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50 Best Things to Do in Cuba + MAP with Attractions

Home | Travel | The Caribbean | Cuba | 50 Best Things to Do in Cuba + MAP with Attractions

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There are many things to do in Cuba , a country with a peculiar political history and some of the best beaches in the Caribbean.

The Cuban Revolution marked a turning point in the history of post-colonized Cuba. When the world began to globalize, a communist regime was established on the island, and it’s still present today despite international pressure and global blockades. However, that is exactly the reason why the Cuban tourist attractions are unique and very different from the ones you’ll find in other Caribbean islands.

The country is breathtaking, full of incredible landscapes and rich culture. Regardless of when you visit it, you will always find interesting activities in Cuba . Although you should go as soon as possible if you want to know the authentic Cuba because just two weeks after our 15-day trip to Cuba , Fidel Castro died and the island is changing very quickly since then.

To help you plan your trip, here are the 50 best places to visit in Cuba. Also, at the end of this article, you will find a map with all these tourist attractions of Cuba so you can make the most of your time. I also recommend you read our guide to  planning a trip to Cuba .

1. Havana, the most important city to visit in Cuba

Havana  is one of the most important  places to visit in Cuba  since it’s the capital of the country. It’s a city of contrasts, where greatness and decadence collide, and most people have a love/hate relationship with it.

As I explain in our guide on things to do in Havana , the capital city is divided into the neighborhoods of  Old Havana, Central Havana , and  Vedado . This is where you’ll find some of the most  famous places in Cuba , such as the Malecón de La Habana, the Museum of the Revolution, and the Christ of Havana.

Havana, best thing to do in Cuba

But this is just the beginning of what the city has to offer. If you visit, I recommend checking out our guide to learn more about Havana.

We flew into Havana airport and booked  this transfer   to the city center. As soon as we arrived, we left our bags at our hotel and took this  free tour  to see the main  points of interest in Cuba . It’s a group tour, but if you prefer something more personal, you can take the  tour with a local guide .

Two other free tours in Havana that I recommend are the  colonial Havana tour  and the  night tour,  where you can enjoy the city’s best nightlife.

2. Visit Viñales Valley, one of the best things to do in Cuba

The  Viñales Valley  is one of the most  beautiful places to visit in Cuba . Not only is it one of the most popular natural areas in the country, but it’s a  UNESCO  World Heritage Site and National Monument.

What makes it a  must-see in Cuba  is the gorgeous natural landscape of native plants and  mogotes . These rounded mountains are no taller than 100 feet, but they’re eye-catching. Since they formed from limestone, the Caribbean rains have gradually eroded them, creating caves. Some of these caverns have underground rivers, such as the  Cueva del Indio , which I will tell you about later.

Valle de Viñales, things to do in Cuba

As I mentioned in our guide to the best  things to do in Viñales , you cannot miss the area’s coffee and tobacco plantations. I also recommend standing in front of the Prehistory Mural, a large painting on the rock of the mogote Pita. However, this area of ​​the island has much more to offer.

We loved this  bike tour , but be prepared to end up sore because the slopes are killer. If you want to save yourself the effort, this  electric bike tour  may be a good option.

I recommend spending 3 or 4 days in this area, although if you don’t have time, you can take this  1-day tour  from Havana to see the most important things.

3. Varadero, one of the most famous beaches in Cuba

Varadero  boasts some of the most beautiful beaches, so this is one of the top  areas to visit in Cuba . Since it’s so popular, Varadero has several luxury resorts. If you want to spend a few days in total comfort, this is the place to go.

The town has over 13 miles of pristine white sand beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters. Here, you can disconnect from it all and spend your time swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling, or water skiing.

Varadero, what to visit in Cuba

This  tourist attraction in Cuba  also has several impressive caves, such as the  Saturno Cave . Stepping inside this archaeological structure, you’ll be amazed at the rock formations. Best of all,  it has a natural pool inside where you can enjoy a dip.

So, if you’re looking for  fun things to do in Cuba , Varadero is a place you must visit. If you don’t have much time, you can book  this excursion  from Havana to see Varadero in one day.

4. Trinidad, a must-visit in Cuba

Trinidad  is one of the  best cities to visit in Cuba . It’s in the center of the island and is an area of great cultural and historical significance.

As I mentioned in our guide to the  best things to do in Trinidad, Cuba , this city still has remnants from the Spanish colonial era. It’s a lovely place, and I encourage you to get lost among its cobblestone streets and colorful buildings. Walk down  Real de Jigüe  and  Amargura streets, and you’ll feel like you’re stepping through a postcard.

I also recommend visiting  Plaza Mayor , where you can have a  canchánchara , a traditional Cuban cocktail. Another  must-visit in Cuba is Casa de la Trova , in Trinidad, where you can enjoy the nightlife and listen to authentic Cuban music.

Trinidad, the best place to visit in Cuba

Trinidad is also home to two interesting museums: The  Municipal Historical Museum  and the  National Museum of the Fight Against Bandits . The first has a rooftop terrace where you can get amazing views of the city, while the second has artifacts related to Cuban independence.

Another cool place to go is the  Church of the Holy Trinity,  one of the largest churches in the country.

If you want to discover everything about this beautiful city, I recommend this  free tour  to see some of the most  famous landmarks in Cuba .

5. Cienfuegos, one of the most beautiful places to visit in cuba

Cienfuegos , also known as the Pearl of the South, is one of the top  cities to visit in Cuba . It’s on the way to Trinidad from Havana, so it’s a convenient place to spend a day.

Located on the shores of the bay of Cienfuegos, this town stands out for its buildings from the colonial era. The historical urban center of Cienfuegos is also a  UNESCO  World Heritage Site.

Some other impressive places in Cienfuegos include the  José Martí Park, Ferrer Palace , the  Benjamin Duarte Provincial House of Culture , and the  Purísima Concepción Cathedral .

Cienfuegos, famous places in Cuba

5. Cienfuegos, another must-visit in Cuba

Another cool activity in Cuba  is walking along the  Paseo del Prado , the largest promenade on the island. It eventually leads to the  Malecón de Cienfuegos  in Punta Gorda. As I mentioned in our guide with the  best things to do in Cienfuegos , this is where you can enjoy one of the best sunsets in the country.

6. Santa Clara and the Che Guevara mausoleum

Che Guevara is one of the most important figures in the country’s history, so visiting the Che Guevara Mausoleum is one of the most important things to do in Cuba . You can find it in Santa Clara , a central city on the island.

Santa Clara stands out for its historical monuments that reflect the independence revolution. The mausoleum also includes the ashes of Guevara’s 16 comrades who were killed during the Bolivia campaign in 1967. The monument on the mausoleum grounds, at over 20 feet tall, is also worth seeing.

In this same area, there is a museum dedicated to the life of Guevara and an “eternal flame” that Fidel Castro lit in his memory.

6. Santa Clara and the Mausoleum of Che Guevara, must-see in Cuba

6. Santa Clara and the Mausoleum of Che Guevara, an important place to see in Cuba

While you’re in Santa Clara, take the time to visit some other  tourist attractions in Cuba , like the  Leoncio Vidal Park and the Armored Train Monument . The latter commemorates the end of the Batista dictatorship and the start of the Castro socialist regime.

Unfortunately, we had to cancel our excursion to Santa Clara due to an amoeba infection, which I mentioned in our article on  travel insurance for Cuba . Luckily, it was nothing serious, but it’s a good reminder that travel insurance in Cuba is a necessity.

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7. Visit Santiago de Cuba, the 2nd largest city in Cuba

Visiting Santiago de Cuba is another great thing to do in Cuba. While it’s the second-largest city in the country, it’s on the southern end of the island, while Havana is on the northern end. So, if you’re going to spend less than two weeks in Cuba, you’ll have to decide between visiting Havana (and the Northern half of the island) or Santiago (and the Southern half).

We opted for Havana, but we plan to come back so we can discover all that Santiago de Cuba has to offer. This includes beautiful colonial architecture, a rich revolutionary history, and several  famous landmarks in Cuba .

Santiago de Cuba, places to visit in Cuba

7. Visit Santiago de Cuba, another prominent city to visit in Cuba

Enramada Street  is the main artery of the city and where you can access the main tourist attractions. I recommend spending time in the old town, visiting  Parque Céspedes  and the  Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption .

Santiago de Cuba also has one of the most famous boardwalks in Cuba, where you can mingle with the locals. This city is also steeped in history, so stop by the  Moncada Barracks and Museum, Plaza Marte , and the  Santa Ifigenia Cemetery . This is where Fidel Castro’s ashes and the body of José Martí are buried.

8. Ride in a classic car, something to do in Cuba with family

One of the most typical  things to do in Cuba  is to  take a ride in a classic car . In Havana, these types of tours are all over, although they can be a bit pricey. We opted for  this tour  and explored the city in a classic 1950s automobile.

Our driver, Armando, asked us which parts of the city we’d already visited, so he could take us to new places. Along the way, he told us lots of anecdotes that we wouldn’t have heard if we didn’t do this tour. Also, he let us stop a few times so we could take photos. At the end of our tour, we asked Armando to drop us off at a different spot than the pick-up location, and he happily obliged.

Ride in a classic car, best things to do in Cuba

If you want to explore Cuba in style, this excursion is the way to go. You can see iconic sites like the  Plaza de la Revolución, Almendares Park,  and the  Malecón promenade . Plus, riding along in a classic car makes you feel fully immersed in the city’s vibrant atmosphere.

9. Have a mojito in La Bodeguita del Medio, another fun thing to do in Cuba

Another  fun thing to do in Cuba  is to  have a mojito at La Bodeguita del Medio . Although a few replicas have cropped up on the island (and around the world), the original La Bodeguita del Medio is in Old Havana.

The restaurant has long been a meeting place for writers, artists, and politicians. When you visit, you will find out that some personalities have left their sign on the walls, including Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Neruda.

La Bodeguita del Medio, tourist attraction in Cuba

9. Have a mojito in La Bodeguita del Medio, one of the best things to do in Cuba

This is also the  best place in Cuba  to drink a Cuban  mojito . Made with rum, lime, and mint, it’s the traditional cocktail of Havana, and a great way to end your day.

That said, La Bodeguita del Medio is one of the most popular  tourist attractions in Cuba ‘s capital city. So, if you want a relaxing evening, you won’t find it here! We went very early so we could avoid the crowds, which worked out quite well. Plus, there was live music, and the drinks weren’t that expensive (about 5 CUC).

10. Buena Vista Social Club, the best place to enjoy Cuban music

Buenavista Social Club  is one of the  best places to visit in Cuba  if you want to enjoy authentic Cuban music. Located in Havana, it’s one of the most popular clubs on the island and the perfect way to enjoy the nightlife.

Like all the clubs in the country, it closed its doors during the 1959 revolution and the rise of the Castro regime. Fortunately, it was able to reopen in the 1990s, and since then, it’s been a  must-see in Cuba .

Buena Vista Social Club, fun things to do in Cuba

Here, you can watch the Grammy-winning Buena Vista Social Club perform live, as well as the Afro-Cuban All-Stars. These are two of the best Latin bands in the world, so if you’re looking for  entertainment in Cuba , look no further.

Since this is a popular club, I suggest booking  your ticket  in advance. This entry ticket includes a three-course dinner and drinks prior to the performance.

11. Tropicana Cabaret, something fun to do in Cuba at night

The  Tropicana Cabaret in Havana is one of the most popular cabarets in the country and even won the 5 Stars Diamond for the Best Cabaret in the Americas. If you’re wondering  what to do in Cuba at night , Tropicana has all the fun, music, and color you could want.

What makes this cabaret unique is that it’s outdoors in a tropical garden. The stage is surrounded by beautiful palm trees, creating a fitting atmosphere. Tropicana dates to 1939, and world-renown artists have graced its stage over the years.

Tropicana Cabaret, where to go in Cuba

Taking in a show at the Tropicana is one of the most  exciting things to do in Cuba . While you sip a mojito, you can watch dozens of performers take the stage. It’s an incredible display of movement, dance, music, and colorful costumes.

The cabaret is very popular, so I recommend booking your  ticket in advance. Also, consider the dress code before you go. Men should wear long pants, closed-toe shoes, and a polo shirt or button-down. Women should also dress semi-formally and should only bring small bags. Otherwise, they’ll have to leave it at the entrance.

12. Topes de Collantes, one of the best hikes in Cuba

If you like hiking, one of the places you can  visit in Cuba  is the  Topes de Collantes  natural park. It’s just a few miles from Trinidad, so you can take advantage of your visit by stopping here along the way.

The park is in the Sierra del Escambray mountain range, a lush area that’s home to nearly 50% of Cuba’s native species. It’s also full of natural wonders, such as the 210-foot  Caburní Falls , the highest waterfall in the Caribbean.

Topes de Collantes, tourist attactions in Cuba

12. Topes de Collantes, one of the best places to go hiking in Cuba

We loved this place, and we were even able to see and photograph several small Cuban hummingbirds hovering around the flowers next to the waterfall. Getting there was a bit difficult because of the rain, but it was more than worth it. If you visit, just bring the right footwear!

While you’re here, check out some other hiking paths, such as the  Vegas Grandes trail, that leads to another beautiful fall; or the Gruta Batata trail, which offers amazing panoramic views and leads to natural pools where you can bathe.

Topes de Collantes is also close to the  Hacienda Codina mud baths  and the  Paseo Ecologico  nature walkway.

13. Dance in the House of Music, something to do in Cuba for couples

If you’re looking for some nighttime  activities in Cuba , I recommend visiting the  House of Music . We went to the ones that are in Havana, Trinidad, and Viñales but almost all major towns have one.

Here, you can groove to live musical performances, which vary by the day. Several well-known Cuban artists and groups have performed here, such as Los Van Van orchestra and Bamboleo.

Dance in the House of Music, where to go in Cuba

Besides the music and dancing, the House of Music is a great place in Cuba to enjoy a mojito or even a Cuban cigar.

Admission varies depending on who’s performing that night, but the tickets are usually quite cheap. The club is open from 10 pm to midnight, so if you’re looking for fun things to do in Cuba  at night, this is the best place to go.

14. Zapata Swamp, one of the best national parks in Cuba

The  Zapata Swamp  is one of the best national parks to visit in Cuba. It’s in the Matanzas province on the Zapata Peninsula, and it’s the largest wetland in the Caribbean, covering 1,680 square miles. Thanks to its aquatic bird population, the park is a  UNESCO -declared Biosphere Reserve and  Ramsar Site .

Here, you can explore lush forests filled with about a thousand different native plant species. There is also a wide variety of animals, some of which are endangered. Zapata Swamp serves as a refuge for more than 65 migratory bird species, and it’s home to Cuban crocodiles and alligators. You can go to the park’s  Crocodile Farm  to learn more about these reptiles, and it’s a fun  thing to do in Cuba for kids .

Zapata Swamp, things to see in Cuba

You can also explore other areas near the national park, such as  Taino Village . There, you can learn more about pre-Columbian life in Cuba by examining the sculptures and ruins. Another  interesting place to visit in Cuba  is  Playa Larga  in the Bay of Pigs, one of the most popular beaches in the country. I also suggest visiting  Laguna del Tesoro, Guamá , and the  Hatiguanico River .

You’ll need an entire day to explore this area. It’s a bit difficult to navigate on your own, so I recommend  this tour from Varadero.

15. Cueva de los Peces, the deepest natural sinkhole in Cuba

Close to Zapata Swamp is  Cueva de los Peces , another cool  attraction in Cuba . This natural sinkhole is known for its impressive depth, and it’s a natural wonder you should stop and see.

The sinkhole is 230 feet deep and sits among beautiful scenery. It’s open to the public, so you can bathe in its crystal-clear waters and see the fish swimming under the surface. I think it’s a great  activity to do in Cuba  as a couple. Plus, the Bay of Pigs is right across the road, and it’s the best place to go snorkeling in Cuba.

La Cueva de los Peces, beautiful places in Cuba

15. La Cueva de los Peces, the deepest natural sinkhole in Cuba

Besides the incredible amount of tropical fish you’ll see, this area is also full of sea sponges and colorful coral. I highly recommend checking out this place if you’re looking for an  adventure in Cuba . There is even a small resort where you can rent snorkeling equipment.

16. Valle del Silencio, one of the best places to see the sunset in Cuba

Watching the sunset in the  Valle del Silencio  is one of the most  romantic things to do in Cuba . Many people would agree that this is the most beautiful place in Viñales, so you don’t want to miss it.

This lush Caribbean valley is home to several tobacco and coffee plantations, and it’s one of the most scenic  sites to see in Cuba . While the most popular way to explore the valley is  by horseback , we took this  sunset hike  and loved it.

Valle del Silencio, top sites in Cuba

On our hike, we visited a tobacco plantation, where we learned how the farmers dry the plants for distribution. We also got incredible views of the valley as the sunset bathed the mogotes in orange. Without a doubt, it was one of the best  outdoor activities in Cuba  that we did.

17. Learn about Santeria, something interesting to do in Cuba

Before I went to Cuba, I didn’t know that the primary religion, in addition to Catholicism, is  Yoruba . Also known as  Santeria , this religion has its roots in Africa and came to Cuba during the colonial slave trade.

Santeria is more present on the island than you might think. For example, during our trip, we saw hundreds of people dressed in white from head-to-toe, signifying that they have been “sanctified”. You’ll have to take this Yoruba religion tour to know what that means! Without a doubt, this is one of the most interesting things to do in Cuba  if you want to dig into the country’s culture.

Learn about Santeria, something to do in Cuba

The tour is in Havana, so you’ll get to see many of  Cuba’s points of interest . This includes the  Museum of the Orishas  and the  Callejón de Hamel , which is the epicenter of Afro-Cuban culture. You’ll also visit the home of a  babalao , or Santeria priest, who will show you some Yoruba rituals.

18. Visit Cayo Levisa or Cayo Jutias, the best beaches in Cuba

If you want to enjoy some of the best beaches in Cuba, go to  Cayo Levisa  or  Cayo Jutias .

Cayo Levisa  is an island that’s about 4 miles off Cuba’s northern coast. Typically, visitors arrive from Viñales, so I recommend  this excursion  to get there. It doesn’t include the cost of the ferry, which is about 15 CUC.

Once in Cayo Levisa, you can enjoy all kinds of beachy  activities in Cuba , such as swimming and snorkeling. The gulf waters off the coast are home to a diverse array of fish and reefs.

Cayo Levisa or Cayo Jutías. beautiful place to go in Cuba

18. Visit Cayo Levisa or Cayo Jutías, the best beaches in Cuba

If you’re looking for more affordable things to do in Cuba , head to  Cayo Jutías , which I consider one of the top beaches in the country.  This excursion leaves from Viñales and you won’t have to take a ferry to get there.

The beaches of Cayo Jutías look like paradise and are perfect for sunbathing. You can also go swimming and snorkeling here, and I also suggest trying the lobster at one of the nearby restaurants, as it’s a specialty here.

19. Hotel Nacional, one of the most iconic hotels in Cuba

The  Hotel Nacional de Cuba is a classic hotel in Havana and an iconic place to visit in Cuba.

This hotel first opened in 1930, and it’s still as elegant as ever. Its first-class services have solidified it as a benchmark within the Cuban hospitality industry.

Hotel Nacional de Cuba, where to go in Cuba

19. Hotel Nacional de Cuba, one of the most iconic hotels in Cuba

Moreover, several high-profile celebrities and public figures have stayed at the hotel. A few examples include Marlon Brando, Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill, and Alexander Fleming. Once you see this  famous landmark in Cuba , you’ll get a sense of its grandiosity and glamour.

A fun fact about the hotel is that in 1946, all the bosses of the United States mafia met here. Today, there aren’t any mafia bosses at the hotel, but it’s still fully functional, and you can book a room during your visit to Cuba. If you want to stay here,  book in advance  because the rooms sell out quickly.

20. Alejandro de Humboldt National Park

Alejandro de Humboldt National Park  is one of the  best places to visit in Cuba  to reconnect with nature. It has been a  UNESCO  World Heritage Site since 2001, and its lush vegetation and wide variety of native species makes it a must-see.

Experts believe there are more than 340 plant species that are exclusively in this park, making it one of the top places in Cuba. Here, you can enjoy beautiful scenery and views, as well as pleasant walks in nature. If you’re going to be in the southern part of the island, you can’t miss this national park.

Alejandro de Humboldt National Park, attraction in Cuba

20. Alejandro de Humboldt National Park, a lovely place to see in Cuba

The most popular area to walk around is  El Copal . It’s just over one mile and offers amazing panoramic views of the park. Best of all, the path ends at an incredible waterfall that cascades over black rocks into a small natural pool where you can cool off.

Another interesting trail is  El Recreo , which is slightly longer. Along the path, you’ll see all kinds of flora and fauna, as well as a viewpoint overlooking Taco Bay.

With all the trails and pretty wildlife, this national park is one of the best  attractions in Cuba . You can even take this  day trip  from Baracoa to learn about the tropical forest and biodiversity of the place.

21. Rock climbing in Viñales, an exciting thing to do in Cuba

If you’re looking for a unique  thing to do in Cuba , I suggest  rock climbing in Mogote del Valle , Viñales. This area is the most popular place to rock climb in the country, and it attracts climbers from across the globe. Not only does Mogote del Valle have plenty of vertical walls to climb, but the tropical views are out of this world.

Rock climbing in Viñales, the best activity in Cuba

Even if you’ve never rock climbed before, there are different excursions and tour packages for all skill levels. Of course, if you’re a beginner, you’ll want to book a guided tour, so you stay safe while enjoying this exciting  activity in Cuba .

If you’re determined to pursue this  adventure in Cuba , keep in mind that the best time to go is from November to March since there is less rain.

22. Explore the caves of Viñales, something to do in Cuba with family

Viñales sits on an impressive karst valley, which makes it perfect for climbers. Another benefit of this terrain is that it has formed some incredible caves, and they’re one of the top sites to see in Cuba.

One of the coolest caves in the area is the  Great Cavern of Santo Tomás . It’s the largest cave system in the country and the second-largest in all of North America at 28 miles long. Unfortunately, during our trip, the site was under construction due to a landslide, so we couldn’t visit it.

Explore the caves of Viñales, something to visit in Cuba

However, we did see the  Cueva del Indio , one of the most  popular places to visit in Cuba ‘s Viñales area. The San Vicente River runs through it, so you must take a boat tour to explore the cave’s depths.

Another interesting cave is the Cueva de San Miguel, also known as  Palenque de los Cimarrones  for the African slaves who sought refuge in it after escaping the sugar mills. This cave isn’t as geologically interesting, but it’s historically significant and still worth visiting.

