Santiago de Cuba

10 Reasons To Visit Cuba

Read time - 5 minutes

When Christopher Columbus first saw Cuba, he described it as 'the most beautiful land on Earth', and it’s easy to see why.

With lively coastal towns, lush rainforests and the colonial grandeur of Old Havana, Cuba truly offers a unique cultural experience.


Best Places to Visit in Cuba

Adventure expert, Exodus Travels, has been exploring this vibrant Caribbean island for decades. These are the 10 places not to miss when in Cuba

1. Old Havana

Havana, Cuba

 No trip to Cuba is complete without visiting Old Havana.

It’s easy to get immersed in the history and culture of this city; Cuban music plays in the streets, the smell of cigars hangs in the air, and the classic American cars are juxtaposed with the colonial buildings.

You soon realise the spirit of Cuba is very much alive in Havana.

Top tip: don’t forget to visit Che Guevara’s Mausoleum, which also contains a museum with belongings owned by one of the 20th century’s most revered icons.

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2. Bayamo

Bayamo, known as the “Birthplace of Cuban Nationality" and "the Cradle of Cuban Revolution”, pre-dates Havana. The pace is slower in Bayamo, which can be a haven for the traveller overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the country’s capital.

On your journey to Bayamo, you’ll pass through agricultural towns and experience first-hand the importance of sugar in Cuba's history.

3. Baracoa

Founded in 1512, Baracoa was the first Spanish settlement in Cuba and served as the capital for three years.

Its location on the easternmost tip of the island left it open to attacks from pirates, smugglers and the English, so three forts were constructed in the 18th Century for protection.

Baracoa has only been accessible by road since the 1960s, which has left it largely off the tourist route. Surrounding the quaint town are lush, tropical mountains and golden sand beaches.

This area is renowned for cocoa-growing and chocolate production, so chocoholics are in for a treat.

4. El Yunque

Whilst at Baracoa, you will no doubt spot El Yunque Mountain in the distance. It’s not hard to see where the mountain got its name from as El Yunque in Spanish translates to ‘The Anvil’.

This trek can be strenuous for the unseasoned hiker, but the rewards are too great to ignore. You’ll see an incredible range of birds and butterflies fluttering through the luscious fauna during your walk, and the spectacular Rio Duaba waterfalls are a great place to take a break, soak your feet in the water and take in your surroundings.

5. Santiago de Cuba

Santiago de Cuba

Santiago de Cuba is known as the 'city of heroes' for the important role it played in independence and revolutionary struggles.

Santiago rivals Havana in literature, music, politics, and in its rich traditions, folklore and legends, making almost every street corner in the city famous.

Make sure to visit the Moncada Barracks - where the opening shots of the Revolution were fired on 26 July 1953, when Castro and his men attacked the barracks.

6. El Cobre

Take the pilgrimage to one of the most important sites for Cubans, El Cobre, home to the shrine of The Virgin of Charity.

The legend goes that three fisherman found a small statue of the Virgin Mary floating down the river, carrying the Christ child and a gold cross. She floated on a board bearing the inscription, Yo soy la Virgen de la Caridad, "I am the Virgin of Charity."

The statue has been worshipped since its foundation in 1608. The importance of this holy site was further acknowledged in 1906, when the pope visited the shrine of the Virgin of Charity, and declared her the patron saint of Cuba.

7. Castro's revolutionary headquarters

Sierra Maestra, Cuba

In the Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra, a spectacular national park within Cuba's highest mountain range, you’ll find Fidel Castro's secret mountain hideout that formed the base of his operations during the Cuban Revolutionary War.

Make sure to head to the museum to learn more about the headquarters and the various facilities that were on site. Why not spend some time trying to find the seven secret escape routes?


8. Trinidad

Trinidad, Cuba

Trinidad has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988 and with its cobbled streets and horse-drawn transportation it’s perhaps the best-preserved colonial town on the island.

There are many interesting museums to visit in the daytime, but it is as the sun sets that Trinidad really comes alive.

A visit to Casa de la Trova or Casa de la Musica is essential to experience traditional Cuban music and dancing.

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9. El Cubano' Nature Park

If the El Yunque trek wasn’t enough for you, head to El Cubano Nature Park, a reserve nestled in countryside on the outskirts of Trinidad.

You’ll walk through the tropical forest to reach a waterfall where you can stop to take a refreshing dip.

10. Bay of Pigs

Bay of Pigs, Cuba

The Bay of Pigs is most known for the failed US invasion that took place here in 1961.

This embarrassing loss for the US only strengthened relations between Cuba and the Soviet Union, which eventually led to the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

If the history of the area doesn’t interest you, fear not, as this also happens to be a great place to snorkel and scuba dive.

Browse more trips to Cuba below.

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Activity level:
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