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CUBA: Top 10 Best Tourist Destinations

CUBA: Top 10 Best Tourist Destinations

CARIBBEAN, CUBA, DESTINATIONS

From beautiful beaches to breathtaking nature, this warm Caribbean island is an amazing tourist destination. Now is a time of great significance and hope, Cuba has restored diplomatic relations with the United States. So, if you are thinking of traveling to Cuba. Here are Cuba: Top 10 Best Tourist Destinations not to be missed in Cuba.

1.Guardalavaca Beach

Guardalavaca Beach is located in a region that has been recognized in recent years as one of the main tourist destinations in Cuba. This 50 meter long beach has crystal-clear water containing a beautiful coral reef. With lush vegetation and trees bordering the beach, it is perfect for anyone looking to enjoy a fun day in the sun. Windsurfing, kayaking, boating, and diving are some of the water sports that can be done at this location. Also, this area was where Christopher Columbus landed on his first trip to America and delivered his famous words, “this is the most beautiful land that human eyes have seen”.

 

Guardalavaca Beach Cuba (Photo Credit: itravellatinamerica.com)
Guardalavaca Beach Cuba (photo credit: itravellatinamerica.com)
Coral Reef in Guardalavaca (Photo Credit: Russell Boate)
Coral Reef in Guardalavaca (photo credit: Russell Boate)

2. Varadero

Varadero contains some of Cuba’s best beaches. The city has a vast amount of tourist attractions, including Josone Park, a large green space perfect for family walks. There’s also the Dolphinarium where several shows are offered daily. If you want to be impressed by the area’s magnificent nature, walk along the beautiful nature trails at the Varahicacos reserve. Also at this reserve are many caves including the marvelous Ambrosio Cave. At this location you can see plants and animals native to the area, along with archaeological sites and aboriginal pictographs. Furthermore, Varadero never ceases to amaze with its bars and restaurants such as The Beatles Restaurant, offering delicious food and live music every night.

 

Rent paddle boats on the white sands of Varadero (photo credit: Kamira)
Rent paddle boats on the white sands of Varadero (photo credit: Kamira)
Ambrosio Cave - Varahicacos (photo credit: Anna Małachowska)
Ambrosio Cave – Varahicacos (photo credit: Anna Małachowska)
Sign at Varahicacos (photo credit: KandSFamily)
Sign at Varahicacos (photo credit: KandSFamily)

3. Havana

Havana is home to more than three dozen museums, 10 art galleries, and 25 theaters. The city is also home to numerous international film, dance, visual arts, and literature festivals, including the famous International Book Fair. For those seeking to engage in traditional Cuban rhythms such as son, danzon, bolero and cha cha cha, Havana offers attractions like Macumba, Habana Café, and various night clubs where these can all be seen and performed. Havana is also home to the world famous Tropicana cabaret. After a long day of sight-seeing, evenings can be spent on the boardwalk watching the incredible views of The Morro Castle and the lights of Miami.

 

Lighthouse at Havana (photo credit: Karen Wiles)
Lighthouse at Havana (photo credit: Karen Wiles)
Gran Teatro of Havana (photo credit: Susan K. Kiesau)
Gran Teatro of Havana (photo credit: Susan K. Kiesau)
Capital Building at Havana Cuba (photo credit: Cristian Viarisio)
Capital Building at Havana Cuba (photo credit: Cristian Viarisio)

4. Jardines del Rey

Jardines del Rey are the largest group of keys out of the four that surround Cuba. It is bordered by a wall of coral that is about 400 kilometers long. This is one of the largest coral reefs in the world, right behind the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Great Mexican Reef. Here you can find beaches with beautiful turquoise waters and coral-colored sands. There are over 30 sites suitable for diving or other water sports as well as Kite Surfing in Cayo Guillermo. La Redonda Lagoon is ideal for boat rides on its inner chutes. If you wish to see breathtaking nature, visit the Laguna de la Leche, which is largest natural freshwater reservoir in the country. Also visit Loma de Cunagua and its picturesque ecological trails. Cities such as Ciego de Avila and Morón can be found at the Jardines del Rey as well. These keys are a paradise for all including the great American author, Ernest Hemingway, who was inspired by the idyllic islands to write his book Islands in the Stream.