The caves of Viñales are a must-see, but they’re not at a walkable distance from each other so I suggest booking this tour to visit them.

23. See the sunrise at Los Acuaticos, a romantic thing to do in Cuba

One of my favorite memories from our trip was taking a trek at 3 am to see the sunrise at  Los Acuaticos .

This may be an  unusual thing to do in Cuba  because the trail is a little-known secret. We did the trek on our own but got lost a few times! Still, it was worth it to see the sunrise and the warm glow rising over the  mogotes.

Los Acuáticos, things to do in Cuba for couples

23. See the sunrise at Los Acuáticos, a romantic thing to do in Cuba

That said, I don’t want you to get lost in the dark here, so I suggest booking  this guided hiking excursion . Not only will you get the best views, but you’ll learn more about the community of Los Acuáticos . This traditional village believes in the healing power of water and, as such, has some unique customs.

24. Take a salsa class, something you must do in Cuba

Taking a salsa class  is one of the most enjoyable  activities in Cuba . The island has a rich history of salsa dance, so you can find lots of bars and clubs offering classes.

I must admit, watching Cubans salsa dance is quite hypnotic, and it seems that the rhythm pulses through their veins. Most salsa classes provide instruction as well as some background history about Cuban and Afro-Caribbean rhythms and movements. Practicing the steps with your partner is also a  romantic thing to do in Cuba .

Take a salsa class, fun things to do in Cuba

If you’re looking for salsa dance lessons in Havana, I recommend  this class . The one-hour class includes instruction from professional dancers, who will teach you basic salsa moves, as well as the merengue and the cha-cha-chá. Without a doubt, it’s a  fun thing to do in Cuba with your loved one.

25. Camagüey, one of the most beautiful cities to visit in Cuba

While  traveling in Cuba , be sure to visit the city of  Camagüey . A  UNESCO  World Heritage Site, Camagüey is full of culture, history, and religious significance. It’s also one of the most  beautiful places in Cuba , so if you’re visiting the center of the island, be sure to check out this city.

Besides, most of the tourist attractions in Camagüey are quite close to each other, so you can see them all in one day.

The  Ignacio Agramonte Park  is a historical spot commemorating the War of Independence with a statue of this Cuban revolutionary. You can learn more about him at the Ignacio Agramonte Birthplace Museum  in Plaza de los Trabajadores.

Camagüey, where to go in Cuba

Plaza del Carmen  is another  point of interest in Cuba . In this beautiful square, you can see the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the only religious building in Camagüey with two Cuban-style towers.

I also recommend visiting  Our Lady of Candelaria Cathedral , which dates to 1735; the  Teatro Principal , headquarters of the Camagüey ballet; and the  Casino Campestre Park , one of the largest natural parks in Cuba.

26. Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, a unique place to visit in Cuba

The  Santa Ifigenia Cemetery  in Santiago de Cuba is something you should see if you’re  traveling in Cuba ‘s southern region.

The cemetery is over 150 years old and the second-largest in Cuba, after the Necropolis of Christopher Columbus in Havana. The area is home to several funerary monuments, such as the hexagonal marker of José Martí, representing the six ancient provinces of Cuba. Here, you’ll also find  Fidel Castro’s tomb  and the final resting places of several prominent Cubans.

Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, the best thing to visit in Cuba

You can get a better understanding of the cemetery and the historical figures buried there by booking  this tour . Along with the cemetery, you’ll visit the  Barracks of Moncada  and the  Museum of Bacardi , two other interesting  attractions in Cuba .

27. National Capitol of Havana, another must-see in Cuba

The  National Capitol Building  in Havana is a  famous landmark in Cuba  worth visiting. It dates to 1929 and, in addition to being one of the largest buildings on the island, it’s a National Monument.

Construction on  El Capitolio  began during the dictatorship of Gerardo Machado with the help of North American financiers. As a result, the national building resembles the White House in Washington D.C., especially the neoclassical columns and grand dome.

The dome once held a large 25-carat diamond to symbolize Kilometer 0 on the Central Highway of Cuba, although it has been replaced with a replica diamond.

National Capitol of Havana, top place to visit in Cuba

While you can visit the capitol building on your own, there are official one-hour guided tours that take place daily. It could be an interesting way to learn more about this prominent  place in Cuba .

During the tour, you’ll visit the  Hall of Lost Steps , with the impressive Statue of the Republic at its center. You’ll also see the former conference room of  Baire Hall , the French-style  Bolívar Hall , the neoclassical  Baraguá Room , and the  Martí Room  in the library’s anteroom.

28. Cayo Santa Maria, one of the best beaches in Cuba

Cayo Santa Maria  is one of the  best places to visit in Cuba , especially if you want to enjoy spectacular beaches with turquoise blue water.

This island is north of central Cuba and links to the mainland via the world’s longest stone seawall (30 miles). So, you can reach Cayo Santa María by car, taking in all the wonderful coastal views along the way.

Cayo Santa María, tourist attraction in Cuba

28. Cayo Santa María, one of the best beaches in Cuba

Once you arrive, you can sunbathe on the white sand beach or go snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters. Another  fun thing to do in Cuba  is to take a boat trip and try to spot dolphins in this Caribbean paradise.

If you head to the southern part of the island, you can take a nature walk among the lush vegetation. If you’re not sure  where to go in Cuba  to disconnect and unwind, Cayo Santa María is your best bet. To make things nice and easy, consider  this excursion  from Santa Clara with transportation.

29. Visit La Isabelica coffee plantation, another interesting thing to do in Cuba

Near Santiago de Cuba, you’ll find  La Isabelica Coffee Plantation , a  UNESCO  World Heritage Site and one of the most important  places in Cuba .

Located over 3,700 feet above sea level, this impressive  cafetal  boasts social and historical significance. It doubles as a museum dedicated to the coffee slave trade and to the economic grown that the area saw when French emigrants from Haiti arrived in that part of Cuba and raised over 600 plantations.

La Isabelica coffee plantation, vacation in Cuba

Besides visiting the extensive coffee drying rooms, you can access  La Isabelica Coffee Museum . This two-story mansion features period furniture and objects related to plantation work. The second floor has been restored to replicate the original home, so you can get a better idea of life back then.

About a mile away is  La Gran Piedra , another popular  tourist attraction in Cuba  that I’ll talk about next.

30. La Gran Piedra, an amazing place to visit in Cuba

In the Sierra Maestra mountain range is  La Gran Piedra , one of the most peculiar  places to visit in Cuba .

La Gran Piedra (The Great Stone) is a huge volcanic rock weighing around 60,000 tons. It is over 165 feet long, 80 feet tall, and nearly 100 feet wide. It has become one of the most popular  attractions in Cuba , despite the 459 steps you must climb to get to the top.

It’s worth it because the views from up there are magnificent. Over 4,030 feet above sea level, La Gran Piedra is even in the  Guinness World Records  book as the highest rock of its size in the world.

La Gran Piedra, the best hike to do in Cuba

While you’re atop the rock with the entire Sierra Maestra underfoot, you’ll notice the big domed tower nearby. It’s a meteorological radar tower that records the climate changes in the region.

If you want to see La Gran Piedra, you should visit during your trip to La Isabelica coffee plantation. It’ll make for an unforgettable experience in Cuba .

31. Take a train ride through Valley of the Sugar Mills

One of the most  interesting   things to do in Cuba  is to take a  train ride through the Valley of the Sugar Mills , a  UNESCO  World Heritage Site.

This area was home to the sugar mills and distilleries that exported supplies to Europe. While it yielded a large profit, it was unfortunately at the hands of African slaves. Taking a journey through this region means facing the darker parts of Cuba’s history.

Train ride through Valley of the Sugar Mills, things to do in Cuba

31. Take a train ride through Valley of the Sugar Mills, an interesting thing to do in Cuba

You can take a ride on a steam train from Trinidad to  Manaca Iznaga , one of the most lucrative plantations. Once there, you can visit the slave barracks and the watchtower that kept a close eye on the laborers.

Another sugar mill to visit is  San Isidro de los Destiladeros . It’s close by but not as crowded as other similar  sites in Cuba , so you can take your time looking around. The plantation is in good condition, as are the buildings and watchtower, from which you can get great views of the valley.

32. Ancon Beach, a calm place to go in Cuba

If you’re looking for the top places on the island to watch the sunset, consider  Ancon Beach . Not only is it one of the  best vacation places in Cuba , but the reddish hues of the sun reflecting on the calm sea is something you can’t miss.

This beach is close to Trinidad, so if you’re going to be in the area, it’s the perfect day trip. Ancon Beach boasts an expansive coastline, and it’s more secluded than other resort towns on the island.

Ancón Beach, the best beach in Cuba

Best of all, this beach is one of the most  beautiful places in Cuba  to go snorkeling. Along with the crystal-clear waters and fine white sand, the area has loads of colorful tropical fish. You can rent some snorkeling equipment on the beach and dive into those pristine waters.

We visited this beach several times, both by taxi and by bike, which takes 40 minutes from Trinidad. My word of advice is not to stop at La Boca, because although it may seem pretty, there is a lot of sewage. Instead, go straight to Ancon Beach, where you can relax on the clean shores.

33. Visit Baracoa, an important city in Cuba

Baracoa , also known as the First City, is a  must-see in Cuba since it was the first established city on the island.

Despite its historical importance, Baracoa isn’t the most  popular place in Cuba since it’s in the southern part of the country, in Guantanamo. Even so, it’s worth visiting, thanks to its preserved traditions, sites, and mix of jungle and seaside activities.

To start, visit  Seboruco Castle  to enjoy some beautiful panoramic views of Baracoa. Then go to  Parque Independencia  in the city center, where you’ll find lots of bars and restaurants.

Baracoa, things to see in Cuba

I also recommend stopping by the  Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption . Inside, you can see the  Cruz de la Parra , the last of the 29 crosses that Christopher Columbus took to the New World and a beloved Christian relic.

If you get tired while walking the streets of Baracoa, you can take a stroll along the Malecón promenade, which always has a lively atmosphere. You might also enjoy one of the excursions that leave from Baracoa, such as the  Alejandro Humboldt National Park ,  Maguana Beach , or Yunque de Baracoa and the Yumirí Canyon, which I’ll mention next.

34. Yunque de Baracoa, the best place to hike in Cuba

Yunque de Baracoa  is one of the best  places to visit in Cuba  to enjoy wildlife and nature walks. Due to its historical, environmental, and cultural value, it has been declared a National Monument.

This nature reserve is one of the most well-known areas in the country and sits 1,310-1,890 feet above sea level. It gets its name from the peculiar flat surface at its peak, which looks like an anvil. If the distinct shape and impressive height of this place don’t astound you, the plentiful vegetation will.

Yunque de Baracoa, places to visit in Cuba

Walking along the Yunque’s nature trails is one of the top things to do in Cuba with family , so I highly recommend it. The trail to the top takes around 4 hours, but it’s an enjoyable and scenic journey in the tropical forest. You’ll also spot different wildlife species along the way.

Once you get to the top, you’ll have gorgeous views. You’ll also see the bust of General Antonio Maceo, also known as the Bronze Titan.

If you want to discover all that the Yunque has to offer, I suggest booking this full-day excursion .

35. Yumuri Canyon and Belete waterfalls, a breathtaking place to go in Cuba

If you’re going to be in Baracoa, one of the top  Cuban points of interest  to see is the  Yumuri Canyon . It’s a protected natural area with some of the best biodiversity in the country. Plus, it’s ideal for birdwatching, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

What’s nice about the canyon is that there are different walking paths, so you can choose one that suits your level. However, I highly recommend the trail that leads to the  Belete waterfalls . It’s about 4 miles each way, but it’s worth it to see those clear emerald waters and breathtaking 65-foot falls.

Yumurí Canyon and Belete waterfalls, tourist attractions in Cuba

35. Yumurí Canyon and Belete waterfalls, a breathtaking place to go in Cuba

The entire Yumurí Canyon is one of the most  beautiful places in Cuba , full of lush rainforest, different animal species, and natural wonders. You’ll be surrounded by lovely tropical scenery the whole time, making you feel like you’re in paradise.

If you want to make the most of your time here, I suggest  this excursion , which includes a visit to a cocoa plantation and the beautiful beach of El Manglito. You’ll also get to take a boat ride along the Yumurí canyon river.

36. Stay overnight in a casa particular, a unique experience in Cuba

One of the most authentic things to do in Cuba is staying overnight at one of the casas particulares , or  private homes . Even if it’s just for one night, it will be an unforgettable way to meet the locals and immerse yourself in the culture.

Since 2000, Cuban families have been able to obtain permits that allow them to offer a room in their home as tourist accommodations. While  traveling in Cuba , you will see signs for room rentals all over around.

Among the many perks of renting a room in a family’s home, I’d like to highlight the great prices, flexible dates, and the incredible opportunity to learn about Cuban culture first-hand.

Stay overnight in a casa particular, where to stay in Cuba

This type of accommodation is usually quite charming, and each one is unique. Plus, the host families are super friendly and often greet you with a fresh drink or snack upon your arrival. They’re also a great source of insider information about where to go and  what to do in Cuba . You could spend hours chatting and learning about their life on the island and how it has changed over the years.

I mention more about these private rooms in our guide on  how to plan a trip to Cuba , so check that out if you’re interested in this type of accommodation!

37. Museum of the Revolution, one of the most important museums in Cuba

The  Museum of the Revolution  is the best museum in Cuba to learn more about the 1953 revolution.

It’s in Havana’s city center, inside what was the Presidential Palace. The last president of Cuba to use it was the dictator Fulgencio Batista. After the revolution, it became a popular  tourist attraction in Cuba , exhibiting photos, documents, and other objects related to this pivotal event.

Museum of the Revolution, things to do in Cuba

The museum is clearly propaganda, with an emphasis on the economic and social achievements of the communist system. I found the  Cretins’ Corner  to be quite humorous and intriguing, as there are giant caricatures of George H.W. Bush, his son, Fulgencio Batista, and Ronald Reagan.

The revolution was a crucial event that marked a distinct before and after in the country. If you want to learn more about its historical significance in Cuba, check out this  walking tour , which includes stops at some of the most important and  famous landmarks in Cuba .

38. Learn about Cuban cigars on the Tobacco Route

Whether you smoke or not, one of the most  unique things to do in Cuba  is to learn about the culture of Cuban cigars and how they’re made.

You can journey along the  tobacco route in   Pinar del Río  province and see some of the main cultivation areas and Cuban cigar factories. While exploring the natural landscape, you’ll learn more about the country’s tobacco tradition and its economic importance.

Another option is to visit the Raúl Reyes Estate in Viñales, which is what we did. Besides being one of the most  interesting places to visit in Cuba , the owner is humble and kind, so it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Tobacco Route, something to do in Cuba

38. Learn about Cuban cigars on the Tobacco Route, another must-do in Cuba

During our time here, we saw the tobacco drying houses and plantations. Raúl Reyes explained the entire process and offered unique insights about his life and work in the field. We ended up purchasing a few cigars and some coffee as souvenirs.

Along with the tobacco plantations, another  cool place to go in Cuba  is a tobacco factory. The most famous one is Partagas in Havana, which is also the oldest in the country. Here, you can watch Cuban cigars being made and visit the accompanying museum.

39. Maria la Gorda, the best place to go diving in Cuba

While I’ve already mentioned some great beaches where you can go diving, there are a few other  places in Cuba  you should check out if you want to enjoy this activity.

María la Gorda  in the northwestern Pinar del Río province is the  best place in Cuba for diving . Here, you can swim over black coral reefs and among barracudas, crabs, lobsters, and other sea critters.

Be sure to check out the María la Gorda International Diving Center before you hit the water. There, you’ll find all the necessary information about the place, as well as interesting spots to dive. You can also rent diving equipment or book a boat ride.

Maria de la Gorda, things to do in Cuba with kids

39. Maria de la Gorda, the best place to go diving in Cuba

From Pinar del Río, you can visit the  Isle of Youth , another popular diving spot in Cuba. This area is good for both beginners and experts, and it boasts some amazing geological formations, as well as sharks.

If you’re going to be mostly in Havana, check out this  snorkeling excursion , which explores the City of Alexandria and the SS Olivette shipwrecks. Another great diving trip is  this one  in Santiago de Cuba, which explores the Almirante Oquendo battleship that sank in 1898.

40. Attend the cannon firing ceremony, an unforgettable thing to do in Cuba

The  cannon firing ceremony  is one of the oldest traditions in Havana, dating to 1774 when soldiers would fire the cannon to announce the closing of the city gates. Hearing the boom of the cannon reverberating throughout the city is a memorable  thing to do in Cuba  that you don’t want to miss.

The cannon is at the  San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress , a  UNESCO  World Heritage Site surrounded by thick walls to keep bandits and pirates at bay. These days, the ceremony is part of Havana’s cultural tradition, and participants even wear 18th-century clothing to recreate the colonial era.

Cannon firing ceremony, what to see in Cuba

40. Attend a cannon firing ceremony, an unforgettable thing to do in Cuba

Again, if you’re visiting Havana, be sure to check out this impressive ceremony. I should warn you that the fortress is a bit out of the way from the city center, but this tour can pick you up from your hotel and take you there. You’ll also get to tour Old Havana and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

41. Have a daiquiri at El Floridita, something to do in Cuba at night

Along with the mojito, the  daiquiri  is one of Cuba’s signature cocktails, so you can’t leave Havana without trying one. Ernest Hemingway even said, “My mojito at La Bodeguita, my daiquiri at El Floridita.”

And so, it is, that you should go to  El Floridita for a daiquiri  and a fun night on the town. If you want to try the famed author’s particular drink, it’s made with 4 ounces of white rum with lemon and grapefruit juice, crushed ice, and six drops of maraschino cherry liqueur. We tried it, and it was quite good!

Daiquiri at El Floridita, things to do in Cuba

Even without its connection to Hemingway, this bar is a great  place to go in Cuba . The atmosphere is quite distinct, with the waiters in 1950s uniforms and live music playing most nights. Also, don’t miss the steel statue of Hemingway leaning on the bar.

Moreover, if you’re a bookworm or a big fan of Hemingway, I suggest  this guided tour  through his home,  La Vigía,  and the town of  Cojímar , which inspired his book  The Old Man and the Sea . You’ll also see his regular hotel room at Ambos Mundos Hotel  before ending the tour at El Floridita.

42. Watch the sunset at the Malecón in Havana, something to do in Cuba as a couple

The  Malecón in Havana is a broad promenade along the city coast. It extends for 5 miles and is known as one of the most famous landmarks in Cuba . Here, you’ll find locals meeting up, tourists sightseeing, and lovers watching the sunset.

There’s no doubt that this is the perfect spot for people-watching. The lively atmosphere and mix of visitors make it an  attraction in Cuba  worth seeing. Of course, what makes it so popular is the  stunning sunset views  you can get here.

Malecón in Havana, beautiful place in Cuba

While Havana’s malecón may be the most important boardwalk in the country, it’s not the only one you should visit. The coastal towns of  Cienfuegos, Baracoa,  and  Puerto Padre  also have lovely promenades. If you’re going inland, check out  Santa Clara , which has a boardwalk along the Cubanicay River and another next to Teatro La Caridad.

Whichever one you visit, you’re sure to strike up a conversation with the locals, who are super open and friendly!

43. Have an ice cream at Coppelia, the best thing to do in Cuba with kids

Coppelia  is Cuba’s national chain of ice cream parlors that became internationally popular after the film  Strawberry and Chocolate . You can find Coppelia parlors throughout the country and enjoying one of those sweet treats is a fun  thing to do in Cuba with kids .

These ice cream shops are a little different because they only serve three flavors. However, the flavors change daily, so there is always a reason to stop by!

Coppelia, visit in Cuba

As the most popular  place in Cuba  to get ice cream, Coppelia can be packed, especially if you go in the evening. We went to one in Havana around noon, and the line wasn’t bad at all. Yet, even if there is a line, it’s worth it because the ice cream is to die for.

Again, we went to Coppelia in Havana, but you can also visit the ice cream parlors in Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Santa Clara, Sancti Spíritus, Camagüey, Santiago de Cuba, and Guantánamo.

44. El Nicho waterfalls, an amazing place to go in Cuba

El Nicho  is one of the most  beautiful places to visit in Cuba , and a must-see if you’re around the Topes de Collantes park. I mentioned the Caburní Falls earlier, however, El Nicho is much more accessible and just a short drive away from Cienfuegos.

As a result, the El Nicho waterfalls tend to be one of the more crowded  attractions in Cuba . Still, I think they’re well worth seeing, with their clear blue water and lush tropical vegetation. You can bathe in the natural pools under the waterfall, too, so remember to bring your swimsuit.

El Nicho waterfalls, points of interest in Cuba

While you’re there, explore the surrounding areas. There are several nearby caves as well as hiking trails. I recommend the main trail to the falls, also known as the  Kingdom of the Waters . It’s only about half a mile, so it’s the perfect  thing to do in Cuba with kids .

45. Climb Pico Turquino in Sierra Maestra, the best hike to do in Cuba

One of the most  beautiful places in Cuba  is the  Sierra Maestra National Park  in the southeast. It’s also known as the Turquino National Park because of its highest point,  Pico Turquino .

At 6,475 feet tall, Pico Turquino is also the highest mountain in the country and one of the few sites in Cuba  that has recorded snowfall, back in 1900.

Some say the name Pico Turquino is a mispronunciation of  turquesa , or turquoise, which reflects the vibrant blue hues you can see from atop the mountain. Even Che Guevara said that the peak had a mystical air to it, so it’s something you must see during your visit. Also, on the hilltop is a bust of José Martí, which marked his 100th birthday.

Pico Turquino in Sierra Maestra, attractions in Cuba

Getting to the top isn’t easy, but if you like hiking, this is a must-do in Cuba . Two paths lead to the top; a 7-mile trail from the Turquino Caves on the coast, and an 11-mile trail from the Bartolomé Masó neighborhood of Santo Domingo.

You can decide which path to take, but you must hike with an official park guide. There is also the option to do a 2-day route, but you’ll have to make a reservation at the San Joaquín campsite.

46. Disconnect in Cayo Blanco, the best thing to do in Cuba as a couple

Have you ever dreamed of going to a deserted island and disconnecting from everything? Well, that is something you can do in Cuba,  at  Cayo Blanco , a true island paradise.

The best way to get to Cayo Blanco is via catamaran.  This trip  leaves from Varadero and transports you to that idyllic spot in luxury. The deserted island is perfect for getting away from the hustle and bustle of the cities. You can explore the breathtaking Caribbean waters and pristine beaches in total peace.

