Lose yourself in Havana
Today, Havana is an all–consuming metropolis of two million inhabitants and one of the most fascinating cities on the planet. Old Havana is a living, breathing piece of history and all the images you previously held of brightly coloured, paint peeled buildings with locals sitting in doorways smoking cigars become a reality.
Wander around the famous Necropolis Cristobal Colon – one of the largest cemeteries in the Americas – and gaze upon elaborate marble statues amid the graves of famous revolutionaries, scientists and authors. If that’s not your thing, head to the beautifully constructed cathedral and enjoy a drink at Bodeguita Del Medio, one of Hemingway and Nat King Cole’s old watering holes.
Cuba’s number one beach resort, Varadero, is located on the north coast and just a two hour drive east of Havana. A popular choice with those booking All Inclusive holidays in Cuba, Here you’ll find over 20 kilometres of pristine white sand beaches, 4* and 5* star resorts boasting world–class service and elegant cocktail bars overlooking the emerald sea.
Down in the south, Playa Ancon offers even more pristine coastline but has managed to keep a natural feel with palm trees and greenery creeping down to the sand. You’ll find great snorkelling and diving sites off the shoreline here, which is ideally located just outside the colonial UNESCO city of Trinidad.
A taste of Trinidad
To experience the slower pace of Cuba, be sure to head to the quaint cobbled streets of Trinidad. This UNESCO treasure is like an outdoor museum with its perfectly preserved Spanish colonial buildings. Head to the Plaza Mayor to experience the gentle hospitality of the locals or enjoy an ice-cold mojito in one of the bars lining the square.
Spend days here lazing on the long stretches of white sand or bobbing along to the obligatory salsa music. The surrounding mountainous region also makes for great hiking and horse riding. One of the most popular destinations is the Salto del Caburni waterfalls, where after an hour’s hiking over wooded terrain, you’re free to enjoy a refreshing dip in the natural pools.
Salsa in Santiago
Home to the traditional rhythms that gave birth to salsa music, Santiago is the second biggest city in Cuba. Nestled in the southeast of the island, this city has a totally different feel to Havana with a distinct African–Caribbean influence and fast paced, narrow streets bustling with people and cars.
Jump on a bus to Castillo del Morro, located at the city’s harbour, and explore this historic fort and castle complete with moats and working cannons. Once back in the centre, wander around important historical sites such as the Moncada Barracks and Revolution Plaza and dance your way into the night.
Explore breathtaking national parks
Cuba has its fair share of national parks which are dotted all over the island. Each offer their own individual canvas of forests, beaches, lagoons and caves to explore, with the added opportunity to visit working coffee and tobacco plantations.
Valle de Vinales National Park sits in the west of the island and is one of Cuba’s most breathtaking settings. Having gained UNESCO World Heritage status in 1999 for its dramatically isolated steep-sided residual hills, the park can be explored by foot or on horseback.