 

Jardines del Rey en Cayo Coco, Cuba (photo credit: Bruno Morandi/Corbis)
Jardines del Rey en Cayo Coco, Cuba (photo credit: Bruno Morandi/Corbis)
Barrier Reef in Jardines del Rey (Photo Credit: Norbert Probst)
Barrier Reef in Jardines del Rey (photo credit: Norbert Probst)
Catamaran rides, Jardine del Rey (Photo Credit: Gaviota)
Catamaran rides, Jardine del Rey (photo credit: Gaviota)

5. Santiago de Cuba

Santiago de Cuba, the second largest city in Cuba, is famous for its beautiful squares and vibrant musical traditions. The proximity to Jamaica and other tropical islands has given it a distinctive Caribbean spirit to the city, seen it in its art and architecture. Celebrations native to this city include the Caribbean Festival or Feast of Fire, and famous Carnival. Santiago boasts an eclectic variety of architectural influences, from the imposing Castillo del Morro (declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO), to the exquisite colonial houses of Cespedes Park, and the glorious Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre, the holiest site of pilgrimage in Cuba. East of Santiago is the Baconao Biosphere Reserve, recognized by UNESCO, with its coffee plantations and high peaks of the Sierra Maestra.

 

Colorful carnival floats, Santiago de Cuba (Photo Credits: Etienne Le Cocq)
Colorful carnival floats, Santiago de Cuba (photo credit: Etienne Le Cocq)
El Cobre Cathedral in Santiago, Cuba (Photo Credits: Lankino Cuba Junky)
El Cobre Cathedral in Santiago, Cuba (photo credit: Lankino Cuba Junky)
The Pico Turquino is the highest point in the island of Cuba - Sierra Maestra (Photo Credits: Peakery)
The Pico Turquino is the highest point in the island of Cuba – Sierra Maestra (photo credit: Peakery)
Prehistoric Valley in Baconao Park
Prehistoric Valley in Baconao Park, Cuba

 6. Trinidad

Located in the central province of Sancti Spiritus, Villa of the Holy Trinity (Trinidad) was one of the first seven villages founded by the Spaniards in Cuba. Trinidad is indisputably an architectural jewel of Cuba. Around the Plaza Mayor is the Palace of Count Brunet, now home to the Romantic Museum where pieces of decorative arts are exposed. A dozen kilometers from the village are the soft sands of Ancon Beach. Also in the outskirts of Trinidad is the Valle de los Ingenios, where colonial buildings can be found. You can get a panoramic view of the place in the gazebo, or go to the Iznaga Tower, a symbol of Trinidad more than a century old.

 

Plaza Mayor historical center, Trinidad, Cuba
Plaza Mayor historical center, Trinidad, Cuba
Ancon Beach is a few kilometers from the city of Trinidad, Cuba (Photo Credit: Mariusz Borowski)
Ancon Beach is a few kilometers from the city of Trinidad, Cuba (photo credit: Mariusz Borowski)
Iznaga Tower offers a spectacular view of the fields of Cuba from the top - Trinidad (Photo Credit: infotravel.com)
Iznaga Tower offers a spectacular view of the fields of Cuba from the top – Trinidad (photo credit: infotravel.com)
Romantic Museum in Plaza Mayor, Trinidad
Romantic Museum in Plaza Mayor, Trinidad

7. Cienfuegos

Cuba’s so-called “Pearl of the South” attracts travelers from around the world with its elegance, enlightened French spirit, and feisty Caribbean panache. The historic center of the city, declared a National Monument, concentrates a large number of buildings of unique architecture. At Jose Marti Park there are numerous monuments including the revolutionary José Martí’s statue, and the Arc of Triomphe, the only one of its kind existing in the country. The Bay of Cienfuegos and Malecon are other must-see attractions. There, speedboats and other vessels such as the famous World Championship Formula T-1 boats are made. The part of Sierra del Escambray corresponding to Cienfuegos is the richest area from the landscape point of view in the province, and the cold waters of the Nicho Waterfalls are a true tropical oasis.