Cayo Blanco, things to do in Cuba as a couple

A visit to Cayo Blanco is a great  thing to do in Cuba as a couple , too. You may choose to relax and sunbathe or you might want to enjoy some outdoor activities like snorkeling. The seabed is absolutely gorgeous and full of sea sponges, lobsters, crabs, coral reefs, and colorful tropical fish.

The catamaran excursion also includes a buffet lunch and cocktails, so it’s the best way to enjoy a romantic plan in Cuba with your partner.

47. Eat in a paladar , a popular thing to do in Cuba

Paladar  translates to ‘palate’ in English, but in Cuba,  paladares  are owner-run restaurants. Eating in a  paladar   is one of the  best things to do in Cuba  if you want to taste authentic Cuban food.

These restaurants are typically in a Cuban family’s home, and they’re one of the few private businesses permitted in the country. Eating at one is like sitting down at the family dinner table and enjoying a home-cooked meal. It’s the best way to experience the local and traditional flavors of the island.

Eat in a paladar, things to do in Cuba as a family

47. Eat in a paladar, a popular thing to do in Cuba

Most paladares  in the cities are now restaurants like anywhere in the world. However, you can still find authentic paladares in smaller towns and villages throughout the country. The dishes are usually modest yet delicious and include a base of rice or beans and sometimes pork or chicken.

Grab a seat by the window or door so you can people-watch while you eat. Without a doubt, it’s a  fun thing to do in Cuba if you want to feel like a local!

48. Visit the Bay of Pigs, an incredible thing to do in Cuba

If there is something you  must see in Cuba , it’s the  Bay of Pigs . The site of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961, is today a remarkable natural beach with crystal-clear waters and idyllic beaches. Unlike other beaches in Cuba, the Bay of Pigs isn’t as touristy, which makes it even more enjoyable.

Here, you can find the Crocodile Farm, Cueva de los Peces, and Long Beach, some  tourist attractions in Cuba  that I mentioned earlier. There is also  Playa Girón , where the Bay of Pigs invasion took place. It’s a nice area for sunbathing and snorkeling, as are  Playa Coco  and  Caleta Buena .

Bay of Pigs, an important place to go in Cuba

Another interesting thing about the Bay of Pigs is that after the first springtime rains, the road is covered in crabs migrating to the water to spawn. Try to avoid going around that time so you can avoid making a mess!

49. Rent a bicycle, something to do in Cuba as a family

The best way to get around Cuba is via shared taxi, Viazul bus, or the public buses called  botellas . I go over all the transportation options in our guide to  planning a trip to Cuba .

That said, once you’re at your destination, the easiest way to get around is by  renting a bicycle . This is one of the most common  activities in Cuba , so you won’t have any trouble finding a place to rent a bike. After asking the locals which sites to check out, we traveled by bike through Havana, Trinidad, and Viñales.

Rent a bicycle, the best thing to do in Cuba

Moreover, you don’t have to worry about parking when you travel by bicycle. Our  experience in Cuba  was quite positive, and we felt safe while traversing the area on bikes. Plus, we never had problems with storing them, even when we forgot to lock them up!

50. Take in some colonial and Cuban street art

One of the things that struck me the most about Cuba was the  colonial buildings and street art . The visual splendor in this country speaks of historical events and moments of greatness. All the art and architecture here is most impressive when you first arrive, but it’s still worth mentioning.

It’s also quite a sight to see spectacular palatial buildings from Cuba’s golden era, today completely in ruins due to economic and political turmoil. Despite the peeling paint, rusty balconies, and grime, the locals have worked hard to turn these ruins into art, and it’s something you  must see in Cuba .

Colonial and Cuban street art, something to see in Cuba

50. Take in some colonial and Cuban street art, another must-do in Cuba

The communal effort of local artists and residents has transformed Cuba into the colorful country we know it as today. If you’re interested in seeing some of the best street art on the island, check out  Callejón de Hammel . This neighborhood is the epicenter of Afro-Cuban culture in Havana and a striking artistic  attraction in Cuba , full of murals and sculptures.

With that, you now know the 50 best things to do in Cuba . I hope this guide helps you plan your visit! Here is a map of the  tourist attractions in Cuba  that I mentioned so you can more easily find them.

I wish you safe travels and an enjoyable time in this historically-rich country. If you have any questions, leave them below, and I’ll do my best to help!

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8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Things to Do in Havana

Best Beaches

Museums to Visit

Where to Go Shopping

Foods to Try

Best Restaurants in Havana

Nightlife in Havana

What Americans Should Know

Best Time to Visit

Weather & Climate

Best Hotels in Havana

Public Transportation

Neighborhoods to Explore

Places to Visit

One Week in Cuba

48 Hours in Havana

Day Trips from Havana

Top Things to Do in Cuba

The Top 17 Things to Do in Cuba

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Cuba is a charming Caribbean island nation trapped in time. It’s a place where the most beautiful cars of the 1950s and 1960s fill the streets, good Wi-Fi is hard to find, and major western brands are all but absent. 

The Cuban capital, Havana, is the center of Cuban cultural life. It’s home to museums, art galleries, and an opulent theater housing the Cuban National Ballet. Havana also is home to countless hole-in-the-wall restaurants, a handful of top-notch jazz clubs, a growing number of galleries and boutiques, and more mojitos than you can drink. 

But there’s far more to Cuba than Havana. Pristine beaches, architectural gems, diving, snorkeling, and off-the-grid cultural experiences are waiting just outside the city and beyond.

Unwind at the Beach in Varadero

Varadero is a beach town 80 miles east of Havana, with a beach that's known for its white-sand beaches and all-inclusive resorts. This is a dreamy place to bask in the sun or read a book under an umbrella. It’s also a popular scuba diving and deep-sea fishing destination. Expect to spend at least $80 each way to hire a car and driver to get to the beach. The drive takes about two hours. Viazul bus rides between Havana and Varadero are around $3 each way and take around three hours .

Ride Around Havana in a Classic Car

TripSavvy / Anna Haines

Nothing is more synonymous with Havana than a well-maintained classic car from the 1950s, and there’s no better way to see Havana than from one of those vintage cars. Tours typically pass by the Havana Capitol, Barrio Chino, the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, and the  Plaza de la Revolución, a public square that has hosted many political rallies and popes over the years. Classic car tours of Havana can also be booked online through sites like Airbnb and Get Your Guide or ahead of time directly with drivers or through Airbnb hosts.

Immerse Yourself in Cuban Art

Fábrica de Arte Cubano is a multimedia art experience that’s redefining Havana’s nightlife landscape. Fábrica de Arte Cubano is part dance club, part art gallery and part live performance venue. The exhibits start outside the entrance to this venue, a repurposed oil factory. Inside Fábrica de Arte Cubano, you’ll find many bars, a restaurant, and a casual snack spot to take a break in between exploring exhibits from local artists and taking in thumping multimedia performances by local musicians and dancers.

Sip a Daiquiri at Hemingway's Former Haunt

El Floridita is where the daiquiri was born and a favorite hangout of author Ernest Hemingway. It was his preferred place to drink a Cuban daiquiri, and nowadays patrons can drink daiquiris alongside a life-size bronze sculpture of Hemingway, perched at his favorite spot along the bar.

Explore the Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Hotel Nacional de Cuba is a glamorous Art Deco highrise that was a favorite of Al Capone and mid-century Hollywood. (Want a peek into the mobster's room? Look for the window with a green curtain.) Have lunch, and a mojito on the hotel’s expansive patio then make your way towards the edge of the property nearest the water. It’s here you’ll find Hotel Nacional’s most interesting spot: a Cold War-era bunker that’s open to visitors.

Shop for Old Books in Havana

At the open-air ruins of the former Casa de Jústiz y Santa Ana, you’ll find a reader’s paradise. This outdoor market features secondhand books as well as postcards, vintage posters, and notebooks. The well-worn books here have served generations of Cubans, and this street market is a well-worn piece of the fabric of Havana. Except for holidays and rainy days, you’ll find this market east of Plaza de Armas—its former home–just off of El Malecon.

Indulge Your Sweet Tooth at a Giant Ice Cream Parlor

Coppelia was meant to be a cathedral to ice cream, yet was designed to resemble a spaceship or UFO. It occupies an entire city block in the La Rambla section of Vedado and can hold up to 1,000 guests at a time. It doesn’t have the selection that was envisioned at its 1966 opening, but the few flavors it does carry are worth waiting in line for.

Go Dancing in Vinales

There are few places in the world where you can dance outside in the shadows of a historic church. Vinales is one of them. Listen for the music after dark near the town’s main church and follow the sound to a night of dancing you’ll never forget.

Listen to Live Jazz

Cuba is a place known for its jazz music and one of the best places in the world for catching a live jazz show. For an intimate jazz club experience in Havana, try La Zorra y el Cuervo. For more of a supper club experience, head to the Jazz Club in the Galerias de Paseo shopping center.

Experience Cuban Cabaret at El Tropicana

The Tropicana club opened its doors in 1939 and nowadays brings together 200 performers for a Las Vegas-style Cuban dance extravaganza in an outdoor garden. This is a show geared squarely toward tourists but still a unique night out.

Learn to Roll a Real Cuban Cigar

Cuba is almost synonymous with cigars. It’s the home of the legendary Cohiba and Montecristo brands, and there’s no better place to learn how to roll a cigar. Airbnb Experiences offers many cigar-rolling classes across the country.

Mix Up a Bespoke Fragrance

Habana 1791 is a perfumery dedicated to the scents of colonial Cuba. It carries a dozen fragrances that can be blended into bespoke perfumes and colognes. Customers can package their scents in the handcrafted bottles of their choice.

Take a Salsa Class

Are you looking to learn something new on vacation? Take a salsa class in Havana. Book ahead through Airbnb experiences and expect to spend a couple of hours dancing into the evening on an expansive patio dance space in a classic Havana neighborhood.

Explore a Spanish Settlement

Trinidad is a UNESCO World Heritage site and former pirate haven that, at one point, produced one-third of Cuba’s sugar. Trinidad is a place to wander among grand mansions built with sugar money, while nearby Mountains and beaches offer ample opportunities for diving, snorkeling, and ecotourism. Trinidad is about a four-hour drive from Havana.

Sip Guava Rum in Vinales

Guava rum isn’t something you’ll find on most bar menus or duty-free shops, but it’s a drink that’s worth seeking out. Book a tobacco plantation tour or a horseback ride and it’ll most likely include a stop to sample this Pinar del Rio specialty. And no, it isn’t available at the duty-free shop in the Havana airport. To book, go through a local tour company, Airbnb Experiences, or through your accommodation.

Shop for Cuban Art

If Cuban art is on your shopping list, head to Almacenes San José. This art market inside a sizeable two-story warehouse features works from dozens of Cuban artists. You'll find lots of paintings, ceramics, handmade jewelry, and more. (As an added perk, you won’t have to battle a blazing hot sun while you shop.)

Learn About the Cuban Revolution at the Museo de la Revolución

This museum is housed in an opulent former presidential palace and features exhibits focused on the Cuban revolution and recent Cuban history. The building itself boasts an interior designed by Tiffany & Co. and other landmarks, like the Salón de Los Espejos, a room designed to emulate Versailles' Hall of Mirrors.

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Must-see attractions in Cuba

Old graveyard, Havana; Shutterstock ID 19926790; Your name (First / Last): Josh Vogel; GL account no.: 56530; Netsuite department name: Online Design; Full Product or Project name including edition: Digital Content/Sights

Necrópolis Cristóbal Colón

Havana's main cemetery (a national monument), one of the largest in the Americas, is renowned for its striking religious iconography and elaborate marble…

Cuba, Santiago de Cuba Province, Santiago de Cuba, Lighthouse at Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca del Morro

Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca del Morro

Santiago de Cuba

A Unesco World Heritage site since 1997, the San Pedro fort sits impregnably atop a 60m-high promontory at the entrance to Santiago harbor, 10km southwest…

Vintage car passing modern bar nestled between dilapidated Art Nouveau buildings along the Av de Malecon.

The Malecón, Havana's evocative 7km-long sea drive, is one of the city's most soulful and quintessentially Cuban thoroughfares, and long a favored meeting…

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Capitolio Nacional

The incomparable Capitolio Nacional is Havana's most ambitious and grandiose building, constructed after the post-WWI boom ('Dance of the Millions')…

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Plaza de la Catedral

Habana Vieja

Habana Vieja's most uniform square is a museum to Cuban baroque, with all the surrounding buildings, including the city's beguiling asymmetrical cathedral…

Castillo de los Tres Santos Reyes Magnos del Morro

Castillo de los Tres Santos Reyes Magnos del Morro

Regla, Guanabacoa & the Forts

This wave-lashed fort with its emblematic lighthouse was erected between 1589 and 1630 to protect the entrance to Havana harbor from pirates and foreign…


Where does art go after Antoni Gaudí? For a hint, head west from central Havana to the seemingly low-key district of Jaimanitas, where artist José Fuster…

Museo Conjunto Histórico de Birán

Holguín Province

Fidel Castro Ruz was born on August 13, 1926, at the Finca Las Manacas near the village of Birán, south of Cueto. The sprawling ranch, bought by Fidel's…

Plaza Vieja, bustling with restaurants and cafes in evening.

Plaza Vieja

Laid out in 1559, Plaza Vieja is Havana's most architecturally eclectic square, where Cuban baroque nestles seamlessly next to Gaudí-inspired art nouveau…

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Playa Sirena

Isla de la Juventud & Cayo Largo del Sur

Cayo Largo's (and, perhaps, Cuba's) finest beach is the broad westward-facing Playa Sirena, where 2km of powdery white sand is wide enough to accommodate…

Comandancia de la Plata

Granma Province

Topping a crenelated mountain ridge amid thick cloud forest, this pioneering camp was established by Fidel Castro in 1958 after a year on the run in the…

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Plaza del Carmen

Around 600m west of the frenzy of República sits another sublimely beautiful square, one less visited than the central plazas. It's backed on the eastern…

Courtyard in National Museum of Fine Art (El Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes).

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

Spread over two campuses, the Bellas Artes is arguably the finest art gallery in the Caribbean. The Arte Cubano building contains the most comprehensive…

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes – Arte Cubano

The Bellas Artes' 'Colección de Arte Cubano' houses purely Cuban art. Works are displayed in chronological order, starting on the 3rd floor, and are…

Museo Nacional Camilo Cienfuegos

Sancti Spíritus Province

This excellent museum was opened in 1989 and is eerily reminiscent of the Che Guevara monument in Santa Clara. Camilo fought a crucial battle in this town…

Parque Histórico Militar Morro-Cabaña

This unmissable military park, included in the Habana Vieja Unesco World Heritage site, is arguably the most formidable defensive complex in Spain's…

Casa de Arte Jover

Camagüey is home to two of Cuba's most creative and prodigious contemporary painters, Joel Jover and his wife Ileana Sánchez. Their magnificent home in…

Playa las Tumbas

Pinar del Río Province

If they gave out Academy Awards for Cuban beaches, Las Tumbas might just win, edging out Playa Sirena on Cayo Largo del Sur (too many tourists) and Playa…

Moncada Museum

The museum inside the Cuartel Moncada is the best in town and one of the best in Cuba. Sometimes gory exhibits catalogue the details of the 1953 attack by…

Salto del Guayabo

At just over 100m in height, Guayabo (15km from the Villa Pinares del Mayarí) is considered the highest waterfall in Cuba. There's a spectacular overlook,…

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Cementerio Santa Ifigenia

Nestled peacefully on the city's western extremity, the Cementerio Santa Ifigenia is second only to Havana's Necrópolis Cristóbal Colón in its importance…

In the courtyard area of the Museum of the Revolution in Old Havana, Cuba...Cuba, February 2015 before changes in U.S.-Cuba relations began. Trip via UCLA Alumni Travel

Museo de la Revolución

This emblematic museum is set in the former Presidential Palace, constructed between 1913 and 1920 and used by a string of Cuban presidents, culminating…

Calle Mercaderes wall mural.

Calle Mercaderes

Cobbled, car-free Calle Mercaderes (Merchant's Street) has been extensively restored by the Office of the City Historian and is an almost complete replica…

Nuestra Senora de Regla Church, Havana, Cuba; Shutterstock ID 176550071; Your name (First / Last): Josh Vogel; GL account no.: 56530; Netsuite department name: Online Design; Full Product or Project name including edition: Digital Content/Sights

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Regla

As important as it is diminutive, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Regla, which sits close to the dock in Regla, has a long and colorful history. Inside on…

Cuba, Havana, Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana

Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña

This 18th-century colossus was built between 1763 and 1774 on a long, exposed ridge on the east side of Havana harbor to fill a weakness in the city's…

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso

The neobaroque Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso, erected as a Galician social club between 1907 and 1914, features highly ornate and even exuberant…

CUBA, Isla de la Juventud, Nueva Gerona.Presidio Modelo. Model Prison where Fidel Castro was held prisoner between 1953-1955 by former President of Cuba Fulgencio Batista. Panopticon five story circular buildings  ..©Brian Moser / Eye Ubiquitous / Hutchison Picture Library

Presidio Modelo

Welcome to the island's most impressive yet depressing sight. Located near Reparto Chacón, 5km east of Nueva Gerona, this striking prison was built…

Monumento Ernesto Che Guevara monument and statue.

Conjunto Escultórico Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara

Santa Clara

The end point of many a Che pilgrimage, this monument, mausoleum and museum complex is 2km west of Parque Vidal (via Rafael Tristá on Av de los Desfiles),…

Catedral de San Cristobal de la Habana in Plaza de la Catedral.

Catedral de la Habana

Described by novelist Alejo Carpentier as 'music set in stone,' Havana's incredible cathedral, dominated by two unequal towers and framed by a theatrical…

Statue of Perucho Figueredo at the Cespedes Park at the Bayamo, Cuba. Perucho Figueredo was a poet, musician and revolutionary in the 19th century. He wrote the cuban national anthem in 1867.

Parque Céspedes

One of Cuba's leafiest squares, Bayamo's central meeting point is surrounded by pedestrian-only streets, making it a rare and peaceful spot. In addition…

Alegría de Pío

Considered hallowed revolutionary ground, this is the spot where Castro's shipwrecked rebels were intercepted by Batista's army in 1956 and forced to…

Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción

Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción

Santiago's most important church is stunning both inside and out. There has been a cathedral on this site since the city's inception in the 1520s, though…

Interior of Teatro Tomas Terry, shot with fisheye lens, Parque Jose Marti, Cienfuegos, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cuba, West Indies, Central America

Teatro Tomás Terry

Sharing French and Italian influences, this theater on the northern side of Parque José Martí is grand from the outside (look for the gold-leafed mosaics…

Museo Hemingway

Outer Havana

In 1940 American novelist Ernest Hemingway bought the Finca la Vigía, a villa on a hill in San Francisco de Paula, 15km southeast of Havana, where he…

Loma de la Cruz or Hill of the Cross in Holguin, capital city of the province of Holguin, Cuba.

Loma de la Cruz

At the northern end of Maceo, a stairway built in 1950 ascends 465 steps to top a hill (275m) with panoramic views, a restaurant and a 24-hour bar. It's a…

Museo de la Ciudad

Even with no artifacts, Havana's city museum would be a tour de force, courtesy of the opulent palace in which it resides. Filling the whole western side…

Cuartel Moncada

Santiago's famous Moncada Barracks, a crenelated art deco building completed in 1938, is now synonymous with one of history's greatest failed putsches…

Parroquia de San Juan Bautista de Remedios

Villa Clara Province

One of the island's most interesting and oldest ecclesiastical buildings, Remedios' main church dates from around 1550, although much of the current…

Guantánamo Province

Baracoa's rite of passage is the 8km (up and down) hike to the top of this moody, mysterious mountain. Views from the summit (575m) and the flora and…

Antiguo Cafetal Angerona

Artemisa & Mayabeque Provinces

The Antiguo Cafetal Angerona, 5km west of Artemisa on the road to the Autopista Habana–Pinar del Río (A4), was one of Cuba’s earliest cafetales (coffee…

More destinations you need to see

Boats on the beach for sunset.

The Discoveries Of

18 Best Things to Do in Cuba: Iconic Experiences and Cultural Delights

It’s time to delve into the past with these fabulous things to do in Cuba. From following in the footsteps of Hemmingway to climbing El Yunque, get ready to learn about some of the country’s best attractions with this guide.

Where do I begin with Cuba? It was high up on my list of places to travel for a very long time until I finally made the journey a few years ago.

It’s one of the most breathtaking Caribbean islands to visit (and also the largest). So, it’s no wonder that Cuba is a bucket list destination for many travellers.

Cuba’s streets are a time capsule of a bygone era, with plenty of historical landmarks to explore and old-time bars that transport you right back to the 1950s. The stunning beauty of the island and nature-filled destinations? That’s the less talked about side of the island. 

So, where do you start? Read on to discover my top picks when it comes to Cuba activities.

Need help to figure out where to stay? I recommend Havana’s El Candil Boutique Hotel for deluxe, centrally-located accommodation (the cute vintage photospot outside is an added bonus).

Top 5 Things to Do in Cuba

Spend some time exploring historic havana .

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Visiting Cuba without exploring Havana ? Huge mistake. The hype around this vintage-filled capital is worth it; the country’s rich culture and history is reflected in its countless monuments and museums. 

But where do you start? Kick off by exploring the cultural sites – Havana Cathedral and Revolution Square are two of the most iconic places in the city. To be totally honest, you could easily spend a couple of hours just wandering through the streets and snapping photos of the colonial buildings and cute cars (more on those later).

You should also take the time to delve into Havana’s historical landmarks. I loved the Parque Historico Militar with its two towering fortresses, El Morro and La Cabaña. Time your visit just right (AKA at 9pm) to witness the firing of cannons  – or El Cañonazo – at La Cabaña.

Admire Trinidad’s Architectural Beauty 

Trinidad State Beach

Situated in the centre of Cuba, Trinidad is another town you need to visit. From the distinct, colourful colonial architecture to countless galleries and museums, the city has an abundance of character and beauty. 

One of the things I love most about Trinidad is that vehicles cannot enter the city centre. Which means, as you explore the cobblestone streets, you get the chance to appreciate the enchanting surroundings fully. 

And there’s plenty to gawp at – the Plaza Mayor is a great place to admire the city’s kaleidoscope of architecture and mingle with locals. You should also climb the bell tower of the nearby Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco de Asis for picture-perfect views of the entire city. 

