Cuba is one of the most welcoming places on earth. If that’s not reason enough to visit, lined with over 300 magnificent white sand beaches, adorned with palm trees and palapas, Cuba’s coastline is out of this world. This Caribbean island also boasts an exquisite culture and fascinating history which is expressed in everyday life through the constant buzz of music, the clitter clatter of classic cars and the happy-go-lucky nature of its people.
This magical land is set to see tourism reach an all time high as visitors eagerly fill their suitcases with precious hand-rolled cigars and oak-aged rum. There are hundreds of reasons to visit this vibrant island, but we’ve picked our top 10 to share with you below.
History, history and more history
Home to nine UNESCO world heritage sites, Cuba is bursting with exciting cultural and historical locations waiting to be explored. From the remains of the first 19th-century coffee plantations in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra to the unique character of Old Havana and its fortification system, your inner historian will have an absolute field day as you unearth the magical island’s past.
The Cuban people
Aside from the spectacular landscapes and breathtaking beaches, the people of Cuba are what make this island so special. Underpinning the cultural fabric of the land, you’ll be met with some of the most friendly and honest people on the planet who take pride in their history and who will be only too happy to share it with you.
With a severe lack of technology, socialising has become a necessity and as you walk around the cobbled streets you’ll see old men playing chess, small children playing sports and young couples embracing all that life has to offer.
The roads of Cuba are like a living, breathing car museum packed with old school American vehicles from the 1940s and 1950s. As a result of the trade embargo between the USA and Cuba in 1962, it was impossible to buy new cars or even new car parts, and the ingenuitive Cubans have been re-mastering and rebuilding everything from Chevrolets to Fords ever since. You won’t find cars like this anywhere else in the world.
With its unique combination of sun, soil and moisture, Cuba reigns as the world’s best producer of quality tobacco leaves. Cigar enthusiasts flock to the vibrant island in search of the world’s most flavourful cigars and whether you’re a smoker or not, a day trip to a tobacco plantation is not to be missed. Tour working factories and observe how the backbone of Cuba’s economy is produced, from the picking of tobacco leaves to the delicate hand rolling of each and every cigar.
Music and art
Music is life in Cuba and no matter where you are on the island, you’ll find energetic locals jamming on the street and traditional music bellowing out of bars every night of the week. In Havana you can visit the Buena Vista Social Club and enjoy a night of talented tribute acts and salsa dancers but wherever you find yourself, you’re guaranteed to get grooving and be filled with the Cuban spirit.
It’s one of the first things you think about when you envision the vibrant island of Cuba and as one of the country’s biggest exports, you’ll struggle not to come into contact with this delicious nectar. You’ll find a perfectly made mojito on every street corner and have the chance to sample a whole range of oak-aged rums. Take a stroll around the Havana Club Museum in the capital or the orginal Bacardi Rum Factory and immerse yourself in the history of the country’s rum heritage.
White sand beaches
Whether you’re into action packed beach holidays or luxurious lazing in the sun, with over 300 divine beaches to choose from, we’re pretty sure you’ll find the perfect spot. Guardalavaca is one of the most popular coastal regions on the island where you’ll find immaculate, palm strewn, white sand beaches gently shelving into the inviting Caribbean Sea surrounded by bustling markets, bars and restaurants.
The landscape may have changed greatly since Columbus first landed here five centuries ago, but the island still boasts ten breathtaking national parks and reserves for the avid hiker to explore.
Add a trip to the country into your Cuban experience and you’ll be met with miles of tobacco, sugar and coffee plantations, majestic mountains and the chance to discover traditional settlements. Vinales Valley, a few hours drive from Havana, is one of the most popular and strikingly beautiful UNESCO parks. Here you’ll find a rich valley full of working farm land dotted with formidable limestone rock formations.
Like its music and its people, Cuba’s architecture is a wonderful eclectic mix of styles. With influences ranging from Spanish Moorish to French neoclassical, art-deco and colonial-baroque, your eyes are in for an absolute treat around every corner. The entire area of Old Havana is a UNESCO World Heritage site and every building has a story to tell from the decrepid, crumbling, brightly coloured house in the corner to the monumentous Plaza de la Catedral.
Outside your resort you’ll find a wealth of traditional Cuban food from charming little beach shacks barbequing freshly caught seafood wrapped in leaves to a growing number of independently owned family restaurants and ‘brick and mortar’ cafeterias which are seemingly nameless. Street vendors tend to serve up a selection of delicious Cuban treats from pork burgers and coconut pie to freshly made guava milkshakes and you mustn’t leave the island without trying the national dish of rice and peas.
Can’t wait to experience Cuban life? Book your holiday today!
Grand Memories Varadero
Varadero, Caribbean, Cuba
Are you planning a trip to Cuba or just returned? Let us know your top tips in the comments below!