 

Cienfuegos Malecon, Cuba (Photo Credit: paoloanselmino)
Cienfuegos Malecon, Cuba (photo credit: paoloanselmino)
Jagua Fortress in Cienfuegos Cuba (Photo Credit: Hauptstadtbalkon)
Jagua Fortress in Cienfuegos Cuba (photo credit: Hauptstadtbalkon)
El Nicho Waterfalls in Sierra del Escambray (Photo Credit: sprachcaffe-kuba.com)
El Nicho Waterfalls in Sierra del Escambray (photo credit: sprachcaffe-kuba.com)

8. Baracoa

Baracoa is a small city in the eastern province of Guantanamo. It was the first of the seven villages founded by the Spaniards in Cuba in 1512. Isolated from the rest of Cuba by a mountain range surrounding villages, it has a unique flora and fauna, with several species found only there. The area is crossed by several rivers and plenty of caves. In the “Ciudad Primada de Cuba” (First City of Cuba), Spanish forts and buildings of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are preserved. Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Baracoa Church inherits the ecclesiastical heritage of the first temples, containing the Holy Cross of La Parra, brought by the Spaniards. Another unique attraction of the city is El Yunque, a mountain which is a true artistic work of nature. About 20 kilometers northwest of Baracoa is Maguana beach. It is next to a quaint village where there are bars and restaurants in the middle of a lush vegetation.

 

The town of Baracoa, Cuba (photo credit: www.worldwanderlista)
The town of Baracoa, Cuba (photo credit: www.worldwanderlista)
Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Baracoa Church (Photo Credit: The Holiday Place)
Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Baracoa Church (photo credit: The Holiday Place )

 

 9. Viñales Valley

Very close from the capital is Viñales Valley. This uniquely beautiful mountain range is one of the most visited natural areas in Cuba. It was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. The biggest attraction of the Valley of Viñales are the hummocks (mogotes), surrounded by unique bright green palm trees. The best place to see the hummocks is from Los Jazmines Hotel. In addition to mountains there are also caves, the biggest is the Gran Caverna de Santo Tomas. Another interesting cave is the Cueva del Indio. On the inside, there are two underground rivers, so to visit you must take a boat. Finally, there is the Cueva de San Miguel, which was home to the first inhabitants of this land, pre-Columbian aboriginals. The Mural of Prehistory impresses many visitors. This painting is 120 meters long and 80 meters wide, made directly on the rock of mogote Pita.

 

Inside the caves there are underground rivers - El Indio Cave, Viñales
Inside the caves there are underground rivers – El Indio Cave, Viñales
View from Los Jazmines Hotel (Photo Credit: Havanatour)
View from Los Jazmines Hotel (photo credit: Havana Tour)
Mural of Prehistory (Photo Credit: Karel Miragaya)
Mural of Prehistory (photo credit: Karel Miragaya)
Parque Nacional Vinales (Valle de Vinales)
Parque Nacional Vinales (Valle de Vinales) (photo credit: www.planetware.com)

10. Los Cayos

To reach Los Cayos, it was kept a secret up until recently, a road was built on a foundation of rocks deposited on the seabed. This is one of the main attractions of the province of Villa Clara, near the town of Placetas. The keys include Las Brujas, Ensenachos, and Santa María, each of them different from the rest. In Cayo Las Brujas there is a diving center with certified instructors making this the perfect place for water sports including fishing and diving. The Cayo Los Ensenachos has the best beaches in the area. The best hotel in this key is the Occidental Royal Hideaway Ensenachos Resort & Spa Hotel. The resort has great restaurants with some of the best food in the area. Finally, Cayo Santa Maria is the liveliest of all the keys. It has 5 hotels, 4 of them operated by the hotel chain Sol Melia and one operated by the Barcelo chain.