Climb El Yunque

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Climbing El Yunque is one of my favourite memories of visiting Cuba – and I’m sure you’ll understand why. Located just outside of Baracoa, this flat-topped mountain has a peak of 575 metres (1,886 feet) and offers climbers several picturesque views as their reward.

With a relatively gentle slope, the trail suits pros and beginners. However, I still recommend hiring a guide at the reserve’s entrance. These people will keep you safe and highlight all the local fauna and flora along your journey. 

You’ll find refreshing waterfalls and swimming holes at the trail’s end. These are ideal for cooling down after a hike, so pack a swimsuit. 

Hang Out on the Beaches in Varadero 


Fancy catching the sun? Just a couple of hours from Havana is Varadero, and this resort town is indisputably one of the best places to visit in Cuba. Mainly because it’s home to many of the country’s most idyllic beaches. 

I’ll warn you though: as a top-rated destination in Cuba, Varadero gets very busy – not ideal for people who want to escape the crowds. 

However, if you don’t mind the hustle and bustle, Varadero is perfect for unwinding under the Cuban sun. 

Take Time Out in Viñales

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

The Viñales Valley in Western Cuba is a delightful mix of charm and serenity. Surrounded by mountains, this valley is mostly flat except for occasional mogotes — natural limestone ‘domes’ that often contain caves.

The calming atmosphere of Vinales is ideal for connecting with nature; you can explore the region through hikes, cycling, and horseback rides. 

You’ll also find some of Cuba’s oldest plantations in this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The farmers utilise traditional agricultural methods and are well-known for their tobacco production. Chatting with the locals and learning about Cuba’s unique cultivation practices is certainly a highlight for any visitor. 

Brilliant Things to See & Do in Cuba 

Trace hemingway’s footsteps in havana.

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

It was only a matter of time before we returned to Havana. Looking for an excuse to sip Mezcal until the wee hours? Tracing Ernest Hemingway’s footsteps is just the quest for you. 

This well-known author lived outside Havana and frequently visited La Bodeguita del Medio and El Floridita . Today, these popular bars are famous tourist attractions — not only because of their connection to Hemingway, but also for their world-class drinks. 

For an authentic Cuban mojito, I recommend visiting La Bodeguita del Medio . However, if you’re a daiquiri enthusiast like me, El Floridita is the place to go. Both cocktails are delicious, so go forth and enjoy a drink in Hemingway’s memory. Cheers!

Speed Around Town in a Vintage Car 

You’ve seen the photos – there’s no better way to explore Cuba than in a vintage car. And you can read all about the experience here . Get ready to be whisked around the capital in a colourful relic from the 50s.

While spotting classic cars is often quite rare, this is not the case in Cuba, where you’ll have a variety of vintage vehicles to choose from. This is due to some pretty complicated history, which meant that Cubans couldn’t access modern cars (or their parts) for quite a while. And it seems that they decided to just roll with it.

Look Out for Pirates at the Castillo del Morro 

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Another sight you don’t want to miss is Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca (also called Castillo del Morro ). This impressive 17th-century fortification protected the coastline of Santiago de Cuba and was a place to watch for incoming enemies, particularly pirates.

Gazing at the horizon from the fortress walls is definitely a pinch-me moment (and the perfect opportunity for some incred snapshots). I highly recommend visiting the on-site museum to learn more about the region’s history and the castle’s unique military architecture. 

Immerse Yourself in Cuban History at the Museo de la Revolución

Museo de la Revolución

One of the (many) things I love most about travelling is discovering the history of a destination. While you can research beforehand, there’s nothing like some hands-on education. 

Visiting the Museo de la Revolución is a great way to learn about Cuba’s fascinating history (one that includes invasions, revolutions and some downright bloody battles).  

This museum has various artefacts that detail Cuba’s past from the 15th to the 21st centuries. It highlights the 1950s Cuban Revolution and provides a unique look into local interpretations of the conflict. 

Top Tip: Most exhibits are in Spanish, so I recommend hiring a museum tour guide or downloading a translation app. 

Soak Up the Rivers of Baracoa 

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

I’ve already touched on Baracoa, but did you know it’s also home to 29 rivers? These gorgeous waterways are overflowing with Cuban history and culture. 

One of the most famous sites is the Río Miel (River of Honey), which features in the region’s popular Miel River legend. The tale states that anyone who swims in this river will one day return to Baracoa. 

And trust me, after taking a dip in the refreshing water and admiring your surroundings, you’ll want Baracoa on your list of places to revisit. 

Party at the World-Famous Tropicana Club

Ready to let loose and party? Enter the iconic Tropicana in Havana. Filled with music, dancing, singing and themed performances, this extravagant club is the best place for an authentic taste of Cuban showbiz. 

I suggest going to Tropicana’s old-timey cabaret shows. Attending one of these performances will guarantee you a uniquely Cuban night of colourful costumes and exciting entertainment. You’ll be salsa-ing in no time.

Experience Cuban Culture at Fábrica de Arte Cubano 

No Cuban vacation is complete without an evening spent at Havana’s Fábrica de Arte Cubano (FAC). This artistic space houses an enchanting blend of local creative and performing arts. 

The line-up changes every three months, meaning FAC always offers fresh and exciting cultural experiences. And, with an array of films, concerts, exhibitions and miscellaneous performances, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. 

Top Tip: Tickets for FAC events and exhibitions are available at the door. However, there may be a line, so arrive slightly earlier (I suggest between 8 pm and 9 pm) to accommodate this.

Embrace Nature in Ciénaga de Zapata

Ciénaga de Zapata

With so many urban gems, you would be forgiven for forgetting about Cuba’s natural beauty. But Ciénaga de Zapata National Park is here to remind you.

Located within a sparsely populated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the park boasts a diverse ecosystem home to 70% of all Cuban wildlife species. You can spot everything from the world’s tiniest bird (Cuban Bee Hummingbird) to impressively large crocodiles.

There are various activities for visitors, including kayaking, biking, photography and hiking. I highly recommend partaking in one (or all) of these options. Trust me when I say exploring this region is a once-in-a-lifetime experience you’ll treasure forever. 

Splash Around in the Bay of Pigs

Bay of Pigs

The Bay of Pigs is well-known as the location of American troops’ 1961 failed invasion of Cuba. However, you might not know that this bay is also a dream destination for water lovers. 

With clear waters year-round, this region is an excellent spot for snorkelling and scuba diving. Just picture yourself gliding through the Caribbean Ocean as you marvel at the vibrant coral reefs and colourful sea life around you. 

I’d suggest starting your adventure at either Playa Larga or Playa Girón . These picturesque beaches are popular spots for underwater activities. They’re also near the mainland, meaning you can conveniently rent equipment.

Unique Things to See & Do in Cuba: Hidden Gems That are Off the Beaten Track

Appreciate the artistry of cristobal colon cemetery .

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

One of the most unique things to see in Cuba has to be the Cristobal Colon Cemetery. Okay, so you might not usually want to pop a graveyard on your holiday itinerary, but I promise this is one you won’t want to miss. 

The Havana cemetery is renowned for its breathtaking architecture, showcased in its various sculptures, monuments and mausoleums.

As you wander through this impressive site, you’ll appreciate the scenery and the tangible history around you. Cristobal Colon Cemetery is unavoidably intertwined with Cuba’s past and provides visitors with a deeper connection to the country’s legacy. 

Go to a Cave Rave in Trinidad

Spending an evening at Disco Ayala is decidedly one of the most exciting activities in Cuba. However, this is no ordinary disco. The club is inside an underground cave (yes, really).

With five dance floors, three bars, and various exciting performances like acrobatics and fire-eating, this ‘cave rave’ always exceeds expectations.

Top Tip: There’s a ten-minute uphill walk from central Trinidad to Disco Ayala. I recommend wearing sturdy shoes for the trek and changing into clubbing shoes once you arrive to avoid sore feet. 

Test Your Sense of Direction in Camagüey

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

The complex architectural design of Camagüey’s city centre is undoubtedly one of the most unusual things to see in Cuba. The streets are in a maze-like pattern that makes the city extremely difficult to navigate. 

However, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is as enchanting as it is confusing. The labyrinthine layout supposedly originally served to hinder intruders. While modern visitors often still get lost, each wrong turn soon becomes a right as it reveals one of Camagüey’s numerous art galleries, museums or parks.  

Sleep Under the Stars at Cayo Jutias

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

I recommend visiting a Cuban cay (mini island) for an exciting day trip. My top pick? Cayo Jutias and its famous Playa de las Estrellas — a beach with countless starfish. 

While the cay is already idyllic, it becomes truly magical at dusk. As the sun sets, the ocean reflects the sky and eventually becomes a stunning pink. After this breathtaking display, you can head back to the mainland. 

However, for an extra memorable experience, I’d recommend staying overnight. Cayo Jutias has no accommodation, though you can rent camping equipment on-site and sleep under the stars.  

Things to do in Cuba: Practical Tips for Your Trip

With so many cool things to do and see in Cuba, I’d suggest booking at least a week-long vacation so you can experience the country’s best attractions. Ideally, spend at least three days in Havana and then head to Trinidad and beyond.

Cuba has relatively warm and pleasant weather throughout the year. However, visiting between late November and mid-April is best to avoid the rainy season.

Where Should I Stay in Cuba? 

Casa misladys apartamento (mid-range) .

Casa Misladys Apartamento in Trinidad is a quirky place to stay that won’t break the bank. For real – the purple walls and green ceilings might give you a headache, but they’re so fun.

The helpful 24-hour front desk will meet your every need. And, with major attractions like the Plaza Mayor within walking distance, you can easily explore your surroundings.

Check Rates and Availability 

El Candil Boutique Hotel (Luxury)

El Candil Boutique Hotel offers luxury at its finest. Don’t believe me? Here you can experience idyllic views of Havana from the rooftop pool while sipping a cocktail from the on-site bar. 

The hotel’s central location also means you’re nearby some of the top attractions in the city – and the country. 

Check Rates and Availability

Things to do in Cuba: Map 

Things to do in Cuba: Read More

  • Unmissable Things to do in Havana
  • Taking a Vintage Car Tour in Havana
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Things to do in Cuba

I’m Julianna Barnaby - a professional travel writer and geek extraordinaire. I started The Discoveries Of to help you to discover the best of new destinations from around the world.

Discovering new places is a thrill - whether it’s close to home, a new country or continent, I write to help you explore more and explore differently.

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Barefoot Caribou

17 Best Things to Do in Cuba: What to See and Do in the Caribbean Island

  • Updated on January 2, 2024
  • Things to Do

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

What You Will Learn (Click to Expand)

Introduction, why visit cuba.

In all its audacity and raw flamboyance, the Caribbean island of Cuba is a place worth exploring.

From its timeless colonial architecture to the serenity of its pristine white-sand beaches, the island’s distinctive charm is a blend of vibrant Latino rhythms, smiling genteel people, and the seductive aroma of the world-famous Cuban cigars.

Couple these elements with the tropical island’s storied history, and you’ve got yourself a travel destination that promises to be unforgettable. You will never run out of reasons why you should visit Cuba.

So let’s explore the 17 Best Things to Do in Cuba .

Things to Do in Cuba

Overview of Popular Destinations in Cuba

Cuba is an exotic location that carries the perfect blend of city, history, culture, and sun-kissed beaches.

The must-visit destinations include the historic, UNESCO World Heritage-designated city of Havana , with its vintage ambiance and glamorous street art.

Witness the pristine, sandy shores and azure waters of Varadero while lounging in luxury at world-class beach resorts.

Head to the timeless colonial city of Trinidad as you take a leap back in time into a vintage, post-colonial era with cobblestone streets and beautifully preserved architecture.

Don’t forget to check out the natural wealth of the outdoor paradise in Viñales , an idyllic valley offering spectacular vistas and several eco-friendly activities.

Lastly, for an offbeat experience, visit the bustling town of Sancti Spiritus , known for its colorful buildings, and the unspoiled island of Cayo Levisa, offering serene and tranquil beaches.

Soak Up the Culture

1. wander around old havana.

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

The charm and beauty of Old Havana , locally known as Habana Vieja, is as timeless as the vintage cars that cruise its streets.

Strolling around the cobbled lanes and getting lost amidst the grand aura of Baroque and neoclassical edifices, you’re sure to be struck by the glimpses of life in Cuba as it was 200 years ago.

Revitalization projects have resurrected life into many historic buildings in this UNESCO World Heritage site.

Do visit the Plaza de la Catedral, where the Cuban Baroque-style Catedral de San Cristobal, and Castillo de la Real Fuerza, a historic military fortress, await to impress you.

The Plaza Vieja, another highlight, houses the 18th-century Casa del Conde Jaruco, which is known for its beautiful stained-glass windows.

Wandering around Old Havana allows you to capture colorful photo ops such as pastel-painted buildings, washing lines full of drying clothes, candy-pink classic cars, and folklore music and rhythms echoing through the streets.

It’s recommended to reserve at least one day for exploring Old Havana, but trust me, the more, the better.

2. Admire Trinidad's Architectural Beauty

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

The enchanting town of Trinidad , a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is akin to stepping back in time to the 17th to 19th centuries.

Situated at the heart of Cuba, this quaint city boasts of vibrant, colorful colonial architecture and countless art galleries that narrate the tale of its glorious past.

The town is compact, and its center is pedestrianized, making it an ideal place to explore on foot.

As vehicles cannot enter the city center, you get the opportunity to fully cherish the cobblestone streets and the old-world charm that they embody.

  • One of the prime attractions in Trinidad is the Plaza Mayor, a wonderful place to admire the city’s diverse architecture and interact with the locals.
  • For an eye-catching view of the entire city, do climb the bell tower of the nearby Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco de Asis.
  • The neoclassical, pastel-yellow church, Iglesia Parroquial de la Santísima Trinidad, that oversees the city square, is a beautiful sight to behold.
  • Next to the church stands the Palacio Brunet, built in 1812, housing the stunning Museo Romantico that still retains and displays the Brunet family’s belongings.
  • To enjoy panoramic views stretching to the lush Escambray mountains, you can get to its second floor at the cost of a few convertible pesos.
  • Don’t miss a visit to Palacio Cantero, the biggest house in the city and now Museo Historico Municipal. While exploring the museum, do step out into the beautiful courtyard.

For more stunning vistas across Trinidad, you can climb the somewhat deteriorated staircase in the tower, but ensure to check their opening hours as it closes quite early.

These architectural marvels invite you into the rich history and soul of Trinidad, making it a destination that no photographer or history enthusiast should miss.

3. Ride Around Town in a Vintage Car

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Riding in a vintage car through the colorful streets of Havana is one of the quintessential Cuban experiences that travelers should not miss.

Classic cars from the 1950s, painted in vibrant hues, cruising through the historic landscapes, add that unique flavor of nostalgia to the ambiance of the city.

These classic cars, mostly American models, started being used as taxis after the Cuban revolution, along with bici-taxis and motorbikes with sidecars, adding a fascinating layer to the country’s transport scene.

You can hail these “taxis particulares” for a ride, but remember to negotiate the fee beforehand.

Booking a guided tour in a vintage car enhances the experience as you can cruise leisurely through the popular routes of the city without worrying about the destination.

For a full-on immersive experience in Havana’s rich history and culture, commence your trip in a classic car tour.

The drives cover scenic routes passing by signature spots in the city like the Plaza de la Revolución and the Malecón.

Most guided tours are offered in convertible models, the ultimate way to soak in the city vibe. You can book your ride online in advance for hassle-free travel and to avoid carrying extra cash.

Exploring Cuba in a vintage car is an exciting way to capture the vibrant energy of the city and its timeless appeal, combining the thrill of the ride with an extraordinary journey through Cuba’s rich history.

Vintage cars in Havana are an iconic sight – a stark contrast to other flashy cities where old cars are unusual – underlining the uniqueness of the Cuban experience.

The chronicled past of Cuba, which rendered modern cars inaccessible to Cubans, showcased the locals’ knack for preserving and maintaining these vintage automobiles.

It’s fascinating to see how they have adapted and kept alive part of their history in such beautiful machinery. They didn’t just roll with it; they rode with it!

Hair Tools Travel Bag

Embrace the natural wonders, 4. enjoy the tranquil beaches - varadero and cayo coco.

Cuba, dubbed as the ‘Pearl of the Antilles’, is renowned for its series of picturesque beaches that stretch all along the island.

Amongst them, the beaches at Varadero and Cayo Coco have garnered international acclaim for their pristine beauty.

Best described as a sliver of paradise, Varadero is famed for its exquisite 20-kilometer stretch of white sandy beaches and turquoise blue waters.

This resort town in Matanzas is considered to have one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Not only is it popular for relaxation, but it also provides opportunities for water sports such as scuba diving and kayaking.

Luxurious all-inclusive hotels, restaurants, and beach huts offer the distinctive resort atmosphere that the Caribbean is renowned for.

Explore the lush forest areas, historical attractions, and caves that are part of the town’s landscape.

Just sitting, soaking up the sun under a beach hut on the soft white sands of Varadero, is enough to make you lose track of time as you admire the stunning sunset.

Located in the Jardines del Rey archipelago, Cayo Coco is another gem in Cuba’s crown of beautiful beaches.

The powdery white sand and clear, shallow waters of its beaches make it an ideal spot for snorkeling. Cayo Coco is a haven of tranquility and a must-visit for any beach lover traveling to Cuba.

Visit Varadero and Cayo Coco not just for their pristine beaches but also for the quintessential Caribbean resort atmosphere that they offer.

Endless swaying palm trees, azure waters, exotic cocktails, and beachside cabanas – what more can one ask for in a perfect beach vacation?

These beach getaways are loved by international travelers as well as Cubans for their stunning natural beauty and the convenience they offer.

From watersports for the adventurous to the laid-back lifestyle for the relaxed, these beaches have something for everyone.

Stick to Varadero and Cayo Coco for a more commercial experience, or head off the beaten path to Cayo Jutias near Viñales, Cayo Saetia in Holguin.

Here is my Complete List of the Best Beaches in Cuba .

5. Hike El Yunque

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Uncover the captivating beauty of nature as you hike El Yunque , an iconic flat-topped mountain near Baracoa.

The trail is perfect for beginners and pros alike, with a gentle slope that elevates you 500 feet above sea level.

Licensed guides stationed at the trailhead ensure your safety and enrich your hiking experience with insights into the local flora and fauna.

The trail culminates at enchanting waterfalls and natural pool areas, making for ideal spots to cool down, so don’t forget to pack a swimsuit!

To ensure you have everything you need, here is my Complete Cuba Packing List .

6. Explore the Valle de Vinales

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Escape to the tranquil expanses of the Viñales Valley , a UNESCO World Heritage Site enveloped by verdant farmland and artful limestone mogotes.

Viñales is a snapshot of Cuba at its most bucolic, with local farmers employing age-old agricultural methods, especially in their famed tobacco plantations.

Get on horseback, cycle, or lace up your hiking boots to tour the plantations, taste some of the world’s best tobacco, and learn about Cuba’s rich agricultural traditions directly from the locals.

The rocky landscapes are reminiscent of Vietnam’s Halong Bay and house fascinating cave systems waiting to be explored.

Experience the Classic Cuban Lifestyle

7. smoke a real cuban cigar.

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Ignite your Cuban adventure by embracing a classic part of Cuban culture – smoking a genuine Cuban cigar .

Cuba’s fertile lands produce some of the world’s premium-quality cigars, and the tradition of cigar smoking is embedded deeply in the country’s history.

Once you head to Viñales, the tobacco-growing region of Cuba, roll your own Cuban cigar under the guidance of local farmers.

You’ll get to know first-hand the craftsmanship and dedication it takes to produce each cigar.

Famed brands like Cohiba are definitely worth trying, but exploring other lesser-known brands also adds to the experience.

Please note that these authentic Cuban cigars are best purchased from state-run cigar shops or hotels to avoid counterfeit products.

Enjoy your Cuban cigar with a backdrop of a stunning sunset or while sipping a traditional Cuban rum.

8. Drink Cuban Coffee and Rum

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Embrace Cuba’s flavorful passions with a sip of their world-renowned coffee and rum.

Each sip of Cuba’s coffee elicits a strong, sweet espresso taste with a pleasingly foamy top.

Savor this delightful drink from local storefronts frequented by locals for just a few pesos. It’s a must-try experience when you visit Cuba.

When it comes to rum, Cuba excels. The country boasts an array of delicious cocktails, chiefly the Daiquiri, Mojito, and the Cuba Libre, each resonating with Cuba’s famous rum.

Havana Club rum tops the popularity chart in most bars; however, should you desire a local, economical flavor, give boxed rum a try!

Hangovers aside, the party scene on the streets with your rum-filled juice box will be one to remember.

9. Have A Meal In A Local Cuban Cafeteria

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Experience the authentic taste of Cuba at a local cafeteria — a gateway to explore locals’ day-to-day dining habits.

While tourist restaurants offer a curated menu, these modest kitchens serve a humble, tasteful gastronomic journey truly reflective of Cuba’s flavorful heritage.

Cuban cafeterias are inexpensive and operate with the local currency CUP. Don’t be surprised if you receive CUP as change when paying with CUC (the currency more commonly used by tourists)!

This change doubles up as a nifty souvenir of your Cuban culinary adventure.

Get ready to ditch commonplace ham sandwiches, black beans, and hot dogs.

Make space instead for dishes made with exotic ingredients concocted with a Cuban twist, like baby wild boar rib chops, lobster carpaccio salad, and pineapple sorbet.

While quality varies across these establishments, a bit of research or asking fellow travelers will lead you to the best spots such as Chachahca, El Dandy, and El Biky, all located in Havana.

Don’t forget to dig into the renowned local lobster, shrimp or octopus in flavorful coconut sauce — it’s a palate showstopper.

Tap into Cuban Art and History

10. visit fábrica de arte cubano.

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Welcome to the wonder that is Havana’s Fábrica de Arte Cubano (FAC).

Founded by Cuban musician X-Alfonso, this vibrant art space is a strikingly versatile combination of a fine arts gallery, concert hall, nightclub, movie theater, and cultural space — all under one roof!

A walking tour of FAC unfolds like a cultural magic box. One moment you could be swaying to a live jazz performance, and the next you might find yourself exploring an intriguing art exhibition.

With exhibits and performances rotating every three months, every visit to FAC is a fresh sensory delight.

Indulge your gastronomic cravings at FAC’s pop-up restaurant or enjoy a drink or five at their unique bars. The drinks are reasonably priced, so don’t hesitate to treat yourself while appreciating the arts.

The international popularity of FAC is undeniable. Global figures like Michelle Obama have reveled in the glory of FAC, and it was fittingly named one of the “100 Greatest Places in the World” by Time Magazine.

