in variety in Almacenes de San José in Havana.
Cuba is in the GMT -5 time zone. Between March-November, daylight saving is applied and the clocks are winded one-hour forward.
In Cuba, of course tourists prefer to travel in the city with taxi. For short distances bicitaxi may be an interesting alternative. The cocotaxi and open-top classic American cars are also very popular for tourists in Havana.
Tourists generally use Viazul buses for intercity transportation. Domestic flights in Cuba are very problematic.
As a result of the general rise in Cuban tourism in recent years, it has become almost impossible to rent a car in Havana. If this obstacle can be overcome, it is useful to avoid driving on intercity roads at night.
Tourists with a standard (Type P) passport are required to get a visa for entering Cuba. A Cuban visa can be obtained from an authorised travel agency. The visa document received must be submitted both at entrance and at exit.
Tourists arriving to Cuba via the USA are required to obtain their visas from the airport in this country.
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High quality house rental (casa particular) services: caimanverde.net
- 25 Şubat 2019
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