 

Hotel Melia Buenavista Cayo Santa Maria (Photo Credit: Nigel Hunt)
Hotel Melia Buenavista Cayo Santa Maria (Photo Credit: Nigel Hunt)
Las Brujas Key Beach (Photo Credit: Mark Moxon)
Las Brujas Key Beach (photo credit: Mark Moxon)

 

Cuba will leave a lasting impression on all visitors from its stunning beaches, picturesque wildlife, and rich history and culture. So don’t hesitate! Buy your ticket now! You won’t regret spending some time in the Pearl of the Caribbean!

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Thinking of traveling to Cuba? Here are Cuba: Top 10 Best Tourist Destinations not to be missed, ranging from beautiful beaches to breathtaking nature.

About the author

Alexandra Hernandez is a young and passionate writer from Cuba who now lives in Madrid, Spain where she studies journalism, mass media and film. She loves traveling and writing about her experiences on Carmen's Luxury Travel as well as other blogs and web pages such as Vocabulary Spelling City.

30 Comments

  1. Suze The Luxury Columnist
    August 6, 2015 at 6:02 pm
    Reply

    The mural of pre-history is stunning. I would love to visit Cuba and see Santiago de Cuba, Havana and the vintage cars

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

    • Carmen
      August 8, 2015 at 12:41 pm

      One of my favorite things about Havana besides all the antique cars on the streets is watching the people sitting along “El Malecon” the seawall. I haven’t been to Santiago de Cuba yet, but hope to one day.

  2. Melanie Eckert
    August 7, 2015 at 3:49 pm
    Reply

    My grandma and I want to go to Cuba next year. We will definitely visit some of these places if we go! Guardalavaca beach looks amazing!

    • Carmen
      August 8, 2015 at 12:42 pm

      I hope you do go next year. Cuba has some many beautiful beaches, especially the ones in the keys.

  3. Tim
    August 7, 2015 at 5:14 pm
    Reply

    Just got back and it is a place that left an impression for sure. Stunning, gorgeous, lively, and friendly.

    • Carmen
      August 8, 2015 at 1:30 pm

      Everywhere you go in Cuba the people are very friendly. What was your favorite place you visited in Cuba?

  4. Fairlie
    August 7, 2015 at 7:20 pm
    Reply

    Some friends are going to Cuba later this year – I’m going to forward this link to them!

    • Carmen
      August 8, 2015 at 1:33 pm

      If they want to go to city of Trinidad let me know because my family owns a Casa Particular called Hostal Casa Ariana. I’m working with my cousin to set up a website for the place.

  5. Shobha
    August 8, 2015 at 10:45 am
    Reply

    We’re going to Cuba next February and I shall keep this list handy!

    • Carmen
      August 9, 2015 at 11:27 am

      Where are you heading too? Are you coming in a group tour? Cuba is a wonderful country with so many great places to see. If you happen to spend a few days in Trinidad, let me know. I know of a great Hostel that you can stay in.

  6. Ruth - Tanama Tales
    August 8, 2015 at 3:11 pm
    Reply

    What a lot of amazing places in Cuba! I am from Puerto Rico and Cuba is 12 times bigger. So, I can imagine the tons of places (especially beaches) that can be visited in the island.

    • Carmen
      August 9, 2015 at 11:28 am

      I’ve been to Cuba multiple times and I still have places that I would love to visit and haven’t seen.

  7. Sally@Toddlers on Tour
    August 8, 2015 at 11:20 pm
    Reply

    Wow there is more to Cuba than I realised. I always think of it as a beautiful tropical place stuck in a time warp of the 1950’s. I hadn’t considered caves and mountains.

    • Carmen
      August 9, 2015 at 11:38 am

      People don’t realize how large of an island Cuba really is. Each time I go back I discover a new place that I absolutely fall in love with.