To avoid potential queues, it’s best to arrive early (between 8 pm and 9 pm) on open days from Thursdays through Sundays.

FAC is undoubtedly a must-visit when in Havana for an unforgettable mix of Cuban art, music, and life.

Here is my list of the Best Things to Do in Cuba .

11. Immerse Yourself in Cuban History at Museo de la Revolución

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Submerge yourself in Cuba’s riveting historical timeline at the Museo de la Revolución in Havana .

This iconic museum, housed in the impressive neoclassical Presidential Palace, reveals some of Cuba’s most dramatic moments from the 15th to the 21st centuries.

A highlight of your visit will be exploring the museum’s exhibits dedicated to the country’s communist rebuilding in the 60s and 70s, alongside sections explaining the independence wars against Spain.

Your journey through the museum’s corridors will illuminate personal artifacts, documents, and real-life objects, like the yacht used in one of the attempted coups.

Learn about Cuba’s revolutionary struggles, including the 1950s Cuban Revolution, and gain insight into the local perspective on these events.

An essential tip: since most exhibits are in Spanish, it may be worthwhile hiring a tour guide or a translation app to enrich your experience and understanding.

Whether you’re a history lover or just curious, you’ll find the Museo de la Revolución absolutely fascinating, and a trip to Havana is incomplete without spending a day here.

12. Walk in Ernest Hemingway’s Shoes

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Immerse yourself in the legacy left behind by Ernest Hemingway , one of America’s greatest literary figures who lived in Cuba for several decades.

Hemingway’s time in Cuba inspired him to create many of his celebrated novels, and visiting these sites offers a unique perspective into his life and work.

Start by visiting his home, Finca Vigia, nestled in San Francisco de Paula, where you can voyage into his world, from the preserved artifacts to the tower overlook.

It’s a great spot to feel the inspiration that created seven of his renowned books.

Relive Hemingway’s leisurely days by dropping into the classic Havana bars, El Floridita and La Bodeguita del Medio.

These vibrant bars with the aura of an old-world charm are adorned with memorabilia hailing Hemingway’s legacy, creating an atmosphere similar to the author’s heyday.

Cap off your Hemingway tour with a visit to the mesmerizing Cayo Guillermo, where you stumble upon the island’s most beautiful beach, Playa Pilar, named after his yacht.

Experiencing life in Havana through Hemingway’s eyes and in his footsteps is a once-in-a-lifetime narrative of a rich and compelling slice of Cuba’s history.

Indulge in Local Festivities

13. participate in cuba's ebullient festivals.

Soak up Cuba’s vibrant atmosphere at traditional festivals that take place across the country.

Regardless of its history of socialism and crippling embargos, the Cubans revel in their fiestas like no other nation.

The streets come alive with imbued spirit, music, dance, and radiant smiles that complement the picturesque backdrop of colonial architecture, azure water, and palm trees.

From the Havana and Santiago de Cuba Carnivals to the 26th of July celebrations marking Cuba’s National Revolution Day or even prestigious gatherings like the Havana Ballet Festival or Film Festival — you get to experience the real essence of Cuba in its festivities.

Of particular interest to many travelers is the world-famous Ballet Nacional de Cuba, where you can enjoy awe-inspiring ballet performances at a tiny fraction of international prices when they are home in Havana.

You can even stumble upon many smaller local festivals throughout the year.

Preplanning and aligning your trip dates around these significant festivals will transport you into a universe of unique and memorable experiences, where the excitement is turned way up, and the celebrations resonate in every corner of Cuba.

So put on your dancing shoes and let the rhythm of Cuba take over your heart and soul.

14. Catch a Live Cabaret Show

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Dress up and step into the glitz and glamour of Havana’s lively cabaret scene.

It’s the perfect way to experience the authentic Cuban nightclub environment, dating back to the flamboyant 1950s variety shows.

A trip to the island is incomplete without attending one of these captivating performances.

Arguably the most famous is the Tropicana Club show. Under a canopy of Caribbean stars and amidst fragrant tropical gardens, immerse yourself in a breathtaking spectacle of sequin-studded dancers and over-the-top singers.

The bombastic dance shows and music nights create an unforgettable experience embellished with plumes of peacock feathers and shiny sequins. Tropicana, with an entry fee of around $60, isn’t cheap, but it’s worth every nickel for the extravaganza you experience.

Alternatively, you can enjoy a more Moulin Rouge-style cabaret at the Hotel Nacional’s Cabaret Le Parisien. Both options guarantee an exclusive and exhilarating taste of Cuban nightlife.

Going to these shows will offer you a piece of living Cuban history, a night of colorful costumes, and thrilling entertainment. You might just find yourself salsa dancing before the night is over!

Test Your Spirit of Adventure

15. dive and snorkel in the caribbean.

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Experience the fantastic underwater world of Cuba with a day of diving or snorkeling.

The pristine turquoise Caribbean waters offer some of the best visibility, creating an underwater photographer’s paradise.

Make your way to Jardines de la Reina, an underwater reservoir considered one of the world’s best-preserved marine areas.

Here, you can dive and marvel at massive coral formations while swimming alongside sea turtles, rays, and schools of snapper.

The site is also home to the grand Goliath grouper and various sharks. Be warned — only venture to dive in such spots with a credible guide for your safety.

If you prefer snorkeling, head to the Bay of Pigs , a beloved spot for its stunning underwater caves, bright and vibrant marine life, and beautiful waters.

Playa Larga and Caleta Buena are excellent picks for this sport. Remember the rule of thumb – leave only bubbles, and don’t touch anything underwater.

Every dive and snorkel trip promises a unique encounter with Cuba’s fascinating marine life, making it an unmissable adventure.

16. Check Out Che Guevara Mausoleum

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Immerse yourself in the local history by paying a visit to the Che Guevara Mausoleum in Santa Clara, a symbol of the nation’s respect for their revolutionary hero, Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

Constructed in 1997, the mausoleum is a blend of a monument and a museum. It presents an intriguing journey into some unknown aspects of the Revolutionary War.

The memorial houses the remains of Che and his comrades killed in Bolivia in 1967 and displays a collection of Guevara’s personal belongings, including his gun, binoculars, water bottle, photos, and various architectural artworks.

In this somber yet remarkable place, you’re not just traveling through time but also getting introduced to the essence of Cuba’s spirit and Guevara’s iconic role.

The Che Guevara Mausoleum stands as another impressive testament to Cuba’s unwavering character that has shaped its history and identity as a nation.

TIP: It’s advisable to arrive early to avoid long lines, and remember to dress respectfully as it’s a burial site.

17. Ride a Bull

Experience a thrilling ride in Cuba unlike any other: riding a bull!

A refreshing break from traditional horse rides, this bull-riding activity brings you closer to the country’s agricultural roots.

Watch the world turn a little slower as you find yourself amidst tranquil countryside, rolling tobacco fields, and fellow travelers equally eager to embark on this unique adventure.

Animal lovers, this might just become your most memorable moment from the trip!

Though a mix of livestock and people is common in Cuba, this exotic adventure is particularly popular in Vinales.

Opt for a tobacco tour and journey through tobacco fields either by a bull cart or horseback. Sound interesting, right?

Both kids and adults can experience this adventurous ride.

Bulls are domesticated animals, and under the watchful eyes of professionals, they make for a safe and unique mode of touring.

Riding a bull isn’t just about enjoying a fun activity — it’s an experience that slowly immerses you in the authentic, rural, slow-paced lifestyle that is classic Cuba.

Ensure you book your bull ride with a responsible agency. Though not as streamlined as other tourist offerings, the experience is still safe and enjoyable.

If nothing else, you’ll certainly be striking a pose atop a bull, which will spark some fun reactions back home!

What is the Best Time to Visit Cuba?

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

The best time to visit Cuba is from late November to mid-April.

During these months, Cuba enjoys relatively warm and pleasant weather while avoiding the rainy season.

This period also coincides with the peak tourist season.

Expect more crowded attractions and slightly higher prices during this time. It is essential to consider that even in these months, occasional tropical showers can occur.

However, they usually don’t last very long and can be quite refreshing.

Can I Stay Overnight in Cuba's Casas Particulares?

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Yes, staying overnight in Cuba’s casas particulares is not only possible but also highly recommended.

It provides an authentic, affordable option that allows tourists to gain firsthand experience of the local way of life.

Many of these homes offer comfortable accommodations, home-cooked meals, and warm hospitality.

Guests can book through Airbnb or contact the hosts directly.

However, ensure to confirm your reservation before your arrival because sometimes casas particulares may get overbooked.

What is Cuba popular for?

Cuba is globally renowned for its vibrant culture and rich history.

Some of the island’s most iconic features include its famous Cuban cigars, rum, the captivating cha-cha, salsa and mambo dances, and intricate Latin jazz music.

Cuba’s historic architecture, particularly in Old Havana and Trinidad, attracts history and architecture enthusiasts from around the world.

Moreover, Cuba boasts natural beauty with pristine beaches, lush mountains, and impressive biodiversity.

It’s this blend of culture, history, and natural beauty that makes Cuba a unique and popular destination.

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Conclusion: Things to Do in Cuba

Cuba’s magnetic charm is nothing short of a paradise caressed with soulful music, vibrant culture, white-sand beaches, tantalizing cocktails, and fascinating history.

Every corner of this beautiful island sings a captivating tale of resilient spirit and sheer joy.

Whether you’re exploring Cuba’s countryside on a bull ride, hiking through El Yunque, or immersing yourself in the bustling nightlife of Havana, every moment of your Cuban journey will generate a memory worth cherishing.

The amalgamation of old and new, rural and urban, and the striking contrasts of Cuba will leave you speechless yet yearning for more.

This collective list of things to do in Cuba provides a peek into the boundless opportunities that this Caribbean jewel offers.

Step out of your comfort zone, embrace the Cuban pace of life, and you’re sure to fall in love with this exceptional destination.

Here’s wishing you the most magical experiences as you explore and navigate the vibrant labyrinth of life called Cuba! Adiós and safe travels!

And if I missed anything, let me know in the comments below!

Picture of Chip Ge

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25 Best Things To Do in Cuba: A Local’s Ultimate Guide for Travelers [2024]

Cuba is so much more than just beaches, resorts, and vintage cars. The largest island in the Caribbean offers travelers so much more than just its stereotypes would imply , leaving the travelers that get to know it well ready to plan a return visit ASAP.

As locals, we’ve had the pleasure of exploring all the best places to visit in Cuba and having some of the most incredible travel experiences the island has to offer. Read on for our tips on the very best things to do in Cuba, whether you’re looking for an escape to the best beaches in Cuba or prefer a packed itinerary of cultural activities and events.

best things to do in cuba

This post contains affiliate links that may reward me monetarily or otherwise when you use them to make qualifying purchases – at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, please read our  disclosure policy .

Best Time To Visit Cuba

There’s never a bad time to visit a Caribbean island that feels plucked from a postcard, as Cuba does! However, the best time to visit Cuba tends to be between December and May, when the skies are clear and the oceans warm and calm.

Cuba never feels packed with travelers, but these are the travel seasons to be aware of in Cuba:

  • High Season:  December – March
  • Shoulder Season : April – June, October – November
  • Low Season : July – September

Keep in mind that Cuba sits within the Atlantic Hurricane Belt, and tropical conditions are possible during hurricane season, which lasts from June through November. Storms are rare, but wetter weather is common during these months.

Looking for even more details and a month-to-month breakdown of weather and travel conditions in Cuba? Check out our detailed guide to the best times to visit Cuba for all this and more.

Best Things To Do in Cuba

Looking for a quick few recommendations as you plan your Cuba itinerary? These are the experiences we, as locals, genuinely think you can’t skip as you plan your trip:

  • Explore Old Havana
  • Visit a tobacco farm in the Viñales Valley
  • Hit the beach in Varadero
  • Explore historic Trinidad
  • Go diving in Jardines de la Reina

Read on for even more details about all the best things to do in Cuba during your stay, ranging from the most adventurous to the most relaxing!

Cuba Travel 101

  • Currency in Cuba: A Local’s Guide for Travelers
  • How to Get Wifi in Cuba [Updated!]
  • Is Cuba Safe? Updated Cuba Safety Guide
  • Ultimate Cuba Travel Guide – A Local’s Advice for Travelers

cienfuegos cuba hotels

Things To Do in Cuba

1. explore old havana.

There is no more fascinating area of Havana than its oldest neighborhood, Old Havana , home to beautiful but faded historic architecture, museums, cultural centers, fortresses, and grand plazas.

Unlike the historic centers of other cities in the Caribbean, Old Havana is unique in that people actually live here, and you’ll see real life happening around you as you walk the streets: children rushing to classes in their uniforms, fruit and vegetable markets, street vendors selling pastries.

People live, work, and study here, sometimes in buildings that are historical and interesting to visitors but are in desperate need of repair. Visit in a respectful way, and always ask before taking pictures of people.

Read More: A Local’s Guide to Exploring Old Havana, Cuba

2. Hike El Yunque

El Yunque – which means the Anvil in English – is a unique tabletop mountain outside of Baracoa , Cuba that is mentioned even in Christopher Columbus’ diaries upon his first sightings of the island.

An important part of the “skyline” of the small, historic city of Baracoa, hiking El Yunque is one of the best hikes in Cuba , and a very popular excursion.

Not a technically challenging hike except for a short steep section before reaching the tabletop, the journey will take you through lush jungles, past waterfalls and swimming holes, and through small farms where local families have made businesses out of making (delicious!) homemade meals for hikers. It’s an excellent hike, worth traveling here for.

Plan a Trip to Baracoa, Cuba

  • Baracoa, Cuba: Ultimate Travel Guide
  • 12 Best Things To Do in Baracoa, Cuba

3. Try (Real!) Cuban Food

Don’t come to Cuba looking for a Cuban sandwich. Guess what? José had never even heard of a Cuban sandwich before getting to the U.S. This sandwich was created in southern Florida – whether Miami or Tampa is the true city of origin is a source of hot debate.

Don’t worry, there is plenty of delicious Cuban food here you’ll love. Here are some of the best dishes to try in Cuba.

  • Arroz con Frijoles (rice and beans)
  • Tostones (fried plantains)
  • Ropa Vieja (shredded beef)
  • Yuca con Mojo (yuca with garlicky sauce)
  • Congris (rice and beans, mixed)
  • Seafood dishes like shrimp, lobster, and arroz imperial (rice with seafood)

Note: Smart restaurant owners in Cuba have caught on to this whole “Cuban sandwich” thing , and now you can find a fair number of restaurants selling them. 

cuba jardines de la reina

4. Dive with Sharks in Jardines de la Reina

If you’re looking for adventure travel rather than rest and relaxation, a visit to Jardines de la Reina is for you. Jardines de la Reina is known as one of the most pristine protected areas of the Caribbean Sea, home to unique corals, beautiful tropical fish, and countless sharks , some known to grow larger than anywhere else on Earth.

Diving with sharks is one of the most popular activities here, though experienced guides can also lead you to shark-free areas if you’d like a more relaxing dive . Wherever you plan to dive, be prepared for stunning underwater scenery with canyons, caves, and unique formations wherever you look.

Read More: Jardines de la Reina: A Traveler’s Guide

5. Visit Fábrica de Arte Cubano

You can’t visit Havana without visiting Fábrica de Arte Cubano. This mixed-use arts and performance space is simultaneously a fine arts gallery, concert hall, nightclub, movie theater, and cultural space in one, with a pop-up shop, restaurant, and five unique bars thrown in for good measure.

Open from Thursdays through Sundays, this space has a rotating group of exhibits and performances – every night of the week is different. It has hosted international performers, local celebrities, and even Michelle Obama, and was named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Greatest Places in the World .

Travel Essential

Don’t think about traveling to Cuba without a good  VPN (Virtual Private Network) . Using a VPN while connecting to the internet is an easy way to keep your personal information safe from hackers and trackers.  We’ve used  NordVPN  for years and couldn’t recommend it more – it’s a must for safety online, especially in Cuba. 

the best thing to do in cuba

6. Hike Pico Turquino

If you’re looking for an adventurous and unexpected excursion in Cuba, consider hiking Cuba’s highest peak: Pico Turquino. In the heart of the Sierra Maestra mountain range in southeast Cuba, expect lush jungles and stunning views to reward your efforts.

The hike is moderately strenuous and doesn’t require any special gear, acclimatization, or training, so as long as you’re reasonably fit and active, it’s well within your reach.

The summit also includes an optional visit to the Comandancia de la Plata, one of Cuba’s most important revolutionary sites. This was the location of the guerrilla camp used by Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and their band of revolutionaries, from which they launched the first attacks against the Cuban government that launched the Cuban Revolution.

Today, visitors on their way to the summit of the peak can visit the site of the evolutionary radio station, field hospital, barracks, and even Fidel’s private camp office. It’s a fascinating stop on the way up to the summit.

7. Stroll the Colonial Streets of Trinidad

As a historic city in Cuba filled with colonial architecture, Trinidad is overshadowed by Old Havana in the number of visitors but not in beauty. Trinidad is known for having the best-preserved and most extensive colonial center in the Caribbean. It’s a gem that far too few travelers in the Caribbean visit.

While specific sites in the historic center are worth seeing – particularly the Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco de Asis with its stunning mountain views from the rooftop, there is a simple and special joy in exploring the historic city streets.

Much of the old town is pedestrian-only, making it perfect for strolling, exploring, and getting lost. It’s the very best thing to do in Trinidad , though there is enough here to keep you busy for at least three or four days easily.

Plan a Trip to Trinidad, Cuba

  • Ultimate Travel Guide to Trinidad, Cuba
  • 8 Best Day Trips from Trinidad, Cuba
  • Where to Stay in Trinidad, Cuba

vinales cuba hotels

8. See the Mogotes in Viñales

More than just a great day trip escape from Havana, Viñales is a top place to visit in Cuba . I’ll be honest; when I visited for the first time, I fully expected it to be overrated – I was SO wrong.

Viñales is stunning; its limestone “mountains” called mogotes soaring up from otherwise flat ground make this valley look almost otherwordly, leaving a lasting impression. Visiting just to bask in the beauty is more than enough of a reason.

However, Vinales also has so much to see and do. Horseback ride through the valleys, visit tobacco plantations, learn about the art of making cigars, and explore caves with underground lakes and rivers.

Plan a Trip to Viñales

  • Ultimate Travel Guide to Viñales, Cuba
  • Where to Stay in Viñales, Cuba
  • 12 Best Things To Do in Viñales, Cuba
  • Havana to Viñales Day Trip Guide

9. Soak Up the Sun in Varadero

Cuba’s favorite beach getaway, both for international travelers and Cubans, is Varadero .

The convenience of Varadero – just two hours east of Havana – and its bevy of restaurants, bars, rental apartments and houses, and resorts – makes it a great, easy spot to enjoy one of the world’s best stretches of white sand.

Varadero is by no means off the beaten path, so if you’re looking for a hidden gem, consider Cayo Jutias near Viñales, Cayo Saetia in Holguin , or the beaches near Playa Girón. However, if you’re looking for some rest and relaxation, clear waters, and white sand, Varadero awaits.

Plan a Trip to Varadero

  • Ultimate Travel Guide to Varadero, Cuba
  • 10+ Best Resorts in Varadero, Cuba
  • Havana to Varadero: 5 Easy Ways to Travel

best things to do in cuba

10. Visit Cuba’s Pristine Cayos

Some of Cuba’s most popular destinations aren’t actually on the Cuban mainland – they’re the tiny cays (cayos) that rim most of the island , sitting just offshore. While each cay is unique, t hey’re generally known for having Cuba’s most famous and luxurious resorts and are home to the island’s best beaches.

These are some of the most popular cays for visitors to Cuba:

  • Cayo Coco: Located off Cuba’s north central shore, Cayo Coco is famous for its white sand beaches and stunning resorts.
  • Cayo Guillermo : Connected to Cayo Coco by a causeway, Cayo Guillermo has more family-friendly resorts and similarly stunning beaches.
  • Cayo Santa Maria: This is the new resort hotspot in Cuba. Cayo Santa Maria has stunning beaches and an increasingly impressive number of beautiful places to stay.
  • Cayo Jutias : This natural, rugged cay near Viñales has stunning beaches but no accommodations. Cayo Jutias and nearby Cayo Levisa are some of the most popular day trips from Vinales.
  • Cayo Largo del Sur : One of the most distant cays, Cayo Largo is known for having three of Cuba’s most beautiful beaches. This cay sits to the east of Isla de la Juventud and south of the mainland. 

A Guide to Cuba’s Cays

  • Cayo Largo del Sur: Best Beaches in Cuba?
  • Cayo Santa Maria: Ultimate Traveler’s Guide
  • Cayo Guillermo: Ultimate Traveler’s Guide

11. Stay in a Casa Particular

Before renting on Airbnb became a popular way to travel, Cuba did it first.

Called “casas particulares,” these “private homes” have long been the best place to stay in Cuba. Just like on Airbnb, you can find everything from a spare bedroom to a sprawling mansion with a private pool for rent – often significantly cheaper than the prices of a hotel.

The best part? You’ll often get a much more local, authentic experience than you would in a hotel. You’re also supporting local Cubans , many of whom make their livelihoods with these rentals. 

Check out our guides to some of Cuba’s best casas particulares here:

  • Best Casas Particulares in Old Havana
  • Best Casas Particulares in Vedado, Havana
  • Best Casas Particulares in Viñales
  • Best Casas Particulares in Holguin

cuba requirements

12. Ride in a Vintage American Car

Would it be a trip to Cuba without taking a ride in a vintage car? While you’ll see vintage cars everywhere you look, the most impressive convertible models are usually used for giving car tours of the country’s major cities. 

If you’re planning on  taking a ride in a vintage American car  while in Havana, I recommend making this one of the first things you do in Havana. These rides are a great introduction to the city, and will take you around to some of the city’s most impressive spots, like the Plaza de la Revolución and along the Malecón.

You can  book online ahead of time , which saves you cash you’d need to carry to Cuba, and the hassle of negotiating a price with a driver. I’d certainly recommend booking ahead of time!

What to Pack for Cuba

Check out our  Ultimate Cuba Packing List   to help you pack for your trip – we’re sharing exactly what to bring to Cuba and what we never travel without.