  8. Paula McInerney
    August 9, 2015 at 3:02 am
    Reply

    I would love to see Cuba and Santiago de Cuba, Havana. I always think about the vintage cars when I think about Cuba, and cigars and music.

    • Carmen
      August 10, 2015 at 11:43 am

      We are going to Cuba for New Years to celebrate my birthday down there and I can’t wait. I’m looking forward to being around my family and roasting a pig. Nothing like some good Cuban music to get the party started.

  9. Gemma Two Scots Abroad
    August 9, 2015 at 8:34 pm
    Reply

    We were in Cuba for three weeks this June and it’s no secret that we did not fall in love with the country. However, we did have an amazing diving experience at The Bay of Pigs (Craig’s first, video on the site!) and recommend Playa Acon which is a short bus ride / pretty cycle trip from Trinidad.

    • Carmen
      August 10, 2015 at 11:47 am

      Cuba has some untouched coral reefs, which they said have fish that haven’t been seen anywhere else. I’m not a diver but I’m sure it was a fabulous experience to dive in the Bay of Pigs.

  10. Ting at My Travel Monkey
    August 10, 2015 at 7:06 am
    Reply

    I’ve not been to Cuba… not yet anyway! So this has just made me want to go more! I love the mix of things to see and do – Viñales Valley looks so beautiful and full of history. Wonderful photos #WeeklyPostcard

    • Carmen
      August 10, 2015 at 12:00 pm

      I hope you get to go one day soon. It’s like traveling back in time to the fifties.

  11. Anda
    August 11, 2015 at 3:13 am
    Reply

    You guys make me very jealous! Everybody seems to be going to Cuba nowadays. I want to go too. Your post really made me curious about this country, but from all I know American citizens can’t travel there, but under certain circumstances.

    • Carmen
      August 11, 2015 at 2:57 pm

      You are correct, American can only travel on one of the guided tours, which if you ask me are way overpriced. I’ve seen tours as high as $8k for a week in Cuba. I think that will change soon.

  12. John
    August 12, 2015 at 4:34 pm
    Reply

    Cuba surely is filled with so much history to explore. I look forward to a trip there some day. It’s nice that the possibility is now open to travelers from the U.S. Have you been to Cuba, Carmen? Can you recommend a few spots off your list that are your favorites?
    Best,
    JR

    • Carmen
      August 13, 2015 at 1:26 pm

      Hi John, Yes, I’ve been to Cuba several times and plan on returning before the end of the year. I really like Trinidad because of it’s history. The town is the oldest in Cuba and they really try to preserve it that way. Havana has some wonderful neighborhoods too. If you want to see some of the most amazing white sand beaches and crystal blue waters than you have to go to the keys (Los Cayos).

  13. Angie Silver (@SilverSpoonLDN)
    August 28, 2015 at 5:56 am
    Reply

    Gorgeous!! I’m really wanderlusting for Cuba at the moment 🙂
    Lots of love,
    Angie
    SilverSpoon London

    • Carmen
      September 16, 2015 at 7:56 pm

      Thank Angie, I’m heading back to Cuba at the end of December with the hubby. I’m really looking forward to taking him sightseeing.

  14. Monica
    September 16, 2015 at 5:34 pm
    Reply

    I’ve been to Cuba, but I haven’t seen all the places you mention. Of the ones I visited, I’d definitely list Havana as number one!

    • Carmen
      September 16, 2015 at 7:58 pm

      Hi Monica, Havana is a very special place. Each time I go back to Cuba I discover a new place that I fall in love with. Do you have any plans to return?

  15. Ava H (@travelwithava)
    May 17, 2016 at 1:19 am
    Reply

    Great post! I’m going there in July and honestly CAN’T WAITTTT!!! yeyyyy 😀

    • Carmen Edelson
      May 17, 2016 at 8:14 am

      That’s great! It can get really hot in July in Cuba. Make sure you take with you sunblock, cortisone cream and mosquito rebellion with you. Every morning before I headed out I would spray myself with mosquito rebellion. If you do get bitten they itch like crazy, so the cortisone cream comes in handy.

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