13. Walk in Ernest Hemingway’s Shoes

Cuba is famous for being a second home to Ernest Hemingway, and the inspiration for much of his work.  Today, visitors to Havana can take a  guided Hemingway tour , or follow in his footsteps by visiting some of his favorite spots around Cuba:

  • El Floridita: This famous Old Havana bar memorializes Hemingway with a large bronze statue at the bar; he was known to down several at a time at this very corner of the bar.
  • Cayo Guillermo: This beautiful cay along Cuba’s north coast inspired the writer’s posthumous novel, Islands in the Steam . On the bridge onto Cayo Guillermo , you’ll see a Hemingway statue welcoming visitors, and the island’s most beautiful beach – Playa Pilar – is named after his yacht.
  • Hotel Ambos Mundos: This Old Havana hotel  was Hemingway’s home away from home before he purchased his estate outside Havana. Today visitors can check out the small museum in this Old Havana hotel dedicated to the author in room 511, where Hemingway stayed.
  • Casa Vigía: Hemingway’s estate outside of Havana is a popular destination and an easy spot to visit from the city. It is kept in much of its state in which the writer left it, with countless personal items on display. 

topes de collantes

14. Hike Waterfalls in Topes de Collantes

Cuba is filled with fantastic places to get off the beaten path and hike through the stunning interior of the country. One of the best spots to explore on foot is the stunning Topes de Collantes area in the Escambray mountains just west of Trinidad .

Home to countless waterfall hikes like El Nicho, Salto de Caburní, and Vegas Grande, this is a great place to escape for a day trip to an impressive natural spot.

Make sure to bring your bathing suit – swimming beneath the waterfalls is highly encouraged!

Travel Insurance

Cuba requires that all travelers have proof of a comprehensive travel insurance policy in order to enter the country. Check out our guide to travel insurance for Cuba for more details. We recommend these brands for Cuba travel insurance:

  • Visitors Coverage : Coverage for Cuba travel available to citizens of all countries, though not currently available to residents of New York and Maryland in the United States.
  • Insubuy : Coverage for Cuba travel available to citizens of all countries and states of the United States.

15. Explore Cuba’s Caves

A surprising number of destinations in Cuba are well known for having impressive caves systems, which make for unique day trips, and a great excursion to cool off on a hot day.

Among the mogotes of Viñales, you’ll find countless caves. A particularly impressive example is the Cueva del Indio, an important site for the indigenous peoples who lived in the area. While there are plenty of caves worth visiting in Vinales, this one is interesting in that you can take a speedboat inside the underground river in the cave for quite a distance.

From Varadero , you can plan an excursion to the Cueva de Saturnio or Cueva de Bellamar , both quite close to central Varadero and easily visited in a day trip. You can even swim here!

santiago de cuba travel

16. Take in the View from the Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca

Located in Santiago de Cuba , the island’s eastern capital and second-largest city, the historic Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca is an impressive Spanish fortress you can’t skip. It’s lauded by  UNESCO  as “the most complete, best-preserved example of Spanish-American military architecture.” 

A visit to the fortress is impressive, but the view over the ocean, bay, and surrounding beaches is another highlight that makes the visit even more scenic. 

Read More: Santiago de Cuba: Ultimate Traveler’s Guide

17. Take a Free Walking Tour

How could you get any better than free? Civitatis is an excellent tour company from Spain that offers free walking tours in cities around Cuba. Experienced, thorough guides lead these tours , so make sure to tip if you enjoy the tour!

Here are some of the most popular free tours in Cuba:

  • Old Havana Free Walking Tour
  • Modern Havana (Vedado) Free Walking Tour
  • Viñales Free Walking Tour
  • Trinidad Free Walking Tour

the best things to do in cuba

18. Visit the Countryside

A visit to Cuba just doesn’t feel complete if you stick to the major cities and coastal resort towns. Though these places have so much to offer, a visit to the countryside offers a whole new perspective on Cuba.

In Havana, you’ll find excursions to nearby farms for home cooking and to learn about Cuban agriculture – take advantage of these and prepare for the best Cuban food you’ll ever try. You’ll also find unique accommodations in the countryside where you’ll be immersed; we love MogoteArt if you’re looking for a countryside retreat.

One of the most accessible spots for visitors to visit in the Cuban countryside is Viñales . Though you’ll see that the town of Viñales has a fair amount of resources and business to cater to travelers visiting the national park, it’s an easily accessible countryside town well worth visiting.

19. Learn to Dance Salsa

Cuba is, of course, the best place to learn how to dance salsa. You’ll find dance schools in most cities in Cuba, and lessons are a popular activity no matter where you’re traveling.

I don’t have specific class recommendations for all cities in Cuba. However, if you’re traveling in Havana,  Civitatis has excellent salsa classes  I recommend for travelers on a quick  Havana itinerary .

If you want more than just a single class or want to learn the bachata, rumba, or countless other dance styles,  look into options for a series of classes at the much-loved  Salsabor  dance school in Havana.

malecon 663

20. Enjoy a Havana Sunset on the Malecón

There is nothing like a Havana sunset. The colors are spectacular, and watching the sunset seated on top of Havana’s famous Malecón sea wall is one of the best free things to do in Havana .

If you’re looking for another beautiful spot to watch the sunset in Havana, take a bus or taxi through the tunnel across the Havana harbor and to the Cristo de la Habana. Alternatively, take the Lanchita de Regla ferry across the harbor to the hill below the statue. The ferry costs just a few pesos and departs from Old Havana , at the dock across from the Russian Orthodox Church.

This Christ statue guards the Havana harbor, and its platform on the hill provides a spectacular spot overlooking Old Havana, the ocean, and the entire Malecón. This is our favorite spot to watch the sunset, so don’t tell too many others – we don’t want the secret getting out!

21. Drink Cuban Coffee

The famous Cuban coffee is strong, sweet espresso with a foamy top, a delicious treat you’ll be offered whenever visiting a Cuban home , maybe if you’re staying in a casa particular and meeting your host.

For true Cuban coffee, look for tiny local storefronts where locals sell tiny cups of this strong coffee for a few pesos. This is how Cubans drink it , and trying Cuban coffee is a must on any visit to Cuba.

Looking for the best places to drink coffee in Havana? Check out our guide to our favorite cafes in Havana and brunch spots in Havana .

best things to do in cuba

22. Visit the Sierra del Rosario

The Sierra del Rosario mountain range in the province of Pinar del Rio is a unique protected biosphere, home to endemic flora and fauna in the stunning and lush tropical forest that makes for an unforgettable trip.

Within the Sierra del Rosario you’ll find Soroa, a popular destination for hiking in Cuba , and home to a beautiful orchid garden and stunning waterfall hikes.

Just an hour from Havana, it’s a popular and easy day trip escape from the city. If you’re looking to spend a bit more time here than you’d be able to on a day trip from Havana, consider stopping on the way to an overnight in Viñales .

23. Learn About the Cuban Revolution

Just stepping foot in Cuba is a lesson in the Cuban Revolution; you’ll see revolutionary imagery everywhere, from billboards and posters to major monuments. However, learning more about the Revolution in some of these places is an excellent way to get even more of the backstory.

Museo de la Revolución

The former presidential palace is now the Museum of the Revolution, where you’ll learn so much about the history of the Revolution, plus personal artifacts and more. Behind the building, you’ll see cars driven by Fidel , and a replica of the boat he used to arrive in Cuba from exile in Mexico at the start of the Revolution.

Be aware that the exhibits are all in Spanish, so consider visiting with a guide, or downloading Google Translate with its image translation feature if you can’t understand Spanish.

Plaza de la Revolución

Located in the heart of Havana, the Plaza de la Revolución is where Fidel gave many of his famous speeches in front of the monument of Cuban independence leader José Martí. You’ll see images of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos (another important revolutionary) on the buildings facing the square.

This is an obligatory stop on any ride through Havana in a vintage American car, so you’re sure to visit if you plan to ride through the city in style.

Comandancia de la Plata

If you’re headed up Pico Turquino in the Sierra Maestra mountains, make sure to stop at Comandancia de la Plata, the guerrilla camp where Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and their band of revolutionaries camped out as they launched their first attacks.

You’ll see their field hospital, barracks, and more – it’s a fascinating stop.

The Mausoleum of Che Guevara

In the central Cuban city of Santa Clara, travelers can visit Che Guevara’s tomb, a major destination for those interested in the Revolution.

  • 40 Fun Facts About Havana
  • 50 Facts About Cuba (You Won’t Believe!)

cienaga de zapata wildlife

24. Spot Unique Wildlife in Ciénaga de Zapata

One of the most unique natural spots in Cuba is Ciénaga de Zapata on the southern coast of Cuba. Known for being one of the country’s best areas to witness wildlife, Ciénaga de Zapata is home to over 900 species of plants and over  175 species of birds  (many of which are only found in Cuba – some are found only in this park!).

Here you’ll see the world’s smallest bird, flamingos, Cuban crocodiles, and much more – and there are some great hikes to see it all.

A trip to this part of Cuba – one of the best places to visit in Cuba ! – is perfect to combine with a trip to Playa Girón, where you can swim at off-the-beaten-path beaches and unique swimming holes similar to Mexico’s famous cenotes.

25. Dance the Night Away at the Tropicana

Havana’s Tropicana has been the stage for some of the most important and historic performances in Cuba, with everyone from Celia Cruz to Frank Sinatra, Joséphine Baker, and Nat King Cole gracing the stage.

For an unforgettable night in Havana, head to the Tropicana for a cabaret show with incredible live music, dancers with elaborate costumes, food, and drinks. It’s a great time, and you’ll feel the immense history of this cultural institution the second you step through the doors.

Carley Rojas Avila

Carley Rojas Avila

Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Home to Havana and Explorers Away. She is a serial expat and traveler, having visited 40+ countries and counting. Carley has written for publications like Travel + Leisure, MSN, Associated Press, Weather Channel, Wealth of Geeks, and more. Find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.

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  • 13 Must Visit Attractions In...

Must-Visit Attractions to See in Cuba

Discover the beautiful, colourful architecture of Cuba when you visit this Caribbean island

Cuba might be famous for its diamond-dust beaches, but a trip across the Caribbean island will take you to colonial cities including Trinidad, rum haunts along Calle Obispo in Old Havana and mountains like El Yunque. Here’s our rundown of the best ways to spend your time in the Republic of Cuba.

Sail the sights of Cuba by renting a boat with SamBoat .

1. Stroll along Calle Obispo in Old Havana

Market, Museum

Havana, Cuba. People walking on Calle Obispo, the busiest and most popular pedestrian commercial and touristic street in the Cuban capital city.

2. Snorkel over war wrecks in the Bay of Pigs

Natural Feature

Snorkelling among fish in Bay of Pigs, Cuba

Pack your snorkel gear and head to the tiny coves along the fretted limestone coast of the Bay of Pigs. Colorful parrotfish, angelfish and sergeant major flit about the gin-clear waters off Punta Perdíz. Just below the vibrant marine life are a couple of shipwrecks from the failed US invasion of Cuba in 1961. Book a day on a yacht with SamBoat to explore the surrounding area – minus the crowds.

4. Visit Plaza Mayor in Trinidad

View on Plaza Mayor in Trinidad, Cuba, Caribbean

Stroll the cobblestone streets of the pretty city of Trinidad, where low-slung, pastel-colored homes line roads that gently slope in the foothills of the Escambray Mountains. The palm-tree decorated Plaza Mayor is the centre of this extraordinary sugar-boom town of palaces, mansions and churches. Its outsized wealth was created by captive African slaves who powered the sugar mills of the neighbouring valley, once the site of the largest haul of crystals in the world in the 19th century.

5. Go horseriding through the Valle de Viñales

Tourists riding horses throughh the Vinales Valley (Valle de Vinales) in Cuba, Caribbean

Nature lovers will want to head to Unesco-protected Viñales Valley, three hours southwest of Havana. Mount a horse for a guided tour into this valley of tobacco fields, mogotes (haystack mountains) and limestone caves. Stop at a tobacco farm to learn about the world’s finest cigars and their journey from pin-head seed to luxury smoke. Dine on farm-to-fork food, then kick back with a cocktail in a chilled bar on Viñales’ village main strip.

6. Spend sundown on the Malecón in Havana

Architectural Landmark

Fishing along the Malecon in late afternoon, Havana, Cuba, West Indies, Caribbean, Central America

Armed with a planchao (rum in a juice-sized carton), head down to the oceanside promenade in Havana. Take a perch on the Atlantic-facing sea wall and watch the locals talk, flirt, play music and fish. The Malecón ripples around the townhouses, apartments and hotels of the ocean road for 5mi (8km) and is affectionately known as Havana’s “sofa”. Laugh and crack jokes with Habaneros as the sun goes down behind the distant Hotel Nacional in the west.

7. Explore historic Cienfuegos and nearby El Nicho falls

Waterfall El- Nicho in Cuba in the jungle natioanl park. It is situated in Zapata Peninsula, Matanzas province, Cuba, Caribbean.

Wander the breezy streets and porticoed main avenue of Cienfuegos, the only city founded by the French in the Spanish Americas. Visit the mosaic and marble Tomás Terry Theatre with its frescoed horse-shoe auditorium. Hop on a pedicab to visit the coloured timber homes of Punta Gorda, jutting out in the Bay of Cienfuegos, followed by a cocktail on the rooftop terrace of the nearby Moorish Palacio de Valle. Cool off out of town in the most appealing waterfall escape in Cuba – the terraced, teal-green pools of El Nicho.

8. Dance to live music in Santiago de Cuba

Horizontal view of a typical salsa group busking on the streets of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, Caribbean

Santiago is the musical powerhouse of Cuba. By day, stroll its hot historic streets of churches, museums and parks. By night, follow the trail of soul-stirring live tunes drifting out of bars, venues and restaurants. From delicate choral works in converted churches, elegant Son Cubano danced in city patios, to rocking salsa thundering through late-night bars, Santiago is a sensation. Don’t miss the riotous summer carnival and the chance to conga with locals through the narrow streets.

9. Hike up El Yunque and marvel at the wildlife near Baracoa

Forest, Park

View of the flat-topped El Yunque mountain, Cuba, Caribbean

10. Cycle to the wild beaches of eastern Cuba

Sunset at the beach of Playa Manglito, Cuba, Caribbean

Hire a bike from Baracoa and pedal southeast to discover untarnished golden beaches and fresh seafood. Board a row boat to cross Boca de Boma bay, then cycle to Playa Manglito. Dig your feet into the sand and wait for lunch to be delivered to your table by Tato’s restaurant waiters. On your return journey, taste homemade candies at the Cuban cocoa farms in the “chocolate village” of El Jamal.

This is an updated rewrite of an article originally written by Jack Guy .

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

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The 11 best things to do in Cuba

From blissful beaches to underground clubs (literally) check out our guide to the finest stuff to see and do in Cuba

Trying to keep a list of the best stuff to see and do in Cuba down to just 11 options is a pretty darn impossible task – but here at Time Out we’re nothing if not ambitious. This island remains something of a mystery to plenty of even the most seasoned travelers: despite being just 90 miles from the US , Cuba’s classic cars, pastoral living and natural beauty is still somewhat unexplored by foreign nationals.

A trip to Cuba is very much like stepping into an alternative present; this island’s defiant independence has fashioned it into one of the world’s most distinctive destinations. Stubbornly characterful in the face of global commercialism, in Cuba you’ll find lip-smackingly marvelous restaurants, drop-dead gorgeous architecture, unspoiled beaches and much more. Here are our essential highlights.

RECOMMENDED: 😋 The best restaurants in Cuba 🛏 The best Airbnbs in Havana

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The best things to do in Cuba

Playa Las Tumbas

1.  Playa Las Tumbas

What it is: A remote beach on the westernmost point of the island where you’ll rarely find anything other than palm trees, pure white sand, and crystal clear water. It sits at the very end of Peninsula de Guanahacabibes National Park, four to five hours from Havana. Nobody said having your own beach would be easy. Why go: Granted, there are more convenient, better-equipped beaches in Cuba. And many are beautiful. But none give you the feeling of having a slice of paradise to yourself like Las Tumbas. The drive might be long, but it’s an excellent way to see parts of the island most people don’t. So taking an overnight here is as much about the journey as the destination.

Valle de Vinales

2.  Valle de Vinales

What it is: The Valle de Vinales tobacco plantation is a working plantation where they grow Cuba’s two most famous agricultural exports: Coffee and tobacco. It sits in the Unesco World Heritage Site of the Vinales Valley, where you can stroll the fields smoking a freshly-rolled cigar and sipping on Cuban coffee. Why go: It’s the freshest cigar you’ll ever smoke, and while not a big name like Paratagas or Romeo y Julieta, for the casual Cuban visitor the experience here is far better than at a cigar factory. It’s a popular stop on many tours, but even though it’s often crowded it’s still a fun place for pictures and an afternoon pick-me-up.

Hemingway Museum

3.  Hemingway Museum

What it is : Finca la Vigia is Ernest Hemingway’s former home about ten miles outside Havana. It’s a sprawling estate on a hill with a swimming pool, Hemingway artifacts, and the Pilar, the author’s famous boat. The impressive home is also where he wrote The Old Man and the Sea and For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Why go: Is it touristy? Of course, it is, but it’s also among the best-preserved grand homes in the country, and there’s usually a Cuban band playing near the entrance with a full rum bar, of course. You’ll also hear clever anecdotes about Hemingway’s time here, like when he used to spy on Ava Gardner skinny dipping in the pool.

4.  Topes de Collantes National Park

What it is: A mountainous National Park about 25 minutes from Trinidad on the southern coast of the island. The park sits in the Sierra Escambray Mountains with short trails leading to underground caves, waterfalls, and hidden swimming holes.

Why go: Most American tourists don’t make it this far out into natural Cuba, and it’s the sort of tropical mountain scenery that is definitively Caribbean. It’s the perfect escape from the towns and cities, where you can hike a couple of miles and jump into a pristine pool under a waterfall.

Drink a mojito somewhere in Havana

5.  Drink a mojito somewhere in Havana

What it is: The quintessential Cuban drink that’s become ubiquitous in American bars made of rum, muddled mint, sugar and club soda. Hemingway made the ones at La Bodeguita del Medio famous, but sipping on one at the Hotel Nacional is the essence of 1950s celebrity. Or hit La Chanchullero , which many say makes the best in the city. Why go: It’s just one of those bucket list eating/drinking experiences everyone has, like getting a cheesesteak in Philly or wings in Buffalo.  And almost anywhere you go in Havana will make one better than any American cocktail bar because they use real sugar and not syrup.

Finca Agroecologica El Paraiso

6.  Finca Agroecologica El Paraiso

What it is: Finca Agroecologica El Paraiso is a small restaurant set atop a hill overlooking a vast agricultural valley with towering green mountains not far into the distance. Many of the U.S. government-approved tours take you here, so while you might not be alone you’ll definitely enjoy your lunch.

Why go: The food is literally farm-to-table, and in a country where great meals are few and far between this is an absolute must-visit. The setting is magnificent as most tables sit on a patio with stunning views of the countryside.

7.  Stroll the streets of Trinidad

What it is: A colorful colonial city of about 73,000 set near the Escambray Mountains. Trinidad is the best city in Cuba to see Spanish colonial architecture lining cobblestone streets, where the buildings are painted bright colors giving the feel of mountain villages one might find in Colombia or Ecuador. Why go: It might be the most photographed place in Cuba outside Havana, but that hasn’t ruined the small-town feel one bit. The people here are still unbelievably friendly, and while now they might ask you for a couple of dollars if you want to take their picture, they’ll still happily chat with you about anything you want to know about the town.

Disco Ayala

8.  Disco Ayala

What it is: This full-on dance club is 100 feet underground, where you’ll dance among stalactites, stalagmites, and giant video screens. It’s about a ten-minute walk up the hill from Trinidad, and admission includes a free drink. Why go: Even if you’re not big into dancing or nightlife it’s such a uniquely-surreal experience to go clubbing in a cave, Disco Ayala is worth a visit. And who knows, perhaps you’ll meet some fun-loving locals to give you an even better story.

Tour Havana in a classic car

9.  Tour Havana in a classic car

What it is: A trip through Habana Vieja and along the water in a bright pink convertible Cadillac or another of Cuba’s trademark classic cars. You won’t get much in the way of information over the roar of the engine and the wind in your hair. But education isn’t really the point.

Why go: It’s another ultra-touristy thing to do that’s absolutely worth the cliché. The photographs you’ll get from riding in a bright car through the classic architecture are uniquely Cuban. And when else will you get to ride around in a ’57 Chevy with the top down on a sunny day?

Hit a live cabaret show

10.  Hit a live cabaret show

What it is: A complete time warp back to the nightclub variety shows of the 1950s, complete with elaborate carnival costumes, over-the-top singers, and full-production dance numbers. Why go: They say life on this island hasn’t changed much since the mid-twentieth century, and these old-style shows are the best example. The biggest show is at the famous Tropicana Club . Cabaret Le Parisien at the Hotel Nacional is a little more Moulin Rouge, but still a sight you’ll never see in America.  

Want to find the best food and drink in Cuba?

The 21 best restaurants in Cuba

The 21 best restaurants in Cuba

There’s been an explosion of paladares (home-run restaurants) building up a buzz around “nouveau Cuban” cuisine. Havana leads the charge, offering everything from fine dining in palatial old apartments to hipster tapas bars.

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THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Cuba

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For the last two decades, the popular refrain on visiting Cuba has been “Go now before it changes forever”. There have been some startling developments in that time, but the Cuban story, and the country itself, never ceases to captivate and enthral. Here's our list of the best things to do in Cuba.

1. Relax at the Villa Clara northern cays

2. enjoy the white sands of jardines del rey.

  • 3. Explore Cuba's history at Museo Presidio Modelo

4. Visit La Habana Vieja — one of the best things to do in Cuba

5. alejandro robaina tobacco plantation for fine tobacco, 6. viñales valley for its remarkable nature, 7. diving off the southern coast, 8. hike the la plata mountain trail, 9. punta gorda, cienfuegos — for a different flavour, 10. take a trip to santiago in july.

  • 11. Visit Trinidad's old town — one of the best things to do in Cuba

12. Witness National League Baseball

13. drive in american classic cars, 14. havana jazz festival — a must-see, 15. exploring baracoa’s countryside - one of the best things to do in cuba for hiking, 16. browse plaza de armas book market.

  • 17. Havana's Malecón: the city's defining image

18. Hotel Nacional

19. fábrica de arte cubano for arts, 20. ecotourism in las terrazas, pinar del río, 21. discover the labrynth of colonial camagüey, 22. visit che guevara mausoleum, santa clara, 23. the abandoned refineries of valle de los ingenios, trinidad, 24. relaxing at cayo coco beaches - one of the best things to do in cuba.

The information in this article is inspired by The Rough Guide to Cuba , your essential guide for visiting Cuba .

Tailor-made travel itineraries for Cuba, created by local experts

Cuba - Family, Beach, and Culture

15 days  / from 2914 USD

Cuba - Family, Beach, and Culture

Enjoy a 2-week family adventure visiting highlights and hidden gems of Cuba. Marvel at the colonial architecture in Havana, enjoy a ride in a Classic Car, explore the forests close to Trinidad, and relax on white sandy beaches of Cayo Levisa - this trip packs it all into one itinerary.

Bike Cuba

5 days  / from 991 USD

A moderately challenging cycling holiday through Cuban countryside visiting the tobacco fields of Viñales Valley and a pristine Caribbean beach in Cayo Jutias.

Western and Central Cuba by E-bike

13 days  / from 3455 USD

Western and Central Cuba by E-bike

Combine a leisurely activity with an insight into some of Cuba’s most fascinating cultural highlights on this new e-biking tour of Western and Central Cuba. Explore the tobacco region of Viñales, cycle along the Bay of Pigs and relax on the fine sandy beaches of Cayo Las Brujas.

Tailor-made trips for   Cuba

The cays' stunning white-sand beaches sit in isolated splendour at the end of a narrow causeway. Cayo Las Brujas is the most suitable for non-package visitors. Cayo Santa Maria, and its smaller counterpart, Cayo Ensenachos are largely the exclusive domain of hotel guests. Though a couple of commercial “villages” have been built on Cayo Santa María in the last few years.

The drive down the 48km causeway from just outside Caibarién to the islands is quite spectacular. The drive itself is half the fun of a visit. The dark, deeper waters nearer the land give way to shallow turquoise around the cays. They become almost clear as the network of islets increases in number and complexity.

This tailor-made trip to Cuba will take you beyond Havana's city limits, with its cigar-smoke-filled jazz bars, to discover other towns, rural villages and plantations across Cuba, not to mention the idyllic Varadero Beach.


Santa Maria beach, Villa Clara key, Cuba © BobNoah/Shutterstock

One of Cuba's most popular resorts has miles of beaches, including one of the country's best — Playa Pilar. This is Cuba's largest coral reef and its top kitesurfing spot. Two of the islands – Cayo Coco and smaller Cayo Guillermo – have a string of all-inclusive hotels planted along their northern shores.

On the western tip of Cayo Guillermo, gorgeous Playa Pilar is named after Ernest Hemingway’s yacht, Pilar. This beach was the author’s favourite Cuban hideaway. With limpid clear shallows and squeaky-clean sand, Playa Pilar is, without a doubt, the top beach choice on Guillermo, if not in the entire cays.

You will find more beach destinations in our guide to the best beaches in Cuba .


Pilar beach, cayo Guillermo, Cuba © Kako Escalona/Shutterstock

3. Explore Cuba's history at Museo Presidio Modelo

Tour the isolated prison where Fidel Castro and his cohorts were incarcerated. The looming bulk of the Museo Presidio Modelo lies 2km east of Nueva Gerona. Although this massive former prison has housed a fascinating museum for over thirty years and is now one of the most-visited sights on the island, its forbidding atmosphere has been preserved.

Surrounded by guard towers, the classically proportioned governor’s mansion and a phalanx of wardens’ villas mask the four circular cell buildings that rise like witches’ cauldrons from the centre of the complex.


Prison Presidio Modelo © Danita Delmont/Shutterstock

Remarkably unmarred by modernity but famously ravaged by time and climate, Habana Vieja (Old Havana) remains a true vision of the past, making it a must-see destination for those looking for things to do in Cuba. Cobbled plazas, shadowy streets, colonial mansions, leafy courtyards, sixteenth-century fortresses and, at its core, hardly any motorized traffic, make it a real living museum.

But though its central streets are heaving with visitors, Habana Vieja is no sanitized tourist attraction, and the area buzzes with a frenetic sense of life.


Plaza Vieja Havana, Cuba © Aleksandar Todorovic/Shutterstock

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As the Carretera Central heads southwest from the provincial capital, it cuts through the famed Vuelta Abajo region, one of the most fertile areas in the country. Here is the source of the finest tobacco in the world. There are countless vegas (tobacco plantations) in this zone, but one, the Alejandro Robaina, has an edge over the rest.

The owners have gone further than any other vega in their efforts to attract tourists, offering engaging guided tours of the plantation, product sampling opportunities and even the chance to meet members of the Robaina family.


Tobacco farm, Cuba © best time photos/Shutterstock

An official national park and by far the most visited location in Pinar del Río, the jewel in the province’s crown is the valley of Viñales. With its fantastically located accommodation, striking landscapes and an atmosphere of complete serenity. The valley feels very remote, with a lost-world quality. That’s mainly due to the unique mogotes, the boulder-like hills that look as if they’ve dropped from the sky onto the valley floor.

The valley supports its own microclimate. From roughly June to October, it rains most afternoons, making it a good idea to get your sightseeing done in the mornings. Mosquitoes are also more prevalent at this time of year and insect repellent is a definite must for any visit.

Take this tailor-made Highlight Tour of Western Cuba to explore the main areas: From Havana over the Viñales valley to Trinidad and Che's monument in Santa Clara. This fast-paced itinerary is packed with highlights.


Vinales, Cuba © RudiErnst/Shutterstock

Cuba is a scuba-diving paradise. Most of the major beach resorts, including Varadero, Cayo Coco, Santa Lucía and Guardalavaca have at least one dive centre, with numerous others all over the island, including several in Havana. The most reliable dive sites are generally off the south coast where the waters tend to be clearer, away from the churning waves of the Atlantic Ocean, which affect visibility off Cuba’s northern shores.

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The Rough Guide to Cuba

Among the marine life you can expect to see in Cuban waters are nurse sharks, parrotfish, turtles, stingrays, barracuda, tarpon, moray eels, bonefish, snapper and tuna. The best time to see whale sharks, arguably the highlight of any diving trip to the island, is in November, while in the spring the fish are in greater abundance.


Diving is one of the exciting things to do in Cuba© wildestanimal/Shutterstock

Bring Cuba’s recent history to life with a day of mountain trekking to explore Fidel Castro’s revolutionary base camps, a unique and exciting addition to your list of things to do in Cuba. The trail is well marked and you can complete the reasonably strenuous climb in around four hours return.

The headquarters are spread over two or three sites, the first of which is the very basic hospital that Che Guevara founded and ran. The second site comprises the guard post, a small but worthy museum and the grave of a rebel who fell in battle.


La Plata, Sierra Maestra, Cuba © David Evison/Shutterstock

The southern part of the city, Punta Gorda, has a distinctly different flavour from the rest of Cienfuegos. Open streets and spacious bungalows – unmistakeably influenced by the United States of the 1940s and 1950s – project an image of affluence and suburban harmony.

Other than the magnificent Palacio de Valle, Punta Gorda has no museums and few historic monuments, but does feature the Club Cienfuegos leisure complex and boat trips from the marina.

Discover the charismatic country of Cuba. Begin in the iconic city of Havana, where you'll explore the old town, and enjoy our tailor-made trip to the Highlights of Cuba: Havana, Trinidad and Cienfuegos .


Palacio del Valle Punta Gorda, Cienfuegos, Cuba © DeepGreen/Shutterstock

July is the best time to visit Cuba’s second city. This is when its vibrant music scene boils over and the annual carnival brings fabulous costumes, excitement and song to the town. The extravaganza that is Santiago’s carnival has its origins in the festival of Santiago which is held annually on July 25.

Carnaval takes place every year from around July 18 to July 27. The main parade is on the first day and is followed by smaller parades on the second, third and fourth days. On the 25th, there’s a general parade from 10 pm in honour of the city’s patron saint; the 26th sees a grand parade, and there’s prize-giving on the 27th.


View to the city centre with old houses and Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba © Vadim Nefedoff/Shutterstock

11. Visit Trinidad's old town — one of the best things to do in Cuba

This much-visited sixteenth-century town is packed with colonial mansions and churches, threaded together by cobbled streets and compact plazas. The beautiful Plaza Mayor is the heart of Trinidad’s colonial old town, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking a glimpse of Cuba's rich history and culture on their list of things to do in Cuba.

The fabulous Museo Romántico is an essential part of Trinidad’s delve into the past. With one of the country’s finest and most valuable collections of colonial furniture packed into its fourteen rooms, this 1808-built mansion, formerly owned by Count Brunet, is well worth visiting.


Trinidad, Cuba © rphstock/Shutterstock

Take a seat alongside the exuberant crowds at one of the country’s timepiece baseball stadiums. For some outsiders, the national Cuban baseball league, the Serie Nacional de Béisbol, is not only one of the best leagues outside of the US to see world-class players in action. It also represents a nostalgic version of the game, harking back to a time when the sport elsewhere wasn’t spoiled by celebrity and commercialism.


Cuba Baseball © ygor/Shutterstock

Ride around Havana or Varadero in one of Gran Car’s classic 1950s cars, a testament to Cuban ingenuity. Perhaps the most clichéd image of Cuba is of a classic American car rolling past a crumbling colonial building, and you don’t have to spend long in the country to see why this image has become so ubiquitous.

There are said to be around 60,000 vintage American cars in Cuba. Known as almendrones, most of them are still on the road. Almost all of them were imported from the factories of Detroit during the 1940s and 1950s when the US was Cuba’s most significant trade partner.

Take the family a step back in time: Explore Havana in classic cars and on foot, take a boat trip to the Cueva del Indio in Viñales and relax on the white, sandy beaches of Cayo Levisa on this tailor-made Family Trip to Cuba .


Old school American car in Cuba © Julian Peters Photography/Shutterstock

This lively festival is the perfect showcase for Cuba's jazz musicians. Organized by the Cuban Institute of Music and featuring performances by jazz legend Chucho Valdés, this event is a highlight in the international jazz calendar and a must-see for music enthusiasts looking for unique cultural experiences on their list of things to do in Cuba.

It consistently attracts an excellent line-up: Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Haden and Max Roach have all played in the past, alongside Cuban luminaries such as Bobby Carcassés, Roberto Fonseca and of course Chucho Valdés himself. Venues across the city include Teatro Mella, Teatro Karl Marx, Teatro Amadeo Roldan, Teatro América and the Casa de la Cultura de Plaza.


Trumpet, Havana, Cuba © AlfredoLopez/Shutterstock

Cradled by verdant mountains smothered in palm and cacao trees, and threaded with swimmable rivers, the Baracoan countryside has much to offer. El Yunque, the hallmark of Baracoa’s landscape, can easily be climbed in a day. While if you have a car and a little time to spare you could take a drive east along the coast and seek out some quintessentially Cuban fishing villages, including Boca de Yumurí.

Alternatively, just head for the beach – there are a couple of good options northwest of town.

Try this moderately challenging cycling tailor-made trip through the Cuban countryside visiting the tobacco fields of Viñales Valley and a pristine Caribbean beach in Cayo Jutias.


Baracoa el Yunque, Cuba © Haico Stegink/Shutterstock

The colourful stalls set around this lovely Old Havana square offer a feast of fabulous vintage and pre-and-post-revolution magazines, postcards, photos, posters and vinyl, from Cuba and the US. Havana’s largest book market, which for many years dominated the Plaza de Armas, has relocated around the corner.

Among the revolutionary pamphlets, Che Guevara tomes and the occasional novels you can find vintage Cuban and US tourist brochures, postcards and lifestyle magazines. Some reflect on life before Castro. You can also find copies of rare books and all sorts of other collectors’ items — like revolutionary posters and Cuban film art. Starting prices are high – be prepared to haggle.


Plaza de Armas, Havana, Cuba© Maridav/Shutterstock

17. Havana's Malecón: the city's defining image

The most picturesque way to reach Vedado from Centro Habana or Habana Vieja is to stroll down the famous Malecón sea wall, which snakes west along the coastline from La Punta for about 4km. It’s the city’s defining image, and ambling along its length, drinking in the panoramic views, is an essential part of the Havana experience.

But don’t expect to stroll in solitude: the Malecón is the capital’s front room and you won’t be on it for long before someone strikes up a conversation. People head here for free entertainment, particularly at night when it fills up with guitar-strumming musicians, vendors offering cones of fresh-roasted nuts, and star-gazing couples, young and old alike.

If you are looking forward to explore local cuisine - read our guide to the best restaurants in Havana .


Malecon, Havana, Cuba © Diego Cervo/Shutterstock

Set on a bluff above the Taganana cave and with a magnificent view of the ocean, the Hotel Nacional is a landmark. Home to a princely tiled lobby, and an elegant colonnaded veranda looking out to sea across an expanse of well-tended lawn commandeered by tame guinea fowl.

The perfect cinematic backdrop for a mojito, it was built in 1930 and quickly became a favourite with visiting luminaries. Among them are Ava Gardner, Winston Churchill, Josephine Baker and John Wayne – and more. Recently it has added the likes of Naomi Campbell and Jack Nicholson to its clientele.

Aerial view of the Hotel Nacional in Havana © Kamira/Shutterstock

Aerial view of the Hotel Nacional in Havana © Kamira/Shutterstock

Few venue openings have caused the stir that this avant-garde arts-centre-cum-club has, with profiles in international papers including The New York Times and The Guardian. Housed in an old peanut oil factory in the far reaches of Vedado, and decked out with sleek lines, minimal shades and multiple rooms, Fábrica de Arte Cubano (FAC) follows the tried and tested route of counter-culture colonization of industrial spaces.

FAC is a unique blend of cosmopolitan culture and traditional Cuban spirit, offering a diverse array of contemporary art and live music. It is a must-see stop on any list of things to do in Cuba for those seeking an authentic experience.


Mojito, Havana © Ivan Novelo/Shutterstock

A wonderfully harmonious resort and small working community, Las Terrazas, 74km southwest of Havana, is one of the most important ecotourism sites in the country. About 2km beyond the tollbooth on the main access road, where you pay your entry fee unless you’re staying at the resort’s solitary hotel, there are right- and left-hand sideroads in quick succession.

The right turn leads to the Rancho Curujey visitor centre. Meanwhile, the left turn leads several hundred metres down to the village, a well-spaced complex of red-roofed bungalows and apartment blocks. They are beautifully woven into the grassy slopes of a valley, at the foot of which is a man-made lake. Below the housing, you can see the compact Las Terrazas village buildings dotted around the lake.


Las Terrazas, Cuba © Tupungato/Shutterstock

The most overlooked of the country's UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the 500-year-old heart of Camagüey, is a great place to wander around. You'll want to explore its tangle of streets, abundant churches and lovely squares. It is also a great place to stay, with an outstanding set of boutique hotels and casas.

On first view, Camagüey is a bewildering place to negotiate, with a seemingly incomprehensible labyrinth of roads that were laid out in a futile attempt to confuse marauding pirates. An aimless wander along the narrow cobbled streets, overhung by delicate balustrades and Rococo balconies, is one of the delights of a visit. Round corners onto handsome parks and happen upon crumbling churches.


Camaguey, Cuba © Julian Peters Photography/Shutterstock

The Che Guevara Mausoleum is a memorial in Santa Clara that contains the remains of revolutionary leader Ernesto "Che" Guevara. It was built in 1997, on the 30th anniversary of Guevara's death. The mausoleum is a simple concrete structure that houses a bronze bust of Guevara, as well as an eternal flame that burns in his memory.

The remains of Guevara and his comrades, who were killed in Bolivia in 1967, were exhumed and brought to Santa Clara in 1997, where they were interred in the mausoleum.

Che Guevara Monument, Plaza de la Revolution, Santa Clara, Cuba © Shutterstock

Che Guevara Monument, Plaza de la Revolution, Santa Clara, Cuba © Shutterstock

The Valle de los Ingenios is a sprawling, open valley bordered by the eastern slopes of the Sierra del Escambray. It was once one of Cuba’s most productive agricultural areas. In its heyday, it was crammed with dozens of sugar estates and refineries on which Trinidad built its wealth during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Today just one functioning refinery remains. However, the remnants and ruins of the manor houses and mills that occupied the estates remain dotted throughout the valley. The most intact example is Manaca-Iznaga – though San Isidro de los Destiladeros is also worth visiting,

Valle de los Ingenios near Trinidad, Cuba © Shutterstock

Valle de los Ingenios near Trinidad, Cuba © Shutterstock

With 22km of creamy-white sands and cerulean waters, Cayo Coco has some of the best beaches in Cuba, hands down, and effortlessly draws holidaymakers to its shores. The best beaches are clustered on the north coast, dominated by the all-inclusive hotels whose tendrils are gradually spreading along the rest of the northern coastline.

Cayo Coco’s big three beaches, home to the all-inclusive and packed with boisterous activities, hog the narrow easternmost peninsula jutting out of the Cay’s north coast. For a pocket of tranquillity, escape the main beaches and head to Playa Los Flamencos. The beach offers 3km of fine sands and transparent waters where tangerine-coloured starfish float through the shallows. There’s also good snorkelling out to sea.

Arrive in Havana and make your way all throughout the island with stops in Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Cayo Coco, Camaguey and Santiago before returning to Havana on this tailor-made trip to Complete Cuba - Nature, Tradition and Sights of the Revolution .

Bridge over the green water of Cayo Coco © Shutterstock

Bridge over the green water of Cayo Coco © Shutterstock

If you are inspired by Cuba and its attractions read our guide to the best things to do in Puerto Rico . Also, Cuba is one of the best places for a family holiday. In our guide to the best places to go with kids , you will find other attractive family-friendly destinations.

If you prefer to plan and book your trip to Cuba without any effort and hassle, use the expertise of our local travel experts to make sure your trip will be just like you dream it to be.

Ready for a trip to Cuba ? Check out The Rough Guide to Cuba . If you travel further in Cuba , read more about the best time to go and the best places to visit in Cuba. For inspiration use the itineraries from The Rough Guide to Cuba and our local travel experts . A bit more hands-on, learn about getting there , getting around the country and where to stay once you are there.

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Best Places to Visit in Cuba

8 best tourist attractions in cuba

Traveling to Cuba has become in recent years a must-see destination for all travelers who want to live a different Caribbean experience. Cuba is the perfect combination of tradition, relaxation, adventure and culture. That is why we want to tell you which are the 8 best places to visit in Cuba and enjoy a unique experience on the island.

It is possible that when you think of Cuba the first place that comes to your mind is Havana but the jewel of the Caribbean has much more to offer : beaches, music, gastronomy, culture and of course, Cubans. If you are thinking of planning your next vacation on this beautiful island, here are some of the most famous Cuba places that you should visit on your customize trip to Cuba with Espiritu Travel.

8 best places to visit in Cuba

You must travel to Cuba at least once in your life, it is one of those unique destinations full of history and culture. Visiting Cuba is traveling back in time to the 60s, where bright colors decorate facades and convertibles were the car of the moment. After your private trip to Cuba you will not only have opened up your mind to new experiences, but you will have grown as a person and as a traveler.

It is the capital of the country and its soul. The historic center is an architectural jewel, but it is also a historical relic, as it has witnessed great events that have marked Cuban history . Havana is a city with a strong personality, full of special places brimming with history. Visit the Malecon, the Old Cathedral, the imposing Plaza de la Revolución, Vedado neighborhood or try the famous mojitos of La Bodeguita del Medio. At night do not hesitate to visit one of its many nightclubs with live music , your feet will move with the rhythmic of the Cuban music!

Capitolio Havana

Walk the colorful streets of Havana accompanied by one of our local guides who will show you every corner of the city, finish the day taking a ride in a classic during sundown .

Have a look at our customize tours like L ong Weekend in Havana to discover our suggested activities in Havana. If you are a photography lover, our Havana Imagine photography tour is perfect for you!

Trinidad is one of the most famous cities of Cuba and it is known as “ the museum city of Cuba”. The magical city of Trinidad is the perfect representation of the colonial style. With a historic center declared as World Heritage Site in 1988. During your guided tour with Espíritu Travel you will visit Plaza Mayor, the Church of the Holy Trinidad and Santa Ana, the Historical Museum of the City and Ortiz Palace, converted into an art gallery, among other tourist attractions.

From Trinidad you can visit Valle de los Ingenios , one of the sugar regions of Cuba or Tope de Collante Natural Park, that offers a thousand places to explore. Another day trip activity from Trinidad, is going to visit Sancti Spiritus a beautiful colonial city. Accompanied by Espiritu Travel expert guides you will explore these places on a horseback ride or by taking a hike.

Check out our Uncovering Cuba itinerary for more information.

Santiago de Cuba

Also known as “the center of the Cuban music”, Santiago de Cuba is the second most important city on the Island in terms of population and economic relevance. Santiago is in the eastern part of the Island and because is far away from Havana tourist do not often visit Santiago, but it is certainly worth a visit . This mystical city has an artistic vibe that can be felt in its streets, in its music and in its people.

Beach in Cuba

In Santiago you can see some of the natural wonders of Cuba , such as the Baconao Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO and admire the high peaks of Sierra Maestra that rise with all their majesty to the west and where Castro’s troops hided during the Revolution . Espíritu Travel expert guide will show you where they hided and how they used the environment to avoid being discovered.

From Santiago de Cuba you can also visit El Morro, a defensive fortress on the outskirts of the city, and Granma Cay, a small island populated by a community that lives mainly on fishing.

Viñales Valley

Ideal for practicing ecotourism! Located in the province of Pinar del Río, which is the westernmost area of Cuba you can find the National Park and World Heritage Site by UNESCO the Viñales Valley.

Trekking, horseback riding or practicing speleological are some of the many activities you can do in this natural area. Discover Cueva del Indio , Cueva de San Miguel, the Great Cavern of Santo Tomás or the Mural of Prehistory that decorates the horizon by showing the evolution of this privileged enclave in western Cuba.

Great Topes de Collantes Natural Park in Sancti Spiritus

It belongs to the mountainous complex known as Sierra del Escambray or «Macizo Guamuahaya» , located just 20 kilometers from Trinidad, the “Museum City”, in the center of the Cuban island.

Topes de Collantes is an ecological reserve t hat shelters almost half of the Cuban endemic birds , such as parrots, tocororo or the zunzuncito, among others. You could see one of the smallest frogs on the planet, the “Colín”, while you walk one of the many hiking trails or cool off in its rivers and admire its impressive waterfalls such as the Salto del Caburní (60 meters high).

Take a look at our article about natural and cultural wonders of Cuba

If you are a lover of sun tourism and diving, you surely know that, in addition to its authenticity, Cuba stands out for its beautiful beaches of fine white sand and transparent waters. If you have more than a week to discover Cuba, you must include at least one day at the beach in your trip to Cuba.

One of the best regions to relax at the beach is the Cayos of Cuba. The paradise of Cayo Coco and its beautiful Playa Larga is everything one expects from a Caribbean beach . This place is like a huge natural pool with turquoise waters, electric green and blue to walk on.

Nature Cuba

It is one of the most touristy beaches in Cuba but its beach and the beautiful sunrises are well worth a visit. If you plan to visit the island for about 12 days in Cuba and want to end your trip in the Cuban Cayos , this is undoubtedly your best option. If you have less time, you can visit the Playas de Este or Varadero that are very close to Havana.

Maltiempo Beach (Cayo Largo del Sur)

This place is probably the beach that we have all dreamed of visiting at some time . Its waters are simply magical, unique. If you don’t believe me Google it and see for yourself the beauty of this beach since a description would not do it justice. It is without a doubt one of the best beaches to visit in Cuba.

Read more about the best Cuban beaches here.

Bay of Pigs

Only two hours away from Havana you find Bay of Pigs, home to the most important wetland in Cuba, contained within the Ciénaga de Zapata National Park, as well as some excellent dive sites. You can take a relaxing nature walk to see a part of the vast Ciénaga de Zapata, the Caribbean’s largest wetland ecosystem. On your visit to Bay of Pigs with Espiritu Travel you will discover the cove of Caleta Buena, an area where saltwater meets fresh, creates incredible marine diversity that is not found elsewhere.

These are our 8 must visit places in Cuba that you should see on your trip to the Island. It is certainly difficult to choose which one to visit and which to leave for your next visit to Cuba , therefore, Espiritu Travel will design your customize trip to Cuba based on your needs and the time you have to travel, so that you can make the most of it and live an unforgettable experience . Travel to Cuba with Espíritu Travel and discover the Island accompanied by your local Cuban guide who will explain from his heart what makes Cuba his home.

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8 best tourist attractions in cuba

10 Cities to See in Cuba

Y ou may wonder, where is the best place in Cuba to visit outside of Havana? Let’s explore the top cities to see in Cuba. You can hop into a vintage car for a luxury cruise around town, puff the legendary Cuban cigar, or ‘invade’ one of the beautiful old buildings and discover the country’s colonial cities. Cuba is no ordinary Caribbean country, and whichever way you choose to explore it, rest assured this little heaven will have you thrilled! Lots of timeless colonial cities throw back to vintage architecture that tells tales of opulence to miles and miles of coastline, dazzling with beauty, and Cuba is love. Welcome to a country reeling from an economic embargo abolished in 2015 – a country fast opening up to throngs and throngs of adventure-hungry tourists.

Cuba has already charmed and wowed A-listers and the “who-is-who” in the global celebrity industry, including Madonna, Rolling Stones, Barack Obama, Kim Kardashian, and Pope Francis. Beyond its pristine beaches, soul-stirring carnivals, and eclectic architecture, you’ve got thousands of reasons to visit Cuba. This little paradise is more than the indefinable magic it embodies. This fantastic destination charms and dazzles beyond its shabby facades like a prince in a peasant’s coat. It is restoring its status amongst the greats of global travel destinations.

Best time to visit Cuba?

The best time to visit Cuba is during the dry season, which runs from November to April. This is when you’ll find the most pleasant weather, with warm sunny days and comfortable temperatures in the 70s and low 80s (Fahrenheit). There’s also less chance of rain and humidity, making it the best time to go to Cuba to explore Cuba’s vibrant cities, relaxing on its stunning beaches, or hiking its lush landscapes.

Cuba remains one of the world’s most attractive tourist destinations. And for a little vacation, the following are the best tourist attractions in Cuba,

1. Havana, the Capital

Hands down, there’s no better way to kick off your Cuban tour than with the first stop at the country’s capital, and by extent, its heartbeat. And as mesmerizing as this city is, Havana perfectly lives up to its reputation as one of the top cities to see in Cuba. It is one of the modern cosmopolitan cities in the Caribbean that’s yet to lose its colonial mid-century flair.

Let’s start with a little stop at Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a slice of the country’s well-preserved history. A day of strolling down its cobbled streets with a brief stop inside the grand Baroque and Neoclassical buildings should just wow you.

Discover the two Cathedrals and perhaps dine at one of the legendary restaurants in Habana Vieja. There’s also a 35-meter observatory for a 360-degree view of the city!

But it would be an unforgivable mistake to explore Havana and miss visiting its best-kept gem, the Malecon seafront promenade. Like Old Havana, this 7-km stretch is a history junkie and a sightseer’s paradise. Woe unto you if you visit the Malecon without a camera!

Havana’s Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Museum of Fine Arts) is an absolute must-visit. The vast and impressive collection of past and present-day Cuban and international art will leave you flabbergasted. There are lots of 17th-century masterpieces from as far as Greece, Rome, and Egypt.

What about a trip to two of Havana’s greatest fortresses: the Castillo de Los Tres Reyes del Morro and Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana? These 16th-century and early 17th-century gems tell the truest story of Havana’s past, including when it was the region’s most expensive fortress. I’d highly recommend you stop by the museum inside.

Lastly, on your brief Havana trip, visit the famous Plaza de la Revolucion, specifically the grand 109-meter gray tower. It is a historical tower because of the country’s greatest revolutionary and because it has hosted several global greats, including Pope John Paul II.

Directions: To get to Old Havana, the Malecon seafront promenade, the National Museum, and Castillo de Los Tres Reyes del Morro, there are tourist jump-on-jump-off buses to catch. But you can also use a taxi. The Closest airport is José Martí International Airport

Read the Havana Airport Guide

Read Travel Tips for Cuba

2. Trinidad

After having an epic trip around Havana, you should be ready to soak up the lively ambiance of the country’s second-best city – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A stroll along the city’s cobblestone streets amidst centuries old, but beautifully restored buildings will feel like a step back in time.

Trinidad, a top tourist attraction in Cuba, mesmerizes with colorful 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries blocks that pay homage to a city whose rise was fueled by ancient sugar and slave trades. Of importance during your visit will be Plaza Mayor whose neo-Baroque buildings and the Neoclassical Church of the Holy Trinity (Iglesia Parroquial de la Santisima Trinidad) attract millions annually.

To be honest, Trinidad is perfect for an adventure-filled trip only if you love history. And so, I’d suggest you bring along your camera, primarily if part of your itinerary would involve riding a horse to the magical 19th road to Sancti Spiritus.

Directions: From Havana, you can get to Trinidad by bus; several bus companies offer to-and-fro daily trips, even though this 6-10-hour trip has no direct buses. But you can also grab a “collectivo taxi” and head straight to Trinidad.

3. Varadero

Visit Cuba’s most famous beach and soak up the Caribbean sun, as you grab terrific views of the Atlantic Ocean and her turquoise waters. From Havana, Varadero is a few miles drive, and immediately you arrive at this gorgeous destination, be ready to bump into celebrities.

To give you an idea as to why Varadero is on the list of the best places in Cuba to visit. There are over 50 top-rated hotels and resorts, botanical gardens, beautiful lakes, bridges, and marine parks. It also has some of the planet’s best beaches and a massive natural cavern system; the Bellamar Caves.

Directions: The closest airport serving Varadero is Juan Gualberto Gomez Airport. However, you can find a taxi from the airport to Varadero or go for Viazul Bus.

4. Cayo Largo del Sur

On your Cuban vacation, this little gorgeous jewel should be an absolute must-visit. Located off the mainland of Cuba, it is one of those uncrowded beaches that a few tourists love retreating to. The best thing about visiting Cayo Largo is its beautiful powdery white sandy beaches, serene exclusivity, and laid-back ambiance. Just a lot of sun, a handful of sunbathers, and lots of resorts to chill in.

Directions: Those flying to Cayo Largo del Sur land at Vilo Acuña Airport. However, you can use a taxi or hop on a bus to get to the city center.

5. Parque Nacional Viñales

Cuba also has one of Caribbean Island’s greatest national parks, and one among them is a picturesque valley with a dramatic landscape characterized by steep limestone hills, little plantations, and fantastic hiking trails. Fidel Castro’s favorite retreat spot, Parque Nacional Viñales is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular site for freshly rolled cigars.

This national park is perfect for an off-the-beaten-path kind of adventure. It’s even better if you are an intrepid traveler, love hiking, or even want to try some boat riding. If you’d love to visit where they manufacture the iconic Cuban cigar, be sure also to visit Parque Nacional Viñales.

Directions: Havana airport is the closest to Parque Nacional Viñales. However, to get to the park, you can use a bus, a taxi, a train or hire a self-driven car.

Baracoa is a tourist attraction in Cuba in the North. Baracoa should feel a lot more hospitable. At the country’s oldest city, you will feel the charming ambiance of its colonial architecture, lush countryside, and amazing beaches and waterfalls.

But there’s more to Baracoa than just age-old adventure. The ‘First City’ remains in its ancient condition, all buildings pristinely kept. And if you’ve always wanted to hike El Yunque, stop by Baracoa. It’s just 30 minutes from the beach.

Directions: Gustavo Rizo Airport serves Baracoa and the entire region. To get to Baracoa from Havana, you can fly, take the Viazul or simply find a taxi.

7. Maria la Gorda

You probably know about Maria la Gorda, the fantastic scuba diving destination, west of Havana, already. This little-known jewel on the far western tip of Cuba is a hot tourist destination and attracts plenty of visitors throughout the year. Key attractions in this small town, besides scuba diving and snorkeling, include guided trips in the sea, exploring the underwater marine life and relaxation away from the buzzing Havana.

Directions: The closest airports are La Coloma Airport (the closest), Pinar del Río Airport, and Cancun International Airport. But to get to Maria la Gorda from Havana, you can catch a taxi, train or bus.

8. Jardines del Rey

Despite this archipelago remaining largely undeveloped, Jardines del Rey is a tourist attraction in Cuba that attracts thousands of vacationers. The vast chain of tiny islands connected by simple bridges brings together little-known islands, including Cayo Coco, Cayo Paredon Grande, Cayo Romano, and Cayo Guillermo.

Jardines del Rey is situated north of the mainland, Cuba, but has some of the country’s most beautiful and best-kept beaches. For all-inclusive resorts, far away from the capital, browse for offers from hotels found in the Gardens of the King.

Directions: there’s the Jardines del Rey Airport to serve Jardines del Rey – a 4h 20m flight from Havana. However, you can use the train, fly, or simply use the bus or taxi.

9. Santiago de Cuba

You can’t go to Cuba and fail to visit the country’s eastern region, specifically the popular coastal city of popular Santiago de Cuba. The city is as popular amongst sightseers as it is a historic town. And all of its magnificent architecture of bygone eras says it all. From Parque Cespedes to the magnificent Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca, most of its 17th-century wonders say it all.

Apart from visiting the town’s greatest wonders, there’s a bevy of cultural highlights to visit, including where the remains of Cuba’s famous military figures are kept. Away from the town, you can also drive to the World Heritage Biosphere Reserve for a little tour of the country’s coffee plantations or even catch a panoramic view of the mountains and the sea.

Directions: The nearest airport is Antonio Maceo Airport. You can, however, take the train, use the bus or hire a taxi.

10. Cienfuegos

There’s a huge reason why your Cuban trip shouldn’t end without a trip to the country’s only French-founded city. Welcome to Cienfuegos, the Pearl of the South. It is a must-visit, even if you’ve never appreciated mid-century architecture.

In La Perla del Sur, there are lots of well-kept 1950s mansions, art galleries, and grandiose architecture that are only exclusive to Cienfuegos. The Paris of Cuba, as it is locally called, boasts a unique atmosphere. It is the only place you can “legally” take a French language lesson, dine line a Spaniard, or meet your fellow curious Europeans.

Directions: From Havana to Cienfuegos, you can take the bus or taxi as it is within Havana.

There is so much beauty and things to do in Cuba. You have a variety of places to choose from as the best place in Cuba to visit.

The post 10 Cities to See in Cuba appeared first on Work Hard Travel Well .

A look into the top cities to see in Cuba. 10 Cuban cities to consider for a trip to Cuba.

11 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Trinidad, Cuba

Written by Karen Hastings Updated Dec 23, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Nudging the emerald Escambray mountains, Trinidad is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Cuba's most charming towns. So perfectly preserved are the quaint colonial buildings, the entire town feels as though it's trapped in a time warp from the 1800s.

Stroll the winding cobbled streets here to discover a trove of architectural treasures, from colorful colonial mansions to historic churches and pastel-painted bell towers with panoramic views. Most of the buildings span the 17th to 19th centuries, when the town prospered from the sugar and slave trades.

Trinidad is also a great base for day trips to the mountains and the sea. From here, you can hike to waterfalls in the Sierra del Escambray; bike to the pretty Playa Ancon, a palapa-studded beach; or venture into the Valle de Los Ingenios, yet another World Heritage-listed gem.

For more sightseeing ideas in one of the best places to visit in Cuba, see our list of the top things to do in Trinidad.

See also: Where to Stay in Trinidad

1. Plaza Mayor

2. palacio cantero (museo de historia municipal), 3. parque el cubano, 4. playa ancon, 5. palacio brunet (museo romantico), 6. iglesia y convento de san francisco (museo nacional de lucha contra bandidos), 7. iglesia parroquial de la santisima trinidad, 8. museum of colonial architecture, 9. casa de aldeman ortiz (galeria de arte), 10. day trip to the valle de los ingenios, 11. day trip to salto del caburni, where to stay in trinidad, cuba for sightseeing, map of tourist attractions in trinidad, cuba.

Plaza Mayor

The picturesque Plaza Mayor lies in the historical center of Trinidad, Cuba and is an ideal place to start a sightseeing tour of the city. Many of Trinidad's top tourist attractions lie on or near the Plaza Mayor, including the fascinating Museo Historico Municipal , the famous Iglesia Parroquial de la Santisima Trinidad , and other museums and architectural gems.

After exploring the pretty colonial mansions and museums that preside over this palm-studded square, relax at one of the nearby restaurants or alfresco cafés. Live salsa music often fills the tropical air, especially at night, and it's an evocative spot to pull up a seat and order a cool drink. Sitting here, soaking it all in, it's easy to imagine what life must have been like when wealthy sugar barons sauntered along the cobbled streets.

Palacio Cantero

The Museo de Historia Municipal should be one of the first places to visit on your sightseeing itinerary. It's housed in the golden-hued Neoclassical Palacio Cantero and offers an excellent overview of Trinidad's history - not to mention photo-worthy vistas of Trinidad itself from the top of the tower.

Built in the early 1800s, the mansion has an air of grandeur throughout, with Italian marble floors and large open rooms. On display are documents and maps, as well as exhibits on the World Heritage-listed Valle de los Ingenios , the industry of slave trading, and the wars of independence.

After browsing the exhibits, save time to ascend the steep spiral stairs of the tower for a panoramic view of the city and Caribbean Sea. It's particularly beautiful at sunset.

Cuban trogon, the national bird of Cuba

Looking for a way to get some exercise and admire beautiful scenery at the same time? The hike along Huellas de la História trail to the picturesque Javira Waterfall in Parque el Cubano is a great option. It's the perfect place to cool down on a swelteringly hot day.

Bring your swimsuit (and sturdy footwear) so you can take a refreshing dip under the falls in the jade-green pools. And keep an eye out for birds along the way - you might even spot the national bird, the Cuban trogon (tocororo).

After your hike, or on the way, you can refuel at the nearby rustic farm-style restaurant with lunch and a refreshing drink.

Many visitors hire a guide to take them to the waterfall, but it's also possible to catch a taxi from town and do the hike on your own - the trail is well-maintained and clearly marked. If you're really up for some exercise, you can also hike the 16 kilometers from town to the waterfall and then rest your weary legs by taking a taxi on the return trip.

Insider's tip: Try to go earlier in the day before the tour buses arrive.

Playa Ancon

About 12 kilometers south of Trinidad, Playa Ancon, on the Peninsula Ancon, is one of the prettiest beaches on the south coast of Cuba. A coral reef bristles just offshore, and the four-kilometer stretch of white sand fringes crystal-clear seas in dreamy shades of blue. Pick a shady spot under one of the thatched palapas here and spend a relaxing day by the sea.

Though not quite as striking as Varadero , Guardalavaca , and Cayo Coco, Playa Ancon tends to be less crowded than these famous strands and offers a broader range of accommodations, from all-inclusive hotels to guesthouses.

If you're on a budget opt for a home stay at La Boca , another beach area near the top of the peninsula, which offers much more interaction with the locals than some of Cuba's other beach resorts.

For a fun day out, many tourists rent bikes in Trinidad and cycle to Playa Ancon; the trip takes about 40 minutes.

A short boat ride from Playa Ancon, Cayo Blanco is popular for day trips. In addition to basking on the island's white-sand beaches, you can dive and snorkel the largest black coral reef in Cuba .

Palacio Brunet (Museo Romantico)

The yellow-hued Palacio Brunet houses the Museo Romantico, which offers a window into the world of wealthy sugar baron, Conde de Brunet. Built in the early 19th century, this attractive colonial mansion was owned by Brunet, from 1830 to 1860, an era referred to as the Romantic period.

The museum's collection comprises items from several wealthy Trinidad families, but primarily the Brunet's possessions. Among the displays are exquisite glass and porcelain pieces, artwork, and antique furniture from the period. Each room, some graced by chandeliers, is set up as it would have been at the time, providing a snapshot of life in this elegant colonial mansion.

From the first floor, you can peer down into the sunny courtyard and across the red-tile roofs of town.

Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco (Museo Nacional de Lucha Contra Bandidos)

A distinctive landmark in Trinidad, the Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco, with its pretty yellow and green bell tower is mostly visited for its beautiful views over the city. Yet it claims an eventful history.

Built in 1813 by the Franciscans, this former convent was taken over and turned into a parish church in the mid 1800s and later became a jail before much of the structure was torn down in the 1920s. Only some of the outer buildings and the bell tower still stand.

Today, this picturesque building accommodates the Museo Nacional de Lucha Contra Bandidos (National Museum of the Struggle against Bandits). Fans of Cuba's revolutionary history should devote some time to explore the few exhibits here. On display are photographs, documents, and equipment associated with the counter revolutionary forces or "bandits" of 1959 and the problems and battles that ensued.

After browsing the museum, you can lighten the mood by climbing the bell tower and snapping some photos of the stunning views across the city to the lush mountains beyond.

Iglesia Parroquial de la Santisima Trinidad

On the upper end of the Plaza Mayor, the Iglesia Parroquial de la Santisima Trinidad wears a simple sun-bleached Neoclassical façade, which belies its interior treasures.

This is the largest church in Cuba and houses a much-worshipped statue known as Christ of the True Cross or Senor de la Vera Cruz . This 18th-century wooden statue was bound for a church in Vera Cruz, Mexico from its place of origin in Spain. But strong winds thwarted the ship's arrival at its destination, and the ship landed in Casilda instead, just a short distance from Trinidad. The captain decided to leave the statue behind when he set sail, and the Senor de la Vera Cruz was brought here, where it still graces the church today.

Interior highlights of the church are the vaulted ceilings and a series of impressive altars carved from cedar and mahogany. Iglesia Parroquial de la Santisima Trinidad is also renowned for its fine acoustics.

Museum of Colonial Architecture

For visitors who would like to learn more about the intricacies of Trinidad's colonial architecture, the Museo de Arquitectura Colonial delves into the details. The Sanchez Iznaga mansion houses the museum and consists of two blue 18th-century buildings that were combined in the early 19th century.

Within its interior are displays of architectural trimming, such as doors, handles, locks, windows, and grills, as well as a recreated 19th-century bathroom.

The Museo de Arquitectura Colonial also offers guided walking tours through the historic streets of Trinidad, giving visitors a richer appreciation of the town's magnificent buildings.

Casa de Aldeman Ortiz (Galeria de Arte)

The Casa de Aldeman Ortiz is a colonial mansion from 1809 that was originally built for Ortiz de Zuniga, a slave trader and mayor of Trinidad. The building now houses the Galeria de Arte, which contains an art school and offers paintings for sale to the public. Contemporary Cuban art dominates the collection.

As well as viewing some of these vibrant pieces, a visit here is a good excuse to see the inside of the Casa de Aldeman. Note the frescoes and ornate ceilings, as well as the grand staircase.

Valle de los Ingenios

East of Trinidad, on the road to Sancti Spiritus, lies the lush Valle de los Ingenios with gorgeous scenery of green sugar cane fields, palms trees, and mountains. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site , the valley, also known as Valle de San Luis, contains relics and monuments from the 19th century, when slave-tended sugar cane plantations and mills flourished here.

Tours of the valley should include a number of key sights: The Mirador de La Loma del Puertos , an elevated lookout, offers impressive views of the entire Valle de los Ingenios. Also not to be missed is the 44-meter-high Manaca Iznaga tower. You can climb the tower for more views, and dine at the restaurant in the house next door.

Another historic house turned restaurant is the Casa Guachinango , owned in the 18th century by Don Mariano Borrell, a well-known name in the history of the region. Here, visitors will find another beautiful view of the landscape, which also takes in the river, Rio Ay.

A tourist train runs through the valley from Trinidad, and you can also explore the valley by car or horseback, with or without a guide.

Salto del Caburni waterfall in the Topes de Collantes National Park

Surrounding Trinidad are the emerald peaks of the Sierra del Escambray with some rewarding hikes. Here, in the Topes de Collantes National Park, nature lovers can embark on a challenging trail to the 75-meter waterfall of Salto del Caburni. The trail is about five to six kilometers round trip through a forest of palms and pine trees, where you can spot hummingbirds, woodpeckers, insects, and beautiful tropical plants.

Once at the falls, you can cool off in the crisp waters of the swimming hole. Be sure to wear appropriate shoes, as the trail can be narrow and steep. Note that during the dry season, the falls are less impressive.

We recommend these welcoming hotels and guesthouses in Trinidad near the city's top historical attractions:

  • Iberostar Grand Hotel Trinidad offers colonial-style luxury in a fantastic location, steps from the Plaza Mayor. Live music, a games room, hot tub, and spa are some of the many perks of a stay here.
  • Hotel La Ronda is a mid-range boutique hotel in a central location, with spacious rooms and a quaint courtyard.
  • Casa MiCuba is an affordable bed-and-breakfast with a friendly host, air-conditioned rooms, and laundry service.
  • Hostal Casa El Ceramista , a budget-friendly guesthouse, comes with wonderful hosts, authentic Cuban cuisine, and a lovely rooftop terrace.

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    For more sightseeing ideas in one of the best places to visit in Cuba, see our list of the top things to do in Trinidad. See also: Where to Stay in Trinidad. On This Page: 1. Plaza Mayor. 2. Palacio Cantero (Museo de Historia Municipal) 3. Parque el Cubano.